Thursday, June 28, 2012

Zouk in Brisbane! And the story about how I got doudouleyd...

If you want to dance zouk in Australia Brisbane is the place to go. During my week in Brisbane I had lots of time to go check out the latin dance scene - obviously I focused on the zouk socials and classes since this was the zouk capital of this side of the world! There's something going on every night, either classes or parties; or both. If you're more interested in parties it's best to be in town for the weekend. There's also great latin and zouk congresses in Brisbane and the area - scroll to the bottom of the post (after the full listing of the weekly zouk classes & socials) for more info on the events!

Party time! Let's burnnnn the floor!!

I arrived to Brisbane on a Friday afternoon, just in time for my first party at Rio Rhythmics. On Fridays they have zouk party or a mixed latin night with zouk, salsa, bachata and samba. The week I was there it was the latter but they were playing mainly zouk (definitely my kind of a mixed night!). The studio is quite big but it does fill up. It wasn’t hard to find good zouk dancers and I had a very busy night on the dance floor!

The weekends are packed with parties for zouk dancers, there are commonly several options. It does vary depending on what week you’re there since all parties do not run every week. I was lucky to be there on Brazilian Soul Dance’s monthly Saturday night Zouk Fever. It doesn’t go on very late (7-11pm) but there are heaps of great dancers – and if you want to check out another party in the same night the early finish makes that possible. The studio feels even bigger than the one at Rio Rhythmics. I was on fire that night and practically had to hide in the bathroom to have a little break :D I did enjoy it a lot and my feet were shattered by the end of it. There was also a show that night by the Raw Connection West Coast Swing group. The WCS dancers stayed to watch the zouk social after their performance and many of them got bitten by the zouk bug, I taught a couple of eager guys the basics!

Sundays there are a couple options as well: Casablanca for salsa & zouk and some weeks Rio Rhythmics hosts a Brazil Beatz night (every 2nd Sunday of the month). I rested my first Sunday in Brisbane and went to check out the Casablanca’s salsa & zouk night on my second Sunday there. They have two dance floors with salsa & bachata on the main floor downstairs and zouk on the smaller space upstairs. I was running between both floors as that week there were special salsa guests (Vito and Stefania from Italy) and I wanted to catch their show and a few dances with the top salseros and bachateros as well. There weren't that many zouk dancers actually that night but had great dances, at one point I even shared one dance with four different zoukeros. Thanks boys for that!

On Mondays and Tuesdays there are no zouk socials at the moment but again on Wednesday there was another Casablanca party. That week it was held at Brazilian Touch in the Valley due to another booking at Casablanca. There were a little less people there than at the socials during the weekend - on Friday and Saturday I'd say there were up to 100 dancers or even more, Sunday around 60 and Wednesday around 40. But a good night nonetheless!

Thursdays you can take a little break from zouk: If you dance salsa the one place I would definitely recommend is Cloudland at 641 Ann Street in Fortitude Valley. Free entry and the night I was there even free mojitos (I'm not kidding!). The decor is very cool with a big dining area on two floors, a long bar, dance floor (with annoying surface unfortunately) - and live bands!

Cloudlands - coolest salsa club on my trip!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bribane and the Sunshine Coast - beach and city life in Australia

I got to Brisbane after three chilled out days in Byron Bay. I had planned to stay a whole week in Brisbane to check out all the zouk dancing spots in town – it is the zouk capital of Australia after all! A dance friend of mine had offered me even a place to stay so I was all set for my dance week! But more about dancing in Brisbane in the next post :)

Brisbane is bit of less known big city in Australia – Sydney and Melbourne seem to get most tourists, as well as Perth on the west coast lately. But Brisbane is quite well located with lots of fast connections to the popular islands such as the Australian reef destinations Fraser Island and Whitsundays as well as Fiji, among others. It’s also in the pretty much half way on the travelers’ famous east coast route from Melbourne or Sydney to Cairns. I immediately liked the city when I strolled from the bus terminal to the river and boarded the City Cat ferry. The river snakes through the city, passing the skyscraper filled down town (Riverside terminal) and you get a good sense of how the place looks like.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chilling out in Byron Bay

My plan after Sydney and Ayers Rock was to see some of the east coast of Australia between Sydney and Brisbane. But since I had spent some extra time dancing in Sydney and wanted spend some more time dancing in Brisbane as well there wasn’t a whole lot left. So it happened that Byron Bay was my one and only stop between the two big cities. I had asked around for the best places to visit on the coast and Byron kept coming up – frankly people had a hard time finding anything else to recommend which made my planning easier.

So I boarded my first Australian bus – and hopefully the last night bus. I can tell you it wasn’t like those first class buses I took in Central and South America. Luckily the bus wasn't full so I had a two seats to myself but still found it hard to come up with a position to sleep in. The 12 hours went quite fast anyway. It was nice to wake up after the uncomfortable sleep in the bus to see a stunning sunrise over one field in our stop-over. 

The big red rocks

Sorry my blog is ridiculously behind at the moment, I had major internet issues in the last month traveling in Northern Australia. Will try to get back on track this month!

The iconic image of Australia: Ayers Rock! I had booked flights to Ayers Rock already last November when I booked my RTW-ticket so I didn’t have to think about whether to include a visit to the rocks on my trip. It was one of the highlights of this trip that I had been waiting for. 

There’s a couple different sites there: firstly there's Uluru or Ayers Rock and secondly Kata Tjuta - they are two separate sites, two massive rock formations. They are both located in the same National Park area and they're both an easy 20-40 min drive from the small town of Yulara where most visitors are based (or I might say all since there are no other places to stay there). Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta were formed in the same time period and are the same colour but they have different geology - read more about that at the bottom of the post.

There’s also a third popular site there, Kings Canyon, but that’s a 3-hour drive from Yulara and I didn’t want to make my schedule too hectic so decided to skip that – at least there’s something more to see in case I come there again! 


The main thing for me was the see Uluru. I really wanted to have enough time to see all of it so I didn’t join any of the day tours since primarily all of them would just drive around the rock for the most parts. I wanted to take my time so I just got a transfer there and back, leaving me however much time I wanted to walk around it. First I went to see the sunrise – there are separate sunrise and sunset viewing sites where hundreds (and probabaly thousands in high season) flock to see the rock change colours. It was very scenic and you could see the entire rock formation from there – which I would later see up close.

The different colors of Uluru at sunrise