Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Salsa vs. Zouk

You might remember from last year that I started a new chapter in my dance adventures: learning cross-body salsa. I spent the last four months of 2014 learning the salsa basics and ended the year feeling quite excited about my new dance skills. My spins were faster than ever, coordination and balance improved, following skills renewed and generally I feel superb. And utterly confused.

But I had no time to feel renewed or confused. Almost straight from my last salsa class I flew to Brazil for a month of zouking, all day and night. I quite literally had to zouk the salsa out of me and fast! It didn’t take long to sink back in my comfort zone - into the arms of the fantastic Brazilian zouk dancers. The month in Brazil was like a month in *sigh* heaven, to put it short. After coming back home from Brazil I dove further back into zouk. After the bliss of Brazil I didn’t really miss salsa all that much - the zouk tunes were calling to me like sirens luring sailors to shipwreck.

After a few months came the reality - I need more than smooth sailing at my comfort zone. I need to challenge myself. I started to look for new dance classes. And so I stumbled upon a marvelous message: “Looking for a follower for the intensive cross-body salsa training group” ...Hey, that’s me!

And so I signed up for an 'intensive' course of salsa. For the past weeks, couple months, I've been back in the deep water, or so it feels. After every session I literally collapsed onto the floor out of exhaustion - both physical and mental. It has been intensive indeed, so we definitely got what we asked for. I was lucky to sign up with a fantastic partner who has a good amount of skills and enthusiasm so while I felt confused and hesitant, he helped me to push myself forward. And the improvement in my dance has been dramatic to say the least. A lot of it I owe to the fantastic teachers IDNZ.

At the same time I started the salsa course, I also started to host zouk training sessions in my home town. The idea was to provide a free weekly training for any new or old zouk dancer, to spread the love & knowledge I have for zouk and introduce a new style, lambazouk. It has been fun to see people get excited about dancing and making new discoveries - it's definitely rewarding, much more than I could have imagined.

While I've been splitting my time with zouk and salsa the past couple months, I've had a great chance to do some comparisons with these two dances. This is something that's been on my mind for a long time. And now I can present you my results. So here goes, the epic duel - salsa vz. zouk!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

Welcome to Alicante! On the Costa Blanca (the ‘white coast’), in the southeast corner of Spain lies this jet-set port, laid back beach town, urban metropolis and historic city. Know both as Alicante and Alacant, the city is home to some 350.000 people, plus another 450.000 people in its surrounding towns and hundreds of thousands of tourists and summer residents that flock to Alicante each year.

I had a chance to revisit Alicante a bit earlier this year. It had been a while… a looong while. I was picturing in my head a plain sandy beach and a 1990’s cookie-cutter beach resort but - to my pleasant surprise - found a lot more than that!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Your best social dancing experiences - Poll results

This is the start of the “Poll of the month” blog post series!

For a long time I've wanted to hear more of your thoughts so I when I opened this new website I also posted the first Poll of the month. And I was feeling quite brave right from the start - I set out on a quest to get dancers to share their best social dancing experiences. I asked you to tell where you had your best social dancing experience and what made this the best.

Those are some tough questions, I know. 'Social dancing experience' is not something you can quantify. It can be a fleeting moment on the dance floor - or a lasting memory. But even if it's a lasting memory, it's rarely something you write down, or compare with other experiences. Or do you ever make notes, such as, “I give this dance 76/100 points.” I hope not!

It felt like those were also pretty private questions - do you really want to share your very personal experiences, I wondered? And it did indeed feel like you were shy to give me your replies. But I was curious and undeterred: I wanted your stories. In this post I spill the beans. Here are your best replies and my best social dancing experiences!