6th Prague Zouk Congress, March 25-30, 2015: Perfection Again!

Are you one of those people who kept finding themselves thinking back to the ‘good old days’ of the first Prague Zouk Congresses, reminiscing over the magical blend of a great crowd, stellar teacher line-up, and music that kept you on the floor way past sunrise? And maybe you also skipped 2015? Well, TOO BAD!

The gods of Zouk have heard our collective prayers and at the 6th Prague Zouk Congress it was finally, yet again, left to the DJs to DJ. That one tiny change, however, was all that stood between the event and its perfection – perfection that has put this event into our hearts from the get-go. The good news is, that perfection is BACK!!!

With everything else already wonderful every year, party music mishaps seemed to plague the past two editions so badly, that a big number of people who came every year since the Congress’ inception gave up on it in 2015. The surprise, however, was that in 2015 the music was pretty much perfect! It was varied in style and rhythm, there were no lengthy Lambada/Kizomba/you name-it-what stretches, there was very good contrast between the styles that played before/after the live concerts and the artists’ own styles (Well Assis – I want the album you sang from this time!), making them pop and great to listen and dance to. None of that would itself be an indicator of anything, though – the best indicator was the number of people who, every single morning, refused to leave the venue until ushered out by the security and the fact that pretty much every night the scheduled end of the party meant nothing to the crowd. It was, just as back in the good old days, “the last two… HOURS!” that we all wanted. And then some!

I know some didn’t warm up to the venue from 2014 and skipped because of that. But the venue floor was straightened up/leveled and re-painted. Unless someone spilled drinks around (that tends to make almost any floor sticky 🙂 ), the surface was perfectly comfortable for dancing and there were enough baby-powder ‘hot-spots’ around just in case someone needed it. The sound, the lights, the bar – all were up to the task. Basically, anything that could make someone doubt whether they should go had been addressed. We’re back to what we fell in love with in the beginning! And that means that I’ll be seeing ALL of you PZC fans in 2016, because now you no longer have any excuses left to miss it!!!!!!!!!!

Pre-party at Dancers’ Club. Maybe some day someone will finally tell me what the whole business with the hand-up is really about? 😀

Chicago, Friday party theme.

Someone either left this dress at my place, or gave it to me. Either way, Never thought I’d wear it then BOOM – turned out it was a perfect one for the dress-code!

My baaaaaybaaay! Awesome when awesome people stay at your place during an awesome event 😀

Saturday Gala with the permanently glamorous one and only Sulamita!!!

We were going for the bar and got caught in this hot mess 😉

Mandatory selfie 🙂

Beach Sunday swooshing around with Wakko 🙂

March 30, 1pm… We’re JUST about to go sleep… Because afterpaaaaartaaaay!

This was the END of the PZC – because we ate the teachers 😀 😀 😀 (nah not really – just a pork knee 😀 )

Huge thanks to everyone, who made this event so amazing – Carlos, Fernanda, the teachers/artists (who were on the floor more often than not!), the DJs (who kept playing way past their scheduled time in the morning), everyone who came this year and made it so much fun. Come back again in 2016!

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Spring First ZOUK Weekend by We Love Zouk Madrid, March 20-22, 2015: Keep it Going!

I start thinking that I am genetically incapable of traveling like a normal person! So here is first the story about my journey, and then the reward that awaited me at it end, which was the Spring First Zouk Weekend in Madrid!

On March 19th around 11pm I received a message: my flight to Madrid on the 20th was cancelled… Lufthansa pilots on some routes had been on strike that day and decided to carry it over to an additional day… Bummer… We didn’t know if the ticket was in any way refundable or possible to change, since it was bought without insurance, and the whole trip was under question. Plus for the life of me I couldn’t pack the suitcase (Unheard of. I’m normally done in 15 minutes tops). It was not a good omen – at least not on Thursday night… I ended up staying awake the whole night for no good reason – still incapable of packing, too. On one hand, if I couldn’t go then oh well. But on the other hand, it was their first event and to lose one of the teachers to an airline strike would be just pretty annoying…

On Friday morning my dearest fairy Anna was trying to call through to Lufthansa from 8am but to no avail. I knew Czech call centers opened at 8:30, so at 8:29 I pressed the dial button. I got through and the lady told me she wasn’t even logged in to the system yet – I think I was if not the first but one of the first callers of the day :).

She was quite incredible, and yes, Lufthansa was changing/refunding tickets for those days without any fees. I was on hold for most of the 25 or so minutes while she looked around for any options of putting me through to Madrid either early on Saturday morning or on Friday and finally – bingo! Found a route via Charles de Gaulle a little bit later than my original flight but still on the same day! This, however, was only the beginning of the adventure…

Shortly after 9am I ventured towards McD at Divoka Sarka where we arranged a meeting spot to witness the Solar Eclipse (the original plan was to stay there because of good transport, availability of coffee and seats, no crowd and it being right on the way to the airport for me, as I was supposed to go there right after before the change of flights). Having read about all the dangers of looking directly at the sun through anything but very special glasses (Seriously though. The eye has no pain receptors while the intense UV radiation from directly staring at the bright sun burns the retina very quickly. You won’t feel anything until you find yourself blind), we agreed to ask Petr to get us the approved ones from the Czech observatory. We even made some business selling a few extra pairs to the nearby people :). And the weather was surprisingly glorious – not a single cloud in the sky – a miracle at that time of the year!

The next full Solar eclipse visible in Europe will be in 2026. Save the date! 😀

The Journey

After the Eclipse, I went back home. This time I managed to pack the suitcase and even caught a 20 minutes nap before going to the airport. It seemed that everything went fine, I arrived in time, went through all the controls and got to the gate…

Ah, but didn’t I say it was just the beginning? So here we are at the gate. Boarding time is almost there, but there’s no plane at the sleeve… For all we knew we could have been boarding by bus, of course, but that is normally done through downstairs gates… At the original boarding time we hear an announcement – our flight is delayed to to late arrival of the aircraft. Great…

I went up to the counter right away and asked whether I’d still be making my connection with the 40 minutes delay. The lady said she would have put me on another one of the Paris-bound flights but both closed gates just then and weren’t taking more passengers and all others would arrive even later. I still had 40 minutes to catch connecting flight with the delay included, so there was hope…

When the plane finally arrived, the boarding was delayed another 15 minutes because reasons. I thought maybe we would catch up for some lost time in the air, but in the end when we landed in Paris, our plane parked to the sleeve at the exact moment the boarding began to the Madrid flight… In another terminal… (Anyone who is at least vaguely familiar with CDG knows it’s one of the most obnoxiously confusing airports in Europe, fairly tricky to get around…)

Myself and two other ladies I saw quickly ran out of the plane and towards the transfer point. Lo and behold, even though we were inside Schengen still, there was a passport control! I got there first, cut the line (I told the passengers my boarding started) to the one and only man sitting there, who began telling me to go back in the line. I said I can’t do it – my plane was boarding. Now.

At that point (he still tried to send me to the back of the line… *insert an expletive of your choice*!) the two other ladies caught up, cut the line and came up to him too. His job, just f.y.i., was to open our passports and check our names against the boarding passes… Not even stamp anything… When he saw more than one of me there, he asked about the flight, saw the boarding time and said “you’re not going to make it”. We were, like, “maybe (and definitely not if YOU keep us here for no good reason, roarrrrr!), but at least we can TRY”. Additional two minutes LATER he finally let us through (having unnecessarily delayed the whole line of people besides us). What a gem!

So we ran towards the bus stop, caught the bus to the other terminal, disembarked a few minutes later and ran towards our gate. We saw a line of people boarding at the gate and though “wow, maybe this flight was also delayed a bit – lucky!”, so we stood in the line. It went fast but when we got to the counter, we were told this was boarding to Venezuela (through another sleeve at the same gate) and Madrid gate was closed…

This was the last flight to Madrid from CDG that day. They said we should “contact that counter over there…” when two more Madrid-bound people hurried to the gate. We kept on pleading with them when the main lady at the counter told us to wait a second and ran (literally ran) into the sleeve… A few more people showed up at the gate while she was there…

I presume the plane doors were still open when we got to the gate, though boarding was completed. After all, they likely waited a little bit for the delayed passengers. So when she ran in, she could enter the plane and speak to the captain. When she came back, she told us he made an executive decision to delay the flight by 15 minutes and get us all on board – it turned out there were about 20 passengers in total who would have otherwise been stuck for the night!

So we were IN! Huge thanks to everyone who made that happen all the way – given the strike, everyone did their best (except the passport control guy… 😀 ) to help the passengers out. In a few minutes we were on board and finally off to Madrid :).

I was at that point still awaiting information on my accommodation, but the contact person wasn’t replying and the place looked like it was off the map altogether… The flight landed close to midnight and by the time we all confirmed our luggage remained in Paris, filled the forms and so on, learned that baggage delivery was from 3pm onwards but the flight from Paris bringing our bags in arrived at 9:20am and yes, we could come pick them up ourselves, it was just about midnight with no good transport. Anna saved me once again and suggested I took a taxi to her place and crash at the sofa for at least that night, and thus the journey itself was finally concluded with two main achievements: I actually was in Madrid and it was still Friday night :).

The Zouk Weekend

Saturday morning began by a journey to the airport. Glad that Anna went with me – we spent a pretty long time at the bus stop before someone else noticed a small hand-written sign saying the bus left from a different place that day! But everything went smoothly from there on – we got to the airport pretty quickly, found the suitcase and got to the venue in time for me to change and be ready for the day :).

Bottom left: happy to see my suitcase. Bottom right: after the workshops.

Finally, everything was right again. We began the first workshop a little later than scheduled, but once everyone showed up and joined in, it was great energy, a lot of fun and, hopefully, some useful stuff I was able to pass on :).

Kudos for the lunch arrangement by the way – the place was right around the corner and featured a very filling and tasty menu for a very decent price :). Yum yum!

The party was short but sweet – I FINALLY received my dance shoes replacement pair (well hey, it took less than a year! 😀 Personal thanks to Nyx for taking good care of them all that time and bringing them over – they are wonderful 🙂 ) and it was a great night full of dancing and great music. We were treated by live singing by the one and only Paulo Mac and by the fresh tunes by the one and only DJ Nyx. As a special unexpected treat for me, Luizinho was also at the event – one of my favorite partners by the crazy factor :). So glad that I could make it!

Saturday night party at Disco “Templo”

Sexy ladies 🙂

A bunch of great people 🙂

On Sunday it was great to see everyone awake at the morning workshop again :). It was also great that Luciano and Sofie without knowing it followed the first workshop’s theme wonderfully and created a synergy morning session!

In the evening the grand surprise was seeing where our party would take place – at the amazing, beautiful venue of Teatro Bodevil! Check it out – isn’t it beautiful?

With the lasers

Without the lasers 🙂

Check out the plaster-work!

Check out the bar area too!

We had a great time, with more from all of the artists, a decently sized crowd despite it being the first event, the best presenter I’ve seen in years (definitely the best from any Zouk congresses 😀 ) and a wonderful atmosphere. Check it out:

We Love Zouk in Bodevil – TU VIDA EN UN VIDEO from TU VIDA EN UN VIDEO on Vimeo.

Moment caught in time: Zouk brings light into your heart and life!

At the end of the party, we said goodbye to everyone, including many who came from other cities in Spain, until, hopefully, edition 2!!! Thanks to everyone who came, everyone who woke up in time for the workshops, to the entire organizers team and all the artists who supported this small but lovely event! Special huge thanks go to the wonderful crazy students who took me in for the remaining days of my stay – I love youuuu! Hope you’re enjoying the music 😉 😉 :).

Last survivors 🙂

Unplanned dinner after the party 🙂

After this wonderful event that has been put together by a little bit of magic, a little bit of luck and a huge deal of very very hard work, I have a message to the Madrid Zoukeiros and Madrid We Love Zouk community:

Persevere! It’s very hard to start a scene, and it can get ‘boring’ at first before it grows, but don’t give up! It’s such an amazing dance that can make your life beautiful and creative beyond belief – keep it going! Every city with a scene began with a few crazy people who just wouldn’t give up, so keep learning, keep dancing, keep your passion and keep bringing all your friends in – in a short while, you’d have a wonderful community and a hobby that would give you more joy than you can now imagine :). And focus on spreading the virus of Zouk over anything else – it’s worth it. Support everyone who supports the dance – everyone benefits from a united, healthy community!

You are all wonderful, it was an honor to be with you and maybe even teach you a little something, keep dancing and, hopefully, see you all soon again!

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Dutch International Zouk Congress, October 23-27, 2014: Where the Party’s at :).

The adventure began with a rather epic fail. My suitcase was packed, everything was ready. I woke up in the morning right on time, got ready, left the house, caught the tram, then the bus… About 10 minutes away from the airport I, for an n-th time, checked the clock… It was odd that it said 10:25am… It shouldn’t have said that. It was supposed to be 9:25 – because my flight was bound to depart at 10:30…

To this day I have no idea where that hour went! But it sure was expensive because I had to get a new ticket… I arrived much later than planned but at least met some other fellow Zoukeiros at Schipol who went part of the way on the same train.

Thursday party made it all worth the trouble already – so many wonderful people I haven’t seen in a while :).

(Note: (c), as usual, belongs to picture authors)

DIZC 2014 5

Starting off on a very good note 🙂

DIZC 2014 4

DIZC 2014 3

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Here’s my latest victim: a Salsero I met many years ago who I finally converted into Zouking and talked into coming to the Congress :D. Watch out world – he’d be super good in a short time!

The party was not long enough (when is it ever, really? :)), so we organized a follow-up and consequently crashed the hotel breakfast. I then had to pick up my suitcase from another town and get back to the hotel, but our reservation couldn’t be found… So I hung out at the lobby with other Zoukeiros, we ordered pizzas and chilled out until finally our room was sorted out.

DIZC 2014 13

DIZC 2014 14

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On Friday at the end of the party I managed to slightly overstretch my wrist. It was not really that much of an injury, but following the “better safe than sorry” mantra, I fixed it with the elastic bandage to not accidentally make matters any worse. Looked badass 😀

DIZC 2014 17

Crazy chicas 🙂

DIZC 2014 12

Slowing down and smelling the flowers at the Sunday party :). Sporting the most Dutch colored thing I could think of 😀

DIZC 2014 survivors Sunday night

Congress survivors!

DIZC 2014 8

We’re not done yet!!!

DIZC 2014 1

We got some sleep. Nowhere near enough. I was also slightly sick and that wasn’t helping :D. We had some time to kill before changing the living quarters, so the “perfectly normal girls” got to taking a bunch of psycho themed selfies 🙂

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DIZC 2014 2

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I swear we’re normal 😀 (every 29th of February… )

DIZC 2014

DIZC 2014 15We spent the following two days at a hostel somewhere not far from the city and thus closed the Congress by attending the two official afterparties :). Monday night I realized I desperately need to visit Canada (Because Dariussssss!!!!!!) some day and Tuesday night was great to smooth out the inevitable transition into normality…

DIZC 2014 18

Genius :D. I’d probably also cross out ‘eat’ 😀

That pretty much sums up the events of the week :). Great dances with many new people I’ve never met before, and with great old favorite partners as well. Great music, great crowd, great venue and great organization! See you all soon again!

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Delhi Workshops at the VOW – Waiting for More!

Part of my Delhi adventures ended up tied to the VOW. We initially got in touch with Sohini because she couldn’t make it to the Sunday session and, a short while later, as I had a free Tuesday – another Zouk workshop was organized :). It was small but very friendly – I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Dancing feet

My lovely partner 🙂

Angry rhino vs. zen Leah 😀

Rainbow dancers!

Practice time

😛

The hands… Probably my most favorite picture from the whole trip!

Workshop survivors 🙂

Green monsters

Someone wants to bite the rhino!

Namaste!

It was a lovely day, followed by a lovely social. Special additional thanks to Dr. Himanshu for producing some magic pill that finally settled my stomach, for the parties at the basement and the motorbike rides in crazy Delhi traffic! Let’s hope I can be back some day soon! 🙂

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Thank God for Dance in Delhi! November 30 – December 6, 2014. I’ll be back!

My Delhi adventure began on Thursday, November 27th when I landed and couldn’t get a hold of my friend for a very long time. Luckily, we finally connected, I found the person who was picking me up and I was officially the wedding guest for the weekend :).

On Sunday following the wedding the second part of my Delhi adventure began – a series of workshops organized on fairly short notice by Anuj (Thank God for Dance). Many thanks for having me over the whole week and bearing with my crazy scheduling during the planning stages! 🙂

We kicked the week off by the 2.5h long partner-dance workshop on Sunday afternoon (when I was freshly sleep-deprived and tequila/whiskey-infused from the Wedding after-party… So yeah, remember – if anything was strange, blame it on the alcohol! 😀 ).

By the way, I know I promised to send you class notes – and I will do that for everyone who leaves a comment on this entry (here on the blog, NOT on FB!) and tell, in retrospect:

1. How do you remember the workshop and would you recommend it to a friend?
2. Was it useful/fun as it was, or could something be changed for the better?
3. A few months later, do you use what you learned and has it helped your dancing?

Be honest! You guys were the first guinea pigs for that specific workshop format, so I need to know if the test was successful or not really 😀

This way to insanity 😀 (Sleep deprivation does that o people 😀 )

Wait, where was I?…

Remember the magic ‘C’ word? 😉

Initiating transmission

Last exercise required dimmed lights and a promise that whatever happened in those few minutes would stay at the studio :D.

Workshop survivors

Workshop survivors showing their true faces 😀

The second workshop that day was specifically for Zouk dancers.

Who, me?!

With another great group of students 🙂

Who were equally not normal 😀 😀 :D. (All pictures here)

We finished the night with the social and that’s when I realized I ate something that disagreed with me, although it fully kicked in only by Monday. But despite that, we survived and had a great time dancing at the parties and having fun at the workshops during the rest of the week – the two Zouk beginner workshops on Monday and Wednesday, Salsa styling on Thursday and Bachata on Friday.

It was amazing to be there and I hope to be able to get back some day again for more fun and craziness!!!

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4th Middle East Zouk & Kizomba Festival, November 20-23, 2014: Zouk ME, Baby, One More Time!

It was mid-November and thus time to catch some Zouk and Sunshine in the UAE again :). Suitcase packed for two countries (more about that in the following entry), I ventured into the airport on the day of the official Congress pre-party – Wednesday the 19th. I was meant to stay over at a friend’s place that night, but the friend was all of a sudden out of town, so I discovered myself homeless…

The alternative plan was to drop by one Zoukeira’s place for a quick shower before the party, but our flight was slightly delayed and she had to leave to the venue quicker than planned. So I touched down in Dubai both homeless and stinky :D.

Fortunately, DJ Brandon was on the same flight and someone was there to pick him up from the airport – I thus didn’t need to take metro rides with my broken suitcase and got a VIP ride straight to the venue well before the party started :).

The party venue was La Porte Des Indes at the Dubai Mall. I decided to go t the bathrooms and wash my hair in the sink because why the hell not? So I went downstairs and found out in those fancy bathrooms the choice of tap water was between ‘cold’ and ‘very cold’… Hmmm… No me gusta cold water!!! Plus it’s just not as effective for washing, especially hair… What to do?

I thought since the water was cold anyway, I’d go instead into a stall where there are hoses too and where I could take off my t-shirt to freshen up without a potential risk of flashing anyone in the common area with the sinks, as I’m not entirely sure how culturally appropriate it is. I took a few small cloth hand towels with me and locked my self up, ready to bum my grooming out full on :D. And this is where I found out that the water in those hoses is actually just a bit more than tepid! WIN! I washed my hair (helps it is still short after I had to cut it in June 😀 ), freshened up, changed and went back upstairs nice and squeaky clean :).

Waiting for the party to start and for the hair to dry 🙂

It was such a treat to be there right from the start and see everyone come in! It was like constant wave of “so happy to see YOU!.. And YOU!..” that stretched for a while instead of being squeezed into a shorter time when you’re the one coming in later and everyone is already there :D.

Wonderful people reunited again! 😀

As I had expected, I wasn’t left out in the streets for the night and found a place to crash at for the night. The next day we were off to Ras al Khaimah, where I found out another surprise: my roommate forgot that we were supposed to be roommates, so I was homeless yet again :D. But hey – the Omani brothers wouldn’t be themselves if they couldn’t remedy the situation and, yet again, I found a different quarters for the weekend – THANK YOU!!!!!

Thus followed the weekend of Zouk dancing until breakfast, and beach-going to enjoy the sunshine. Intercepted in my case with an epic head-banging session when the DJ naively thought we could be scared off of the dance floor by metal at 7am… (riiiiiight!).

It was full of great dancing and amazing shows. Like, for example, this one that touched upon a very deep topic in such an amazing way that it still gives me goosebumps to eve think back to it!

It was a smaller crowd than last year, and somehow a bit more divided into separate groups it seemed rather than having that one core power-house crew like the previous year. But it was still a lovely event with amazing people, great energy, so much love from the organizers, a rare heaven for the followers because there were more than enough leaders for everyone at all times, and it was, yet again, over way too soon…

In Dubai, my friend was back so I was no longer homeless :). It was time for the customary after-party streak that began on Sunday again at the beautiful La Porte Des Indes :).

This might have even been a Salsa 😀

Withe the one and the only – Nayan!

Between the dancing and the filming, Nyx and Paulo wanted to take pictures with all the ladies. It started pretty tamely…

But then…

After Val’s turn…

It started to get a bit crazier

With more people crashing the picture by the minute…

And some more people…

And a few more people…

Until a good portion of the survivors were in the frame 😀

Yet again, the party was way too short. And it was time to say goodbye to so many wonderful people and artists who made the event incredible with their energy and love!

Oh, and here’s what Paulo and Nyx managed to sneakily film at the party while no one was none the wiser because it was all shot on the phone!

We *heart* Zouk ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what the participants had to say about this wonderful event:

Not too many Zoukeiros stayed for the week, but the few who did kept the party ball rolling in style :). On the 25th we went to Abu Dhabi for another dose of vitamin ‘Z’. And on the 26th there was the very very last after-party at Casa Latina.

The very last (for me) after-party

Hugs to the fun crazy Kimmy!!!

And there it was – the end of my stay… It was time to leave the warmest, funnest, craziest ME crowd and head to my next destination – all the way to Delhi! (more on that here and here) 🙂

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Dresden Zouk Family Meeting October 3-5, 2014: Lovely Way to Mark Another Decade

Dresdennn!!! Every time such a lovely get-together :). This one was no exception, plus it coincided with my birthday :). I arrived to Dresden from Budapest (that’s a whole other story) only on Saturday evening, so I missed the barbecue and the Friday night party. But it didn’t matter – there was enough Zouking on Saturday and Sunday :D. I also got a chance to try my skillz in drawing on myself with henna – it wasn’t too bad in the end! On top of everything I got to stay with my lovely crazy friend Franzi – what else to wish for :). Thanks to the whole team as always for the wonderful atmosphere and for taking such great are of us all! And for accidentally organizing it so that I got to welcome a new decade in such an amazing company :). See you next time!

1001 Zouk Nights 🙂

1001 Crazy Zouk Nights

Barefoot Sunday Zouk is in 😀

The ‘barely-standing’ survivors…

 

To be fair, this was waaaaaaaaay past any planned curfew for the end of the last party 🙂

 

A fact that is visible from how light it is outside at this point 😉

 

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Summer Madness Saga Part 3: Sensual Summer Festival Berlin, August 1-4, 2014. Aka ‘Party Till You Drop’.

Friday morning started off at Mataro beach, where Eric and I found our perfect soul mates. One very last Caipifresa with Rose and we said the very last goodbyes to the wonderful city, heading to Barcelona to drop off the car and catch our flight to Berlin. By 11pm I was already settled at Cici’s place (you’re amaaaaazing! Thank you so much for having us over and taking care of everyone even though you also had to work really hard at the congress!), fed, squeaky clean and ready to party. The withdrawal symptoms from the preceding insanity of Amsterdam and Mataro were slightly softened by seeing many of the same crazy party people in Berlin :). In fact, I’ve kept the party pass band ever since as a memento about the three weeks of Zouk madness, great vibes and general insanity :).

Hopefully, by next year the security would remember this event and allow people to take in the bags – that’s probably the only slightly less comfy thing they did (parting ladies with the world inside their bags is just such a no-no! Or guys with their stash of clean t-shirts 😀 ). It was warm inside but yet again the weather was to blame.

Other than that though, the floor was just right, the sound was great, bar staff friendly and light dim enough for the most part. Quick note to whoever was playing Kizomba for like 30 minutes at a time on Friday: pssst! Wrong floor! That was supposed to be upstairs ;). Luckily on Saturday there was less ‘evil intervention’ and on Sunday it was just amaaaazing music-wise. The parties turned into a dancing marathon with very few breaks, and progressively more time spent up in the air and, very literally, down on the floor :D. I ended up looking like a battered wife because of all the bruises, but it was so totally worth it! Shout out to Simon!!! At least during the day I was able to chill and catch up on both sleep and some writing :). Big thanks to Mafie and William for the pro dance tips!

End of the party

Most of my dancefloor time in Berlin looked somewhat along those blurred lines 😀

Black and white 🙂

Thus ended the grand Summer Madness Saga that left a lot off those pages and stowed away in our hearts and memories. What a ride! Much love to all the people who made those three weeks so special!

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Summer Madness Saga Part 2: Zouk Devils and Friends Weekend in Mataro, July 24-27, 2014. Aka ‘The Mataro Effect’.

Aka ‘The Week of More Epic Stories, Not All of Which Can Be Told’ (the beginning of it all is here and the closing chapter here). Kicked off right from the start by an adventure – how else :). So: Rose, Nicky and I safely boarded in Amsterdam and just as safely landed in Barcelona, and it took just slightly over a forever to get to Mataro due to some train and ticket nuances. Thing is, if you switch from the airport train to any other at Sants, you need to exit the tourniquet from the airport train platform, then re-enter through tourniquets for all other platforms. However, if you exist through the machine at Sants, you can no longer exit anywhere else. Equally, you can’t re-enter through the machine at Sants because you already entered at the airport. The procedure is then to either buy two tickets – airport-Sants then the other stretch, or to buy full ticket and at Sants exit without going through the tourniquet and ask a staff member to let you through to the other platforms. They all know about this glitch in the system. We arrived late though. By the time we got to Sants there were no staff members there. We spent a while asking around, failed to notice an open gate further on another side, and ended up buying extra tickets.

But we made it! Or so we thought… Nicky went to her hotel and we got to the door of Oscar’s apartment just about midnight. Rang the bell… No answer… Someone who lived in the building came by and let us in, so we got to the apartment door, rang the bell a few times… No answer… Tired and homeless and hungry, we devised a plan: I volunteered to go to the nearby McDonald’s for some fuel while Rose posted in the Zouk Devils event that we were squatting on Oscar’s staircase and asked if someone knew where he might be. We thought there was some party going on and he may be out there somewhere.

The homeless junk food junkies 😀

Now, you’re probably thinking “wait… who took the picture then?” ;).

The group post kicked off a national search effort for our host (btw huge thanks for letting us stay over!!!). By the time I got back with McFood (ringing the doorbell from downstairs for Rose to let me into the building, since it could be heard through the door from inside the flat), some people got in touch with some people and, since no one was able to reach Oscar by any means, re-routed us for the night to another place. Thus, half way through our meal two saviors showed up (again, ringing the apartment door bell from downstairs) – hence the picture. They had a car and dropped us off at Maite’s for the night (thank you so much, chica!). Since we had an air bed with us, it all worked out wonderfully well in the end :).

On Wednesday morning the mystery was solved: Oscar was inside the apartment, but he was sound asleep and didn’t hear anyone ring the door bell or knock! He came to get us, we settled up, waited for the Ams-Mataro road trip crew to show up and headed to the beach. The sun and the sea were just what we all needed! After the yummy dinner at the Tsunami bar we headed back to the house with the intention to sleep, but of course ended up chatting till about 4am – because sleep is totally overrated :).

Practicing photobombing skills

House guests (and host) headed to the beach

The whole day on Thursday was spent at the beach – aaaaaahhhh! Perfection! One of our earlier saviors Sergi helped me to get into the sea – by basically throwing me into the water. I asked for it, though, because otherwise it would have taken me an hour to get in and I may have given up half way through (I HATE cold water, and anything below 27 is cold by my perpetually freezing standard) :). Andre brought a Frisbee to the beach and we gave it a good run before rounding off the sandy part of the day by some Caipifresas – yummmmmm! The Mataro effect was kicking in already by then – the beach, the people, the music, the drinks… That precious chillaxed slash crazy atmosphere of the Zouk Devils & Friends Weekend was slowly taking over.

The weekend officially began that night with the pre-party at Tsunami. Great atmosphere, great music, great weather and great people – what else to wish for? Maybe a little bit less of Kizomba though. A couple of songs here and there are okay, but I was under the impression that Zouk Devils event was meant to be for alternative music styles more than for traditional stuff we all hear at all parties all the time anyway… (Hint: just don’t play more than two in a row and no one would notice 😉 ).

Here we go – party time!

That look of suspicion lolllllll

Mataro July 2014 7

Mataro July 2014 9

Crazy chicas 🙂

On Friday Rose and I relocated to an apartment coincidentally and conveniently 5 minutes away from Oscar’s place – we intentionally decided to get a place for 3 nights to make it easier for everyone else and ourselves to sleep and get ready during the most intense part of the program. Then, of course, it was beach time again. And our new tradition from now on – Caipifresa at Tsunami to kick off the evening :).

The city party was on Friday – a good thing because we actually slept before it. We were totally ready for the whole deal as well: we packed some old thick clothes to cover up from the fire sparklers, proper shoes for the water party, I had a plastic watertight container for the camera and wallet (to keep it safe both from water and from being squished into pieces) and plastic bags to keep the change of clothes dry, and Rose had a waterproof outdoors rubber bag for the stuff. We walked down to Ibis to meet the rest of the group, ran into Sergi and his brother and were immediately offered some rum. The party was getting started and the craziness of it all was already felt in the air before we even got to the procession starting point.

This year the music was actually pretty cool. We all were dancing, drinking (some of the Devils had an entire bar in their backpacks, mixing drinks for everyone), passing ice cubes to one another (wink, wink!), doing the 1-15 count chant/dance and generally having a good time. Maria and I got a short ride on Sergi’s shoulders (not at the same time) – nice vantage point to see the crowd :).

The group was much bigger than last year so we kept on losing everyone – maybe we can have two official ‘meeting points’ for the party people next year? One at the square where the fire procession ends – under that tree, where all the lost souls can gravitate until the end of the fire part. And another at the water party – for example, tell everyone who gets lost to make it to, say, the second stationary row of water sprinkler construction on either left or right hand side of the crowd. That way everyone can always find the rest of the group easily even if we get separated and plus we don’t need to keep stopping to wait for people who got cut off by the crowd? I’m totally buying a waterproof hoodie to wear next year though because DAAAAAAYMN that water is cold!!! And I’d wanna partaay longer! This night Rose and I got separated and we were already tired, so I walked home and she got back shortly after. Even that was way past 5am already :). We ditched the special clothes, dropped onto the bed and passed out.

On the way to the fire 🙂

Wonderfully normal people 😀

Posers

Waiting for the fire, drinking Claras…

On Saturday we did a bit of grocery shopping and showed up at the beach much later than planned but still in time to enjoy enough sunshine for the day. Laziness took over and we ate again at Tsunami with a bunch of Zouk people before getting ready for the party at Technocampus.

Sun, sea, salad and Caipifresa – the good life!

Not sure what the Tsunami bar secret is for making their Caipifresas so incredible – but they truly are!

Strawberry monster!

Updated version – has a tongue :D.

The sentiment of the weekend – in a single picture

Zouk bus stop!

After the beach we were still in time for the great shows and it was generally a great night. Special thanks to Javi for absolutely amazing crazy dances straight from the soul; Nyx (unexpected last moment addition to the event) and Yasmin for the dance floor fun and for being the best partners in so many crimes; all the DJs for the music (minus the Kizomba parts :P. Also, I think it would be wiser to keep the high bpm house stuff down to 1-2 songs every now and then instead of several in a row – it’s just hard to keep on running around at that pace and enjoy it 🙂 ); Vinay for the funnest acrobatics session, and everyone else I danced with that night – I enjoyed every moment of it! We walked back to the apartment, taking sunrise pictures and grabbing breakfast on the way.

In the flow

Insanity

Mi mami!

More insanity 🙂

Keeping her safe 🙂

Morning selfie!

This trip, by the way kick-started a selfie-spree. The roots of this silly new obsession can be found in the epic Monday afterparty in Amsterdam, for it is that memorable morning, ladies and gentlemen, that Yasmin and I first heard the Selfie Song. If the universe somehow passed you by this year, feel free to enjoy the masterpiece here:

It’s so incredibly silly and the lyrics, the accent and the theme so ridiculous that it’s actually brilliant. Therefore, “lemme take a selfie!” became our new hobby 😀

Ready for it?

Let’s ROCK!!!

We found a nice cafe open at that hour – mmmmm the fresh pastry, aromatic coffee and warmth of the rising sun!

By Sunday the Mataro effect got through even to the most resistant ones. It was easy to tell by the number of people dancing right on the beach the whole afternoon (the few days before there was music at the beach but not much dancing going on). As a refreshment, someone brought water guns to the beach :). This time my Santa’s helper for getting into the sea was Andre (muchos gracias), except that now I need to devise an elaborate revenge plan because instead of throwing me into the water quickly (something we did for a while afterwards) he actually got me in torturously slow. Still quicker than I would have managed myself though hmmm…

Dancing on the beach

The by now traditional Caipifresa signified the time to go get ready for the party at La Clave. Luckily, even though officially it was meant to go till only 2am, the party stretched out a bit longer, so we managed more great dancing, a bit of contact improv on the floor, and more acrobatic madness and good times.

We watched the city day fireworks on the way to the party 🙂

Zennnn

Under the spell of the ZoukVoodoo master 😀 😀 😀

Just the usual stuff, nothing to see here 🙂

Luckily, there was a 24h restaurant next to La Clave, so a good portion of die hard party people went in for a nice breakfast. The toast deserved a picture both for the presentation and deliciousness! Let’s just say, the general mood was such that some people were doing Vodka shots around 6am…

Yummm!

On Monday the beach plan was ruined by the weather – it rained the whole day. At least that was a great excuse to sleep half of the day through! Even though the original plan was to stay in Mataro for another night, because there was an afterparty in Barcelona, Yasmin and I packed up and took all our stuff there for the night, planning to find a hostel after the party.

We were the very first people at the doors of the bar, so we decided to get a drink and come back when the rest of the people show up. Conveniently, we discovered a bar with Caipifresa right nearby! Also conveniently and very luckily for us, the other first person at the bar turned out to be a great human being and allowed Yasmin and myself to crash over for the night instead of taking a hostel! At the party I got a chance to catch up on dances with a few people I missed during the weekend. Sadly, the Devils didn’t make it but everyone was so exhausted that it’s not really such a surprise. I also downed a shot because Kimmy somehow won some bet with somebody, which resulted in the Tequila round… In other words, Zouk: corrupting people…

First! Not to comment but to show up at the party :).

Zouk die hards!

Preview of a Zouk road trip story with Eric Fehr coming up some day. Pictured: my perfect match, found on the beach after the road trip! Also, last picture taken before the final chapter of the saga…

No matter what happens, always remember this!

On what was officially already Tuesday morning in Barcelona we went to catch those few precious sleep hours. At just around 9am it was time for me to head to the airport for a slight (several days long) detour through Andorra and France on the way to yet another event – the one that wrapped up the Summer Madness Saga. But this is, of course, an entirely different story

Posted in Zouk (neo-zouk, lambazouk) | 4 Comments

Summer Madness Saga Part 1: ZNL Weekend in Amsterdam, July 18-20, 2014. Aka ‘The Weekend of Epic Stories, Not All of Which Can Be Told’.

The moral of this saga is once and for all to prove that Zouk people are insane addicts :). Let it, therefore, serve as a warning to anyone new entering the scene: your life will never be the same if you fall victim to the Zouk madness :).

The journey began on July 16 when I boarded the bus for a 16h journey to Amsterdam. Just about a week before that one fine day I woke up and couldn’t get off the bed. In fact, I could barely move at first at all – something got majorly stuck somewhere in my lower back. It never happened before so I’m not sure what it was, but it was tricky to even walk for the first few days after that morning. Now, a normal person would have gone to a doctor and most likely postponed any trips, especially those involving a lot of (at the time seemingly impossible) physical activity. But who said I was a normal person? I did actually postpone my trip by 3 days, but it was more because everyone else were arriving later that week than for any other responsible reasons…

Strangely enough, the back felt actually better after the trip. Maybe the bus had magic chairs or maybe the way I was sitting put everything in the right position, but by the time I arrived the following afternoon it was more than bearably unobtrusive. Huge shout out goes to our lovely Nicky who picked me up from the station and dropped me off at Yasmin’s place – it would have been a much trickier journey without you!

After a small adventure with the downstairs door key (now we all know it’s push and right, not pull and left), we dropped off the luggage, went to get some food, cooked a quick dinner and I set off for the open air party. I missed the actual open air part though (rather a shame, as the weather was glorious :)) because everything took longer than planned, but there was still some music inside. Trick question: what do you do when your back hurts? Answer: dance Zouk, of course! I was feeling even better after a few dances – a great start of the weekend!

I would like to add a disclaimer here: please don’t actually dance Zouk when your back/neck hurts! There are different types of pains and different things that can go wrong. For some of those, careful physical activity is something that releases the stuck parts and removes the problem. Yet for other problems, the movement causes more injury! Know your body, be careful and don’t force movement through the pain! The reason why I made the decision to try and dance was because during the entire week after the incident I noticed that movement relieved all symptoms for me, so it was a type of ‘stuck’ that could be ‘unstuck’ through familiar movement. I danced very carefully the first evening and was ready to stop the moment it would feel worse and simply enjoy myself in the city without dancing. Luckily for me, movement very quickly put everything  back in order.

On Friday the rest of the ‘weekend team’ arrived. We got some groceries, spent about 15 minutes trying to find where the pay machine for the parking was and how to get to it (seriously, that parking lot was a damn Narnia!), dropped the car off back at the flat and went to Vondelpark to relax in the sunshine… At about 4pm… The sunshine was still there for a little while, so we got our dose, then made it back to the casa, where our Mami Yasmin cooked a nice dinner for all us babies and a few additional dinner guests. Then it was time for the party at Mirror Center. By the way, enormous thanks to Ruanita for managing to organize the event that brought together two amazing DJs – Mafie Zouker and Nyx – and to change the date to a week earlier, enabling us all to attend! You rule!

ZNL fest Ams July 2014

The only picture of me from that weekend :).

It was a nice party, although a bit too hot, but no one can control the psychotic Dutch weather that decided to go all tropical that weekend and overheat the venue :). It was great to see everyone again and to enjoy great music! The party went on only until 3am – way too early the mad party people standard, so we planned, as is the tradition, an after-party at Leidseplein. The plan, however, took a few unexpected and partially rather unfortunate turns, but that’s one of those stories that can’t be told…

Fast-forward to (uncensored again) Saturday afternoon, when I got a chance to catch up on some sleep and to give a good start to the book Tipping Point – the one I was hoping to get a hold of for a while and finally spotted at Yasmin’s. After the nicely relaxing day, it was even easier to enjoy the Saturday night party, despite the heat. Whoever brought baby powder for the floor that night – thank you sooo much! I swear I’ll eventually get to carrying my own stash to all events – I just need to find a good travel container for it! My lower back was  still occasionally ‘communicating’ with me but it kept feeling better every day – I always knew Zouk has magic healing properties!

The afterparty that day began at Leidseplein without me – logistics dictated that picking up was out of question and I couldn’t be bothered going by public in the middle of the night. So I happily went to sleep… The party, however, spilled over into the house after 5am – it began by covering the living room windows with blankets (WHY U NO HAVE CURTAINS, YASMIN? Lolllll) to dim the light and waking up Erik with loud music :).

On (uncensored) Sunday the 20th just for a change of a setting we went to the Brazilian music open air festival. It had an officially Zouk-Kizomba hall, entirely taken over by Zoukeiros, of course. The event kicked off a bit slow but then it picked up when everyone arrived; the music once again was great and it rained a bit later in the day, finally cooling off the heat.

At the end of the party we got into another tiny adventure involving trying to get back home – the train station we arrived to was quite a distance away, but that day the trains were not running on that line. So we needed to find another way back home. Basically, it was a nice long walk in fresh air :). 

Thus arrived the epic Monday – the day that for several reasons is bound to go down in history. The day kicked off in a complete chill mode – it rained all the time. I pretty much finished the book and stocked up on more sleep – a wise decision as it later turned out. This time there was a proper customary after-party – just the way it should be. The evening started at the Pancake Corner/Sport bar on Leidseplein, finally with the complete party people team, and carried over to Candela for the open mic night. The epicness of the night started rolling in slow at first, but right away nevertheless. To begin with, for some reason we were all allowed by the doorman to get in for free. At Candela it was happy hour by that time, so all shots were only 2.5 Euros (still more than the 10 for 10 at Sports bar, but definitely reasonably low by Amsterdam standards). Given that, one of the rounds was seemingly forgotten by the staff and we weren’t billed for it… A bit later after all the singing done by our own personal super star there was a girl walking past who gave us a flier for another free shot (are you noticing the trend?). Slightly later in the night while dancing around, I found pretty much about 75 euros on the floor… I honestly gave it time for anyone to pick up but no one seemed to be missing anything, so the ‘Lost and Found’ prophesy on the t-shirt Yasmin was wearing that night was fulfilled, too! 

When the club finally closed, we took the party back home with us and arranged an entire club this time in the other room with lights and sound set up just right (scene: 3 people are looking at the smart phone, searching App Store to download an app that lights up the display in succession by all the colors of the rainbow. Upon finding the right app, one person hits ‘install’ button and misses. Three people stare at the smart phone for at least 5 full seconds… For some strange reason, nothing happens… Nothing keeps happening for another couple of seconds either… Then I reach up to the screen and actually hit the ‘install’ button… The app loads. Three people burst out laughing. Cut scene…), and the window covered up by a mutilated black fitted bed sheet (that had to be cut at the corners) kept in place by green kinesiotape of all things…

The private party carried on well into (uncensored) Tuesday morning and I only slept for a couple of hours before it was time to pack and head to the airport… Final little cherry on top? The tourniquets at the train station were not working, so I basically got a free ride to the airport because there was nowhere to check in at the platform and no one checked tickets on the train :). It was such an epic night that I was still hyper when I arrived and joined Rose and Nicky for part two of the Summer Saga

Posted in lambazouk), Zouk (neo-zouk | 2 Comments

Moscow Zouk, Salsa, Samba, Kizomba Congress. June 27-29, 2014

To be fair, I was at the Moscow Congress simply because I was in the city and a few good friends went. But I was slightly confused by the event. First of all, to mix this many styles is, obviously, tricky, though could in theory work for a crowd that enjoys most or all of them. Still tricky. It just sounds like you can’t even decide what the congress is about. For an event like that it’s probably advisable to call it “Latin Dance Weekend” and primarily target people entirely new to dancing to introduce them as a teaser to available styles so that they start to take classes after the event. Scheduling of classes then and proportions of music must be carefully selected and stuck to. Other than that such a mesh is unjustified. In the end, we had much more fun that weekend elsewhere…

On Thursday the Congress pre-party was actually pretty cool – good music mix and atmosphere, though most of the teachers were busy watching football :D. But it was still pretty lovely and we enjoyed it.

Lovely kick-off crowd

Still not enough fun 😉

It ended early, so our krazay krew and the Omani Pervs went to some other spot. At first, we tried to solve the transportation challenge…

They totally should let people ride in the truck! 😀

Then we had a pit- stop at the only establishment that was nearby our destination – going through the drive-through in imaginary cars 🙂

This was a very fun pit-stop 🙂

Then we dropped into the Salsa place for a little bit, but in the end it wasn’t that inspiring, so we left and headed for the metro… But instead saw that this place was open and spent the waiting time in a lovely warm place instead 🙂

Waiting for the order…

Moscow never sleeps!

When we finally get our goodies..

They all end up MIIIINEEEE!!!

(I’m not greedy at all :D)

Our dear guests have left that day, so we were without moral support for what the rest of the weekend brought…

On Friday night there seemed to be more teachers than party people out there. Actually, we couldn’t fight the feeling that this particular congress was like a party for a group of Brazilian friends which some other random people were allowed to attend but weren’t entirely part of. So since the teachers mainly sat together in their own section of the place, mostly danced with one another, if at all, and more rarely with anyone else, the party people were entrusted with keeping it going. That, for the most part, was a difficult task. Most of the night it was either Lambada or Kizomba music. Some occasional Samba here and there. A bit of Salsa. Never mind that the floor would fill up the moment Zouk came on and empty at most other times… But it got even more interesting when the last DJ took over. He probably was playing for himself, had no clue about flow, no idea what the congress was about, and definitely considered looking at the floor to be way below him in merit. He played mostly Afro-house and (ready for it?) MERENGUE!!!!! I’ve heard more Merengue that Friday night than I’ve heard in the past few years COMBINED – and that includes Salsa parties. That the dance floor was empty (pretty literally at times, with 5 people on it at others), and that when he accidentally occasionally put on a good Zouk song the entire crowd was immediately up on their feet, and that this pattern continued for hours, was none of the DJ’s bother. Seriously. Worst. Music. Ever. In the entire history of bad music. Not only in my own humble opinion.

Memento from the Merengue night…

On Saturday Sasha and I first went to Era for a regular party and had a great time with a lot of awesome music. Then we relocated to the Congress party and I danced a total of I think 6 songs in the night. The venue was pretty good and the party was pretty happening, but the music just didn’t flow and was less than inspiring, especially after Era, plus there was a significantly greater number of followers. So I just watched – the great fun shows and other dancers later on.

Sleeping beauties

On Sunday night we first went to a party at Buff, where I got yet another dancing fix on. Then we headed to the Congress closing party and it finally felt like one! It was a combination of a cozy venue and, finally, good music, that did the trick. We had a lovely night, I was actually on the floor for the most part, especially after DJ Dragon took over, and we had lovely fun :).

Brazill!

Finally, on Monday the remaining survivors got together for a chill-down after-party at a Salsa/Kizomba night, marking the definite end of the weekend.

Last survivors

Better luck for 2015!

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Carioca Brazilian International Dance Congress in St. Petersburg, June 12-16, 2014.

My niece decided to get married at a very convenient time – on the same weekend as Dadinho’s master classes and parties (which I enjoyed very much) in Moscow :). Thus, unlike most summers, I was in Russia for the whole June. This, of course, meant I couldn’t miss the upcoming congresses and this is how I ended up in Piter :). It wasn’t a huge event, but quite a few great people made it there, which seemed very promising…

The pre-party was short and sweet – great to see everyone again! And there definitely are perks to shorter hair – cuts shower time in half! 😀

Of course, finishing so early was entirely unacceptable. So we went for a late night snack with a few locos 🙂

Trying to take funny pictures at 4-5am..

Sort of succeeding…

But of course, this still was not enough. We went to Tania’s place first and only after a while there finally to sleep 😀

My lovely crazy Sasha! Rocking (sort of) Brazilian colors on Friday night :).

I noticed that, despite seemingly enough space on the floor, this was one of the few congresses I wasn’t feeling safe at at all. People seemed to not even glance around and to generally ignore all dance-floor safety… How come?

We closed the night by crazy ass-shaking and a commemorative selfie 😀

// And below, if you get permission from the poster, you can see what else we did that morning in a great FB video :D.

With one of the best ever Russian Zoukeiras!

We had fun at the congress because of the fun people who attended the event, but still, a few things could be tweaked to make the event even better.

For instance, the pre and after parties were fairly short. If the organizers thought people would go home to sleep before the workshops, they seriously underestimate crazy Zoukeiros :). Some people left at a reasonable hour, but enough would have happily stayed an hour or two longer on each night. If this weren’t true, there’d be no after-parties – and there were :D.

Speaking of the workshops – apparently, they often ended up being way too crowded because there was usually just one Zouk option at any given time and a second option was a different dance. That’s a cool idea but it may help to maybe pair two Zouk workshops in one time slot and two non-Zouk ones in another and alternate this way all day instead? It seems that majority of people still choose Zouk workshops if the second choice is another dance and that creates an unmanageable crowd. If, instead, it was paired two Zouk, two non-Zouk, the crowd would much more comfortably split into more equal groups.

There was a great team of teachers invited to St. Petersburg but, sadly, we hardly ever saw any of them out on the floor. They all made an appearance but, with a few exceptions we really only saw three of them at the parties for any decent amount of time. On Friday we didn’t see most of them at all, on Saturday they were at the back most of the night celebrating Sara’s birthday (the surprise they guys prepared for her though was AWESOME! 🙂 ).

On Sunday the party was, to begin with, WAY too short. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the venue/permits, and if so that’s a shame. A short Sunday party though is a festival sin in and of itself – normally Sunday is in a way THE party – everyone is done, there are no more workshops to attend in the morning and the teachers are also done working so they are most likely to party and mingle. To make matters worse, the teachers and part of the dancers were all collected at 1am to go for the night tour of St. Petersburg… Well, thank you very much for making Sunday night party practically worthless, what can I say… I guess there was no way to have that night city tour on, say, Thursday or Monday or just later… This was a bit of a let-down way to finish an event… I wonder what the next year would bring – Piter is a beautiful place that many people should try to visit and, hopefully, the congress will grow. Just a few details and it would be even better 🙂

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6th Dresden Zouk Family Meeting, May 23-25, 2014.

May was full of action! I finished the month off with my favorite crowd at the family event we all so enjoy every time :). Unlike my character, I made sure to stay way beyond midnight (well, till the very end, of course!) of each party :).

Dresden ZFM May 2014

The last dances with full-length hair this year: this was exactly when I realized it was all falling out 🙂

 

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Always great pleasure!

 

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Spent the rest of the weekend with hair pinned up 😀

 

Dresden ZFM May 2014 2

Dresden ZFM May 2014 5

Dresden ZFM May 2014 1

Godfairy and myself after a make-over for the ball 😀

 

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Prague Zouk Marathon, May 9-11, 2014: Keep on Dancing Till the World Ends!

What happens when you organize an event focused on social dancing, music and mingling, but skip all workshops? A Prague Zouk Marathon by Zdenek Jahoda Broz happens! I was still fairly dead from my trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, but there was no way I could miss this! So not even a few days after landing back in Prague, here I was :).

It was a lovely event for the first edition – beautiful venue with enough space and a terrace for catching sun, pretty yummy food (huge kudos to the restaurant for keeping the food out pretty much until it was time to be serving the next round!), all types of music for all tastes, comfy bean bags for naps and Zouk around the clock with only a few hours’ break for sleep :). I hope 2015 edition will be even bigger! See you all on the floor!

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We’re so color-coding this place!

 

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Black and red (ignore the sneakers 😀 )

 

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Beautifully captured by Zdenek moments – thank you!

 

PIZM2014 1

PIZM2014 2

Check out ma top, ha! 😀

 

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PIZM2014 group

All these people survived until the very very very end!!! Not too bad for 1st edition!

 

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LA Zouk Congress at Queen Mary, May 1-5, 2014: Royally Fun Times!

My amazingly random trip to the East coast that began in San Francisco continued on :). After the bootcamp and mandatory sightseeing, on Wednesday April 30th we set off to Los Angeles. We took the route along the Big Sur (I swear one day I’ll catch up on travel photos!) for a solid part of the way, stopping for a load of pictures and having a generally great road trip to my awesome playlist. It took us forever to get there and everyone else was also tired, so we called it a night and got some rest – as much of it as could be gotten with about 20 people staying in the same house making a load of noise :). It would also help if the airbeds didn’t all have major holes in them (these things have a fairly short lifespan and need to be replaced on a regular basis) – it was near impossible to get any decent sleep :). So the night was a bit of an adventure but we’re still very happy to have had the chance to come earlier and stay over all together in the mad Kizouk house and share the love with the great people from all around! It’s a shame we didn’t get to dance in the house itself, but hey – that’s what the next time is for, right? 😉

My original Thursday plan was going to the Universal Studios – something my mom told me I must visit, else she won’t let me back :). However, the plan was adjusted and a few of us went to the Hollywood boulevard instead.

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Probably the most unimpressive famous boulevard ever… But with great company it didn’t matter at all!

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It was great to walk around in the sunshine and enjoy the hot weather.

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Especially so with the wonderful crazy people!

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We even had our own MJ with us 🙂

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Aka Dadinho in some select circles 😀

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I found a pretty good dance partner

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And decided I was enough of a celebrity to get be own star :D. (The placement next to Godzilla is entirely intentional :D)

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Two girls with bright hair

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And bright smiles 🙂

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Say “weeeeeeed!” 😀

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I absolutely love her color!

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Maybe one day will try it myself… 😉

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Cool people

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Yo, yo, yo!

At one point Yasmin and I wanted to grab something to eat really quick. We left the group to take pictures with the barely visible Hollywood sign and walked into some appealing store. When we walked out a few minutes later – everyone vanished without a trace! Of course, we had no way to contact anyone. We still aren’t sure where a huge group could quickly vanish, but the story has a happy ending: after walking up and down the boulevard a couple of times, we spotted our people in the same area they disappeared from. So we just acted like everything was normal and rejoined the group 🙂

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Lost souls reunited

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Yasmin was promoting the Dutch Congress in sunny LA 🙂

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I want a 1UP option IRL!

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I swear I’m perfectly normal!..

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Every 29th of every 2nd month of the year… 😉

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The store’s fault. Seriously. They were playing great dance music!

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Time to head back

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With some shopping and some picture-taking under the belt…

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Those feet are headed to dance!

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This way

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Ready… set…

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Cambreeeee!

Sightseeing ticked off the list, we made it back just in time to get ready, get to Queen Mary and board the party bus. It was equipped with a sound system, a centerpiece of a pole and enough drinks and ice for mixing :).

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This is how it looked like and a pretty decently sized crowed had fit in 🙂

The Party bus took us on a fun ride around the city. DJ Nyx managed to run the show playing directly from the iPhone without any preparation – props to thy, master! We took advantage of the pole installed in the middle of the bus and had some cool fun with Yasmin warming up for the official Congress kick-off.

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(Almost) everything that happened on the bus, stayed on the bus…

Our route took us all the way back to the Hollywood boulevard yet again, where we totally crashed some street performers’ act first when some of our crew started battling them in street dance and a couple of songs later when someone plugged in some Zouk and we took over the pavement for a couple of dances. We only made it to the Chinese Theater, then boarded back again.

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Out-street-dancing the street dancers 😀

The Party bus then delivered us to the pre-party venue. As you enter the place, the security checks your ID to make sure you’re over 21. They also put a wristband on the hand – and here came the mystery of the evening number one: I asked to have the wristband on the left hand so it’s less likely to catch in my hair. I got a very interesting response – they only put wristband on the right hand… because “the bartenders have to see it”… Insert stunned silence…

Am I the only one who fails to see how putting the wristband onto the left hand will make it invisible? Maybe they monitor when people grab drinks that each hand grabbing a drink has a wristband… Then what if someone’s left-handed? Or just happens to grab the drink from the bar with the other hand? And seriously how difficult is it to show it on demand?

But that wasn’t the only WTF type of a question that remained unanswered that night. We got a round of drinks at the bar shortly after coming in. So far all good. A while into the night it was time for round two. This time there was a different bartender and he asked for our IDs… I told him our IDs were already checked at the door, but he refused to serve us without it… So after I get my ID checked at the door and get my magic wristband that should kind of totally be enough already, I am still expected to run for my handbag at the other side of the establishment and present my ID at the bar every time… or what? Then why the hell bother with checking IDs at the door to begin with? I never got the answer to this one either and we found a roundabout way to get our drinks – from another bartender instead… Other than expanding our collection of world’s greatest mysteries though we had a great lot of fun and it was a shame the party finished a bit early!

On Friday I finally fulfilled my obligation to my mom and made it to the Universal Studios. Andre was kind enough to take me there and we managed to get onto almost all of the main rides during that day :). Props to Frank for suggesting the Transformers one! I might have skipped it and it was actually good 3D fun!

Upon our return, it was time to go ahead switch our home base to the legendary Queen Mary for the weekend :).

The weekend itself was just one non-stop party spree with short breaks for breakfast and longer for workshops – there were deck parties right after the workshops, then the main parties down at the steam room, followed very religiously every night by a massive pilgrimage to the taco/burrito truck parked conveniently just outside (I was pleasantly surprised with how fresh and tasty everything was), then followed by the afterparties on the deck that ran officially till sunrise and in reality until most dancers gave up and went to crash for a couple of short precious hours of sleep :). There was a slight Kizomba overdose on the deck on Saturday morning but the balance was redeemed for the rest of the weekend, so everyone got their fix :).

(Note: © for watermarked images belongs to their respective authors)

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First theme of the weekend: sailors!

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Swoosh!

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Testing the super-powers ;).

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Aaaand this was how one of the ultimate highlights of the congress for me had started…

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First I got sort of ‘stolen’ on the floor

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But then it just evolved into a great fun crazy Zouk threesome 😀

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My two wonderful crazy partners – glad they looked like they were having as much fun as I was 🙂

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Point also supported by the fact that we kept going for I don’t even know how many songs 😀

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THAT face! Priceless 😀

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Rocking on!

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Judging from the pictures and faces, maybe they were having MORE fun than I was?.. LOLLL

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Aaaaaand… cambre 😀

It was still dark when we moved to the upper deck. In the meantime, I got to dance some Kizomba and must admit even enjoyed the process! Though it may not be quite as surprising given the great leaders I got to dance with :).

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Sailors on the deck :). And the Kizomba master Joseal who has pretty much converted me to the dark side in one morning!

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Now, it was unplanned but the DJ booth was taken over by the caaaraayzaaay crew as it was lighting up… I hope everyone had as much fun dancing to our super special sexy set that morning, as we had been selecting all of the most explicit available songs from the playlist 😀 Unless, of course, we’re the only freaks who actually listen to all the lyrics… In which case you guys missed out on one elaborate joke :D.

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The Black and Gold party also finished on a fun note…

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Namely, with the survivors topping off a Kuduro session with THIS move 😀

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Last people on the deck!

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Monday morning after the Pink party. It’s getting noticeably colder, but I stayed warm – couldn’t stop dancing!

That night did not end for me though. First we had a lengthy breakfast and then I was called on my brag and ended up giving an impromptu private Zouk lesson to someone! Only then I caught a bit of sleep :).

Monday afternoon after a ‘slight’ delay of schedule we set off for the boat ride into the bay. Unfortunately, it was a fairly cold day after a gloriously hot weekend, so we didn’t get to soak up on hot sunshine as planned. However, we got to rest a bit, talk a bit and witness some epic West Coast Swing dances. I even had the honor (and the pleasure) of dancing with Jordan (wheeeeee!). Must absolutely learn that dance, it’s so amazing! Larissa, Aline and Kamacho turned out to be fantastic followers and it was an absolute feast for the eyes to watch them all dance, too – thank you guys for the treat and inspiration! And huge props and thanx to Jonathan for organizing the ‘pirate ship’ in the first place!

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Shady people…

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All the pirates arrrrr awesome people!

There was one more afterparty to go to on Monday night. It was to be our last one in LA but we left early to catch on some sleep before the long trip back to San Jose the next day…

It was amazing to meet many new great fun people, to be even converted into dancing and enjoying some Kizomba (only with a few special people though 🙂 ) and to share in some general fun and madness with the precious friends. Huge props to Shani and Ivo and the entire team for having put together such a great event and for inviting amazing artists (some of their social dances captured us all like amazing shows – everyone stopped to watch!) and DJs who made it such an unforgettable experience (“California!!!” ‘Nuff said :D)!

The amazing weekend behind us, we rode through picturesque mountains covered by sun spots, a solid rain cloud, and into a gorgeous sunset, made a mandatory stop at In-and-out for the burgers, arrived late at night and passed out entirely exhausted and, at least in my case, certifiably entirely happy.

And since gratitude is what makes a fulfilling life, here is the expression of my own:

Humongous thanks to my dear wonderful Gigi girl for having enough confidence to invite me over and for somehow putting this entire trip together at such short notice! For being cool and laid back and fun and generous and for EVERYTHING! I hope it wasn’t our last adventure!

Special thanks to everyone who signed up and came for the bootcamp – you were such an amazing, supportive, fun, positive Zouk family and it was an honor to visit you and to be useful to you somehow! I hope it wasn’t the last time we do something crazy together!

To Joe for letting us crash over with everyone else – it was just so much fun to hang out with the family :).

To Andre for the great day at Universal :).

To Yasmin for showing me I’m not the only nutcase in the basket and for being the best and funnest partner in crime, and for lending me the corner of her own bed 😀

To Lilianna who ended up being such a great room mate for a few hours and such a cool human being with a lot of similarities in outlook on life – I thought us people were extinct or something, and it was pure joy to discover altogether three like-minded brains around! Thanks for being one of them and for the ‘intel’ that saved me some precious sleep ;).

To Eddie and for the most epic Zouk threesome ever! And for all our dances – you guys are absolutely great!

To Jose and Jules for making me ‘unhate’ Kizomba to the point of actually liking it – I couldn’t get enough of dancing with you! Jose if you find yourself with a bag over your head taken in an unknown direction – don’t panic: I likely sent my minions to fetch you over for a few more dances lmaoooo.

To DJ Nyx for epic sets every night, for the special fun sexy morning playlist on Saturday and whatever the hell it was that was going on at the deck at the end of the party because all I remember is flying through the air a lot, wheeeee 😀 (who the hell filmed us and where’s the footage?!). For the CD (FINALLY I have those songs, yessss!), crazy times, and for just being the wonderful amazing you that you are. Hasta la proxima!

To Jordan for all the dances on the boat we all enjoyed witnessing and being a part of, and to Tatiana for the inspiration beyond words. You guys are perfection personified!

Of course, once again to Shani and Ivo for putting this all together and putting up with us all :D.

To all the LA Zouk Congress teachers for keeping up the energy on the floor till crazy hours, for spontaneous breathtaking dances we all stopped to watch and for the great spirit throughout!!!

Posted in Zouk (neo-zouk, lambazouk) | 1 Comment

San Francisco bootcamp: amazing weekend with amazing people!

One fine (pretty much) morning in Miami at the Congress after-party I was being the usual smart ass giving some random dance related tips to someone… Next thing you know one lovely crazy lady who overheard me decides it would be a great idea to organize a bootcamp in San Francisco to level up everyone’s Zouk skills (I’m by far not one of the better dancers out there but it turns out I explain things well sometimes) and less than 1,5 months later (after a nearly 24h travel stretch and some adventures with arrival date mix ups 😉 )  here we all were!

I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who on such short notice decided to sign up and put so much faith into basically just ‘some random person’ without a name. All of you who made it possible for me to be in San Francisco have actually slightly turned my entire life around and you don’t even know :). All actions and events have consequences, and I will forever remain grateful for the time we all spent together and for everything that followed each of your individual decisions to give the weekend a try. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

As far as the bootcamp itself goes, here is how it played out:

Day one started off a bit on a wrong foot – the studio owner forgot to let us know that the key would be in the mailbox, so we waited outside for about an hour and a half… We used the time to dance a bit right on the street but we still needed the space and there were still no replies from anyone…

Then one wonderful attendee invited us to her living room and saved our session one! We were lucky she lived just practically around the corner. So some furniture and carpets were moved around and we took over the room for session one (we put it all back before lunch 🙂 ). We managed to catch up, finally heard from the studio owners and after lunch were able to make use of the space – which we sure did :).

Without giving up any trade secrets, let’s just say we had a good deal of fun, broke a good number of conventions/ clichés and, hopefully, everyone got something out of our time together that can enhance their future dance floor experiences! The social part of the evening was aimed at confusing our dear attendees, but they (weirdly enough) ended up liking it – I guess next time an even weirder playlist shall be prepared! Mwwaaahahahaha 😀

On a wonderfully warm and sunny day 2 we had to move to San Jose.

Preparation for bootcamp day two: serious sunscreening session!

Preparation for bootcamp day two: serious sunscreening session!

Not everyone could make it this time, plus we ended up turning the whole lesson plan onto its head (because some of our amazing crew flew in just for the weekend from Seattle and had to fly back…), but we still had a great deal of (hopefully useful) fun in the sun, enjoyed a lovely day, explored our bodies (that was one hell of a work out!), savored tasty snacks and cool music. And I caught some farmer’s tan 😀

SF bootcamp survivors day 2: pretending to be normal...

SF bootcamp survivors day 2: pretending to be normal…

SF bootcamp survivors day 2: showing our true colors :)

SF bootcamp survivors day 2: showing our true colors 🙂

It was very inspiring to meet so many great, positive, fun people at once and an absolute pleasure to share the time with every one of you and, hopefully, it wasn’t the last time we would see one another! It would be great if the US Zouk scene grew and flourished so we could have more cross-continent connections!

Once again, as I simply cannot stress that enough, immensely huge thanks for everyone for signing up and having so much trust in the event, myself and what you might receive from it – my biggest hope is that you got your time’s worth, that you had some fun and that you would start feeling different on the floor. Thank you all for bringing me to SF, coming to the bootcamp, having fun together and making it all happen in such a relaxed way despite a few minor setbacks – you guys rule! For all your comments and questions, feedback and positive vibes! You all have no idea how many good things came out of that trip for me personally and for that I would be eternally grateful to each and every one of you!

Some special thanks also go to:

Gigi – for being the crazy lady who organized the whole thing in such a damn short time – woooot! For being my host/driver, fellow kitty ;), and just generally awesome. Me love you loooooong time! (I’ll explain this one later :D)

To Joe – for playing a key role in finding the Saturday space and in me actually making it there to begin with! Also for being an absolutely awesome hip-hop Zouk dancer! I wish we had more chances to burn the floor! Please come to Europe – I wanna dance with you!

To Sue – for spontaneously adopting us for the afternoon to her living room – hopefully, we put everything back the way it was meant to be :).

To Eamonn – for the ride, the speaker (and thus spontaneous sidewalk Zouking session) and for braving the cold like a boss. Use your super-powers wisely 😉

To Harry – for the moral support from the get-go. It meant a lot!

To the Seattle duo – I can’t believe you guys flew in just for the weekend, that blows my mind! Was great to have you there together with your super fun attitudes and generosity!

And really once again to every single one of you who made it happen – you will stay in my hearts as dancers, people, and as positive individuals who charged my mental batteries so much that even a long trip and sleepless nights didn’t matter any more! I get all warm and fuzzy inside thinking of you all – to this day! Keep dancing, keep having fun and spreading joy!

And two small requests, if you would have the time:

A. Who has the studio pictures from Friday session? Yes, those ones with the pumpkin?!! CONFESS RIGBT NOW! 🙂

B. Could you very shortly answer a few questions? Can do it right here in the comments below or in a private message if you prefer – it would help in the future:

1. According to you, was the program of the weekend well organized, logical, coherent? Was there a good flow and good ratio between verbal explanations and physical exercises?

2. Were the exercises appropriate to topics covered?

3. Did you have fun over the weekend? :).

4. Were the topics covered over the weekend useful?

5. You have now had a few months to integrate what we covered into your dancing – do you feel you were able to do it? For those of you who went to the LA Congress, for example – did you feel you were dancing in a different way? Do you feel any benefit from integrating those details into your dance?

6. Now that you’ve experienced the weekend, would you have done it in hindsight? Or maybe you would relax at home instead? :D.

7. Any notes, suggestions, criticism, anything else you might want to say?

Thank you all once again and, who knows, maybe see you again some time!

Posted in lambazouk), Zouk (neo-zouk | 2 Comments

International Prague Zouk Congress 2014: Killing the Messenger

The famous Prague Zouk congress always boasts huge attendance, amazing teacher line up, workshops to cater to every taste and for the past few years a full week of dancing. Luckily, it’s held in the city I live in. Unfortunately, I am not sure I will be allowed to attend the next one if it happens…

Why?

Well, nothing new here: I had the audacity on a Friday night to post a status update on my FB wall complaining about the music (that alone is nothing new) because it was Lambada and Kizomba the entire damn night (with only a few different style songs here and there)… At a ZOUK congress, mind you…

You know how in the ancient times the rumor has it that messengers bringing bad news were killed? Even if the news were important or would alert to an important situation (for the purpose of then making things better)? As if the fact that something went wrong is the messenger’s fault, or as if not saying anything about what went wrong will actually make the ‘wrong’ magically go away… So yeah, I happen to be that damned messenger.

Basically, I got heavily scolded for a) posting that status update at all (my personal opinion on my personal wall, hmm…) b) not hunting Carlos da Silva down to tell him anything directly (yes, I totally should have been spending my party time trying to chase down Carlos, who by the way has about a million things to take care of during the event, and who I doubt would care much if out of all people that same ‘bitch who always runs her mouth about everything’ (yes I am aware of my reputation, thank you) came around yet again bitching about Lambada/Kizomba overdose) and c) for speaking on behalf of people who came up to me (and not the organizers) complaining about the afore mentioned Lambada/Kizomba overdose… I was also ‘kindly requested’ to never come to PIZC again… Even though I love the event and the only thing standing between it being ‘awesome for the most part’ and ‘absolutely perfect’ is the music. But when someone says anything about it, they’re asked to shut up and not come again…

Anyway, since accusation a) is free speech infringement territory and accusation b) has just been cleared up above, allow me first to explain just why is it that I dare to speak on behalf of others – anyone else but myself, basically, as I was told to never do this again (aka it is ‘none of my business what they like or not, and neither is speaking for them about it when they don’t themselves bother to speak up’).

First of all, it actually IS my business. Very much so. Actually, 100% my business. Here is how: when other people hate the music, they are not inspired to dance in a fun, creative way; and/or to dance at all, so they dance with half a heart, or more often sit down, or simply leave the party. I come to the parties to dance with those people… which is a slightly tricky task for me to accomplish if those same very people I came to the event to dance with don’t feel like dancing or have left, don’t you think? MY personal entire experience of the congress and enjoyment are very much affected by the absence on the floor, when certain types of music get overplayed, of pretty much all of my favorite partners who I know are actually at the congress. Other people’s satisfaction with music is absolutely instrumental to my satisfaction with the event. In social dance, others being happy is everyone’s mutual business.

Second, and this is the one that NEEDS to change, is the fact that Zoukeiros are way too damn polite sometimes. It’s usually a great thing to be polite, but you know how the silence and inaction of bystanders kills people? (look up a famous case of a woman being attacked, raped and murdered over the course of more than an hour while hundreds of people watched from the safety of their apartments and not one called the police if you want to lose a bit of faith in humanity, especially when it comes to group behavior). Right…

Well, guess what… Sometimes SPEAKING UP is what is needed, not politeness. I appreciate how many people came up to me to say how terribly monotonous the music was on Friday and how much they hated it, but you guys went to the wrong person. I’ve already gotten an unofficial ban on IPZC 2015 for voicing YOUR dissatisfaction – because I’m the ‘only damn bitch always complaining’. So here is the thing: you hate the music? A polite “I loved the event but I wish music varied more and the 2-3 hour long Lambada or Kizomba streaks were sufficiently broken up by all the other styles, especially because, yaknow, it’s not a Lambada/Kizomba congress…” on the event wall from the 30+ of those of you who spoke to me on Friday night would have done miracles to the music and to your own experience of the event. Instead, there is thus far only this one bitch complaining, so we all collectively keep suffering – in silence – and WILL keep suffering the bad music runs. Right about until that magic time when ‘one bitch complaining’ would turn to ‘so many people expressed their desire for a change of music that we have made sure this time it’s better for everyone’.

By the way, this exact magic thing actually happened on Saturday, so it DOES work! When at about 3am a DJ was announced to play till the end of the party who everyone (from the Friday night experience) already knew to expect nothing but Lambada from (and, incidentally, the same exact DJ who missed the DJ meeting that was held by Carlos where he asked them to vary the music more), at least 30 or 40 people simply got up, took their things and left within about 3 minutes of the announcement… It blew my mind actually to watch that exodus – I’ve never seen such mass, quick escape from a Congress venue, let alone as early as 3am, let alone on the main party night… DJ Shing after a short while made rounds in the hall talking to those who still stayed and… MAGIC! She actually got enough feedback pretty quickly and the DJ was changed (although that person was supposed to close the party). Sadly, this was already AFTER a huge chunk of hardcore party people left in protest, but at least the rest of the night the music was good and those of us who stayed enjoyed it very much.

In short: dear party people, please do NOT keep your music related complaints to yourselves and direct them at the organizers. It DOES help. It does NOT help any of us to say nothing out of politeness overdose, or if someone alone like me collects all of the complaints and then voices them.

You would hope in theory at least the DJs themselves would monitor the floor and what their music does to people, but not all actions are caught by them or by the organizers, or interpreted correctly. They are busy, so they won’t catch exactly what happens when the third Lambada in a row kicks in or a fifth same-bpm (beats-per-minute, basically ‘speed’ for us dancers), same-pitch Kizomba (or the same-bpm, same-pitch anything… Thus far the absolute record holder of non-variety was whoever on Friday night played “Fuck That New Chick”… followed by the male cover of the same song… followed by male and female covers of another song that sounds exactly like it… Putting us through at least full 30 minutes of musical Ground Hog Day…). They don’t have time to sit and observe how eventually a huge portion of people leave the dance floor. How in the beginning of their set most chairs are empty and how by the fifth song they are all full. Or how people run right back onto the floor the moment something less depressingly flat and monotonous comes on. Please use WORDS and not just actions. No one knows you left not because you think it is just about time to go get some sleep, or you’re sitting down not because you need a rest, but because you just can’t stand the damn music. Let them know. Speak up.

I love the Prague Congress. It’s a huge event with a load of great people and instructors and it’s a full week of fun. I can’t even imagine the enormous amount of work that goes into it and whether anyone will choose to believe me or not, I have enormous amount of respect for everyone who works so hard to make it happen every year, and first and foremost for Carlos. I do, however, hate occasional long streaks of monotonous music (of any style) that seem to be the norm over the weekend. So while the event itself is pretty awesome, music was pretty good on Wednesday and Thursday, fairly terrible on Friday (it wasn’t just monotonous by the way; there were parts when someone varied the styles but did it as if their playlist was set on random, because you got such ‘amaaaaaazing’ gems of transition as, say, a single Lambada song followed by a single very slow dubstep one followed by a couple of the cheesiest high-pitched Kizombas you can think of, followed by one good Neo… you catch the drift – it was freaking psychotic) , okay on Saturday with some good sessions here and there, and pretty fine on Sunday.

You know though when the music was great? Monday night after-party. It was, in fact, one of the BEST parties, music-wise, I’ve EVER been to. I danced to everything, INCLUDING my not-so favorite Kizomba and even-less-favorite Lambada stuff. Everyone I spoke to loved it and none of us could get off the floor to even grab a drink – the music was way too good. You know why it was so great? Because the songs were chosen well, and very importantly, it was sufficiently VARIED – the RIGHT way. There were always 2-4 songs of one style, with some slight bpm and pitch changes (great ratio of male to female vocalists, high-pitch voices and sound (keep to minimum high-pitch Kizomba songs and everyone will love you) to low-pitch, songs with lyrics to instrumental music) followed very smoothly by another 2-4 songs of another style that actually made sense after the one before it. There was variety – especially bpm variety, and yet also as Zoukeiros often prefer to dance 2-3 or more songs in a row when their favorite style kicks in, it was amazing to maintain a style for more than just one random song. If the organizers and DJs were there on Monday night – THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE! Pretty much EVERYONE was happy that night. And really all you need is just that simple recipe.

Prague Congress is a huge event. So many people come over and everyone has their preferences. The absolutely WORST way the music can be arranged in that case is having one style (it actually doesn’t matter which one), one bpm (just so happens that Kizomba and Lambada are easy traps to fall into with bpm, as most of the songs are, within the style, way too close in bpm) stuff play for more than 2 songs in a row, let alone for HOURS at end. And the very BEST way to make the majority of people happy is the Monday night way. So whether or not I personally will be allowed to attend next year, could you at least keep my favorite dancers happy (it makes me happy when they are) and do what you did on Monday night – every night? It would then be perfect, as the Prague Congress has absolutely every other reason to already be.

And on that note, I rest my case.

I’m already looking forward to 2015 edition that I would hopefully be able to attend.

Other than that, here’s how the 2014 one went:

We kicked it off at the Wednesday pre-party, where to everyone’s surprise the friendly Prague prices all of a sudden matched Scandinavian heights at the already fairly highly priced event.

By the way, while on the topic: does anyone know why it’s practically impossible to transfer passes? My only guesses are that no one wants to bother with it; people are scared that others would massively speculate (buy cheap, sell later); or that there is a need to limit the number of participants (because that’s exactly what inflexibility leads to). Well, I get the bothering with it part. The buy early sell cheap pass later thing isn’t and never will be a problem. People have usually a set budget for events that they are willing to spend. Let’s say a person offers a pass later on in the year for a cheaper price than official to that date: a buyer who couldn’t plan their life a whole year ahead and missed early bird offers would either seize the opportunity to get the cheaper pass, or most likely NOT GO, because they are likely to see the higher price as way too much for their budget. So if someone makes a plan a year ahead to come, but then realizes they can’t make it, if they sell the pass it won’t take away any potential higher price buyer. It would essentially just substitute one early bird for another. Or punish the original buyer for early purchase by restricting their ability to transfer the pass or imposing fines…

Most people remain weary of buying non-transferrable passes ahead of time before they can be certain they will be able to take time off work, be healthy, etc. Then as the event time approaches and the price keeps rising, the more certain people know their ability to attend, the higher is the price. Eventually they just decide not to go at all because it’s too expensive by the time they work their plans out. People would be much more confident in buying ahead of time and coming if they knew they could easily transfer their pass in case something happened to their plans (unexpected work or a family emergency, for example). Instead many simply skip the event… Just thinking out loud… Anyway, so here we were at Dancers’ Club on Wednesday, warming up for the weekend :).

Closing the place :).

The survivors of the very first night – aka the last people to be kicked out of the place before the doors were locked :D.

Some hardcore addicts came directly to the party from their Prague-bound journey 🙂

So it seemed nothing was going on, just waiting for everyone to get their taxis…

But then, of course, when does anything ever happen the way it may seem? At some point even fewer of is were downstairs, but that didn’t prevent a spontaneous jam session in the street:

On that note, the music video stars decided to carry on, boarded the taxis, stopped on the way to grab some KFC, and continued dancing in the kitchen at the resulting private after-party that went on till about 11am :). That’s what I call a warm-up!

On Thursday the party was held at Meat Factory – a cool, grudgy venue a tad bit off the beaten track. On and on we went, and even did a few videos – here’s one of Abdel and me fooling around on the floor:

Friday night – several decades worth of fashion insanity for a dress code! Watching the shows (I’m strategically standing on a chair 😀 )

Those who survived the Saturday night. Note how few of us are on this picture.

Compared to how many people attended the congress (and that’s not all of us – because this is Sunday night when some people left already).

Zouk football team :). (If you want to play ‘find Waldo’, am almost at the bottom, a bit right off the center, in white top)

The last survivors on Monday morning – still a bigger crowd than after Saturday night!

Finally, the absolutely great, magic Monday night after party closed the congress. It was that cherry on top of the cake, and yet another time when we filmed some more fooling around 🙂

Hope to see everyone in 2015!!!

Posted in Videos, Zouk (neo-zouk, lambazouk) | 2 Comments

I’M ZOUK – International Miami Zouk Festival: Let’s Get the Party On!

Until the break of dawn… and way beyond!

I’m not entirely sure how I ended up in Miami… I mean, it involved a couple of flights, of course, but other than that… I probably need to thank my mother who heard me mention the Miami congress and for some reason thought I should go while I can. Long story short, I went to Moscow in January to change my passport and give the US visa a try and it worked :).

The adventure began with  a rather chilly and snowy ‘warm-up’ session in New York (pictures etc coming some day 😀 ). Besides running around Manhattan most of the days, I went to one of the local Zouk parties :). The best parts of it were some crazy dances with Joe who happened to have been there and the after-party silly fun at the pizza spot and the grocery store – I haven’t laughed this much in ages!!!). But fun as this was, I didn’t go there for that…

I landed in warm and sunny Miami on Sunday, February 16. Not so sunny when I landed, as it was evening, but definitely warmer than snowstorm-ridden New York. I was eventually (after some adventures involving trying to find someone to borrow a phone with the internet from – because of course Miami International doesn’t have free WiFi, grrrrr – and to arrange where to meet up, as this was the first damn airport with about 1000 exits!) picked up straight to someone’s rather quiet house party…

The festival was approaching – the very first Zouk Miami Congress ever! The excitement could be felt already the following Monday at the regular C-Lounge Mad Mondays Zouk party. Some of the artists (including the surprise one) already arrived and the fun was ON!

We filled the Tuesday night Zouk break with a visit to a couple of clubs, but came back at a reasonable hour, saving strength for the Congress.

Officially, everything started off with the Wednesday night Zouk Glow party at Rouge – shining neon colors bright under black light looked amazing! That was definitely a cool theme – I wonder if the idea could be used for one of the main parties next year (although it would be tricky, of course, as the main venue would require more than one light…)? It was just an official ‘warm up’, but of course which ZNL crew night ever finished when it was meant to? Supposed to wrap up at 2am, we went on till 4! That’s what I call a proper kick-off to the weekend :D.

C-Lounge retro car

ZNL rocking the retro look right outside the C-Lounge 🙂

The Thursday night took some prep work as I, of course, left cutting my t-shirt business to the very day. I managed well on time but forgot how fluffy freshly mutilated t-shirts tend to get… So at the end of the Thursday night’s US Colors vs. Super Heroes party I was covered in thin dark lint :D. Note to self: next time cut the t-shirt ahead of time and wash it at least once before wearing…

The party went on till the morning, but some wanted to carry on… And so we went to the beach :). There we sat, played some music, talked, had some drinks and generally enjoyed the breaking of the dawn and the slow and glorious sunrise, of which I, of course, took a zillion pictures.

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This is how it started – the sky slowly lighting up over the pier…

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I’ll be posting the remaining zillion minus a few pictures in the travel album when I get to it :).

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The sun is up!

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Sooo pweeeetyyy!

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Ok last one for this entry 🙂

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The ears! Someone left the kitty ears at the venue. I picked them up, hoping the person who lost them would ask for them later… They have since relocated to another coast of the US – but that’s a whole different story ;).

Miami Friday morning

We’re doing it right!

Once the sun was sufficiently up, we did our best to try dance on the sand for part of the teaser video for next year… In the end, only a few seconds of the footage were used, but we enjoyed the process – you can see how much!

Miami afterparty before jump

The super heroes of the party who stayed up until the sun was way up in the sky

Miami afterparty jump

Best picture of the weekend!

By that point we relocated to Natalie’s, as it was right near the event hotel. That was a convenient move and it came with a lovely view from the balcony :).

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Lovely breakfast backdrop :).

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Not bad for dinner either 🙂

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Night version. By the way, if you watch Zouk videos, you might find this view very familiar… I can even brag about having been the one to choose the angle and hold the camera… Any ideas?

Ok I’ll help you out – it’s this video:

On Friday PJs and lingerie Party night the venue was filled well over official over capacity, but everyone still had fun and some place to dance :). Best of all, the surprise that was announced to be revealed on Saturday was, as a surprise move, revealed on Friday instead! When Paulo Mac started singing, it took a bit for the people to catch on to the fact that he was right there at the venue, so everyone was, indeed, surprised and very pleased. This was the very night, btw, when you could catch some of the ZNL crew spinning awesome tunes in their boxers (if anyone has the pictures… hold on to them for the history!) :D.

In the meantime, stuff like this was going on at the workshops (amazing song, amazing dancers and a great demo):

Saturday Masquerade Ball induced even more people to take over the beach…

Miami afterparty group

Saturday (respectively, Sunday morning) afterparty crew

This wasn’t the first night we crashed the beach… And we’d make it there by about 4:30 or 5am… But the first time (out of the total 3) the police showed up it was much closer to the time that many people wake up anyway. I bet someone first woke up then heard us, but whaaateeeeva. They were cool and just asked us not to make them come back again :D. Watch them bust us in here.

We were very polite and promised not to make any more noise… Then ended up moving a tiny bit closer to the water and singing to the guitar till crazy hours!

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Zouk MIA presents… Epic ZNL production… In collaboration with Da Mad After Party PPL…

ZNL live show here.

The audience took a while to gather and pick a comfy spot… (if anyone wants to ‘steal’ their pictures from here for FB – go ahead!

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Group relaxation session

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People who haven’t slept yet joined by people who already woke up 🙂

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Growing in numbers still…

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We jammin’!

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This isn’t a trash can. This was percussion station at some point ;).

Miami afterparty

Creating the memories…

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… that would never fade!

Later that day we carried on and on almost till night time – this time at the pool :).

Miami 1

Best way to remember whom you met :).

Miami

Alright this ‘frame’ above my head… I was promised that ‘MIAMI’ would be photoshopped into it, right? Like, it’s August now…

Still we didn’t have enough. Since we didn’t want to make the police take another long tedious journey to the beach, we went all the way onto the pier for the after-after party.

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We’re in Miami, bitch! (yes, it is a song 🙂 )

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Somewhere among those people was a fateful encounter waiting to happen…

I can’t keep my mouth shut sometimes. And sometimes it’s a good thing :). For instance, when I was giving some tips to some girls at the pier and one gorgeous lady overheard me… Her name was Gigi and little did we both knew me being a smart ass could end up in something absolutely epic! Ah, but as this is part of the kitty ears adventure, it is its own story to be told later…

Along came Monday together with the Mad Mondays at the C-Lounge. Some of the congress people and artists were still around, so we were rocking it!

Check out the epic chandeliers over the bar:

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And that was officially it… The very first Miami Zouk Congress was over!

The great news though was that the hardcore party animals stayed in the city a while after, so the experience was extended in time beyond the official timeline :). For instance, on Tuesday we chilled a bit by the pool at a small bbq get-together.

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Best way to chillax after this madness!

One of the days I spent the late afternoon at the nudist beach… Another day a few Zoukeiros still remaining went shopping (a great idea because it ended up raining cats and dogs!)

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That was one of the best and freshest cinnabons EVER! Totally worth the money, absolute sugar and cinnamon OD guaranteed! Heaven 🙂

Yet another time, on the way home from somewhere, we went to the (was it Southern-most or something else-most?) point of Miami.

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Spot with some of the most expensive properties in the city. And lit-up trees…

Some of the nights we paid visit to other bars and clubs. One of those was the (in)famous Story – a place that surprised me by the number of well-dressed, great-looking people, practically none of whom danced at all! I’m sorry, why are you at a club again?..

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Oh, I know: to look at the pweety lights!!!

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THE Story of MIA life 😉

But well, what did it matter when we rocked that joint with the ZNL crew!

Ah, Miami… So much history, so many adventures! Is it in the stars for 2015 again?..

 

P.S. The gratitude round, yeehaah! Enormous gracias go to:

Nyx and Kendra and the rest of the team – for organizing such a fun event! So what that the first one wasn’t 100% perfect in some small ways? Everyone loved it and had a great time! It was great fun in the sun!

The ZNL party crew – for the music, the great times and the stories born!

Specifically to Nyx – for the welcome, the insanity, the everything, and for maybe one day bringing back my sweater? LOLLLLL Or should I come get it? Special thanks for the unforeseen long-term consequences of that invitation because they were/still are EPIC :D.

Paulo – for remaining the voice of reason when all reason was at the brink of extinction :). For the talks, laughs, for trusting me with a camera, for the moral support and your music, of course!

Marc – for the first time Kizomba ever made sense to me and was fun ;).

Irina – you’re a savior in so many ways, way to go girl, hope to see you soon!

Natalie – I don’t even know where to start! For having us over, taking care of everyone, being that amazing, positive ray of light that you are, absolutely everything and also that sweatshirt – I probably would have kicked the bucket without it on the way back!

Gigi – for that ‘other story’ that followed ;).

And everyone who came for that congress and made it so much FUN!

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Erfurt 2013/2014: Great Way into the New Year!

One fine day a spontaneous (how else!) decision was made to go to Erfurt for the New Year’s Eve Zouk event. Sinclair and I got to Jena first where our wonderful host Janett was kind enough to offer us some sleeping spots and, as a bonus, the best smelling x-mas tree EVAAARRR!!! We even managed to collectively bake a cake for the main party – wheee! And, of course, which trip to Germany goes without a visit to a kebab shop 😀

In Erfurt we were treated to a small but great city tour that was wrapped up at one of the x-mas markets. After a few hours of walking around, it was lovely to warm up with some mulled wine!

Tour 1

Mingling Zoukeiros

Tour

Can’t miss the group!

Tour 2

It was possible to sample various types of mulled wine in different ornate cups. For a small fee you could keep a cup as a souvenir 🙂

Tour 3

Of course, tour pictures are coming… Some day… Hopefully…

Tour 5

Bottoms up!

Tour 4

Confess, thy who hath the front view version of this picture? 😉

Two days of parties and workshops and mingling and touring have passed… Aaaand it was December the 31st. We gathered in the school building to warm up for the upcoming 2014!

Party before

Initially I didn’t change into the full dress code, as I planned to sneak out to the main city square right before midnight to watch the fireworks. Oh, and in case you can’t see it, he’s holding us up by the hair 😀 Two naughty students caught by the principal 😀

Party girls

Evil twins 😀

Party group

We Zouked it right into the 2014 with these amazing people!

It was a lovely event with great people, yummy snacks, fun atmosphere, cool music and a family feeling, many great dances and way too many hugs (I get a feeling Excessive Hugging Syndrome runs in the Zouk Family… 😀 )

The last night we stayed over in Erfurt and were able to make it to the brunch. Of course, besides lovely food and lovely company, we were busy making lovely plans – I’ve gotten myself a reservation for the Berlin Sensual Congress months ahead of time :D.

Brunch

Wonderful way to greet the first day of a new year – lovely place, nice food, and most importantly outstanding company! (Champagne was on the house – 1st of January and all 😀 )

And that was it, time to return to Prague and get ready for the new adventures!

Special thanks go to all the dedicated Zouk addicts who organized this lovely event, Arianna, Nymf, Claudia and Adam for coming over to teach and dance with us all, everyone who attended and made it special and our wonderful hosts!

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5th Zouk Family Meeting in Dresden, December 13-15, 2013.

What can ever be said about Dresden ZFM? It’s always such a joy and so much fun! First of all, it was a wonderful ‘antidepressant’ to catch up with some of the shakalaka people because Zouk ME Dubai withdrawal symptoms were still very prominent. Second, it was music to our ears to entirely soak in high doses of great DubStep remixes and vibes (as an additional perk, that generated a 650+ comments long crazy discussion on one FB wall about what is or isn’t Zouk music and dance… Very entertaining 🙂 ).

Dresden Friday party

Having a blast at the Friday party 🙂

While the spring ZFM tradition involves a barbeque and dancing on the river bank, December weather wouldn’t permit all that. Instead, we enjoyed a mini version of the city tour (to prevent freezing by exposure to the elements) and then roamed the X-mas markets, tried local specialties, sampled various flavors of mulled wine and took silly pictures with the seasonal figurines :).

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Mini-city-tour-ists 🙂

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We met the Nutcracker on our way and at first he wasn’t too friendly…

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But then we got to know each other better because Zouk = connecting people!

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We parted as great friends

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Never though my private primary school (with a lot of 19th century stuff incorporated, like French language or court dances) would teach me something that would come handy in 2014 at a X-mas market in Dresden!

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Free hugs!!!

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And a healthy snack…

Friday night party colors fit the holiday theme :).

Dresden xmas party

OMG it is destiny! I got the pass for Dubai Zouk ME Festival! It’s MEant to be!

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The family :). We even managed to seduce a couple of our own brave students to join us at the event! Yaaay! (Shout out to Sellem for being such a GREAT person! Hope you keep Zoukin’! )

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Zouk mafia forever!

Dresden brunch

Brunchers: yours truly; fellow Zouk addict and travel companion; our lovely hosts and one of our brave students :). Way to start the morning!

Dresden hug

Hugs overdose! I think it really took us at least an hour before we finished hugging everyone and FINALLY said goodbyes… Sad that not everyone could stay for the last party 😦

The pajama party was not the same without some of the family there, although still lovely :). We enjoyed our time, gathered a bunch of positive emotions and headed back to Prague in high spirits :). 

 

 

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Zouk ME UAE 2013: Where the Fun Never Ends!

Take out your calendars right now and mark November 19-24, 2014 in them. Better yet, include a few days before and after in your travel plans. Because you can’t consider yourself a true Zouk addict if you never experience the Zouk ME insanity on your own body and mind!!!

I semi-accidentally made it to Dubai in 2013 – didn’t really think it could work, then saw a great deal on the flight and a super cheap offer on the event hotel too… By the way note to European residents: check out Transavia and SmartWings for flights to Dubai from NL and Prague in the range of 100 Euros or below one way. Very often you can also find a very cheap low-cost flight/bus/train from your city to Prague or the Netherlands and then your total cost for the journey will still be 1/2 or 1/3 of the price of regular airfare to Dubai. As to the hotel, keep an eye on booking.com for special offers for peanuts :).

This is how the trip went down:

Wednesday, November 20. My journey began on a rainy morning after the usual sleepless (before early flights) night with probably the second worst ever packing job in my life (the worst I still consider to be that one time I packed for Scheveningen/The Hague Salsa Beach festival and visit…) and the tram breaking down… I called a taxi because I realized I would be trying my luck if I waited for the trams to run again and then having to be very lucky with the bus.

After asking me where I was (at the bus stop on the main street where the tram broke down), the lady sent the taxi 200m away around the freaking corner without ever telling me, although it could well easily pick me up on the main street at the stop… So it took a while of mild panic and me deciding to walk around and see if maybe the taxi was elsewhere till I finally could get in the car, but I made it to the airport in time after all :).

Cue about 6 hours of sort of sleeping on the plane and a meal break (SmartWings even feeds you for that price!!!) and I disembarked in Dubai…

A friend of mine picked me up at the airport, we had a quick bite at her place and then she went off to a b-day party and I went off to the pre-party at Savage Garden, which is where, after a lot of warmth and fuzziness (hellos, hugs and great dances with so many of my beloved partners) the insanity has begun…

It was great to see so many people already at the pre-party!

Experimenting with Ariana 🙂

Zouk Kung-fu with Kamacho 😀

Making rainbows

Despite the life-long efforts of my parents (who at every celebration always made sure I also had a drink like everyone else, usually champagne or something sweet but still alcoholic) to ‘make me more Russian’, I don’t really drink – alcohol in higher doses puts me straight to sleep and, more importantly, I don’t like the taste. I get an occasional cocktail here and there or something girly like Sheridan’s, or Martini (if there’s nothing else) – that’s about as far as it goes. So here I was in the Emirates, out of all places, and towards the end of the night I ended up downing shots of Sambuka and Tequila within about a minute from one another… What mom and dad couldn’t do in over 20 years was managed by the Omani crowd in less than a few minutes :D.

Granted, it was my parents who actually oversaw (at a Saloon in a mock Western-style city near Vienna) me topping the first ever (and the last until Dubai, because EEEEEK!) Tequila shot at the age of 12; then I had a friend of mine from France about 4 years ago make me try a B-52 that one time when I waited so long for the alcohol to burn that the shot glass split in two when the waitress came to pick it up; and finally the worst thing my taste buds had to deal with was the Absinthe shot in Mataro

Anyway… I still managed to dance having downed both! Guess I AM Russian after all 🙂

That when I returned to my street in the middle of the night I spent about 10 minutes trying to remember which one of the buildings was the one I was staying at (I actually remembered it correctly right away, but I forgot about the big carpet at the entrance… When I arrived back and saw it, it threw me off, so I checked out the nearby couple of (nearly identical) buildings just in case I was confusing something :D) had more to do with me not having paid any attention to where I was when I arrived to my friend’s place and left it for the party than alcohol :). But I made it to the apartment safely :).

Thursday, November 21. Woke up after a short nap, packed my things for the weekend and left for Capitol Hotel to catch the shuttle to Ras al Khaimah (THANK YOU SO MUCH for organizing the transport directly to the event hotel!!! It was great not having to worry about finding out how to get there, and having the chance to chat with fellow Zoukeiros from around the world on the bus – we covered so many topics on that bus from human rights to political changes in Iran to rape (I swear there was logic to it all!) to Zouk teaching, it was epic! :D).

Once there, I met my lovely room mate for the weekend Thikra, we checked in and managed to beg out a second key to the room 🙂 – wise decision because our schedules couldn’t have been any more different one from the other. Then I proceeded to catch up on some much needed sleep.

The day was rather rainy – an almost magical coincidence since it only rains a couple of days of the year in this region. When in the evening we went for the Skittles party at Hilton al Hamra (huge thanks for the ride!), the planned barbecue had to be cancelled due to the thunderstorm! (If this happens again, I wonder if there is any way to have something more than just pizza Margharita vs. salad as choice of food for the hungry people who skipped dinner for the planned bbq? 🙂 ). It was a lovely party with some great shows though. A personal highlight was the totally fun column/pole-dance with Kamacho (if anyone has pictures, then pleeeeease let me know!).

Skittles

Enjoying the vibe

After the party yet again I was lucky – got a ride back to the hotel from someone else and didn’t have to wait for the bus. It was the afterparty time!!! We closed it, of course, but it wasn’t enough for some, so we followed through by a few drinks upstairs. One of the crew invited everyone for drinks to the magic room 406… where the after-after-party was NOT taking place :).

Around 7am we descended to breakfast, laughing and generally having a great time trying to persuade Naji to not pass out sleeping right at the table. All was well right until an aged couple came up to us and said something angrily about their sleep and peace and something else and that it wasn’t funny or something along those lines… It took us a little while to figure out the puzzle but we finally got it: these were most likely occupants of the room 406, into the doors of which it is very likely a few unsuspecting after-party seekers have knocked at 6am or shortly after! Opsie…

Friday, November 22. Weather yet again permitted to sleep most of the day through. Upon awakening, I set out to walk to the nearby supermarket to get some food. As I descended into the lobby, I was ambushed by the ‘Omani mafia’ – they stalled my supermarket plans, kidnapped me into one of their own cars and took me to a more distant mall instead, where we had steaks at one of the restaurants. The timing was perfect – just as we finished the food, it got even colder and rain started once more!

Back at the hotel I was ready for the Minion party way too soon – almost no one else was there :).

My take on the Minions theme… BaNaNa!!!

We decided to use the free time for a few drinks upstairs and came back for a bit more a few more times throughout the night because the bar alcohol prices are ridiculous, of course. It was, again, a great night with cool shows, followed by the official afrerparty at the bar and the unofficial one that lasted till breakfast yet again.

Afterparty RAK

Fatigued Minions :).

This time we sat outside in order to not disturb the rest of the guests, so we could talk and laugh loudly and generally entertain the omelette cook stationed out there quite a lot :).

Saturday, November 23. This was the day of the desert trip, which I was planning to skip… When I woke up, I decided to go to the nearby supermarket. As I descended into the lobby, however, I was yet again ambushed by the Omani mafia and coerced into the desert trip after all.

Desert trip

Getting into the mood 🙂

I only wish I had warmer clothes and waterproof pants to sit on the cushions soaked wet with evening condensation…

Desert trip food

Food! I think I OD-ed on Hummus that night 😀

The food was fairly good, the two shows weren’t anything I haven’t seen although the belly dancer was a fun girl, but I had a bit of a run-in with the henna lady. I was 2nd in line. The girl before me sat there for a few full minutes as the lady created a beautiful oriental design on her hand and forearm. Then she got me and drew a 20-second half-assed small thing with a silly flower in the middle… I stayed next to her watching pretty much every girl’s designs and I kid you not I was the one she spent the least time on and the one with the crappiest pattern (if you could call it that) of everyone…

I know it’s a crap job. I know she probably doesn’t get paid much, if at all, for doing it. But this is supposed to be a tourist trap, and people don’t spend more money when they are in a foul mood. They also are unlikely to recommend the trip to anyone if they don’t like it… What a hell was then the logic of so blatantly singling me out of the whole crowd of 20 or so people to so distinctly do not even a half-assed job on remains a mystery. The others she did an elaborate collection of designs on, some even taking up entire forearm… I wiped the crappy 3cm joke off of my hand and at the end asked her if it was possible to do a different one. She said it was only one per person. I said I got mine smudged off. In the end I had to practically beg her to at the very fucking least simply write on my other hand “Zouk Camily Dubai” – something I could bear having on my skin for a week to come. Like one extra pattern or 1 extra minute could save her evening so much trouble… Sigh…

The incident left me rather annoyed (so did the cold wet weather), but at the Arabic themed party I got my Zouk pill and everything was good again :). We had a lot of fun that night doing random crazy things on the floor right till the very end.

Arabic party’s very own ladies in red 🙂

I whip my hair back and forth!

To the left, to the right…

1001 Nights characters visited the event…

This is how we do it, baaaaby! Lollll

Not exactly a veil, but close enough 🙂

Getting some fresh air :).

Your eyes are heavy.. you are listening to my voice now…

This time we went for breakfast first, and then for a few more chats and drinks upstairs. The congress itself was over 😦

Sunday breakfast

So is it black or is it red?! I’ll show you in room 406 ;). LOLLL (totally inside jokes…)

Sunday, November 24. It was time for a short nap and packing up… Originally, I expected to go back by the bus…

Hilton Ras al Khaimah desk

Checking out… In more than one way 🙂

However, when I descended into the lobby and checked-out, I was ambushed by the Omani mafia (are you seeing the pattern? :D) who kidnapped me again. I got to take another short nap at their spare room while they were disassembling the floor (dance floor, that is, laid over the ballroom carpet) and I was to ride back to Dubai with them all in the car.

When  was time to really go, guys couldn’t fit all the luggage into the trunk… I watched them try a couple of times then realized we could stay there forever because, apparently, none of them played Tetris when they were little. I was big on Tetris, so after a third unsuccessful attempt to fit things in (who said guys are better in spatial reasoning? Bullocks!), I told them to get everything out of the trunk and listen to the woman for a change. Luckily, they did. This time everything fit and we were soon on the road.

Back in Dubai we decided to have a lunch first at the Emirates Mall, so I arrived to my friend’s place way later than expected, got ready for the official congress afterparty, said I probably won’t be back too late and set off to Savage Garden. There I continued the assault on my liver with a mix of jumbo Mojitos and Tequila shots. Of course, the party finished way too early for our liking, so we went upstairs. At first, we realized there was an acute need of food and drinks. While everyone was deciding how to solve it, I got nice and warm and comfy under a blanket on one of the sofas and a human blanket on top of it and, having decided to warm up there after the aircon attack, closed my eyes for a minute or so. Obviously, I totally dozed out. When I opened my eyes again, everyone was gone except for the human blanket, warming my legs so nicely…

Monday, November 25. Luckily, everyone came back soon, brought food and drinks and we ended up first playing some Vodka-related question games and then dancing Zouk till like 11am!

8am

Still looking decent at around 8am! After all that dancing and drinking and not sleeping! We rule!

Only at that point we decided it could be a nice idea to catch a nap, so we did (hail to the late 2pm check-out!).

After the after

Refreshed by a nap – yours truly, the Omani Mafia and the last standing Dutchies 🙂

After the after2

Aren’t we all adorable? 😀

2pm was just about the right lunch time, so while I though it may have been the time to actually show up again at my host’s, the Omani mafia interfered with my plans and I was taken along with a couple of beloved Dutchies to Dubai Mall for some refreshments at the Red Lobster. Yummmm!

Red Lobster – awesome lunch with awesome people! 😀

Red Lobster

Pashmina or a wide thin wool scarf – a must-have to save you from too much sun and definitely from too much air conditioning!

The actual red lobster

As finger-licking good as it looks! Had to have had a red lobster at Red Lobster 😉

On the way to the mall a binding contract was created between myself and Saud that if in 5 years’ time I end up religious, I have to marry him. If not – I’d have to think of some wish to make… In short, a usual uneventful day :D.

Lunch slowly morphed into getting a desert at the Cheesecake Factory (I love you, chocolate chip cookie dough cheese cake, let’s get married!!!) and a contest on how quickly and how many of the free refills could be drank in one evening. Oh, and I got the official proposal – car-key ring on the finger and everything included :D.

Cheesecake Factory proposal

The proposal at the Cheesecake Factory :). (to think of it now, I should have totally kept the car key… sigh… hahahahahaha)

Finally we strolled back to the parking lot…

The (not-so-very)soon-to-be-married 😀

Bunch of hobos at the Dubai Mall…

…and after a few sad goodbyes I got dropped off at my host’s.

I didn’t stay there much longer than was needed to re-pack and get ready for the party at Sublime. It was fun but the floor was painfully sticky – maybe they should put baby powder all over the floor instead of just in a couple of corners? It was almost impossible to dance, except for on the carpet. At least I got a few nice Salsas and a couple of absolutely epic Cha-Chas in before all of a sudden Nayan called up all the Zouk team to quickly gather and get to their place instead. So a few minutes later here we were on the whatever-th floor of a high-rise building with the balcony overlooking Burj Al Khalifah and the room big enough for us to dance Zouk to the best tunes with enough drinks and even snacks to last till the morning! 🙂 (who has at least one picture of the balcony view??? I KNOW someone promised to send one over to me!). It was such a great little gathering – huge thanks to Nayan and Katharina for welcoming us all and for such a great night together!

At the end my original plan was to go directly to Abu Dhabi, but the plan changed (this was THE theme of that trip!) for that day. Instead, I ended up crashing over at the hotel for the night.

Tuesday, November 26. In the morning it was time to say goodbye to the Dutch survivors… It was all hugs and best wishes and finally my yet another future husband and I set off to the capital.

Sandeep was kind enough to meet us at the bus station and we got a lunch at Burger Bureau, where we actually danced, besides having burgers (you can request your favorite songs to be played while you’re dining :D) and took a few pictures.

Burger Bureau Band!

Then we went to change for the Abu Dhabi party night that concluded with a pretty hilarious photo session that included Musti’s epic photo-bombs :D.

Abu Dhabi

It all began pretty decently, with the normal, ‘boring’ picture…

Abu Dhabi1

Then the ghost of Musti appeared!

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Smile…

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Starting to work on that crazy picture now

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Attempt number something (we took so many pictures that I decided not to post every single one or it would be one full album! 😀 )

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Getting into the right mood already 🙂

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And the epic photo-bomb award goes to… 😀

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Hands in the air!

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Ehm… No comment 😀

It was a small party but a very nice one and I ended up swimming in the hotel’s very warm pool – yaaay! But, of course, it was too early to end the night at the end of the night, so a few of us proceeded for some shoarma and shisha and excited chats related to teaching dance :).

Abu Dhabi sleep

Out-talking the great talker during the shisha session took up a lot of energy 😀

Wednesday, November 27. Ali picked Daniella and I up in the afternoon. First we decided to grab something to eat and ended up somehow at the revolving restaurant up the tower. After a lovely meal and when the heat subsided, we drive to the Mosque (pictures coming up soon, inshallah), spent a few hours there taking pictures of everything and headed back.

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Looking all local 😀

Two happy girls 🙂

Apparently, divine beings care about fashion 😀

Sadly, it was time for Daniella to leave as well, so the evening was a quiet one dedicated to eating some more shoarma and watching The City of God (happens to be a great movie!).

Thursday, November 28. Sandeep was a darling and took me to the famed Presidential Palace (pictures coming up) during the day.

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Can you find Sandeep?

 

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The most ‘original’ Zouk pose ever 🙂

You’d think by now the congress and absolutely everything related to it was definitely over… So did I… But, apparently, not the Zouk gods…

Both of us took a bus ride to Dubai that evening (I only said it looked like a call center because everyone was talking on the phone! Didn’t even notice most passengers were Indians!), myself thinking I’d be at my host’s home in just a couple of hours… But first we met up with some Swiss Zoukeiros who, as it turned out, were still in the city! We went out for a dinner together and decided to drop into their place for a few drinks… Then we decided there was enough space to dance… Then we realized it was fairly late to go home/get a bus… so we ended up crashing over till the next ‘morning’…

Friday, November 29. In the ‘morning’ after breakfast we thought it would be nice to chill out a bit by the pool up on the roof, so we did that. Danced a bit… Then went for a dinner and then for a few drinks at some bar where you can get one cocktail apparently made of pure gold (judging by the price) and alcohol (judging by the taste) for five of you and still get tipsy, but you can’t dance there (for that requires a special license)… But the night was still young, so we came back to the apartment and watched some funny (although more like obscure…) videos online… until we realized it was actually fairly late, so we crashed over till the next morning again! 😀

Saturday, November 30. Having been all this time about 10 minutes away on foot from where I was presumably staying, I only finally made it back there this morning. I dropped off my stuff really fast and joined the Swiss crew for a trip to the beach :). It was full of people and kite-surfers, even music, and the sun was pleasantly warm while very quickly giving you a tan but not a sunburn. We spent a lovely day there and finally had to say our farewells in the evening for good – the last international guests (besides yours truly) were leaving…

Sunday, December 1. I decided not to do much because this was, presumably, the crazy day when everyone started celebrating the UAE National Day (officially on December 2). That year the celebrations were moved to the weekend instead, so I also took a day off :). To think of it now, if I make it there again (and I totally plan to!), I want to see the madness!

Monday, December 2. Yearning for a bit more sun, I went to the beach. It was empty! What a difference the working day made! I spent just over an hour there, got decently dark and went back home to rinse off. One of the Zoukeiros was kind enough to pick me up and we rode around the city a bit for a sort of a quick visual ‘tour’ before a dinner at Social House at the Dubai Mall. I finally got to see the musical fountain (the segments were short  but sweet, although I’m still not fully over the Midsummer Night’s Dream theater piece with Prague’s singing fountains Krizikova Fontana serving as part of the show and decoration, after which I’m not easily impressed any more) a few times in a row :).

Tuesday, December 3. I did some catching-up on online stuff during the day, gobbled down another cheese cake (got myself one yesterday) and then Shammy (Shaaaaaaaa-mmmeeeeeeee!) took me along to Abu Dhabi for the absolutely-very-last-for-really-this-time-I-swear-party. I was the last international still left in the country after the Congress… It was sad… I took my last swim at the lovely warm pool, we stopped for the last shisha and shoarma and then it was time to leave…

Wednesday, December 4. On the way back that night Shammy and I got stuck in some of the thickest (if not THE thickest) fog I’d ever seen in my life! We had to crawl on the road with blinkers on at all times because it was nearly impossible to see the road and definitely impossible to see anything on it even with headlights on unless it was giving visible blinking light signals! We passed a few gas stations because it was impossible to see the exits or the stations themselves through the fog (at times it was impossible to see the front of our own car), but we got lucky to finally spot one in time in a pocket of slightly less thick fog, so we managed to get in for some coffee, gas and a quick bite.

The fog stretching the journey quite a bit, I was only home about 4am, so when I got up later in the morning after a nap, I decided to forego my initial plan to go to the beach for an hour before leaving. Instead, I took longer to pack everything up and went to the airport earlier…

While I wasn’t impressed by Dubai that much (a longer story as to why coming up some time in the near future), I had such and incredible time while there! The people made my stay so incredible and fun and random and full of joy! I hope this year I can see everyone again in UAE! Here are the due thank-yous:

First and foremost, to Nayan and Katharina – for organizing the lovely, fun, Camily-like congress – definitely one of the absolutely most favorite ones of all those I ever went to! For working on Dubai Zouk scene; for inviting us over to your place for a lovely night; for taking care of everyone and all your hard work!

To my host Yulia who probably saw just as little of me as she wanted and who was so chilled about my constantly changing arrival/departure to/from the apartment plans 🙂

To Sandeep for absolutely everything, for all the work, for simply being awesome, and for having Daniella and me over at a time that was probably more difficult than fun – we really appreciate it!

To Kamacho for the epic dance 🙂

To the Omani Mafia for every kidnapping and all the fun we had together, for turning me into an alcoholic (almost 😉 ), for the rides, foods and crazy marriage proposals and all the randomness, great spirit and for making me feel so incredibly welcomed and pampered all the time!

To all of the great dancers and party people of the entire too weeks – you are too many to mention but you know who you are and I love you all!

Special thanks to the prrrrecious Swiss after-after-after…..afterparty crew for allowing us to randomly invade the premises for like days (and nights :D). I like it when the red water comes out!!! (next time see you again, I hope, at the Candy Mountain!)

To Shammy for driving us around and for generally being an awesome person, as well as for making it safely through that damned fog! 😀

To the Abu Dhabi shisha smokers – for animated, fun and very insightful teacher chat(special shout to Musti for the picture and the tip about cell phones 😉 )

To Henri for showing me some of the city and for the lovely dinner :).

If all goes well, I sure hope to invade the UAE again this fall for more of all of you people! Love you all loads!!!

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2nd Dutch International Zouk Congress: Encore!

The random arrangement of the stars in the sky influenced my fate this October. Luckily so! You see, I was not planning to travel anywhere this month but I ended up in the Netherlands yet again :). It was partly due to my lovely friend Aline wanting me there and partly due to the fact that the 2nd Dutch International Zouk Congress was taking place and had a very alluring line-up… And I have to say that I am extremely happy about that celestial arrangement! Because this year the congress was absolutely great!

It started with the commitment to answer to every person who hit “going” on the FB event page (this reminds me – maybe designate one person to deal with all the e-mails for next year to make sure you don’t skip anyone and don’t spend hours on it yourselves?) and it lasted far beyond the actual event!

First of all, the venue was fantastic. Studio76 is a proper club-like event center, so the general decor and ambiance, the sound and lighting systems created a great atmosphere for the parties. The bar staff knew their business well and the drinks’ prices were very fair. The main floor was a tiny bit sticky on Friday but perfect later in the night and over the rest of the weekend. There was enough space for everyone and the aircon system kept everyone from overheating on the floor :). As a little cherry on top, the McDonald’s open till 2am was right in front of the venue – not the best cuisine in town, but good enough for a mid-night snack for the famished dancers or for a mid-day coffee for the students between the workshops :). In addition, a buffet was available for lunch and dinner during the whole weekend with great, tasty, well-varied and well-priced food. It definitely made the event more special because the students had a chance to enjoy a few nice meals all together, while the teachers could relax a little and refill their tanks up in the VIP area.

Speaking of the workshops… Intel I have gathered is also very positive: all rooms were filled with students and the workshops were interesting and well-taught, keeping everyone happy about the quality and level. Apparently, there were 15-minute breaks between workshops which the students appreciated very much – it gave them enough time to chill, get a drink, and re-set their brains for the next hour :).

The line-up was fantastic. The teachers and DJs that were invited together created a great atmosphere during the workshops and the parties – it was a very well selected cocktail of personalities that resulted in a delicious experience for us all. I learned that it was partially the focus of the organizers to invite teachers who add to the fun and the atmosphere of the event, as well as being, of course, fantastic teachers – and it worked magically!

Paulo Mac – the last-minute great addition to the Congress line-up – making ‘the face’before the Friday night party :).

My current addiction of a song, performed live by the author – what could be better! Don’t forget to get the new CD (Xadrez)!!!

The themes were unusual this time – ‘Zouk in Space’ on Friday, ‘African Safari’ on Saturday and ‘Hawaiian Holiday’ on Sunday, though there probably should be some kind of a costume competition (early in the night!) for people to really put some effort into dressing up – otherwise few bother and the atmosphere is somewhat lost…

(note: see tag for image (c) )

A neck-breaking moment 😀

Friendly aliens 🙂 🙂 :). Bear-hugging Paul is as nice as dancing with him :).

Random combination of shiny items is all I could think of for the “Zouk in Space” theme :D. Mental note to self: have to catch Dadinho on the floor a bit more often than once in a millennium…

Anti-gravity hair – right in the theme :).

Cambrrrrreeeeee!

I recently have more pictures with Kamacho than times I get to dance with him! 😀

(more pictures from the Congress herehere and here)

Great idea with the little introduction acts to the night that fit the themes of the parties! That sure spiced things up :). I almost expected some Hula dancers for the Hawaiian night 😀 😀 :D. Was also really fun to watch all the teachers up on stage doing their funny :). (If you missed it – here’s a teaser 😀 )

Oh, by the way, if you do a draw for the congress passes next year – do it on Saturday. That’s when most people come. On Sunday many have to leave early or don’t come to the party at all, so there are many missing – it’s better to have a quick draw right after Saturday night shows instead :).

Speaking of shows – all were excellent, but I can’t help being, yet again, struck by both amazing creativity and absolute excellence of execution that Dani and Leticia treat us all to time after time. Every new show is absolutely different to another… Every one is a piece of art, a performance, a story told by every movement… I wish I could tap into the source of their creative inspiration just for the honor of having a few similarly amazing ideas visit my head!!! (Okay, I AM a huge fan 😀 )… Here it is:

The teachers in general were well cared for and felt welcomed and relaxed. Happy teachers = great workshops and parties! Little things like special transport for them to and from the hotel (instead of worrying about organizing people with cars to drop them off) and other details definitely were a great idea. By the way – lovely hotel with friendly and helpful personnel and a laid-back approach to the guests – great choice!

These people are among the ones who made it such a great event :). (Extra credit if you can guess where Kamacho is hiding 😀 )

Both Claudia and Adam managed to somehow keep great, positive and very zen spirit throughout the entire weekend, welcoming everyone to the venue individually with huge smiles and energy. No sings of all the stress and sleep deprivation! From experience at other congresses – the organizers’ attitude and state of mind transfers through to absolutely everyone who is present at the event. That everyone had such a great time this weekend is very largely due to the great attitude of the organizing team :).

We MADE IT!!! The Monday morning ‘normal’ picture of the last survivors 🙂

Not a very great attempt at a crazy picture 😀 😀 😀

THAT was a great congress! 😀

There really is just one general question and, as is often the case, it has to do with the party music… It is, of course, obvious that all tastes need to be catered for – and they were (even though I personally enjoyed last year’s music much more, but it’s due to my own strong feelings for dubstep, neo, r’n’b and such – exactly the stuff that DJ Libre, Alan Z and Mafie were playing most of that time 😀 ). The only thing I (and quite a few other people I managed to chat with) fail to ever understand is why there is so much Kizomba played at Zouk congresses? No one dances Kizomba (okay, there actually was one couple who did on Saturday night) at those events – where does so much of that music fit into the picture? Probably one thing I’d never get over in my life 😀 (as well as people’s affinity for Zouk Love aka French type of high-pitched, it-all-sounds-exactly-the-same Zouk music that I can probably never figure out either… 😀 ).

Over all, very special huge kudos to Claudia and Adam for the general way they handled the event this year – it’s all normally the ‘invisible’ behind-the-scenes stuff, but there are a million ways that it shows in the end. For example, there was a situation with one of the free full passes for this congress that was given out by someone else without, as it turned out, a prior agreement, which is unfortunate; however, it was the absolutely wisest decision on their behalf to allow that student to keep the pass anyway. Whether or not it would be settled later with the person who gave it out should not affect the recipient – and it didn’t. I also heard an unconfirmed rumor that, due to a medical emergency, someone’s full pass was transferred to next year in the end, after some negotiation (although I think in cases of genuine illness or last-minute work requirements, even though it may be tricky or marginally costly, the full passes should be made refundable/ transferable with a doctor’s/employer’s note – no one must pay for things out of their control, they already are upset enough for missing out on an event they planned to go to). Hopefully, that rumor is also true. Yes, it may involve a bit of effort/organization and a small cost to accommodate to such a situation. BUT… Gratitude for such generosity will travel far and long and will sure bring more people back with it in the end – this is exactly the way things should be done and it’s actually a definite win in the end for the organizers as well.

What more – the good spirits were maintained even after the congress! It is difficult to have and handle a serious number of Brazilians in da house, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles so it pays off to turn-on the ‘absolutely laid-back’ mode – and it looks like this was also managed fairly well even during the working week.

The last supper :D, Monday night. A bunch of tired but happy wonderful people 🙂 (although some not tired enough, so they carried on with workshops and parties for a whole two weeks after!)

Clockwise from left front corner: Kamacho, Marina, Dadinho, Claudia, Charmaine, Adam, Aline Cleto, Renata, Jorge, Paulo, Aline Groeneveld, Leah.

From that lovely dinner on Monday (by the way – muchos gracias!!! I didn’t expect to be included, so I appreciate it very much 🙂 ) all the way through the week with occasional workshops and parties (and unplanned nights out… Hint for next year – do make an extra key for an easier life for yourselves 😀 ) – everything was about as close to perfect as it can possibly get. In fact, this was probably one of the very best events I had the luck to attend! If I had one word to say about this year’s congress, it’d be ‘ENCORE’!!!

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6th Prague Zouk & Samba Congress 2013: If You Missed It, You Missed Out!

So many congresses nowadays, and hard to choose the ones to skip – but if you skipped this year’s Samba-Zouk Congress in Prague, you better make sure you don’t make the same mistake in 2014, especially if you are a full-pass type of a person! I’ll keep this one very short but sweet:

I don’t dance Samba at all, but even though the congress and the parties were split between the two styles, everyone got their fix :). The teachers’ line-up was really good, the shows were great and, most importantly, the congress had an overall amazing focus and theme for all of the workshops (which I heard were excellent for both Samba and Zouk). If the same theme and same careful selection of teachers will remain for the next year, and if you wish to really level-up your dance skills – definitely plan on coming!

The atmosphere at the parties was lovely and there was enough space for everyone at the new location to both dance and relax. For certain segments of the night, someone decided to play the same playlist on repeat on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but other than that the music was also very good and varied enough to keep everyone happy. And, of course, all of us Zoukeiros were treated to Paulo Mac singing live :). A separate Samba room was open on Saturday night and it would have been two rooms all along had there been a few more participants attending.  If quality is your thing, be it Zouk or Samba – Sofie knows how to deliver it, so I sure hope to see at least 3 times as many people for the next event!

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International Zouk Flash Mob 2013 – Prague and Dresden IZFM!

This year yours truly and Co. put a very international spin on the International Zouk Flash Mob indeed – by doing it in two countries :).

It all began when IZFM 2013 has died out in Prague…

Apparently, it had something to do with very low turn out to practice sessions. That, in turn, apparently had something to do with people not being too crazy about this year’s choreography…

To that, my sentiment is the following: those of us who are unable to see beyond our noses and think that everything in the universe is about us, our personal preferences and dislikes, are very likely to be mistaken. There are ideas, ideals, issues and goals that exceed those of our individual caliber, and even those of entire generations. If we forget that and focus on our own petty sentiments all the time, this world is a doomed place for us.

Maybe I am wrong, but I feel that when something like IZFM is organized, it is very much worth it to stop worrying about one’s personal preferences and use a chance we are all given for a common global goal. So what if you don’t like the choreography? Change it, do it your own way as a group (like the Dresden crew did, for example). Next year submit your own. Not everyone around the world will be happy whatever choreography may be chosen but guess what? This isn’t the damned point – to make everyone happy about some few minutes of a choreography.

The ‘damned point’ of the event, surprise-surprise, is to do something together as one community – community of humans, community of dancers, community of Zoukeiros. It is to show to the world yet one other avenue available to us all through which people of completely different and otherwise often conflicting backgrounds can unite – the avenue of dance. Once you go to a few international dance events and share the magic with people from other places and countries, there is no way you can be made to ever feel anything against the nations and groups those people represent, no matter how any type of political or media propaganda may try. Dance is a human contact that breaks barriers and creates trust, warmth and unity – something our world desperately needs. THIS is what IZFM is about.

That this year the date was chosen for the International Peace Day and we even had one of the main Zouk music stars create a special song for the event should have been enough motivation to go ahead and do it with everyone else from all around the world…

I guess you can probably see I was rather not happy about the death of Prague IZFM in 2013. Luckily, one other person was equally upset about its demise, so we joined forces and schemed for its revival.

At first we tried to involve others in the idea, but as we both were away, it was tricky to organize everything in time. In the end, Sinclair and I decided to join Dresden group for the Flash Mob on the official date of September 21. Since we both returned from abroad shortly before the date, we ended up having only 4 days to learn the Dresden group’s version of the choreography. It was challenging, but we managed! Better yet: there was an extra girl in Dresden in need of a leader – and we found one for her! A friend of ours – Alex – joined us for our last training session before the trip – on Friday evening – and learned the whole piece in one night! Here’s the shout out to THE MAN: you are officially awesome!!!

We learned the choreography on our own from watching the video from one of Dresden’s practice sessions and we didn’t bother with trying to do it on music right away – the important part was to learn the routine and getting it to fit the music was left for Saturday. Here is our practice session on Friday night: we started around 6pm, the video was shot closer to 9pm, I didn’t sleep too well that day and since I almost didn’t stop all those 3 hours (while the guys were changing, I was the only girl there to practice with). By this point I was ready to murder people, have them come back as zombies and eat the remaining useless bits of my brain, hence all the slacking. Alas, Sinclair insisted on our personal ‘kitty styling’ (you’ll see more of it in a special version later on 😉 ):D.

After the video I refused to be tortured any longer, so we called it a night and went our separate ways to pack for the trip…

On Saturday morning we set off to Dresden and arrived to the studio just in time for the group practice. This was the first time we did the choreography to the music instead of just a count, but it made perfect sense, so everything went smoothly.

 (note: (c) to the used pictures belongs to their respective authors)

Warm and fuzzy – awaiting the first run :).

The perpetrators of the Prague IZFM 2013 revival :).

Somehow I always end up up in the air one way or another… (This wasn’t part of the choreography. We were free-dancing to a second song and kept changing partners 🙂 )

Mobsters showing off the Zouk Dresden brand 🙂

It was a chilly day but, luckily, it didn’t rain (although it looked like it might at one point).

Can’t do without the classic 🙂

The two runs of the actual Flash Mob went fairly well (we had only some minor brain farts at both locations, but we managed to catch up pretty quickly both times 🙂 ).

Cousin It in da house 🙂

Domino effect

Your own personal FlashMob… Reach out and touch Zouk

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it… (lollll sorry, couldn’t help it! 😀 )

Here is the result of run number two:

Once we were done, we went to have a dinner at the Irish Pub nearby, where I had a ‘very Irish’ dish of Pasta with shrimps.

Indeed!

Mandy and Dana rewarded themselves with a Guinness each for their hard work, and I used the perfect photo opportunity to create the following ‘short story line’:

Hmmm, really? Let’s try this…

They forgot to mention side effects 😦 …

Sexy Dana 😀

Well-fed but not that well-behaved mobsters 🙂

Some conventional off the wall wisdom…

Then the food coma (plus a completely sleepless night on my behalf) took toll on us and we went to Mandy’s place (I LOVE YOU, MANDYYY!!! Thank you so much for letting us crash over at yours and for the much needed coffees!) for a short snooze before the small but lovely after-IZFM-party at Sandana.

On the way to the party we stopped (illegally, of course – how else) at two spots and ran two late night ‘classified’ versions of the IZFM, more for the lolz than for any other reason, involving some strange night creatures and a few tortured kitties. We were so focused on making it funny that, of course, we messed up half of the choreography – but we now have this masterpiece to go down in history 😀

(No cats were harmed in the making of those videos)

On Sunday we returned to Prague. Having practiced enough times, we were confident we could manage to still pin Prague to the IZFM map for 2013, even though it would be a slight cheat (due to technical reasons) on the actual date of the event – and we did. It took a couple of tries to get the choreography right because it was so difficult to hear the music with the small speaker we had available, but at the very least we didn’t allow Prague to drop out of this year’s list completely :).

Hopefully, next year we will see a large Zouk crowd doing the International Zouk Flash Mob 2014 in our beautiful city, sending a message of love, peace and unity to the world!

Kudos to everyone who put their time and effort into the making of this event – all organizers, instructors, choreographers, photo/video-graphers and families and friends who came to show their support! Special thanks to Paulo Mac for the great song that has been uniting the world from dusk till dawn on September 21, 2013 across the globe – let’s do this again in 2014!!!

UPDATE: Well, it turned out the Flash Mob story wasn’t over when we thought it was :D. As we had learned a bit too late, the camera we used for filming in Prague didn’t have the needed resolution or aspect ratio… After all we’ve tried doing to make sure Prague was on the map, it looked like it may have been in vain! Thankfully, the production company extended the deadline a bit, so we had a chance to re-shoot 30 seconds of the video in proper resolution on a sunny Saturday a week after the official flashmob day, managed to cut and submit it and, after all, Prague is IN! YESSSS!!! 😀

UPDATE 2: Despite our best efforts and an e-mail from the production company confirming that they received and accepted our latest video, somehow Prague was neither in the video nor, more upsetting, in the credits as a participating city 😦 😦 :(. Hopefully, next year there is no such exclusion without a notice, because WE WERE THERE!!!

Here is the global video btw and below the credits/list of participating cities (Prague, by the way, isn’t the only one missing – I think Beirut wasn’t included in the credits either…)

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Amsterdam International Zouk Congress 2013: The Madhouse.

My presence at the AZC 2013 was semi-accidental, as I was not planning to come. However, my friends planned a trip to Scandinavia, I wanted to tag along, and Amsterdam was (sort of…) on the way… Thus, as it often is in my case, the last minute decision was made to actually go again, and so I ended up at the Congress yet again.

(The rest of the stories/links to picture galleries from my stay in the Netherlands this time and from the Scandinavian Saga can be found here btw)

I have to say this year it was definitely the people who made the event special – namely, the people who allowed us all to crash over at their house (Carlos and Yasmin – you RULE!!! I can’t express how grateful we are for all you guys have done for us!), the people who stayed in the ‘madhouse’ (lovely, cool, weird, awesome, chilled, fun and generally great collection of gals and lads), and a few other select individuals from the inner insanity circle :). Other than that, the congress was okay. It was an interesting concept to have half-hour DJ sets – I think it created a very good mixture of music styles and catered to all tastes very well, so kudos to that. There were a few shows though that seemed to have been there only because of mutual congress promotion and not necessarily because of the excellence of the shows, but at least the talking was kept to a minimum and everyone went through the program without unnecessary delays (minor technical issues don’t count as ‘unnecessary delays’ – no one can foresee stuff like that 🙂 ).

We warmed up on Thursday evening at the open air party, then some more at Brasa, and then came the congress weekend, which I had spent with other 9 insane individuals in the same house…

Friday night was kicked off rather innocently by a dinner, a few relaxed drinks and preparation for the fantasy theme. I just recently happened to have watched a documentary about the Geisha training, and since it was a) a super easy theme and b) fitting the concept (because, after all, the job of a Geisha is to create a fantasy setting for the clients she is entertaining), it was an easy theme to pick :).

(note: (c) to all images belongs to their respective authors – Berg Chabot and Bruno Kongawoin)

Dancing with a beautiful fairy

Ailton is looking very suspicious for some reason…

Kung fu with the master 😀

Best picture of that night :D. The master of photobombing his own portrait!!!

On Saturday I only realized how high the cuts on my leggins go after I put them on… It was too late to do anything about it, so I had to pretend that it was meant to be that way 😀

What?!

Laaaaa-laaaaa-laaaa!!!!

Shakalakalakalaka in youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!

Saturday night went on beyond the actual party time, as we had a very lovely afterparty at the madhouse dancing, laughing, chatting and enjoying the atmosphere.

And then came the highlight of the congress: Sunday. Some of our crew managed to wake up during the day and went to the city, where they discovered very special t-shirts in Brazilian colors of yellow and green… It was immediately decided that we would get 10 of those t-shirts for the 10 of us staying together that weekend, so we spent the evening creatively cutting and fixing our outfits. We had so much fun! It was great that even the guys got right into the creative mood and modified their t-shirts as well! The end result was brilliant, as well as the madhouse dwellers’ group pictures we asked Berg to take:

The (relatively) normal photo of ‘the crew’

The fun photo

The ‘copying the t-shirt design’ photo 😀 😀 😀

As Berg put it, this is me after meeting a tiger in the woods 😀

A-la ballet 😀 😀 😀

Wrong hands…. lolllll

Joy!!!

It was great to see everyone again, although I’m still very much unhappy about the 3am party deadlines and if it’s going to stay the same, unless some very very special people that I can’t see elsewhere will come to Amsterdam next year (guys, let’s go elsewhere to some congress that goes on longer!!!), I will probably have to skip it in favor of a different event with a better number of dance-hours per party.

Posted in Zouk (neo-zouk, lambazouk) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment