It was a rather early Monday morning when I arrived to London, all ready & packed for an epic trip around the world. I had a generous two hours of sleep before the flight (last minute packing took surprisingly long - ok, really not surprising). I jumped on a train from Heathrow and headed to my local zouk friend Anthony's place; he was very welcoming and my trip was off to a smooth start! Despite my weary eyes I manage to get in some sightseeing and tried to do some shopping but after a while it was impossible with the sleep deprivation.
Zouk me, London!
Sleep or no sleep I was ready for some zouk that night! Anthony took me to the Lambazouk night - the "main" event of the weekly zouk nights in the city. And this was the real reason why I set aside some days to stop in London! I took the two hours of classes (the ones with Joe Koniak and Solange Dias - there are other classes too) followed by three hours of lambazouking my but off. Anthony and the lovely zouk & lambada guys did a good job of keeping me burning the dance floor: and I had a fantastic time!!
It was a rather different style of leading than what the Helsinki guys have, much more controlled - with flexed arms and stronger grip - as if they were afraid that I would run off ;D There were some really good dancers and was a great experience! Lots of fun cambrés :) The music was more of the usual lambada stuff, athmosphere positive and you're amongst talented dancers!
When I rested my head on the pillow after that about 23h long Monday I can assure you I slept like a log! 9 hours of sleep did good and was off at a decent hour to do some more sightseeing in the city again on the next day (more on that at the end of the post).
On the second zouk night, on Tuesday, it was time for some Rio style zouk with Sarah Gibbons. The venue was also quite small, a mile off the Angel tube station, the basement of the Cottons. But lucky for my toes there weren’t too much people - and there was more leaders than followers. It was a bit more casual than Monday night where people were wearing glittery dresses and lacy tops. I took again both classes (intermediate) where Sarah was showing both leading and following, and I think she was quite clear and rather well instructed the moves. The music in the party was more varied (and some nice new songs) and the dance styles also were a bit more creative. I think it has a lot to do with the music - the Rio style songs have more different elements and breaks, highs and lows, and a good dancer who knows how to use them can create a more interesting dance. At least a musical girl like me gets her kicks out of that!!
To do the classes just show up to the parties a bit early. Prices (including the parties): Monday £10, Tuesday £8. The sequences we did on both nights were quite long and I felt that the leaders (possibly also the followers) had trouble learning them in such a short time. And the sequences had some moves that I feel will be very hard to follow in a social dance scenario - or should I say hard to learn to lead clearly enough.
What I hope they would teach (but didn't): more technique in stead of choreography. Surely learning new moves is important but many leaders (and maybe also followers) had troubles... I was hoping for the guys to lead more clearly (they assume the girl will follow even without any leading). Perhaps they could also use some contact practice (how to keep contact without a "death grip" of hands / fingers). But classes, as always, are a vital part for learning and getting acquainted with other dancers and fully support them -- so shorter choreographies, more technique, please.
All in all about zouk in London: lots of venues for different styles – in addition to those two there are plenty more. Good teachers, great dancers. Felt very welcome there!
London - the sights
This was my second time in London after 10 years when I was visiting the city with my school friends (hello to Benny, Karla, Nate and Katie!). It was a cold but sunny two days there, the winter was in the air. And the sleep deprivation. I had no other plans except to zouk zouk zouk the nights and do “something” during the days… shopping was one idea. But actually didn’t manage to find anything interesting (well, clothes were plenty but none that passed thought my budget or needs). But I admit there’s lots of cool shops. I even found on accident a three storey book store of only travel books! Go to Stanfords at Covent Garden if that's your thing. All the shops were definitely geared towards Christmas - had almost forgot about the whole thing thanks to my big trip.
I had a second look at some of the sights I already saw 10 years ago, with the idea “whatever I happen to stumble upon / is on the way from A to B”. London has lots to offer... Even though I was really lazy in finding out how I would like to spend my time during the days it was no trouble at all to find things to do and see. And as weather was really nice - for London - sunshine most of the time, so it was nice to just hang around.
On getting around - the city appeared to be maybe the easiest big city to navigate in since I didn't get lost once even though my only help was the tiny map of tube lines I picked up from the station. Loved the tube! No cell reception though - but who needs that :P On the downside: everything is expensive. Food, shopping, transportation will all cost you. If you're aware of that and still feel interested about what London has to offer than it's a must place to visit!