After my long trip around the world I wasn't exactly looking forward to traveling more any time soon. But I wasn't looking forward to dark & rainy autumn days in Finland either. So I booked a trip to Barcelona for mid-September for the 4th Beach Zouk & Lambada Festival.
The festival was held in Santa Susana, 60km or 1h20min train ride up from Barcelona, right on the beautiful beaches of Costa Brava, Spain. Our small "team Finland" arrived on site already a day before the event, just enough time to unwind, unpack and get a little beach time before the zouk&lambada marathon that awaited! Santa Susana is a small town, basically like one big tourist resort. There's the beach and close to it there are restaurants, shops and hotels. A little off the beach is the town centre and up on the hill there are the residential areas - we never made it that far, after all we just came there to see the sun, sea, sand and dance our feet off!
The festival workshops, parties and accommodation are in the same place, in a one big (and very nice) hotel. This makes the event extremely convenient for us dancers. The hotel rooms were also cheap (46-53€ per night for a double room including a massive buffet breakfast) and very good: clean, modern, and there was a balcony to chill, enjoy the sun... and to dry your wet party clothes :D The hotel has two pools, a bar and two nice restaurants where we actually had most our meals just because it was so good & pretty cheap! The overall location was great - it did take about 1,5 hours to get there by train from Barcelona but Santa Susana and the hotel was very easy to find and the area was clean, safe and close to the beach!
All the workshops were well organised, the teachers and the dancers were really good. There were six workshops each day in two "rooms" (one intermediate and one advanced) which was actually one big room split with a curtain; even though the two groups shared a same space it was not a problem and didn't disturb the classes. The great thing was that at the end of each workshop the demos were shown for all students so you could also see the demo of the other workshop. As a bit of a surprise, considering this was a group of lambazouk dancers, the Vero zouk demo by Renato and Babi on the second workshop day was the most memorable and got the biggest roar from the crowd! And it was simply amazing - see the video!
The parties had a great atmosphere and there weren't too many shows to interrupt your dancing. The pool area (where most parties started in the evening and where the Sunday afternoon's party was held) was actually quite ok for dancing and the party room was spacious though pretty hot - but not any hotter than any normal zouk party ;)
On the final day there was also a party at the pool in the afternoon: swimming, tanning, dancing...! We also performed our part of the international zouk flash mob there! More about that in my previous post. The final party was held the same evening in Barcelona. There could have been more time allowed for moving from Santa Susana to Barcelona or actually it would have been nicer if the party had ended later. But it was a cool location right in the middle of the bar district in Puerto Olimpico.
Program & information (2012)
Thursday: Party at the pool and the lounge in Hotel Don Angel in Santa Susana ~11pm-4am.
Friday: Workshops 11am-2pm and 4-7pm: Party & shows by the pool and later in the lounge, ~11pm-4am.
Saturday: workshops 11am-2pm and 4-7pm. Party & shows in the lounge ~11pm-4am.
Sunday: Party at the pool from 11am with the International Zouk Flashmob at noon and paella with everybody at 2pm. White party in Barcelona at club Zich in Puerto Olímpico ~9pm-1am.
Renato Veronezi & Babi Pachego (vero zouk), Braz Dos Santos & Josy, Xavi & Laura, Ricardo Ferrari & Graziella, Leon Gordi & Julie Scheeffer (lambazouk), Adilio Porto & Lucia & Krisztina, Evelyn Magyari (zouk), Xandy Liberato (afro-samba), David Bosco & Sarah Pallares (samba de gafieira).
The full pass was quite inexpensive (125€ if you register one month prior to the event), including the two days/12 hours of workshops, five parties (only two of them with shows) and a huge buffet & paella lunch on the last day. More info on the organiser's, ZoukLambada BCN's website (I've had problems on numerous occasions to access it so I tried to write lots of info here) and on their Facebook page.
How to get there?
From e.g. Barcelona Sants (called also "Barna Sants") or Clot railway/Renfe station you can take the train towards "Blanes" (goes every 30 minutes): get off the train after 1h20mins at "Santa Susana". FYI, you can get from the BCN airport to Barcelona Sants with the train leaving from Terminal 2, just three stops away.
I'm happy we had booked an extra day for a little holiday time in Barcelona as well. Basically just to do a little walking around the city, having a couple nice meals, seeing some friends, doing a little shopping... There's always lots to see & do in Barcelona. The weather was nice and warm (+25-30C during the day) all throughout the trip so it was a welcome change to the Finnish September climate (+10-17C). I would have loved to stay longer! I know I'm definitely booking a trip there - and for the zouk festival - again!
Other zouk events in Barcelona area
There are also other zouk events around the year in Barcelona region:
In late April it's time for the International Lambada&Zouk Congress in Barcelona, a very popular congress among the lambazouk dancers. In early December close to Barcelona there is also the Spiral Dance Festival; this is the main event of the year by the Mzouk creators, the Spiral Dancers.
You can check the links to the dance schools below for more of their smaller events!
Zouk classes in Barcelona
There are several zouk teachers and schools in Barcelona - go and pick your favourite or try all of them! :)
Xavi & Laura and Nuria & David teach at the ZoukLambadaBCN and Olaia & Papagaio teach with Ritmodende - these both are mainly teaching the lambazouk style. There is also lambazouk at Lambazouk Emotion.