Javi Santos: Social dancing changed my life

Remember about two-three months ago when we talked about what makes the magic in social dancing? Social dancing is something we at Zouk The World are passionate about - and someone else who shares this passion is Javi Santos!

Javi is a zouk dancer and teacher from Spain and he has recently put his passion out there for everyone to see, on a new website called Social Dance. He also shares his social dance insights in dance studios and on dance floors around the world. I was anxious to talk to Javi to find out more!


Zouk The World: Javi, first of all, tell me a bit about your zouk history. When and how did you come across zouk for the first time?

Javi Santos: Previously I studied martial arts and was a web developer for an adult entertainment business. That was where I met Antonio Hernandez. Antonio started a beginners course of "Lambazouk" in Mataro; Yes, 6-7 years ago MZouk was called Lambazouk. I did the beginners course twice because I was very bad. Following that I joined Spiral Dance school (run by Daniel and Leticia Estévez) where I dived deeper into the world of MZouk.

ZTW: You’re currently teaching zouk with Samantha Ho, traveling around the world for dance. Can you tell a bit about how the partnership came about?

Javi: That is a long and beautiful story. Samantha came to Barcelona to take part in Daniel and Leticia’s intensive course in 2012. The following year, she came again to take classes from Antonio Hernandez at ZoukDevils and I was the assistant. Then we met again in Brazil in 2014, and we were both looking for dance partners so we decided to dance together.

The funny thing is, when we first met, we couldn’t even dance together. The connection wasn’t there and our styles were so different, we had some really awkward dances. So when we started working together, it was very difficult in the beginning, I won’t lie; we both had different techniques, didactics and pedagogies. We trained for several months to combine both our styles and techniques, and are still learning from each other. While it was difficult at first, we understand each other now.

Javi and Sam, rocking the dance floor! Photo by Oriol Alella.

Javi and Sam, rocking the dance floor! Photo by Oriol Alella.

ZTW: You’ve recently launched a new website, Social Dance. What is that and how did this site come about?

Javi: The idea of socialdance.io is to create a community of social dancers. Most social networks like Facebook or Twitter have a lot of “noise” and it is difficult to separate between friends and acquaintances. With Social Dance you can reach out to who you want to and find people with similar likes for the dance, or teachers of various styles in a particular country.

The idea started in 2014, when I started to give classes internationally. Dance is a global and social activity, and I thought it would be great if everyone had a place to share our passion. It is incredible that having a common feature like “dancing zouk” would mean you can hug someone else in another part of the world. I want Social Dance to be the place where you can find everyone with whom you can dance, hug, transmit and enjoy a song for 5 minutes.

ZTW: How would you like dancers around the world to participate on Social Dance?

Signing up is easy. You just go to socialdance.io to register and fill in your log in data. Then you can complete your profile with your picture and a cover image but the most important thing is to complete your dance profile. You can also indicate whether you’re an event planner or a dance teacher or a DJ. After completing your profile you can look for other dancers and follow their activity or send them messages and you can update your status and share your profile on other social networks so others can follow you. Another thing you can do is to suggest an article for our Magazine.

And finally we have the PRO version of Social Dance. We offer products and services to dancers so we have a platform for dance professionals where they can sell their products, such as shoes, DVDs, clothing for dancing or tickets for your event. We also have a service of E-Learning for dance videos online with your favourite international artists. As you can see we have everything, but we need to reach more and more dancers.

ZTW: So Javi,  why are you passionate about social dancing?

When I dance, nothing else matters. There’s only my partner, the music, and me.

Javi: It changed my life, from a world of computers and screens to a world of traveling and meeting people from different countries and cultures, all speaking the same ‘language’. Believe me when I say contact is undervalued. Social dancing is something everyone must try, and I speak not only for the moments while dancing, but also as a gateway to create new relationships between people in a much more natural way.

As an instructor, I've noticed introverts become more social and open because of the connection they have with others, whether in class or at parties.  And I’ve also seen and experienced close friendships with other dancers. When I dance, nothing else matters. There’s only my partner, the music, and me.

ZTW: I couple months ago I asked my readers about their social dancing experiences. Can you share your most memorable moment social dancing?

Javi: The best dances are those that are never explained, all I can say is that it was at the 2nd Zoukdevils & Friends Summer Weekend in 2014.

ZTW: Finally, what makes a great social dancer? What are your best social dancing tips?

The leader is the instrument that the follower listens to.

Javi: There is a phrase I always use: The leader is the instrument that the follower listens to, the follower has to listen to the music through the leader. And at the same time, the leader needs to feel what the follower is listening to.


Javi Santos Bio

Javi Santos. Photo by Helena Molinos.

Javi Santos. Photo by Helena Molinos.

Curious, non-conformist and passionate. With a background in sports and martial arts teaching him about partnership and respect, and an aficionado of bikes, computers and wine, Javi Santos first started MZouk in 2009 with Antonio Hernandez Sanchez, followed by Daniel and Leticia of Spiral Dance. In March 2014, he started training with Samantha Ho, and since then they have traveled extensively through Asia and Europe spreading their passion for and knowledge of zouk. Known for his creativity on the dance floor, Javi is recognised as a teacher with a strong technical base, yet fun and social, focusing on connection and musicality.

In addition to being a dancer and instructor, Javi is also a DJ (DubZouker), playing at both national and international parties and congresses. An organiser of events, and the president for the Association for the Promotion of Brazilian Zouk (Spain), it is Javi's aspiration to promote awareness and further improve the zouk community in Spain. In 2014, he founded Social Dance Ltd., an online community for social dancers.