Zouk Libre Festival 2014 - Polish zouk makes a big impression

Zouk Libre Festival 2014 - Polish zouk makes a big impression

On the spur of the moment I booked tickets to Warsaw for the 2nd Zouk Libre Festival. From the looks of it, the event seemed like a nice zouk festival on the small side: five international teacher couples (Pasty & Josta, Alisson & Audrey, Daniel & Leticia, Freddy & Andressa and Xandy & Evelyn) and a rather new zouk nation, Poland.

Boy was I wrong.

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Helsinki Zouk Festival 2013 - a zouk event quite unlike others

Helsinki Zouk Festival 2013 - a zouk event quite unlike others

Renata Peçanha & Jorge Peres, Leonardo & Becky Neves, Bruno Galhardo & Eglantine Oliveira, Mafie Zouker, Daniel & Leticia Estevez Lopez and the hosts, Freddy Marinho & Andressa Castelhano. They were the reason why people from all over the world flocked to dance at the Helsinki Zouk Festival last week!

Held now for the second time in mid November (though it was fifth festival held in Helsinki it was only the second international event), we had 2,5 days of workshops and 3 nights of parties in the center of Helsinki at the spacious venue, Gloria. The crowd was mostly from the Nordic & Baltic countries, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and some even as far as from Canada & New Zealand.

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Prague zouk congress lives up to the hype

Prague zouk congress lives up to the hype

The Prague zouk congress came to its 4th year in 2013. Boldly dubbed by the organisers as "the most anticipated zouk congress of the year" I certainly booked my ticket early, back in last November(!!). This year the congress took place during the Easter holidays and the Prague - as pretty much all of Europe - was experiencing unseasonably cold weathers. But even the cold & grey Prague was as beautiful as ever with festive Easter decorations and people were enjoying the cheap but tasty food & drinks!

But we weren't feeling the cold as the temperatures climb in the zouk congress atmosphere. Right in the center of Prague Old Town – next to shopping center Palladium on the top floor of department store Kotva was the location of the Prague zouk congress.

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Berg's Congress - every zouker's dream holiday

Berg's Congress - every zouker's dream holiday

Porto Seguro. A little piece of paradise located in the tropics, in the sunny state of Bahia approximately in the middle of the Brazilian coast line. It was the place first seen by the European settlers over 500 years ago when one Portuguese guy called Pedro Álvares Cabral touched shore at what is now Porto Seguro city in 1500. In addition to its history, the place is mostly known for its beaches, coconuts, açaí and massive axé parties. But for zoukers Porto Seguro is especially known as the birth place of lambada - and for Berg's Congress, most likely the biggest zouk & lambada congress in the world at the moment.

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Beach & lambazouk week in Barcelona

Beach & lambazouk week in Barcelona

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!

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The time I got doudouleyd

The time I got doudouleyd

I happened to be in the area for the DouDouLe Latin Dance Camp (18-20 May) which is held every year on the Gold Coast, about an hour drive from Brisbane. DouDouLe is the labour of love of Sydney dance busy-body Jean-Luc Lambs and I'd say it's one of the rare mixed dance events that's actually a hit. The event hosts a group of Australian and international teachers on several latin styles – this year they had classes on salsa, zouk, bachata, cha cha, samba, afro jazz and pachanga.

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Enjoying the Sydney latin scene (part 2)

Enjoying the Sydney latin scene (part 2)

Sydney is quite a good spot for us latin dancers and I had 10 days to check it out. The city is not known for its zouk scene (Brisbane is the Australian zouk capital) though you’ll find zoukers and some socials & parties there. But for salseros and bachateros there’s a lot of things happening, something every day of the week.

I happened to be in town for the Sydney International Bachata Festival! As I was busy being a tourist I didn’t want to tie myself to the festival schedule so I just decided to join a couple of the parties. First it was the pre-party at the Mediterranean restaurant on Oxford Street - cool location. When I walked in a zouk song was playing but only a few couples were on the dance floor. No reason to worry though, soon the floor was packed! They played mostly bachata with a couple salsas and zouks in between. I was happy I found some really good zouk dancers later on in the evening. And obviously tons of amazing bachateros. I had never danced bachata on that level before or Dominican style bachata ever!

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Rio zouk congress 2012

Rio zouk congress 2012

One of the things I was looking forward to the most on my trip around the world was to get to zouk in Brazil. I managed to fit an actual congress on my travel plans – the 3rd international zouk and lambada congress in Rio de Janeiro, organized by Renata Pecanha. The congress had four nights of parties and three days of workshop and my plan was to clock in as much dancing as possible.

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Zouktime 2011 - Czech, check!

Zouktime 2011 - Czech, check!

I recently went to Brno for the 2nd Zouktime congress - an international zouk and lambada event. A weekend with excellent teachers, good venues, great parties, fantastic shows... There were six of us FinZoukers and about 15 other nationalites, altogether over 250 people. The organisers had clearly made an effort to make the event interesting and each feel welcome.

It was great to see the development in myself since the last (and my first) congress three months ago in Sweden! And I was surprised I'm starting to get more into the lambazouk style with its faster tempo and snappier movements. But I still have a firm hold on the slower and more creative Rio zouk as well.

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First Scandinavian Zouk Congress

First Scandinavian Zouk Congress

I took part in the First Scandinavian Lambada/Zouk Congress in Uppsala about a week ago. The rainy smalltown in Sweden had a very well organised congress with two days packed with workshops and three nights of parties... In our case five nights of parties as a large part of the "Team Finland" decided to take an overnight cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm on the way there and back. And we did indeed terrorise the cruise passangers with zouk where ever they played something zoukable!

At the congress we were 14 Finnish zoukers there, with about 120 participants altogether. The rest were mostly Swedes and there was a small group of Dutch, a couple Norwegian, one Danish and one from Australia. Teachers included Pasty & Josta, Olaya & Papagaio, Tania & Marcelo, Kwok and a number of Swedish teachers of which my favourite was Sanna Nilsson.

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