Who should ask for a dance? Poll results

Who should ask for a dance? Poll results

There are (quite) a few topics that split opinions among social dancers. One of them is who should ask for a dance - is it the man’s job, should women take charge in this, or does it even make any difference?

Last month I posed this question to you, hoping to get a lot of replies.
And reply you did! Thank you for taking part in this poll so actively!

The zouk dancers are quite a liberal and equal bunch. We prefer to dispense with the formalities - there’s no cabeceo like in Argentine tango or any rules of who can ask whom. But are we really completely liberal or do we want complete equality? The leader has more responsibility in the dance in many ways so should the leader also be responsible for asking the follower? Or on the other hand, as the follower should surrender to the lead, should the follower then make the decision of who she wants to follow? Like I was expecting, and could read from your comments, there’s not a 100% consensus on this.

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Like Festival in Buenos Aires - A likeable mix of lambazouk and kizomba

Like Festival in Buenos Aires - A likeable mix of lambazouk and kizomba

Like Festival is a fairly new addition to the international zouk scene. Now I know - let’s not get confused here: Welcome to the Like Festival 2 in Buenos Aires! This is not be confused with the highly popular annual kizomba festival, also called Like Festival, held for the sixth time this September Lisbon. Well, when you use such a ubiquitous world as 'like', it’s no wonder it will pop up in every possible corner of the world. Anyway...

Zouk The World is always curious in anything interesting happening in the zouk scene around the world so I procured a reporter to scout this Buenos Aires Like Festival! Meet Jaakko Pispala, a passionate zouk dancer living in São Paulo, Brazil! He is working behind many initiatives to spread around the world, one of them is a dance-travel agency ZK Adventures, another Lambazouk Finland! He was kind enough of to tell us his Like Festival experience - so sit back and enjoy!

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Salsa vs. Zouk

Salsa vs. Zouk

You might remember from last year that I started a new chapter in my dance adventures: learning cross-body salsa. I spent the last four months of 2014 learning the salsa basics and ended the year feeling quite excited about my new dance skills. My spins were faster than ever, coordination and balance improved, following skills renewed and generally I feel superb. And utterly confused.

But I had no time to feel renewed or confused. Almost straight from my last salsa class I flew to Brazil for a month of zouking, all day and night. I quite literally had to zouk the salsa out of me and fast! It didn’t take long to sink back in my comfort zone - into the arms of the fantastic Brazilian zouk dancers. The month in Brazil was like a month in *sigh* heaven, to put it short. After coming back home from Brazil I dove further back into zouk. After the bliss of Brazil I didn’t really miss salsa all that much - the zouk tunes were calling to me like sirens luring sailors to shipwreck.

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A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

Welcome to Alicante! On the Costa Blanca (the ‘white coast’), in the southeast corner of Spain lies this jet-set port, laid back beach town, urban metropolis and historic city. Know both as Alicante and Alacant, the city is home to some 350.000 people, plus another 450.000 people in its surrounding towns and hundreds of thousands of tourists and summer residents that flock to Alicante each year.

I had a chance to revisit Alicante a bit earlier this year. It had been a while… a looong while. I was picturing in my head a plain sandy beach and a 1990’s cookie-cutter beach resort but - to my pleasant surprise - found a lot more than that!

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Dance event survival guide

Dance event survival guide

Off to a dance festival but don't really know what to expect? How to plan a trip to a dance congress? What do you need to pack with you? How to best prepare yourself and make the most of the event?

Lucky you, going to a dance event - they're so much fun! This is the fully updated survival guide for you who are going to your first international dance event or you who want to have remind yourself of what to pack and prepare for. First we look at where to go, then other preparations for the event, then how to survive the event itself and what to do after!

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Your best social dancing experiences? Poll results

Your best social dancing experiences? Poll results

This is the start of the “Poll of the month” blog post series!

For a long time I've wanted to hear more of your thoughts so I when I opened this new website I also posted the first Poll of the month. And I was feeling quite brave right from the start - I set out on a quest to get dancers to share their best social dancing experiences. I asked you to tell where you had your best social dancing experience and what made this the best.

Those are some tough questions, I know. ‘Social dancing experience’ is not something you can quantify. It can be a fleeting moment on the dance floor - or a lasting memory. But even if it's a lasting memory, it's rarely something you write down, or compare with other experiences.  Or do you ever make notes, such as, “I give this dance 76/100 points.” I hope not!

It felt like those were also pretty private questions - do you really want to share your very personal experiences, I wondered? And it did indeed feel like you were shy to give me your replies. But I was curious and undeterred: I wanted your stories. In this post I spill the beans. Here are your best replies and my best social dancing experiences!

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2015 Berg's Congress - Back in zouk paradise

2015 Berg's Congress - Back in zouk paradise

Let's travel back in time for about six months. It was a dark & cold evening at the end of December when I was packing my bags, once again. I hate packing - somehow during the past years I've learned to hate it with a passion. But this night I didn't really mind: I was heading to Brazil, to Porto Seguro for the 2015 Berg's Congress.

Held during a 10 day-stretch around the New Year at the beautiful Praia Taperapuan on the coast of Bahia, is one of the most amazing zouk congresses in the world. Hundreds of zoukers, dancing under the Brazilian sun, the stars and the palm trees, enjoying fresh fruits, cold caipirinhas and the warm blue sea... No need to tempt me more, I was hooked!

 

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Traveling dancer's vocabulary: English - Portuguese (Brazil)

Traveling dancer's vocabulary: English - Portuguese (Brazil)

Knowing the local language can help a lot while traveling. Unfortunately (IMO) it's not possible to learn every language of the world - but learning even just a couple key words and phrases can save you from a lot of trouble. And it always makes a positive impression with the locals!

With kind assistance from my friends in Brazil I compiled this short Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary for the traveling dancers. 

A conhecer a língua local pode ajudar muito durante a viagem. Infelizmente acho que não é possível aprender todas as línguas do mundo - mas pode realmente ajudar se você aprender ainda algumas palavras e frases importantes. E isso faz sempre uma impressão positiva!

Com a ajuda dos meus amigos no Brasil eu compilei este pequeno vocabulário de inglês - português brasileiro para os dançarinos que viajarão. 

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Braz Dos Santos: Dance is a massage to the spirit

Braz Dos Santos: Dance is a massage to the spirit

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. You sit face to face with a true legend of your #1 passion in life and hear them open their heart and share their life story. That was me last month, sitting face to face with a certain tall and dark gentleman. And now I get to share this story with you: my interview with Braz Dos Santos.

In case you don’t know Braz yet, he is indeed a living legend of Brazilian zouk and probably one of the reasons why we are dancing this dance still today. He started his dance career 28 years ago by winning a lambada competition on his first night on the dance floor. Leaving his perilous life as a fisherman he soon went on to be a dancer with the iconic Kaoma band. Still today he is dancing and teaching, and is probably as energetic & joyful as he was 28 year ago.

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Braz Dos Santos: Dança é uma massagem no espírito

Braz Dos Santos: Dança é uma massagem no espírito

É um momento unico. A sentar-se cara a cara com uma das lendas verdadeiras do seu paixão e ouvir quando ele abre o seu coração e conta a sua história. Isso foi eu no mês passado, falando com um cavalheiro alto e moreno muito genial. E agora eu posso compartilhar esta história com vocês: a minha entrevista com Braz Dos Santos!

No caso de você já não conhece Braz, ele é de fato uma lenda viva do zouk brasileiro e, provavelmente, em parte por causa dele nós estamos dançando esta dança ainda hoje. Ele começou sua carreira de dança há 28 anos e ele ganhou uma competição da lambada na sua primeira noite na pista da dança. Deixando sua vida perigosa como um pescador, ele logo se tornou um dançarino com uma banda icônica, Kaoma. Ainda hoje ele dança e ensina, e é provavelmente tão enérgico e alegre como ele era 28 anos atrás.

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Get ready, here comes the new & improved International Zouk Day!

Get ready, here comes the new & improved International Zouk Day!

Need a reason to look forward to September? I'll give you one: International Zouk Day! On Saturday September 19th, for the fourth time, the world is uniting for zouk. Started in 2012 from a simple zouk flash mob organised by Alisson Rodrigues Sandi & Audrey Isauter in Perth, Australia, it quickly grew into an international phenomenon - International Zouk Flash Mob.

From idea into reality

An active group of organisers set out to make the International Zouk Flash Mob (IZFM) an annual event, uniting dancers in a global scale. And spreading the word about Brazilian zouk in the process! The idea was that everybody would dance the same choreography and song on the same day, in all corners of the world. Anybody could join a local group - or create one if there were none to begin with - no matter their skill level. Instructional videos were available online for everyone to learn the moves with their group or even just at home.

After months of preparation, on the set date, people would gather to a prominent place in their hometown and perform the flash mob. Videos of the flash mobs were filmed and distributed around the web for all of us to marvel. This resulted in amazing compilations (such as these videos from 2013 and 2014) where you could see the dancers’ undulating bodies moving to the same beat in front of the Eiffel tower, Times Square, Berlin Wall, Colosseum... I'm sure just the videos make every zouk dancers heart skip a beat!

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Building bridges, not fences - 10 tips on how to grow your dance community

Building bridges, not fences - 10 tips on how to grow your dance community

Brazilian zouk. A mix of emotions and memories run through my brain every time I think of those two words. Never in my life have I had such an intensive hobby. Among the zoukers I know this seems to be more the rule than an exception. I constantly hear from new dancers that "my life has completely changed since I started zouk". What is it about zouk that consumes the mind? I bet it's different for everyone -  maybe part of it is the infectious zouk music that beats into our hearts; the telepathic connection you have with your dance partner; the intricate details that keeps you on your toes even after years of dancing, wanting to learn more; and perhaps the warm, welcoming dance community?.

Being so hooked into zouk, year after year, it makes me wonder: Why is it so hard to make the zouk scene grow? Why are many of the zouk communities quite small?

Yes, Brazilian zouk is still a rather new phenomenon among the wide spectrum of dance styles around the world. In the past couple years, the number of zouk dancers and big events have increased substantially and there are some major global zouk projects ongoing, such as the International Zouk Day. But none of these have so far brought zouk real international fame or a big boom in the number of zouk dancers.

There's no shame in being small. But in order for zouk to thrive we do need more people - the more the merrier!  What can the zouk communities & the leaders in the community do to help it grow?

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Battons, mohawks, high heels and feather boas - 2015 Helsinki Samba Carnaval

Battons, mohawks, high heels and feather boas - 2015 Helsinki Samba Carnaval

Who doesn't love big colorful costumes, smiling people, loud music and a little rain? No one! So here goes the 25th annual Helsinki Samba Carnaval!

It wasn't my first or my last samba carnival - you may have read my earlier post: Welcome to the Northernmost samba capital of the world!!? So I was back again, running along the hundreds of sambistas last Saturday - with a camera in hand, obviously.

The carnival started at 3pm on the dot at Helsinki's landmark filled Senate Square. The bells of the massive white cathedral rang to mark the start time for G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio samba school, which was the last year's winner and had the honor of leading the parade. An audience of tens of thousands of people had already more than an hour ago started to line up on the city streets to cheers and gawk at the stunning dancers. And it certainly was a visual overload!

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What's hot (and what's not) on the 2015 zouk congress calendar

What's hot (and what's not) on the 2015 zouk congress calendar

Us zoukers are a bit crazy about congresses, aren't we? There's big group of people who travel to a number of international events every year - some every month! So perhaps it's no surprise that one of the most popular pages on this site is the zouk congress calendar.

In this post I sum up the latest news on the zouk event scene and present some of the newcomers on the festival circuit. While 2015 is well underway, there are still many interesting events coming up. Most congresses from now until the end of the year are already confirmed - and some already for 2016. And the 2016 calendar is coming up around August-September here at zouktheworld.com!

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Lights, camera, action! Zouk The World channel now open on Youtube

Lights, camera, action! Zouk The World channel now open on Youtube

Yes, Zouk The World is now also on Youtube! You can click to the Zouk The World Youtube channel from this link or via the "video player" icon in social media buttons that are on the site top navigation, footer and pretty much everywhere! ...Like right about here, as well:

Zouk The World trailer

Now... time for "Action!!" Feast your eyes on this zouktheworld.com trailer video that opened up the Youtube channel last Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled as you might just see some familiar faces & places there!

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Floorcraft in practice - 14 tips for the dance floor (Part 2)

Floorcraft in practice - 14 tips for the dance floor (Part 2)

In Part 1 you could read the introduction to floorcraft. 

Now let's get to work - here are 14 practical tips to improve your floorcraft! This includes some general dance floor etiquette and basic leading & following skills - all you need to make the dance floor safe and enjoyable for everybody.

Some of the tips towards the end of the list are categorised specifically for leaders and some for followers, but all are important to know no matter whether you lead or follow.

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Social dancing floorcraft - dance floor survival basics (Part 1)

Social dancing floorcraft - dance floor survival basics (Part 1)

Imagine a big open space and your favorite song - you can already see yourself dancing across the floor, can’t you? I love a dance that covers the entire floor space, gliding from one end of the room to the other. But most times you go out dancing you don’t have a massive open space: you’re on a dance floor full of people.

The dance floor is open to everybody and no matter how crowded the floor is and no matter if you’re a beginner or a professional dancer, you have an equal share of the floor. So how can I get the best out of the space so that everybody on the dance floor can enjoy their moment? Well, I looked it up. Welcome to Zouk The World's “Floorcraft 101”!

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DansaBrasil - celebrating 10 years of lambazoukin' Barcelona!

DansaBrasil - celebrating 10 years of lambazoukin' Barcelona!

It was a gorgeous sunny Thursday morning two weeks ago when I boarded a train in Alicante on the southwest coast of Spain. I was leaving my little Spanish spring holiday behind me and dragging a surprisingly heavy trolley bag. The air was still cool and people were going about their usual daily routines but I had a certain special smile on my face: I was on my way for some all-day-all-night zouking in Barcelona at the DansaBrasil 2015!

DansaBrasil congress, also known as Congresso Internacional de Lambada/Zouk en Barcelona, had been long on my list of "must-visit events". Being already at its 10th edition (!!) it's quite a historic event in the zouk scene and for many European so called old school zoukers it has been their first zouk congress. Though on this particular jam-packed weekend there were a lot of options for us zouk dancers; while many of us enjoyed bank holidays on Friday 1st of May, the congress organisers around the world also wanted to bank on this. Events in addition to DansaBrasil that same weekend were the Prague Zouk Marathon,  L.A. Zouk Congress and the Zouk Fusion congress in São Paulo.

But my (harder than ever) choice was made - I was not going to miss the 10th anniversary of DansaBrasil! 

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Larissa Thayane - "Foundations are the key" (Interview Part 2)

Larissa Thayane - "Foundations are the key" (Interview Part 2)

I sat down with Larissa Thayane recently to talk about her historical zouk project, the Brazialian Zouk Dance Council - read more about this in the previous post.

While I had a chance to talk to her, I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to hear from her what is that drove her to zouk and what drives her today. And I gave her a chance to share her advice to all us zoukers on what she feels are the most important things while learning zouk!

Zouk The World: Tell us a bit about your zouk history - how did you get involved with zouk in the first place?

Larissa Thayane: I’ve only danced Zouk 10-11 years now. Before I started with ballet, jazz, contemporary, and that’s what I did my whole childhood and as a profession. When I moved to Rio de Janeiro, where I started working with a ballet/contemporary company, I started to do salsa because I just wanted to do something for fun. So latin dance was my hobby! That’s how I met different dancers and learnt samba de gafieira, bolero, forró - and saw zouk for the first time. Initially, it didn’t get my attention. 

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Larissa Thayane and the Brazilian Zouk Dance Council - "We want to improve the social dance skills of every dancer" (Interview Part 1)

Larissa Thayane and the Brazilian Zouk Dance Council - "We want to improve the social dance skills of every dancer" (Interview Part 1)

If you're active in the zouk scene you've probably come across with the newly formed Brazilian Zouk Dance Council. Zouk The World met with one of the founders of the Council and a definite zouk all star Larissa Thayane recently in Helsinki and talked with her about the council, how she discovered zouk in the first place and what inspires her today.

But first, what is Brazilian Zouk Dance Council (BZDC)? On their site it says that the Council supports and promotes all aspects of Brazilian zouk and encourages the growth of the dance internationally. One of their key initiatives are the zouk Jack & Jill competitions to be hosted around the world adjacent to established zouk congresses. The BZDC also keeps a list of registered events, records of competitors and their scores as well as a registry of instructors.

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