2015 Helsinki Zouk Festival - learning to breathe again

2015 Helsinki Zouk Festival - learning to breathe again

Have you ever had the feeling of flying?
Have you ever felt out of breath by happiness?

I have, the past weekend at the Helsinki Zouk Festival.

For the fourth time, I had the pleasure to attend to this gem of an event. Freddy Marinho & Andressa Castelhano together with their Rio Zouk Style team have little by little raised the bar for what can be described as a truly top level zouk festival. After well exceeding everybody’s expectations last year, all of us were nervously and excitedly looking forward to what this year’s edition had in store for us. Can all the magic be repeated?

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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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Beyond words: Helsinki Zouk Festival 2014

Beyond words: Helsinki Zouk Festival 2014

It takes quite a lot of effort to create something good. But what does it take to make... magic?

I know, I know. Last year I made the statement that Helsinki Zouk Festival is a zouk event quite unlike any other. And true, the 2013 HZF was great. But indeed, the last weekend's 2014 HZF was simply beyond words.

I try not bore you with everything I've already told before. Yes, Helsinki is a cold, dark place in November. The zouk scene is small but us zoukers in Helsinki are extremely proud of it. And I think many may agree we've developed a fairly nice group of dancers here. But now, we also have one of the best zouk events in the world!

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AfroLatin Flow - a hot dance weekend in Helsinki!

AfroLatin Flow - a hot dance weekend in Helsinki!

It was the warmest weekend of May when AfroLatin Flow arrived to Helsinki. Not just hot artists and sensual dance styles but also warm weathers, yay! Those three put together means we were in for a very steamy weekend!

AfroLatin Flow is a three-day festival for the kizomba, zouk and bachata dancers, organised by IDNZ. There were quite a number of talented artists involved:

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It's time for carnavaaaal!

It's time for carnavaaaal!

Carnival! The most colourful, indulgent and rambunctious time of the year! Carnival is a festive season which occurs according to the Catholic calendar before lent, setting this year at around 28 February - 4 March. Depending where you go you may see different types of events - but you can expect massive street parties and spectacular parades. Costumes and masks are worn, and in fact historically they served a purpose: behind those you could hide your true identity, race and gender.

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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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Welcome to the northernmost samba capital of the world!!?

Welcome to the northernmost samba capital of the world!!?

Helsinki is quite the samba city even though you may have a hard time imagining it. Every year, now for over 20 years, there is a big samba carnival right in the center of Helsinki - held following the same traditions and rules as in the all-mighty Rio de Janeiro. With the small exception that the Helsinki Samba Carnival (HSC) is held the second Saturday of June, as it would be quite too cold to do it in February-March!

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First zouk competition - Fresca 2011

First zouk competition - Fresca 2011

Last weekend the salsa festival Fresca 2011, organised by La Nieve Fresca, took place in Helsinki. I joined the festivities on the Saturday night's big party when the Latin Championships were also held. The evening kicked off with the Finnish record attempt for cuban salsa rueda. I think there were close to one hundred couples!? Well, the big room at the "White Hall" near the Senate Square was filled with the rueda dancers.

After the rueda we started the Fresca 2011 Latin Championships with the zouk competition! It was a 20 minute freestyle "Jack & Jill" competition with 3 rounds of two songs (2 minutes each). On each song the partners were changed and for the first two songs the couples were chosen by random lottery. Normal tricks and dips were allowed but no choreographies or aerial acrobatics... which was pretty easy guideline to stick to with the "random partner" system. The dancers would be judged above all on musicality and the authenticity (the "zoukness") of the moves. The overall best female (follower) and best male (leader) would be announced the winners.

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