Congress/Festival Reviews

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Offbeat, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    Actually apart from some congresses, i don't have the impression it's that bad. At least in the big cities where I've dance outside congresses it was usually 50/50 sometimes even better for foolows (London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Prague). Or maybe I'm going to the wrong places...

    What do you mean? It's a stand up comedy. Of course he was tickling the salsa community and putting the emphasis on people behaviors. Some of his targets (other instructors) were in the audience and they didn't seem to take offence. The subject varies from fashion trends among dancers, congress organizers screwing artists, rise of youtube, life in gay paris, people getting to serious on facebook salsa debates...
    Basically he took salsaforums different threads and made a comedy of it :D
     
    #21
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  2. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    El sol festival Warsaw

    Venue: All in one place over different floors. Hotel Gromada (same place as Bachaturo but different festival)
    There are a lot of options to sleep in the area and even in town as it's a short bus/tram/train/taxi/uber ride from city center. There are some night buses as well.
    The floors are pretty big even the "small" kizomba floor was bigger than the main floor of some other events. There were enough space for the workshops and enough space for the parties.
    They can clearly have more than the 4000 participants announced.
    The main salsa floor was huge. It didn't stop people from bumping in each others. I don't get it seriously,
    You would choose a perfect spot with no one in a at 3 meter circle around you and then a couple would just come to dance in your line.
    It's like those people who put their towel just next to you on an almost empty beach. I don't get it. :confused:
    As always the "cool people" areas were packed. Loud music, no space...I don't get it neither.:confused:

    Parties:
    - From 10 pm to 6 or 7 + after party until 10am. Tell me you didn't dance enough after that!
    - 4 areas: cross body, cuban, kizomba, bachata
    - The Music in the salsa room was very good. The DJ's did a very good job. The wooden floor was nice. I'd like to hear more chah cha.
    - The music in the other floors was just average, same songs every night sometimes at the same time of night actually. I was disappointed.
    - Why so much light in the kizomba room? I ruined the atmosphere a bit. It was very hot there as well and it wasn't coming from the couples dancing. Some fans could be helpful.
    - The floor in the cuban room was very slippery at some points especially with dance shoes on. It was hard to keep the balance as a guy, I can't imagine for ladies with heels.
    - There were bars with cheap drinks everywhere (Berlin congress...erm, erm). I liked the token system as it reduces the queuing time.
    They also sold some hot dogs and food at night.
    - The after party was on the very small hotel club downstairs. Some people gave up because of that. They should have use one of the multiple party or workshop room instead.
    - I'm not sure how the "stars" were involved in the social dance. I think I saw most of the kizomba ones and Super Mario dancing.
    I saw few of the others parading (no name but you know them :rolleyes:) at the bar or in the hallways/staircase/lobby but I'm not sure if they danced.
    I know some people, especially follows, crave to dance with them at congresses. Not sure if they were lucky in Warsaw.

    Shows: I saw none of them. I haven't heard any comment on them.

    Concerts:
    - I missed the first one (Elito Reve) as it was on thursday night.:mad:. I saw them in Croatia last year though.
    - The second one (Yoruba Andabo) was very good, but the event was packed of cross body dancers who had no interest in Cuban music at all.
    The huge floor looked empty and you could feel a lack of atmosphere. I loved the Orishas presentation.
    - More people turned up for the last concert on Saturday.
    They didn't announced the start of the concert in the rooms downstairs. I missed the beginning.

    Workshops:
    - Most of the ones I did were good. Few were a bit messy
    - There were some international artists and some local ones.
    - There were a track dedicated to beginners.
    - Big shout-out to AfroLatin instructors (Kizomba) for the way they organize their classes. They rotate and give clear instructions on how to rotate the couples.
    They come prepared and adapt to the crowd. They have extra help in the crowd. They prepare (or look like they did ) the songs before the workshops instead of spending 3 min each time to figure out which one they are going to play.
    They have a plan B in case they feel the song is too fast/slow for the crowd.
    They even give explanationa on the songs and the singers.

    People:
    - The lead/follow ration was 50/50 at parties and during workshop. The organizers were claiming few weeks ago that they sold the same number of pass to both which I believe.
    The impression could be that it was follow heavy at some points due to the lines of follow on the sides, but I noticed a huge amount of leads were hanging out outside the rooms (bars/lobby) or staying near the entrance(best place to stay right :rolleyes:) for catch-ups, chat, drinks, smiling stupidly at women passing...
    - The majority of the crowd were clearly cross-body dancers of the level was high.
    - I danced only with one salsa and one kizomba beginners.
    - A majority of on1 dancers but I've never been asked to dance on2 some many time before. So I guess on2 people like this event.
    - I had some amazing dances there and some very bad as well(no connection, attitude, too much styling, show off). I didn't experience that in festivals with lower level like Rovinj (where the level is still good for me anyway)
    - As always a lot a lead moving around (including myself) to find partners and a lot of follows standing against the walls behind leads, sitting down,
    , glued to their friends, avoiding eye contact and looking at their feet. The salsa floor was huge so a lead was more likely to find a partner before he reaches the edges or chairs. I never past the first row of follows waiting.
    - I've got invited many times, which is always pleasant as a lead, been rejected once only.
    - I think there were a lot sensual bachata (lamba zouk, spanish style...you name it) dancers and they seemed to know what there were doing.
    - I had the impression the Cuban floor was lead heavy after 3 am.
    - The level in kizomba was not too high with few very good urban kizz dancers. It's a salsa event after all. Follow heavy at the beginning of the night balanced after a while.
    As always a lot were sitting on chairs while the same ladies would be invited by all the men other.
    They would constantly look/smile at you when you were dancing with that "I want to dance too" face but would look away or pretend to strike a conversation with their friend when approaching them.
    They would accept with a big smile when asking. Most lead don't bother to ask, they would just stand there by fear of rejection I guess. Stupid situation were both lead and follow want to dance but no one move.
    This strategy certainly didn't work in the huge salsa room for reasons I explained previously.
    - The place is big and split on different level, so their were less opportunity to socialize really and meet new people.
    - I have the impression that many actually use this event as a opportunity to catch up with each others
    - No official report on the number of pregnant women yet :inlove". I guess facebook will tell us within few weeks.:D

    General impression:
    I had an amazing time. I have the feeling that I improved again.
    I got complimented on my dance (nice for the ego:D)
    It was well organized with good indication. Workshops were on time.
    It is affordable. I didn't socialize much this time. You would talk to people and not see them again.
     
  3. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    At least for the two festivals that I attended in past two weeks, that wasn't the case. It was 50:50 to may be only very slightly follower heavy (only in Warsaw). Dancing level was much higher both from the leads and followers compared to any other USA congresses that I been to in the past 3-4 years. Warsaw reminded me of the USA congresses at their heights (before 2006-2008). Then SF, LA and NYC congresses use to have as high level of dancing (or perhaps higher) and as many people on the salsa dance floor).

    Kizomba attendance was pale in Amsterdam (I was told that was because there were no Kizomba workshops). But I wasn't impressed in Warsaw either (compared to size of attendees - 5000 claimed), it was fairly small (~15-20 couples on Friday night at peak). Good thing :)
     
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  4. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    In the past twelve months I have been to congresses/Festivals in SF, Seattle, Vancouver, DC and NYC. Comparing my recent European festival experience (Amsterdam and Warsaw) to my collective North American festival experience with (zero being equal):

    Lead/Follow Ratio +4 [slightly more followers, but not lopsided]
    DJ Music -1 [Depends on DJ]
    Live bands -2
    Friendliness +4
    Level of dancing +3
    Organization +2
    Venue quality +3
    Dance time +4
    Size +5
    Celeb dancing -4
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  5. Salsa Student

    Salsa Student Pattern Police

    Sounds like Europe's the winner then.
     
  6. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Definitely. It is where the North America was about ten years back. Great support from dancers (both local and outsiders), great enthusiasm, a lot of dancing (on some days went on till 10am). My only complaint is that the dancing starts very late (around mid night).

    What stuck me most was the level and quality of dancing. I didn't expect level of dancing and musicality over and above the North American festivals. If I were to break down North American festival attendees, (as a leader) I would say the ratio tends to be in 40% to 60% - beginners, 20% to 30% intermediates and about 10% above intermediates. Europe had probably only 20% to 30% beginners. The level of dancing in Warsaw was vastly superior to Amsterdam, but it was also almost 5x bigger in size. In Amsterdam the level of dancing was better than Seattle in past two years (which I think has the best level of dancing on the North American end). Both Seattle and Amsterdam are almost similar in size. There was also a strong presence of good dancers from North America in both festivals. There were at least half a dozen dancers from my local scene alone. The local dance level of polish followers whom I danced with was very good. They could all dance on2. There seem to be a fair number of Russian followers. I must have danced with at least dozen and a half in Warsaw alone. The Russians at the festivals were very good on2 dancers. I also notice leaders showing a more musicality. One thing I didn't find as much was mad pattern monkey behavior. Speaking with some of the local European dancers about their social dancing experience around Europe, it appears to me we here in North America, have a lot stronger social dancing scene than in Europe as a whole. There was no problem dancing on2. There were some followers when you asked them to dance asked if the leader knew on2. I saw that happen several times with other leaders too, where a follower would show two fingers (to indicate on2) when a leader asked her. Only twice I was asked to switch to on1 by a follower.

    The second thing that stuck me and my other friends from San Francisco was that the people appeared to be a lot more friendly (confirmed by both my leader and follower dance friends). I and my friend who was traveling with me both agreed that the followers were very friendly and hardly displayed any attitude (which is quite common among North American followers). It was extremely rare for a follower to decline dance invitation. And when it did happen, it was mostly on the last day and the reason was taking a break (which did seem genuine). If I can recall in all six days, I think I must have got only one or two straight up no.

    I didn't observe people dancing repeatedly with each other. There was hardly any same gender dancing. In North America it is not uncommon to see guys dancing together. Can't remember any in either of two places. Kizomba had minimal attendance (compared to overall size of the attendees in both festivals).

    The leader and follower ratio was mostly even. Warsaw did seem to have a slightly more followers. Only reason I can say that is there would always be ones standing on the edge. But there were leaders too standing on the edge at the same time. As someone said there were more leaders drinking and chatting outside the dance floor.

    Amsterdam had no live band. The Warsaw had Cuban/Timba band on Thursday and Friday. The Thursday band was good, though they also played some timba music that had more reggatone feel to it. After a while I actually went to Kizomba room and danced a few Kizomba! On Friday, I spend all time in in downstairs Mambo room while band was playing in the main room. When the band was not playing the main room was for mambo dancing, The Saturday band was very good and played pretty good mambo music. No complaints. The DJs over all were good. Though I think North American DJs tend to play better music and can read the mood of the dance floor better.

    Bachata was horrible!! They seem to play a strange kind of Bachata music. I would call it pop-Bachata. They take pop songs and mix it up with a weak Bachata rhythm. One thing I notice is that they don't call it Bachata. They always prefix it with 'sensual' and call it sensual Bachata. Only on Sunday night in Warsaw one heard one particular DJ play what we would identify as normal and mainstream Bachata music, including Dominican style. The level of Bachata dancing is much lower. I hardly saw anyone able to dance Domincan style. Even the so called sensual style was being badly executed. But overall the level of Bachata dancing was pretty low and music was very very bad! Both in Amsterdama and Warsaw.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  7. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    So it sounds like the ideal is to live in a US place with good social dancing scene and travel to European congresses instead of US ones.
     
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  8. Salsa Student

    Salsa Student Pattern Police

    I'm sure I don't know what you mean Sabs, what social dancing scene could you possibly be referring to?
     
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  9. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Seemed like that to me too.
     
  10. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    My exact experience whenever I dance bachata with European leads.
    I'm at the point where I can lead simple traditional/fusion bachata reasonably well and plan to keep practicing and expanding my repertoire, so next time I am in Europe I plan on dancing all my bachata dances as a lead :D
     
  11. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    Well Offbeat seems to like his local scene so that is one example :)
     
  12. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I think places like NYC, SF, LA, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, etc have good social dancing scene. I thought Seattle had good local social dancing too?

    We have multiple nights of weekly socials. And they are all fairly well attended.

    A couple of European dancers narrated their experience social dancing in various parts of western Europe. For example one of them said that when they went social dancing in Milan, there were tables marked by local dance schools, where the students from that dance school sat around, it was very cliquish and they tended to not dance with strangers/out-of-towners). He is a fairly good lead dancing for ten years. Even Paris, he said depended on which social you go to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
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  13. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    Having danced in all those places I agree with your list, with the possible exception of Chicago. I've been hearing negative feedback about their scene for a while, at least from leads.
     
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  14. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    We should ask Alvin what's up with that. Last time I danced socially in Chicago was back in 2007 or so. It was very vibrant then.
     
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  15. alvinthethird

    alvinthethird Nuevo Ritmo

    Oh i have a lot to say on this topic...having been dancing 8yrs I've seen the scene change a lot.
    Short answer is currently its not nearly as good as it could be.
    Then:
    Around the time you were here @Offbeat was just before I started learning, but I know the vibrancy you talk about. I could go out every night of the week and have a great time dancing. you would see a lot of the best dancers not just at socials, but weekly club//bar/restaurant nights as well. At this time there were only a few dance teams in Chicago, with the most influential being Sekou's group Descarga Caribe. A lot of members of that team went on to be impressive in their own right, starting their own teams or dance schools. Socials were a great mix of folks and the dancing was fantastic.
    Now:
    A ton of dance teams in Chicago, with more than a few franchises (Island Touch, Daniel y Desiree, La Fuerza). Which means a lot of practices and also allegiances and cliques. That's one reason why the weekly social dancing quality has fallen- people just don't have the energy to go to practice and then go out. Additionally, the egos and cliques/allegiances keep people away from some socials. The whole performer mentality has gotten so pervasive that the best way to get socials to have a good turnout is to invite X number of teams to perform. There are some rays of hope- a fb group where promoters and school owners try to coordinate dates to minimize crossover. A monthly mambo social started by dancers. A lot of young dancers are getting onboarded by bachata teams, which brings the mambo/salsa enthusiasm down. There are places to dance in Chicago every night of the week, but visiting it's hard to know where to dance if you don't know the ins and outs to figure out the best option. Women visiting can have a better time than guys on average (unless you know people here already)...
     
  16. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I can say what you described above, mirrors what has happened in my local scene as well. More dance teams, a much lower average skill levels at socials, good dancers don't come out that much and today what locals may consider good dancers won't hold candle to what used to be good dancers till 4-5 years back. We do have at least one good decent mambo social every week. We have more socials, that I don't go to. I met two followers from my local scene in Amsterdam and Warsaw and neither of us knew each other!! Imagine that :)
     
  17. Salsa Student

    Salsa Student Pattern Police

    IMO, what Alvinthethird and Offbeat are talking about happened in Seattle too, and in about the same time frame.
     
  18. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    In Warsaw the kizomba room was maybe too big which give the impression of emptiness. There were surely more than 20 couples at peak. Also the room was too bright. Kizomba is better danced in the dark.
    I guess that was a turn-off. There also this situation I was explaining of lead and follow willing to dance but no one moving. Follows would sit on the many chairs in the room sometimes in the back where no one was dancing. Maybe they didn't want to stand up awkwardly in the light with people looking at them like "what's wrong with her? why is she standing there with no one inviting her?".At the same time men were standing in the entrance waiting for the already dancing follows to finish. No lead want to cross the room and ask women sitting and being rejected in front of everyone. It was a kind of vicious circle.
    The music wasn't so good anyway whatever the style was (kizomba, semba, french zouk, ghetto zouk...)
    That's funny because the workshops were busy.
     
  19. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I agree with that dynamic. With the followers who were seating by the wall, it was hard to tell if they wanted to dance or not. I think I danced two or three Kizombas. I too preferred to ask of the followers who were coming off the dance floor. I did also ask a couple of followers who were seating and they declined. I also saw a few other leads being declined by followers who were not dancing. Strange dynamics indeed! The band was playing on Thursday night and I went to the Kizomba room twice - at 2pm and at 3pm. I would consider that to be peak time and I swear there were not more than 20 couples dancing. Yes it was big room.
     
  20. Al Israel

    Al Israel Tumbao

    I actually danced over 80% on2, maybe my taste in women is good ;)
    I always ask what the follow prefers, honestly for me on most songs on1/on2 dance pretty much the same.
     

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