Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hamburg Salsa Congress 2007

This past weekend I have been in Germany for the 5th international salsa festival in Hamburg. I have been at this congress before, but it was a couple of years ago. I have now started a 4-week summer vacation and what can be a better start of your holidays than four nights of salsa dancing?!

I stayed at a cheap Etap Accor hotel in the St Pauli area the first night and went to a pre-festival party on Thursday night. It was a fun party in a club called La Macumba. Some of my salsa friends from Stockholm were there, including Christoffer, Arram, Lalla and a few others. I danced with the famous DJ from New York, Henry Knowles, and the producer of the major part of all L.A. style salsa congresses in the world, Albert Torres. Juan Matos, a fabulous dancer from New York, known for his slick moves and incredible charisma on stage, was standing dancing and singing to himself in a corner so I decided to be daring and invite him to dance - I was actually rather surprised that he accepted. He was very friendly and it was a very pleasant dance experience.

Lalla and me at La Macumba

On Friday I changed hotel to Radisson SAS at Congress-Centrum (next to the central Dammtor train station), where the weekend salsa congress was hosted. A salsa friend of mine from Stockholm, Elena, performed for the first time with her new partner from Toronto, Mark Anthony - it’s not the famous singer, as you can probably tell from the spelling! They were the opening number at the Friday congress party at the Congress-Centrum and did a great job with an On2 show.

Since I had been up dancing till 4am the night before, my feet were already hurting so the first part of Friday night was kind of mellow for me until I got an energy boost from dancing with a very talented French guy. I had a similar experience the rest of the nights, with a part in the middle where I ran out of energy and then all of a sudden the mood and energy levels picked up the last two hours from 3 or 4am…

I had a great weekend dancing with many “congress friends” from different countries, among others Marlon, Bernard and Sonder from Holland; Ludovic, Didier and Juan from France; Tony, Guy, Floyd and Sean from London – always a pleasure dancing with all of them! I was also invited to dance by Cesar Sanchez from Latin Dance Education in Hamburg, which was a lot of fun. It turned out that there were quite many people from Stockholm attending this congress - apart from the ones already mentioned, I was happy to run into Miriam from Stockholm Salsa Dance, Rafael, Jose, Carina and Johan - very nice and friendly people all of them. The parties closed at 5am, but the last night it didn’t finish until about 6am.

German TV really has some silly shows. As I was getting ready for Saturday night’s party, I had channel 1 (http://www.daserste.de/) on in the background. They broadcasted some sort of family entertainment, I presume, with what I would describe as videos with “oompa, oompa music” and German traditional music à la Bier Stube. It wouldn’t have been so bad, I guess, if they hadn’t insisted on showing some sort of “music videos” as well with silly dancing and pretending to play instruments in an overly cheerful manner in a country environment. It was a little surprising that the next program was one of the Beck programs. Beck is a character in a Swedish detective novel series by Sjöwall/Walöö, which has been made into a TV series and several movies with Swedish actors Peter Haber and Mikael Persbrandt. Of course the program was dubbed into German; I don’t know how the Germans, Italians, French and Spaniards learn English when they never actually hear it…

Saturday night a big Cuban band called Mercado Negro from Switzerland played. On Sunday night, my friends Anna and Laia in Mambo Sisters from Stockholm performed their very nice mambo routine in white dresses and long evening gown gloves. During the social dancing I saw an amazing 7-year-old girl dance with one of the adult, male performers and was astonished that she was already way more advanced than most of the rest of us! It’s besides the point that she should probably have been home in bed instead of spending late nights in a loud environment at a salsa congress.

Me with Guy & Floyd, two dancers from London – as you can see salsa dancing at congresses is a sweaty experience!

(Click pictures to view them enlarged)

Elena and Laia from Stockholm


7-year-old girl dancing with one of the male performers

On Saturday afternoon I walked from the hotel to Gänsemarkt and went shopping along Gerhofstrasse and Jungfernstieg followed by enjoying the sunset over lake Alster (a branch of the river Elba) with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa (my favorite wine country). The restaurant on the lake had delicious lasagna, a friendly atmosphere and decent prices. It’s been a hectic first half year and I so enjoyed being off and not having any obligations at all. A handsome male friend of mine accompanied me to the same place for lunch on Sunday afternoon. It had become incredibly hot, 30-35°C and quite humid. Apart from these short strolls, I haven’t seen much of Hamburg, I’m afraid.

Binnenalster - Left: me. Right: Tony


Tony and Anna at McDonald’s


View from my Radisson SAS hotel room, overlooking Dammtor train station, a park and the city

1 comment:

keegan said...

Dancing is a fun-filled experience for dancers of all levels. Dancing makes people’s lives more fun. Dancers show their talent and hard work on the stage. I know of a certain website which promotes salsa dance! Lot of free videos are available online and people can use these free videos to learn salsa dancing!