Mamboland: the best salsa festival

There is always some dance festival. No one is able to visit them all. You need to choose some… which is hard.

I soon realized dancing isn't about variations and I stopped attending workshops. Not entirely but now I attend only few of them. Because it doesn't make sense to go to the full room where no one has enough space without proper feedback. And then run to be closer to teacher to make video. And then fight at the door to quickly move to the different workshop and maybe also eat on the way.

Fortunately, it can be done differently.

Adolfo organized amazing Mamboland. It's done in a totally opposite way.

Instead of a lot of different workshops, there is for every level only one room (beginners, advanced and masters). You stay in that room and Adolfo takes care to do it meaningfully. There is also time to practice. Every room has it's own time for lunch which is also provided. Water is also available whole day. Video is made for you as well. It's just for few hundred of people.

Which means you don't care about anything, you just focus on dancing and learning. This style will definitely take you from your level to the next one.

I wish there were more festivals like this one. Mostly because it's hard to get there because of limit to a few hundred of people and I think a lot of people should visit this festival. I can't wait for the next year!

Why do you dance?

Sometimes, I'm kind of sad when I look at dance floor. I'm curious, why do you dance actually? Personally, I dance because I cannot sit when I hear good music. Because now I have a lot of friends who dance and I want to hang out with them. Also because of dance itself, of course, it's fun and I like it. Actually, that's the most important part: because of fun.

I miss that fun on the dance floor.

But I see a lot of other stuff which worries me.

Very often I see men on the dance floor who don't care about other couples. You know, I thought I have problem with orientation or something because I always crossed way to some other couple. When I go to a salsa festival (= place full of people with passion for dance), it's fine… Guys, you are not alone on dance floor. Be careful where you are going and mostly to where you are sending your partner. Doing smaller steps also helps.

Another thing I see quite often is men coming to lady (this point is mostly for more sensual dances like bachata or kizomba) and holding her in a very close position immediately even if they see each other for the first time. It's not good. No one should ever do it and no lady should allow it! Treat the lady with respect. Make sure she enjoys it, pay attention to her response. Of course, this applies vice versa. I had several experiences that lady tried a lot to be in very close position and it was irritating.

I also see men who start dancing like crazy right away. It's not a work out. You should respond to music and music almost never starts like crazy. And even if the music starts like that, you should first get to know each other. Just one cross body lead will tell you a lot about abilities of lady. Even if you have danced together before, it's always good idea to start slowly. Eddie Torres says that in all classes (well, at least all I attended) and I think every teacher should be mentioning it frequently.

Eddie also says you should be present with your partner. I know, it can be hard, because maybe you wanted to dance with somebody else. Well, then you should probably say no. If you say yes, then act like that. Once at Eddie's class we had to wait until everybody would watch ladies eyes instead of hands, floor and other things around. It took a while!

Don't be just present but positively present. No one enjoy sad faces. For example this year in Ljubljana at the Magic festival by stage was a lot of great dancers, but almost all of them had a serious look. One friend expressed that brilliantly: dancing in that area felt like being at an interview. Not pleasant at all. Both of us much more enjoyed dancing with the less skilled dancers on the opposite side of the dance floor.

Which brings me to one important rule: do not correct your partner! If your partner wants to know that move, that's fine. Go somewhere aside where you won't block others. But do not correct your partner just because you think you are better. Actually I heard a lot of stories from my lady friends that a beginner wanted to correct them but the problem was his miserable lead. Correct and improve your leading. Do not tell, lead.

I could say much more (and very probably I will) but for now I will keep it short: guys, just be a gentleman. If you can't do that very well, then at least have some basic manners because you are not alone on the dance floor. Others will enjoy you more then.

And girls, don't hesitate to say no to bad guys. If you need help to say it, read this blog post. By the way, it's good to use heels protection. It doesn't hurt much then. :-)

Have fun!

How I competed at Bachata Stars


By mistake.

More than a year ago Alexej invited me to bachata competition called Bachata Stars. A competition which is open for everyone and the winner is going to the world championship. At that time I was dancing bachata only for a few months, so you can guess what my thoughts were: what would I be doing there? Instead of Bachata Stars I participated months before in some Jack & Jill competition. It was fun and I ended up at fourth place.

Jack & Jill is about individuals, not about couples, which means that you don't dance with the partner you want. Some people don't like that as one of my friends, Stela. One day at salsa party, she told me about some competition for couples at the first Bachata Magic festival (it was less than week before competition when she told me). We enjoyed dancing bachata together and I had a good mood that day so I replied positively. She was kind of surprised and asked me if I mean it. I said sure.

You should see my face when I realized for what I said yes! But I couldn't back off. Well, I could, but I didn't want to be seen as weak after such strong positive response. And anyway—in the Czech Republic is not so many good dancers. There was pretty good chance not be the last one which was my goal.

You should see my face when I came to that competition and I found out that I was the only one from the Czech Republic. And that other couples were dancing together for years. And that we even didn't have time to deal with outfits which were horrible comparing to others. And that we had to dance alone on stage with lights and cameras.

I wanted to run away!

Instead of running I was drinking. It was the only way I could go on stage after I saw how others dance.

I asked our teacher, Pavel, what we were doing there. He replied simply: drinking. I said I know and asked again. He said drinking because he would as well if he were us because they are better than him. Of course it was just joke, exaggeration. Anyway, so supportive!

Well. We did it. It was horrible. But no one said that. Everyone said it was brave and that it wasn't worse dance that night. It was our goal and I was happy. I said I tried that and I will not do it again…

…until one year later. :-)

It started a week before the celebration party in Brno. Another friend wrote me I should go with her to bachata party there. I said no. That there will be competition. I said I am not interested. That she wants to do it with me. I still wanted to stay at home, but she used women's magic: kind words how amazing dancer for her I am. She got me. Men are so simple!

Unfortunately, I won. Probably it looked very funny because I couldn't believe it and wanted to leave the stage as soon as possible. Anyway, they told me I won also entrance to Bachata Stars. I smiled and said no. In that moment came to me friend from Bratislava, Verča, and said she is going there. Just for fun I said then I will go as well and defeat her! She simply smiled and said that maybe we will be there together…

Her dance partner backed off and she had been already registered. She wanted to go with me instead. She also used dark magic and she had the same goal as I had: enjoy dancing and do it differently. I was in for the second time.

We had also less than a week to prepare, but at least this year we prepared properly. We practiced every day to know each other (you know, we didn't dance much before and if we did, it was salsa), prepare start and finish and so on. It was hard week, but I enjoyed it very much. I learned much. It was kind of private boot-camp.

Alexej asked us what country we represent. Verča said Czechoslovakia. I said no, we will represent the First Czechoslovak Republic (or simply První republika in Czech). Thanks to this joke we tried to find outfit similar to the Great Gatsby style.

Our dance was amazing. It wasn't enough to get to the second round but I won something personal. I did it better than any practice whole week before. And also I finally didn't forget for our one funny move which everyone liked! I saw the video and I'm not ashamed about it!

But that's it. I will not do it again…

…which statistically means expect me there. I prefer salsa, but I am at every bachata competition, Alexej noted once. :-))

Well, I asked judges for their opinion. I had a few specific questions, but I didn't ask them. I wanted to know what they say generally. I was expecting result I got, but anyway, I was kind of disappointed. All feedback was about we are not doing it as others. Dance wasn't enough open for the audience. It was too far in the back of the stage. From start to end it was improvisation. Because of our height difference we should do another moves. And so on.

You know, there was one couple, for example, and they had for every song prepared choreography. In those choreos they had also smile which was false. Like everything in that dance was artificial. Maybe they are excellent (they are, friends told me they danced with them and they are amazing) but it's horrible to look at it. It's not fun. It's boring.

I'm sad that this boring stuff is what I need to do to be able to win even small price.

I don't care about winning. I want just to enjoy dance and bring fun. So maybe you will see me again and I will again not win anything but I will try my best to do it nicely and mostly, differently. :-)

Workshopy na festivalech: jít či nejít?

Letos jsem chtěl vycestovat na jeden taneční salsa festival. Vybral jsem si Beach Splash v Šibeniku. Festival po celý týden s tancováním přes celé dny i noci u pláže a bazénků se spoustou šikovných tanečnic (a tanečníků). Lehce mi změnil život a tak pro mne zůstane speciální. Tam jsem totiž konečně začal tancovat salsu on2 aka mambo, procvičil spoustu variací a především se rozhodl jet na další festival.

Do Rostova. V Šibeniku jsem poznal několik šikovných holek z Ruska a když mi Marián říkal, jak tam jsou všechny takové a nemají s kým tancovat, rozhodnutí bylo jasné. Přidal jsem se k mužské posile z Česka. Nepopsatelně skvěle jsem si tam zatancoval a bylo mi smutno, že nebude dlouho možnost si zase takhle zatancovat. K tomu jsem si udělal několik dalších kamarádek.

A všechny měly v plánu cestu na El Sol ve Varšavě. Samozřejmě jsem nemohl chybět. Ale abych nemusel čekat celé tři měsíce, skočil jsem si do Varšavy ještě jednou na jiný festival. A také jsem nemohl chybět na našem domácím kongresu!

Jinými slovy jsem salse úplně propadl a už mám na příští rok v plánu navštívit osm festivalů! Potřeboval jsem však vymyslet, co se spánkem. Ono totiž není úplně zvladatelné jít přes den na workshopy a pak večer být do nějakých pěti až sedmi rána na parketě.

Vyzkoušel jsem si obě varianty a mluvil o tom s více lidmi a došel k závěru, že workshopy nejsou potřeba. Chybí jim totiž jedna důležitá věc: feedback. Možná to okoukám a udělám tak nějak dobře, ale těžko si sám opravím nějaký detail. Kdy často právě detaily udělají celý trik!

Lepší model je navštěvovat oblíbené učitele na běžné hodiny a festivaly naopak brát jako možnost naučené věci vytancovat se všemi těmi úžasnými tanečnicemi (či tanečníky) ze všech koutů světa. Na našich hodinách mamba nás Marián učí samé krásné věci, jenže na běžných tanečních akcích není tolik možností se vytancovat. Je rozdíl a hodně znát, jestli se něco zkouší jednou či dvakrát týdně chvilku večer vs. týden celé dny i noci. Navíc je potřeba zkoušet s více partnery – každá partnerka reaguje jinak a co funguje u jedné, nemusí fungovat u druhé.

Proto u mne od teď uvidíte především party passy a výlety za skvělými učiteli. Ale jako vždy, ani tady není vše černobílé. Zažil jsem i workshopy s ideálním počtem lidí, který mi dal hodně, a zároveň je možné učit i jinak, jako například má v popisu Mamboland, kam se moc těším. :-)

Viva la salsa!

Moje cesta k salse

Nebo možná lépe: moje cesta k tancování.

Někdy před deseti lety jsem, jako téměř každý, měl jít do tanečních. A vůbec se mi tam nechtělo. Však co to po mne chtějí? Oblek ještě budiž, ale zastrčenou košili, škrtit se kravatou a navíc nosit rukavičky?! V té době pro mne něco nepředstavitelného. Kdo mne zná se teď určitě směje. :-)

Stejně jsem neměl na vybranou a tak jsem se snažil aspoň předstírat, že se mi tam líbí. Naštěstí jsem nemusel předstírat dlouho. V době vzdoru jsem byl ještě na základní škole a nevěděl jsem, že na střední budou dvě holky. Na celé škole. A většinou si je spletu s klukem.

Samozřejmě na druhou hodinu jsem se těšil jak malý kluk. Naopak jsem se snažil to nedávat tak najevo. Přeci nemohu nechat dopustit, aby mi někdo mohl říct „tak vidíš, jak se ti tam nakonec líbí!“ A taky mi v té době záleželo, co si lidé myslí, a tancování na průmyslovce nebylo zrovna in. Tím jsem se s tancem na dlouhou dobu beze slova rozloučil…

…dokud jsem nevyrostl z puberty… ehm, z puberty zřejmě nevyrostu. Co třeba: do doby, kdy mi už bylo tak nějak jedno, co si kdo myslí, a měl jsem spolubydlící, která taky chtěla tancovat. Takže se vyrazilo do pokračovaček klasiky. A speciálek. A ještě jednou. Až se sebrala a odjela do Polska. Nevím, jestli mi tím chtěla říct, že mi to moc nešlo či co?

Tak či onak, nevzdával jsem se a našel si kroužek, kde jsem pokračoval především se standardy. Problém však je, když člověk chce jít a užít si tancování. Standardy jsou dřina, i když krásná, s vážným obličejem bez možnosti přijít na párty a čapnout jakoukoliv sedící holku k tanci. Těžká situace pro chlapa bez taneční partnerky.

Naštěstí mezitím jsem dostal pracovní volňásky na matfyzácky ples 2014, kde byla miniškolička salsy. Moc se mi salsa zalíbila a chtěl jsem hned umět víc! Zadal jsem tedy do googlu (pardon!) kurzy salsy a konkurz vyhrál Marián. Takový český misionář salsy linei, konkrétněji New Yorku, taky zvané mambo.

Začal jsem však s LA stylem. Což mi teda bylo úplně jedno, neb na první salsa párty mi taneční partnerka řekla „slyšíš to? To je bachata, to se musíme taky naučit“, zatímco jsem si dál jel první naučené kroky salsy a neslyšel rozdíl v hudbě. Však osm dob tam bylo!

Postupem času jsem se naučil rozpoznat rozdíl mezi bachatou a salsou. Narazil jsem však na další problém – neexistuje jen jedna salsa, ale dva základní styly. Salsa linea a salsa cubana. To jsem pochopil po tom, co mne jedna slečna pochválila slovy „to nebyla úplně špatná linea na to, že hráli kubánu.“ No kdo se v tom má vyznat?! :-)

Tak jsem se rozhodl vyrazit do zahraničí a zlepšit se. Dostal jsem doporučení na Šibenik. Velký festival s báječnými tanečníky po celý týden na pláži. Vyrazil jsem a neskutečně si festival užil. Zatancoval jsem si i s nejednou hvězdou salsa světa! Tam také proběhl můj switch z LA na pokročilejší NY styl. Byl to sice můj plán, ale stejně jsem srabsky u první slečny chtěl začít s LA, jenže to tancovat nechtěla a bylo vymalováno.

Festivalová atmosféra mi natolik chyběla, že den po návratu jsem se přifařil k české chlapské reprezentaci na ruském festivalu v Rostově. Zaslechl jsem něco o krásných šikovných holkách sedících kolem parketu, protože nemají s kým tancovat. Což je pravda a nedá se popsat. Snad jen – jakmile jsem se dozvěděl o jejich výletě na Varšavský festival, ihned jsem koupil vše potřebné, abych nechyběl!

No a takhle jsem se dostal k tancování, především lineové salsy. Až mi nyní salsa diktuje, kam poletím. :-)

Jedno mne však trápí – nemáme u nás doma dostatek míst a lidí, kde a s kým lze lineu tancovat. Aneb jakmile se člověk jednou namlsá v zahraničí, nesnadno se dokáže smířit se situací doma. Proto pokud máte zájem salsu zkusit, najít si v tancování zálibu a rozšířit českou komunitu, usnadním vám hledání dobrých lektorů. Po internetu je totiž spoustu kurzů, ale následující lektoři jsou kvalitní!