Down the Docks

February 21, 2007

Brit SalsaFest II

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 6:37 pm

It’s too long ago now to write a meaningful review, so instead I will just give a few impressions of the congress.

I’d avoided travelling by road in order to get to Blackpool quickly and without having to drive. It ended up taking over six hours, apparently because of a downed overhead power line.

My hotel, the Carlton, was much nicer than the hotel I stayed in last year, the Metropole. It’s still a little too far to walk to and from the venue, particularly at five a.m. when you’re damp and the temperature is roughly zero degrees centigrade. Still, I ate a decent breakfast on each of the three days, and that was a big improvement.

Registration was as easy as I could imagine – I walked into the venue on Friday evening, and within 30s I had the wristband on. I hope they carry this system over to the UK congress in September, which is normally chaotic on Fridays.

There were a lot of classes I was interested in, which is not something I take for granted. I took a full dose of Hacha y Machete and Santo Rico classes at intermediate and advanced levels. The Hacha y Machete intermediate was in far too small a room for the crowd it attracted, so it was almost impossible to learn anything. Two other classes stood out for me. The first was Lubi’s History of Salsa class, which attracted a decent number of people, many of them probably keen to take the weight off their feet for a while. It was nice to see so many people willing to learn about the music for once, rather than just focus on the dance. The second stand out class was Super Mario‘s threesome class. I hadn’t been able to attend last year, due to overcrowding, so I got there early this time. Rather than learning to lead, though, I ended up following Mario as one of his demo dollies, the other being Lee Wright. Once my stage fright settled, I had a lot of fun, but I still have no idea how to lead threesomes!

The venue is still fantastic, and the floor one of the best. I preferred last year’s system of displaying the names and artists of tracks that were being played, but the fact that they were visible at all is still a plus. The smoothie stand, one of last year’s great features, was back as well. It turns out that the company involved is based in my gym in London, so I’ve been buying from their almost daily.

This time around, I felt my lack of fitness really spoiling my time. By the Sunday evening, I’d only slept about seven hours, and I was too tired to really enjoy dancing. Partly this was because I hadn’t done what I do at most congresses, and napped between the end of the shows and the social dancing. Partly this was because of the distance to my hotel, and partly because the Northerners I wanted to dance with seem incapable of staying up until four or five. This meant I was in the hall for about six straight hours each evening. Still, it was lovely to dance with some friends from Newcastle and York again.

I also loved the idea of the Jack and Jill competition that was run, and I was surprised it wasn’t more popular. I entered, and when I recognised some of the ladies, I thought I might have had a chance. However, I was paired with someone who only danced Cuban style, so despite my efforts to remember something about Cuban salsa, we were one of the first couples out. I’ll definitely try again next year, if it’s still running. That evening, Edie said that my lead was too light after a social dance. Despite her huge status, I’m going to ignore her, and put it down to one bad dance.

I don’t have a clear enough memory of the shows to comment on them, so I won’t. The congress as a whole was fantastic, and I think this year it really was better than the UK congress. If I can find a closer hotel and pace myself more sensibly, it might be near perfect next year. Meanwhile, roll on Madrid and the 5*!


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