NZ Pacific Salsa Congress (21st - 23rd March 2008)

Friday, 21st March 2008: Today's the first day of the congress and also the day of our performance - I'm feeling so nervous!!! Don't think any of my non-salsa friends will be there since I've been keeping this whole thing hush-hush (I wouldn't know what I'll do if I hear them shouting my name when on stage!). Eeks!

Thomas caught a ride with me and we headed to the congress around 10am to catch up with the rest of the bunch. Surprsingly the turn out this year was not as great as last year. Hmm, I wonder if it was because there were too many events going in the same long weekend here in Wellington (including the rock concert by Ozzy Osbourne and KISS)...

I started my day in a Conversion On1 to On2 workshop conducted by dance teachers and performers from Sydney, Oliver and Luda. It was awesome! Made so much more sense to me now how to listen for the On2 beat as I've been so used to dancing On1. Still need more practice because I struggle with my turns when dancing On2 but it's a good start :)

At 12pm, some of us were just hanging out while waiting for the next class while Alicia and I decided to be naughty and crept up to Petera (fellow dancer who oftens organises social lunch-time rueda in between workshops) dragging him into a social rueda in the middle of the hall. started off just us 3 and then I dragged Colin in, and more dancers followed suit, including Jamie (another world-class performer and teacher from Australia) - it was so much fun!

Next workshop for me was Upper Intermediate Partnerwork with Victor and Burju from Boston. Burju is so cute and both were really funny, making the class enjoyable. I like her ladies' styling - unique! Unfortunately I couldn't do her workshop on purely ladies' styling as all the performers tonight had to be at Town Hall at 4pm for the tech rehearsal. :( Oh well, lots of social dancing after the performance to make up for it. Eeks, I'm still feeling nervous!!

The selection couples and teams went through a full rehearsal (exception not dressed up) at the Town Hall and many of us had the opportunity to watch what the others were doing. Cool! Our rehearsal was ok but needed to tweak the positioning a bit - poor Thomas couldn't dance some of the moves because he was squashed in between some of us. I felt most bad when we did the tornillo and he couldn't fully extend his leg because the backstage wall was blocking him. Argh, what do we do now??? We couldn't practice a second time to work out the positioning! John and I will just have to move further front and cross our fingers (and toes!) that it'll work! Yikes!

Quick, quick, we are going to be late! The girls and I then returned to my place after the rehearsal to shower and sort out our hair and make-up before heading back to the Town Hall by 7pm. Wow, everyone looked so different in their costumes and face made up! There was so much noise, energy and colour in the dressing room (it was a shared space with other performers) and everyone was cheering each other on. Woo-hoo! I'm so nervous - I don't think I could remember my steps...AHHHHH!

And that was Salsa Picante! (applause) Oh my god - was that over? I couldn't believe it! I was nervous before getting on to stage but I have to admit, I had fun! And I think the others had a great time on stage too :) The whole performance went well - great job team! Though we were not selected to represent NZ in the next selections, it had been an wonderful journey and experience being part of a performing team. We also have to thank Ramnish and Lily for all their hard work choreographing the routine and managing the team from start to finish. Thanks guys for your patience and believing in us! As Lily kept saying, our routine was challenging and we managed to nail the steps within a few months given that we aren't professional dancers. Yay!! :)

Hey, half of the participants at the congress were up on stage! Yep, that was so weird - all the performers were up on stage at the end to do a finale group dance with Jamie (yes, his infamous Zombie dance) and the hall looked somewhat empty. So pretty much most of the people in the workshops I saw today were up on stage with me...Photo taken tonight:

Now with the practices over, I'll have to fill up the gaps doing something else (but what?). Haven't thought about it yet...Oh well, for now, I just want to dance till I drop! And I REALLY did dance till I drop! Not sure if it was because of the buzz I still had from the performance or that I had been refraining myself from social dancing until after the performance but I was dancing continually like the Duracell bunny - non-stop! Oh, but I had a lot of fun dances tonight. Still lacking of men on the dancefloor so the women had to be pretty assertive to get a dance or two. I think it was around 2am by the time I got home. What a night!

Saturday, 22nd March 2008: Was up at 9am this morning, had a quick breakfast and off I went to Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre in Newtown for more workshops. Ouch, my body is feeling the ache from over-dancing last night! (Am I really THAT old?)

Did Salsa Hip Hop workshop by Csaba and Vali from Australia. Interesting but not really my cup of tea. I think I'm still kind of an old-school dancer i.e. go for dances with more structure and longer history. It was different and challenging - my arms, body and legs don't seem to co-ordinate very well in this dance style! After the hip-hop class, I went to do the Upper Intermediate Salsa on1 Turn Patterns with Oliver and Luda - simple and nice steps.

Oh god, my brain feels so dead - my body is going along with the workshops but I don't think I'm really using my brain cells to take it what's happening. It is as if my brain is tired out but my body hasn't followed suit! Photo of me with my mouth full and Alicia at the hall during the break:

Lunchtime was spent dancing rueda in the common hall - fun! I took off after that to get some rest. Was just feeling exhausted and don't want to tire myself out before the dance party later tonight.

Not sure if it was because of the lack of participants in the congress or if this was the 2nd time I attended the congress, I didn't feel as enthusiastic as the previous year, getting up early and going to all the workshops possible and squeezing in as many dances I can get in the parties. I don't know - something feels amiss or lacking this time round. Hmm, this is probably the last salsa congress I'll be attending in Wellington...

The salsa show was entertaining though the party tonight retired a bit early. Guess most people exhausted themselves the night before so many took off early. One more day to go, people! I had several good dances tonight so that was enough for me :) Photos taken at the party:

Sunday, 23rd March 2008: Yawn...I want to just crawl back to bed...It's 10.30am at the moment but I seriously can't be bothered to go to Te Whaea for workshops. The sun is shining oh-so-brightly outside and I feel like heading to the beach to chill out instead. Hmm, what should I do - beach or dance?

15 minutes of self-struggle and debate later, beach won over dancing. But first, a short swim for me! Having not swam for a week, today's short swim was a real struggle. Tire too easily! What a bummer...have to do better tomorrow...

Spent a few hours at Scorching Bay with Helbert this afternoon, just chilling out over a few beers. There was a cold breeze so we couldn't really enjoy the beach as we would have like i.e. getting a tan. Still, it was nice to just relax in good company - I didn't mind missing out on the salsa workshops today for some sun :) Honestly, I wasn't keen on going to the workshops anyway so didn't really feel I missed out. Photos at the beach:

Headed to Town Hall again tonight for the Viva Cuba! Show and salsa party. Wasn't planning to go but some of my friends were in the performance so I was there to give them support. Having been in the salsa scene for the past year or two, I've seen the Cuban performances by Vivio and Greydis far too many times thus the lack of my enthusiasm attending tonight's show. But I still want to watch because they are such fantastic dancers, in hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll have a new choreography this time but it's always the same, with little changes like adding more dancers or a new costume. I don't understand the logics behind not coming up with new choreography when they are world class dancers but who am I to comment? I'm just one of the audiences and no where near to becoming a professional dancer. *shrugs*

I didn't dance as much or stayed as long at the party tonight. I don't know but I think I'm kind of over the whole salsa thing? It's a great social activity plus it helps you burn calories while having fun though I'm somewhat tired and fed up of chasing men around the dancefloor to get a dance. There are still more women than men dancing salsa in NZ and it's not surprising to find 4 women all going up to the same guy at the same time. Interestingly, I've not encountered the same issue during my travels last year when I went salsa dancing. On the contrary to what's happening in NZ, women have no chance of leaving the dance floor once you start dancing - the men come in streams! Well, I guess I'll either go with the flow or go out of flow i.e. leave. Perhaps this is my cue to exit the salsa world for a bit. Time to put those dancing shoes away until another time...A few photos from the last night of the congress:

Ramnish couldn't handle any more dances but Abi and Lily wouldn't let him off!

A photo for Abi of her wonderful work on my shoes to make it look similar to the girls in Salsa Picante


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