I was lucky enough to grab a place at this years Newcastle Salsa Congress. Tickets go quick, and hotel rooms go even quicker!
This year it started on the Friday 4th January through to Sunday 6th January.
Its a good opportunity to burn off some turkey and and alternative to sulking in the house during the cold winter months.
What can you expect from a Salsa Congress?
The uninitiated might be wondering what a Salsa Congress is. Its a dance festival that lasts multiple days. During this time there will be workshops (dance classes), social dancing, performances as well stalls to buy things like dancing shoes.
If you ever attended a Salsa class and thought to yourself:
“I wish this lasted two or more whole days”
Then you’re going to have a good time. Otherwise, if you’ve had enough after an hour, then maybe not so much!
Its a good opportunity to experience new teachers, styles and meet other dancers from across the country.
Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019 had 5 floors (2 dance floors, 2 conference rooms and an outside area) which continually hosted lessons between the hours of 1000 – 2000.
You can get an idea of what the timetable looks like from their official website: http://www.newcastlesalsacongress.co.uk. This year there were classes, workshops and even boot-camps for:
- Afro House
The evenings would have social dancing till the early hours of the morning. Each area playing a difference style of music. There being a Batchata Floor, Salsa Floor, Kizomba Floor etc.
The Seven P’s.
I was off work on the Friday. I started packing. Not just clothes, food and drink. I find hotels sometimes a bit lacking when it comes to snacking.
Considering the physical nature of a dance festival, I whole heartedly recommend packing some food, drinks with you. At least take a water bottle.
One of my reasons for going to the Newcastle Salsa Congress was to shoot some video. So despite being off the whole day, my other half was not, so I used that time to get familiar with my camera.
When my fiancée had finally finished toiling away at work, and packed herself, we set off for the venue.
Traffic was light and we arrived in time for the social dancing.
The Next Day
The first thing I did Saturday morning was bless “yesterday Clint” for packing a decent variety of breakfast supplies.
Their is a spa and pool at the Holiday Inn. So my next item on my agenda was to use them all, to get as much use as I can out of my reservation.
There is even a jacuzzi which was my personal highlight, despite having sat in it (contently) for half an hour before being shown you can turn it “on”.
Aiming to get out of my comfort zone (it now a distant, warm and bubbly memory), I opted for classes which I had never tried before.
Note: I'm not going to try and describe dances here. Please just type them into YouTube and all will be made clear.
I recall Kudoru being very energetic and enjoyable. I tried to hide at the back. However, at 6 foot 1, all my mistakes where still painfully obvious.
Capoeira was especially challenging. I was physically sore the next day. There seemed to be a lot crammed into a very short amount of time. Edmonturo did a good job starting with some basic movements, putting them into some short routines then finishing with a freestyle between the students (called a Roda, but I could be completely wrong about this).
I was grateful that I packed some comfortable gym clothes and trainers (not just shirts and shoes for social dancing).
Thankfully, fresh water was supplied to the rooms as well.
I did not actually attend any social on the Saturday as I slept through it (Oops!).
I did manage to shoot a short interview with Edmuntoro for my video.
The following Sunday; I managed to corner a couple of additional artists for an interview!
Then I was back on the motorway, giving it some beans in my 11 year old Honda.
Unless your driving yourself, or can get a lift. The venue can be a bit awkward to get to by public transport and taxis can be expensive.
This time XSalsa organised their own mini bus to ferry Salsa goers at a discounted rate.
Getting Your Money’s Worth
Keeping in the spirit of getting your money’s worth: I would recommend bringing paper and pen so you can take notes. You won’t recall everything from the class, and you might as well take away as much as you can.
Its not common practice, mind. If you’re too cool to be seen doing this, you can just write them out between classes. If you get caught, just say you’re not you.
Also, you can catch the artist at the end if you have any additional questions.
Booking early is always recommended, as prices climb higher and higher as it gets closer to the date.
You can often buy a full pass for next years congress at your current one for a fraction of the price.
The Big Question
How many cats would I give it?
It was tiring, it was relaxing. It was challenging yet also filled with familiar faces.
I think at the end of the day, a Congress is what you make of it. You can attend 8 straight hours of classes, burning enough calories to risk spontaneously combustion.
Alternatively, you could retreat to your room for naps or a soak in the pool between classes. Blissfully letting anything you’ve learned slip away to be refreshed again next year.
Every year there is always something new and fresh, as well as loads of the familiar artists and songs that feel like putting on an old pair of sweat pants at the end of a hectic week.
I give Newcastle Salsa Congress 2018 four cats dancing Kizomba and one tabby holding a Mojito.