David Padayachee & Siobhan
Last Friday I dragged Tina through the pouring rain to the Newcastle Salsa Congress seeking content for this blog. I managed to record nearly 2 hours of audio, which I will be writing up in the coming weeks!
Clint: So, you said you were in South Africa. You were 14, 16? Did you just end up in a club, or did you..?
David: Well my friends, my Angolan Friends, invited me to their house party. They’d been dancing kizomba. Just traditionally. They grew up listening to Portuguese music and were dancing it in a really natural way and that was when I first started learning it. They showed me the steps on how to do it, but it was very basic. It was a while ago, in the 90’s, early 2000’s. Then I came to the UK, here to Newcastle about 7 years ago and I started learning more traditional kizomba and steps with counts.
Clint: So, what brought you to the UK, was it the dancing? Or were you just working?
David: Working, yes. I came to the UK for work as a professional engineer.
Clint: Okay. Was the dancing just a hobby?
David: It was a hobby. I actually started learning in South Africa; partnered work, latin american, and ballroom dancing. I learnt salsa, and all that, about 9 years ago. I came to Newcastle and I started developing more… specifically… in salsa. Back then it was mainly salsa, mostly salsa. In those times there used to be a group that toured the country, and also internationally, called Latin Connection. I was part of the performance team for about 2 years. That’s when I really developed my salsa skills. I still had the kizomba skills, but it wasn’t as used as the salsa skills. Then in about 2013 I started doing partner work stuff with a partner of mine that I used to dance with in shows, demos, teaching and competitions. So, in 2013 we competed in the Teeside Salsa Festival Salsa Heats. My partner and I of that time, we won the heat and we went to London to Scala Latino. I don’t know if you know Scala Latino, it’s one of the old, old salsa clubs. So, we went there for the championship finals and we came runners’ up salsa champions. That’s a lot of my salsa history. So, with salsa I was traveling all over with Latin Connection, we were performing with a lot of salsa congresses around the UK and internationally; Scotland, Birmingham, London and a whole lot of places that are not coming to me now! [laughs]. So, after the competitions and the solo work – I then was actually in Newcastle, where I live, and I joined a new team that started to develop called The Mambo Factory.
Clint: I’ve heard of them, yea.
David: I was actually one of the original members of The Mambo Factory. I performed with them for 3 years, until last year when we did our final Mambo Factory performance and the group went its separate ways. After The Mambo Factory died down, I started exploring my passion for kizomba. I am very passionate about salsa, but I am also very passionate about my upbringing with kizomba. I started exploring more advanced kizomba stuff – flashier, more modern kizomba stuff.
David: I was very used to the old stuff, but I wanted something newer, something fresher, something more exciting. Because the old traditional stuff is very calm and there’s a connection… it’s very relaxed. I wanted something more energetic as I was used to the energetic salsa, hard energetic salsa. So, I started exploring the new urban kiz concept. I travelled out of Britain and went to Dubai to do some lessons at the Dubai Kizomba Gold Congress. It was urban kiz training, so I did quite a few lessons there and started learning. Siobhan and I got together and we started practicing also, developing our urban kiz. Siobhan herself is a traditional kizomba dancer. I don’t know if she wants to say something?
Siobhan: Well, for me I believe I’m quite new, relatively compared to David. I’ve been dancing for two years. The first year doing some lessons at Black Swan with Chris. doing salsa, kizomba and bachata. I was enjoying it all, and went to Birmingham for the Latin Motion New Year party, in 2016, and I ended up in the kizomba room all night and absolutely loved it. So, for me, it was just – I felt more… of a connection with that dance, rather than with the other ones. So, I’ve been dancing just kizomba since then.
David: We started practising urban kiz, a lot. Starting with all the steps and working up to the advanced steps, and also practising the speed, and the timing to really start developing our connection and style. As well as increasing our repertoire of urban kiz moves so it flows easily. And that’s kind of where our passion for urban kiz started.
David: So that’s when we started developing ourselves in urban kiz. It was invented five years ago in Paris. Quite a fresh new dance.
Clint: So how did you guys hear about urban kiz. Was it at the Dubai congress?
David: For me, it was before that. I met another guy, who I had done workshops before doing Dubai training. I had done some workshops with a guy, from France; Djemix, who was traveling the country teaching urban kiz. He learned the original urban kiz from France. He moved to the UK and started teaching all over the UK. That’s when I started learning – I learnt a few things from him, then I went and learned from the international artists there in Dubai. Yea…
Clint: So, you think there’s a big kizomba scene in the UK?
David: In UK?
Clint: It doesn’t seem as popular as salsa. Like, you go to a lot of clubs, there seems to be a lot of salsa.
Clint: Maybe there’s a lot of bachata in some places, but kizomba – you maybe get a couple of tracks.
David: Kizomba… is not as popular as salsa, but there is still a big kizomba scene. It’s actually, mostly popular with the Angolan people, or the African people.
Tina: Yeah! [nods]
Siobhan: So, we went to a party actually, in Newcastle. I think we saw you. It was when – I can’t remember what his name was – Mario something or other.
Clint: Mario Pertence!
Siobhan: And obviously from dancing kizomba at Black Swan, when not many people were dancing it at the time, to going there and seeing so many people dancing it and I was like “Where have all these people been?”.
David: When I moved to Newcastle seven years ago I remember it happening. But it’s been intermittent, so it’s never been constant. It goes from this venue, it goes again to another venue so… not as strong as salsa.
Clint: It always seems that salsa has fliers in bars, Facebook pages. But that kizomba night I had to phone a number to book tickets and sometimes meet someone in a bar.
Clint: It wasn’t as easy to go, you know.
Siobhan: I think that’s because salsa in Newcastle has been going a long time and it’s really established, the businesses are really established.
Clint: Oh, and kizomba is still finding its feet a bit?
Siobhan: Yeah, but, there is a regular night now. It’s still, relatively, new.
Clint: Where is that?
Siobhan: Rumba… on a Sunday with Mo?
Clint: Oh, I’ve heard of that… Coco’s night!
Siobhan: It is salsa and bachata.. as well, I think? I’ve not had the chance to go yet, but they seem to be focusing on doing kizomba at the moment, which is good! Hopefully there’ll be more kizomba dancers in the upcoming year.
David: Salsa in Newcastle, from what I recall and from what I’ve been told from most of the older salsa dancers. Is that over 12 to 14 years ago the original salsa in Newcastle was mostly Cuban style. I don’t know if you know Peter Robson?
Clint: I’ve seen Peter Robson, but I think Yersin is the main Cuban guy now.
David: Now it’s Yersin. Actually, when I finished performing with Latin Connection and after going solo with my partner, I was teaching for Yersin in SalsaAfro, we were called SalsaAfro dance troupe and it was during that time, this was 2014, that I was doing cuban salsa.
Siobhan: Was it still in Kommunity?
David: Yes, but it was called “Vamos”.
Clint: They were changing the sign and things when I first moved to Newcastle.
David: But before, actually before Vamos it was in… Space Bar in Newcastle College, and before that there were some regular Cuban classes in Gosforth, so it’s been all over.
Clint: So, compared to 14 years ago. How is the salsa, latin dancing scene now? Do you think it’s more popular, or its waned? How do you feel about it?
David: I think it’s more popular?
Clint: I’ve only been involved for about a year and a half, so I don’t know the history, so this has been really interesting.
David: I think about 14 years ago…I don’t know if you know Coco Vega?
Clint: I think everyone knows Coco, there’s no salsa without Coco.
David: When Coco first came, and he was doing his big nights, he used to do some big student nights on a Wednesday. That was years ago, maybe 14-15 years ago. Latino nights.
Clint: I first saw him playing in Descarga? His band. Then I saw him in Harry’s, then in Bar Rumba, He’s been everywhere. Popping up.
David: Back in the days when it was still fresh, he used to run these big, big nights and all the students used to come to it. Really, really big. In the really established clubs like Madame Koo’s. But that all changed. It was years ago, when it was fresh… I think. But yea.
Clint: So, Coco has been going a while?
David: It’s been a while yea.
Clint: People always talk about Coco, and he’s still going.
David: He’s still going! What was your last question?
Clint: I can’t remember, but that was a good rabbit hole…
[I turned to Siobhan after messing about with my phone to start a new recording]
So, what made you want to get into dancing? Black Swan was your first night?
Siobhan: Yeah so… for me, I had Always, Always wanted to dance.
Clint: Uh huh
Siobhan: But I had never had the opportunity to, so I was really self-conscious. I was really like, “I wish I could do this [dancing]”. I don’t drive, so I’m on public transport a lot and sitting on buses listening to songs, wishing I could be good at dancing. I had checked the salsa clubs a few times to check the times that the classes were on. But, it wasn’t until one of my friends from University had said we should go that I went along with her. She wasn’t that fussed, but I completely fell in love with it. And for the 1st year, every single Friday, every single Tuesday and like every event Chris was doing… I just got the guts to get up and do it. And I think it’s really nice for people who don’t have a dance background, and are nervous and self-conscious and don’t have the confidence to do a solo dance.
Siobhan: It’s so much less intimidating when you’re in hold with somebody and you’re in it together. So that’s what I love about dancing, especially kizomba as it’s so much about the connection you have with somebody and, like, learning how to follow and learning how to really naturally react to somebody’s movements. It’s really nice, and it sounds really soppy, but it’s actually really good for the soul – to just go dancing, put everything else aside, and have a really good time. If anyone was thinking about dancing, I would totally recommend it and support it.
David: For me also, dancing for me also is about the connection. Dancing is a language, in itself. It’s communication. It’s a special communication because there are no words spoken. It’s a feeling, and it’s kind of like a response with movement and body movement between your partner and that communication in itself is very special. So, that’s something that’s special for me. For me also, what is very special in dancing is I really feel the music and enjoy the music a lot. So, I like to portray that enjoyment of music in dancing – that also adds a really good dynamic when two people are enjoying the same music and dancing, and communicating with dancing. That’s something that I enjoy a lot.
Clint: I know it would be the same steps and things, but what for you is the difference between social dancing and a performance?
David: It’s very important to have a connection with your partner, and to not lose that connection, it’s extremely important. However, in performances, it’s very important to have a connection with the crowd because you’re performing to the crowd – so all your moves become flashier, and more open. So, your focal point changes between both your partner and the crowd – you have to try and connect with your partner and the crowd, and also express yourself in the dancing to the crowd. That is the biggest difference really. And then obviously, during performances, your moves are bigger, stronger, more dynamic. But when you’re dancing together it’s more careful, more controlled and your thinking how to lead in the most comfortable way possible. But when you’re doing a show it’s all about being flashy, dynamic, strong, expressive.
Clint: Interesting, that’s cool. Thank you that was great.
You can follow David here: www.facebook.com/david.padayachee
Siobhan can be followed here: www.facebook.com/siobhan.shuttleworth
More of this to come. It’s been fantastic to get input from people who actually know what they are talking about, and talking about the dancing and scene with such passion.
I can’t wait to share more with you guys, and hope that I get the opportunity to record more of these great artists and personalities.
And as always, please shimmy responsibly!