How Prepare for a Salsa Congress

So by now you know what salsa congresses are, and why dancers get so giddy about them. But how do you get the most out of a congress, and do you need to “prepare” for it? Most dancers learn this stuff the hard way, but we thought we’d just tell you, and make sure you have a great first congress experience. Here are 6 tips for having a great time at a congress:

  1. Get your pass early
    Congresses aren’t cheap – apart from the registration costs, if you’re going out of town you also need to account for transportation, lodging and food costs. Most congresses have “early bird” pricing a few months ahead of time, so if you’re looking to get a full congress pass at half price, plan ahead!
  2. Get lots of rest
    Hard-core dancers take workshops all day, have a 3-4h break, then watch the shows and dance until 3-4am, only to go back to workshops at 10am the next morning. It’s easy to get swept up in the energy of the congress and want to do everything, but it will leave you very, very tired by the end of it. Get lots of rest for a week or two before the congress to make sure you’re in good shape to learn and dance for 3 days.
  3. What to bring
    – Your most comfortable dance shoes (ladies, bring heels and flats. You’ll be glad you did)
    – Comfortable clothes for workshops, nicer ones for the evenings
    – A camera (at the end of every workshop, you’ll be able to take videos of what was taught)
    – Water (always) and an energy bar (just in case)
  4. Be smart when choosing your workshops
    Pick your workshops carefully, and make sure they are suited to your level. Better to do fewer classes that will teach you moves you can use regularly, than to exhaust yourself trying to do everything, and remember nothing at the end of the day.
  5. Never pass up a chance to take a break
    You’ll likely have a jam-packed few days, so any time you can squeeze in an hour’s rest, do it. If there’s a workshop slot where nothing speaks to you, skip it and relax for an hour. Also: never underestimate the power of afternoon naps; many dancers take the time between workshops and shows to sleep, so they can dance well into the night.
  6. Stretch
    Dancing might not seem like exercise when you’re having fun, but you’ll feel it in the morning! Give yourself a good stretch at the end of every day; ladies, pay special attention to your feet, your calves and your hamstrings – dancing in heels will take a toll on them!
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Azúcar! News – Week of March 25

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. Here are your latest school updates and news from around the Ottawa salsa scene.

Can you believe March is almost over… and no sign of spring yet?
We’re still waiting to bust out our spring clothes, but in the meantime, we’re keeping things HOT in our studio with new classes, and gearing up for Salsafair!

The Azucar! Studio will be closed on:

  1. Monday, April 1st (Easter Monday). There will be no Intermediate 1 class on Easter Monday. However, our Saturday (March 30) classes are still on!
  2. Saturday, April 6th (Salsafair). Salsafair is the annual international salsa congress of the Ottawa region. We’re closing our studio to allow all our teachers to attend, and to encourage all of you to go too!

Emilie Phaneuf’s special workshops are getting even more fun!
The current special workshop session is ending on April 2nd. A new 12-week workshop session is starting the very next week, with MORE classes on both Tuesdays and Saturdays! Here’s the schedule breakdown:

Tuesdays (April 9 – June 25)
6.00 – 7.00pm – Salsa Ladies’ Styling
7.00 – 8.00pm – Dancehall Funk
8.00 – 9.00pm – Reggaeton

 

Saturday (April 13 – June 29)
3.00 – 4.00pm – Beginner Burlesque
4.00 – 5.00pm – Intermediate Burlesque
5.00 – 6.00pm – Reggaeton (separate from the Tuesday class)

Registration is already open! For more details or to register, email us at info@azucarottawa.com.

End of Winter session
There are 5 weeks left in our Winter 2013 session – the last day of classes will be April 21! While that seems really far away now, we’re already planning some cool end-of-session workshops and trials to help us plan our Spring/Summer classes. Be on the lookout for spin technique workshops, body conditioning classes, and other fun things to get your hips shaking.

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Salsa Congresses

Salsa congress season is starting soon: the Toronto Salsa Festival is happening on Easter weekend, followed by Salsafair Gatineau on April 5-7! With this in mind, we thought this might be a good time to talk about what congresses are, and why we love them.

What is a salsa congress?
Salsa congresses are 3-4 day events that bring together salseros from around the world to learn from each other and dance with each other. For the most part, they follow this format:

  • Mornings and afternoons are taken up by workshops given by the performers invited to the event. It’s a chance to learn from some of the best dancers in the world, explore new styles, and try new things.
  • The evenings start with around 2 hours of shows and performances. Sit back, and enjoy some awesome dancing!
  • Social dancing starts anywhere between 10pm and midnight, and goes on well into the night!

Why do we go to salsa congresses?
Because they are a great place to learn, get inspired, and dance with new partners! There’s something for every dancer: for beginners, we recommend going in the evening and checking out the shows (congress workshops don’t tend to be very beginner-friendly, however Salsafair does have a beginner bootcamp). For more experienced dancers, it’s a chance to dance with out-of-towners and meet some of the best dancers in the world!

Congresses are also great places to shop for shoes! Not only will you find more selection, and brands you can’t usually find locally, but many of them will also have sales and special congress prices.

When and where do salsa congresses happen?
Most congresses are annual events, and they happen around the same time each year. Most major cities have salsa congresses; here are the Canadian ones (that we know of):

Want more? Check out the Salsa Travel Advisor for international salsa events!

Azúcar! News – Week of March 18

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. Here are your latest school updates and news from around the Ottawa salsa scene.

Beginner Bachata starts this Wednesday!
Ali and Darnell are holding another 4-week Beginner Bachata class starting this week! Classes will be held on Wednesdays, March 20 – April 10 (4 sessions), 8 to 9pm, and are payable via Azucar! class cards or at the drop-in rate of $17/h. Learn the basic steps, right and left turns, promenades, and a few fun styling elements to get you started!

This class will replace the current Wednesday night Salsa Intermediate 1 class. Our Intermediate 1 classes will continue to be held on Mondays (6 to 7pm) and Saturdays (1 to 2pm).

The Azucar! Studio will be closed on:

  1. Monday, April 1st (Easter Monday). There will be no Intermediate 1 class on Easter Monday. However, our Saturday (March 30) classes are still on!
  2. Saturday, April 6th (Salsafair). Salsafair is the annual international salsa congress of the Ottawa region. We’re closing our studio to allow all our teachers to attend, and to encourage all of you to go too!

Emilie Phaneuf’s special workshops are getting even more fun!
The current special workshop session is ending on April 2nd. A new 12-week workshop session is starting the very next week, with MORE classes on both Tuesdays and Saturdays! Here’s the schedule breakdown:

Tuesdays (April 9 – June 25)
6.00 – 7.00pm – Salsa Ladies’ Styling

7.00 – 8.00pm – Dancehall Funk
8.00 – 9.00pm – Reggaeton

 

Saturday (April 13 – June 29)
3.00 – 4.00pm – Beginner Burlesque
4.00 – 5.00pm – Intermediate Burlesque
5.00 – 6.00pm – Reggaeton (separate from the Tuesday class)

Registration is already open! For more details or to register, email us at info@azucarottawa.com.

End of Winter session
There are 5 weeks left in our Winter 2013 session – the last day of classes will be April 21! While that seems really far away now, we’re already planning some cool end-of-session workshops and trials to help us plan our Spring/Summer classes. Be on the lookout for spin technique workshops, body conditioning classes, and other fun things to get your hips shaking.

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

We’re Changing Again!

It’s been pointed out to me that we post a lot of blog articles. And we do! It’s partially due to my inability to clam up for more than 2 minutes, and partially due to all of us wanting to give dancers as much information as we can, about as broad of a topic range as we can. But we also know there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so we’re cutting back our blog posting from 4-5 times a week, to twice a week.

From now on, you’ll see new blog posts every Monday and Thursday. Mondays will continue to be News Day, and will be a summary of everything that’s happening at Azúcar!, plus cool news and events from around the Ottawa dance scene.

Thursday articles will fall into one of the same categories we’ve had until now. Some weeks you’ll find fresh Dance Tips and Resources, others we’ll feature an artist we love or a another tidbit of Latin Music, Culture & History, and others we’ll have new Teacher Polls and Profiles.

More importantly, we want to know what YOU like reading about on here. So, please, tell us, what kind of articles do you find the most useful?

To make up for fewer blog articles, we also plan on using our Facebook page to post all the fun and interesting things we come across, as they come to mind. And we certainly encourage you to do the same – we’d love to see anything you feel like sharing with us!

Azúcar! News – Week of March 11

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. Here are your latest school updates and news from around the Ottawa salsa scene.

It’s been a great weekend for Ottawa dancers – on Friday, Rahim’s Latin Friday held a special party in honour of International Women’s Day, with great shows and amazing music selected by Emilie Phaneuf. On Saturday, we held not one, but TWO Burlesque workshops, which brought out the sexy in all of our beautiful participants.

In studio news, we’ve had a great thing happen lately: we have more demand for classes than time to hold them! So we are making a few changes to our class line-up to bring you what you’ve been asking for, and to get us all dancing into spring!

Bachata is back, by popular demand!
Ali and Darnell are holding another 4-week Beginner Bachata class starting next week! Bachata classes will be held on Wednesdays, March 20 – April 10 (4 sessions), 8 to 9pm, and are payable via Azucar! class cards or at the drop-in rate of $17/h. Learn the basic steps, right and left turns, promenades, and a few fun styling elements to get you started!

This class will replace the current Wednesday night Salsa Intermediate 1 class. Our Intermediate 1 classes will continue to be held on Mondays (6 to 7pm) and Saturdays (1 to 2pm).

Bachata & salsa social on April 17!
After our 4-week introduction to bachata, we will hold a bachata and salsa social on Wednesday, April 17th, starting at 8pm, to give you a chance to practice your moves and get ready for higher-level bachata classes to come! More details, and a facebook event, will be coming soon.

More bachata coming soon…
We know some of you already have a bachata base, and would like to learn more cool moves. We will have an intermediate bachata class starting in our Spring/Summer session, with classes starting the week of May 13th. Check back for more details soon!

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Teacher poll: If there is one thing that could be improved with the Ottawa salsa scene, what would it be?

One thing we’re big on at Azucar! is always striving to get better, whether it’s improving our own dancing or seeing what we can do to make the world a better place (one song at a time!). This week, we asked our teachers what improvements they’d like to see in the salsa scene. Here were  some of their answers:

Ali
I think it’s a combination of venue and atmosphere. I started dancing in Toronto where there were designated salsa night clubs. There were strict rules about not bringing drinks on the dance floor and so on, but it was great. For new dancers, being able to have a drink by the bar makes going out a lot less intimidating.

Darnell
I would love to see the overall salsa population in Ottawa grow.  There is never a lack of beginners, which is great, but it would be even better to see more people continue to advance their salsa repertoire.  Some hardcore dancers have to go to Montreal or Toronto to get their salsa fix; it would be great if Ottawa could be one of those places as well!

Jeff
One big improvement for me would be to have an environment that is more accessible to newcomers. A common complaint I’ve heard lately from beginners is that the Ottawa salsa scene can be hard to break into. When they are out on the dance floor,  they find a crowd of people that already seem to know one another, and tend to dance with the same partners out of routine. This saddens me, as when I first came to Ottawa, I found the salsa community to be incredibly warm and welcoming.
I would love for all of us to get back that community spirit and welcome new dancers, so that newcomers at all levels continue to find a fun and vibrant dance scene! I am trying to promote that with Azucar!, and I think we need more events like last year’s Summer Salsa on Spark Street, which brought salsa to the people in a welcoming and accessible way.

Ana
To me, variety is the spice of life. Ottawa has some great long-standing social dance venues already (Rahim’s Latin Fridays, Salsaria, Club Caliente) and some newer ones that are picking up (Discoteka, Sundays at Amigos), but I’d love to see more “non-traditional” dance venues and events – like Summer Salsa on Sparks Street and Salsa at the Vineyards.