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The Fifth European Salsa Dance Festival

This is just a quick article about the Fifth European Salsa Congress (held in Haarlem, near Amsterdam). I'd heard how good earlier ones were, but I'd never managed to get to one until this year. I wasn't disappointed and had an excellent time.

The congress was held in the Haarlem-Zuid hotel and so was completely self-contained. This made everything really convenient - there were no long distances to travel to get to different venues. If you didn't like what was happening in one room, you could just walk up a flight of stairs and try a different room.

The organisation of the event was excellent and everything went really smoothly. Things happened when they were meant to happen and, if there were any problems, we (the paying public) were well-shielded from them. Other event organisers could learn a lot from this.

The congress was organised by the Alma Latina Foundation (www.salsafestival.nl) and Albert Torres Productions (www.alberttorresevents.com). Between them, they have extensive experience of organising such events and it showed.

One really great aspect of the congress was the atmosphere there. Apart from there being so many people from the UK (at times, it was almost like being in a London club), it seems that European Salsa dancers are coming together more and I'm starting to recognise people from other European countries. For example, there were people there who I had met at last year's Berlin congress and the French team who performed at the most recent Salsa King New Year party. I guess that things like cheaper flights within Europe have helped a lot here. I probably spent around the same on this event as I have done on some weekend Salsa events in the UK.

As with any event, there are always downsides and I feel I should briefly mention them. It was very hot in the dance rooms, which became too much for several people. Perhaps some air-conditioning units would be useful next year. The dancefloor also left a lot to be desired. It was small (with the result that many people were dancing on the carpet) and it was also a bit sticky (making it harder work on people's knees). When one of my friends tried to put some baby powder down to make the floor less sticky, she was told not to as it might ruin the floor (although it doesn't seem to harm a baby's bottom). The next event would be improved by better flooring and more of it. Finally, most of the music seemed to be on the fast side, which (when combined with the heat and the slow floor) made dancing much less enjoyable than it could have been. There was a noticeable change when Henry Knowles (as Albert Torres said: the best Salsa DJ in the world) turned up on the Sunday night and started playing perfect dancing music. Everyone was commenting on what an improvement that was.

Apart from these problems, the congress was an excellent event, well-organised with a good range of teachers and performers, and a great atmosphere. Keep your eyes open for next year's congress.

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Loitering in Haarlem
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Group photie
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Group photie
 
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Out and about in Haarlem
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Cafe Life in Haarlem
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Emma and Leon
 
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Emma and Leon
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Nicky and Franklin
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Rohan's Threesome
 
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Maya and Albert
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Leon
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The Gang
 

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