Pontins Pakefield Salsa Weekend 2000
I wasn't sure what to expect from the June/July Pontins Salsa weekend. It was
advertised as being for intermediate and advanced dancers only and there was
only space for 800 people. Up until a week before, I wasn't intending on going,
but I ended up booking at the last minute. I need not have worried; I think
this may have been my best Pontins (and many other people said they felt the
To get the bad stuff out of the way, I have to mention the food. This is the
first Pontins event I've been to where food was included and I have to say that
it was unimpressive. It transported me back more years than I care to remember
to my dinners at school (I expected somebody to be at the door, checking that
we'd washed our hands). It was all there ... liver and bacon ... lumpy custard
in an unnatural shade of yellow ... stuff you thought you'd never see again!
On the plus side, it meant that the canteen became an area where you could mix
with people since you were all eating at the same time.
To be fair though, the food was generally acceptable and there was a salad bar
and an omelette bar (also selling baked potatoes). It was also very sociable
in the restaurant with people really mixing.
The workshops themselves were really good. Tammam and Samira from Holland
were excellent teachers (with their mambo-style salsa moves). Ricardo and
Elbe came all the way from Washington DC and gave some specialist workshops
on lifts and dips. Jose and Lara came from Spain to give a range of workshops
in things like Sevillanas, Pasa Doble and Cha Cha Cha. Kerry Ribchester had
managed to bring Harold over from Cuba to give authentic Cuban style lessons.
Yatie was representing the North West, teaching Salsa and Lambada. Rohan,
Cressida and Jenni rounded off the teaching duties.
There were no bands, but several excellent DJ's, including Ricardo, Yatie and
Louie St Clair. A few people commented to me that the 'no bands' approach was
a good thing since they preferred dancing to the DJ music than to a band.
Other innovations included repeated workshops (to ensure that everyone could
get to the workshop they wanted to), optional extra workshops (you had to pay
for these, but they meant you got much smaller numbers and they filled the
dead time between 6pm and 11pm) and afternoon discos (so you had an alternative
to doing workshops).
The Pontins weekends seem to be going from strength to strength and Cressida
keeps trying to add something new each time (the next one will have an
amateur cabaret competition, for example). So, if you haven't been to
one yet, why not give it a try?
Here are some questions I put to Cressida and her replies:
Many people I talked to said that this was their best ever Pontins
weekender. Do you feel the same way?
I do tend to think this, but I think it is more a case of this event
specialising, and therefore bringing out the best in people. The last few
events I've thought 'this is the best' at the time! everyone is still high on
the current weekend and the feelings about the previous events seem remote!
There were no bands at this weekender. Is this a one-off or do
you see less emphasis on bands at future weekends?
It was partly to do with the budget! Bringing all those teachers from abroad
was very costly. However, I also saw this event as being more 'educational' in
that we didn't have a Latin party room, and the emphasis was on the workshops.
I do wonder how important live music is as I know a lot of dancers are not
overly keen......can we get some feedback out there?!
This was an intermediate/advanced weekend for smaller numbers than
previous weekenders. Do you have any plans for running other
'specialist' weekenders, for example a Rueda weekender or a NY on 2
Yes, I am seriously thinking about other smaller weekends. I would not want to
narrow it down to one style, however. I think the beginners, improvers and
lower intermediates deserve some attention too.
You seem to be trying to be innovative with your competitions. I
see you have an amateur cabaret competition planned for the September
event. Do you have any other ideas for new competitions?
I think I will see how the amateur cabaret competition goes first.
At another Salsa weekend I went to recently, there was a DJ competition,
where about a dozen DJ's each got to do a 15 minute spot, with the
dancers voting on the winner at the end. Do you see this as something
you might do at a future event?
I really like this idea and will look at including this in the Dec progamme!
The standard of teaching was very high at the event. Do you know which
teachers will be at any of the upcoming Pontins weekenders?
(Kerry is a regular teacher on the event, plus Rohan and myself). I will
defintely be using some of the the teachers again next year - Ricardo, Elba,
Rosanna, and Tammam fro instance. I have so many people who want to be included
in the event now I have to 'juggle'! For Dec I have a great line up including
Edie the Salsa Freak and Angel Ortiz, and partners
During the afternoons, you had a DJ in the bar, so people could dance
if they didn't want to do any workshops. Is this something you plan
on keeping at future events?
If the site has an area for afternoon dancing, then definitely. The larger the
event, the more I am restricted in this though, as to keep classes smaller, I
need to utilise all space to repeat them.
There was a much broader range of dance styles at this event (for
example Pasa Doble, Rhumba, Sevillanas and Lambada). Will this continue at
I've always included other styles as I see this as an important factor in the
weekend. I don't want people to be totally fixated on salsa and forgetting the
other influences which are beneficial for salsa dancers too. So far I've
introduced: Afro-Cuban (folk-loric), Carribbean (merengue, socca), Brazillian
(lambada, samba, samba-gafeira), Argentinian (tango), Spanish (Pasa Doble,
Rhumba; Sevillanas, cha cha cha), plus la rueda, dance technique, mambo on 2,
le roc, ballroom jive, Cuban rumba, street jazz, jazz, comtemporary, salsa
aerobics, and to come Arabic and Choreography, more Styling. Most people
either don't think about other styles of dance or don't have time to try them
out, and so it is ideal for other workshops to run alongside salsa at Pontins.