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The 2004 Paris Congress

I hadn't been to a congress outside the UK for over a year, so when some of my friends started to talk about going to the Paris Salsa Congress, organised by Salsabor, I was well up for it. Here are my thoughts about the congress and some photos.

Let me start by saying that I had a great weekend, after all it was a weekend in Paris with a load of mates. Some parts of the congress were great too. There was a high standard of dancing in the evening, I saw some excellent shows (including Frankie Martinez, Eddie Torres, Descarga Latina and Tropical Gem) and there was a wicked 26 piece band (Mambo Legacy) on the Sunday night. However there were also various aspects of the congress which I didn't like so much. This isn't really a criticism of the congress, but a difference in what I was interested in and what the congress was offering.

For congresses like this, we tend to just buy passes to the evening parties and spend the days sightseeing and just hanging out. So the big thing for us is dancing in the evenings. And this was where things started to go wrong for me. There were three hours of shows a night, going on to 1am each morning. This only left 2 to 3 hours of dancing a night (at a cost of 30 euros a night). I know of some people who were so fed up with the shows on the Saturday night that they left before the shows finished. I also know some other people who hated the Saturday night so much that they just didn't come to the party at all on the Sunday night. The problem was made worse because the DJ played such fast music all the time (although, as I said earlier, the band on the Sunday night was wicked). The final problem was the transport. The venue was a fair distance from the hotels and there were not enough buses to transport everyone from the venue in one go. This meant that on two nights we left the party at 3am and were then left waiting outside the venue for the bus to our hotel until 4.30am.

There was also an unpleasant part during the shows on the Sunday night, when one of the MC's launched an insulting personal attack on two of the UK's top and best-loved Salsa teachers, which created a very nasty atmosphere.

I don't want this to come across as too negative and you have to remember that this was my personal experience of the parts of the congress which I attended. I had no experience of the daytime parts of the congress (such as the workshops or the "festival village") or of the after parties (which ran at a different venue for 3 hours after the party on each night). There were some top teachers at the congress, so I assume the workshops were excellent (which is backed up by a couple of people I talked to who had a great time at the congress). Here, for example, is a comment about a class which Eddie Torres ran:

I attended Eddie Torres workshops and they were very good. Eddie Torres was very inspiring and his dancers are a pleasure to watch. Eddie stayed for an average half an hour afterwards just showing us shines and giving out words of encouragement.
As far as the after parties go, I was told the following about them:
I went to the after party on all 3 night and danced till 6am (7am on Saturday) on most nights. It was free to get in, and the bus took us there - when they finally arrived. The club had a woooden floor, air conditioning and the music was great. The only draw back was you had to find your own way home and the one thing I have learnt from last weekend in Paris is that you can't get a taxi in the Burbs!!! It took us nearly an hour the first night and then we had to get the man in a Boulangerie to ring one for us.
So, just because the congress didn't deliver what I wanted, doesn't mean that everybody didn't like it. I think that if you want to do lots of workshops with top teachers and see lots of shows, then this would have been a great congress for you. But for me, it just didn't coincide with my interests.

Dancing at the Congress

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Franklin and Maureen
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Mushi and Magna
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Mark and Maureen

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Chanel
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Franklin and Ellen
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Mushi and Magna

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Nicky and Mushi
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Nicky and Mushi
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Olu and Brigit

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Nicky and Shaun
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Nicky and Erik
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Nicky and Erik

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Nicky and Erik
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Who's Mo?
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Susana and Frankie

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Super Mario

Some of Our Friends

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Mariana and Paris
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Magna and Mushi
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Vivienne, Malik, Flora and Mushi

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Ellen, Mo, Jayne and Anne
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The Last Bus Home

Out and About in Paris

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Sacre Coeur
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Notre Dame
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The Seine
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Michael, Mo and Maureen
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Sacre Coeur

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A Samba Band
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An Artist in Montmartre
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High Jumping Skater

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Mark, Malik, Ulrike and Mushi
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Keith and Michael
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Mushi and Ian

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Malik
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Ulrike, Keith, Ian and Mo
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Splash It All Over

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The Seine
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The Seine
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The Seine

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Mo, Nicky and Mark
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Sleeping
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Sleeping

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