Hej från Göteborg!

I'm in Göteborg for the 2008 Scandinavian Salsa Congress. I attended last year, and had a blast, dancing with lots of fun dancers and taking hundreds of great photos. This year's congress is shaping up to be even better than last year's.

The congress is basically a weekend filled with three sorts of event: workshops, shows, and parties. During the day, salsa instructors visiting from all over the world hold workshops concentrating on one area of dance or another. One instructor might lead a workshop on footwork, while another teaches dips and tricks. There are four different ballrooms in the hotel where the congress is being held, so at any given time during the day, there are four different workshops going on. This means you can chose the workshops that interest you the most. Yesterday I took one on "salsa seduction," basically a bunch of dance moves involving close body contact between partners. It was fun and involved lots of dips, where the man dips his partner down and she leans back gracefully in a smooth sweeping motion. It's very cool when it works, but I'll have to practice before I am able to incorporate these moves seamlessly inyo my repertoire. These are moves that are best done to slow romantic music, and unfortunately most of the music played in social dance settings is quite a bit faster.

After that workshop I took another one on spinning. In the first half of the workshop, men and women practiced single turns individually. Then we worked in couples on a dance routine involving lots of double turns and fancy handwork.

After dinner, there were several shows on the stage in the big ballroom. Dance companies from all over Scandinavia and the world performed carefully choreographed routines in flamboyant outfits. Many of the performers were the same ones who held the workshops during the day. There have been some amazing dance performances the past two evenings, and it's amazing to see what really good dancers can do.

After the shows, the chairs are removed from the ballroom and the party begins. The parties are basically dance socials, but on a large scale. Three different ballrooms offer dancing with slightly different atmospheres. The DJs play different mixes in each place. In one of the rooms, the DJs played a mix of Latin dances including salsa, bachata, meringue, and reggaeton.

A lot of dancers skip the workshops during the day, and simply pay 200 SEK doe admission to an evening's shows and party. That's what I did last year. This year, however, I got a full pass to the congress for free!

Well, okay, it wasn't actually free. I'm working for it. When I arrived Friday night, I spoke with one of the arrangers of the congress, Adriana Mendes. Having seen my photos last year, she agreed to give me a full pass to this year's congress in exchange for letting her use any photos I take this year. Great deal for me, because now I can dance and take photos with her official sanction. I agreed to let Adriana take a look at the photos before I post them, so it'll be a week or so before I post most of them. Expect to see some of my photos on the official home page of the Scandinavian Salsa Congress soon!

I'm staying with friends Liza, Evert, Camilla & Maria in a cramped 5-bed room in a youth hostel a few minutes by streetcar from the hotel where the congress is being held. The hostel, Slottsskogen Vandrarhem, is actually quite comfortable, and has a nice and recently renovated sauna. I finished breakfast and offloaded photos from my memory cards to my laptop. I'll probably try to catch a couple more hours of sleep before heading to the hotel for a couple of the afternoon workshops.

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