One night in Beijing

Actually it was more like six nights in Beijing where the Dance Unlimited team got a taste of what it was like to (1) dance in front of a really demanding audience (2) dance with international instructors almost every other night (3) get trampled upon, stepped on and almost lose our cool with the very people that we went to dance with.

Overall, the
4th China Salsa Congress was awesome primarily because we got to learn from some of the best and most fun international instructors around. It was also exhausting because the congress lasted for a total of four days, complete with workshops in the day and social dancing every night from the day we landed. Lunch was a grab and go thing where we caught about 30mins of time out to refuel.

Luckily for us, we got to perform on opening night, which was fantastic, because we got to just relax and enjoy the rest of the congress. What was damn nerve-wrecking was that we were performing to a full house and packed out crowds. I lucked out because I managed to hunt down someone to take the video for me...LOL. Was it better than our Jitterbugs performance? You tell me:

What I really loved were:
  • International instructors such as Maykel Fontz (pronounced Michael. He bears a small resemblance to Kanye West) who brought such fantastic energy and passion to Rhumba and Afro Cuban. He spoke really little English but that didn’t hamper what he had to teach. Inspirational? For sure. Nuno & Vanda who brought cheekiness and fun to Salsa Hip Hop and a host of pther instructors that I really loved learning from.
  • The Great Wall trip. Where we spawned a million cam whoring photos and tons more trying to jump around like a bunch of crazed kids. We even had some strange guy who snuck into our shot. Idiot. We also danced at the wall for the first time. So we were all in casual clothes and shoes but the experience itself was fantastic and the weather helped so much too.
  • Social dancing. The guys in China are pretty good leads and there are many who can lead well. They are a little shy to ask for dances but overall, there are some really good On 1 and On 2 dancers here. The women on the other hand, leave much to be desired, they are good at trying to look sexy but when it comes to dancing, few are really good and they seem to move on a set of steps. Most importantly, I got over some fears and went to dance with some of the international instructors which was a great learning experience because following means taking the cue from the person that you are dancing with and injecting your personal style to the dance, not simply looking limp or lost.
  • National Day. We landed on Oct 1, which is China’s National Day. OMG. The evening performances and the endless fireworks in Tiananmen Square were breathtaking. Take that NDP!

What I wasn’t as fond of were:

  • Lack of dance etiquette. The home crowd seem to think that it is ok to film instructors during their workshops instead of learning. I suppose that is fine BUT do you have to jostle for space with the people who are there to learn? What is it with filming all the time? As all congress participants know, the instructors will give you time to film the routine that they are teaching at the end of the class...ha, maybe the organizers should have a session to tell people what to do so it won’t be as annoying.
  • Dance space. The hotel was a great location but the home crowd just wanted to be in front all the time. Yes, you want to learn and so do we. But how the hell can you learn partner work if we’re standing shoulder to shoulder? Poor Jolene got kicked in the chest by some stupid woman who didn’t bother to even look around to see if she had space to execute her move.
  • The crowds. Yup, we were stuck in China’s Golden week and it was crowded everywhere. Remember the cartoons where the ants come pouring out in droves? Well, now I can say that I’ve seen that for real. And I hope never to be caught in it again.
  • Female instructors. What was surprising was that the international female instructors were not much into social dancing. They seemed a little too stand-offish, just having one odd dance or two than scampering off the floor. In comparison, their male dance partners and most of the male instructors were a lot better and spent a bulk of their time on the floor with the rest of the congress participants.

I’m really glad that I got to do the congress. Yes, a lot of blood sweat and tears went into the preparation but at the end of the day it was all worth it. We bonded as a team, we learnt from the world’s best and we got to experience social dancing in a different setting than Singapore’s Union Square.

Up next, the Singapore International Salsa Festival which happens from November 13 – 15, 2009 at the farthest tip of Singapore, Downtown East. Yes, I still hate that place and I’m hoping that it will be moved to a hotel one of these years so that participants wouldn’t have swelter in workshops. One can hope, right?


Mike said...

Oh my gosh..Selena! I'm impressed!!

Bitchy Witchy said...

Thanks, Mike...uh we were impressed too?

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P


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