Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019

I was lucky enough to grab a place at this years Newcastle Salsa Congress. Tickets go quick, and hotel rooms go even quicker!

This year it started on the Friday 4th January through to Sunday 6th January.

Its a good opportunity to burn off some turkey and and alternative to sulking in the house during the cold winter months.

Eva Marunova at Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019
Eva Marunova teaching a class.

What can you expect from a Salsa Congress?

The uninitiated might be wondering what a Salsa Congress is. Its a dance festival that lasts multiple days. During this time there will be workshops (dance classes), social dancing, performances as well stalls to buy things like dancing shoes.

If you ever attended a Salsa class and thought to yourself:

“I wish this lasted two or more whole days”

Then you’re going to have a good time. Otherwise, if you’ve had enough after an hour, then maybe not so much!

Its a good opportunity to experience new teachers, styles and meet other dancers from across the country.

Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019 had 5 floors (2 dance floors, 2 conference rooms and an outside area) which continually hosted lessons between the hours of 1000 – 2000.

You can get an idea of what the timetable looks like from their official website: This year there were classes, workshops and even boot-camps for:

  • Salsa
  • Kizomba
  • Batchata
  • Kuduro
  • Capeiro
  • Afro House
  • Musicality
  • Tango

The evenings would have social dancing till the early hours of the morning. Each area playing a difference style of music. There being a Batchata Floor, Salsa Floor, Kizomba Floor etc.

The Seven P’s.

I was off work on the Friday. I started packing. Not just clothes, food and drink. I find hotels sometimes a bit lacking when it comes to snacking.

Considering the physical nature of a dance festival, I whole heartedly recommend packing some food, drinks with you. At least take a water bottle.

packing for newcastle salsa congress 2019

One of my reasons for going to the Newcastle Salsa Congress was to shoot some video. So despite being off the whole day, my other half was not, so I used that time to get familiar with my camera.

When my fiancée had finally finished toiling away at work, and packed herself, we set off for the venue.

Traffic was light and we arrived in time for the social dancing.

The Next Day

The first thing I did Saturday morning was bless “yesterday Clint” for packing a decent variety of breakfast supplies.

Their is a spa and pool at the Holiday Inn. So my next item on my agenda was to use them all, to get as much use as I can out of my reservation.

There is even a jacuzzi which was my personal highlight, despite having sat in it (contently) for half an hour before being shown you can turn it “on”.

Aiming to get out of my comfort zone (it now a distant, warm and bubbly memory), I opted for classes which I had never tried before.

Note: I'm not going to try and describe dances here. Please just type them into YouTube and all will be made clear.

I recall Kudoru being very energetic and enjoyable. I tried to hide at the back. However, at 6 foot 1, all my mistakes where still painfully obvious.

Capoeira was especially challenging. I was physically sore the next day. There seemed to be a lot crammed into a very short amount of time. Edmonturo did a good job starting with some basic movements, putting them into some short routines then finishing with a freestyle between the students (called a Roda, but I could be completely wrong about this).

I was grateful that I packed some comfortable gym clothes and trainers (not just shirts and shoes for social dancing).

Thankfully, fresh water was supplied to the rooms as well.

I did not actually attend any social on the Saturday as I slept through it (Oops!).

Ed Munturo
Kizomba Sol Family

I did manage to shoot a short interview with Edmuntoro for my video.

Homeward Bound

The following Sunday; I managed to corner a couple of additional artists for an interview!

You can check out the video I made for Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019 here:

Urban Kiz GB at Newcastle Salsa Congress 2019
Urban Kiz GB

Then I was back on the motorway, giving it some beans in my 11 year old Honda.

The Spire
The Spire (Mackem’s obviously not over compensating for anything at all, here).

Getting There

Unless your driving yourself, or can get a lift. The venue can be a bit awkward to get to by public transport and taxis can be expensive.

This time XSalsa organised their own mini bus to ferry Salsa goers at a discounted rate.

Getting Your Money’s Worth

Keeping in the spirit of getting your money’s worth: I would recommend bringing paper and pen so you can take notes. You won’t recall everything from the class, and you might as well take away as much as you can.

Its not common practice, mind. If you’re too cool to be seen doing this, you can just write them out between classes. If you get caught, just say you’re not you.

Also, you can catch the artist at the end if you have any additional questions.

Booking early is always recommended, as prices climb higher and higher as it gets closer to the date.

You can often buy a full pass for next years congress at your current one for a fraction of the price.

The Big Question

How many cats would I give it?

It was tiring, it was relaxing. It was challenging yet also filled with familiar faces.

I think at the end of the day, a Congress is what you make of it. You can attend 8 straight hours of classes, burning enough calories to risk spontaneously combustion.

Alternatively, you could retreat to your room for naps or a soak in the pool between classes. Blissfully letting anything you’ve learned slip away to be refreshed again next year.

Every year there is always something new and fresh, as well as loads of the familiar artists and songs that feel like putting on an old pair of sweat pants at the end of a hectic week.

I give Newcastle Salsa Congress 2018 four cats dancing Kizomba and one tabby holding a Mojito.

Yorkshire Puddings & Salsa

After something of an unplanned hiatus from dancing, I was pleased to hear there was a Salsa event in my home town.

Not only in Sunderland, but the Toby Carvery. The combination of Yorkshire pudding, booze and dancing was too good to pass up.

Kicking off with a bachata warm-up was a nice gentle way to ease into the first lesson. The style of the routine was what I would have called “sensual bachata”, which is to say bachata as we you know it but with more body rolls.

The venue was fantastic. Its always a great opportunity to have a wooden, sprung dance floor. It was a very appropriate venue for the event.

However rusty we I  was, it was good fun to joine in the social dancing. The playlist was a nice 50/50 split of salsa and bachata.

Breaking up the night was a bachata routine by the Venenitas Newcastle dance team. I admit, its not often I see performances like this at salsa events. It is always welcome.

Often during this sort of performances have a “blink and you’ll miss it” feel. As soon as I come back from the bar, its over. These ladies, however, had worked out a nice long performance with a lot of variety that kept it fresh.

The most emotional part of the night was the raffle. Periods of silence followed by either hushed cursing or celebrations. There was quite a lot up for grabs, from one-time vouchers, a clock and plenty of booze.

I was lucky enough to walk away with a water colour painting of Grey Street. By the time my number came out.

It was either the painting or a voucher for skin care, and my skin is soft and radiant enough.

The event is a monthly one called Salsa4Charity.

Every month money is raised for a different cause. This November over £2000 was raised to buy an oxygen tank for a young lady in Newcastle, who was in need of one for medical reasons.

Look out for the next Salsa4Charity party that will be coming up 7th, December at the Toby Carvery in Sunderland (follow the link for more details).

Paul will be raising money for a physiotherapy vest for a baby called Theo.  Guest teacher will be Peter Robson.

Until then shimmey – and eat carveries – responsibly.

Getting Dizzy During Turns

Sometimes when getting into tighter spins, or turning more often you can feel like you’ve just bought a one-way ticket to the chunder bus.

A dizzy lady

Spotting During A Turn

The most effective piece of advice I can offer, that is useful for all dancers is spotting.

Spotting is where you pick an object or area in front of you to focus on. You keep focused on this area during your turn, and then you find it again as you come round.

I found a quick video tutorial here which might explain it better:

Spotting will also make your turns look sharper, and improve your positioning!

Speak Up About getting Dizzy

If you are a follower and you are getting dizzy, tell your leader. You can either use verbal cues, or non-verbal facial expressions (my partner is very good at this) to signal your disapproval.

Reject The Lead

If you’ve had enough, stop playing. You can always choose not to respond to the lead. This might give you chance to get your bearings and send a message to the leader that you’re not a dreidel.

Remember you are being invited to turn. The lead is a signal, not a command! If the lead raises a hand, you can pull it back down.

Resist Self Turning

Some dancers may interpret a certain style of lead as a turn when none was intended. So if you think the turning is excessive, you might not actually be rejecting any lead, just misinterpreting it.

Go in for The Clinch

Like a heavy weight in the 9th round, you can always force a close hold which might encourage your lead to take the technicalities down a notch and slow the pace.

Obviously this tactic is more suitable when dancing with someone you know well!


If you’ve tried the above and your still getting thrown about, it would be better to walk away from this one than throwing up on your leader’s sequins.


Finally, my last tip for the leaders would be that if you’re turning too much and feeling ill.

Then stop doing it.

Getting Sweaty At Salsa

Summer is here, with her long and hot nights.

The clubs are packed with dancers, but are you worried about drowning your next follower by the end of the next song?

Appropriate Clothing

An obvious one, for sure. But what is appropriate?

Anyone who has hit the gym in a thick cotton T-Shirt can testify that not all summer clothing is actually appropriate for the heat.

Now might be the time to bring back the Tank Top or invest in some short sleeved shirts.

If you’re terrified of showing your knees in shorts and don’t want to rock up like a Hip Hop dancer in jogging bottoms. Chinos might just be the article of clothing that will save your life.

Commandeer The Source of Cool Air

This could be propped open fire exit or – praise the salsa gods – a fan. Rock up early and take possession of the valuable sweat-free real estate.

If you rocked up too late, you might be able to find a partner who already hast he same idea. Obviously, pick that partner and leave your actual friends to sweat to death under the lights.

Take it Easy

You don’t have to dance every dance (unless you’ve paid to get in and your determined to get your money’s worth).

Your partner and your car seat will thank you on the way home for graciously bowing out of the kizomba set to catch your breath outside.

If you’re a beginner then even the basic probably feels like an aerobic class. Rest assured that the more you dance, the more relaxed you’ll feel and the lesser the likelihood of you steaming up your sequins.

In Closing

  • Wear something breathable
  • Find some cool air, even if its outside
  • Take it easy

And as always,

Shimmy responsibly!

Taking Partners Home

Everyone has their own motives for taking up classes. I was bored, and looking for something to do.

I’m really glad I did, not just because I now have an arsenal of latin dance moves at my disposal. I’ve also increased the size of my small social circle, and it includes more than bearded men (although there’s nothing wrong with that!).

Figure A

I also found a follower who I liked so much, I picked her up and took her home. She’s still there now – of her own free will, of course!

If I could email my past self, I’d definitely tell myself about the outrageous amount of fun and great people I was missing out on.

Especially during times that I was single. When I was breaking the ice in King Chicken in the early hours, or eating cake in front of a game console.

4 Reasons Why You Might consider dating a dancer

There are plenty of reasons why you might consider finding your next date within the salsa scene.

Great Atmosphere

These nights have a good atmosphere and positive vibe. Taking part is almost compulsory. Good for wall flowers, and those with an aversion to the lurkers.

You know the one
There’s something about meeting a room full of smiling, dancing people rather than mingling with men slumped over pints or shouting over house music.

Money Matters

I’ll address the elephant in the room, or… blog post.

I’ll make the assumption that if you are a lady, you’ll be looking for a man with a job.

Classes and socials are rarely free, so most of the clientèle have some disposable income to throw around.

Time To Impress

No-one likes to be kept waiting. At least you know a dancer will have good…




… timing.


Yea Boye!!!

Tortured puns aside, if you can find someone with the motivation to turn out and turn up then you’re already on the right track.

Postures and Posteriors

Not everyone is going to look like Patrick Swayze. You will, however, have a better chance of meeting someone with a dancer’s body at a dance class.

Gotta strive for your five a day!

Sat on pavement outside a kebab shop after a dozen pints is not only bad posture but also the waistline. I have seen some young people burn off a bit of the kebab by throwing their shoes at the local police force or scrapping.

More Social

Dancers tend to be more outgoing and social so you’ll be less likely to endure awkward silences. It’s also helps that the class will pair you up in the world’s easiest ice breaker, and any dead air can be filled either by watching the other dancers or joining in yourselves.

Have something in common

If you manage to develop a taste for salsa, then anyone you hit it off with already have something in common with you.

Unsolicited Advice From The Internet

If you’re still reading this far, you’re probably invested. Maybe you’re mentally preparing for your next date, already plastering on the war paint. Maybe you just want to see where this article is going.

Either way here is some unsolicited advice that comes from some person on the internet. If it works for you, then I’m obviously a guru. If it does not, then it’s purely for entertainment purposes.

Don’t Schmooze At Your Regular Class

Your not in highschool anymore. The stakes are higher.

Obviously, if you are a really hardcore regular at one class, it is going to be very awkward for all concerned if you screw things up and have to endure hacky looks till one of you drop the class.

There might be a class with good instruction, but maybe not many suitable candidates to fill your vacancy. There would be a good place to learn.

There might be another class where you are not into the classes, but it draws a larger crowd. Now if it all goes pear shaped, at least you don’t have to denounce your hobby.

Dress to impress

I have been mocked a lot for my dress sense, so I’m not going to offer any advice other than maybe not wear what I used to.

Clothes that fit well, is a good starting point however!

I’ve heard heels and makeup are good if you’re wanting to meet people. I’ve got no idea what to advise the women to wear however.

Make the effort

I apologise at this point to all introverts, nerds and engineers. You may have to talk to people.

A good opening line that I used to use was “sorry for bumping into you” or “do you need some ice for your foot?”.

Do it for you

This is the most important.

If you don’t enjoy the process, you won’t enjoy the reward.

If you don’t enjoy Salsa and you meet someone at Salsa then you’re going to be resigned to dancing for the rest of your days.

At the end of the day, you’re doing this better yourself and better your life!

In Closing

Please remember to Shimmy Responsibly.

Hola Cuba changing venue from Kommunity to Revolution De Cuba

It feels like the end of an era! Yersin and his Hola Cuba team will be moving to a brand spanking venue.

There will be a farewell salsa party tomorrow, Wednesday 27th @ Kommunity.

Three separate events will be taking place at Revolution De Cuba every week starting from the 11th of July!

Personally, I can’t see a more fitting venue for the team and will be awaiting future events with abaited breath!


Stumbling Into Newcastle Salsa

I’d moved to Newcastle to give myself a fresh start, and meet new people. I figured I’d have more chance of meeting like-minded people in the city.

Most of my social life up and to this point usually involved shouting over house music and drinking up to that point where you can no longer remember anything.

I was an avid reader of Hunter S Thompson. I guess I felt I had a lot in common with a wiry Airmen with a love of travelling and the absurd.

His essays and interviews where a gateway drug to existentialism. This led to other schools of thought, and my interest in philosophy.

I started attending the odd talk and debate around town, however I was more interested in the harder, logical debates on existence and thought. I felt like a minority amongst one to many academics who wanted to talk about ethics and other – in my opinion – softer societal topics.

Like the beginning of a pulp noir novella, in between my reading and working in an obnoxiously loud office I found some peace and consistency within the Jazz Cafe. It was free to get in (most nights) yet there is something about improvisational live music that creates as distance between myself and the hordes of screaming drunks that pour out Central Station.

I started attending salsa at the Black Swan out of pure curiosity after seeing a chalkboard near the arts centre. There was a half remembered quote from Summer in Algiers spinning in my head, and it seemed a good idea at the time.

Why even write about salsa at all?

This question came up  whilst reflecting on something that was said in a heated exchange.

With all that is going on in the world, the wars, the poverty and injustices faced every day then why should I be writing about my experiences with salsa.

Why promote a social party (a salsa social party, not communism comrade!), when I could be promoting a just cause?

Partly this is because salsa, in many ways, is completely irrelevant to me.


When I hack out a post like this I am completely unconcerned with the software I’m using or the electronics in my computer.

Think of the wizardry involved in delivering this to you over the Internet.

When I dress up in my freshly washed trainers and catch the Metro to a social party, its not the intricacies of the salsa routines and steps I care about. I’m not even fussed about the DJ playing authentic music.

Salsa isn’t the point, its not my destination.

Its just a thing to get another thing.

Personally, I enjoy soaking in the jovial atmosphere and positive vibes from the dancers. I like the way that everyone can put aside whatever is going on in their life and just enjoy some music together.

Aside from the personal enjoyment (and I swear down, mental health benefits) I get to connect with a variety of open people from a whole cross section of society.

All dancers are nuts, but nuts together.

Planes will still crash. People will still get bad news from the doctor. World leaders will make one side happy whilst disappointing the other.

I’ve tried with very little success to change people’s minds so they think the same way I do.

I’ve been given preferential treatment at holiday resorts, I’ve had arguments across expensive restaurant food.

I’ve been praised for my hedonistic tendencies during my time in the military, and then let down by people I believed in when under attack.

The world keeps turning whether I worry about it or I don’t. Some people are great for all the wrong reasons, and some people turn into monsters trying to do what is right.

But whatever happens, I have this. If I can drink some effeminate cocktails and shake my shoulders in time to some upbeat music.

That’s enough for me.

That’s probably more than anyone in this world can ever deserve.

If they shut down every Latin event tomorrow, I’m 100% certain the same crowd would find something else to gravitate towards and form a community around.

Its that community that I keep coming back to.

There are members of this community who are not part of us yet.

Maybe they don’t realize that future friends are here waiting for them, good times and whatever else they’re looking for.

So let’s bring them home.

Can you learn from YouTube?

There’s a lot of resources on YouTube for dance. Hip-hop, as an example, has an abundance of videos. In the case of Salsa, there are less tutorials to pick from.

I believe this is to be expected as the techniques for dancing with a partner would be very hard to convey over a video.

Worse still, without an experienced instructor, any bad techniques learned that could injure a partner would go uncorrected.

Some resources, especially ones that explain musicality and the history behind Salsa I think are very valuable. Personally, I’d rather listen to a video or podcast in my own time.

I believe a majority of social dancers would be nonplussed if a Salsa class turned into a theory lecture.

A big part of Salsa, in my opinion, is the interaction between different dancers as well as its diverse and friendly social circle.

I appreciate the effort and time that has gone into these resources, and they probably provide a useful supplement for the addicted between events and help entice new beginners.

Overall though, learning Salsa by yourself, without other people? Doesn’t sound very fun at all.