Salsa > Salsa Adventures in Denmark

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by SDsalsaguy, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode I: “Salsa by Happenstance”

    Hi everyone! I just got back to the U.S. on Monday night after spending the past six weeks in England, Denmark, and Italy continuing my research on the culture and community of dancesport. So why am I posting this in the salsa forum? Well, that’s where the adventure part comes in…

    After Blackpool I went to Århus, Denmark to do some research at ÅS – arguably the most successful dancesport club in the world (and hence my reason for visiting). Well, while I was in Århus there was a special event where the city stayed open late Wednesday night, with special offers at many stores, and culminating in fireworks at midnight. As I was wandering around the pedestrian zone in the center of town that night I heard salsa coming from around the next corner and I stumbled across a temporary outdoor floor. Well, I was definitely ready for a salsa fix only having had one chance to do any dancing in the proceeding two weeks so, after watching a bit and seeing who some of the dancers were, I began to do some dancing.

    After a while, as I was standing one song out and watching the local dancers, one of the women I had already danced with came over and said that, as I’d probably guessed, they’d been talking about me…apparently “they” had been trying to figure out what “style” I danced. She also asked if I was there (in Århus) to teach. As I came to learn the salsa dancers in Denmark really fall into two camps, Cuban style dancers and, for lack of a better term, “cross body” style dancers. In Århus this style was called, by various people, both NY and London style. (As an aside, a good number of the non-Cuban style dancers also seemed to dance Rueda). From my perspective “NY” was something of a misnomer since everyone there danced on1, but, as it turned out, they were using the term to refer to styling elements absent from Cuban style dancing. Apparently the “confusion” regarding what style I was dancing came from the fact that I dance in a very circular style (vs. slotted) that, from their perspective, only happens in Cuban style, but that I didn’t seem to be dancing Cuban style.

    Well, the same person who had asked me about what style I was dancing also gave me a phone number so I could find out about other salsa happenings for the next week while I was still in Århus and I was also handed a flyer for a salsa concert (with a Swedish salsa band) that Saturday night. Finding the concert location was its own mini-adventure since the flyer listed the venue but no address and, as it turned out, it was a newer location that only dancers would really know about. Luckily I had had the general area pointed out to me on Wednesday so, after wandering around for a bit stumbled across someone heading to the same place.

    Well, probably the best guy I had seen on Wednesday night was teaching a footwork pattern downstairs while a beginning class was taught upstairs. The guy who taught also turned out to have recently spent half a year living in London, to dance there, and now lived in Copenhagen but was back for a visit. Several people also described him to me as the best “woman” in town. Well, after he finished teaching and we started talking a bit he asked for a dance and said that all of the women who’d danced with me on Wednesday had commented on my leading. While not usually my thing, I gave him a dance and, afterwards, he paid me a big compliment, telling me that everyone should lead as I do.

    Well, I danced a *lot* that night…and I am happy to say that I didn’t turn down a single request to dance. Unfortunately the air circulation at the venue was minimal so it was quite hot but, on the whole, I had a great time and got to meet a lot of really nice people and I did, of course, get asked many times what I was doing there (Denmark in general and Århus in particular), how long I was staying, etc. Most of the dancers, while not “advanced” also were not beginners. Aside from one woman who was very busy trying to do her own “styling” but had no frame or resistance whatsoever, I enjoyed almost every dance. I will say, however, that with a real split between those dancing a circular Cuban style and a slotted style, trying to predict and negotiate the floor conditions was a relatively onerous mental exercise.

    Towards the end of the night I returned one woman who had asked me to dance to her table. One of the other two women there had asked me to dance earlier but, the third one, I had not danced with yet but was someone who I had seen dancing earlier and had hoped to dance with…well, given that I had also already danced with the other two it would have been quite rude not to ask her for a dance which I did. Well, that dance was a true pleasure and definitely the highlight of my evening. She was a great follower but also seemed to just be having fun, enjoyed dancing, and had a great smile…that she used a lot while we were dancing! :D

    On my way out I asked the three of them if they were going to “Showboat” on Wednesday (the club that had been recommended to me). They said that they had planned on it but asked if I was going – I told them that I would definitely be there and hoped to see them there.

    …tune in soon, to this same Salsa Forum, for Episode II “Showboat and More”
     
  2. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode II: “Showboat and More”

    That following Tuesday I found out that my plans to travel to Holland, on Friday, for the following week had fallen through. So, as of Friday morning I had no place to stay and, even more significant, had not budgeted into my travel funds accommodations for that coming week since an acquaintance was going to have been putting me up in Amsterdam. Well, I had the thought, especially given the warm reception I’d received in/from the Århus salsa community so far, that it might be worth “floating” my situation when I went to Showboat the next night. I had mentioned this to some of the dancers at ÅS on Tuesday, and I think that they thought I was nuts. Well, after they got done with practice on Wednesday night one couple gave me a lift over to Showboat – an old ferry now permanently docked in the harbor and used as a nightclub.

    I quickly recognized several people when I got there and got to dancing. The woman who had first approached me about what style I danced the previous week, and who was the first to tell me about Showboat, was the first to offer assistance regarding my impending housing crisis. Apparently she lived in a small dorm room without a couch, etc., but said that if I had absolutely nothing else I could use that for a couple of days but to call her tomorrow and she’d see if she could come up with something else for me. My next offer came from a woman I was introduced to that evening. After our first dance she asked me if I would dance another song with her and told me “you make me feel like a princess.” After we finished that dance and I finished explaining the story (which had arisen in the context of explaining what I was doing in Århus and how long I was staying) she offered me to stay at her house where she had plenty of room – the only drawback being that she lived out in the country…about a 50km train ride away and then another 15-20km bus ride from the train station. Well, the offer was quite generous none the less and so most appreciated. The same person who had introduced also thought that “J” might help out since that was “just the sort of person she is.”

    Well, as things turned out that is, indeed, just the sort of person she is, as I was offered a couch for the following week – and right near the center of Århus at that! Before continuing with my own “adventure” I just want to thank the Århus salsa community for such general hospitality and point out how amazing it is and was to have three offers – two from people I hadn’t even met before – just in the course of one evening! While the technical caliber of the dancing in Århus was not as high as I have seen many other places, this experience alone would convince me that this is, indeed, a salsa community that I would be happy to return to and visit should I ever again have the opportunity.

    Returning to my narrative, I ended up dancing with “J” (after she had already offered me her couch) and she turned out to be a really good dancer as well. Several dances and partners later, I noticed that two of the three women I’d invited at the end of Saturday night’s salsa concert had come in, including the one who had been the highlight of my Saturday evening. Well, tonight proved that that one dance on Saturday night had been no fluke…as I continued to dance most of the remainder of the evening with her, all to my utmost enjoyment. The only bizarre/bothersome element transpired in the middle of one song we were dancing when she apologized to me for not really doing that much styling stuff – my reaction (and I think maybe my exact words at that) was ‘where the hell did that come from?’ I hadn’t been thinking, let alone commenting, on anything to that effect…more to the point, I had chosen to dance so much with her since I enjoyed dancing with her. Unlike many woman I have danced with who, unfortunately, get overly absorbed in their own styling, she was always dancing with me. After I had my mini-explosion at her regarding such a nonsense comment on her part I enjoyed finishing the rest of the night dancing with her.

    On the way out with her and her roommate (it turns out that all three of them who’d been sitting together on Saturday night shared a flat), the DJ commented to me that it was too bad that I wasn’t going to be staying longer. At this the second of the two women informed him that I was now going to be staying another week at which he asked me if I’d be interested in demonstrating for his advanced salsa class there (at Showboat) next week. I told him that if he would like me to I’d be happy to help out…with that I started walking home with the two flat-mates. Since my favorite dance partner was going to be out of town the next week I arranged with the other to help me demonstrate. Aside from a brief, impromptu hustle lesson on a street corner and almost being ticketed by the police for J-walking (a no-no in Denmark) we all enjoyed a pleasant conversation while walking and, when we got to there place, they told me that if I was bored next week that this is where they lived and that if they were available they’d entertain me. To facilitate such future entertainment I got their phone numbers and headed back for a nights sleep before my last full day at ÅS.

    …tune in soon, to this same Salsa Forum, for Episode III: “Århus Salsa to Copenhagen Samba?”
     
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode III: “Århus Salsa to Copenhagen Samba?”

    So…what you may ask is the connection from Århus Salsa to Copenhagen Samba? Well, come Friday morning I needed a place to stay and, as revealed in Episode II, was going to be staying on “J’s” couch. I had been told, however, that I needed to show up at “J’s” before noon…you see, in addition to being an excellent salsa dancer “J” was also the chairwoman for a Brazilian style samba school in Århus and, at 12:30pm, we needed to meet other members of the group at the bus over at the studio. We were driving to another city to pick up a sister samba group, and then on to Copenhagen to be part of a samba festival and parade (five samba schools were involved – a smaller event then the preceding weekend’s “Carnival” with 15 schools participating).

    After helping to load instruments and costumes into the mini-bus, we were on our way (another 3 hours to Copenhagen). As soon as we picked up the second samba group (an hour and a half later) they started playing their instruments and singing – definitely a greater involvement with the music then I’ve experienced from most ballroom and salsa groups. This impression, however, is somewhat misrepresentative, since the samba groups were inclusive of both dancers and musicians in a way that ballroom/salsa groups – at least in my experiences – are not.

    When we got to Copenhagen we carried the costumes into an art museum hosting the festival and then down to the basement, with drinks and sandwiches on a table for the performers, where members of all five samba schools were changing into their costumes. Well, as most of the members of the Århus group were finishing changing “J” decided that it was time to figure out which of their extra costumes to put me in. Well, I ended up in some priest-type costume in bright red, yellow, and orange (including huge yellow feather plumes!). We then headed outside and moved down the street, away from some of the samba groups who were already performing. Over the next hour each group performed about twice, with two or three of the groups performing at the same time, albeit at a distance from each other. One element that I found quite interesting was that the exchange between groups did not seem to follow any formalized rotation but, rather, was an ultimately harmonious improvised interchange between the groups as they would take “turns” to rest between “sets.”

    Although in costume, I mostly stood on the sidelines taking some pictures (yet to be developed) as the group I was with did its performances. When it came time for the parade, however, “J” came over to me and said, “See that girl, with the wings? Just stay near her.” Well, that was the extent of my instruction in Brazilian samba before participating in the parade. While a bit nerve-wracking I also came to realize that almost none of the people along the parade rout could identify “true” samba steps, so just tried to have some fun with the music and s couple of the other dancers.

    After the parade we changed and then reloaded the costumes, etc., onto the bus. We then started the long bus ride back…well, the second samba group continued to play music until they got off the bus. Personally I could have done without this encore, as it proved quite difficult to try getting some sleep with a drum being played a foot from my head. Finally, when we had dropped off the other group, there was some quiet and the lights on the bus were also turned off. I actually got a little sleep. That didn’t last long, however, as we soon arrived back in Århus and all helped carry costumes up to the fifth floor apartment of one group member and then, after a quick drive over to the studio, carried all of the instruments inside. With that completed “J” and I walked back to her place where I got my first “night’s” sleep on her couch at 3:30am…

    …tune in soon, to this same Salsa Forum, for Episode IV: “Going to Gyngen”
     
  4. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    ...just got back from the Desert Classic competition in Palm Desert this weekend...will try and get episode IV posted in the next couple of days if there's any interest out there...
     
  5. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    By all means continue SD

    I was on Showboat that night, and really enjoyed your lesson.

    Professional, precise, and with all the details from the start. 8)

    It was a Great experience to try a new teacher. The X-body variations and the leading techniques were very useful, and I still use them on the dance floor.

    Thanks

    I have only been into salsa for half a year, so I still need a lot of practice :oops:


    I you or any other plans to visit Århus, here’s the link you need.

    http://www.aarhussalsa.dk/

    It’s in Danish, but in the top left corner is the updated calendar for what is going on.

    I’m sure there’s some people ready to translate, if it is necessary.

    Right now we got summer dance on Saturdays. It is out in the open on a floor placed on the grass in front of our music house.

    Unfortunately Showboat will be moved to another harbour in some months, so the Wednesday’s night’s lessons and salsatheque have to be relocated. http://www.salsabananas.dk/ is behind the showboat and some other arrangements, and has some pages in English.
     
  6. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Danish Guy – Welcome to the forums and thanks for your kind words! FYI, it was actually the next Wedensday that I demonstrated for the advanced class at Showboat...

    Now that I know there's some interest out there I'll try and get the next installment of my saga posted within a day or two...

    Keep Dancing!

    —Jonathan
     
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode IV: “Going to Gyngen”

    Well, on the bus ride back from Copenhagen, I asked one of the musicians – who I had also seen at the salsa concert the preceding Saturday – about salsa venues for the next night. She recommended that I check out Gyngen (which I never did manage to pronounce that correctly!). Well, the lesson started 45 minutes later then I was told it would, but at least the DJ—a guy from Morocco but who had also danced salsa in France—recognized me from Showboat and we chatted in the interim. Well, the “instructor” (as I later found out) was a friend of the DJ’s and not really a teacher – I hate to say t his, but it showed, as he taught patterns above the level of many of his students and spent half his time dancing with the better women in his class as opposed to helping the people having more problems.

    While we were watching the lesson a friend of the DJ’s, who was sitting with us, said that she’d seen me dancing at Showboat and wanted to dance with me later – while she was a beautiful dancer I also quickly realized that Cuban style dancers are not very adaptable. Personally, what I find enjoyable is providing as light a lead as possible that indicates my intentions. Unfortunately Gyngen seemed to have a predominantly Cuban style clientele who, by and large, required a very physical lead and could not follow things they were not already familiar with. Now of course there were exceptions—including a couple of the better dancers in Århus—but, by and large, I found this to be the case with the vast majority of Cuban style dancers I encountered in both Århus and Copenhagen.

    Fortunately, later in the evening several non-Cuban style women showed up, most of whom I had previously danced with at other salsa venues. That was nice, as I got to enjoy myself a bit more at that point…especially given the packed floor and preponderance of Cuban style dancers. I should comment at this point, however, that—with one exception—the Cuban style issue has to do with personal preference, not any absolutes! Personally, I prefer a less overtly (& overly?) physical partnering, but I do enjoy watching it, especially the women’s body motion.

    As for the one exception…OY! One woman, early on, asked me to dance, but proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t as advanced as I was and “don’t dance my patterns as fast as you do.” Um, HELLO???? I don’t choose what speed to dance my “patterns” the music sets the tempo! Of course I can decide to lead and/or execute a double or triple spin in place of a single, but that’s a different issue… Well, the woman in question lived up to her claim; she didn’t dance the patterns at the same speed as I did—or as the music dictated! She also apparently felt compelled to grab on to the back of my neck and hang onto that (with a distinct downward pressure) on almost every rotational movement we did. Thankfully she was a singular case, as that has to be one of my least comfortable, let alone enjoyable, dance experiences…

    Two interesting—and contradictory!—items:
    (1) I bumped into one of the guys I had met earlier in the restroom and he told me that some of the other guys there had been commenting about me, about “that guy from San Diego who’s just here to show off.” Personally I found this a bit surprising, especially as I am not a fan of the flash-n-trash style of L.A., hadn’t been doing anything particularly fancy, hadn’t used a single dip or anything else which, too my mind, would constitute “showing off.” The guy who related all of this to me suggested that they were just jealous and, when I related the story to “J” back at her apartment later on she said, “yeah, well you can’t always please everyone – but at least all the women enjoy dancing with you!” I’ve got to say, she definitely had a point—I’m not going out to dance with guys or impress them.
    (2) On my way back to the dance floor one Danish guy stopped me and jumped into some non-stop comment to which, when he was finished, I had to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak any Danish.” He said OK, that he was sure I’d understood him, but that what he’d said amounted to he loved watching me dance because he could see how much I was enjoying myself. That I took to be a real compliment!

    …tune in soon, to this same Salsa Forum, for Episode V: “Return to Showboat”
     
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode V: “Return to Showboat”

    On Monday, after doing another interview over at ÅS, I had a great time hanging out with one of the two flat mates. On Tuesday I headed back over to ÅS, this time with the other flat mate who was going to be helping me demonstrate at Showboat the next night. We spent a couple of hours at ÅS, first going over several options of the patterns I had in mind for the next night and then just “playing.” We had a great time for the rest of the day including getting together with another friend of hers for dinner and a to rent a movie.

    On Wednesday I showed up to Showboat a little before 7pm, while the beginning class was still going. One guy who had been at Gyngen on Saturday night recognized me and came over to ask about my dancing—apparently he noticed that much of my dancing was done with two-handed patterns and leads, and asked if that was the style I preferred. I actually found this very interesting, as it was not something I had consciously thought about before. As I thought about it I pointed out to him that Gyngen had been very crowded that night and that most of the women there danced a different style then I did and, as such, using two hands provided me with much more control. As I was thinking about it though, I also realized that, by and large, I find two-handed patters more intricate and interesting and mentioned that accordingly.

    One item I noticed was that in the U.S. I can usually use women’s footwear as a rough proxy for dance aptitude—secure heels or dance sneakers vs. platforms, slip on style shoes, etc.—and that this measure wasn’t applicable in Århus. Yes, some few women did have dance sneakers and/or shoes, but, as one person pointed out to me, the Danes just tend to be more casual about such things. Something else I saw while watching was that “basic” arm motions were being taught separate from footwork, while the students were standing still. While I can see marking the arm motions for patterns separate from footwork—for clarity’s sake—there should be no arm motions in a basic that are being artificially generated from the shoulders. One doesn’t, for instance, try to swing one’s arms while walking without walking. Yes, there is a circular arm motion that tends to accompany even basic salsa, but this is not a manufactured swinging of the arms but, rather, a natural bodily reaction/rebound from the foot pressure pushing into the floor. Anyway, back to the story.

    Well, my “assistant” showed up a little past 7pm, during the intermediate lesson. We went over the various patterns I had decided to demonstrate and then just messed around with some other patterns and dancing until 8pm. At 8pm it was time for the advanced lesson that I had been asked to demonstrate for. I’ve got to say that it was quite intimidating as the crowd there for the advanced class was much larger then I’d expected. “J” later told me that it was one of the best nights there (in terms of people showing up) in quite a while. Anyhow, the first pattern I went over didn’t seem to go over all that well. Apparently it was too similar to elements that many there were already familiar with. I found this unfortunate, as it was the pattern with which I could best explain about lead & follow—especially in regards to generating leads and reacting to them from the center. From that I moved on two behind the back cross body leads, demonstrating four different variations. On the whole that seemed to catch people’s interest much more and I was quite flattered by the large applause at the end of the class.

    Later on I learned that, although most seemed to end up enjoying the class, apparently some people didn’t quite consider it “advance.” On the whole I can see where they were coming from as I, myself, wouldn’t consider the patterns themselves that advanced. It was actually some of the lead and follow techniques I was trying to communicate that I considered more advanced and felt were the things which the women I’d been dancing with over the past couple of weeks had been responding to and commenting on. Another issue that I had been trying to take into account was the disparity in levels—three people who didn’t even know salsa, for instance, had been pulled into the class by people without partners (although I did, of course, have them rotating partners throughout). Later that night, back at “J’s” place. Her question to the few who apparently did not consider it sufficiently advanced was “had you ever seen that, or even thought of it?” Inevitably they responded in the negative and she pointed out that part of what I had been trying to do was provide something new which I hadn’t seen there yet.

    The remainder of the evening was an absolute blast, albeit most exhausting. While I got to enjoy dancing with my “assistant” a lot throughout the evening, I was also complimented for dancing with so many different people. In addition to genuinely enjoying dancing, and a personal principle of not wanting to refuse a dance, I also wanted to demonstrate that the leading techniques I had been explaining were sound and could be used to execute “complicated” patterns with people who had never seen them before without issue. Towards the end of the evening the floor had cleared out a bit and there weren’t that many leaders still there, so I chose two women who’s styles seemed very similar to practice my double leading with. Later on, while I was dancing with one of them, I found out that they were twins—no wonder their styles seemed so similar!

    Well, the woman who had assisted me walked me back to “J’s” before biking home, and I stayed up chatting with “J” for a bit, before starting to pack and getting a few hours of sleep for my last night in Århus...

    …tune in soon, to this same Salsa Forum, for Episode VI: “Concluding with Copenhagen”

    P.S. Danish Guy, do you know the photographer who was there that night? I know that he was doing both digital and film photography and I’d love to see if I can get some shots from that evening. Also, please say hi to everyone for me. :D
     
  9. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Sure, I know him, he's a pro, so he properly got some good pictures.

    I'll talk to him next time I see him, properly Wednesday on Showboat.
     
  10. Neets

    Neets New Member

    A comment from the "Instructor"

    Dear Jonathan,

    Thank you for the story on the Salsascene in Arhus. I really enjoyed reading it and, as many of the people you quote in your stories, also enjoyed your dancing. Good to see a crossbody-dancer with a sense of humor and relaxed attitude.

    I have noted your comments on my teaching at Gyngen. Always good to get an other set of eyes on what you do. I must however point out, that the fact that i instructed in danish left you out on some important points. The "over the level" parts of the instruction was followed by comments, in danish, that some of them should continue with the basic stuff and the ones (half?) could move on.

    Another point is, that the relaxed atmosphere that I sensed that evening between the participants (and me) allowed for some of them to try more stuff and make mistakes and still have fun without feeling hung out. No harm in pushing your pupils as long as they have fun....and they did have fun! Several of the participants thanked me for the lesson afterwards commenting on the relaxed, pedagogical style. I am quite convinced they will visit a salsa-venue again, and that was my main objective.

    Also, the reason for not moving around and changing partners was, that a fair deal of the participants came in couples and it was my opinion, that they would prefer to remain that way.

    Well, i hope it dosn't sound like I am upset or anything in that direction - just wanted to clarify a few things.....and no, it may not have been one of my better lessons....

    I shall remember your comments. Thanks!

    Regards,

    The "Instructor"
     
  11. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Dear Neets,

    First off, welcome to the forums! I think its great to have your participation here and look forward to your future posts.

    I’m glad you have enjoyed the story…its actually been sort of fun to write, letting me “re-visit” some fun times while I was there. Also, thank for your kind review of my dancing…and, as you have picked up on, I truly believe that there’s no point to dancing if its not fun. As one of my earliest salsa mentors commented “if I don’t get at least one smile or laugh out of a woman during a dance, then I’ve failed.”

    Fair enough—I readily concede to speaking no Danish, so your lesson should, of course, also be taken in the context of whatever comments accompanied it. If you do not mind a constructive comment, however, perhaps be a bit more particular regarding what music is used for your instructing? To my mind the musical selections were a bit fast, making it harder for some of the students to master what they were working on. Anyway, just an observation that I hope is of some use.

    OK, and, as I’m sure you would suspect, I can certainly appreciate this approach to dancing and dance instruction. Indeed I have noticed a drastic difference between some instructors here in San Diego, some of whom provide excellent technical knowledge but would be/are of little appeal to most new dancers vs. others who really make it fun and exciting even if glossing over much technical instruction. As such, I gladly recognize that, with only one visit to Gyngen, I do not know what the usual situation is there, etc., and that without speaking Danish, it was hard to get a deeper impression of more then the visible components. So, while my comments represent my views regarding the technical aspects of what I saw stand, I applaud the conceptualization of dance as more then technique alone.

    Hmmm. Well, it was your lesson so, if this is how you feel about it, fair enough. Personally I feel that changing partners is a critical component of learning to lead and follow and, ultimately, is of great benefit even to those who primarily dance with one partner. Now obviously there are some people who, no matter what, will not switch partners, but it is still something I highly advocate, especially to newer dancers.

    No, not in the least! I welcome your feedback and clarifications, and want to thank you for taking the time to fill in additional information and details.

    And I yours!

    Best wishes always, and keep dancing!

    —Jonathan
     
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Episode VI: “Concluding with Copenhagen”

    So, the next morning I woke up to finish packing. In a very sweet touch “J” ran home, briefly, to make sure she’d get to say goodbye. After she headed back to work I went out to get a quick bite and then got a taxi to the train station where I hopped a train from Århus to Copenhagen. Hmmm, I guess I should back up for a moment here…the same woman who had recommended Gyngen to me, on the bus trip back to Århus after the samba parade, had also given me the name and contact information for a salsa instructor in Copenhagen who I had been in touch with, via e-mail, several times over the preceding week. Continuing with the trend of extraordinary hospitality that I’d already experienced in Århus, “E” had offered me his couch for my two nights in Copenhagen.

    Well, several hours of train ride later I arrived in Copenhagen and “E” met me at the train station, and a quick bus ride got me to his place. The only minor dilemma was that he lives on the top floor, in a building with no elevator. Now I’m not particularly lazy, but, unfortunately, I had a lot of luggage on this past trip—having needed the full range of attire (about 33kg, ranging from black tie for Blackpool to beach casual for the days in Cervia to day to day and salsa club clothing for everything in between) as well as my camera and tape equipment (about 25kg). With “E’s” help I did manage to get my bags all the way up to his apartment, where he helped me out with some maps and e-mail access before he headed back to work.

    I got in a quick nap before getting ready to head out to the club he’d recommended (I’m blanking on the name at the moment). Well, the first person I saw when I got inside was the guy who’d been back visiting in Århus from Episode I. Well, that proved a most fortunate occurrence, enabling me to bypass my way to some of the better dancers there. One of the interesting things I noticed was that, more like San Diego, and unlike Århus, Copenhagen seemed to have a lot of beginner but few intermediate (and several advanced) dancers. Such designations are, of course, purely subjective, but it seemed to be a markedly different scene from Århus with equal strata of intermediates to beginners.

    Another really interesting item that I noticed that night had to do with following ability vs. style preferences. The guy I knew recommended the DJ to me as one of the best women there, so I made sure to track her down for a dance at one of the points later that night when she was out of the DJ booth. Now objectively speaking she may very well have been the single best follower I have ever danced with—going exactly where I wanted, with only the lightest of indications from me. At the same time, however, her style was not a sensual, flirtatious one but rather a very playful, almost androgynous one. So, while technically perhaps the best follower I have ever danced with this also brought home to me the idea that complimentary styles/approaches/attitudes are also parts of what make the best (i.e. most enjoyable) dance experiences.

    The next day I enjoyed walking around the pedestrian zone in Copenhagen (the longest in the world if I’m not mistaken) and picked up my airline tickets to Italy. I then walked back along the lakes. Later that afternoon “E” and I walked over to the event hall where he works and where his partner was meeting us. As instructors they were always interested in seeing new material so we spent a couple of hours together going over some different types of patterns. Unfortunately there was no salsa club open that night for us to all go out to. This was a shame as his partner was a real pleasure to dance with and had already paid me a huge compliment regarding my “beautiful style of leading.” Well, we were all enjoying each other’s company and, without any club to go to, “E” invited us both out to eat. We ended up at a great little Thai place which, compounding his already considerable hospitality, “E” treated for. We finished eating a bit past 11:00pm and then walked home where I packed up most of my things before getting a few hours of sleep, before waking up to finish packing and catching a taxi at 4:15am to take me to the airport. I should just mention that, with the same consideration he had shown throughout, “E” actually got up to help me down the stairs with my luggage and see me on my way.

    In closing, I have to say that the hospitality I encountered in the Danish salsa communities—both in Århus and Copenhagen—was unprecedented in all of my previous travels and experiences. It is with these fondest of memories that I will always remember my Salsa Adventures in Denmark.

    —Jonathan
     
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Danish Guy and Neets...if you get the chance, please say hi to Charlotte, Janne, Louise, and Lise & Loiusa for me :D
     
  14. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Commentary Critique: Some Points of Clarification

    I had tried, by and large, to leave out as much identifying information as I could since my intent was to report my experiences and not to talk about other people. As most will have been able to gather, however, the Århus salsa community is relatively small and, as such, I want to provide a couple of points of clarification.

    First of all, everything I wrote needs to be understood as my personal opinion and not given any greater credit then it deserves. As far as any "negative" commentary, it was certainly not intended as personal attacks but, rather, was intended to prove informational. Some of the other threads on the board, for instance, specifically ask for people's opinions about what makes good teaching, what make good following, etc., and I was trying to provide contextual insight into those very issues. Please note, for instance, that one of the instructors I “critiqued” has responded to my posts most productively.

    As another point of clarification, I have absolutely no problem, whatsoever, with women’s styling. I only take issue with styling when it comes to take precedence over following (and this is no more true in Århus then in San Diego or anywhere else I’ve danced). The specific wording I used in Episode I was in regard to those (in this case one person whom I danced with only once) who get "overly absorbed"—not those who do it! As a point of reference, those who were at Showboat the night I demonstrated can attest that I specifically showed how some “styling” is actually functional and should be used…and specifically commented that, above and beyond this functional level, the degree of embellishment was a matter of personal preference and expression.

    Please do not hesitate to ask for any additional clarifications as needed.

    —Jonathan
     
  15. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Hey Jonathan.

    I talked to the photographer, and I promised him to tell you there will be some low resolution photos in your email soon. He’s a little busy right now so properly wont be able to mail them before next Wednesday. He got your card, so he will also post you some photos on paper.

    It was really interesting to follow your views on the Danish salsa scene. 8)

    The Showboat classes with skilled / advanced classes is a new ting. The level right now is a little up and down. The chance of trying a new teacher in Århus pulled some good dancers, I normally don’t see to the lessons. Everybody I talked to was happy with the level, the style and the fresh stuff you pulled of.

    You are properly right in many of the figures from the environment is recognisable. You made a nice and observant description of your experiences. I can’t see any problem in that.

    Surely I appreciate a compliment, so I know things are going in the right direction. But I also appreciate a hint to what can be better, what I do wrong or don’t do clear enough. If I don’t get any negative feedback, in a positive way, how can I improve my dancing? I do this myself, if I’m dancing / practicing with a beginner, and can see what’s the problem in a basic step or combination. Often rewarded with a happy smile, when she feels an improvement afterwards.

    I dance for the fun & joy, and I will continue as long as I think it’s fun.
    But I guess I’m hooked and bagged on salsa.

    Bottom line is you made a good impression on a lot of people here, and won’t have any problems finding a couch here if you manage to visit our town again.
    :D :D :D
     
  16. Neets

    Neets New Member

    Dear Johnathan,

    thank you very much for the comments. We all have different styles of dancing, personal contact, humor and teaching. However, your comments in your reply to my posting makes good sense for most instructors I think. Never hurts to keep them im mind - regardless of style and level. Thanks.

    And yes, the salsa-environment in Arhus is small.....but we are working on it!

    Regards,

    Neets
     
  17. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Great! Thanks so much!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel and have all the experiences I've had over the past couple of years, so had wanted to share what I could with the other people here on the forums.

    Wow! Great to hear...and most flattering!

    I'm glad you see it this way and, indeed, such constructive commentary—in general, regarding various "issues" of interest to all, not just Århusians—was my objective.

    All I can say is that, clearly, "you get it." Some of the biggest compliments I have ever received in various clubs come from those who come up and comment on enjoying watching me and, when I point out some of the better dancers there, they respond by saying something along the lines of 'yeah, but you really enjoy it!'

    Glad to hear it, because believe me—based on the great time and reception I had--if I get the chance again, I'm coming back.

    —Jonathan
     
  18. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    My pleasure. And certainly my comments were in no way intended to curtail individual and/or situational variety...just some general conceptualizations I've gleaned in watching dancers, dancing, and dance teaching over the past few years.

    Hey, no reason to apologize for it—given the atmosphere I experienced there I'd choose it over most other places, regardless of size, any day of the week! The only reason I brought up the size issue was in recognition of the "everyone knows everyone" dynamic endemic to smaller social networks. As such, even though I had been trying to leave out names—since I was writing about me and my experiences—most people there could still probably guess many of the “characters.” Mind you, some mistakes have already been made on that account, so I had wanted to clarify the intent behind my comments in that regard.

    Keep dancing!

    —Jonathan
     
  19. Another Dane

    Another Dane New Member

    Hej Jonathan!

    It was fun reading the saga about your visit to Denmark, and I was lucky enough to se you in action, while you were here. (I was the one who commented on your "two-hand dancing")
    Have you seen the pictures from Aarhus yet? Here is one where you twirl a beautiful girl around!

    [​IMG]

    Thank you for visiting Aarhus! You showed me a new way to dance...
    Come back soon! :wink: :lol:
     
  20. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Another Dane...welcome to the forums! It was my pleasure to visit Århus -- I had a great time!

    Thanks, by the way, for asking me that question. As I wrote, it was just something I hadn't really thought about but, rather, done more on "auto-pilot." Thanks to your querry I now have a more formalized conceptualization of that dynamic of my dancing.

    No, I hadn't seen any photos yet, so thanks for the link!

    For those of you not from Århus, that shot was taken at Showboat: Louise and I just dancing around, for fun, before we demonstrtaed.

    Keep dancing... :D

    --Jonathan
     

Share This Page