Hungary + Crystal Salsa Festival 2011

Today will be a bit about salsa and something about foreign cultures and people, all of that because of another European Salsa trip. We have been so lucky, that we could spend the first few days of September in Hungary and Poland.

I will start from the beginning. 2nd September – flight from Manchester to Hungary. If you’ve watched some of our previous videos you will have noticed a weird person appearing in the end of most of them. That’s Andreas - our half Greek, half Hungarian friend. He was the reason we decided to go to Hungary. We wanted to visit him and do some research about the salsa world in Hungary. We know how it looks in Poland, so we expected a similar level and attitude to salsa in this part of Europe.

It was a great pleasure to change rainy and cold Manchester for HOOOT! Budapest for a few days. The weather was amazing. Thanks to that we could go to some open-air parties. The first one was at Puerto club. Good music, good dancers. The day after we experienced a completely different dance. We tried Greek dance. Andreas has been doing it since he was a kid, so he showed us a few basic steps. It was an amazing event. It doesn’t matter if you can dance, or not. Everybody dances together to live music. We really enjoyed this night. In the end went to the biggest hill in the city where from we could see how Buda and Pest looks during a night. If you ever have a chance to see that it is more than recommended.

Coming back to salsa. Tuesday night we went to the same club, where we went to the Greek Party. Name of the club is Rio. We expected it will be at least as good as Perto, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good. Dancing level in Hungary is high, but music that night was terrible. It felt like Copa Cabana in Manchester – simply crap. It was a mix of old Puerto Rican and Colombian salsa mostly, few Berna Jam tracks and literally just a few good timba songs. What is cool… entrance to most of the parties in Budapest is free, people are younger than in England. Atmosphere is the same as in the other European cities.

Next day we spent inside a train. 11 hours journey from Budapest to Krakow through Slovakia and Czech Republic. We had to change in Katowice. We obviously used this opportunity to dance at the Train Station. It was very loud and we couldn’t hear the music, but another weird location added to our collection.

Last three days were the main reason of this trip – Crystal Salsa Festival (named this year Key Salsa Festival). It was the 5th edition of the event. In the past it was known as a line festival, but because of the huge number of people in South Poland dancing Cuban salsa, the organizers decided to expand the programme and do Cuban workshops with great artists and an open Cuban room during the party nights. The biggest star of the festival was Frankie Martinez – NY salsa dancer. Obviously not for us. There were few Cuban teachers announced – Yeni Molinet, Alex Carbo and Yunaisy Farray, Yoanis Tamayo, Ariel Rios and OlidaisyRizo Perez. Unfortunately because of some visa issues Yoanis couldn’t leave Cuba and join as at congress. He is great dancer and teacher, but was replaced very well by Alex.

Whole festival began with Thursdays preparty at Forty Club in Kraków. We danced there till the end of the night. Very good Cuban music was provided by Latin Project DJs – TJ Salsaero and Agent Tomasz. That night was only a starter to the main course – parties and workshops in Wieliczka. Wieliczka is small town just outside of Kraków. It is famous because of theSalt Mine, in which all parties took place. Yep… 125 meters under ground – two massive rooms, one with mambo and LA, second with Cuban music only… new timba, son with a bit of afrocuban and bachata. There wasn’t a lot of Cuban dancers, but thanks to that there was a lot of space to dance at the parties and during workshops. I can guess there were about 150 people, who joined festival because of Cuban salsa. Group of line dancers was at least 4-5 times bigger.

Friday night was the first festival night with Frankie Martinez and Abakua dance company show. It was kind of dance act. It took about 30 minutes, but to be completely honest I didn’t enjoy it. That night there wasn’t more shows. What’s more video recording was not permitted. What I didn’t like in this act? At first it was very, very long… and it didn’t tell any story. Dancers tried to present their amazing skills, which I believe are outstanding, but I really don’t like line dancing. It looks like there are only girls at the dancefloor. All males dance with weird manner – they move in a very feminine way. Probably there are a lot of people, who will not agree with me, but I am just giving my personal opinion.

We finished first night between 4 and 5 o’clock. After a few hours of sleep we attended the workshops. I started with son-cha class with Alex Carbo. He is amazing dancer. His style is pure, very masculine. The same day we had also Son, Rumba, Reggeaton and Cuban partnerwork classes. All of them except one were on very good level. It was the day we learnt loads. Tne one I didn’t like was Rumba with Ariel. He is very good dancer, but his teaching methods are terrible. Workshops were followed by another party. This time all artists presented their shows. Whole gala was based on news convention. Every single show was another news feature. Few of them were amazing. Especially contemporary dance by Clau& Luke and show by Swinguys. The second one was funny, entertaining, with some background, some story. For me performance like that is always the most valuable. That night Cuban dancers could present themselves as well. Alex and Yunaisy danced Afro Cuban, Yeni – Yemaya. These shows were good, but I wouldn’t remember them for long.

Next day Salsa Manchester crew started with another set of workshops. That day I went for Yemaya, Ochun and Oya by Yeni. I wanted to learn as much as possible about women’s orichas. I enjoyed this class a lot. Other classes were very good – salsa con afro free style, casino con rumba partnerwork. Only reggeaton with Olidaisy wasn’t the best. She presented a lot of ass shaking and that was it J

Sunday party – shows again and this time Swinguys performed something unusual. Another very good act was Zouk dance. It looks like we were bored with all line performances, which looked exactly the same… a lot of spinning, guys doing ladies styling and so on. I would forget about Olidaisy doing her ass shaking in show form. Yep… we could watch that as well. That was the best party from all four. We went a bit crazy, did a lot of crazy dancing. When we came back home we didn’t have a lot of time for sleep. Just few hours to plane and that’s how we finished our 6th festival this year.

In the end I can say it was a very good festival. Dancing level in Poland is high – it was definitely worth to go. Very good workshops, long parties and good weather (especially in Hungary). If next year the organizers will invite the same artists we will go for sure to see them again. I should say here that the price of this festival was quite high (about £100). Comparing to our next one it is almost double the price. And what is next? Belgrade, Serbia with Havana en Belgrado festival – 11– 13th of November. Almost all the same artists and a great band ManolitoSimonet y su Trabuco. Meanwhile I will try to write a bit about London Salsa Congress, Festival Cubano and Sierra Maestra Concert, we attended this year. Stay tuned.