One thing I love about dancing zouk is that when you start learning the dance you are instantly welcomed into the international Brazilian zouk community and here are a lot of ways in how you can engage with the community based on your preferences. Let me share all the fun things you can do in addition to just taking dance classes!
Social Dance Parties
This is usually the main reason you want to take classes – to be able to dance at parties with other zouk dancers. Hopefully your local scene has a weekly social dance party (aka “social”) and some occasional bigger events. Parties are a chance to enjoy music, dance nonstop for hours, catch up with your dance friends and dance with people from other groups or dance schools.
Practice parties are similar to socials, but these are even more beginner-friendly and meant for you to practice and test new moves you have learned. There’s music playing, but you can ask the instructors for help, it’s OK to stop and try again and ask for feedback from your partner.
Choreographies and Performing
If you like to learn choreographies and perform, you can attend zouk choreography classes and perform at local or international events. The difference to regular classes is that you usually have a fixed partner with whom you practice and perform, and instead of improvising with step sequences you will drill the same choreography to perfection.
Your local teachers may be the ones who create the choreography, but there’s also International Zouk Day organisation, which offers new choreos every year. For that, you get your group together, film the choreography and send in the video for compilation. In addition there’s Zouk Babes team by Christina Montoya for followers – you can learn her choreographies online and perform internationally (or become a team director in your own city).
Travelling to Festivals
Perhaps the most exciting part of social dancing is to travel abroad to big festivals. For zouk there are countless number of festivals and weekend events all over the world and you can choose to travel as close or as far from your home country as you like. To give you examples, there are zouk festivals in Tulum – Mexico, Hawaii, Bali, New York, St Petersburg – Russia, New Zealand, Croatian seaside, Swiss mountains and Brazil of course. There is something really nice about combining travel with your hobby!
Festivals consist of workshops, parties and sometimes competitions and they normally last from Friday to Sunday, with pre-party on Thursday and perhaps an after-party on Monday. It’s a great way to dance with people of various levels all around the world.
If you are a competitive person or need motivation for training, you can take part of zouk competitions. Brazilian zouk has adopted the same structure of competitions that West Coast Swing dancers have – the “Jack and Jill” competitions, where you are paired up with a random partner and you dance to random songs. They judge your ability to improvise and social dance, but of course you need to have good technique and musicality as well. The official upcoming competitions, rules and scores can be found at Brazilian Zouk Dance Council website.
Dancing is a physical activity of course, but since we’re dancing in a community with other people, there’s a lot to discuss about ethics, etiquette, unwritten rules and more. To learn about the invisible side of social dancing, you can read blogs like mine, The Dancing Grapevine, ZoukSide Down and others, join the ZoukNerds Facebook group or listen to podcasts like Dance No Cap, “Let’s Talk Zouk” etc. I’d also recommend listening to non-zouk social dance podcasts, since the topics and issues are often common between social dance styles.
Of course if you are extremely invested and have been in the scene for many years, you may want to become a zouk teacher, DJ, event organiser, videographer, etc – but that’s already next level stuff.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this article! Now you can send it to your friends to explain why zouk is so much fun! 🙂