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Zouk Hour 2024 Festival Review

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Surprise! I finally travelled to Brazil and attended a Brazilian zouk festival there! I spent the whole month of March in Brazil and in the beginning of the month attended Zouk Hour festival which takes place every year in Florianópolis in South of Brazil. The artist lineup consisted of great instructors that we already know from their international tours, as well as local teachers. I have known about this festival for a long time so it was very special to finally visit! 

There’s a caveat though. At this event, everything was in Portuguese – classes, announcements, speeches, JnJ etc. I speak basic Portuguese but there was definitely a language barrier for me and I don’t think I got the full festival experience. However I think it might still be interesting to share my experience as a European zouk dancer in Brazil for the first time.


The Zouk Hour festival was organised by Xandinho and Mirella, who are young and talented zouk artists themselves. I think they did a great job organising this event because everything ran smoothly most of the time. I think there was a minor organisational hiccup regarding pre-ordered food, but it didn’t affect me.

One thing I loved was merch for attendees. Everyone got a Zouk Hour tote bag, a pin and a sticker, and you could have also bought a T-shirt. I normally don’t buy festival merch, but the Zouk Hour T-shirts had really nice designs and I would have wanted to get some. Unfortunately I had a really hard time buying the shirt, since every time I went to the salespeople, they told me the general sales will start “later” and people who pre-ordered are a priority, but I never ended up getting it.


The festival took place in Centro de Evento Mediterraneo, a really nice venue with great floors and huge windows to views of lush greenery outside. Behind it was Ecohotel Oceanomare, which was the official hotel for the festival. 

The venue was a 40-50 minute drive from city centre to a more rural area. Pretty annoying for commuting unless you were at the official hotel, but great for experiencing beautiful nature – there were green hills surrounding the venue and hotel, a pond, green plants everywhere, a pool, a waterfall and more. I saw little monkeys, colorful butterflies, a cute small owl, birds and local cows. Paradise!

In the building there were upstairs hall and downstairs hall, aka two rooms for workshops and parties. On the second floor there was also a cool-down room which came in handy since the weather in general was hot, as well as the temperature inside. I also loved the outdoor seating area under the trees right beside the building which acted as a socialising and cool-down area throughout the festival.


There were about 400 attendees at this festival, mostly locals but also many from other Brazilian cities like São Paulo and more. A few foreigners as well – I did not meet them all but from what I heard a there were a few people from US, Germany, Poland, Israel and Ukraine. 

Level of dancers was from one extreme to the other – people who couldn’t even dance to the beat to actual dance teachers and JnJ advanced tier competitors. Follower-leader balance was OK, but I think there might have been more followers.

At the parties everyone seemed to be dancing with their friends only but since I barely knew anyone at the festival it made it very hard to get dances. (I dance as a follower and I am generally expecting to be asked.) It wasn’t until I took the advice of my local friend and started inviting people myself that I started getting better dances. In general, leaders seemed to be accustomed to followers inviting them.


Workshops were given by internationally known zouk instructors like Walter & Larissa, Val & Vanessa, or Bruno & Raiza and local stars like Xandinho & Mirella, Carol & Vini (whom I liked a lot!), Luan & Adriana and more. I feel like the organisers made a great choice on whom to invite – they were all exceptional teachers.

All the workshops lasted for 1.5h, which I have never seen at any other festival. This gave instructors time to go deeply into a topic and give multiple variations to the moves they were teaching. Another thing that was different was that instead of dividing classes to levels like intermediate or advanced, they had “technical” classes downstairs and “creativity/musicality” classes upstairs. A very interesting take!

All workshops were in Portuguese, as expected. Some teachers who teach internationally like Walter and Larissa were kind enough to teach both in English and Portuguese. Raiza kindly came over to me to explain some concepts in English as well. But they were an exception. I know basic Portuguese and understood technical classes better, but when it came to more “philosophical” topics, I couldn’t really take part and had to step aside (e.g. in one class, the instructor shouted keywords to embody as we danced). Some participants were kind enough to translate for me during the class as well, but I would never want to or expect to put this additional task on anyone.

My recommendation for someone that doesn’t speak Portuguese at all would be to just buy a party pass and enjoy the great dances at parties. Maybe take a private class from teachers who speak English and then practice at parties.


I would say I did not get very lucky with parties at this festival. Due to strong rain and flooding on Friday evening, we skipped the first party, since our accommodation was not nearby.

Saturday we made it to the party, however the rooms were insanely hot and humid – it was impossible to dance there. Everyone was dripping from sweat and I did not want to touch anybody. The windows were all closed but there were not enough air conditioners for the amount of people dancing. Temperature and humidity wise the inside and outside air were pretty similar so not sure how much opening windows would have helped anyway. Eventually they opened the windows, but we had already had enough and went home.

On Sunday night party I finally got to dance. Windows were open right from the start, the air was cooler outside and there were much less dancers. Funnily enough, it felt like an after-party since about 50% people had already left. This is not the case at European zouk festivals, where Sunday parties are still fully packed. At Zouk Hour there was no Monday after-party and the unofficial one was actually the following Friday.

On Sunday there was also a day-party by the pool next to the main hotel, where they played zouk music and for a short time even forró and samba. That was super fun and something that made this festival extra special. 

I really enjoyed the music at parties, there was a lot of pop remixes and RnB – my favorite type of music for dancing zouk. Parties had fun dress-codes like “Red-White-Black” for Friday, “Mystical Creatures” for Saturday and “Ocean” for Sunday. On Saturday people genuinely showed up in fairy costumes as if it was carnival, which was so fun to witness!


I did not stay at the official hotel and commuted back and forth from Jurerê with my friends, which was 25 minutes away. This made it difficult to attend or watch JnJ competitions, which took place on Saturday and Sunday right after workshops and right before the party. I am sad that I missed those – I learned later that they also had teacher’s JnJ and shows during that time which would have been really fun to watch.


It felt very special to dance Brazilian zouk in Brazil and I am glad I attended this festival. Like I said, I think the best way to learn as a foreigner is to attend parties and take private classes from teachers who speak English. Generally I felt like the festival was very wholesome and also high quality, therefore I am going to give this festival a score of 8/10. But being in Florianópolis and experiencing the nature, great weather, the food and meeting local people also adds value in a different way.

Would I go again? Brazil is very-very far from where I live and travelling there is not easy, but I would say the festival is definitely worth visiting!

Follow me on Instagram @jettence to see when I upload photos and videos of this festival!

I am thinking of making a separate post of what social dancing in Brazil is like, since not only did I visit this festival, but also other events, so if you’d be interested in knowing what are the differences between European and Brazilian zouk dancers, whether the leaders lead different moves than in Europe etc, let me know!

Disclaimer: I paid for the full pass and all opinions are my own. Whatever I experienced this year does not automatically mean that next year the festival will be similar or that you will have a similar experience. 

I regularly write reviews of dance festivals that I attend. If you’d like me to cover your event, contact me at

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