Many a time I’d heard that the Berlin Salsa Congress (BSC) was “too arrogant” in its approach to dance. Too many high-level dancers, with too many high-level expectations. Yes, and no. The level is high; there is no doubt about that (and for all of those who have asked me, the answer is yes – most people do dance on2!). The atmosphere is, however, anything but pretentious.
Would it be, perhaps, that the addition of Kizomba to the mix has brought people one step closer together – both physically and socially, and some suggested even spiritually? Or perhaps it is just like one of my friends said; “it is up to you what you make of a congress”. No matter what the reason was, “arrogance” was not in the equation in my experience of this year’s BSC. Fun, thrill, merry, happy were however all in.
After 15 years in the making, BSC still holds tight to its reputation as being one of the most elegant, prestigious and impressive congresses in the salsa scene today. It is fearless in pushing the boundaries of what a salsa congress means in this day and age, courageously digging new ways to innovate and entertain. So, what makes BSC so special?
- A little melting pot – BSC has become a Mecca for Afro-Latin dance – whether it’s salsa, bachata or kizomba you’re after, the festival satisfies all tastes. A must-attend event on the agenda of many international dancers, the social dance floor brings dancers from all corners of the world in one place, and you are bound to bump into someone you know; in 2015, BSC brought more than 2000 dancers from over 70 different countries!
- International artist line-up – SuperMario, Leon Rose, Neeraj, Morenasso & Anais, Hacha y Machete, Nina & Zerjon, Juan Matos & Amneris, China Impression, Dominican Power and Terry & Cecile are just a very few international names on the list, offering a variety of workshops including ‘Salsa&Hip Hop’, ‘Kizomba musicality’, ‘Reggaeton & Fun’, ‘Salsa on2, ‘Salsa on1’, ‘Dominican Bachata’, ‘Bachata Sensual’ and many, many more – BSC is your oyster!
- Debates and Seminars – Next to dance workshops, BSC offers a series of dance seminars, such as Ananya Jahanara Kabir’s lecture on the History of Kizomba and Semba and Olu Olu’s coffee lounges. These are real delights for anyone looking to discuss some hot topics in the Afro-Latin dance scene, as well as understand the roots and evolutionary patterns of what they are dancing today. Did you know that kizomba evolved from the slave trade, for example?
- Entertainment – “BSC on air. We entertain you”. Social dancing is preceded by an eclectic entertainment menu, like Moe Flex’s News at 10 and Iepurash’s talk show. In addition to that are, of course, live dance performances, which are alone worth the trip. With the acme of performing talent like Tropical Gem, Mambotime, Invicta and Afro Latin Connection, your heart will stop as you watch those performers do what they do best.
- Choreography Bootcamp – For those advanced dancers looking for a new challenge, BSC offers the chance to participate in a choreography boot camp to learn, practice and perform a routine with some of the industry’s most prominent artists.
- Men/women ratio – Congresses can be slightly, or heavily unbalanced in their women/men ratios. BSC however offers a pleasant equilibrium, which means no long, unpleasant waiting queues for anyone!
- Music – That part is, of course, crucial to any Afro-Latin dance event. First music, then dance. Live music, with bands like Mercadonegro, and a mixed Dj schedule including Gass, Duke, Mambito and Nikos, made sure great music was playing throughout the event.
- They say Berlin never sleeps and that is it ready to party 24/7… well, that is all true! You’ll find clubs open day and night, over the weekend and weekdays. This applies to BSC too. It’s Salsa, but Berlin’s way. Don’t expect to sleep before the early hours of the morning as the parties last until then, and later…
- The venue – BSC takes place mainly at the Tempodrom, a massive event venue founded by Irene Moessinger in 1980. The venue encloses a very large arena (the salsa room) with surrounding, smaller rooms for bachata and kizomba so really, there’s enough space for everyone to dance! I dare say that the Tempodrom, big enough to accommodate more than 2000 of us, was even too large! Many of us enjoy ‘hunting down’ our favourite dancers for yet another dance; locating them in such a big venue proved rather difficult!
- The neighbourhood – The Tempodrom is located in Kreuzberg; one of Berlin’s trendiest and culturally vibrant quarters dotted with numerous hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars and nightclubs. Kreuzberg is in fact home to the “Carnival of Cultures”; a festival that celebrates cultural diversity every year in May. Although that falls outside BSC’s weekend, it goes to show how much Kreuzberg lives on cultural diversity!
- Berlin! Take advantage of your time in Berlin to visit Berlin! Filled with history, culture, events, museums, street art and of course the Berlin Wall, make sure you have enough time to see it all!