Why do I organize the festival (next time it'll be the eighth edition)? That's a question that'll certainly ask myself again on the Sunday after the festival ;-).

There are two or three answers to this question and they are also connected to the questions 'Who do I organize this festival for?'and 'How did it start in the first place?'

A short history

It started in 2007 when a student at that time, Pawel Malinowski, suggested that he could invite some of his Polish friends and salsa instructors to come over and that we could organize a day with a mix of workshops (some by the Polish instructors, some by us). After viewing some video's and some talks and thoughts, it felt like a good idea and Leuven Salsa Day was born ;-). The first Leuven Salsa Day (March 2007) was a huge success, the dance halls of sporthal De Nayer (sports centre) were full of people, the party was held at Kasteel de Bunswyck (if I remember well ;-)). There were not many other initiatives like that in Belgium, so people came from everywhere ... Our Polish guests (Andreas Bromirski and Marta Rolnik) proved to be fantastic instructors and performers and great people. I'm sure there are still many people who remember that. Here's a video of a show they did together: click. I don't find any video's or pics of this first event itself.

They came back in November 2007 for the second edition of Leuven Salsa Day (in the meantime we called it 'LSD' :-)) and were joined on the program by amongst others Paul Baarn (already!), Sami & Séverine and Callan & Chantal (tango). Fantastic line up, great workshops (in sporthal De Nayer again), great party and shows (again in Kasteel de Bunswyck) and great atmosphere in general (it's great to see all these people trying and trying and having fun ...). See Paul's impro at the Kasteel (click) and and impro of Sami & Séverine (click). You'll find many more video's of LSD2 on Pawel's channel on YouTube.

After this edition Pawel and I decided to stop organizing this together and because of that the name was changed into 'Leuven Salsa Festival'. I went on organizing two editions a year, mostly in March and November. The idea behind it all remained the same: inviting strong guest instructors for workshops and one or two parties on the same weekend. In all these editions we had as guests amongst others: Sami & Séverine (B), Paul Baarn (NL), Mouaze (FR), Ilham & Fabien (MAR), Talal (B), Alex & Flo (B/BUL), Mambomike (NL), Gaëtan Collaert (B), Wim El Guapo, Ivan Hidalgo (B/CUB), Maria Szumielewicz (POL), Arawi (B), Grégory & Nanda (B), Jimmy & Vie (B), Gianni Salcuni (B) ...

From LSF5 on we started organizing the party in Sportoase, from LSF7 on workshops also took place in Sportoase. LSF8 will be organized for the last time at Sportoase so we'll have to write another page on the festival's history book and find a new location for the future festivals ;-).

Why do I organize the festival?

In the meantime many festivals or congresses (or whatever they are being called) have popped up in Belgium and in the neighbouring countries. Many have started later than 'our' festival and have already stopped. We keep on going strong :-).

I organize the festival in the first place from a 'teacher's point of view': I believe it is good if you're learning something to be confrontated regularly with other teachers and other teaching methods or styles. It's good for the motivation also and the fact of bringing lots of people to Leuven twice a year for the workshops and for the parties keeps the motivation and the spirit going. You meet other students, other teachers, meet new people, try out new things. That's for me what it is all about. I learn a lot myself from these 'new encounters'. Once I had some rest (:-)) I feel a lot of new inspiration, new ideas and I hope and think that it works the same for many others. 

Of course the idea is also to simply offer a nice event twice a year that is open for all (from advanced to beginning dancers) and that gives people a nice salsa weekend or day.

So the idea is clearly not to enter into the competition with other national or international congresses. It's great that there are these other festivals and congresses but I believe the Leuven Salsa Festival has its value as well. I don't dream of bringing 'big names' to the festival, I don't plan 15 shows on the parties ;-). I simply try to invite colleagues who will propose workshops that will be interesting for the dancers so it doesn't matter if these colleagues are famous or not (yet), I just try to put a program together that makes sense. Again, all respect for the other congresses (Salsa Sunrise, Salsa Mania, Bachatando, Mambo Retro, the congresses in Holland, France or Germany) and I'll be the first to support them as well. I just think we all have our place in the 'salsa landscape' in our area.
For the upcoming festival I even proposed a general topic for the workshops ('Musicality, expressivity and styling') which underlines again the fact that there is a wicked didactical plan behind it all :-).

Thanks to all of the volonteers who helped organizing the festival in the past, without you people it would just not be organized at all ...

If you want to see some recent video's, you'll find lots on www.dailymotion.com and on www.youtube.com. There are for instance the video compilations of LSF5, LSF6, LSF7.


See you at the festival, 19th and 20th of November. All info on www.leuvensalsafestival.com.

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