Thank you 2017 latin-dance festivals!

2017 was an incredibly busy year for us.  We filmed over 15 Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, and Brazilian Zouk dance festivals and congresses.  We were exposed to many different promoters, locations, cities, countries, personalities, dancers, and artists.  We learned a lot about how different festivals are organized and ran.

Like with anything in life, one needs to have balance.  Filmed festivals every weekend will inevitabley burn someone out.  We tried our best to keep a good balance of local gigs, travel, and dance gigs.  Unfortunately, there were months where we filmed several dance festivals consecutively.  

With all the experience we got in 2017, 2018 looks brighter than ever.  We have new clients on the horizon and are super excited to continue working with with our favorite festivals.  It's not easy traveling with expensive equipment and filming/editing a 3-5 day festival non-stop.  There are times where we need to take a step back and take a break.  

Bachatea - Madrid
Amsterdam ZNL Zouk Festival - Amsterdam
Bachata French Kiss - Troyes
WestZoukTIME - Bruno
L.A Zouk Festival - Long Beach
Official - Prague Zouk Congress - Prague
Montreal Salsa Convention - Montreal
Zouk Me Summer Fest - San Francisco
Los Angeles BKS Festival - Orange County
Kizomba Luxembourg - Luxembourg
MiamiBeach KizombaFestival - Miami
Zoukadise - Puerto Vallarta
Montreal Is Kizomba - Montreal
Dutch International Zouk Congress - Breda
Hawaii Zouk Festival - Honolulu
Kizomba Harmony African Dance Experience - Cancun

Check out our work:
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We don't try and work with every festival.  Rather, we focus on relationships with good promoters that are fair, honest, and try to do what's best for their respective dance community and push it in the right direction.  A big thanks to all of those promoters that we've worked with, and that we continue to work with in the future - you know who you are!!


Shooting the Kill Jill Music Video with Archie and Sizzle

We filmed Kill Jill earlier this year in San Francisco with Archie and Sizzle.  The track was produced by DJ Kakah and we had William/Paloma and Ry'el/Jessica as dancers.   This was not an easy shoot to coordinate since we had many people involved and logistically, it was difficult.

Our first location was Dolores Park.  This is a relatively new park with an amazing view of the city.  We had many takes at this location and it turns out that the footage from this location came out the best.

The second location was the Palace of Fine Arts.  This location is a popular tourist location and was unfortunately a very windy location.  Due to the wind, we didn't use any dancing clips in the music video but utilized some solo clips.

The third location was a lookout point nearby which had great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Again, the wind was a factor - however, most of the dancing clips were useful and the solos from Archie and Sizzle were great.  We finished shooting at this location around 4:30 and headed to the hotel where we were staying to meet with DJ Kakah and William/Paloma.

Due to arrival/logistical issues, we were pressed for time as the sun was setting.  William and Paloma had just landed so we frantically found a location in the neighborhood nearby.  We took two takes just before the sun had set.   Had we had more time, we would have found a better location and included DJ Kakah in the video as well.

Overall, the music video turned out great.  It really shows the energy of the dancers and plays well with the musicality of the track.  The solo parts by Archie and Sizzle are high energy and I'm really happy with the camera movement.

We shot this video with a Sony a6300.

We plan on working with Archie and Sizzle in early 2018.   You can check out their website here: Also, keep an eye out for a new CD to be released sometime in March of next year.

What are the differences between Zouk, Kizomba, and Brazilian Zouk?

When most people hear or see the word Zouk, it's synonymous with Brazilian Zouk.  However, Zouk and Brazilan Zouk are two separate dances and it's important that dancers understand "Zouk" and it's history/origins. 

Zouk is why we dance Kizomba and Brazilian Zouk today.  The music from these small islands traveled across oceans and developed into new dances.

People are often confused about Brazilian Zouk and Kizomba music.  Can you dance Kizomba to Brazilian Zouk, and viceversa?  We will try and keep it as simple as possible.  Please note: we are generalizing to keep this as simple as possible so the majority of people can understand the basic differences. 

Zouk - Zouk originated from the Caribbean Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique (see map below).   Zouk is what you would dance at a family bbq on the weekends.   There were no classes or formal moves, it was just something that you grew up doing and was part of every day life.  This music genre grew in popularity by a French Antillean band in the 1980s called Kassav'.

zouk map.jpg

Kizomba - Kizomba is an Angolan dance with heavy influence from Cape Verde.  It's a closed danced where you embrace your partner closely and is danced slower than Zouk.  There was  influence from the group Kassav', along with Semba and other influences.  This too, was a low-key dance that every one grew up dancing to.  Many new sub-styles of Kizomba have since emerged like Tarraxinha and Urban Kiz.

Kizomba grew as a music/dance genre when dancers moved to different parts of Europe.  Since then, Kizomba has grown tremendously and is spreading rapidly all over the world.

Brazilian Zouk - This partner dance originated from lambada music which became popular in the 1980s in Northern Brazil.  The most well known song is Lambada by Kaoma.  Due to the lack of Lambada music, dancers turned to Zouk music which sounded similar to lambada music.  Brazilians fused/incorporated Zouk music into their zouk-lambada dance.  

Brazilian Zouk is a dance genre, not a music genre.  You can dance Brazilian Zouk to anything with a 4/4 beat.  Popular genres include hip hop, rap, trap, electronic, lyrical, indie, rock, pop - and of course, kizomba and zouk like the examples above. 

In the Brazilian Zouk scene, there are many DJs that produce and create remixes of popular songs.  Popular DJs/producers: DJ Kakah, Mafie Zouker, Lord Feifer, Arkkanjo, DJ Allan Z, and DJ Amigo.  Popular US-based DJs: DJ Power, and DJ Shiv.  

Below is an example of a Brazilian Zouk set with different music genres:

Some points we want to emphasize:

  • You can dance Brazilian Zouk to any music genre if you really wanted to. Zouk music is traditional music from the Caribbean Islands.
  • You can usually dance Brazilian Zouk to Kizomba.
  • You cannot dance Kizomba to Brazilian Zouk music genres. (*some do but MOST don't)
  • Brazilian Zouk is a completely different dance than Zouk and Kizomba
  • Zouk has become synonymous with Brazilian Zouk.  Promoters, artists, DJs, should promote Brazilian Zouk by emphasizing that it is from Brazil. "Brazilian" should be present.
  • Kizomba and Brazilian Zouk are completely different dances.  There should not be a mixed Kizomba and Brazilian Zouk room.
  • Kizomba is not the "sexiest dance ever,"  this is called clickbait.  Clickbait is when the person just wants you to to click for attention or views.  I believe Kizomba is sensual but not sexy - this is completely subjective.

Popular Kizomba festivals we've filmed: Kizomba Luxembourg, Miami Beach Kizomba FestivalMontreal is Kizomba.

Popular Brazilian Zouk festivals we've filmed: Dutch Zouk Congress, Prague Zouk Congress, and Hawaii Zouk Festival.

DJ Amigo Zouk

When it comes to dancing, music is everything.  Aside from having a good sound system, the DJ is key.  In today's world, there are many different ways to mix music.  

In 2017, I had the pleasure of listening to DJ Amigo's set.  DJ Mafie Zouker met him in Russia and recommended to the promoter that he should book him.  Good thing he did because this one of the best, if not the best set of the entire weekend.  While dancing to his set, I got chills throughout my body.  His transitions were flawless and track selection impeccable.  He took me through a journey like no other.  

The set was nothing like I had ever heard.  It was a mix of trap, electronic, future bass, down tempo, all mixed in with traditional kizomba/zouk beats.  How does a DJ create such a unique set?  One word: Ableton Live.  This DAW or Digital Audio Workstation, allows DJs to pre-plan their sets and not just mix two tracks together - rather, they are able to mix multiple tracks, along with beats/stems, and use effects all at the same time.  It's truly another level of mixing.  

While mixing three tracks together is cool and creates a different sound.   Ultimately, there are limitations and is very difficult to achieve track after track.  You definitely need to know what you're doing if you're trying to mix three tracks throughout your set (or even two tracks with beats or parts from a third track).   Ableton live relieves the pressure and allows you to take your set to another level.

In case you're wondering, Mafie Zouker also uses Ableton Live along with Lord Feifer.  These are are the only DJs in the scene that I know of that currently use this program.

If you want a sample from DJ Amigos' set, check it out below:

Check out DJ Amigos' Soundcloud below:

Brazilian Zouk in Mexico

It's only a matter of time before we see Brazilian Zouk festivals in major cities in Mexico.  Salsa and Bachata have ruled the scene for years, and now we are seeing Kizomba make it's way into the scene and it's growing faster and stronger than ever.

This year, Brazilian Zouk made it's way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  It's a beautiful city located on the coast about a three hour drive from Guadalajara.  The event was located in a small and intimate hotel with mostly Mexican tourists.  

Many of the dancers traveled from Mexico City and Guadalajara.  Brazilian Zouk is relatively new to Mexico, so the level of dancing was not very high.   However, dancers were eager to learn and picked up the basics in no time.  By the end of the congress, many were dancing well and had learned the fundamentals.

Brazilian Zouk may seem difficult at first.  However, if you learn fast and put your mind to it, it's really not that difficult - whether you are a lead or follow.  The biggest tip I can give is don't be intimidated.  Treat Zouk like any other partner dance and focus on building the basics.  The advanced patterns and head movements will follow later.

Overall, the turnout was great even with poor weather and the earthquake that took place a couple weeks before the event.  The organizers are very friendly and are excited about 2018 being even bigger and more fun.   Small, intimate, and creative festivals are always more fun than bigger festivals.

Here is the recap from the 2017 Zoukadise Festival, enjoy!!!


Bachaturo 2018

I've always wanted to dance bachata in Poland, could this be the year?  In 2017, I traveled through Europe and went to Bachatea 2017.  It was honestly the biggest let down of my life.  For a festival that big, with that stature, that name - I, along with hundreds or possibly thousands others wanted to cry after the first day.

The lighting, sound, floor,  and workshop space was non-existent.  Imagine a super big car repair shop with thin walls that divide the space into Bachata, Salsa, and Kizomba rooms.  Imagine there is no dance floor.  Just hard concrete that give nothing back.  As the teacher is speaking, you can't really understand him/her because you also hear the echo of music and other teachers.  WELP!  This pretty much summed up Bachatea 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

As with any festival, there are pros and cons.  Now that the cons are out of the way, let's talk about the pros.  The stage and performances were impressive.  Lots of seating was available and the stage was huge.  Many artists from all over the world were also there.  

After speaking to many artists and dancers over the years.  Two festivals have always popped up as their favorites.  One being Summer Sensual in Croatia, and the other being Bachaturo in Poland.  I've always wanted to go to Warsaw so this might be the year.  The organization, lineup, production, and overall energy looks promising.  

Here is the recap from Bachatea 2017 in Madrid:

Bachata French Kiss 2017 | France

It was my second night in Paris and I decided to go out to a Bachata social.  What did I find?  Bachata Sensual is definitely on the rise.  One room was packed with dancers while the other room was completely empty.  That other room?   Good guess,  it was the Dominican room.

It's good to see Samy El Magico keeping Dominican bachata alive in France.  While it's not the norm, it should definitely be available and respected.  The festival is also centered around this respect.  Samy brought an eclectic mix of bachata artists that dance all different styles.  

I really enjoyed the music throughout the festival.  The bachata DJs played a good mix of Dominican, Traditional, and Urban.  They also had a separate Kizomba and Salsa room.

The thing that stood out for me the most at this festival was the location.  Situated two hours East of Paris, the festival was held in the beautiful city of Troyes.  The city has flavor, taste, and history.  The buildings show age and tell a story.  I was able to fly my drone around the city for a few minutes until the police stopped me.

20 minutes outside of the city is a number of champagne/wine vineyards.  Unfortunately, we weren't about to go champagne touring(we'll have to save this for next year).  Samy has big plans for 2018 and we are excited to return to film another amazing festival!

Miami Beach Kizomba Festival

This is the festival that started it all almost three years ago.  MBKF or Miami Beach Kizomba Festival reached out to me inquiring about my video services.   I hadn't worked with them previously, and this was the first time I would be providing full video content for a client - demos, next-day recaps, and an aftermovie/full recap.

I remember my first year filming the festival and not knowing much about Kizomba or the different variations of Kizomba.  Today, Kizomba is one of my favorite dances, and I have built many friendships at this festival of the last few years.

The great thing about this is festival is that people travel from all over the world to attend.  Miami is conveniently located and attracts many people from the East Coast and across the Atlantic. 

As far as the festival experience goes, MBKF is one the best in the US, if not the best.  The sound system, stage, lighting, floors, organization, location, hotel - is all quality.  Every night there is a different theme, which creates a different mood/atmosphere in the room.  The after parties always go to the beach where watching the sunrise while dancing Kizomba has become the norm.  Good things always come from good people.  The team that runs MBKF truly love the dance and community.  They want to improve their congress every year which makes my job as a videographer more exciting than ever.  This year, I plan to do some creative behind the scenes type videos and definitely use the drone a whole lot more during the pool parties.

See you in Miami :)

2017 ZNL Amsterdam Zouk Festival

Another new festival took place in Holland this past weekend - the 2017 ZNL Amsterdam Zouk Festival at Brasa Studios.  This festival was focused on the ZNL crew and discussing/exploring the current music scene.  I spent a lot of time with Nyx and we talked a lot about the current DJs, scene, style of music, technical aspects, and new ideas for the future.

The music at the festival was great.  In my previous post, I discussed what the important things are that make festivals great, and one of the top items on the list was DJs.  DJs set the mood, tone, and energy of the night.  If they don't read the crowd and play what they want, the crowd dies a slow death.  

One thing that irritates me is the notion that Zouk DJs need to clearly define a starting/ending point in a song.  I think this is complete nonsense.  In salsa, sure.  In bachata, sure.  However, in Zouk, whether it's neo or lamba, the energy is different, it's constant.  How many times have you danced 3-8 songs with the same person while dancing zouk?  

What dancers need to understand is there are starting/ending points all the time.  It's not a never ending track, it's that the DJ mixes the beats/transitions so well that it's sometimes hard to tell when you're dancing to a new song.  However, if you pay close attention, you can tell when a new melody or beat comes in.

This past weekend was a really motivating weekend in terms of zouk music.  DJ Nyx, Kakah, Allan Z, Shing, have all been in the game a long time, some have been producing for years.  After awhile, producing/remixing becomes second hand.  DJs are able to create their own loops, beats, and sounds.  When they play a set, they don't play whats popular, or a hit track of their own.  Their job is to create an experience and take you through a journey.  The best sets are those that play music I've never heard before.  The DJ selects the loops, tracks, beats at will and creates a new sound that is crafted just for that one event/evening.   I think this is where certain Brazilian Zouk DJs are headed and I'm really happy.  Unfortunately, most promoters and dancers aren't ready and would not like the music if they heard it at the festival.

Nyx, Kakah, and others are clearly at this level.  There should be a time and place for their sets.  Their sets should be a minimum of 2-2.5 hours long.  For most congresses, there are many other DJs in the Brazilian Zouk scene that can craft good sets by good technical skills and track selection.  They don't need to produce, they just need to play to the crowd, play random songs, mix well, smile, and go with vibe/energy of the crowd.  DJ Jansen did a really good job of this at ZNL.  Example: Selena Gomez - Good For You, mixed to a faster Kizomba track, then mixed into a Flume track, then mixed into an Allan Z remix(given Allan Z has already played or won't be playing later that night).

It was good seeing the ZNL crew together.  I only wish they each had a two-hour set instead of one.  Enjoy the vids and see you at a future festival!

West Zouk TIME 2016 in Brno, Czech Republic

WOW.  What a journey it was to get to this festival, but it was definitely worth it.  Tickets from Amsterdam were pricey so I ended up taking a Flixbus from Amsterdam to Viennna.  From Vienna to Brno I took the train.  On the way home I missed my train to Vienna and ended up taking a Flixbus from Prague back to Amsterdam.   Again, long journey but well worth it.

This was was my first time filming West Coast Swing and Brazilian Zouk.  I've taken a WCS class with Jordan and Tatiana in the past but have never gotten the opportunity to film them.  On the zouk side, it was great to catch up with familiar faces and film Kadu/Larissa and Veronezi.

The energy at this festival was at a different level.  Everyone was smiling and eager to learn.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone enjoy themselves during the workshops and at night during the shows and social dancing.  One thing that stood out from other festivals were the shows/Jack and Jill.  The shows did not take too long and everyone was eager to see them.  The Jack and Jill contest was pure entertainment and everyone really enjoyed it.  

2016 Festival Recap

I'm extremely happy with the amount of festivals I filmed in 2016.  I try to create videos that reflect the vibe and energy at each festival.  Every festival has its challenges and I try my best to adapt to those challenges and produce a video that reflects the dancer's experience at that festival.  Below is a list of festivals that I filmed in 2016.

Brazouka - Porto Seguro, Brazil - 1 2

Beautiful Zouk - Sao Paulo, Brazil - 1 2

Zouk Fest UK - London, England - 1 2 3

Mambo City 5-Star Congress - London, England - 1 2

Exalta Afro Festival International - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 1

Zouk Me Summer Fest - San Francisco, California - 1 2 3 4

Miami Beach Kizomba Festival 2017- Miami, Florida - 1 2 3 4 5

Los Angeles BKS Festival - LA, California - 1 2 3 4

Montreal Is Kizomba 2017 (Kizomba Sem Limite)- Montreal, Canada - 1 2 3

KHADE (Kizomba is Harmony African Dance Experience) - Cancun, Mexico - 1

William and Paloma | Brazilian Zouk Artists

Of all the Brazilian Zouk couples, my favorite is William Teixeira and Paloma Alves.  They are both from Brazil, and their connection, musicality, and energy are out of this world.  They are constantly pushing the boundaries when dancing zouk.

It's important to look your best when doing a demo and also to pick a track that is different, unique, and won't get blocked on FB/YT.  Paloma is always wearing makeup and looking great, while William also picks great songs.

I've filmed William and Paloma in Orange County and San Francisco.  I'd like to say that I've filmed them in more locations but I haven't.  However, at the Zouk Me SF festival, I filmed 3 or 4 of their demos.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched the demos below.  I feel weird writing that I watch my own videos over and over but I can't help how amazing their connection is and the feeling I get while watching them dance.  I hope I'm not the only one!

Today I received confirmation that I will be filming at the 2017 Prague Zouk Congress which William and Paloma will also be attending!  See y'all there :)

Below are some demos of William and Paloma that I've filmed:

Daniel and Desirée | Bachata Sensual Demo

I filmed this demo of this amazing couple a little over a year ago at the 2015 Seattle Salsa Congress.  Currently, of all my videos, this has the most views with a little over 500k views.

When I create a video, it's not my goal to get as many shares or views as possible.  I just want to create the best possible video I can.  This demo will definitely go down in the books.  The large, well-lit ballroom with the dancers on the opposite side created a well-composed background.  Daniel walks into the circle with confidence and Desirée looks stunning as usual.  

I personally don't enjoy bachata sensual patterns that much.  They don't feel natural and I feel if led incorrectly, I could strain the dance or hurt my partner.  However, I feel like this is the power couple when it comes to Bachata Sensual.  They sell it, and they sell it well.  They both have amazing style, eloquence, and above all- an incredible connection.  As you can see in the demo below, they match their style and dance patterns to the song and musicality perfectly.  

When dancing bachata, I try and incorporate what I learned in Brazilian Zouk.  Not the "zoukchata" or zouk turn patterns, but more the connection and subtle lead, body movements, and musicality options(hard to describe, lol).   I truly love bachata music and I think as long as good music is being produced, bachata will be on the top my list as my favorite social dance.  

Zouk Me San Francisco 2016

This was Zouk Me SF's first event.  I was glad to be a part of a new festival and help promote what unfolded online for the world to see.  The power of the internet is incredible.  Posting videos as the event unfolds is an extremely powerful way to reach audiences in a new way.  

I believe in real-time marketing.  People that were on the border of going to the event, may still have a chance to attend an event later in the weekend after watching the video.  Unfortunately, for people out of state/country, they would need to attend the following year.  Either way, they see what's happening live and want to or wish they could've gone.  This type of emotion is what we strive for. 

The event was full of energy.  We had a group of very talented brazilian zouk artists from all over the world.  Logistically, it was a bit difficult for us since we had a lot of equipment to lug around.   I think 2017 will yield a new location for events, workshops, and socials making it more convenient for everyone.

The highlight of the event was definitely the flash mob at Union Square in the heart of downtown San Francisco.  Many people waited for the show to start.  Many asked us what we were dancing and why were there.  Before the choreo, we were social dancing to a merengue song when suddenly a chef walking by started dancing.  Then a guy in a wheel chair joined in on the fun too.  Sure, he couldn't dance, but he was bobbing his head and smiling from ear to ear.  I love when when random people join in on the fun, all for the love of music and dance.  No conversation is needed, just movement and smiles.

We provided demo coverage, next-day edits, and a full recap/after movie of the event.  All videos were uploaded directly to Zouk Me SF's Facebook and Youtube pages.

Montreal is Kizomba 2016

This was the 2nd edition of Montreal is Kizomba aka Kizomba Sem Limite hosted in Montreal.  It was a pleasure working with the two amazing promoters - Gerry and Marie.  

The weather was perfect on the weekend of the event.  The location of the workshops and social dancing is situated in the heart of downtown Montreal.  We stayed at a nice, urban hotel located walking distance to the event and Chinatown.  Many dancers stayed at Air Bnbs in the area.  

SBKZ Media managed Montreal is Kizomba's Facebook page during the event.  We updated demos and next-day edits as the event was unfolding.  You can see all the videos we uploaded here: Facebook // Youtube

The festival was extremely successful.  The energy was next-level and everyone I talked to during the event was enjoying it.  I had the opportunity to spend time with Ricardo and Paula from Afrolatin Connection.  Filming Sara and Jojo was also another highlight.

The event was a success due to the promoters.  They are extremely friendly and warm-hearted individuals who truly love the dance, community, and music.  They know how to have a good time and throw a good event.  It all starts from the top down when running a large festival.  I foresee positive challenges for 2017 as they will be faced with the decision to find a larger location to meet the increase in dancers.

Here some videos from the festival.  Until next year Montreal!!!