Dubai International Dance Festival

With the start of the year, I’ve been looking ahead and trying to establish key dates for the diary before the summer. The online list I found included Dubai International Dance Festival and seeing the post reminded me that I had not written a post about my experience last year. In six years of living in Dubai, I have never heard of the Dubai international Dance Festival, and I am on the mailing list for a couple of salsa and ceroc dance groups here. The first I heard was seeing it listed on one of Cobone‘s daily deals. On further investigation, I discovered that this is the second year for the festival, which includes all forms of dance from ballet to salsa and a whole plethora of latin dances as well as bellydancing, street dance and hip hop! The Cobone offer entitled me to a full day of workshops and a show at the end and was a fantastic deal at half the normal price.

I was actually a bit nervous on the day, I love to dance but there were a lot of dances I had never even heard of let alone tried! The organisation was very chaotic and could do with some work, but aside from a few admin hiccups and delays, the day started really well with a ladies styling workshop for salsa, some of the moves were a little complicated, especially as I was a bit rusty – it has been a while since I had salsa-d! From there we went into bellydance, which was absolutely fantastic, Dareen was amazing – she had us all attempting moves Shakira would be proud of! It was really good fun, lots of giggles and felt like a pretty good workout too (I think I may have found my next hobby!!)

Things were starting to warm up at this point as the a/c was not working properly and there were so many people in each room, all dancing with lots of energy, and I hate to report that it was at this time that they ran out of water and could only offer us Red Bull, and that was only because they were the sponsors! We managed to get water from elsewhere in Dubai Marine Beach Resort, but it still escapes me why they were unable to get more sent up to the event. Still enough of my ranting and back to the dancing…

One of the dances I had never heard of was Zouk, which apparently has a very loyal following in Dubai. It’s a kind of cross between salsa and the lambada and again was great fun, although the basics were not too taxing for women. This was followed by a Reggaeton class, which was hilarious for my friend and I anyway! The male instructor did the whole class in his sunglasses, but  he was good fun and very engaging. They spent the entire 45 minutes trying to get us all to do a sexy body roll – our were hardly MTV material!! I thought I was getting the hang of it, but on reflection not sure it was quite right!

We paused for lunch at this point – again the F&B really let the event down – a choice of 2 mini rolls – tuna or cheese (who wants tuna when you have to get up close and dance with people!!) and still no water. We took a break and watched the tango class, which looked great, although I’m not sure I would take this up unless I was doing it with a partner – where are you ever going to get to tango outside of a class?? I did dive straight into the bachata class though, I love bachata, it has to be one of the sexiest dances around, the music is just amazing, and I’ve never actually had a proper lesson before so I really enjoyed that.

Unfortunately we then had to go on a quest for water so we missed the next class and got back only in time to watch the end of the cha cha cha class which looked like a good one to pick up (next time!) before the final class of the day, Hip Hop. This was the one I had been dreading but everyone had relaxed into it by then and were just enjoying having a bit of fun. It did prompt lots of giggles as we tried to give the attitude while learning the moves – I definitely think a 10/10 for effort!

We decided not to bother with the international dance show and instead opted for the performances from all the local dance schools and groups, and I am so glad we did. There were some amazing shows, from kids doing street dance and hip hop (and seriously putting us to shame) to local bellydancing clubs and partner salsa and tango acts, even some Indian Bollywood thrown in – and lots of fusion acts – to me it really represented what Dubai is all about – the melting pot of cultures demonstrated through dance.

I have to say, it was one of the best Friday’s I’ve spent in a long time, and I am so grateful to Cobone for bringing it to my attention. I’ll definitely be on for next year, you can find all the information here: www.dubaidancefestival.com/

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