Kizomba is a big part of life for many of us. Many of us describe this dance more as a love story and the desire to dance several days a week is strong o in order for us to be able to enjoy and also improve our skills. Being able to dance socially more than one or two times a week is crucial to develop as a dancer. I personally was blessed in this way. When I started to dance in Stockholm 2015 we had drop-in workshops and social dances 4-5 nights a week. I went to all of them.
Sadly, not all people are as blessed. When I meet other kizomba dancers from different parts of the world, they often complain about not having the opportunity to dance. As I have seen, in many cities the community is plagued by drama rivalry resulting in few opportunities to dance and limiting the chance that for a vibrant community to develop.
Now, what makes Stockholm unique?
How come a city of just over a million people manage to have an exploding kizomba community with social nights every with near to festival level skills? Some of the creds are of course because of our stars. We are blessed with quite a few internationally renown stars, for example, Kristofer Menciac, Ronie Saleh, Nasser & Ming, who have been traveling and teaching here and internationally for many years, but it does not explain the whole picture.
The key is the organizers
The organizers in Stockholm is, in my opinion, the most important factor behind the success of the Stockholm kizomba scene. Having people organize parties week after week and events are crucial to building any community in the dancing world.
What do our organizers do differently and is there things we can learn from how the Stockholm organizers operate in order to improve any other local community.
Here are some things Stockholm dancers, teachers and organizers do and do really really well.
- Show up! Don’t be late and don’t leave early
The most important thing for anyone in the community is to show your face. Is there a dance night, you try to attend it. I can’t stress enough how important every person is for us as organizers. Especially if someone organizes something for the very first time.
- Arrive on time — Every person is important to get the party started. If you cannot be present at the start it is, of course, ok to arrive later but the community is not helped by you or anyone else acting like the diva and consistently arrive when things already heated up.
- Dance a lot — Enthusiasm is also a big help for the organizers, there should only be empty chairs in the room especially if there is an uneven ratio among dancers.
- Don’t leave early — Again, if you have to go you have to go, but staying to the end will make everyone happy!
- Have social dancing after every dance class
The first and simplest way to create more dancing opportunities in a week is to work on when we already going on. In most parts of the world dance classes are dance classes and parties are parties and rarely mixed. In Stockholm, almost all cases the teachers invite anyone to dance socially after every weekly class. This is a stroke of genius from so many levels.
- Improve the effectiveness of the class — Makes the students work on the techniques with new partners not taking part in the class
- Keeping in touch with old students of the dance school — Old students will be able to come back and keep in touch
- Great marketing — This gives the possibility for anyone get to know the teachers, the school, and the premises and will be a possibility to recruit part takers in future classes.
- Stop the rivalry and start a dialog
There will always argue and drama in any group of people for some reason sooner or later. In the dance scene, there are examples of long-term hostility for a long time often many years. But, this does not mean that you as a member of the community have to keep up with it. Culture changes – it’s not static.
- Collaborate — Remember that we all ultimately want the same thing. Everyone gains from collaboration. Don’t contribute to the gossip, when you hear something say something!
- Speak up — Call BS in the local groups, an effective method is to shed light on the conflict in local social media, calling for unity might be a little risky, but then your posts about the need for peace and harmony in your community reach like in the hundreds, even the iciest of hearts will eventually melt.
- Spread the word — As a member of any community, you have an obligation to spread the word in social media about all events without favoring anyone. Publish and spread all events tag, upload photos, tag friends and show your support to anyone who dares become an organizer.
- Create an organizers group
Even if you are not an organizer, you can easily create an organizers group on Messenger or Facebook and simply invite the organizers to it. This is an effective way to start a dialog and actually help one another with practical tips on how to create effective events.
- Organize — This is exactly what I did for the Stockholm organizers some years ago and this works well for now.
- Solve problems — Off course some double bookings have occurred and we are currently, in the group discussion, trying to make the group more effective.
- Make sure all other teachers and organizers are invited to all events
If you are organizing events in a community where the drama is currently going on, make sure to lay down an olive branch.
- Invite all teachers — In Stockholm, it is custom for teachers to attend each other’s events. The teachers often dance with each other and make sure to show that there are peace and happiness within the community
- Personal invitation — Make a personal invitation as special guests to your event. They might not come or not even answer, but as water grinds the stone they will come around eventually. At the end of the day, we all want to feel special
- Let it be known! — Maybe you can publish this article in places where your community rival organizers are sure to see them spread some Swedish free love and spirit to your community! 😉
- Make sure to not plan events on the same dates
I have heard horror stories from all over the world with examples of organizers deliberate placing their events on the same day as others to get rid of competition. This habit is poisonous for any community.
- Shared calendar — In Stockholm, we also have a shared Google Calendar where all organizers post their events. The rule is simple if the day is free, you place your event
- Avoid double bookings — If you wish to plan an event on the same day, make sure that the parties are distinguished. There might be different levels, different music styles or have other things that reduce competition.
- Take a deep breath — Mistakes happen, of course, there might slip through a double booking every now and then. If it does, bring it up to the organizer’s group or make sure to tell the organizers that you would love to attend both events and ask them to please plan for different days next time.
- join forces
Imagine if several dance schools and organizers could join forces and make bigger parties together. Then we could get out of cramped dance school venues or smelly basements and have a chance at booking the nice venues, maybe in the center of the city where there are great sound & lighting system, food, bars and easy access to public transport even in the middle of the day.
- On our agenda in Stockholm — This is where we are currently in the discussions among the organizers in Stockholm. There are a few initiatives and there might be along the road there, but it is a dream for me and I know a lot of people have this as well.
- What stands in our way — One of the challenges here is the venues. So much of the clubs revenue is from alcohol and as we all know, dancers are notorious non-drinkers. To be able to pay the venue rent, we have to show up in great numbers especially on Fridays and Saturday evenings.
Lastly, to finish off this little insight into the community building skills of us dancers and Stockholm organizers, we would love to hear from you. What does work in your community? What did you do to heal the wounds of hostility in your scene? Please comment below and keep the conversation going.
See you on events and dancefloors of tomorrow