Eat – Sleep – Zouk – Repeat: Festival Survival

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Photo: Zouk Devils, Mataró 2017

You are hooked on Zouk now and want to start to travel for Zouk. You find yourself, as a Teletubby after sliding down the slope, “again, again!”. Zouk festivals are somewhat addictive (at least for a short period of time), and your very first festival ever is a test on your body and mind. But let’s say you passed the test and are now hooked. For you my dear dance friend, I have some words from someone who has been there, done that.

Be prepared for a period of about one year or two, where you go to festivals around Europe whenever you get the chance. You will get a lot of new friends, perhaps visit cities you did not think you will visit (not that you will actually see much of the city). And you will learn a few things:

 

  • Every person, every human body, every metabolism is different. People have different needs for rest and food in between dances. You might not find general advice always useful for exactly “you” in particular.
  • The day has only 24 hrs. You will not have time to do everything on the trip so you will have to prioritize. Your perception of time will be challenged and in the end, you will learn how to plan your whole trip, from when to sleep to when to arrive at the party.
  • Your perception of sleep and how much activity your body can take will also be challenged, but you will learn.
  • You will experience something that resembles “the post-festival blues” once you come home.
  • You will learn that Zouk is a very intricate dance and that teachers are very different from each other.

 

So here is some advice for you:

 

  • My guess is that you are not traveling alone. Most of the people get together in groups from the city of origin or neighboring cities. If you are alone and want to travel in a group, search for groups for instance on Facebook, or discount groups, to connect with others. It is nice to make these trips in groups, not so practical all the way, group dynamics is an article of its own, a separate topic!
  • Consider of all accommodation possibilities, what is the most suitable one for you. Hotel room? Hostel? Airbnb? Single room or together with someone? Walking distance from the venue is great. But even greater, if the venue is a hotel where you only need to go downstairs. If so, check for rooms well in advance, they disappear very quickly.
  • Make sure you get information about the venue, location, travel, tickets, where to get food well in advance to save time and money (but mostly time) once you are there. You might want to save your precious energy for dancing and not walking around looking for food (perhaps with a group of peers that all have different tastes). Especially if you are a vegan.
  • Some dancers take magnesium to help the muscles not to cramp. Others simply eat bananas, others stretch before and after the party. Some others make sure to have a quiet moment and meditate, to clear the head and get the mindset for the party, and have better dances (especially the leaders).
  • Try to do some shopping to keep some food and beverages in your room that are rich in energy and nourishment. Like nuts, energy bars, soya milk, fruit (avocado is very good!), chocolate and stuff that keeps you going. For me, beer sausages are a must, since I eat meat. And water, lots of water. Do not drink tap water if you are not sure it’s ok. I usually get a huge bottle for the whole weekend and refill my small bottle.
  • You might not attend every single workshop there is to attend. Your mind is not able to take in all information anyway. If you want, you can write down important stuff, or record small movements. Another way to save energy is to watch the workshops, instead of doing them.
  • You might need to take power naps here and there. If you want, bring earplugs and a sleeping mask. I usually take a power nap right after dinner and before going to the party, then I last all night. In other words, since you know your sleeping pattern, make sure you leave time for some nap, or come later to the workshops next day. I try to have at least 4 or 5 hrs of consecutive sleep, and a nap of at least one hr. Works for me.
  • You might need also to learn how to plan recovery as soon as you get back home. Plan at least for a day off from work or studies to sleep and rest.
  • Try book your flights well in advance, your hostel and so on. It is hard sometimes to plan Zouk festivals with so many months ahead. So try not to plan too many. You might find yourself not so motivated after a few months, exhausted and even broke. There is a life outside Zouk, you know…

 

To get an idea of how festivals are, which ones to chose and so on, you can visit the blog Zouk the World, where they have a global Zouk calendar with the biggest events. But also you can join facebook groups where you can get an idea of which ones to attend. There are many festivals around Europe, some have been growing and some have disappeared, which is a topic for another blog article.

Happy Zouking!

Yours truly /Lili

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