In conversation with Stone’s Rock (Bremen)

More and more Kizomba events arising faster and faster. Especially France, Spain, Italy and Germany are leading the list. More than 300 festivals are expected to take place in Europe in 2019. Individual parties are no longer countable. What often is missing is compliance with certain event rules and terminology. It is not uncommon for an event to be referred to as a festival, although it hardly has its structures. Bootcamps are designated, but turn out as normal workshops. Therefore, many event names are misleading. The possible disappointment of the participants may be great. In cooperation with Stone’s from Bremen we discussed the terminology and created an overview. Stone’s has been a trainer for many years and is on the road all over the world at festivals. As dance partner of Sabine Kolle from Kassel he is also involved in the organisation of the Xmas Gala Kassel. He can fall back on profound experience and has given us his opinion as a dancer.

Stone’s Rock (Bremen)

“There are event rules. I think it’s a pity that many organizers neglect the meaning of a term or don’t deal with the topic sufficiently. Many organizers organise events and mis-name or categorise them not correct, which leads to poor transparency for potential participants,” Stone’s says.

“Terms have a meaning. Where do we go if we ignore them? We all expect quality and as organizers we need to know about each event category in order to offer that quality,” Stone’s continues.

General definition of “event“:

In general, it is an event, an execution, a celebration, an event or an exhibition, often in the sporting or cultural field. It is also a gathering of people in a particular place. A distinction must be made between different categories of events such as a practice evening, party, workshop, boot camp, gala or festival.

Special event definitions in the dance area:

EXERCISE EVENING

Often organized by dance schools and dance teachers to provide a practice opportunity for students. A small dance circle that is held without a large program. A practice evening usually lasts 2-4 hours.

PARTY

Targeted meeting of participants. Sometimes a targeted audience. E.g.: dance party, Ü30 party etc. Content consists essentially of dancing. It does not matter whether it is a single party that is only held once or recurring parties, e.g. monthly dance parties on a certain date.

A BIG party only has more people, the content of the event does not change.

WORKSHOP

A training session. It generally takes place in a room with considerably fewer people than at a party. Registered participants deal theoretically and practically with a certain topic. The workshop is accompanied by a trainer or leader.

BOOTCAMP

Similar to a WORKSHOP, but even more intense and exhausting. A bootcamp also lasts longer (hours or days) than a workshop, deals intensively with a selected topic and requires more discipline. The term originally comes from the military field.

DANCE WEEKEND

An event whose goal is to dance as a priority at the weekend. It is a party that extends over the weekend. The weekend can be mixed with other activities according to taste (workshops, performances, etc.), but social dancing is in the foreground.

GALA

A gala is bigger and represents an event for a special occasion. Thus a gala is not an everyday event, but an event to celebrate a special “celebration”. A gala often lasts one day, but can also last several days. It is a noble/elegant event which is intended for a special audience. A gala is expected to be festive or elegant. At a dance gala usually various artistic performances are offered by professional or very experienced dancers/artists.

The dance, music and location quality and thus the atmosphere of the event is significantly higher than at the previously mentioned events. A gala does not necessarily need more guests than on a dance weekend, but a gala and thus the guests and the whole event holds a certain prestige and class. The audience is national and international.  Therefore suitable conditions such as hotels, catering companies etc. are required and fit the quality of the gala.

FESTIVAL

An event that lasts several days and celebrates something special. A festival is usually recurring and is held once a year. The planning often extends over a whole year. It is more international than any other event. Teachers and deejays are mostly from different countries and also the guests are more international at big festivals.

A festival usually has more guests than all other events and normally starts with 200 people and can grow up to several thousand. Prestige is not in the foreground, more the professionality of the whole event and acting artists. The teaching program is large and varied. Festivals are also often used as venues for competitions.

A festival also poses a logistical challenge. Among other things, artists and guests have to be entertained, shuttle services organised and the program perfectly planned in order to ensure smooth running. A festival offers various activities such as workshops, bootcamps, master classes or artistic performances such as shows. The invited artists must be renowned personalities and have charisma. This makes a festival special.

The participants should be offered an appropriate service such as convenient ticket purchase, hotel arrangements, directions and parking information, shuttle service hotel – location and much more. As a marginal offer for participants, shopping facilities for dance clothing or shoes, for example, will be organized.

Resume

There is a multitude of terms that are often neglected, especially by organizers in the field of events. Misleading descriptions of events can therefore lead to failure and above all, discontent among participants.

Events can be divided into different categories and are described above. Thus the sensitivity for this topic should grow and organizers should find a suitable categorization already before the publication of events.

Thank you Stone’s for your input.

The results of our first online survey about festivals have been evaluated. In this article we want to show you some of the results. The winner is clearly a suitable location and a good balance between men and women. Which factors are also far ahead and which are surprisingly behind, you will learn in this report.

Datas and facts about the participants

298 people participated the online survey. In each case we asked the gender, the level of dancing skills, which festival size is preferred, the prioritization of the festival content and how many festivals are visited per year. In addition, each participant could select five of 12 possible features that are most important to them at festivals:

  • festival size
  • ticket price
  • popularity and quality of the teachers
  • popularity and quality of the DJs
  • a wide range of workshops (different styles, levels)
  • presence of taxi dancers
  • shows
  • social dance
  • a nice and suitable location (ambience, quality of dance floor, parking possibilities etc.)
  • balance men/women
  • Internationality (teachers, DJs, guests)
  • all in one service (accommodation deals, catering service, shuttles, etc.)

gender and dance level

The 298 survey participants are spread over 172 women and 126 men. 7 people rated themselves as beginners / improvers, 91 as intermediates, 166 as advanced and 34 as master / teacher. Of  298 participants, 118 attend up to five festivals per year, 107 attend between five and ten festivals annually, and 73 attend more than ten per year.

Priority of festival content

148 participants (50%) stated that both – dancing and workshops – are important to them. 135 participants (strong 45%) put their emphasis purely on dancing itself. Only 15 persons (5%) attach importance mainly to workshops and possibility to practice. The trend is therefore pure dance festivals, without a workshop program, as well as festivals with workshop program.

Small and middle-sized festivals are trendy

Priority of festival size

Even though big festivals with more than 1000 participants are well known and well visited, medium-sized (250-750) and small-sized (up to 250) festivals are still very popular. A more personal atmosphere is one of the main reasons. Also a better balance between men and women, which is difficult to achieve at major events.

Location and balance are ahead

A beautiful location and the balance between women and men are at the top prioritization of festival features. A beautiful and suitable location with ambience and appropriate floor is for 68% of all respondents one of the most important features. The second most important feature is a good balance between women and men which received 65% of high importance. Not? Surprisingly, Social Dance, which has been in increasing demand during recent years, takes the third place, ahead of the popularity and quality of Deejays. This is a clear sign of the expansion of social dance, which has already been observed over the past two years.

Overall evaluation

The ticket price is on the fifth place. Only 50% say this is one of the key decision-making features, showing that more emphasis is placed on other characteristics. 44% of all respondents attach great importance to the booked dance teachers and primarily affects those participants who feel that workshops are important.

The service around a festival is not to be underestimated. Accommodation, shuttle service or complete packages are considered by 33% of the respondents as very important. Especially for people who visit more than five festivals a year and don’t want to deal with all-round planning. The more festivals are visited, the easier the organization of the festival trip should be. A recommendation for organizers is, among other things, complete packages that include both – ticket and hotel accommodation – and, if necessary, shuttle service. The minimum service should be the mention of hotels in the vicinity of the location as well as contact details. Participants who have to do their own research and organization could possibly stay away.

At about 20%, the festival’s size, the variety of workshops and surprisingly far behind, the internationality of the event and the presence of taxi dancers takes place. Since balance is generally felt to be very important, it is surprising that the presence of taxi dancers is not considered as much important. The result shows that the participants want a good balance, but not necessarily through the use of “too many” taxi dancers.

With not even one vote, the shows are in last place. Although the performances are often a great complement and a way for the artists to present themselves and their skills, it is not among the top 5 priorities of a festival for any participant. Especially as the participants prefer to dance themselves. This trend can already be seen at many festivals and the show performances are drastically shortened or no longer offered at all.

Priorization of the gender

Comparison of women and men priorities

The biggest difference between women and men is logically the balance. For women, balance at 85% is the most important criteria at a festival, followed by the location. But even for men, the balance at 38% is still in sixth place and shows that men also enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, rather than dancing in chord with the waiting ladies. It also shows that women place more value on the presence of taxi dancers, but by no means are as important as other traits. With just 32%, the presence of taxi dancers is just before the shows, the festival size, the variety of workshops and the internationality.

Priority of men

Priority of women

Men, on the other hand, are at 78%, a good location in first place, followed by popular and quality deejays and social dance opportunities.

For organizers, this means paying more attention to a good balance without using too many taxi dancers. Especially this task is not easy and becomes more difficult the bigger the event is. In addition, social dance is becoming increasingly important. Events that do not yet offer social dance should take a closer look at this opportunity for future events.

Social Dance gets high priority

Especially with the participants, whose priority is dancing itself, the social dance has very high priority. Increasingly, organizers report that guests only want to come to social dance. Social Dance is in line with the location of this group. The most important feature for the women is again the balance, which is logical, since they do not want to wait long for a dance partner at the edge. For the pure dancers, the Deejay selection is also important. Organizers who focus on dancing should focus on the popularity and quality of the Deejay selection and create social dance opportunities as long as possible.

Group evaluation: priority dancing

On the other hand, if we consider the group which emphasizes both dancing and workshops, well-chosen dance teachers are far ahead. But the social dance potential in this group is not rated as highly. For this, more emphasis is placed on a wide selection of workshops. In this group as well, women attach great importance to a good balance, among other things so that they do not have to attend the workshops without training partners. If necessary, organizers can work here with guest dancer, who help out during workshops.


Group evaluation: priority dancing and workshops

Resume

Whoever wants to organize a top festival, no matter if small, medium or large, can score with a nice and suitable location and a good balance between men and women and thus possibly stand out from the many competitors. It is important that the balance does not necessarily have to be compensated by taxi dancers, but this will be a challenge for event organizers. An alternative could be guest dancer, who have to help out during workshops. The quality of the deejays and teachers is more important to potential participants than the ticket price. An absolute must is the offer of a social dance. Many talk about social dance being more important to them than the party itself.

Surprisingly, the internationality is not as important as expected. Another advantage for organizers could be a full service. Complete packages, hotel deals, shuttle services and the other things are very welcome, especially by participants who visit many festivals and want little effort with the travel organization.

Complete evaluation

A full evaluation with in-depth analysis will be available to event organizers in June 2019. The individual areas are evaluated in detail, analyzed and optimization proposals for organizers will be discussed. In addition, supplements are supplemented by various personal surveys. Pre-orders for the survey evaluation can be sent to info@kizzmag.com.

Special thanks to Mariette for her support.

More and more Kizomba festivals arise round Europe and the whole world. We are curious and interested in your opinion.

Please help us to understand, which features are really important for you and which sort of festivals you prefer.

Only 6 questions – not more than 3 minutes of your time. Thanks for your support.

Taxi dancers – what’s that? Mostly male, experienced dancers who balance the relationship between male and female dancers. Additionally, they take care of the ladies, who are not asked as often for a dance or who are still beginners, so that everyone spends a nice dance night. A good thing. But where there is light, there is also shadow. We have been thinking about it critically.

The taxi dancers’ tasks

The core idea of taxi dancers: to balance out the ratio between male and female dancers. There are usually more ladies than gentlemen on dance events. In Salsa for example, dance partners are switched after 3-4 songs on average and thus there is automatically more movement. In comparison, Kizomba is quieter and therefore dances can take much longer. It is not uncommon that people are dancing together for half an hour or longer and therefore, many ladies have to wait for a long time.

Furthermore, taxi dancers take care of ladies who are rarely asked for a dance or who are still beginners. These ladies should have the chance to dance as well. Normally taxi dancers change after 3-4 songs and ask the next lady for a dance.

As remuneration, the taxi dancers usually get free entry to the event and free drinks. Food and accommodation as well as travel expenses and less common and given rather at larger events. A win-win situation. So far so good and overall a good idea to create a great dance experience for everyone.

The development in the scene

Of course, we are really happy about a dance with a taxi dancer at parties and festivals. They are usually excellent dancers and keep even experienced dancers on their toes.

However, the number of taxi dancers at events is steadily increasing. At many festivals they are an important marketing tool and by now it is hard to imagine events without them. Advertising slogans like “more than 50 taxi dancers” are no longer uncommon. However, critical voices are raised. We have asked both, ladies and gentlemen, and have encountered an unpleasant development. This could lead to the scene growing an even worse imbalance with too many female dancers. Why is that?

“Non-taxi dancers” are ignored

It becomes problematic when ladies have an eye exclusively on taxi dancers. Female dancers increasingly reject invitations to dance from a “normal” dancer and prefer to wait for the next free taxi dancer. This is including also many good female dancers, who normally have no problem to be invited. The aspiration to “catch” good dancers is growing.

Where does this lead to? Especially when it comes to events with many taxi dancers I hear various statements such as: “I do not need to go there, with so many taxi dancers, no woman will dance with me anyways”. “I don’t pay, so that taxi dancers pick up all the female dancers and I’m standing on the side!”, “She turned me down and waited for the next taxi dancer”. No one likes to be rejected. If dancers are turned down because they are no taxi dancer, they will soon not invite the ladies anymore. Men who are not taxi dancers, but who are still good dancers, will then not come to the parties anymore.

The gap between men and women is growing

foto: KizzMag

The inevitable consequence: the gap between men and women continues to grow. To fill this gap, even more taxi dancers are needed.

Also, qualitatively the gap increases. Women usually develop their dancing skills faster than men. After all, the men have some more tasks on the dance floor than the ladies. Dancers who focus on dancing with taxi dancers are brought extremely quickly to a higher level. The men in return develop even slower because they lack the experience on the dancefloor with these ladies.

Taxi dancers need to be financed

From a financial point of view, the topic is also unpleasant. Men who spend money on a festival or party and are then turned down on the dancefloor are dumbfounded. In the end, they co-finance the taxi dancers. Who likes to pay for events, so that taxi dancers dance “for free” with the good ladies while oneself has to wait on the side for a dance?! Ultimately, there is the trend for women to pay the men to dance with them. The question is – do we want that?

Not all taxis stick to the rules of the game

Of course, the following does not apply to everyone. Some individuals however abuse the position to simply get free entry to the events. Often, they only invite the young, beautiful great dancers and then spend more than an hour with the same person on the dance floor. This is not the purpose of a taxi dancer though. If you want to have this freedom, you should buy your ticket and visit the event like a normal participant. We expect something different from taxi dancers. Unfortunately, this is difficult to control, especially at the very big events. Any criticism in retrospect harms both the event and organizer as well as the reputation of the taxi dancer.

The taxi dancer job is exhausting

The taxi dancer job is very exhausting, especially at big events with high female surplus. I have already seen that taxi dancers had to dance for 7 hours non-stop because as they were not given a minute’s rest. In addition, they feel guilty if the women are waiting in three queues. The boys are burned out after a few months and dance their routines just like machines. That cannot be the intention. Whether paid for or not, dancing should still be fun for everyone.


 

The absence of female taxi dancers

Of course, you hear moaning when you ask for female taxis. After all, there is a woman surplus anyway. But you should not forget, there are also dancers who do not have the confidence to ask good dancers for a dance. Or male dancers who are not very experienced and who would like to improve by dancing with good female dancers. I’ve talked to quite some people who would like to see more female taxis. Apart from that, many men consider it unfair that great dancers are organized exclusively for women.

What needs to happen?

“Everything in moderation”! The flood of taxi dancers is growing too quickly. If a good festival can only be successful if at least 50 or 100 taxi dancers are offered, then the scene is going in the wrong direction. The concept of taxi dancers is great and should continue to exist – but in moderation.

Organizers should keep an eye on the size of their event and, if possible, pay attention to the ratio between women and men during the ticket pre-sales. The number of taxi dancers should be booked accordingly.

Organizers should increase the motivation of male dancers by booking female taxi dancers as well. Female dancers are still rare at the moment.

An appeal to all women – dance also with the “normal dancers”! Do not forget, you were also beginners. There are many good “normal” dancers and, above all, there are many who could become very good if given the chance. How do you get better? Through exercise! After all, we want more men in the scene and not to lose those who have potential.

Push and motivate the male dancers, especially if they are still inexperienced. Tell them how they can improve their leading and what does not feel good. He cannot know this by himself. Dancers need feedback, not everyone has it automatically in his blood. Help them to improve, then we all benefit in the long run.

Conclusion

The basic idea of the “taxi dancer” is good and necessary. But the development of taxi dancers is currently going in the wrong direction at the expense of especially inexperienced male dancers. To avoid this, male dancers need to be motivated and pushed and some female dancers should reconsider their attitude towards normal dancers. Only in this way can and will the scene grow on both sides.