I met Björn at a Kizomba trip to Portugal at the beginning of October, where he was a team member and a real asset to the group. Björn is the Kizomba pioneer in the far North of Germany, to be exact in Kiel. You can learn about his fascinating story and his views in our report.

His love for Kizomba and the desire to disseminate it

Björn has been dancing for a long time. In 2011 he attended a Bachata Festival in Hamburg. Due to the small number of participants, a course was spontaneously redesigned: the teachers should show different, unknown dances. One of these artists were Albir & Sara, who introduced Kizomba Basics. Björn was immediately on fire for this new dance.

At that time Kizomba was not danced and taught in Northern Germany. Björn, however, was so in love with the dance that he regularly met with the friends who had attended the same festival to practice the few steps they had learned. It was at the time when still only bit by bit, some individual Kizomba workshops were offered at other festivals and so shortly thereafter he was in Munich at the Bachatame-mucho Festival attending the Kizomba and Semba Workshop by Tony & Alena. After the workshop Björn spoke directly to Tony and thus laid the foundation for their further cooperation. This resulted in a friendship.

Back in Kiel, he convinced a salsa DJ to play 2-3 Kizomba songs every now and then so that he and his friends could dance Kizomba. Besides them, nobody was on the dance floor. He tried over and over again to introduce Kizomba into the salsa scene of Kiel, which initially didn’t cause much enthusiasm. But constant dripping wears away the stone and after a while, rejection turned into curiosity. In autumn 2012, he offered his first Kizomba beginner course – with 40 participants! At that time, he was only able to dance basics and only taught those steps.

His goal? To build a Kizomba scene in Kiel! His method? Start a Kizomba club (non-profit organization). He already had experience in this as he had already founded an Aikido club, a martial art he practiced for 20 years and has been teaching for 10 years. Through the club he stays independent. It is not about profit. He invites only artists, who he had personally met and who he respects. His focus is mainly on classic Kizomba. He invites artists like Kwenda Lima, Hélio Santos, Dasmara & Iolanda and of course Tony Gomes for his workshops. Since then, he has been teaching various levels on a weekly basis, including in Kiel University Sports and Flensburg. He was supported in his project mainly by Tony, who always encouraged him to pursue his dream.

The spiritual side of Kizomba

For Björn the right technique is especially important, which means smooth leading and controlling your own balance. Become “one” in the dance – respect the dance partner. Björn thinks more out of the elbow when he leads than from the hands.

Björn felt though that there is another level beyond the leading and the music. Nobody else seemed to understand that – until he saw an interview with Kwenda Lima who was talking about exactly this. Crazy as he is, he contacted Kwenda without further ado and flew to Lisbon to meet him. On his last evening, Kwenda invited him to his home. He gave him music and finally Björn had found someone with whom he could talk about the deeper level, the spiritual side of Kizomba. “It’s a way of expressing yourself and how you feel at the moment and sharing it with others. It is a way to build a true bond though the dance with the other and to actually perceive oneself and the other person on this level and to experience that we are all part of the whole”, recounts Björn from the conversation. Anyone who has experienced Kwenda’s Kaizen Dance knows what this is about. Björn felt confirmed and reinforced in his feelings and began to incorporate this spiritual and emotional side into his lessons.

Kizomba as active peace work

For Björn Kizomba is much more than dancing. It can be active peace work. We get in contact with other people and feel on a human and spiritual level that we are all ONE in the end. It promotes mutual care. “I can’t say that we need peace in Syria and at the same time be aggressive towards others myself. Peace begins in ourselves, then with the next and eventually across the entire community. First, I have to be in balance myself, then I can be in balance together. This is transferable to Kizomba. To move together through gentle touches and to dance together in a very soft and caring way.”

From this point of view, Björn respects all forms and developments of dance. Everything is great and the discussions are unnecessary. Depending on how we express ourselves in the dance, the feelings we have and what we convey to the partner at that moment, are different. The question is always, how do we connect with each other in the dance.

How we really develop

Harmony during the dance requires solid fundamentals. Unfortunately, in our society we are less and less willing to learn things in depth. Often people only scratch the surface, they quickly want something new and as many new steps as possible. However, often they forget to build a solid foundation and deep understanding. “Also a tree must first take roots before it can grow a trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. Create your roots first, the base of what you want to learn. Learn first to dance not just with your body, but also with your mind and your whole self, instead of wanting to reap the fruits without creating roots first.”
Here he uses his Aikido knowledge. In Aikido they speak of “Sho Shin Sha”, which means “in your mind, always stay a beginner.” We have to do 100,000 repetitions before something real comes up. “I feel like a beginner over and over again. I keep on discovering new things. You should never think ‘I can do that already.’

And what about the coffee?

For the last 2 years, Björn’s full-time profession is to be a Barista at the coffee roastery Loppokaffeexpress (https://www.loppokaffeeexpress.de/). With this, he pursues his third passion – coffee! What’s special about this roastery is that the bosses travel personally to the countries of origin, work directly with the local coffee farmers and pay fair prices. And here we find another connection to Kizomba: until the Civil War, Angola was one of the largest coffee producers world-wide. Due to the civil war, the coffee industry focused on other countries. OIKOS (http://www.oikos-berlin.de/), a development aid association in Berlin, supports a project to rebuild the coffee production in Angola and to produce coffee of high quality together with the local farmers. The Kiel roasting house could imagine supporting this project and maybe in a few years we will have high-quality coffee from Angola.

I truly enjoyed the cooperation with Björn in Portugal. His enthusiasm and perseverance in setting up the Kizomba scene in Northern Germany and his view on the dance are impressive, beautiful and thought-provoking. We wish you success and a lot of fun dancing, roasting coffee and doing Aikido

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