Christmas time is a good reason to look back, come into conclusions and make new plans based on our experiences from the past. On the kizomba dance scene I thought that after three intensive years nothing could surprise me anymore. But I was mistaken. I have visited all kind of events, which made me become very picky about my choices. In the last months I´ve been looking for something different, special, for new emotions and challenges. Kizomba Gala Kassel & Friends is one of those cases that worth my attention. It´s that festival I want to come back, the one that already makes part of my Agenda 2018!
I first noticed it on Facebook months ago for its interesting line up full of my favourite artists & DJs and followed it since then. Later on, I read an incredibly honest post of Sabine, its organizer, regarding some ticket sales issues, that seemed to me so unusual for its openness, simplicity and heartiness. I´ve never seen an organizer talking loud like that. I really appreciated her approach even without knowing her in person.
Now, after having this festival under my skin, I know why it´s been so successful over the years. This is all about Sabine´s personality! You can say that the most important thing making it so good is the balance between man and women or a beautiful location, but although all mentioned above is true and more, Sabine herself is the key to the success here!!
I don’t know her well, but I don’t need to. I could feel her incredible energy and passionate attitude throughout the phone cable the first time we spoke. I had an immediate connection and a confidence, that my intuition was right. The more we spoke, the more I wanted to write about her festival. I got all the necessary tools in advance and a warm welcome afterwards. Every little detail was considered. At first, I thought it was due to the fact that Germans are famous for being well organized. But when I got there and interviewed guests and artists, I realized this is not about Germany at all, it´s all about Sabine!
I could make this post endless, but I´ll count only the most interesting points, which make this even different from others, and that in turn should cause you a great desire to visit its Fifth Edition in 2018.
Primarily I want to draw your attention to the format of Gala Kassel. This is a CLOSED event. What does this mean? No sales at the door. Once on-line sales are finished, there´s no way to access it. Literary NO WAY. This condition already gives it a kind of exclusivity. Taking into account that the size is very small comparing to festivals like PKC or KZL, only around 500 people per year (meticulously taken care of), this suggests that you have to be quick if you want to feel yourself a part of this selective group.
Sabine thinks in 4D dimension perspective: she can put herself in shoes of artists, taxi-dancers, guests and DJs. She is all in one. That´s why she knows our needs so well and builds her festival plan and strategy based on her own broad experience as a teacher, dancer, organizer and more. As an example, I would highlight an interesting fact about the Kassel timetables: the social room starts at 4 pm, which is quite late comparing to other festivals. But it happens for a reason. “I respect the teachers who work at my festival. I make people come later to the social to make them attend workshops. This way teachers have their classes full” – Sabine says. And she has a point. Recently the tendency is to go straight to social and learn directly from good-level dancers, avoiding workshops even at the beginning level. I admit that social practice is very important for improvement, but I wouldn’t advice beginners and intermediate students skip workshops. So, I agree with Sabine and support her decision to do so.
One more thing to add to the same basket is the time of breakfasts- starting 11 am! Thus, this festival is not only for dancing, but a place for socializing as well. Giving it high importance the schedule is adjusted to our typical Kizomba rhythm, that all of you know very well. So why not making it an official part of the program?) Fair enough.
What to expect upon your arrival, besides some staff at the entrance putting you bracelets? A cheerful barmen Dominique, who would for sure remember what you drink not only for the next night party, but also for the next year!! He becomes your friend once you get there. Believe me, to meet the same person in a year, who know what you like, makes you feel at home! These kind of things, small details, create the whole atmosphere, which is priceless.
And all this action takes place in a stunning 300 yo Orangery building * (see history comment below) that was once used to protect delicate plants during winter and now home to the Orangery restaurant, with great international cuisine, including a wonderful terrace overlooking the lawns and woods of the Auepark.
On the dance floor you will see a big Christmas Tree, something that you won’t have at any other kizomba festival, because it´s the closest event to the most magical days of the year! So, like when I was small, dancing around this tree gives a cosy and romantic feeling :))
One more thing I cannot leave aside, is the famous issue regarding the balance between men and women, that provoked such polemics in Facebook. Yes, the balance is strictly controlled by the organizer. Because she knows how it feels paying an amount of money for a trip and almost not being able to dance at all in the whole weekend. Girls are aware of this recently common problem. We are more than men, in general much more. This point is one of the main things we pay attention to when choosing our next festival. “Will I be able to dance if I go there?” It costs Sabine blood, but yes, I can assure you 100% – you will dance in Kassel!
One question I asked her during her busy festival hours:
-How would you describe your event in 3 adjectives?
My words for Gala are: cozy, familiar, energy charged – she replied.
To finish my post, I will publish the opinion of a high reference and well-known DJ in the kizomba world, DJ MADISS, spontaneously interviewed while socializing during the dancing hours)
-How are you living your first experience in Kassel?
It’s been years since I´m working as a Kizomba DJ, exactly since 2009. Before I was a DJ for afro music. I was lucky enough to mix at huge number of big festivals over the past 8 years. Today I’m in Germany, at Kassel Kizomba, organized by Sabine, and I´m living a very positive experience, positive in terms of organization. It was difficult to connect and to make my presence possible at this festival, but now that I’m here I can say that I´m proud that I believed in her. I didn’t know Sabine as an organizer. Today I discovered her from this side, and I think she deserves a lot of respect for her work. It is very well done!
Yesterday I arrived at Germany and I had a chance to meet Sabine in person during the first Welcome meeting organized for artists. Before the dinner she transmitted her vision and what she was expecting from the festival. It’s when I saw that she works not only to have her festival well organized, but also to do something good for kizomba in general. The gesture of the introduction meeting really flattered me.
Today I am very lucky to be respected and heard by the kizomba public. This is not easy. I feel that I am being recognised in the kizomba dance scene and together with other recognised artists we must work to improve and grow the environment we are in. So, I really appreciated that. I saw that Sabine was someone who was worth the attention. I was lucky to open the party. What I could already feel from the dance floor is that people were happy to be there. When I was mixing I played a piece where I blocked the words, and then I played a different music style, more aggressive one. Everyone started shouting. I felt very positive energy!! For the moment, I can say I´m lucky to have so many people around me and people with good energy. For me it was a beautiful experience. So, I´m glad to be here, because it´s worth it!
*ORANGERIE: Built under Landgrave Charles between 1703 and 1711. Since then, it forms the northern corner of the Karlsaue park. Today it is used as an astronomy and physical cabinet. The ground of the Orangerie was an old garden, in which Landgrave William IV built a small summer house. His successor, Landgrave Moritz redesigned the garden in the 17th century. The baroque castle of today was designed and built by the architect Johann Conrad Giesler in 1702, who worked on the court of the landgrave. The main building is 139.40 meters long. The marble bath (Marmorbad) was designed by Pierre-Étienne Monnot and is shown as a separate museum today.In World War II, the Orangerie was damaged and later repaired to host the federal garden show 1955. After the show the building was restored and transformed into the astronomy and physical cabinet with planetarium, in 1996 a astronomical garden was added.During the documenta 12, the space in front of the Orangerie was used for the exhibition, which included a temporary 9,500 square meter hall named Auepavillon. (Source: wikipedia).