Temporary Insanity

Junaid at his competition, with four layers of spray tan and all / Junaid and his Coach in his normal state performing at LDA Ball

When asked why he did it he told us: ‘I was fat and ugly’. These were his words, not mine. I’m pretty sure his mom would strongly disagree.

The fact is that my dance partner and friend Junaid decided to go for a Body Building contest… with all that comes with the package.

It is like when you look a pair of jeans with diamond buttons. It is so unachievable you simply don’t consider it seriously. When people like me, reasonably fit, with a few love handles, my honest share of cellulites and a normal body see a body builder we think “oh cool” and move the conversation to the next topic.

We see what is there but we have no idea of the lunacy behind.

I’m talking here about the competitions with no drugs. Just powders. At least that was what I saw my partner eating in all rehearsals: some powder with water, broccoli and chicken. The kind of actions they take are totally insane, If you want to know details and timetables or the processes get a trainer, here I’m just going to highlight a few of the crazy stuff I witnessed and that he told me about.

Most of it, he told a bunch of friends and me around a table, eating cake, after the competition.

First, I think the whole process takes around 7 months.

That means seven months of very hard work and some kind of crazy diet.

At the beginning there was weight to gain so every time I looked at him, he was eating. We didn’t see each other frequently, only at rehearsals, but even then, if we had 5 min of break, he had to get one of his powdery shakes, eat something from a container before and after the rehearsal.

He had to train everyday, Train is lifting heavy weights for more than an hour if I’m not mistaken. It got worse as the time went by.

Near the competition he was training twice a day on weekends. Hours and hours mornings and nights. Why? I have no idea!

After he gained weight and muscles for a few months, he then had to loose weight again. It was time to start a new diet. No sugar, and no oil at all, no fruits, what I would certainly classify as “no life”.

Our rehearsals suffered a bit, he was all the time hungry and tired. But I had to excuse him, if I was doing what he was I would have either died or killed someone by then.

I imagine a dialogue:

‘Who did she kill?’

‘Some guy on the street’


‘For a bar of chocolate.’


‘The guy refused to give her the chocolate and was doomed!’

And if I was doing what they called dead‐lifting 190kg, I would certainly have had the power to kill someone for the chocolate!

At a certain part of the journey, they give up eating any sodium. It means salt. For a Brazilian like me that would be it. After months of training that would have made me give up for sure. If not that, it would be the water business.

There is a phase they have to drink 10 litters of water per day. Junaid told me that one of his friends was found by his girlfriend sleeping seated at the toilet so he wouldn’t have to wake every twenty minutes bursting to go.

‘How did you deal with the cravings?’ I asked my dance partner.

‘I made a list. An enormous list! Every time I had a craving I put it down on the list to eat after the competition. I got a few things crossed from the list today: cake, cheese, more cake, chocolate, more cake, cheese, ham and of course, more cake.’ He told me the at the brunch we organised for him after the competition.

One of his fellows competitors said the only thing he never craves is ice cream, because he was a recurrent body builder and after one of the competitions he devoured a bucket of four litters of ice cream and could never see the stuff again.

To do something this extreme you have to really embrace it. I’m not very good of hiding what I think so during the talk I ended up confessing that I think that underwear they use are simply atrocious.

He said he knew and since he was embracing the thing he ended up buying 3! The 3 colours they had and spent the next half hour showing us his pictures of him with the blue, the red and the black. He also had to tell us which one he was on the pictures.

You see, they go through four layers of spray tan plus something that is called slap tan and spray on cooking oil. This means you cannot recognise anyone unless you are a dentist and recognise the teeth. They are all so coloured they are completely different from their regular state. 

He told me also that during the spray tan, being his first time, he used the thong back to front or something like that. The girl at the tanning saloon found it very funny. I didn’t get the picture and certainly didn’t ask for more details! 

‘What is this slap tan?’ I asked, curious with the strange name.
‘That is how I call it. It is something that only is absorbed by the skin if it is applied with slaps. That means my friend had a hell of a time slapping me with no retribution from my part.’


From all this, my loony dance partner said he believes he can do anything he wants, anything at all. I bet he can. If all this is not a case of temporary insanity, I don’t know what it is!

Junaid in his normal state performing at LDA Ball

113 Orble Votes

Latin Dance Section at Radar Magazine

Radar Magazine is opening a new Latin Dance Section from the August edition.

I’m very excited as I’m the writer and reporter.
If you don’t know Radar you have to see it.

Radar is a magazine about the Brazilian culture for the Australian market. It is special. It has an amazing quality in all senses, good printing in a glossy paper, with a layout that is almost sexy, the pictures are artistically chosen and distributed, the writing is not only journalistic, it is almost literary, like chronicles of life’s best.

All done in two languages: English and Portuguese. 

I fell in love with the magazine when I first read it, and contacted them saying: I want in.

That is how I ended up writing for them about the Sydney Salsa Congress and a few tourism pieces. 

The Latin Dance Section will have one or two pages full of pictures and information from the scenes in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The intention is to draw the attention of the Latin scene to the magazine so we are doing this as a trial.

Therefore I would love to receive any information about the Latin dancing that you have, parties, pictures, festivals and any special news that you can share. I intend to make this section so good people will salivate looking at it. 

Write me to talk about your Latin dance experience or invite me to your event, I’ll do my best to be there and include you in my article.

Contact me through this site.

To know more about my writing check my other blog: writtenlife.me

105 Orble Votes

Brisbane Salsa & Brazilian Dance Congresses 2009

I am very excited to say that I’m going to the Brisbane Salsa and Brazilian Dance Congress this weekend! Gaspar Ribeiro invited me so I can experience it and write with all my heart of the adventures I’m going to have there.

I was at the event last year and had a lot of fun, this year will be even better as it will be at the Mercury hotel right at the CBD.

I’m going to zouk, salsa, bachata (among other dances) the nights away. And the days too! If you see me, come and say hello, tell me your dance stories so I can write them out! 

You will see my stories here in my blog and at Radar Magazine which is creating an exciting new space for the Latin Dance Scene and for which I’m the writer.

What got me excited about the Brisbane event this weekend is that it has important national and international artists, such as Luda and Luke from Dancing with the Stars, the TV show.

Salsa is the mainstream but my heart goes to the Brazilian Dancing; Zouk and Forró are among my favourite styles. 

I can’t wait to be there… The congress runs from 5th to 8th of June 2009. Hope you can come too! See you there!

92 Orble Votes

Wizard’s Zouk

Ana, Johnny, Tania at Sydney Bachata Festival 2009

One of the highlights of my Sydney International Bachata Festival 2009 was actually a pair of Zouk dances. You would think that I was dancing with Kadu or one of the best zoukers in the house, with a brilliant song and full space to turn, twist and dip, hum?

Well no. With no disrespect, he was one of the worst zoukers in the house. I don’t mean to offend him; it was simply that he wasn’t a zouker at all. He doesn’t dance zouk yet and his intention was to learn there, right in the middle of the Bachata Festival.

The best way to describe Johnny is to say he is the “I‐don’t‐care‐Johnny”. It means he dances like the world is going to end, not tomorrow, but right at the very next minute. He is a great dancer of salsa and bachata, an honest bachata lover, and has been nagging me since last year’s Brisbane festival to teach him zouk.

I was watching people dance when Johnny got me to teach him the basics. I cannot do the leading part for the sake of my life… Imagine teaching it! As a teacher I am an excellent pastry chef, which means: I have no clue.

But we kept trying; enlisting the help of a few leaders on the queue to get drinks. We were dancing on the carpet in front of the bar and we managed to get the basic-step and the eight-step. That was it, and such a victory! We had fun, laughing and trying.

He is a good learner and got the gist of it quickly, with a good body movement and no shame at all, we kept dancing a few zouks in the corridors.

Zouk is one of those styles where well done basics are more than enough… On top of dancing in the middle of people’s way (whole songs of basics) we started doing something else… I call it in my mind “the wizard dancing”.

We broke apart and started dancing one in front of the other and he started guiding me with hands and body movements, no touching. I just started following and it was a new and thrilling experience. It felt like sorcery, an enchanting time…

99 Orble Votes

My Sydney Bachata Festival Experience

Leslie Bachatera & Tania / Bachata 4Ever music troupe / At Sydney Bachata Festival

I had some very special dances and experiences at the Sydney International Bachata Festival.

My Friday night started pretty well when the 4Ever boys asked me (!!!) to take a picture with them, not the other way around!

I asked if I could take a picture of the group for my blog but they insisted on having me with them, I got all fuzzy and happy… maybe it is something they do with lots of girls, I don’t care, it worked, I bought the CD straight away even not knowing which of the bachata songs I have in my head are theirs.

Then I found out about the Brazilian food. That made my weekend, from then on, I almost didn’t eat at home to eat there. It was a booth serving traditional savoury Brazilian pastry, delicious chicken and meat kebabs on fresh buns and a few sweets. One of my friends said during the weekend: you are always eating! I was divided between bachata and “coxinha”(a type of chicken croquete). 

“Delicious Brazil” Catering for Bachateros / Bachata Festival Dance floor

From the festival, a few more flashbacks come to my mind:

“Delicious Brazil” Catering for Bachateros / Bachata Festival Dance floor

One of the great dances I had was a funny gospel song, it was the last of the night in the smaller room and I had Clement for a dance partner. I have to tell you that these DJs are always busy so it is hard to dance with them but when you do, they enjoy it so much that you fell like you are gliding. This dance was great, the song was beautiful although strange.

Another unique moment was the one I danced with Graeme, the floor was packed and we had to contain every move, we had to move in a very small way and got to be close to the point of laughing at it. It was funny doing mini‐cross body leads, mini spins (no space for turns) and extra small basics. All that repeated with DJ Amit… It seems I was in the mood for DJ‐dances!!! 

I had only two dances with the instructors: one was a sensual bachata with Rodney Aquino and to finish the event in style a dance with Juan Bachatero.

Tania dancing with Mahendra, Juan Bachatero and Junaid Jafar (dance partner).

From the festival, a few more flashbacks come to my mind:

I won’t forget the beautiful Leslie, I enjoyed her performances and energy, her skilled, aggressive and quick bachata.

Also the live shows were great.

Dancing a live bachata song with a good dancer is a priceless experience…

I have to thank Mahendra for being my partner while HR King sang for us…

Then I had the privilege to be at the front row to see the 4Ever performance.

Gosh! They can sing… only people really good can sing a capela and these guys did it to make any romantic heart stop. When the instruments kicked in the result was awesome.

All bachateros had these big smiles on their faces, the girls with shinny eyes and a few jumping on stage with them.

Good live music always makes a dancer’s heart sing… we had a ball!

As we all seem to be saying after our extraordinary time at the festival:


115 Orble Votes

Public Luv

No, it’s not (exactly) what you are thinking…

This is just about people who dance, perform, on stage and make love to the public, and, in a sense, their dance partners as they perform.

I love cheeky dancers, and I’ve been told I am one of them. With pride! I make an effort to be.

Great performers are those that create a special energy with the public, they are so confident with their dancing (and singing) that they interact and put their hearts out to the public.

Not always there is a love affair, usually dance partners are not romantically involved, but for the sake of Latin dancing, specially bachata, and while on stage, and shining for the few minutes their choreo is on, they have to be lovers.

They have to have the energy of lovers, completely in lust for one another, for those seconds. I draw on the energy and love I have for dancing, so the ones that show this peculiarity probably do too.

At the bachata festival I had fun spotting people like that: looking in the eyes of the public, making faces and enjoying the experience, pretending it was the love affair of the century and showing their confidence to the watchers.

I found quite a few and every single time I found myself smiling as if they were dancing for me alone…

112 Orble Votes

The Dancing Bag (a checklist)

I am performing tomorrow at the Sydney Bachata Festival. All I can think is what I need to pack for the show. I’m creating this checklist…

I’ll be an Angel at Last. That is because the choreo is homage to Lee, the dancer from the UK we lost to an accident recently. And we are angels. To the ones that don’t know, I was supposed to perform at the Sydney Salsa Congress but fractured my arm and couldn’t do it. So now, at last, I’ll be an angel on the stage tomorrow night.

I’m very exited with the weekend because it will be the first time where I’m in an event dedicated entirely to Bachata, last year I was in Brazil at the time when the first festival happened.

Team of performers at Sydney Bachata Festival’s backstage / Tania ready to perform the Angel choreography

So now that I’m packing my performance bag, I thought it would be interesting to share the checklist.

First I go through the performance in my mind, the costume, what I’m wearing.

Then I go through what I have in the bag following my body from top to bottom:

Things in my box and dancing bag:

  • Hair and Head props, hats, halos, horns, tiaras, etc.
    • I have a little carry bag always ready with:
      • Hair gel, or mousse, etc
      • Hair pins (bobby pins) different sizes – according to hair colour
      • Thin hair net for danders
      • Hair brush
      • Hair elastics, different sizes and colours
      • Thin comb with the metal pointy handle
      • Shower Cap
  • Jewellery if it is the case:
    • Earrings
    • Necklace
    • Rings
    • Bracelets
  • Face & Make‐up: My Make‐up box is a beauty. All organised with all that I could need.
    • Foundation
    • Corrective
    • Eye shadows
    • Eye liner black, white & brown
    • Mascara
    • Shinny:
      • Glitters of different kind
      • Shinny spray
      • Diamonds for make up
    • Lipsticks & Gloss
    • Fake eye lashes.
    • Sponges, cotton balls, cotton pads, cotton sticks, brushers, sponges, special appliers and sticks for make up
    • Make up remover and moisturiser to fix make‐up messes
    • Transparent nail polish (to fix running stockings)
    • Nail polish you are using (to fix your nails if you have a breakage or an accident with your manicure)
    • Mini sewing kit – thread with the colour of the costume you are using and the clothes you are wearing for the after party.
    • Security Pins of different sizes
    • Scissors, box‐cutter, Swiss‐army knife – little addictions to your box that can make it all easier.
    • Panty liner and tampons
    • Fashion tape – that double sided tape to keep your straps and straps on the right place.
    • Wipes
    • Facial tissues
    • Razor & shaving gel
    • Nail files and cuticle’s 
    • Good sized Mirror protected in case it breaks during the travel
    • Remember to pack any special make‐up and props for specific choreographies, like fake vampire teeth, lycra masks, hat pins, tiaras, scar tissue glue, or blue paint, for example
  • Up close and Personal – VIL (very important list):
    • DEODORANT!!! For dancers there is no religion, allergy, personal beliefs that can be put above this simple thing:
      • You do need deodorant or antiperspirant of some kind. Especially for couple dancers this could mean the success or total debacle of your dancing night. If you are not getting too many dances or more refusals than you should think normal, change your deodorant or perfume. Or check your breath.
    • Perfume only if you are used to them.
    • Breath strips!!! Another essential, carry toothbrush, toothpaste, but for any time and place that you need to be safe in a hurry carry breath strips, mints, chewing gum any kind of breath freshener.
    • Carry the emergency extras with you: nail polish for a retouch, a brand new razor, shaving gel, etc. ▪ Girls – remember to arrange to be waxed, shaved, manicured and pedicured as necessity beforehand.
    • Shower kit if there is a place for you to refresh in between rehearsals, performances, etc. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, towel.
    • A sweat towel is good for everyone.
    • Extra dancing shirt or rehearsal’s clothes
    • Extra underwear
    • Intimate products (For Females) nothing worse than be caught unprepared
    • A few plastic bags
    • First aid bag:
      • Band‐aids – get the good ones, water resistant, for sportists, the ones that will save your life or your feet.
      • Special pads for blisters – you can get some awesome skin colours healing gel pads for blisters nowadays that would have made my ballet dancer life a lot easier 15 years ago… with these the pain is very bearable if you get any blister and you can dance your night away with very little pain! Woohoo!
      • Bandages
      • Medicine & painkillers – carry medicine that you usually take, always carry something if you have headaches. Never give anyone any medicine they are not used to and never use something you have never used before on a performance night.
  • Clothes and costumes:
    • Dresses
    • Shirts
    • Pants
    • Belts
    • Jackets
    • Pieces that go over the normal clothes (vests, scarfs, etc.)
    • Count how many pieces your costume has, take note of the number and double check that you have all the items before finishing your packing.
    • Clothes for after-party

I just imagine myself dressing the whole ensemble on and see if I remembered all the items.

  • Leg’s pieces:
    • Socks – the right colour please and to have both feet with the same colour is essential!
    • Stockings – sheer to waist, it is horrible, to have those stockings with a mark in your thighs showing through your fishnets. Yes, holes marks are visible even on stage. And yes, you can see them on pictures too.
    • Panties, for under the stockings (usually G‐string or something that doesn’t mark the body) and for over, if necessary, like the undies or shorts from the costume.
    • Piece of stocking to tie your undies if you are doing the Brazilian bikini tie.
    • Underwear (panties & bras) adequate to the costume.
    • Fishnets
  • Shoes:
    • Official choreo shoes.
    • Extra pair of shoes, doesn’t matter if it is old or the wrong colour, choose the closer one to the official shoes and bring it with you for an emergency.
    • Pads – nowadays no‐one has to suffer with shoes anymore, in the supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies you can find those pads and stuff that are designed to make any pair of shoes at the very least bearable for its purpose. Discovering the heel gel pads and ball of the feet protection was a big deal for me. Carry your favourites extra pairs in your bag.
    • Shoe brush – for Latin dancers it is essential to have suede soles brushed so you don’t have yourself falling on stage.

TIP: Don’t put shabby stuff in your bag, only carry new things, new razors, new nail files, new box cutters, if you need to use anything you will have no stress.

100 Orble Votes

Sydney Bachata Festival 2009

This will be the Second International Sydney Bachata Festival and I will be performing.

Bachata, my love for this lovers’ dance is well advertised here and all over the bachateros website.

I think it is beautiful, sexy, torturous (from being too good) and absolutely far from boring.

I have my secret admirer and I admire a dancer secretly… The B fabled Red Dragon a charachter from my tales on the Bachateros Website should be there.

I’m glad to think that I will be able to dance Bachata to my heart’s content on the Festival next week.

I’ll be performing with Tony Lara’s LDA BACHATA TEAM on Friday night.

From the 24th to 26th of April It is going to be one of those hectic weekends of dancing non‐stop from Friday to early Monday… performances and parties every night, all night and workshops all day.

The band 4Ever from Orlando, USA will be playing on Sunday night to close the event.

Come and watch my performance!

50 Orble Votes

The Brazilian Japanese of Sydney – Ami & Takashi

It’s funny how some people seem to be born at the wrong place in the world as if someone exchanged their destination tickets at the last minute by mistake just before they were to be born.

I have two friends that are the Most Brazilian Japanese I’ve ever met. They are more Brazilian than a lot of Brazilians I know. 

If you are in the Latin Dancing Scene in Sydney you will know them for sure…

Ami and Takashi are amazing dancers and they know more Latin dance styles and I do, I’ve seen them doing: zouk, salsa, bachata, cha‐cha, merengue, forró, samba, gafieira, maracatu, among some Brazilian dances I’ve never heard about! They were main dancers at the Ritmo, the Brazilian Festival from BraCCA last September, 2008.

Ritmo Brazilian Festival Darling Harbour

Ami & Takashi at Ritmo ‐ The Brazilian Festival at Darling Harbour that happens in September, usually.

I see them all around, at the Forró parties, all Salsa venues, Zouk Parties, Carnaval, Capoeira festivals and Brazilian nights in Manly, Step Up parties, Sunday’s at Martini Bar… Everywhere! 

As good and genuine Brazilians, they love beer, dancing, laughing, chatting, more beer, samba, churrasco, beer again, forró and feijoada. Ami’s birthday was not at a Japanese restaurant, it was at Braza’s a Brazilian “Churrascaria” place, a Brazilian barbecue: meet with salt. 

Ami told me that back in Japan she was more than once on top of the decorated trucks for the Japanese Carnaval, as a main samba dancer. I can well imagine!

When we meet we laugh as if it was the funniest thing that we are seeing each other again, we laugh as if it is the best thing in the world, we hug, kiss and we dance. 

They look so Brazilian! They may be from Japan but every time I see them they bring me a piece of my homeland to my heart.

50 Orble Votes

Sydney Carnaval 2009 Hightlights

Latin Dance Australia Samba Girls / Friends at the Carnaval Party / Pre-party at my sister’s house

The girls were the highlight. Amy Mills & Sandra Betrus, Samba Queens on Stage at the Carnaval 2009 and the Samba Pro Team from Latin Dance Australia were a vision…

I started the night at my sister’s for what we call “esquenta” which means warming up.

In Brazil it means to start the party early. So, to the best of our abilities, we did as the long tradition dictates… we started with a few drinks. With nine girls and one Irish! (One of the girls was taking the picture…)

There is a tradition that for a Carnaval party, where we gather a group of friends and dress up in grouped costumes. We did pageant winners, each from her home city.

The Carnaval party, was a full house! We danced the whole night.

33 Orble Votes