What made you decide that organising Kizomba festivals was your next step?
When I moved to Finland in 2011, the social dance scene was very inactive with no regular weekly parties, very few intensive weekends or festivals with top name artists.
Johanna, my partner and I are both passionate all-round Afro-Latin social dancers and teachers, and we wanted to start with community events to unite people from different schools, places and dances. We also aimed to bring quality teachers to Finland to give locals the opportunity to learn from these top quality artists, to give a glimpse of what is “out there” to get inspired by. We believe it’s important for a dancer to have good foundations, and as there were pretty much no Kizomba teachers in Helsinki, we wanted to bring teachers that we know are professionals and know what they’re talking about, to learn the “real deal”.
First we started events like Monday’s AfroLatin Nights, a regular weekly social with 2 floors + having 3 intensive Kizomba weekends per season. Those AfroLatin Nights had a huge impact on kizomba in Helsinki and it made Kizomba really boom in Helsinki as many Salsa/Bachata dancers saw Kizomba for the first time and many of them got addicted to it.
As the scene started growing, we started AfroLatin Flow, a festival with Kizomba, Bachata and Zouk, which we put on hold for a few years while we started doing FIKi Festival, Finland’s Kizomba Festival with Kizomba, Semba, Fusion, Urban, Afro House and Kuduro. Kind of also had a dream to put Finland on the Kizomba World map 🙂 Back then it was a big risk to organize the first Kizomba festival in Finland, especially with it still being a small scene, but we wanted to believe the time was right for it, and luckily it ended doing magic 🙂
How do you determine which artists, performers and DJs you invite?
Both Johanna and I have a long background in dance and we both are teachers and can be pretty demanding when it comes to the quality of the teachers, artists and DJs we bring. We have travelled a lot to check out different artists/DJs and also follow up on suggestions from friends who have a similar demanding standard for quality and professionalism.
At festivals like FIKi we also pay attention to how the artist chemistry works together, as their energy also reflects to the atmosphere of the festival. By far this has worked really well for us and we’re super happy about the friendly, joyful and awesome energy at FIKi!
What are the biggest challenges you face each year?
Two of our biggest challenges:
One: To cover the crazy costs of organising an event here in Finland. We would love to have everything at the same venue for example, but to give you an idea, the hotel offers a workshop room (and only for workshops – not for a party) for 1 day for €10 000 with carpet floors so you can imagine the rest.
Two: Getting people from abroad to attend a Kizomba festival in Finland in the winter. Some people are worried about the cold, and outdoors it might be (even though last year was 0°), but indoors it’s nice and warm and a lots of dancing! We actually have had saunas as part of our festival program! 😀
FIKi is a small, warm and cosy festival, last year we had around 60-80 persons from abroad, this year we hope to reach a similar amount or a bit more. We have also always had a lot cheaper pass prices for the people joining from abroad as it’s been important and exciting for us and locals to see more and more international crowd at FIKi.
What would you say has been some of the highlights so far?
When it comes to FIKi:
Definitely the crazy amount of positive energy at the event, both from the attendees and the artists! To be able to work with these amazing artists. In general just the joy of seeing people enjoying, smiling and dancing and makes you forget all the stress and pressure and makes you build bigger dreams for the following year.
The crazy animations! Probably the best ones I’ve ever seen, by the funniest artists. The atmosphere is amazing!
And Da Finnish experience! Our Sunday afternoon excursion with artists and festival attendees. So totally fun and crazy to see these guys like Hugo Boss and Arnold Bunda jump into freezing water after sauna! It’s an amazing experience for anyone! Feels so gooood!
What does the future hold for FIKI Kizomba festival?
Ay ay ay, with FIKi Festival we aim to keep it as a small cosy festival bringing top artists and dancers to Finland. Our limit will remain at around 300-400 persons. We definitely don’t want to change anything in the atmosphere, so there we’ll be working like before.
The scene (almost everywhere) is nowadays dividing a bit more due to the preferences in music and dance style, so taking this into consideration, most probably putting a bit more input on that.
We are also in the works on a new bigger exciting project, but more news on that coming soon! 😉