CKF 2018

CKF 2018 – the festival that shoulda woulda coulda been epic.

On the last Meu Semba international outing of 2018, the team found itself, once again, at CKF in Lisbon, full of hope to be ending the festival year on a high note. Yet sitting here typing, I can’t but feel a bit robbed of what could have been the best CKF of all time, due to a couple of questionable decisions that took away from what this festival represents: quality, authenticity and family.

Highlights

If you don’t read until the end, here is what you need to know:

CKF – a festival with a growing reputation for great workshops and terrible parties.

Pros:
• Men to women ratio
• High-quality artists and teachers
• Good variety of quality workshops
• Scheduling of workshops was well thought out to benefit the dancers
• Focus on all dance abilities/levels
• CKF veterans and newbies alike can get value from the workshops
• Overall good music
• Lisbon is a great location
• Local parties

Cons:
• Serious party venue capacity issues
• Elitist dinner sitting arrangements
• Stage Shows/Awards every night
• Some teachers not adapting their teaching to the level of the room
• Some inattentive DJs

Without further ado, here is what CKF delivered this year:

Organisation

The Fantastic 4 have enough experience in organising large scale dance events by now and that showed in that they can run an event, teach workshops and be welcoming to all, while also organising surprises, thoughtful prizes and gifts and honouring great contributors to the Kizomba community.

However, here at Meu Semba, we value continual self-improvement and keeping standards high so it was disappointing to see the same venue issues from last year still hindering customer experience and some questionable decisions that took away from the family feeling that CKF had managed to built up over the years.

Location + Logistics

CKF prides itself on giving dancers an authentic familial dance experience in Lisbon; the festival takes place in Santos, meaning that dancers can choose one of the many Airbnbs and hotels available in the area and lush local eateries to refuel after workshops and before dancing all night (well…sort of).

Getting to the workshop venue (Jazzy Studio) from the airport is reasonable by Uber or taxi. Conveniently, the official party venue (Barrio Latino) is two doors down from the workshop venue and close by to other venues people can go dancing for a pre-party such as Krystal or a matinee in B.Leza. So for convenience, location and logistics are optimal.

Daytime + Workshops + Social

The festival kicked off with a warm welcome, a goodie bag and a carefully selected set of classes to get people in the mood for a dance-tastic weekend.

The workshops throughout the three days were comprehensive, focusing on everything from technique to musicality for all dance levels. The teacher line-up this year was a mix of well established names and up-and-coming ones. This kept the workshop experience rich and fresh.

Some teachers however did not manage to adapt their workshop to the level of the dancers in the room and pushed on with their routine regardless of the fact that dancers couldn’t do what was being taught – this sort of behaviour helps no-one! The dancers don’t get the most value for their time and money and even worse they may learn something badly or partially that can result in injuries not only for themselves but for others as well.

There must have been a lot of thought put into the workshop schedule because it was perfectly balanced and ultimately designed with the dancers in mind. This is a huge plus for a large festival as the dancers’ workshop experience can sometimes be overlooked.

The 1.5h social every day was packed with dancers making the most of their new moves and good energy built up over the afternoon, during the workshops.

Himba Shoes was present, as always, at CKF along with other vendors selling a range of accessories and apparel.

Nights: Dinner + Party + Music

CKF Family Dinner – Not anymore

One of the most endearing features of CKF in the past was the Saturday night dinner where dancers artists and teachers alike, young and old, established and new, would sit down together and share a meal, a laugh and some singing. This year however, for some unknown reason, the organisation decided to separate artists from their friends and sit them at the tables on stage. Whatever the reason behind this, however well intended (I hope), came across as elitist and disappointed and frustrated many people on both sides.

Parties: “Dancing till Dawn” – Well… more like Bumper-Car Tarraxinha till Dawn

CKF did an amazing job this year to get an optimal ratio of men to women – difficult task for any large festival to achieve as women normally far outnumber men at such events – so well done! But this makes it hugely frustrating when the venue is full to the brim (and probably past safety standards) and you can’t even dance on the spot without being bumped into by the other squashed couples fighting for their square foot of dance floor.

Friday night was bad enough in terms of space, Saturday was impossibly busy and Sunday finally started to clear up after 2am – when everyone was dying to finally dance but were let down by the DJs who decided to play commercial music, Afro House and Tarraxinha. This was a complete waste of the space that was finally available.

Considering that not only has this problem persisted since last year but has actually got worse, we cannot recommend the CKF official parties as they are a risk. Local alternative like B.Leza and Mwangole could provide a much better chance to actually dance.

Music

With a DJ line-up composed of To Costa, Carlos King, Hugo Boss, Sabura, Superman and Lucas the music was good most of the time. However, some DJs need to pay more attention to what the crowd wants, what the weekend was like overall and also what the previous DJ has already played. The weekend started on a musical high with DJ To Costa bringing fire to the dance floor on Friday night and it is a shame that Sunday did not bring it full circle to end it on a similar vibe.

Conclusion

CKF18 had all the elements to be an epic festival with amazing workshops, great dancers and a women-men ratio worthy of envy but due to venue capacity issues, once more, it failed to deliver the basic requirement for a dance festival – the DANCE part. Saying this though, if the issues detailed above are resolved, this event could easily be in the top 5 festivals of the dance year. Looking forward and keeping fingers crossed for CKF 2019.

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