Promoting the real thing

TL; DR: Why are some events not in the calendar? After 6 years of trying to collaborate with everyone who claimed to do Kizomba in Brisbane, we’ve had varied experiences with how people acknowledge and respect its cultural meaning and history. Our goal is to get closer to the parties in Angola, since everything flows from there! We keep working on bringing more of the real thing.

Kizomba in the world

Kizomba is a living and breathing product of Angolan culture. And we’re passionate about learning about it and following its evolution.

Kizomba turned into a fashionable thing in Europe in the early 2000, and unfortunately a lot of commercialization and misleading marketing appeared as it extended through the world. While Angola was still reeling from its civil war, and Angolans had a difficult time all around, lots of unrelated people got a head start hustling with the “kizomba” name – but with zero respect for its meaning. For them, it was just a fresh new marketing word.

Things improved a bit when some French instructors renamed what they were doing to Urban Kiz in 2015; it was a great reference point to start clearing up what is Kizomba and what it is not. But the marketing waves keep going, and new hustlers keep appearing, either by ignorance or counting on people still not knowing what this strange word “kizomba” means.

So the goal of this website is to try to give good reference points of what Kizomba is.

We don’t cover Urban Kiz simply because it is not our goal – we’re busy with Kizomba. No offense to the style, just like no offense to Bachata or whatever other dance style.

And big respect to instructors who label correctly and respect what they teach, instead of grasping for easy marketing.

Kizomba in Brisbane

When we arrived in Brisbane in 2018, just after visiting Angola, we didn’t aim to be instructors nor organizers. We only wanted to dance! We were dismayed to see the quantity of misinformation here (worse than anything we found in Europe), but noticed that some instructors seemed to understand the difference between Kizomba and whatever else. So we had some hope.

But in 2019, after asking if an advertised event would have actual Kizomba, we got threatened by the organizers. An instructor close to them had been talking up collaboration with us since we won the AWAKE semba competition that year, so we asked what was going on. The instructor said they “didn’t have to justify themselves to us”, and the communication ended.

So we moved on, reactivated a Facebook group originally created by Séverine Coulanges for semba workshops, and together with her decided to run it under the “Brisbane Semba & Kizomba” name, advertising events with at least 50% real Kizomba and ignoring bad actors and spam. Around the same time we also started organizing Kizomba in the Park with Dana Dobrota, who also taught Kizomba for a while.

Still, existing DJs and organizers would talk a lot about “kizomba community”, so for 2 more years we asked, complained, insisted, offered collaboration, attended all parties advertising anything “kiz”. Séverine’s parties kept improving its Kizomba proportions, and for a while we also saw interest in the real thing from Dilhan and Ellie’s side.

So in 2021 we started our own Kizomba-only party, “Kizomba da Bwé” – loosely translated to “Kizomba from the good times”.

Maddie and I still collaborate with mixed events that do not misadvertise, and organized a few mixed parties with 50% Kizomba and another style, like Bachata or Forró. And from time to time we retry them – but we’re happy to report that, when polled, people actually seem to prefer full Kizomba parties! (just like us 😉)

And so, as of 2024, we have the 2nd longest-lived Kizomba party in Brisbane – 3 years now, baby! With ONLY music that you’d find in an Angolan party: kizomba, semba, zouk, konpa. No slow / electronic / European music here!

Only the venerable Kizomba Soiree by Séverine Coulanges has been going on for longer.
And it’s interesting to note that other mixed parties appeared and died in the meantime.
So it’s looking like the real Kizomba might be here to stay 😉

The not so good stuff

In 2023 we contributed $5000 to the Brisbane Afro Kizomba Festival (BAKF) on condition of having 50% Kizomba in the parties. The Brisbane organizers said they would formalize it in a contract, but didn’t. Still, we trusted they’d do the right thing, as by then we had spent time together as friends, giving classes to them and their colleagues, and over weekend trips discussing the music and the dance we all seemed to be passionate about.

However, the festival parties didn’t keep the proportions. They acknowledged this, but instead of even trying to fix things as friends, they decided to ban us from their events. Things got so petty that we talked to lawyers to recover the money; but given the lack of a contract, it’d be very expensive to take them to court.

So, instead of spending that money on lawyers fighting bad actors, we decided we’ll use that time and money helping real Kizomba instead.

The better stuff

For anyone looking for an instructor of real Kizomba in Brisbane, we do recommend Séverine Coulanges. She’s currently one of the very few Brisbane instructors who respect both what they teach and their students.

Dana Dobrota sometimes gives workshops – if you can catch any, don’t miss the chance! And Dana and Séverine are the only Brisbane instructors who don’t get scared of our Kizomba-only parties 😉

Also, together with Séverine, we brought for the first time an Angolan teacher to Brisbane in 2023. Séverine will be visiting Angola in mid-2024 with 11 of her students, guided by Angolan Champion Gabriel Cabinda and walking encyclopedia Kirsi vanSol. Things are looking up!

We also have in Brisbane an up-and-coming DJ of Kizomba (and more!) that loves and knows what she plays, Bhavna Aumeer (DJ Cue-T). She already played in our parties and hope to keep having her soon!

We look forward to the moment when we can add new events and instructors here. Please reach out!