After the great Salsa break in Lille last year (see my 2003 Lille Salsa report), I went to this year's - and it was even better. Click on any picture with a border for an enlargement. Here's some video footage (3 mb) showing Chris and I performing some salsa routines.
You can also read The Poem Created For Salsa Holiday now!
The trip was a day longer than last year's, from 6-9 August.
We departed on Friday morning from convenient pickup points in Sussex, to arrive in Lille during the afternoon, travelling via Dover Calais Seafrance on Jonathan's spacious coach equipped with tables, refreshments & toilet, and returned on Monday evening. Salsa & tango teach-ins and dances were directed by Paul and Lindsay Newton-Palmer from Ezyfeet in Uckfield.
We stayed in the 3-star Novotel Lille Flandres, in the city centre, for three nights bed & buffet breakfast. There were dance sessions in central Lille and we saw our French friends again.
We explored the historic city and its superb shops, markets, and restaurants.
There was a full programme of teaching, dancing, and sightseeing, during Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, getting back to Sussex on Monday evening. The cost was £125 per person.
Cost included all travel, accommodation, and breakfasts, based on en-suite twin rooms, and all teaching and in-house dances. Extras included optional visits to clubs and restaurants. For information on future trips, please call 01825 672574 or 01825 830708 or email email@example.com.
As this was the second Salsa trip to Lille, and I don't just want to repeat the report, I'll try to focus on the differences.
The extra day on this trip was a distinct improvement over last year. It seemed like a proper holiday rather than just a long weekend. The weather was also much hotter than last year, which was welcome - except during the lessons, which were sweltering. During the first lesson we were very dehydrated, so several of us rushed off during the break to buy some sorely-needed water. At the dance studio, whenever we tried to open the door, a local inhabitant threatened to call the gendarmes...
The organisation of the trip was as excellent as last time, and was a credit to Jonathan.
It is a huge responsibility, ensuring ferries and accommodation are booked, meals, venues, and classes are organised and minutiae such as keys are remembered.
There were no major dramas on the onward or return journeys, barring minor dramas such as my getting to the Maresfield pick-up a few minutes later than planned, and a minor delay when some keys were mislaid.
Paul and Lindsay gave the lessons again this year, and there were some similarities but also some differences in emphasis.
Last year, we learnt a complex sequence which I have incorporated into my repertoire.
This year, we didn't learn particular sequences so such as new approaches.
One lesson focussed on being aware of our spatial position. We put down markers on the floor and practised our footwork. It was sobering for some of us to se how much we travelled when we thought we were returning to the same spot. Awareness brought improvements.
Other lessons targeted timing, and other styles of dance.
The last lesson was primarily a chance to ask questions and to practice all we'd learnt. The final exercise was to dance with the music being switched off for twenty seconds or so at a time.
The challenge was to keep dancing to the same rhythm when we couldn't hear the music, and to be on the beat when it returned. Despite initial dread, it was surprisingly enjoyable, and I was glad I'd tried it.
Overall, the dancing and lessons were really good and I think my Salsa dancing has improved over the four days.
We went back to Les Meuniers, but this time there were twenty-seven revellers rather than the ten of last year. The meal was enjoyable and the staff accommodating, but the food didn't reach the giddy heights of 2003. A meal 'a deux' could be an unforgettable experience. Perhaps in 2005...
We also went to the Gatehouse restaurant. In a fantastic location, we were expecting an equally fantastic meal - at a price. Although the meal was quite good, it didn't reach the level that we expected. The menu was 24€, which contrasted unfavourably against the superb meal I had at Les Meuniers last year at 14€.
The wine though was good - some pleasant white wine and two Bordeaux. A Baron-Segur from Saint Emilion and an Haut-Medoc each cost less than twenty pounds, and to me were the highlight of the evening, along with the excellent company.
The eight of us were joined by Jocelyne, her partner Didier, and her daughter and friend. We enjoyed a convivial evening, which rounded off a day encompassing Salsa and Tango, the latter both in classes and in the Vielle Bourse, as part of the Lille Festival.
We also enjoyed a great free evening of outdoor Salsa, which came about as a direct result of this website. The organiser was searching on Google for 'lille +salsa' and finding theblisspages, invited us along.
The event started at 22.00 and lasted for four hours. There was a barbecue, and drinks, but most importantly, a great atmosphere. I got there a little late, but got quite a few dances in and had a great time. It was great fun, and only ten minutes from the hotel.
On Sunday, we went to the weekend market.
The day was very hot, and the market a little quieter than last year. On the way, we went past the Palais des Beaux-Arts, where I posed in front of the cooling breeze from the fountains in front. No time to go in though, so we continued towards the market.
I looked in vain for the mint-tea stall I saw last year. I did manage to find four lairy shirts to add to my growing collection, now numbering over a hundred. I also bought a few accessories for the new house I am currently hoping to buy.
Last year, I railed over the travesty of the new modern facade of this cathedral, and already it appears to be crumbling, with the front entrance and much of the edifice closed.
See Lille 2003 sightseeing for more comment and pictures.
I was unable to visit the Citadelle last year, so was pleased to get another chance, but alas, still not enough time to do justice to this huge structure, constructed between 1667 and 1670. We wandered round the fairground and the Zoological Gardens.
We expected a small zoo with a few farmyard animals, but were surprised at its size, especially as entrance was free.
Mostly, we were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the animals, but the conditions were below those I'd expect in a British Zoo - especially the space they were given.
I did like the mixed environments though, putting together animals from similar areas, with themed areas for South America, Africa, and one for Australia under construction.
To see a short film I made showing me dancing with a friend, click on Salsa Lille 2004 (3 mb).
Windows Media Player is required to view the video. If the video doesn't play on your system, you can download it free from the Microsoft web site:
Damn right I would! It was a fantastic weekend and I can't recommend it enough. I am already looking forward to 2005. How about it, Jonathan?
updated Wed 18 Aug '04 give feedback...
: : © Mike Bliss 2011