published on Salsaweb NY 8/00
Addie-Tour Part 2: Paris
This month I give
my impressions of Addie Diaz's trip to Paris, France and a New
Yorker's Point of view of their Salsa Scene.
by Manny Siverio
Addie-Tude Dance Company posing with the Members of the Salsabor Dance
Company of Paris (after the Black Bear gig)
This past January 27-31th,
2000, NY Mambo Dancer Addie
Diaz traveled to Paris as part of her 10 day European Mambo tour.
She had already made a good impression in London,
where her team enjoyed the warmth and friendship of the London Salsa crowd.
Addie’s team on this trip consisted of Addie Diaz
(leader/director/choreographer of the Addie-tude Dance Company), Josephine
Torlone, Elias Rosario, yours truly (Manny Siverio) and Ben
Rapoport, a.k.a. Salsaweb Webmaster and Co-founder.
Ben (Center) with Elias & me after our "Black Bear"
Ben had unofficially joined our team to document Addie’s tour and share in our
little European adventure. The tour had made Addie the first NY female instructor
to lead a company of mambo dancers into France.
We’re not going to lie, leaving London was
tough for us. Our promoters, Sai Hon Lee & Deanne Chandler were
wonderful hosts. We really bonded with them and they made us feel at home. But
at the same time, we were all very excited about visiting Paris, the
famed city of lights, home of Notre Dame and The Eiffel Tower. Our trip there
was more like a hit and run mission. We knew that upon our arrival in France, we
had little time for exploring and sight seeing and had to squeeze in as much as
humanly possible. Our Paris contacts (Philippe & Oliver of the Salsabor
Dance Company of Paris) met us at the airport and whisked us to our hotel (Hotel
Residence Maeva Latitudes) where we would have just enough time to take a
quick shower before rushing off to our first performance. What can I say, except
for "no rest for the weary."
The Language Thing:
France proved to be a totally different experience from London. The language
barrier provided a big challenge for our group. People don’t realize how
important communication is until you need to do simple things like ask for
directions, buy food, get medicine or read street signs. In the past we’ve
been able to use our English/Spanish knowledge to get by, but not on this
occasion. As a result of this trip, I think we all have a better understanding
of what its like for foreigners to live or visit the United States. Luckily for
us, Addie’s Paris contacts spoke enough English for us to communicate with
Clifford Jasmin & The Paris Scene:
The Paris Salsa Scene was also
different from London. It was much smaller, but don’t confuse size with
quality. The French Salsero’s can hang with any Salsa crowd I’ve ever
had the pleasure to dance with. They are a very passionate group of dancers. I
think that this is largely due to the efforts of French Mambo Instructor
Clifford Jasmin. Clifford is the Director of The Salsabor Dance Company
of Paris and the person responsible for bringing Addie and her dance company
to France. The
two had meet in NY the previous year during of one Delille Thomas’s Mambo Mash
Social Dances. When Addie confirmed her trip to London, she contacted
Clifford to see if he be interested in having her team visit Paris. Clifford was
delighted with the idea and immediately set the ball in motion.
Addie Diaz & Clifford Jasmin
(a.k.a The "Eddie Torres" of France)
Clifford Jasmin like many great dancers I have
come to know, is a very down-to-earth, polite and sincere individual. He is
known in Paris for his distinctive style of dancing mambo "On 2".
Envision a style similar to Philippe Polanco of Puerto Rico, but oozing with a
sort of sexual energy and you get an accurate picture of what Clifford is like
on the dance floor. Everything he does is done in fun and good taste. This same
style of dancing was evident with many of the Paris Mamberos we had the pleasure
of dancing with. Its because of the influence that Clifford has had on the
Paris Salsa scene, that makes me think of him as the "Eddie Torres" of
Paris Clubs and Dancers:
The local salsa clubs we were able to
visit varied in size. But for the most part I would say they provided ample
space for the local population of dancers there. The music was very good thanks
to the spinning efforts of local French DJ’s like DJ Issack. Let me
tell you its always cool to listen to different DJ’s from around the world. It
lets you know what’s hot and what’s not in their part of the world and
occasionally you end up discovering some really cool tunes that you’ve
hadn’t heard before. As for the local dancers themselves, as I said earlier,
French Salseros are very passionate, but they’re also very aggressive. They
had no problem coming up to any of the members of our group to ask us out to
dance. I spent most of my free time moving from one partner to the next.
Whenever I had a free moment to come up for air, I could see Addie, Elias
and Josephine doing much of the same. Addie told me she really enjoyed
dancing with these French Mamberos. They had her cracking up with their playful "Clifford-like"
antics. And I know she loved "zinging" them with a little of their
own medicine in return. As usual Addie seemed to act as a magnet. Women would
come up to her to ask her about her styling, while men wanted to ask her out to
dance. I’ve always thought that much of her popularity derives from the fact
that she comes across like the person she is: sincere, down-to-earth and easy to
talk to. Its nice to know she has such a nice reputation in the mambo community
and never lets it get to her head. She is still the humble laid back person I
first met years ago.
Posing after our "Los Mexicano" gig in Paris
Performing in Paris left our
team (particularly Josephine) with several unique memories. First Josephine
developed a full fledge fever by the time we arrived there. She was so ill that
she couldn’t perform at our "Los Mexicano" gig and we were
forced to leave her behind at the hotel. The second occurred the following night
at our "I’Evasion" gig. Josehine’s finger got
slammed on a trap door so bad that she lacerated her finger to the bone. But
like the pro, with pain, lacerated finger and all; Josephine finished her
performance. Immediately afterwards she was taken to a local hospital by Jacque
Przyblyski (Salsaweb Europe Correspondent and member of Salsabor Dance
Company) to get some stitches. Luckily for Josephine, our 3rd and
last performance in the city of lights occurred without incident. We were
performing at the Black Bear club (sort of what the old Bayamo
Bar/Club/Restaurant was like). The elements that night seemed to be in our
favor; Clifford and his Salsabor Company members were there for
moral support, the crowd at the Black Bear seemed really receptive and the
owners of the club were super cool with us. When it was time, Addie led us out
to the floor where we took our spots. Her contagious trademark smile spread over
our dance group like wildfire. We were having a great time out there (like we
normally do) and the crowd felt it. By the middle of our first number, the
audience was mirroring Addie’s smile. They were reflecting it right back at us
as if we were feeding off of each other’s energy. No language barrier here, we
were all "speaking" mambo. By the time we finish our last
number, the crowd was asking for more. It was a great way to finish our last
Addie Teaching a Ladies Styling Workshop @ "Club La Nacion"
Our last day in France (Sunday January 30, 2000) began with a full agenda of
mambo workshops at "Club La Nacion". It was a grueling workload
that required Addie to pace herself in order to successfully teach three
back-to-back mambo workshops. Her mambo workshop marathon included a
Styling Workshop, a Beginner Workshop and Intermediate/Advance Level Workshop.
As usual, Addie walked in with a lesson plan in hand and was ready to go. She
knew exactly what she was going to teach. No wasting time, guessing or making
things up as you go alone. She takes teaching very seriously and was prepared to
work. Most of her classes covered open floor shines, partner work and styling
tips. She managed to fit in Ladies styling segments in all her classes, which
went over well with local female salseras. The entire team pitched in to help
Addie. Elias and I worked whenever possible with the men, while Addie
and Josephine worked with the ladies. During partner work we all did our
best to give everyone the attention that they needed. Students were grilled with
shines, routines and partner work. Not only were her workshops
but so was her instructional video. People were flocking to buy copies of her
Addie-tude Vol.1 Beginners NY Ladies Styling so fast that we ran out of copies.
Elias & me standing in front of Norte Dame
Believe it or not, our team did manage to get
in some sightseeing on our only day off (Saturday, January 29th). We
made our way around the city via: taxis, the underground and on foot. Getting
around would have been really difficult if it weren’t for Ben. Luckily
for us, Ben had stayed in Paris a few years back and knew his way around.
With him acting as sort of a tour guide, we made our way around the city. We saw
several famous sites like Notre Dame Cathedral. Boy did it seem huge!!!
Sorry folks, we didn’t get to see any hunchbacks dancing to salsa music, let
alone ringing any bells. We continued the rest of our morning walking, souvenir
shopping, doing other errands like exchanging cash, window shopping and people
watching. By early afternoon we made our way to this little French restaurant
that Ben had recommended to us. Their food was great, but their service sucked.
It seems that French restaurants unlike their U.S. counterparts close for a
couple of hours each day until dinner. Our waiter got a little annoyed at us
because we were stopping him from taking his midday break. So I think he took it
out on us with "sucky" service. I guess we couldn’t expect to make
friends everywhere we went. Our little mambo brigade continued the remainder of
the day doing some more walking, picture taking and video taping our little
escapades as we learned our way around the Paris Underground. By the end
of the night, there was only one item left on our sight seeing agenda: The
Eiffel Tower. Let me tell you America might have the Grand Canyon, The
Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, but the French have the Eiffel
Tower. We got there just as the tower lit up with its light show
extravaganza. I was told that it was the same show given during Paris’s
2000 New Year’s Eve Celebration. I could only describe it as breathe
taking. By the time we got to the hotel, we were ready to do some heavy bed
crashing. Though we were all going to regret not using the day off to catch up
on some much needed sleep, I think that our group thought it was worth the
sacrifice. At least now we could say that we saw the sites in Paris.
Our last night in Paris was a short
one. We got home around 1 a.m., with just enough time to get to our hotel,
re-pack all our clothes, costumes & souvenirs; get two hours sleep and head
downstairs to catch our airport ride with Philippe and Oliver. This was
the end of Addie’s European Addie-Tour 2000. Paris and London
left us with a lifetime worth of memories and we will always be eternally
grateful to all the wonderful people we met during this journey. Though we might
have wanted to stay some more, it was time for us to get back. I know Addie for
one, missed her kids was dying to see them. On the plane ride back to NY we
laughed at our recent experiences in Europe, shared our thoughts on what we
thought were our best moments and all looked forward to doing another European
Addie-Tour again sometime in the future.
here to see more photos from Addie's Paris trip
here if you want to read more about
New York Mambo Instructor, Choreographer and Performer Addie Diaz
here if you want to read the
article about our trip to London, entitled "European Addie-tour
Part 1: London".
here to see more photos from
Addie's London trip.
Addie-tude Ladies Styling
Video out now!