Pain, Desire, Will, Thoughts of Dying Poor -Vitor Tavares Mendes.

Hello and welcome to the 25th episode of the two left feet podcast. In today’s podcast, we had Victor Tavares Mendes on the show. This is a really cool episode because Victor has been in the dancing for a very long time. He’s done some wonderful things for Kizomba and Semba. He has even created his own dance style if I’m not mistaken; the ghetto Zouk, which is really cool.

In this episode, we are talking about him being raised in Lisbon, in one of the more poor ghettos out there. Very interesting hearing that story. We also talked about having parents from Cape Verde. We also talk about Kate Capoeira, which he started running when he was about 11 years old and also served as a big foundation phase. His Afro Bilouro which he said was the original Kizomba festival. We talk about his cooking skills, his music career, we talk about a lot of things and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you find value in this episode, I want to ask that you like and subscribe to my channel. I really hope you enjoy this episode.

Terence: so I am on the line with a Victor Tavares Mendes. And you are a dancer, choreographer, a fitness instructor, a musician, and a former C.E.O. You were born in Lisbon, Portugal and you are currently living in Prague. Just a moment ago you did tell me that you have a clothing line coming can you tell me all about them?

Victor: for the Ghetto Zouk dance apparel, we’re just in the early stages actually we have put in things for people, not just T. Shirt it printed out we actually we have much larger outlines which I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to have for ladies, women, proper design not just like something where you go out with something you can wear on a day to day. Not just brand to go to festivals and stuff but the branding you can wear and look good and we put some designers into the spot. And a few months back and forth and things are coming up.

Terence: is that an iPhone case or a sticker?

Victor: it’s just one of the few things we have that is just experimental which is actually working out. And we have hoodies, hats, T shirts, we are going to have trousers soon as well. We hasve shoes. And yeah we keep it at it and when it comes out, send me your size, I’ll send you one and let’s see how it goes.

Terence: that’s wonderful. Tell me about your childhood. What was it like growing up in Portugal men?

Victor: I lived in a proper ghetto and it’s not like ghetto-like buildings. Proper ghetto where you put things together and when it rains it rains inside, you get sick and where communality was strong. We were surrounded by mountains and the council just surround us with something. The neighborhood was very big and very underprivileged and it was hard for people like me, I’m the only one of all my friends to actually come out as a dancer everybody has a work. But I had luck, I have my wife to thank, my friends to thank of people that put a lot of effort into what I do. Childhood, it was good but also the same time it was really bad.

Terence: growing up is what you know, you didn’t know any different right?

Victor: The best thing about being a child at the time was we could dance, we could sing, we don’t like much school because my teacher’s mostly white and black and Gypsies were not respected as such. They celebrate you a little bit and back. They do this. It’s really tough to do actually progress and do what you want in a very natural childhood life.

Terence: your parents were from Cape Verde, what was it like growing up in that neighborhood?

Victor: It was colorful, dark, it was heavy sometimes. All parents, all family girls go through major changes and major complications and we had a lot of family problems. I was the youngest in my family. My sister Nelda, my brother Nani, my brother Carlos and then me. My brother Carlos actually went to Ballet dance, my sister never danced, my older brother was very good in mathematics but we had problems with our dad. I understand him being educated but he took a little bit too far so we withdrew a little bit and become he’d little bit overwhelmed at home things. I remember till I was 5, he was very cool, I idolized my dad and my brother. He was really nice and then things changed and becomes aggressive, no communication at home and when we want to do something we can’t so I started Capua at the age of 11 until I was 28 and I stopped but that’s kind of the thing you always have escape. The ghetto is nice but there are a few problems in that which people don’t dress it and talk about it. African families don’t like to talk about it here.

Terence: So have you been back to Cape Verde or have you ever travelled there yourself?

Victor: I’ve been there when I was 15. We won a dance competition in school. We were the only group in the school where we travel in different schools to show the Cape Verdean culture but inside of that group was Angolan, Mozambican, and Portuguese. So we got a scholarship to go there and so I was 15 and it was like the best one week of my life. Because my country is so nice, people are so kind but also they are very underprivileged because they’re so poor. People like the Chinese, English, Italian, take the lands and that puts us in a tight spot plus the volcano. All this time people are struggling but the country, the people, are very nice.

Terence: what made your parent move to Portugal? What caused that?

Victor: it’s very simple. It started during the hunger in the 1940s when the Portuguese left us with nothing. There was no food, no rain, nothing. People were dying and struggling and when my parents were older, they travelled to Portugal to emigrate to have a better life so it was just to get out of the system.

Terence: so at age 22, you moved to London. What made you go to London?

Victor: yes. I’m a very dependent dude. I never like to be under my parents. Age of 17 I wanted to get out of house and have my own thing. I always work, never lazy. So at age 22, my sister moved to London and I had an opportunity to go there. So I told my dad that “I’m going to London”. He asked “for how long?” I told him “just a one way ticket” and he wasn’t happy. I was 23 so he couldn’t do nothing, so even if he said no, I would have gone anyway. But it wasn’t very good and every day changed. Artistically, back home things were stagnated because people didn’t understand what I did but when you get to that side, I will let you know more or less

Terence: I want to hear about it. So you grew up dancing Capoeira right?

Victor: Capoeira had a traditional dance like butte, like Angolan dances, Aduro and all these kind of dances that we normally do in school. We learned instrument and we went to school, learnt how to sew and put garments together and other things. That’s where my passion came out but they developed when I was London actually because of my wife. It is very involving way, that’s why I left Portugal.

Terence: when you got to Portugal things were tough for you. Did things get better as you grew older or did u stay in that ghetto?

Victor: Before we moved to the other projects beyond the ghetto, we call it the tin foil homes. Then we were moved to buildings built by the council. It was beautiful but it was super expensive for everybody, nobody could afford it. So we have different ghettos come in, and some ghettos that don’t go along with each other, they hugged each other. We got along, everybody was cool but there was poverty. So betting what kids did, they danced, they enjoyed it with music, and they battled. I was a little different with battling. I always came up with weird dances and people didn’t understand why I came up with something different. Because I did Capoeira more than the body thing. And every time I danced, they would laugh at me. And one day I went home and I was very angry and I told myself that one day, I’m going to be big and dance and entertain people. I never thought about it that one day the same people that laugh at me are going to come up to me and praise me. I didn’t have to remind them, they reminded themselves, they say “I’m sorry back in the days I put you down”. But I say “that’s cool. I’m great because of that”. It’s really cool because now they understood what I do and it’s very important for the ghetto because now a lot of kids that come, they look up to me that they want to be spired with the things I do and my cousins are spreading up and also come in my music and stuff that is which I’m going to explain to you in a moment.

Terence: you grew up dancing. How did your family react to that?

Victor: my dad never liked it even when Carlos went to the Ballet conservatory. My dad went to show, he wasn’t impressed. But if you are a Cook, if a carpenter or if you’re working in an office or some of the people for someone else’s business, it’s cool that you have your own business and the kind of person that hasn’t done it. That’s why I say you have a house-slave mentality, you never grew up to have your own way to grow your own by the time you want to grow his own was too late, people do not believe what he could do. So I did it first. So my brother didn’t receive dance because my dad didn’t allowed him so I went outside of my dad’s circle in London. I started searching street dance, hit clubs, contemporary and abstract to get anything outside of my comfort zone. Things I didn’t even know existed, I tried it all. And Kizomba just came way after. I tried Kizomba when I was 15 but then I stopped because I didn’t like it because I was not used to its intimacy because you know things in at home with it easy for me to get close to people but I was more individual, solo kind of artiste. It came after it when my dad reacted to me when I came back to Portugal in 2014. It was a festival called Afro Fever. My mom came to see my shows, my workshops, mom was very happy, she even came to Prague to see me. I actually started the first Kizomba festival in the world. And also the Afro Byline. The weirdest feeling was when I met my dad, I said to him “I made it”, but he was okay but still not too impressed. So I liked him with his these thoughts and I didn’t judge him and I respected his wishes.

The 2nd one when I came to see my show in actually London, he cried. As I was singing for him he cry you know it’s like are a song called “My flow” and he knew that that he made a mistake but I didn’t care and we are cool and done together and I already explained to you this you know the route I want to take of my life. There were times I’d and there were times I wouldn’t but at least you go solo and don’t depend on anybody else. And so i respected him, we close the book and done.

Terence: looking at it from the outside, I’m positive that your dad only wanted what was best for you. I’m sure he didn’t want anything negative for you

Victor: But my dad is a bit controversial at times because he say one thing and he says another thing. I have no problem talking about a personal stuff but it’s just like my dad liked to follow the people footsteps instead of “what is in the house” footsteps. And so if you knew my brother and mean you like and I say we are parents, you have your family and I have my family, but instead of following my ideals of my family I’ll follow yours because you do it better, so that’s what you did. So that’s what we did. My dad had the good intentions but to actually to favor him toward his friends that my kids are doing well, and he wants to be proud of it. When he’s proud, I wasn’t

Terence: you wanted to branch out on your own life, which is important. Would you say that Capoeira is the first dance style that you learnt?

Victor: it wasn’t only my first dance style but my escape because time was very tough in a ghetto, people were dying right in front of your face. I heard shots, some stupid fights and stuff like this. Cousins, friends or family dying and I was getting cold and paranoid you know so I say I need to find something to me. And one day I saw my friends dancing on the street and I thought it was really cool and they told me I could come. So I went there and check it so I liked it. I didn’t have much money but my teacher, master Bilarino, we looked quite similar, and he actually came to Prague to baptize my first festival. And he had really seen a potential in me that my dad couldn’t and he was actually in mentoring me until our 21 before I left Portugal in mentor me. We want to like those one week camps outside of Portugal somewhere like totally remote in island where we have to cook what we have with what we could and we did, we work from morning until evening. We practice and it was proper mentoring and he was a father for many of us. So with him, thanks to him I wasn’t into drugs, I don’t drink, I don’t take drugs because I never needed them. I would prefer a glass of water or juice would be nice. So I keep myself fresh and clean from within and he taught me that he taught me that you know the potential I have, but I never understood until today. Now, people are coming to me asking me questions, which I’ve never asked people to come to me, it just happens to be that way. When you work hard people recognize it.

Terence: So I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t really know much about Capoeira, I just know it is from Brazil. I believe it’s a dance style as well as a fighting style correct?

Victor: capoeira has a very interesting story. Basically when the slaves from Angola, from Parts of a Mozambique, Senegal as well. The first treaty of slavery was signed in Cape Verde in 1455. Before you know capitalism today, it was signed there by the Portuguese. Before the blacks were prosperous, rich and business minded, but the saw potentials in the black people because of their knowledge. Ethiopia was safe. The Portuguese following the Dutch, the French following, the Italians, they had come to colonize those that know less. As they brought the slaves to Cape Verde and start shipping to other places like Brazil, what happened was very simple. Some of them escaped according to what I learnt from my master and the books as well. Some dances were much forbidden in Brazil like the funana dance, Capoeira dance. In El Salvador, the Bahia had the most concentration of slaves. So they give signals on how to get along with the guards. According to what I was told, they fought the guards with what they learnt using Capoeira. They found someplace to regroup and they gathered to in some place to feed the slaves as well. Capoeira Angola is slower while Capoeira Regional has more flare to it. Both Capoeira are well based on earth. Capoe means grass and Era means Sand, making Capoeira to mean Green Earth.

Terence: where you lived, was there a big Brazilian population?

Victor: there were a lot of West Africans, Cape Verdeans, Angolans, Guineans, Guinea Bissauans, polyps and other Portuguese speaking African descent was quite a vast. It was mixed with Portuguese and so when the Brazilian masses came, it was easy to receive them and to adapt to them because they speak the same language and went through the same course and they speak the same story that we speak. So it was very easy to convey to them in a way that you can feel at home and safe. So that’s how it was.

Terence: so at 20 you had started taking a mixture of dance classes, what was it like? Did you know anyone, your sister was there right?

Victor: my sister was there. She was doing her thing and my first job in London was in London was a cleaning toilets at a train station at King’s Cross. So after two weeks I was promoted to cleaning toilets for the V.I.Ps and I was happy and along with some Nigerians, and all of those South Africans in West Africa and people from Ghana and people did not treat you with warmth and they were hostile sometimes. Some people are cool but some people are not. So. Yeah it was it was good and it was a good experience and 2 weeks later after that I quit my job and I started to work in a construction. During my construction work for 9 months that I was working carrying buckets and put the bricks for the guys to do the thing as I was a servant, which was very cool to serve people and they’re very tough ones but they worked but I don’t time I start looking for like classes to go, places to go and I’ve found a guy called Tony with a company called dart dance company and they deal with big people in M.T.V, I was no match for him at all. My abilities wasn’t good enough. Even a kid today could beat me. My coordination was not good at all. They gave me the positive power and the vibe and I didn’t think of how I was doing it. Back home I wasn’t like that. They drop you out when you get to a point. They put you in a corner because that’s the way it’s like. It’s about survival. The best guy wins and gets the respect of everyone, the crowd, the people, the friends, the family, which is a lot of weight for those who lose him. But the way to put you out, it damages and they don’t see it that way. Now you see the damages they did where those people become cleaners, they are selling drugs, they don’t have much background, been to the prison many times, some just sit with one job between 5 to 9 for the rest of their live. They look at me now and they are surprised because they all were better than me by far, but because I never gave up, I got used to the routine until I moved to London where I became a different animal, where the people were so open, they pushed you, even if you didn’t know they didn’t judge you. Some of the people were fierce but the fueled your desire and will to get up and stay up. Keep going even when you messed up. And through that, people learned quick. 

Terence: what made you stand out in your childhood? Was it your desire or will?

Victor: pain, desire, will, the thought that I was going to die poor like many of us did. The thought that we might have the opportunity to shine or the opportunity to show what I really am or the opportunity to help others what they really are because that also gives me a lot of value as a person spiritually and human as I am. Also the fear of being like my dad to my kids. I did a lot of mistakes in the past and I see the patterns and I say I don’t like it. I don’t have to and I don’t want to do it you know like and that creates. There will be to make better when it changes either our comfort zone people wishing you were in the corner they have to go for sort of things you go for like boot camps and then silent weekends, and it was good because every thought is clear and nice of the need of the same 2 to get out of the war you had to come in again to be fresh again so my fear was basically to become what I don’t want become and to be that thing that I don’t want to be. So, I work for myself but I have had a lot of help along the way. I had a lot of blessings along the way, so I thank all those people including my wife, my students to push me up a little bit where I am. But still it’s not easy, I’m still battling and I’m not down I’m still here battling and so building a new foundations for years to come

Terence: there are a lot of people out there men who are who are scared to chase their dreams man for whatever reason it may be what is you say to them to try to help them out?

Victor: Use this energy that people are giving to you are a bad or good. Use it, utilize it in a way to feel what you really want to do. At first you might be clueless on how to begin, who to ask for help, it is a very blind, narrow, dark with a little dot which is you. When you start moving, things start coming to you. If you start thinking things are coming to you. You don’t need this law of attraction thing. If you have to be there, be there. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about you. People tell me to do this and that but I do what I want to do and I cast the stone to break my own window. So what I do to you is whatever you think, I’m not a planner, I’m very spontaneous. When I want to do something, I go for it but yet, find someone who can help you plan, organize you, if you have a potential to do music dance, type of business and find someone that can drop a little advise here and there and can go hand to hand with you. And don’t forget always to pay dues to those people that help you. Always to give them respect and pay them your time and whatever financial thing that you have to whatever they did to you because those people don’t come to stay, they come just for that moment. You always renew as you grow as you change as you modify yourself as you go those people are already done. You might encounter them on your way, they are just there to shake your hands and say you have made it. I don’t have many friends so my circle is very small. But I have students that love me and I love them and these are people that I know are not going to stay a long time in my life, but I will pay totally a hundred percent of my time but I love them because they give me the experience that only them can provide. I pay my dues and respect to them because of that. And then people like you will come around to ask some questions on what is going on, and that’s how it goes.

Terence: So it sounds like a lot of times in your life, you’ve been able to drown out other people’s voices and focus on which you want to do what’s best for you. I am finding myself struggling with that where I try and live up to someone else’s expectations or what someone else thinks is right, what advice can you give me personally to make sure that I focus on myself and staying true to myself.

Victor: Listen to what you are saying. You said you are looking up to someone else expectations, what about your expectation? That simple. If I live up on my wife’s expectation, maybe I will go far or maybe somewhere, but still not my expectation is same as I’m leaving my dad’s expectation for being a very good chef, and I know how to cook really nice dishes, but it’s not my passion in so, it’s not something I want to progress maybe I can come to it when I get older but it is maybe a few this is the one acquire along the way to say incase this doesn’t work. But it’s still my expectation of where I want to take my life next, what’s the next level for me. OK I want to be a radio host and I want to have my own radio company, what do you want to do when you have a very competent our people have some business the same simple as you if people that struggle that simple Same story as you, but also there are some people that have upgraded the level of completion so people that find a better level that you did they went there they didn’t manage where they have good advice and they might take you up. Have your own expectation always. Even if you are wrong, at least you’re going somewhere. Just don’t do stupid things.

Terence: I appreciate that. So in 2010 you moved to Prague, what made you make that move?

Victor: yes, June 25th. It actually start with a sad story and become a quite good story after. I had my first daughter, Alexander, I haven’t seen her for 11 years. It’s complicated but you can picture it how it goes. The mother moved to Estonia and I was in London. I thought everything was cool but it wasn’t but the day I wanted to go to Estonia and I even brought my brother Carlos with me to go and his niece to go and see my daughter in Estonia Tallinn. She said they are not at home, they are in Italy so it didn’t pick up well so I asked my friend, now my wife, Theresa if I could come to drive to visit her because we have this ticket and we just itching to take it so my friend Kevin changed tickets for us to be able to do it. I was sad because I was desperate to see my kid and it didn’t work out. So I came to Prague in 2008. I liked the place because it was cool and nice. And then I made some calls here and there. So I was helping some people to do an event, so I was in a concert with big singers and my hands was warm from those skills and since I already had an experience of handling such events from home. So I moved to Prague because of the opportunity that my wife gave to me and also because things were a bit hard in London and it was not easy for me. I got myself a business management Certificate and I work in a very prestigious business perfumery retail and it wasn’t for me and I was standing too long in nothing and I was wasting my talent in there so I came here and June and the first year, I decided to do a festival. And on the first week of November, the very on the very year and I say I want to do a festival in November. The 5th of the 1st week of November 5th 67 of them were. I did my first piece Kizomba festival where I brought Kaisha here of a singer and other Zouk artists because for me festival is music then dance. Nowadays, it is the other way round. It has become a business and that is why the artist singers charge a lot because they don’t appreciate them much as long as the DJ plays whatever. They will just pump up the price although it wasn’t that bad. So on the first year when I came to Prague, I came with zero and now I have what I have and the believe that my wife put into me and my friends and all the risks we took, all the money we owed, all that zero, minus zero we had but we conquered somehow. A lot of struggling and one year we win and the next we lose. It wasn’t easy. And they in 2014, I held the last festival I had in Bratislava. My best one was with George in 2011. Coming to Prague kick started a new way for me but I still brought a lot of baggage emotionally from London and when I arrived here after the festival in 2014, then change from where I was to where I am today was hard.

Terence: how old were you in 2014?

Victor: I’m going to be 38 in august 31st, so I was 33.

Terence: so you told me about the Afro Bilore festival, what was the most difficult part about the whole 4 year period?

Victor: Was actually to manage my wife and one of my. D.J. friends Rostia because they were no used to this kind of environment, crowd and take care of about 500 people. I needed to be the host, the organizer, the friend, teacher, husband, D.J. organizer, the list player, the cook organizer. So the first year was like very emotional people broke tears angry and all kind of stuff but it was worth the experience. The worst part was the beginning and the end. 

Terence: why did you say 2011 was the best year?

Victor: because when we brought the Georgie the singer, it was the fullest year and also the year I made a lot of mistake as well. It was good and bad at the same time. My mom was here. We were in all media, newspaper, T.V. stations, and radios, maybe, Facebook, everywhere. And it was so most of my clients were all international and at the time people did not grasp well the concept of festivals. People started new stuffs, they wanted to do new things. I was one of the first to elevate the level of festivals. And people in started catching up 2014. But. It was best because we had all mixture of people. We had different types of dances like Tango and others and other stuffs from fitness, to Latin, to African, but we made to make sure that the music, the concert, the people that come to sing was the main thing. So we danced from the late night or early night until late morning. It was a good year financially also and we could pay what we owe last year. And so we found ourselves in Zeros.

Terence: I want to know about your cooking skills. Tell me about that

Victor: In my home when we were kids, there was on rule at home; if you reach age from 5 to 7, you have to learn to cook something. And if my brother knows how to cook rice for example, and my sister knows how to make meat, and someone knows how to prepare a really good salad or grill or make nice eggs or other type of dishes, we need to organize ourselves to make a dinner, otherwise, none of us will eat. So sometime a mom was sick, so we have to prepare something or whenever I’m alone, I have to prepare something. So I started getting good reviews from my dad. He was surprised that I cooked so well and I didn’t burn anything. And at the age of 10 and 11, I started to develop more passion in cooking. And on weekends when families get around, we do barbeque and I prepare the stuff. He wanted to put me into a cooking school but I didn’t want it. But I learned a lot from where I went and what I did. And now my kids and love joining me while I cook but I would never tell them to be cooks but I will tell them to learn how to cook.

Terence: that’s a skill that you use throughout your life (unclear 47:37–41)

Victor: the cooking tell. I don’t know what the preference is. I can say most of the Africans we love our rice, potatoes, your collard greens and something like that. For example, if you were to prepare meat or fish or any dish that is animal type thing, marinade your food at least at least 6 to 12 hours a day before you before you cook slow, cooking. You know that really juicy. Sometimes I marinate my meat for two day so that they can be juicy. Sometimes I marinate with pear or black pear or red wine or white wine. White wine is good for red meat also. Red wine is also good for red meat and some fishes. White wine can be for everything fish and meat. Also it can add lemon, lime, which is best because it give the meat that kind of nutty mint taste. Garlic is essential.

Terence: tell me about your music skills. You said you played instruments at the time right?

Victor: I’m still learning. I have my guitar, piano. Fortunate enough I have much time to be very honest with you to pick up. I’m fortunate to have a very good producer. I will send you the like of both tracks. It’s online on ITunes already. About 4-5 tracks. But about 7 tracks are on the way. In August, I’ll be doing video clips and one of them is going to be in a wedding. I cannot say too much on that. My music is doing well. I went to Nice, south of France to record most of my songs, I have a very good songwriter, also a singer, Paulo Tavares Also. He has been in the scene for a long time, he’s my mentor and he is really amazing. I have the creator of music Ghetto Zouk music, David and giving me some tips and mentoring me to do better songs, better lyrics. I have another artist in Portugal, one of the lyricist that works with a lot of artists, Loretta. With amazing lyric abilities. I’m a small little baby but different skills than the others because my goal is to be like Joe the Perfect for Georgia Neto. Those were two big singers in the Cape Verdean community. There were singers and dancers at the same time. Now you know people would fill-up just with the song but when you dance, people relate to you more because that’s where the raw human us comes out it.

Terence: Can you expect your daughters to follow in your footsteps?

Victor: I don’t. To be honest if they ever do, I would be there to support them but whatever they do else, of course I’ll be that support. One thing everybody for sure, everybody has to do a little bit sport. Everybody has to go for sport. Mia knows how to do splits, Ely is a good runner. Things might change later but I don’t push them to be what they don’t want to be because also Mia like to draw and make cute things. Simple things for us, but for her it’s her world. I have to support her it whatever she like doing.

Terence: Switching gears on you, I want to ask you this series of really quick questions and I want you to try and answer them in 5 seconds or less. If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

Victor: Michael Jackson.

Terence: What is your favorite thing to do outside of dancing?

Victor: Cooking

Terence: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Victor: the egg was on the other side.

Terence: What is the best gift you ever received?

Victor: love

Terence: If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Victor: To read people’s mind.

Terence: As a child, what did you want to be growing up?

Victor: where I am today.

Terence: That’s awesome and so awesome. What advice would you give your 25 year old self?

Victor: never quit your dreams and thank you for keeping up with me.

Terence: what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Victor: “I believe in you and you are my love” That’s my wife.

Terence: what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Victor: you never going to make it would be better to do this.

Terence: Let’s say you’re stuck on an island for 5 days, you can only bring 3 things, and what three things will you bring?

Victor: More. Boat, food and my wife.

Terence: you answered the questions so well. Great Job! You’ve done so much in your life, What lessons have you learned from dancing that you are able to translate your everyday life? 

Victor: Something I do constantly and I focus on it every day in a very simple way; if you messed up, you keep going. In dance, you trip, you messed up, focused on my food, my frame, and focus on going. Communication is important. Learn to listen. It’s something that I’ve been try to learn because my past wasn’t easy so I try to learn something from dance and adapt it at home and it works with my kids it works with my wife and because I’m a very hard headed person and I’m tough, I’m a general when it comes to things but I’m also sensitive and know when to step back and listen and just be quiet and focus on how to solve the problems instead of focus on the problem.

Terence: tell me about the No speak weekend

Victor: it’s a kind of meditation with Chi Kong. It’s like a type of Tai-chi to harness energy. We work a different part of the body to visualize the spine to visualize the chest to visualize the hips, pelvic. And then being quiet is actually listening to your body. People are always going to talk to you, always wanted to distract you sometimes. But being quiet doesn’t mean I don’t want to speak them but being quiet is to listen to your body. We did a lot of meditation, different positions. I just came back like few hours ago and my body hurts. We work on bone shattering and my body getting to place, my hips are so lose. It’s really good as is also bonding with strangers and you’re going to be vulnerable towards them and they going to be for you and you are going to be in an intimate space with them. There will be touching and embrace, looking at eyes, things that you don’t do with strangers and you call it crazy but it open your eyes to things that we as a human should have and should do and Unfortunately we have to go places like this to. You can’t see people on the street and ask for a hug, they might see you as crazy or a pervert. So that is because people shut themselves out in the real world and normally most cases, we should be just that open, if you are this kind of open, people would be more understanding in terms of how you feel, how I feel, whatever you are I am, whatever you need I’ll be. It’s not about “me”.

Terence: that’s how life is sometimes

Victor: Yes but it is all the too very much for many people and also I took me a while to understood and it felt weird. It was strange at first being among people that I didn’t know and other stuffs. But it opened me in many ways and I felt connected with myself again. I see that the problem that I need to solve, the work I need to do. It really helps me to acknowledge the work that I still have to go for. I’m not there yet, still from the goal because dance gives a big toll mentally, physically, on your health big time and to be honest anatomically, it is not a good dance for our bodies because we’re doing something unnatural, even though we are feeling is unnatural because the hips get to point the hip joints that to be bone with bone and I bet ninety percent of all of us are feeling this and it affects people in their ability to walk straight. More dancers ask these questions because I’ve become a physiotherapist too so I know how to fix this but when it comes to her trust, it is something you have to go for it and until you have you know age enough weight to have operations.

Terence: I have heard people say that. I have been dancing Kizomba for maybe the past 3 or 4 years, the thing I notice is that sometimes like my lower back and my hips hurts

Victor: I will show you because in here, in this part of your lumber back, where you move and you turn, most guys don’t have it because most guys turn here, just want to turn a little more possible forward with a chest because they say we lead with the chest. But the chest has to come with something. You don’t lead with the chest and forget the rest of the spine, so and then therefore you want to do a movement, you move carefully to not use the hips as much so they block. So you start using the lower lumber of your back and where does it was struck to the legs and it’s the little legs you need to get affected your flexors in front of your legs start hurting and then it will not return to your full and it became flat because most of the dancers have flat foot and they walk at times almost like ducks.

Terence: I am flat footed as well.

Victor: So you your muscle see a little pressure on your hips, you walk wide. People walk wide not straight. Because the hips doesn’t have a softener, we just bounce. And that’s why most of the dancers that use lot of hips, ladies even my dance partner Yvonne also started using but also she does contemporary dances. She is super-duper flexible. If you don’t take care of on how your body react and how your body moves and you just move and you don’t harness the energy to replenish the energy you took your body, you will wake up every morning broke, malnourished. We eat but we don’t do the things that actually the body needs and its gives a big toll and that’s for me it’s like a big big eye opener because I had injuries in Capoeira and then I come for street dance and then Kizomba and then travelling, sit down, stand up many hours dancing all night, go to workshop, come home, travel back, go to work, go to the gym, go out, it is always physical so your body hurts whichever way, even while you sleep it still hurts. And that’s the big problem with a lot of people and unfortunately, this generation will suffer big time because the next generation are going to suffer more because dancing is becoming more intense thereby affecting the bones more. And I and many people who dance Kizomba try to mobilize or isolate the body as much as possible to give a good effect but that affects causes a defect later on. The joints try to be thinner and thinner.

Terence:  what can we do that will help us with this?

Victor: yes. Stretch more, take your magnesium, and eat food that will grow your cartilage. Avoid acid food such as dairy food. Avoid food that takes those minerals out your joints such as red meat. Eat red meat in moderation. Avoid sugars or hard sugars as it makes to be freer. I lick sweets here and there but it comes from fruit. Lower dairies, increase of vegetables. Avoid broccolis and cauliflowers because they are not good for your joints. Exercise the muscles that are weak. If you do, Kizomba will be quite very good. Stretching into the quadroons. Quarter quarters it’s good to do the loops is good. Anything to do with your with your fronts flexors and your gluts in your sides, the hips and the sides around it. You always need to be aware of it. It is not a pleasant exercise because it comes with pain but it gets better when you train continuously as the muscles would have been strengthened more day after day.

Terence: I know this is your new business, can you tell me about Ghetto Zouk dance?

Victor: Ghetto Zouk dance was born on December 15, 2015 when we registered, copywrited, established, finished the project. And then on January 11, 2015, we launched it at the tower in Prague in one of our parties to introduce Ghetto Zouk dance as a method, not as a style because a method is what we think we use but we don’t. So simply put, the Ghetto Zouk dance is a method that has a combination of the Basics of Kizomba and the feeling of Urban and a contemporary of the cultural background but felt in a different way, moved in a different way, adapted in a different way. The central of the Ghetto Zouk dance is called leading 5050 where a man and woman can actually both lead, like Tango. In this motion, the lady don’t feel like she’s manipulated or submissive. You don’t have to hold a lady on the wrist as it might seem like you are beating a woman. You can old the lady on the hand but they don’t have a strong wrist because they never work on strength in the wrist and the point of vital points on the body because the body’s here so the ladies don’t want to be invaded here but they want to be invaded here. Ghetto Zouk dance involves all of these elements but the music itself, which is 95 percent is what we listen in festivals. It needs to be addressed. Just my question before I made Ghetto Zouk was if it is a Semba music, then it is Semba dance. If it is Kizomba music, it’s Kizomba dance. Why do we have ghetto Zouk music and no Ghetto Zouk dance? And I thought I had to create a style like the Brazilian Zouk style. I decided to create a better, more together kind of style. The method does not change your style per se, it will change your perception on how you lead, how you feel the music, how fast to receive another presence space and also request and it also makes respect more the woman’s space as well as your space both ways because when you give a woman too much space nowadays they don’t know what to do with it. So that’s a simple fact to see how much submissive and how much manipulated the women are in the thing that’s why now you see not a ladies doing men’s work because the guys want a lady they can be under and is a lot of the masculine feminists kind of thing going on because when I point you out as a leader you become a leader even if you don’t know nothing about leading any lady or technically savvy. But as soon as the ladies starts to be better than the leader, the leader won’t like it. It can create hysteria between the men and women. So the first thing the man does it to try to put the woman down even if the woman knows more than the man.

Terence: I’m curious. Do you know Miss Riquita Alta or Miss Nogueira?

Victor: Of course.

Terence: I had them on the show and they are very wonderful

Victor: I worked with Riquita in London. She’s actually one of the first pioneers after Kwenda and Iris. It was Kwenda and Rita then Kwenda and Iris that helped spread Kizomba to the outside world. I and her worked on projects and also with some other people but you know each other very well, we are cool. With Lucy, we work in Luxemburg at the third Kizomba festival. And then we saw each other again in another festival.

Terence: they are so passionate, wonderful, they know so much, and it was great to have them. It’s terrible and it’s more so in Europe, they said Kizomba is becoming male dominated and it’s tough and they are struggling with that.

Victor: back in the days when this started, they did not realize that women one day would be leading us in this case. The guys were separate from the lady and the ladies would do their own bits just to keep in the game so between, the passion, the ego, the want, and the willing the crash, ups and downs, the ladies had to do something and because many guys have been screwing up personally, professionally, and there is more ladies in festivals by far compared to men and so they start their own movement like in Urban keys, starting their own solo. Ladies start to be competitive with men. Because many guys have very low self-esteem, they look for weaker people and prey on them. That is why if some guys meet better dancers, they find it difficult to cope with them. People as strong as Riquita can only be led by men that know what they are doing. It doesn’t mean you should know more than her, but know what you are doing. It’s not about knowing about each other but know what to do. Knowing what to do at any time, makes you a better dancer. From basics to a technical musicality, for music appreciation, the culture aspects, your weight, charisma, for your ego, just be that cool person. Smile. That makes you to know what to do, not to be a better person than someone else. The problem with the Kizomba world, which comes with the urban kids, is the ego. There are good people in the urban kiss sphere but there are bad people as well. Masters will tell you the same. It’s the same with Kizomba too. The problem is you cannot eradicate ego from people. For you to have such a company like you have now you have to have some a little bit ego for you to have some self-confidence. It’s oaky but it mustn’t be too much. Some people cannot control themselves and I have noticed in Kizomba that a lot of people have a lot problem with themselves and they think the dance floor is the next best thing to therapy. They don’t know that the negativity they leave on the dance floor is picked up by other people. People start feeling weird, people start doing strange things around 3’o clock in the morning. They start having mood swings, from happy to sad, before festivals end, people have straight faces while they dance. These are psychological issues that people don’t look into. If you ask someone why they dance Kizomba, they say they dance it because they love the dance, environment and the culture, but they don’t talk about themselves. Because if I ask you why you dance Kizomba

Terence: I will give the same answer

Victor: see. Because Kizomba comes with the feeling that everything is spiritual. If you take care of the person you are and you are vulnerable to another person because you need to know what to do for you to be able to serve the person that doesn’t know how you dance, so you have to be vulnerable a little bit then you can be OK when you find out the in and out of the person. But is do you have to transfer energy be along each other the sooner you touch the energies already in currents like it is a normal thing you don’t mind my know you might not know if the president’s is a cool thing but he might find a present I feel like vulnerable just by being cute Lisa and I find it nice in a flirting way. But the person just vulnerable just need a maybe a night to call out you know something that is all just a moment just to feel loved the best moment she has and he have you know. And it is the kind of stuff that comes with Cork troubles. People run away and they do things that are supposed to do. They go to dark rooms and other stuffs. People don’t do things not because they are bad people it is because they have issues themselves that they cannot sort out but they put it on the dance floor. It’s a pity because it does bring animosity among the feeling and the heart without the knowledge. If you are too nice and gentle they say you are flirting. If you are cool they start wondering. If you have a girlfriend and you dance with another girl they say you are doing another thing. That’s the perception because this energy of goes with everybody’s mind because people may know the environment but might not know the person. Unfortunately, that’s the only flaw I find in the Kizomba world because no one knows how to deal with their issues before they go to the dance floor. That’s why I ask people not to judge each other in my classes to avoid any spark. They shouldn’t have their issues at work or home affect them in Kizomba classes. You say one thing and that triggers violent reactions from them. When you tell a woman to master her role before trying to be a man, she reacts by saying all men are the same. She just started 3 years and she just started doing men’s role but she misinterprets you. The most important thing is to be straightforward with them. It’s very sad because unfortunately the world that we’re living, we sharing a lot of good but mostly bad stuff too and that’s why people that need say same people don’t go to the same festival all the time.

Terence: At this point in your career, what defines success for you?

Victor: My team. My wife, my accountant Nisha, my dance partner Yvonne, my niece she’s a spokeswoman and people who put things together for us. My students, they have become a family, sponsors who believe in the course. In general, people start to see me in a different light because I get out from Kizomba to come up with something different and things are clearer. I’m going now in June 21st to Asia until August the 5th to do a tour in almost all the Asian countries for Kizomba vs. ghetto Zouk dance. It’s the people that I have that work relentless for my course and also for the course of the company because without them I would not be here talking to you.

Terence: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Tell me, what other events do you have coming up?

Victor: today is the 24th, next weekend I would be in Lithuania, Salsa international, I’m going to be the host. Also I’m the mascot of the company. A week after I would be in Lithuania again for birthday party which I’m going to be singing and entertain for a very good friend of mine. On April 12th to 14th, in Switzerland in Geneva, I would be in a boot Camp for hours. Then it is Easter family time then I have on the 27, I have my boot camp, Afro versus Kizomba, which is out there. 3, 4 I’m free, 11, 12 is mothers’ day. I will be in butane France will be teaching some of my students which is really cool. 19th is my daughter’s birthday. The 25th of May is my boot camp and then I have another book camp on and June and 8 hours of Intensive boot camp from the beginning at the end plus 2 hours Master Class. Then I have one week in June to reset, organize myself to Asia tour, in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Manila, Japan, possibly that is not come from yet and then come back few days then go to Portugal for a wedding and do my three music videos. One in the wedding, one with my brother and one on my own. And then September start and then roll over. Also I would be in US because really my guys also in Canada we want me to go there and I’m just trying to make time for them but going to Canada is not easy at the moment because of the work, but I will love to be served for you guys.

Terence: we will love to have you.

Victor: for sure it’s going to be a great experience seeing you guys.

Terence: can you please tell the people how they can get in contact with you?

Victor: if you go to the easy less complicated ghettozoukdance.com or Kizombaprague.com, click on the English and you will find everything there about what I do and how I do it, including what’s going on, what I did in the past, all the stories there from the beginning to the end. You pretty much find everything I do, my biography, my contact number, pretty much everything you need to find and if you are not satisfied, there is a phone number there, WhatsApp me, fast as a lighting to respond.

Terence: I really appreciate you taking your time to talk to me, you know so much bro

Victor: all the pleasure and I’m humbled to have you here.

Terence: enjoy the rest of your night. Thank you very much

Victor:  thank you very much. Just keep doing what you are doing, you might inspire people and even if it contradicts what some people believe, as we spoke about it, do what your guts tell you to do and people like me are always going to support you. The company will always be there for you. Let me know your size though.

Terence: thank you so much Victor. I got you take it easy.

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