2010 Joanna and Martin meet
2011 Joanna starts Cuban dance courses with Luis Estevez at Ritmo Tropical and then switches to Jorge and Blaga at Floridita, where Martin has already been dancing for some time
2012 first festival together at Rovinj (Croatia)
2013 first time in Cuba together
April 2013 first cubaila viena timbamania party at the then Wirr Nachtcafé (today's Club Dual)
Fall 2013 first dance workshops by Martin and Joanna
January 2014 first Cuban Weekend with Ania Zajac (Poland)
March 2014 first Rueda de Casino flashmob at MQ
Summer 2014 first Burggarten parties as cubaila viena
May 2015 first cubaila viena festival group (Festival Cubano, Poland)
Fall 2015 first semester courses with Yusimi (Rumba/Afro)
February 2016 first group dance week in Havana (Cuba)
March 2016 first semester course for students and introduction of a structured long-term dance program
July 2016 first garden, barbecue & pool party
2016-2020 continuous expansion of course and event offers
2020 & 21 almost complete shutdown due to Covid-19 and significantly reduced program
July 2021 first dance weekend at Ollers (Ollersdorf, Burgenland)
March 2022 the goal to offer long-term courses for all Afrocuban dances in Vienna has been achieved
May 2022 start of planning our first international festival
Summer 2022 Joanna and Martin get married
March 2023 first international Afrocuban festival in Vienna: "Menéate Viena"
May 2023 new outdoor location USUS am Wasser
October 2023 10 years of cubaila viena – first TIMBA EN EL CIELO event at Wolke21
Joanna's and Martin's dance beginnings
cubaila viena was founded by me, Joanna, and my now husband Martin. I have always loved dancing, but I grew up in rural Upper Austria, where dance courses were practically non-existent. So I usually danced for myself in my room and later, as a teenager, passionately at reggae/dancehall parties. The inspiration for my dancing I usually found in music clips. In 2007 I moved to Vienna for my studies. I tried belly dance, but that wasn’t the right thing for me. When I met Martin and he told me that he was dancing salsa, I was irritated at first – the way I pictured salsa was slick guys in glittery outfits with a deep V neckline –, but once I had gotten a little taste of his world, I was inspired and felt that I had found something that would give me great pleasure for many years to come.
Martin has been dancing for a long time. He went to dance school as a teenager and spent many years dancing Standard and Latin ballroom, but during his years abroad and time at the theater he stopped completely. In the mid-2000s he was looking for a new dance he could be learning in Vienna in the evening, and he quickly came upon salsa, which he already knew a little from Canada. He learned his first steps with David Quesada Mendiola at the then Club Habana Vienna at Mahlerstrasse (which is long gone), friends then brought him to Jorge and Blaga at Floridita (today's Danzón), where Rueda de Casino and Cuban salsa were taught at the time. He ended up dancing there practically every night and soon became part of the mobile inventory.
After returning to Vienna from my 2011 Erasmus stay abroad, I found a very private Cuban salsa course with only two couples taught by Luis Estevez (Ritmo Tropical) and learned the basics of couples dance there. After that I also switched to Blaga and Jorge at Floridita, where I spent one-and-a-half years taking all kinds of Rueda de Casino and couples salsa courses.
In June 2012 Martin and I traveled to my first salsa festival at Rovinj (HR), and a new world opened up to me. After attending a variety of Cuban dance workshops I was completely fascinated by how much the world of Cuban dance has to offer (all of which did not exist in Vienna at the time): timba, rumba, afro, styling, reggaeton, son and authentic Cuban casino in general, without back steps. From this event on, it was clear to me that I wanted to learn as much as possible in all of these styles; my passion had been ignited.
cubaila viena is born
February 2013 was my first time in Cuba with Martin. For one month we took very many private lessons, went to countless parties and concerts to dance and explored the island. At dinner in a restaurant, I suggested to Martin that we could do a weekly Cuban dance party in Vienna because there was no place in Vienna where all Cuban dance styles could be danced to the newest Cuban music. I also had already drawn up the name and logo, and since he really liked the idea, cubaila viena was born.
Back in Vienna I immediately inquired at Wirr restaurant if we could do a Cuban salsa party in their basement club Wirr Nachtcafé on Wednesdays, and they were very open to this idea. So, on Wednesday, 10 April 2013, the very first cubaila viena timbamania party took place, which very quickly became a weekly highlight for all lovers of Cuban music and dance for many years to come.
At these parties we were regularly asked where in Vienna one could learn to dance Casino and Rueda de Casino the way we were doing it, and since we couldn't think of anyone, we decided to offer dance workshops ourselves. Martin's professional pedagogic background as well as his love for dance and detail and Joanna's dance talent, motivation and organizational skills were the perfect mix and mutual complement for our first concept; so, in fall 2013 we started offering a series of 4-week courses which we continuously kept refining.
Over the next few years, we added more and more courses and developed ourselves. As our original target group were people already dancing in the salsa scene, we were well attended right from the start, but we only had moderate success with our concept in the first few years. Among other things, we had overestimated the willingness and possibilities of many people already dancing salsa to change their dance style to authentic Casino and Timba.
When taking dance courses at Floridita – in my early 20s – I had been somewhat disappointed that not more people my age could be found in this dance scene (or stayed in it after attending their first course - the few who tried seemed to like it but they also disappeared again rather quickly because of the higher average age). Back then, it felt like the salsa scene in Vienna was for people over 40.
For this reason, I set myself the goal to win over many young people to Cuban dances, which have very much to offer a young audience – vibrant energy, modern music and never-ending development hand in hand with respect for the cultural tradition.
First Festival Group 2015
In May 2015 I organized the first cubaila viena to go to the international "Festival Cubano" at Bielsko-Biala (Poland) together. Since joint dance weekends not only offer many possibilities to develop one's dancing and have fun, but also to explore new places, meet new people and get to know the others in the group even better, in the meantime joint trips to more than 40 international Afrocuban dance festivals have followed.
In March 2016 we redefined our concept and started our first beginner semester course for students. We had more than 40 participants straightaway, some of whom are still dancing in our most advanced groups. After that, we gradually switched all our courses to the semester system to facilitate sustainable long-term learning for all participants and to create a community that quickly feels like family. We have remained faithful to this concept to this day, and it has evolved very successfully.
Cuban Weekends with international guests and trips to international festivals
From the beginning, it was very important to us at least once a semester to invite international dance instructors to inspire our dancers and to show that the world of Cuban dance entails many facets with which one can keep developing forever. Already in January 2014 we organized our first Cuban Weekend with Anja Zajac from Poland, and countless others with various international dance instructors and DJs have followed: Yusimi Moya Rodriguez (Cuba/AT), Nano Hechavarria (Cuba/Israel), Leysis Smith (Cuba/IT), Osmel Penton (Cuba/AT), Johnson Mayet (Cuba), Daniel Pancerz (PL), Edyta Lanc (PL), Heidi Gajewska (PL), Eryk Januszyk (PL), Oliwia Szewczak (PL), Kuba Kowalczyk (PL), Ivan Jovanovic (MNE), Radovan Ostojic (SRB), Juana Mitrovic (SRB), Ania Kurowska (PL), Diana Reggaetonera (SK), DJ Indio (HU), DJ El Honguito (PL).
Every year we also organize several groups that are going to international Cuban dance festivals, such as: Havana en Belgrado (SRB), Cubanero (SRB), Que Calor (PL), Festival Cubano (PL), Manana Ljubljana (SLO), Arrebatate (HU), Cubalencia (ESP), Guaguancó (ESP), Agua Festival (GR), Cuba in Tunisia (TUN), A lo cubano (S), Ay! Que Rico! (PL) … and we're adding new ones every year!
Dance weeks in Havana and other specials for our regular dancers
Every February since 2016 (except in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic) we organize a dance week for 12-16 more advanced cubailer@s in the capital of our favorite dance world to take dance lessons, go to parties and live concerts and make little trips together. Simply a beautiful active group holiday under the Caribbean sun that connects us even more.
People you've been dancing with for years become family, and families need festivities to share. Therefore, we invite our long-term dance friends to our already traditional Christmas parties with punch and waffles at our home or to our garden, barbecue and pool party in summer at Stammersdorf.
Since 2021, we spend a long dance weekend every late summer with more advanced dancers at Ollersdorf in Burgenland, where we dance, eat, party and chill at the pool together.
All Afrocuban dances under one roof
In the summer semester 2022 we managed to reach our longstanding goal of offering long-term dance courses for all Afrocuban dances in Vienna. We are thus the only community able to simultaneously cover a broad yet very specific domain of dances in comprehensive fashion, thereby enriching the Vienna dance scene.
Joanna and Martin get married
In July 2022 we got married, and of course we didn't want to do this without some cubailer@s who have become part of our closest circle of friends over the years.
In September we then "recelebrated" our wedding in timba style with our entire Vienna dance family at Wolke21. Our Timba Wedding Party was an unforgettable highlight which we would love to repeat many more times – and this notion has already given birth to the idea for a new event (see October 2023).
On the occasion of the upcoming 10th anniversary of cubaila viena in spring 2022 we set ourselves the goal to organize our first big international festival so that next to our day-to-day business with cubaila viena we can bring even more Cuban culture to Vienna and showcase the country whose culture gives us so much also in this international setting.
In late March 2023 the time had finally come: at three different locations, the first edition of the four-day Menéate Viena Festival took place with international dance instructors, DJs, musicians and guests. You can find more info on the festival here: meneate-viena.at.
Timba en el cielo
In October 2023 our latest event – TIMBA EN EL CIELO – premieres with workshops and party at Wolke21. Unforgettable hours just like at our Timba Wedding Party, and a perfectly suitable setting for 10 years of cubaila viena!