Bachata and merengue both originated in the Dominican Republic, and it’s the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in a culture where people love these music and dance styles.
I spent two wonderful years living in the capital, Santo Domino. On my small street, there were two colmados (corner stores) where bachata or merengue were played on full blast all day long. On Fridays and Saturdays, my friends and I would go from location to location to dance, drink Presidente beer, and hang out. As a dance-obsessed traveler, I was in heaven.
So many people have reached out to me for dance recommendations that I’ve created a dance map of Santo Domingo. You can find it here. The dance map includes information on where to…
1) Dance most nights of the week, as well as what to wear to each venue
2) Shop for dance clothes and shoes
3) Stay in the city
I also share many of my other favorite tips for having a great time dancing while in the DR.
If you want one hot tip, watch the video below. I created this video on my very first trip to the Dominican Republic when I was scouting for a future retreat.
For all the wonderful details about the many, many places to dance in Santo Domingo, grab my dance map!
Let me tell you a story.
Six years ago, shortly after launching my business, I began a weekly newsletter called Fuck Yes Fridays.
I remember clicking “send” for the first time.
I was PSYCHED, my branding felt ON POINT and I was ALL IN to support people in leaving the mediocre behind. My mission then (and now) was to help others create a values-based business and lifestyle that went far beyond “good,” or even “hell yes.”
The email went out.
And then the response came: Many people LOVED the branding… and others were appalled by it (I know now that these are not my ideal audience members, but at the time their response made me feel scared about the viability of my business).
After receiving a few nasty comments, I made the decision to silence my voice.
–> Oof. Writing that sentence makes me cringe. <–
Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you needed to squash the real you in order to fit in, find clients or otherwise be successful?
This is a lie. Don’t believe it.
Now that I’ve studied marketing, led one of my businesses through the foremost incubator for creative companies in the world, and become a six-figure entrepreneur, I know a few things for sure.
Thing #1: You want a memorable brand.
Your job is to stand out and get noticed. This does mean, however, that people will have opinions about you and your work.
“If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you,” wrote Seth Goin in his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. “That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise–ever.”
But you know what?
People who don’t like you, think you’re weird or don’t understand what the hell you’re doing will often still talk about you. And that’s free promotion.
Thing #2: Your audience needs YOU, specifically.
You will say things, offer services, etc… in a way that speaks to your ideal clients.
You are meant to serve a distinct population, not everyone. By using YOUR colors, speaking in YOUR voice, and being willing to say things that feel true to YOU (which may or may not include drooping the the F-bomb if you’re anything like me!), the RIGHT people will find you. Even better, these people will be over-the-moon that you’re there. They will feel connected to you. They will feel like you GET them.
Even if they’ve seen others offering the same service or sharing a similar message, it’s possible your people never feel connected to it.
For instance, three different coaches might talk about reaching your goals in different ways:
Coach 1: We will use the principles of neuroscience to support you in establishing new habits!
Coach 2: Let’s talk about energetic alignment, the law of attraction and quantum physics
Coach 3: It’s time to clarify what you want and then create concrete steps to getting there
And on, and on and on.
I’ve seen coaches from each of these different categories (and many more) cultivate thriving businesses and raving fans. The same person who goes to coach no. 1, however, may be completely different than the person who goes to coach no. 2. These service providers carve out their niche by being themselves and embracing their unique methodology.
Being authentic also means less wasted time on calls with potential collaborators or clients, since people will already have a feel for who you are and what you value.
Thing #3: We live in an ABUNDANT world with TONS of people who need different things
You know that influencer who has 1 million followers? There are SO MANY PEOPLE on this planet that there could be 0 overlap between these people and your big, future audience.
If you buy into any story about scarcity, you may try to mimic others out there. This will not be as fulfilling or sustainable as showing up as yourself.
Be yourself and the right people will come to you. You will like these people better. They will like you better. Your relationship with them is based in authenticity and truth.
The process is similar to dating. Put on a mask, and you might get lots of people interested in you that aren’t actually a great match.
Thing #4: Being yourself makes decision making simple
WWID — what would I do?
If you’re trying to be someone else, mimic another person, or do things the “right” way (the “right” way is a complete myth, BTW), decision making can be a challenge.
When you’re you, you know your values, priorities, and goals. Because of this, you can make aligned decisions more quickly (which is key to our next-level of success). You won’t hem and haw wondering ‘What would this OTHER person do?”
Since being an entrepreneur in this world means trying something, seeing what works, and then iterating, fast decision making is absolutely key to moving forward.
Which of these tips resonates most for you? Share in the comments below.
Also — as you may have guessed — Fuck Yes Fridays are back. Sign up for my mailing list to get my updates in your inbox!
Embrace the Adventure,
In this post, I’ll share with you my best tips for credit card bonuses so that you’ll be ready to travel in style later in 2021. This includes a scoop on two credit cards that give HUGE RETURNS (and that even The Points Guy hasn’t featured on his site).
If you’re new to leveraging credit card reward points and bonuses, do some research. While it’s far more simple than most people expect, there is a tiny bit of a learning curve. (Also, a note for folks living outside of the US: These bonuses are often available for you, too, but perhaps not through the websites I’ll list below).
Why do I love geeking out about this subject?
- It’s really friggin’ valuable: In 2021, I anticipate that I’ll complete more than $13,000 worth of travel for free. Badass, right?
- It’s aligned with my values: Because I’m an entrepreneur who values adventure, freedom and wonder, travel is a critical part of my self-care. Points made it possible for me to travel back when I was just starting my business, meaning I didn’t have to sacrifice that part of my life at a time when pinching pennies was the norm. I love sharing what I know with others who have similar values.
- Less physical pain: I first experienced the value of luxury travel during my trip to India in January 2019. Because I had enough points to book business class seats, I was able to lie flat for most of the journey, sleep during the flight, and eat healthy food most of the way. I arrived feeling energized and coped with the jet lag much easier. Most importantly, however, I saw that travel didn’t need to cause me physical pain. Because I have crazy low blood pressure, my body does not do well on overnight flights in economy where I have to stay upright. During trips like this, the pain in my legs is so severe that I can’t sleep and often have to spend most of my time pacing around the cabin. By the time I arrive at my destination, I haven’t slept and I’m cranky from dealing with cramping and spasms. It sucks, and it’s completely unnecessary… thanks to credit card points.
- More money for what matters: As an entrepreneur, I am responsible for putting money into my retirement. By not paying for travel, I have more money to contribute to my SEPP or ROTH IRA.
Credit Cards That Are Rocking My World Right Now:
During this pandemic, I’ve opened two credit cards:
- Iberia Airways card (100,000 Avios airline miles): When I searched “how to use 100,000 Avios miles,” I discovered that this is enough to get you a first-class ticket to Tokyo from San Francisco or Los Angeles. Ummmmmm, yes please!
- Air France/KLM Card (50,000 airline miles): Air France and KLM are part of the Sky Team conglomerate, which also includes Delta. This 50,000-point bonus can cover a couple of domestic flights or even get you a one-way economy class ticket to Korea.
Oldies, but goodies:
I currently have these cards in my wallet)
- AMEX platinum (free Uber credit each month, travel concierge service, $200 airline credit, subscription to Calm, access to airline lounges and a lot more): I originally got this card because of the huge sign up bonus (75,000 points), however I’ve kept it because the benefits are just so good. Plus — HOT TIP — AMEX has been great about waving annual fees due to the pandemic. Rather than have me close my card, they gave me a $500 statement credit (the annual fee for this card is $550). While I know $550 may sound like a high price point, I believe this card more than pays for itself. The AMEX lounges at airports around the world are lovely places where you can get good food, a free chair massage, and fast wifi. I sometimes schedule longer layovers on purpose just to spend time in them. Because I would typically spend $20 – $30 on food or alcohol during a long day of travel, this bonus saves me quite a bit of cash.
- Chase Sapphire (big sign-up bonus, airline credit): I’ll likely be trading this card in soon, but it’s been a great card to have thanks to the airline credit, sign up bonus, and 0 fees when I’m traveling abroad.
Rental cars, hotels and restaurants, oh my!
I spent New Year’s Even 2017/2018 in a hotel overlooking Times Square in New York City. This was an annual tradition for some of my friends, who would pool their credit card points and rent out nearly an entire floor of the building.
Since then, I’ve also used credit card points to stay in other lovely hotels across the United States, as well as in India and Portugal. Sometimes I’ve used my points to book rooms. Other times, when I can find a great deal, I’ll book and then enjoy a free upgrade (my AMEX card gives me automatic gold status at Marriott, which means a free upgrade every time I stay).
When it comes to car rentals, some cards (I’m lookin’ at you again, AMEX!) provide complimentary membership in premium car rental programs, including special upgrades and discounts. That said, you can also use your points to book cars for next-to-nothing when you have a card like Chase Sapphire.
And finally: Restaurants. While you can redeem some points for gift cards to restaurants, you can also pay attention to which restaurants will give you a 2 – 5x return on whatever you spend.
Because of all the benefits I’ve listed, I believe it is 100% worth your time to take an afternoon to learn more about credit card points and how to use them responsibly.
Embrace the Adventure,
From the time I was little, I knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur.
I loved creating things. While growing up, I sold lemonade, homemade birthday and holiday cards, and a lot more.
I loved to lead. I started a scary story club when I was 10, a cappella groups in high school and college, and organized gatherings that brought people together.
I valued freedom. I wasn’t made to work for others, in one place or a typical 9 – 5 schedule. I would rather have worked 12 hours a day on my own terms than 8 hours a day for someone else.
Plus, I just felt like entrepreneurship was for me. I knew in my bones that I was destined to have a business.
Nevertheless, starting a company felt terrifying. Why? I was a first-generation entrepreneur, and I had no idea where to start.
What is a first generation entrepreneur?
A first generation entrepreneur did not grow up in a family of entrepreneurs. Most commonly, their close friends, mentors or role models are not business owners. They do not interact with anyone regularly for whom successful entrepreneurship is the norm. They may have interacted with aspiring entrepreneurs who never dedicated themselves to a business idea or who did not succeed and went back to a day job.
What are the unique challenges of a first-generation entrepreneur?
- Entrepreneurship is not normalized: They didn’t grow up hearing their parents talk business around the dinner table. In fact, business ownership may be feared or has a stigma. The people who surround first-generation entrepreneurs often have negative stereotypes about entrepreneurship… and this is what the would-be entrepreneur hears about day in and day out. Because of this, it’s hard for the first-generation entrepreneur to know the difference between interpretation and fact. Is starting a business truly inherently risky? Or are there tried-and-tested ways to mitigate risk? Can a businesses only be a side hustle or hobby for people like them? Or can anyone who is courageous and hardworking follow steps and best practices that will dramatically increase the chance of success?
- They can’t just go to business school: It would be great if an MBA prepared you to be a successful entrepreneur… but it doesn’t. In fact, it might just leave you with debt that makes it even scarier or impractical to start a company. I’ve heard so many entrepreneurs battle with the question of whether or not they should get an MBA, and this is an experience I know well. In my desperation to avoid starting a company, I applied for business school. Ultimately, I received a full ride… and turned it down. I wanted to start my business NOW and I realized pursuing my MBA would require me to learn a lot of things that didn’t directly apply to my company. In short, more school would have made me feel safe, but was ultimately just a clever form of procrastination. Six years into being an entrepreneur, I see ways that an MBA could have benefitted me, but I still believe I made the right choice not to pursue this path.
- Mentors are not built in: A big reason I didn’t start my business earlier (in fact, it took me 10 years) is because I didn’t know who to turn to for support. When I met entrepreneurs, they were willing to answer a few questions, but not to discuss business with me every week. I couldn’t call those entrepreneurs when I was scared and have them say “I really understand” and look at my numbers, marketing strategy, etc… Instead, I had to find my own mentors and hire them so I could get the amount of support I truly needed. This leads to my next point:
- Their first years in business are not just about starting a company: The first-generation entrepreneur often balances their launch with assuaging the fears of or educating their families and friends. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? And is it really a good idea to invest in your dream or in yourself? Many people are confronted by the idea of investing in themselves via a massage once a month or buying organic food. It makes sense, then, that the idea of a first-generation entrepreneur hiring a life or business coach (or both, as I did in my first year) could seem crazy. And yet… many first-generation entrepreneurs need this level of support.
- The learning curve is steep: Because they weren’t exposed to entrepreneurship early on, first-generation entrepreneurs often have to learn their lessons by trying new things, making mistakes and then re-adjusting or pivoting. This process may be terrifying, since — per point no. 1 — it’s not normalized. In many cases, the learning process is so far outside their comfort zone that they ultimately give up.
What can the aspiring first-generation entrepreneur do to support themselves?
- Stop asking for advice before you start: While having some conversations can be supportive, having conversation after conversation as a way to avoid failure or stall your learning curve is not helpful. Commit to the learning curve and ask for advice after you’ve really started to apply yourself to the entrepreneurship process. It will make your conversations much richer and you will earn the respect of the entrepreneurs you encounter.
- If you feel fear, get support: It took me 10 years to start my business because I was scared. I wish I’d met a life or business coach earlier who understood the value of mindset and could support me with fear-related self-sabotages. Plus: Accountability. Anyone who is stalled by fear needs someone who knows how to lovingly hold them accountable and challenge them around facing the underlying fears or limiting beliefs that keep people stuck.
- Find a community: You may find solace is being around other entrepreneurs. My own community, The Thriving Creator, is one amazing place to get connected to fellow business owners.
- Do something, anything: Again, any action you take will lead to lessons learned. As long as you’re paying attention and cataloguing those lessons, you will gain invaluable wisdom and experience. The action you take will also better prepare you to apply to business incubators, if that’s a type of support you choose to seek later on. I did this for my company Dance Adventures and it was a total blast!
Are you a first-generation entrepreneur? What’s your business? Share below!
Embrace the Adventure,
P.S. I will be riffing about first-generation entrepreneurship more soon. Stay tuned on the blog!
Fear. Insecurity. Anxiety.
It’s not very festive…. but it’s REAL.
And, while most of my friends, family and clients have been expressing ample gratitude for what they have, MOST are experiencing at least one of the feelings I listed above.
I’ve been a part of discussions about this in my virtual coworking community, business mastermind and plenty of other places. Inspired by them, here are some of my top suggestions for alleviating fear, insecurity and anxiety as they arise.
- Give yourself space to feel your feelings: Rather than operate on top of negative emotions, pause and see what’s there. I sometimes think about my emotions as children. When they’re upset, I don’t ignore them. I kneel down and ask “What’s wrong, love?” Then, I listen. Often, I write down everything I hear (a sort of journaling exercise). Emotions, like children, often get louder when they’re ignored.
- Set very achievable goals: On days when you’re not feeling great, choose one or two tasks you can complete and then celebrate the hell out of doing them. Our success is more about consistent action than about achieving off-the-chart results each day. If you can keep moving and positively reinforce that progress, rather than beat yourself up for not having peak productivity, you’re much better off.
- Ritual: Is there a way to infuse your core values into a ritual? For example, some of my core values are creativity, freedom and connection. I’ve created a morning ritual where I go for a quick walk around the block while listening to grounding music on Spotify and sipping my morning Rasa. It helps quell my anxiety (an ongoing challenge) and gets me ready to start my day.
- Make sure you feel aligned with what you’re offering through your business: Do you believe in all your services or products? If not, trying to sell them likely increases anxiety or stress. If something feels off, chat with a coach, colleague or friend about your concerns.
- Do a calendar inventory: Do you really need all those meetings on your calendar? Are there some you have out of habit vs. from a real need? Are there any you can cut down by 10 – 30 minutes if you and the other parties came prepared to dive in?
- Community: Cultivate your social support (read tips from the Mayo Clinic here). During the pandemic, fight the urge to just stay home. Create explicit agreements with your friends about meeting up and then go have a great time. Even an hour or two can lift your spirits. Go for a walk, go snowshoeing or have a bonfire. If Zoom is the way you stay in touch with friends or family far away, find creative ways to have those calls: set up game nights, read each other stories or make the same dinner at the same time.
- Give yourself something to look forward to: Can’t travel or visit friends/family right now? Do some research and plan a REALLY FUN trip that you can take in the future. So far during this pandemic, I’ve planned amazing trips to Italy and Japan. If you REALLY need variety/adventure to feel like yourself, consider some of the new virtual AirBnB experiences. You can meditate with monks in Bali, take a tour of street art in Japan or do yoga with an Olympic athlete.
- Eat well: Check out this resource from UCLA that highlights stress-reducing foods.
- Take a wonder walk: Head outside and practice taking in everything around you with wide-eyed wonder. The more over the top you go with this, the more fun/relaxing it is. Wonder walks are also great (and often hilarious) to do with friends.
- Workout (hot tip: “exercise snacks”): Make these non-negotiable even if it’s just 15 minutes of jogging in place each morning. You can also try “exercise snacks,” and do sets of squats, pushups or other types of exercise throughout the day. Exercise is proven to make you happier and offers many other benefits, too.
- Turn off technology: Give yourself permission to not look at your phone or your computer until a certain time in the morning. In the evening, do the same. If you’re noticing that this is difficult, you may need to find a stress-reducing hobby or ritual to replace the screen. This could be reading fantasy books, playing the guitar, journaling before bed, listening to a pre-downloaded podcast or music (with your phone on airplane mode), creating art or taking long walks with a friend or family member. Remember: You need time to just BE in order to balance the time you spend working or giving to others.
How do you reduce stress, anxiety and fear? Let me know below.
On November 8, 2020, some of my closest friends gathered for a very special occasion: my marriage to myself.
It was uncomfortable to plan this event. Each step of the way forced me outside my comfort zone. What would people think if I married myself? Was it selfish to have an entire non-birthday celebration dedicated to just me? Could I get myself a ring (I REALLY wanted to)?Would people think I was compensating for not being married? Was it ok to spend this much money on myself? Would people take the ceremony seriously? Would my vows be meaningful to me or would they feel weird? Would I cry in front of everyone? (The answer: Several times).
I also had to ask for help. I needed a ring bearer, a wedding officiant, a photographer, a musician/DJ, and… and… and…
Now, I am OVER THE MOON that I went ahead with the event… read on to see more photos (make sure to read the captions!), check out my vows, hear about highlights from the day and learn about some of the quirky (and perfectly me) things that I did.
When the day came, I took it seriously…
I spent the morning writing my vows, went and got my hair done and spent plenty of time dressing up and doing my makeup. Two of my best friends, Michael Gordon and Peter Will Benjamin, took care of me. Peter made me a delicious lunch so I didn’t forget to eat and Michael was the logistics master (and fixed the cake — making it look EVEN BETTER — after we experienced the Great Cake Disaster of 2020).
My gift to MYSELF that day was this: I chose to LOVE every minute of the experience and release any expectation of how it would go.
That decision was pivotal. It gave me permission to be totally present and laugh at or enjoy things that might have seemed “imperfect” before.
My Vows From That Day:
Megan, you are a beautiful, whimsical, intelligent, wild, and utterly magnificent creature. I am beyond thrilled that I get to spend my life with you. You bring joy to even mundane tasks, love sooooo deeply and can see the good in people and situations.
I remember one of the first moments I fell in love with you and your lust for life. You were eight years old an on a trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Looking in the rearview mirror, you noticed how clear and green your eyes were.
I’m happy here, you thought.
This might have been one of the first times you felt your intuition and were able to put what you felt into words.
When dad stopped the car for a break, you wandered into the forest nearby and pretended you were on an expedition. It was thrilling and adventurous. You knew in that moment you wanted to be a photojournalist and live in the mountains.
YOUR intentions are powerful. You went on to become a photojournalist and to spend time with many mountains. You’ve since listened to your intuition and followed it to great success, despite what others thought or said.
My wish for us is to continue our journey of self-love and self-actualization, to go beyond people pleasing and create a life perfectly aligned with our values. Let’s stay wild.
I promise I will continue to love you, CHOOSE to love you in the difficult moments and cultivate my relationship with you so that it becomes richer, deeper, more fun and more kind.
In sickness and in health, for better or for worse, in every moment… we’re in this together.
I’m grateful to have you as my partner on this wild ride called life.
It wouldn’t be a wedding without a ring, right?
I looked around for a long time to find my ring. I ordered a bunch of rings from Amazon and other online jewelers, but nothing seemed quite right. In the end, it was my mom that found my ring — a diamond and white gold band from T.J. Maxx (50% off, baby!). She decided to give this ring to me as a gift, and shared with me that her mom had given her a ring, too. Every time she looked at it, she thought of her. It made both of us cry.
Up until that time, I had wanted to find the ring MYSELF. Then I realized that self-love can sometimes mean letting others take care of you.
I’ll end by dispelling a few myths about marrying yourself. Marrying yourself DOES NOT mean that:
- You’re selfish
- You’re single
- You’re recovering from heartbreak
- You can’t celebrate in the same way you would a wedding to someone else (i.e. cake, invitations, vows, etc…)
- People will think you are over-the-top, ridiculous or unreasonable
What marrying yourself DOES mean is:
- You’re ready for a new level of self-love
- You’ll get to see who among your friends is up for supporting you at an awesome new level
- You can prioritize yourself in a wonderful way
- You get to have a beautiful ring!
Have you ever thought about marrying yourself? Share the details or your dream self-wedding below!
During this pandemic, organizing a gathering requires way more conversations and planning.
And — even when people are excellent communicators — I’ve seen best-laid plans end in…
- Various types of drama
As I’ve navigated the pandemic social scene, as well as coached my clients through this experience, I’ve realized there is one thing we can do to drastically lower the likelihood of gatherings-gone-wrong:
Turn our implicit assumptions into explicit agreements.
We might, for instance, assume that:
- Everyone has the same definition of social distancing
- People will feel safe with a certain size of gathering
- Your friends or family will all quarantine the same way before your get together
- Your guests will send a screen shot of their negative COVID results to your group
- People at a party will limit their drinking so they stay properly aware of social distancing throughout the night
- And on… and on… and on…
It’s when we don’t name these assumptions and then turn them into agreements that a situation can go awry.
I recently practiced this while out in Boulder, Colorado with a group of friends (nicknamed “the pod”). We created a list of agreements based on the assumptions we were making (think: how we shop at grocery stores, whether or not we dine out, quarantine rules before arrival, etc…).
While the list wasn’t perfect (and is outdated in some ways now that we know more about COVID), it certainly put us on the same page and allowed for a drama-free experience.
If you feel inspired, I invite you to create your own list for your holiday gatherings this year. Let’s stay safe and have lots of fun.
What does it mean to be in our pod?
- We interact as in normal, non-pandemic times (i.e. hugging, dinner parties, dancing, no mask when we’re together).
- When you see folks outside the pod, you:
- Make sure you and others have on masks if you are six feet apart
- Can forego masks if you are outside and more than 8 feet apart
- When out and about you:
- Wear an N-95 mask if you are inside and close to others (i.e. if you have to go to the doctor’s office, or are in a building where people are closer to you
- Are diligent about keeping six feet of distance between you and anyone else (this includes if you’re stopping to ask for directions or other quick interactions)
If people come to visit (i.e. people who are in our pod, but are only staying a short time):
- They get tested (if they fly, please see directions under flying)
- They social distance after their test until they come.
- They follow other directions as outlined here
Requirements to be in our pod
- Get COVID tested and then practice social distancing from everyone except pod members until you arrive
- No eating inside restaurants (outside eating only). If you are eating with someone outside the pod, make sure you are 6 feet apart (most tables are not 6 feet wide).
- Please also:
- Do not ride in Lyfts or Ubers unless the windows are down and you are wearing an N95
- Don’t go to the gym
- If you go grocery shopping, make sure to wear a mask
- For those who are flying, follow the protocols listed below
Mandatory COVID test:
- In many places, rapid testing is available that can get you same-day results (**please note that this is sometimes only an option for essential workers or if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID**).
- If you can’t get a rapid test, please plan accordingly.
Freetesting near Boulder (drive through): https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.9news.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/adams-county-water-world-testing-site-open-through-2020/73-9a6dcdbf-abce-4071-bc83-3b8d32847367
If you are flying to Denver:
- Note from Meg: people on planes and in airports were not following precautions well when I traveled. Because of this, please get COVID tested a minimum of 24 hours after you arrive
- Wear an N95 Mask and a face shield when you fly
If you are driving to Boulder:
- Take precautions (mask, gloves, hand sanitizer) whenever you stop for gas or to get food
Has this blog been helpful for you? Or have you had an interesting experience turning implicit assumptions into explicit agreements? Leave me a comment below!
Africa is home to many rich and varied music and dance traditions. Artists around the world continue to innovate and expand upon these traditional styles. Modern-day dances in Africa have inspired the creativity of millions around the world. Check out some of the most influential dance styles inspiring creativity and joy.
Jerusalema (South Africa and Angola Dance)
Popularized with a dance challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jersalema inspired millions. It started as a South African song, combined with dance steps from Angola, and reached everyone from politicians to priests.
After the Jerusalem topped South African charts in December, it wasn’t until February 2020 that the dance wave started. A group of friends in Angola created a video of themselves performing a line dance to the music. They called it the “Jerusalema Dance Challenge,” and it quickly went viral. The choreography has been performed by groups as varied as Portuguese healthcare workers, Dominican nuns, and Ghanaian army personnel. The dance challenge was also endorsed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as a way to uplift people in his country during the pandemic.
Odi Dance (Kenya)
Odi became widely known when the artists Timeless Noel, Hype Ochi and Jabiddi performed it in this video. The name “Odi” is slang for ordinary. According to Timeless Noel, the choreography was inspired by his desire to create simple moves that even ordinary people could dance to. While Odi originally first went viral in 2018, it recently had a second wave of popularity thanks to a video of Kenyans dancing in hospital gowns and hazmat suits at a COVID19 quarantine facility. It is now one of the most popular dances in Africa.
Pilolo Dance (Ghana)
Ghanaian dancer and choreographer Amofa Michael — popularly known as Zigi — created the pilolo dance steps. The name “pilolo” was inspired by a game similar to hide and seek that is popular among Ghanaian kids. Pilolo made its mainstage debut in the United States in 2018 when Janet Jackson executed the moves at the end of her performance of “Made for Now” on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. In an interview shortly after, Zigi said that watching the American pop star do his moves brought him to tears.
Shaku Shaku (Nigeria)
Shaku Shaku is a contemporary Nigerian street dance. Many credit the Nigerian rap superstar Olamide for turning it into an international sensation. In 2017, Olamide featured Shaku Shaku dancers in the music video for his hit song “Wo”and his annual Olamide Live in Concert (OLIC 4) event. The internet now has many tutorials about the dance. You can find other music videos by artists such as Afro B and Wizkid that feature Shaku Shaku.
Kizomba, which means “party” in the language of Kimbundu, is a type of Angolan music and partner dance that dates back to the 1980s. Today the dance is not just popular in Angola, but also across the globe. Kizomba is now featured at many latin dance festivals and events worldwide. There is such an interest in Kizomba, that some believe it could benefit Angola’s economy via tourism. This is similar to how tango encourages tourism in Argentina. Watch a quick video about kizomba in Angola here or a video of international instructors Lucien and Isabelle here.
Learn more about dances in Africa at the links below:
A few months ago, I hired a PR company for three reasons:
1) To help me promote my book Dance Adventures
2) To see if I could outperform them when it came to PR
3) To practice investing in myself at a higher level (this company’s services cost about $3,000/month)
Now in the final phases of our contract, I feel grateful for what I’ve learned and also excited that I DID outperform them.
What I valued about this experience
Working with the PR company allowed me to cast a wider net with my publicity efforts, as I spent my time reaching out to publications that they did not contact. It was also a great accountability structure. I checked in with one of the women assigned to my book once a week about what we both had accomplished and outstanding articles I needed to write. The PR company’s efforts also landed me some opportunities I’m not sure I would have secured otherwise. This included my interview with an NBC affiliate, the chance to have a journalist at 60 minutes read my book, and features in publications that I had never heard of (but who have many readers). I wrote for Confetti Travel Café, Business Done Write, Thought Leaders LLC, and several other publications.
What I learned (and what you can apply to your own PR efforts)
- 1. It starts with a good press release: No surprise there. While I have experience writing press releases from my time in journalism school, working as a writer/editor in NYC, and working in business development/fundraising, I thought the PR company brought some cool new ideas (you can see the full press release here — note that this is the template, rather than the custom versions they sent to each media outlets). The PR company included quotes from my advance readers and descriptions of a few stories from the anthology they thought would get the most attention from major media outlets. Finally, they customized each press release with a few titles of stories I could write for a given publication, based on its unique interests.
2. Know your dream placements: I spent 20 – 30 hours creating my “PR Wish List.” This included more than 150 news outlets — from podcasts to newspapers to magazines — where I thought the book could be featured. I made sure these publications would have an interest in the subject matter, based on previous stories they published. I also created a list of all of the universities/organizations/companies that I and the other authors featured in the anthology were connected to. I knew these could also be great allies for book promotion. My point person at the PR company said it was the “most exquisitely organized” media outreach list she’d ever seen. I felt proud of this, since I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to support the PR company’s efforts.
3. It’s great to get others involved: Using my PR Wish List, I scoured Linkedin to find my connections to various publications. Sometimes, I knew someone who worked there (thanks, j-school!). Other times, I had to ask a friend for an introduction. Sometimes asking for these introductions was easy. Other times it felt vulnerable and challenging. In the end, I secured many intros and a few cool opportunities. When you ask, people can always say “no,” but you might be surprised at how often they say “yes.”
I also got the authors and Dance Adventures’ early readers involved. I sent them the press release, examples of emails to send out to their alumni magazines or other networks, and volunteered to support them in writing letters to any media outlet they wanted to contact. We also did some very fun author interviews, which you can check out here.
And, last but not least, there was my mom! She wanted to try to secure publicity for Dance Adventures on NPR, Ellen and in a few other places. One Sunday morning, we sat down together and typed those out. We thought about what would inspire and delight the editors/hosts, and came up with the subject line: “Proud Mama Reaching Out.” We were delighted when, not long after, NPR reached out for an interview.
4. I looked at current events: When it comes to pitching ideas, many editors are looking for things that are timely. In other words, they want you to have a good idea and for it to fit in with current events or trends. I went with pitches (such as my story on equitable editing, which will be out in early 2021) that would further conversations already happening in the United States.
5. Don’t be afraid to follow up: If I didn’t see a clip that was promised, or didn’t hear back about a pitch, I reached out. If I still didn’t hear back, I would contact the editor again a week later. I decided on the mindset that my follow up emails (as long as they were spaced reasonably far apart) were supportive to extremely busy editors. This kept me going, even when it felt like there was radio silence.
While there were other lessons, I will pause here for now. I am excited to share more about this process with my clients, as they work to get the word out about their own projects. I am also delighted that my diligence, organization and vision created so much opportunity. It is a testament to the inner work I’ve done (which has taught me to keep going even when I feel daunted) and to my skills as a writer and editor.
I would love to hear your takeaways from this post! Please comment below.
Some of the publicity we secured for Dance Adventures:
- “Meet The Women Behind the Dance Travel Trend” on Unearth Women
- Interview on NPR‘s “City Lights” (forthcoming)
- A great feature on author Kara Nepomuceno in the Del Mar Times
- A blog for the National Dance Education Organization
- Watch all my YouTube interviews with the authors
- A Book Review from Divine
- Long-form, nonfiction story in Hidden Compass (forthcoming)
DANCE IS A VIBRANT FORCE FOR CULTURAL IMMERSION DURING TRAVEL
New Book by Dance Travel Expert Spotlights How Dance Connects Travelers to Community, History, and Cultures Abroad
Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad by Founder of Dance Travel Company Releases December 2020
How can people with no shared language communicate? How can someone who has just arrived in a foreign country quickly make friends or meaningfully engage with local culture? To former professional dancer Megan Taylor Morrison, now a life coach and dance travel expert, the answer couldn’t be clearer:
In her new book Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad, Morrison demonstrates that dance can forge connections between people from different backgrounds, as well as lead to cross cultural experiences that promote greater understanding of another culture or engender tremendous personal growth for the traveler.
For many of us during the age of COVID-19, life-giving experiences are in short supply. The things we love – attending incredible dance performances, going to dance classes, or hugging people within our dance communities – feel far away. Dance Adventures brings the wonder of adventure and movement to readers, wherever they may be.
This anthology includes 19 true stories written by a diverse group of renowned performers, dedicated dance teachers, dance scholars, and other avid dance travelers who:
● Explore their craft in locations tied to their family history and discover how dance helps them connect with their heritage;
● Build bonds and community with locals through a shared love of movement; ● Challenge their assumptions, embrace the unknown and find surprising new truths by saying “yes” to spontaneous opportunities; or
● Reflect on who they are and discover how dance can make them a better version of themselves.
The contributors hail from all corners of the world, and the stories take place in 17 different countries including India, China, Senegal, Philippines, Angola, Brazil, Morocco, Cuba, China and Mozambique. Contributors include:
Courtney Celeste Spears, a dancer with the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In Dance Adventures, she writes about her experience returning to her second home in The Bahamas and serving as an ambassador between her family, her heritage, and her dance company. For Spears, dance brought the two worlds she cherished together.
Indian-American folk dancer Dr. Ted Samuel, who embarks on a year abroad in South India where his parents are from. As a member of the Indian diaspora, he initially faces the challenges of feeling like an outsider in India, but ultimately finds an important vehicle for connection in Karagattam: a traditional south Indian folk dance.
Zsuzsi Kapas, a Hungarian dancer whose family immigrated to the United States in 2000 to leave behind a life of ethnic oppression. In Dance Adventures she shares a story from her three-year journey around the world, during which she studied the healing effects of dance and movement improvisation. She writes about her time in Indonesia, where her intensive work with the creator of a dance style known as Joged Amerta Movement led to lessons that helped heal her childhood trauma.
Makeda Kumasi, who teaches West African dance classes at UC Riverside, visits Senegal for the first time. There, she fulfills her long-time dream to set foot on the land of her African ancestors and gains the firsthand knowledge she feels she needs to teach West African dance at the university level. The story highlights her final day in the country, when she visits Gorée Island and confronts the realities of the Atlantic slave trade.
Topics Megan can also address include:
- ● 5 Travel Hacks Only Dancers Know
- ● Cool Dances Around The World You’ve Never Heard Of
- ● Why Dance Travel is the Next Frontier of Tourism
- ● How Dance Changes Us: Life Lessons learned While Dancing Around the World
Each of the stories in Dance Adventures highlights a way that dance travel leads to meaningful experiences, thereby shaping a person’s identity, facilitating their personal growth, or uniting them with people from different backgrounds.
About the Author
Megan Taylor Morrison is an avid dance adventurer and certified life and business coach. She has studied local dance forms in 16 countries on six continents, as well as designed and co-led dance retreats to Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. In partnership with Melaina Spitzer, Meg debuted the talk “Dance Travel: The Next Era of Dance Education,” at the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Conference in 2018.
Through lectures, roundtables, and articles, Meg continues to share best practices for cultural immersion through the arts. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in international affairs and French from the University of Puget Sound.
Advance Praise for Dance Adventures
“Armchair travel has never had it so good! Dropping into these cultural adventures is like landing feet first on the most dynamic dance floors around the globe. Each carefully curated story gives a dancer’s eye-view of the people, places, and practices that enrich our planet.”
—Mark Metz, publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine and founder of The Dance First Association
“This book is indispensable in light of the current social momentum with regard to Black lives and the dismantling of violent systems. Many of the stories portray the experiences of individuals in whom multiple languages, customs, and spaces coexist, and for whom dance is the unifying factor.” —Moncell Durden, Assistant Professor of Practice, USC Kaufman School of Dance
“Dance Adventures contains beautiful moments of transformation and connection through dance—a wonderful extension of Meg’s own mission. The anthology’s writers create a strong case for using dance to understand the world.”
—Mickela Mallozzi, Emmy® Award-winning TV host of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi
“I was captivated by Megan Taylor Morrison’s Dance Adventures! This vibrant and emotionally explorative collection of tales captures the power of dance in a way that transcends the stage.” —Aisha Mitchell, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member (2008–2013), Broadway soloist in Oklahoma (2019), and featured performer in The Lion King (2013–2018)
Title: Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad
Author: Megan Taylor Morrison