GET TO KNOW OUR HEROES: Cammy, La Capitána
You might know Cammy (33) from Striktly on tuesdays in Rotterdam. An event that takes place outside on Stadhuisplein in the summer, and indoors the rest of the year. But she is also the founder of Movely. Cammy has a clear vision for the potential of the salsa scene and this is the driving force behind Movely. Do you want to know more about this vibrant entrepreneur in who sees every setback as a challenge? Meet Cammy – La Capitana!
An entrepreneur at heart
In her daily life, Cammy is a true entrepreneur. Five years ago, she built Striktly from the ground up, alongside her full-time job as Marketing and Communications Manager. For three years she has been self-employed and co-owner of Movemento, the parent company that includes Movely, Striktly and Mama Juana. But Cammy has also recently started a company in coaching where she helps people with their habits, goals and personal growth during a brisk walk.
While her businesses certainly preoccupy her, for Cammy entrepreneurship goes much further. Or actually ‘being entrepreneurial’, as she describes it herself. “An entrepreneurial person is the basis in which I recognize myself. For me, that means a mix of spotting opportunities and taking action on them.” As far as Cammy is concerned, the label ‘entrepreneur’ goes further than just in the field of work. “It’s also about confidence. Knowing that if it doesn’t work out right away, it will work out left or right. About taking risks because you believe in a bigger picture or what you are doing it for.”
So being an entrepreneur is really a way of life for Cammy. For example, she is working on her mindset on a daily basis and as a hobby she reads books about strategy and biographies about inspiring companies. She looks at everything with an insatiable curiosity: how do other companies do that, how do you set up a thriving platform and what can we learn from ‘the greats of the earth’? She loves to immerse herself in everything related to (personal) growth. From a Happinez festival, to a documentary to an audiobook about Growth Hacking. “I prefer to focus on personal development rather than shopping.”
Cammy has always had that entrepreneurial spirit. As a child she was already into organizing. “For example, in primary school I started training and coaching the girls’ football team, because then they could improve at the school football tournament. Not because I thought I was better, but because I was getting football training myself and so I had an idea of what such a training should look like.”
First time salsa
The first time Cammy danced salsa is still vivid in her mind. It was 2013 in Madrid, where she was on vacation with a friend. “We were eating , paella of course, and heard nice music. I loved salsa and bachata without even knowing that it had that name.” They went looking for where the music came from, and chatted themselves inside. When she stepped inside Cammy had the ‘wow’ experience right away. The atmosphere, the music and dancing together immediately appealed to her. “And then I was asked to dance. He was a very dominant Hispanic man, and there was no way I could get no in between. I was perplexed. That was my first experience: being completely guided and floating on the dance floor. And after the dance there was no sticking, you got a high-five or a hug. It was the atmosphere where I thought: when I come home I want to do this. Then I want to look it up, then I want to learn it.”
Friendship through salsa
When she got home there was no doubt: she wanted to do this more often! Because the next salsa class season was already full, Cammy was only allowed to participate if she brought a dance partner. “If I have my mind set on something, I go for it. So I thought: no problem, then I need a man. How do I get a man who wants to dance? Facebook! I then made a Facebook call to which Marco responded”.
Marco, now better known as DJ Marco, didn’t know Cammy personally at the time. They were in each other’s network because they were colleagues, but he worked in another branch so they hardly saw each other. Nevertheless, they went on the salsa adventure together.
By starting salsa together, a close friendship has developed along the way. “Apart from dance lessons, you go through all personal developments together, from insecurities from the first time on the dance floor, to going to your first party. Then at least we had each other. To dance with, to hide behind.”
Now, 7 years later, Marco is also a very well-known face in the Rotterdam salsa scene as a Latin DJ and he was the best man at the wedding of Cammy and Bré. What salsa can’t do!
Salsa was not the first dance Cammy encountered. By the time she discovered salsa, she already had quite a list of dance styles. “I’ve actually danced all my life. When I was little I loved going to ballet. I did jazz, classical and tap dance.”
When she moved to another city around the age of 15, Cammy started looking for a new hobby and came into contact with belly dancing. “I did that quite seriously. I put a lot of time into it: I followed all the lessons that were available. On average, I attended about five hours of lessons a week. Eventually I also performed with belly dancing, and I even started a dance school in it: AnyBody Move. I was basically the salsa addict as you know me now, but in bellydance.”
She left the belly dancing behind when she left home because other priorities came up. When asked if she would like to take up belly dancing again, she looks doubtful. “It is a phase that has been closed. I tried to pick it up once, but it just doesn’t click anymore. An important part of why I like salsa so much now is the social part through partner dance, belly dancing is done solo.”
From dancer to dance entrepeneur with Striktly
Although Cammy first entered the salsa scene in 2013, in just two years she had packed a full dance floor at the official opening of Striktly in 2015.
The creation of Striktly actually went very gradually and arose out of self-interest, says Cammy. She took her first salsa lessons with Typical Tropical, with Cher Soraya with Mike as an assistant. Yes, Movely team member Mike! (read the interview with Mike here). From the dance class, the need arose to practice more often. What was available in the area was not up to par. Together with Robert and Marco she came to a solution. “Let’s practice together outside in the summer. Then we have our own ingredients, our own music, our own day. That was LOTS. Marco came up with that name, Latin On The Streets.”
LOTS worked well in the summer with nice weather, but since the Netherlands does not only have sunny days, the ingredients of what Striktly is today came together. “We wanted to fulfill our own wish to be able to practice ourselves. There was never the intention of an event. But when it started to rain, we ended up at Coconuts.” One thing led to another, and September 2015 saw the first official Striktly event on Tuesday. “For me it was really a playground of learnings and challenges. Basically designing the ideal evening and how to achieve that.”
Striktly has made Cammy a familiar face in the salsa scene among dancers and other dance entrepreneurs alike. Although Cammy isn’t afraid to chat with everyone or grab the microphone, this isn’t necessarily the nature of the beast. “What people don’t expect from me is that I don’t like being in the spotlight at all. I do it because there was no one else to do it, and now I’ve gotten used to it.”
“Salsa is my life”
When asked what salsa dancing means to Cammy, she answers resolutely and nods in the affirmative: “I think I can say that salsa is my life. I owe what my life looks like now to salsa”. Cammy takes us along: that’s how she met her husband Bré and her business partner Gian in the salsa scene, and she has developed close friendships. But it also gives her purpose and meaning in life. The network she has built up with the help of salsa also proves to be valuable outside the salsa scene: “for example, my freelance assignments came from my connections in the scene when I stopped my full-time job.”
Movely as a connecting factor
Cammy started Movely because she saw that things could be better in the salsa scene. In her opinion, the scene is ready for an upgrade and professionalization. “Everyone goes through a dance journey: from your first lesson to being asked to dance for the first time. From choosing your dancing shoes for the first time, up to and including which festival I’m going to. That whole journey is hidden. You have to put in a lot of effort to get your information. That works, because the people who are enthusiastic collect it for themselves. But I believe that if you help each other, you can get a lot more out of the scene. That is already happening, people help each other but it remains on a small scale. You just have to have the right connections or be in an active WhatsApp group, for example.”
According to Cammy, islands are created in the current way and there are certain connections that are not made. She cites the example of someone who is particularly enthusiastic about a specific Cuban dance teacher, and another in the scene who is desperately looking for such a teacher. However, the tip for that great teacher doesn’t get past the first person’s network because this teacher couldn’t be found on the internet. Movely can build that bridge by bringing everything together in one place. Win-win according to Cammy. “When they come into contact with each other, the dancer gets the time of his life, and the dance teacher can continue to practice his profession better.”
Because there are islands now, there is a dependency around them, and Cammy wants to get rid of that. “So that, regardless of who you know, you can easily find your way in the salsa scene and have a lot more fun as a result.” This will also help make the scene more accessible to new people.
Movely as a piece of ideal world
With a nice backpack filled with dance experience in different dance scenes such as jazz ballet or belly dancing you can ask yourself: why salsa? “Because that’s where the community aspect is. I’m sticking to that. The social aspect of salsa, that’s what I find so fantastic.” Cammy wants Movely as an organization to act primarily as the glue within the dance community, by bringing all existing parts together. Supporting on the social, information and skills aspect.
Cammy really sees Movely as a piece of the ideal world. “Where it may be about seeing the best in people. I want to set up something that also carries those core values behind the scenes.”
Are you inspired by this article and do you want to contribute to Movely’s journey? Or would you like to participate in brainstorming sessions that Cammy occasionally organizes? Then send a message to email@example.com.