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Wow what a different Thursday night this year! No Prince of Belgium or Obama in the main ballroom so no dancing between pillars trying not to bump your head on the dropped ceiling, down there in the nowhere-to-sit, cramped, dark, basement, with its small sad crowd who all left early (except for Genieboy who danced till they threw him out.)
Okay, slight exaggeration. It wasn’t THAT bad. Just almost.
But this year wow! Main ballroom with a waaay bigger floor this year, Arjay and Louie playing awesome music, and what a crowd! Holy mackerel – the floor was packed from 9 till we left (early – even GB – we were tired) at 12:30. Good thing we had the extra space – that crowd would never have fit in the basement.
Heat wave here in New Jersey – yesterday in the 100′s, bright and sunny. Today in the high 90′s but thunderstorms … hoping this won’t mess up airplane arrivals and all the hordes of DC, Charlottesville, Raleigh, and Boston travellers driving in by car.
Can’t wait for tonight’s Opening Ceremonies and the show! Liberty always opens with a very Broadway-esque performance by the pro staff – last year Grease, year before Elvis. This is a fun comp for spectating. Or adding an extra day or two to see New York.
Love the hotel, too. Hyatt, fully rennovated rooms, lots of “Pure” rooms if you want or need one, super friendly, responsive, courteous, well-trained staff, outlets, yummy beds, balcony, and view of … well, okay you don’t come for the scenery.
Love how Monsieur Lindo runs an event – he is SO generous. I won’t go on and on – check out my updates from previous years if you can stand the gushing. We saw him briefly last night looking cheerful and well-rested – said no disasters or snafus so far!
West Side Story!
The Puerto Rican Sharks – Jordan (with a moustache), Arjay, Ben, Angel … versus The very white Jets: Olivier, Kyle and Royston; and their girlfriends the Puerto Rican Chicas: Blake, Torri, Melissa, Jessie versus the blondies Tatiana, Sarah, Nicola, and Henriette. Too funny!
Grace on the mic tonight … hilarious as she often is. This weekend we get not one, not two, but all three of our greatest emcees taking turns on the mic: Grace, Mario, and Robert Royston. What a treat!
Bruce Gleason (thumbsup video) is filming: you can watch all weekend here (I can’t get the link to work but maybe you’ll have more success) http://thumbsupvideo.com/wpfiles/liberty-swing/ …
… and Brad Whelan taking more of his fantabulous photos: http://www.bradfordwhelan.com/
Three couples in Showcase:
The Roystons (Edge of Glory) taking first place (Grace said “I think there’s stuff on the floor that needs to be picked up, and you know I don’t bend. There you go Angel, you get down there and pick it up for me like a good boy, just like you do at home.”)
Stephen White and Sabrina Paxman taking second with their new “Somewhere With You” which looked much different than I remember it at SwingDiego in May – several very cool new tricks, this routine really flows, it’s just gorgeous. Both in bright white, bright white heads of fluffy hair – gorgeous. Sabrina is like a fluffy snowball flying through the air;
Greg and Lemery taking third with No Diggity – looked like they messed up somehow at the beginning and took a while to recover rghghghghrghgh hate it when that happens but it does seem to happen to everybody at some point. (Grace: “I do that roll her up roll her down thing too … but only when I’m putting on my Spanx.”)
Pro Strictly (looved the music! Our table loved every single song! DJ was either Louis or Beth – we kept craning our necks to see who was playing both seemed to be. What great songs! I’ll write them up tomorrow, in a bit of a rush right now)
Greg and Lara Deni
Stephen White and Lemery
Erik and Kim Brolet
Chuck and Sabrina
Arjay and Torri (First Place)
Royston and Rutz (5th place)
Ben and Mrs. Tatiana Mollman-Bennett (3rd Place)
Jordan and Sarah (4th place)
Olivier and Henriette
Kyle and Jessica (2nd Place)
… and the Dollar Dance, in which one puts money in a pot and for each dollar given gets a bit of a song to dance with one of the above pros. $400 was raised, donated to Juniors for travel and lodging.
Jen Deluca is here, walking with a cane. Knee problems which she says should be all better in six weeks.
Juniors are here: we’ve seen Anyssa and Josh, and the Clonches. And beautiful beautiful Alexis and Akil.
Pizzas brought in just before Awards, donated by Gotham Swing Club,
Fun dancing! Bit crowded though – already heard of several different injuries, feet trampled, two heads cracked together in simultaneous dips, elbowed kidneys. This is New York, after all. It’s like traffic downtown – lotta passionate drivers with maybe not always the nicest manners.
Jack and Jills tomorrow, Classic tomorrow night!
Before I say anything else about anything … Awards as just announced:
1st Jordan and Tatiana (AUGHGHGHGH!!!)
2nd ($1,000) Benji and Torri (a routine choreographed ONE HOUR AGO AUGHGHGHGH!!!)
3rd ($500) Kyle and Sarah (AUGHGHGH!! CRAZY RIDICULOUS STANDING OVATION AUGHGHGH!!!)
4th ($300) Ben and Melissa (AUGHGHGH I LOOOOVE THIS ROUTINE LOVE THESE PEOPLE WHY DID THEY HAVE TO MAKE A MISTAKE DANG DANG DAGNABBIT AUGHGHGHGH)
5th ($200) Arthur and Colleen (AUGHGHGHGHGH FIRSSSST TIME ON THE FLOORRR LOOOVE THIS BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL GORGEOUS CHOREOGRAPHY GREAT SONG GREAT ROUTINE AUGHGHGHGHGH LOVE LOVE LOVE AUGHGHGHGHGH)
1st ($400) Chris and Nicole (SO. DANG. AMAZING.)
2nd ($300) Akil and Alexis (come ON?!?!? She did WHAT with her leg?!? Wait – she’s how old? Eleven? ELEVEN?!? AUGHGHGHGH!!!)
3rd ($150) Josh and Anyssa (OMGAWD THESE GUYS ARE CRAZY RIDICULOUS!)
1st Ford and Ward … aka David and Maria
2nd ($250) Mike and Angie
3rd ($200) Reginald Beason and Lara Deni
4th ($150) Bill and Lorraine
5th Donnie and Daria
1st ($700) Role-Play
2nd ($300) Capital Swing
1st Greg and Johanna Barnes
2nd Yuna and Will Burbage
3rd Jason Miklic and Marilyn Hall
4th Angela and Phillip Spinka
5th Joanna and Jacqueline (didn’t get last name!)
1st ($108) PJ and Tren
2nd Cameron and Stacy Cramer
3rd ($72) Chris Lo and Sabrina
4th ($54) Rob Glover and Lara Deni
5th ($36) Reginald Beason and Colleen
1st ($140) Mike GlasgowBFF and JoAnn
2nd ($116) Dave Raines and Grace Killeleeleahuaiahaha (we were just in Hawai’i so I am now an expert on spelling Hawai’i'a’n words the secret is vowels with a lot of apostrophes it’s like yawning but really beautiful)
3rd ($92) Bruce Miami-Dance-Magic Perrotta and Lorraine
4th ($70) Will and Julie
5th ($46) Genieboy and Jennifer Vaughn
1st Michael Davis and Angie Jones
2nd Stephane and Anyssa
3rd ($92) Jerome and Estelle (Allez La France!!!! okay … Allez Les Quebecois!)
4th ($44) Ewan and Abby
5th ($96) Mathew Smith and Naomi Hubert
1st ($396) Sean and ??? missed it!!!!
2nd ($330) Roberto and Shoshi
3rd ($264) Lieu and Danielle Lindblom
4th ($198) Graham and Giselle
5th ($132) CJ and Sarah
Novice JJ (check out the prize money! more about this later!)
1st ($670) Jared and (oops didn’t get name)
2nd ($560) Xen and Emily
3rd ($448) Jean-Paul and Maryann
4th ($334) Maria Ford and Nadia
5th ($224) Thomas and Jeannie
1st ($270) Barbara Jackson and Kelly
2nd ($225) Gary and Christina
3rd ($180) Ben and Ashley
4th Tara and PJ
5th ($90) Steven and Helene
Louis’ music – SO GOOD! Songs he played for Friday night’s Pro Strictly:
Wall to Wall (Introductory All-Skate)
For Chuck and Sabrina:
Whataya Want From Me and Sweat (Snoop Dogg version)
For Royston and Rutz:
She Will Be Loved and Hit The Lights
For Arjay and Torri:
I Don’t Wanna Know and Scream
For Jordan and Sarah:
What’s My Name and Dip Out of the Club
For Olivier and Henriette:
Your Love and Dance Again
For Erik and Kim:
Replay and 2012
For Kyle and and Jessica:
Aisha and Okay
For Ben and Tatiana:
I Just Wanna Know and This Is Love
For Stephen and Lemery:
How Do I Breathe and International Love
For Greg and Lara:
Just A Dream and I Like It
Final All-Skate: Swanee (slow version)
Saturday night social dancing was fun! Ballroom still packed when we left in bright daylight at 6am (That is the worst! To emerge in a bleary-eyed daze from the trance-like ballroom cave and be smacked in the face with Reality in the form of screaming sunlight, rude birds criticizing you at the top of their lungs, an army of mowing crew troops coming at you on tanks with leaf blowers pointed at you like bazookas, smells too strong for your weakened senses – burnt coffee, frying grease – floating up your nose in case you hadn’t already figured out you’re not only exhausted and limping but also hungry enough to eat your own hand.)
But it’s all worth it. Cause Saturday night was fun fun fun fun. DJ’s were Louis – a genius – then Jordan, then Arjay, then Jordan again, then Arjay again, then Anthony DeRosa another genius, then Louis … Don’t know if I’ve got the order right and maybe they were all playing back and forth on top of each other but whatevah. The music was SO good it was impossible to leave. Good dance music! It’s like a drug! You want more and more and you develop a tolerance and need higher and higher doses for your fix. Each song is almost perfect. Almost but not quite! And then the next one starts up and you love it and you think “this is it! This is the ultimate! After this I’ll be satisfied!” and this goes on for hours, all night all the next day, too, and for months, years, decades, and you’re hooked.
Friday we danced till about 3 … ballroom was packed when we left. Energy not quite as high as Saturday night. I’m guessing this was because Liberty, though not NASDE, has a similar personality because of its routine divisions. Couples and teams dancing on Saturday night had to be up at 6:30 am for floor trials and maybe weren’t out Friday night in order to be rested enough to perform (and do Jack and Jills) the next day. And Friday was a Friday so people flying in or driving (some DC folks spent SEVEN HOURS! in rush-hour traffic and thunderstorms with highway roadwork – miserable trip instead of what should have been a three-four hour drive.) Whatevah.
We heard two versions of Friday night:
Version One: “If you’re a name-dropper you probably weren’t happy. But the floor was filled with great dancers and if you couldn’t find anyone to dance with you’re a wicked snob.” (the word “wicked” is the clue to who made this comment. if you’ve ever lived in a certain part of the country you know that *everything* is wicked.)
Version Two: “There is nobody here to dance with. There are no good female dancers at this event. Not one single woman good enough for me to dance with not even one. I don’t even know why I came. Not going down to the ballroom, not gonna leave my room, no point in being here.”
Our version: We’re total name droppers and we had a blast Friday night and even more of a blast Saturday night. All the pro staff and routine competitors out on the floor Saturday, lotta them out Friday too. Tons and tons of great dancers from around the country, huge rowdy marvelous Canadian contingent, Europe, Asia, Texas. Floor was the right size for the crowd, music was wicked awesome.
Oh, and Shoshi Kushnir danced in shorts on Friday. Short shorts. And an abdomen. Hips. Several men rushed to the ER.
Oh, and pizza party Friday night or did I already mention that? Robert said Nicola asked for a second slice for her husband and when he said how nice of you can I have my slice she said No I’m eating both pieces I just said that about it being for my husband I lied go get your own. Nicola can be very funny. One time they messed up their routine right at the beginning and she told us that on the next lift, as she soared through the air smiling at the audience, what she was really thinking was “Gee I wonder if we can get our miles back?” and when she’s supposed to lean toward the judges with a happy face she decided she was *not* happy and leaned towards them with a pissed-off face instead.
Thursday night Genieboy said WOW there’s a girl here from Singapore who is AWESOME! I danced with her all night! Amazing dancer! He talked about her all day Friday, couldn’t wait to dance with her bunches Friday night, raved about her all day Saturday, danced with her over and over Saturday night too. The girl from Singapore! So so so so good!!
Turns out there were *twelve* girls here from Singapore and he couldn’t tell them apart. He was dancing with twelve different girls.
(hahaha that joke is for you Yenni and Stacy, The Short One and The Tall One.)
Seriously though, he did dance with Singapore girls – twelve people from Singapore at Liberty! Twelve is a lot to travel that long distance. All crazy good thanks to Jordan and Tatiana and all the other pros who have travelled there to build yet another great community for our dance.
We had closed-circuit TV all weekend! Awesome to watch the ballroom right in your room. Especially helps if you’re on a tight schedule. Or for parents taking shifts watching the kids in the room. Bruce’s “thumbsupvideo” feed streamed right to the rooms.
Oh – I have been corrected. Liberty is not in New Yawk, it’s in New Joisey. Like there’s a difference.
Oh and also it was Auntonya Rogers who won Intermediate JJ.
We’ve said John Lindo is generous, right? So get this: He gave out $6,300 in Jack and Jill prize money. Every penny paid by contestants to enter a Jack and Jill was given back in prize money, the amounts based on the number of registrations for each division. So the lucky winners of Novice, for instance, went home with $670! Not bad! Not bad at all. John doesn’t have to do this, he could choose to keep most of that money and give winners much smaller prizes. Or he could choose to keep all of it, give half a glassful of Hershey’s kisses as a prize, and go home with an extra $6,300 in his pocket. But he gives it all back to the dancers. We’re glad, too, that the biggest pots go to Novice, the new people in the community.
As Royston told us, when you attend a wsdc event one dollar of your jj registration goes to the wsdc. Most event directors add that dollar to your registration. Not John. He pays that dollar out of his own pocket. For every JJ contestant at his event.
John also provides breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings in the sunlit lobby just outside the ballroom. Fresh melon, grapefruit and oranges, all kinds of berries and fruit, yogurt, croissants, bagels and cream cheese, cereals and granola, coffee, juices. All free with your weekend ticket. Costs him a pretty penny but he does it anyway because he is a generous man.
The professional staff all agree that he takes extra special care of them financially and in all kinds of other little and big ways too.
John Lindo is just a gracious host, producer, and employer. Period.
So great to have Mario on the mic for some of the weekend. Mario before Teams on Saturday night, “There is no videotaping in the ballroom tonight. No videotaping whatsoever. No videotaping. In Spanish: No-o videotaping-o tonight-o. In French: Ce n’est pas de videotaping.” In Swahili: [tongue clicks and snaps then the word videotaping]” Mario is hilarious.
Three teams, all three really good:
Stephanie Risser’s eight-girl “Divalicious” hustle team dancing to Vanity,
“Role Play” – buncha gays and lesbians. Or pretend gays and fake lesbians. Or straight people leading instead of following or I dunno whatevah. But everybody alternately leading and following each other in a dazzling array of shifting colors and lines, four in brilliant neon green with black ties the other four in purple with hot silver slashes. They won!
Capital – Dawn’s great 7-couple team in copper and black dancing to the coolest didgeridoo/samba piece of jazz. I loved this number. Scary, like a rumble, like she choreographed an old-fashioned West Side Story-style rumble. Dawn’s team choreography is superb. (By the way Dawn’s daughter Alexis gets more beautiful by the day. She looks exactly like her mother – that wide Scandanavian face, wide almond eyes – she’s a stunner.) I loved that at the finish of the routine the dancers held their final pose long. Long enough for the audience to get closure. Maybe I’m too sensitive but it bothers me when a routine finishes and they leap up before I’ve even started clapping. Feels amateurish.
Mario after Teams: “That was a didgeridoo. Does anyone know what that is – a Didgeridoo? Anyone ever hear of a Didgeridoo? Show of hands, who knows what a Didgeridoo is? Anyone speak Didgeridoo? Okay I’ll tell you. In Didgeridoo, that meant “No Videotaping In The Ballroom.”
Mike Glasgow tells me he was on his way over to Mario to say how nice it was to see him and hear him on the mic and tell him what a classy professional he was … but just as he was approaching Mario sidled over to a few older women at the edge of the floor and launched into an impromptu Chippendale burlesque, lip-syncing to some dirty song Louis had thrown on between heats and was in the middle of removing his jacket when Mike decided maybe “professional” wasn’t the best way to describe him after all.
Mario loved this story. Mario! So FUNNY! One of the funniest ever.
1st ($300) Brent and Emily
2nd ($250) Xi and Maryann
3rd ($200) Gary and Maria
4th ($150) Chris and Gabrielle
5th ($100) Derek and Katherine
1st ($300) T.J. and Marine
2nd ($250) XiLiHiui and LiLiWiBiWi
3rd ($200) Brandon and Danielle
4th ($150) Butch and Maria
5th ($100) Pierre and Jo
1st ($300) Cameron and Nicole
2nd ($250) Chris Lo and Estelle
3rd ($200) Anthony and Angie Jones
4th ($150) Chris Dumont and Hannah
5th ($100) Jerome and Sophy
Champion Jack and Jill
1st ($700) Robert and Jessica (oh my gawd, more on this later, so so SO great!)
2nd ($300) Benji and Tatiana
3rd ($200) Kyle and Henriette
Oooh, forgot to tell you about Classic at Liberty!
Four of the seven couples with brand new routines! First time on the floor!
1. First out: Ben and Melissa with their wonderful “You and Me.” They messed up. Rghgh. Gotta love these two for hanging in there all year with this extremely difficult routine … high heels and tight skirt so we get to scrutinize every movement of Melissa’s lovely legs and witness in detail the mechanics of every mess-up. I’m sure they’re not pleased but personally I don’t care at all if they mess up – I loooove it and I’m glad we get to see it over and over.
2. Jason Miklic and Sabrina Paxman to Christina Aguilera’s “Express,” Sabrina a sexpot in Moulin Rouge burlesque: lacy blood-red corset, black fishnets and black knee-high stiletto boots; Jason in matching vest and sexy black bowler hat with red trim (it’s hard dancing in a hat as every man who ever competed in Country is aware.) Adorable couple, adorable new routine!
3. Benji and Torri to “Take My Hand” by Sean Mcdonald.
First of all: AUGHGHGH!
Second of all: They choreographed this routine one hour before performing it. AUGHGHGH!
Third of all: Awesomely awesome song, First of all because Sean Mcdonald is awesome and second of all because the recurring chorus “I need you” – though not written about human-to-human love – is nevertheless is SO wonderful for Benji and Torri who clearly dearly love and need each other.
Fourth of all: The song is 143 bpm! Which they’re so smooth and good you don’t even notice. Until you realize that their triples are so fast there’s just a big blur down at the bottom of their legs instead of feet.
Fifth of all: Their lines, hits, shapes, changes in tempo, reliance on and trust of each other, their pure sheer unadulterated joy and celebration, their mastery of showmanship, accelerations and decelerations, the gorgeous perfect choreography … all of these things … they are perfect, simply perfect.
Sixth of all: They talk to you, they dance *for* you, the audience, in fact it’s like they’re dancing with you.
Seventh of all: AUGHGHGH!
4. Rob Jackson and Dinah Elashvili dancing to Adele’s “Turning Tables,” in dark maroon and black. Dinah drapes across the floor in a dramatic movement at the beginning of the song, later performs five pirouettes and then 22 perfect, fast pirouettes towards the end. This is a DC couple and have all of us here in our local community pulling for them, eager to watch them polish this up and make it powerful.
5. Kyle and Sarah to “Seven Nation Army” and “We’re In Miami” (second song is a personal fave – it’s over-the-top funny … so hoping someone would do a routine and of all people it’s these two hahaha!) I looooove this routine! Funky? Man oh man! Kyle and Sarah get downer and badder as time goes on. Hard-hitting, funny as all get-out, their lines, their cool funk moves, the jokes, their performance, their smarts … Pure entertainment! Love this routine big time. So does everybody else – they got a standing ovation!
6. Arthur and Colleen – aka Mr. and Mrs. McDonald oops make that Uspensky – to Regina Spektor’s gorgeous “Eet.” Liltingly lovely floating perfect choreography. They were not outdone by their choreography, either, even though this was their first time on the floor. They soared. They took the whole floor, sailed across it. They were fast and slow, dancing between moves, they’ve obviously worked on transitions. Tempo changes, accelerations and decelerations, dancing in the music, dancing with each other. I haven’t spoken to them (other than a brief congratulations on gorgeousness) but I’m guessing this is a couple who has worked hard with coaches, taken notes to heart and worked to fix what needed fixing. It shows. First time on the floor and yet the routine is already beautiful. You’ll love it!
Oh, and speaking of loving it: For those of you who aren’t travelling to a comp in the near future you can see this routine and all the rest of Classic, at Bruce Gleason’s site, here:
Classic costs ten dollars if I’m remembering right. If you’re as much a nut for west coast as we are you’ll skip a meal and spend the $10 on the video instead (hahaha okay embarrassing but I admit I’m a junkie what can I say.)
Oh, and also … my pictures of this event are here:
and Brad Whelan, our real actual Circuit Photographer, will post his superb Liberty pictures soon, on his website here:
7. Last of all – who do you think? Jordan and the newly married Mrs. Tatiana Mollmann-Bennett! Their crazy great “More.” Beautiful, graceful, fast, powerful, mean, contemporary, forceful, precise, funny, true to swing, dramatic, entertaining, relentless, explosive …. And they won! Of course!
I haven’t told you about Rising Star, either, have I?!? Or the Pro Jack and Jill on Sunday!