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First day of Spring! And it’s SNOWING in Boston?
That was us yesterday, on our way from DC to Boston Tea Party for the 10th year in a row. We have a ritual. Every year we say “Why do we want to go north where it’s gray and bitter and the ground is covered with snow when yesterday out the kitchen window we spied yellow petals on the forsythia and green daffodil shoots poking up under the maple tree? Where in four days the cherry blossoms will explode into billows of pink fluff along the Potomac and the streets of our nation’s capitol will look like they’re lined with cotton candy?
So remind me again – why are we going up there to a Lindy event? The biggest Lindy event in the country? What was the thinking here?
This is us every year as the plane lifts off and we scowl out the window watching Spring tilt away beneath us.
And every year on Sunday after Awards we say Holy Shizmanoly TeaPartyOly what a CRAZY great weekend I haven’t laughed so hard in years great social dancing great energy OMG the invitational the crossover funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life what a show what fun -
What a great event!
Let’s never miss this EVER. Put this on the calendar for next year.
Don’t forget okay?
So here we are again and what do you know! It’s already fun. The event hasn’t even started and it’s fun. Registration is fun. The registrar people are fun. They’re bouncy. They only hire cool bouncy people to be registrars here. I bet they have registrar parties. I want to be a registrar. Registration is fast, too – since noon it’s been a steady stream of dancers signing up for comps, getting banded, picking up packets, and no line all day. Cause it’s all so well organized – pick up your packet and go (packets stuffed this year by 8-year-old Gracie – the competitive cheerleader-turned–gymnast, scrumptious adorable daughter of event directors Steve and Rebecca … here’s Gracie last year dusting the ballroom ceiling with her hair:
and here are Melissa Rutz and friends trying to outdo Gracie.)
Now we remember that we actually love how this is a combined West Coast/Lindy event. Lindy-Hoppers have cool hair and wear cool hats and flowers behind their ears and frilly bloomers. Lindy is our Brotha-From-Anotha-Motha. Same dance different dialects like Parisians and Québecois.
Which is what makes the late-nite crossover social-dance room the craziest, most wide-open, interesting and creative room of the three all-nite floors.
Speaking of social dancing – last night’s Thursday Kickoff dance was pretty good. Mostly local dancers I would guess – we didn’t recognize anyone from outside the US or outside Boston, really. Joe Mahoney DJ’d and the floor stayed full all night. When we left at 1am I’d guess about 30 couples on the floor, another 50 people milling around the periphery.
Breakfast buffet in the restaurant here but no dinner buffet. Two restaurants and a snack/cafe kind of place in lobby, all open til midnight, supermarket and liquor store an 8-minute walk away. The event provides a midnight breakfast Friday and Saturday nights. This is the hotel I’ve written about which overlooks the Charles River – one entire wall of the restaurant is glass from floor to ceiling, quite beautiful if you, like I, are mesmerized by light and shadow and the play of sun on windy water. Geese bobbing about, honking, making their opinions known all day long.
[six hours later]
1. A 15-piece band is playing live as I write this, in the Lindy room! The White Heat Swing Orchestra! How cool is that?
2. Gracie did back flips and cartwheels across the floor! And then back again! And then back the other way again! And then back again! She’s way too cute. She might teach a gymnastics/cheer-leading workshop! I am SO taking that workshop if Gracie teaches.
Tonight we watched the Open west coast and Lindy strictlys followed by the Invitational west coast and Lindy strictlys.
Open: Two heats, twenty couples in each. Our emcee is Rob Glover, John Lindo is DJ, Judges are Tatiana, Melissa Rutz, Benji, Torri, and Chief Judge Angel.
“Lost Control/Let Me Down” (Keri Hilson)
“Tell Me Why” (Joe Louis Walker)
“Boom Boom” (Justice Crew)
“Slow It Down” (Tyga)
“Little By Little” (Kirk Fletcher)
“Beauty and The Beat” (Bieb)
Seven couples in the Invitational
Rob, in is wonderful Cockney accent: “Your music choices are either a mish-mash of slow, kind of a potpourri if you will, a mixed-up mish-mash potpourri of slow – I don’t know what that means I was just told that’s what I need to say. Or fast. Mish-mosh or fast, those are your choices. Victor told me to say that.”
Seven GREAT dances:
- John Lindo and Melissa Rutz danced to “Boom Boom,”
- Arjay and Torri to “I Can Only Imagine,”
- Ben and Jessica to “Reign,”
- Jordan and Tatiana to “Suit and Tie,”
- Kyle and Sarah to “Novacane,”
- Benji** and Patty Vo to “Things Are Changing,”
- Angel and Jennifer Lyons to “Valerie,”
- and the All-Skate to “Imma Go.”
Midnight breakfast buffet (eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, muffins, bagels) and late-nite social dancing. Such good dancing in the ballrooms right now! Tomorrow – Jack and Jills!
**Heard tonight that I’ve been misspelling Benji’s name in addition to randomly calling him Brennar. What a numbskull Liza geesh. It’s like finding out I smiled for a picture with a large leaf of spinach stuck on my tooth.
Tom’s brand shoes everywhere! Someone should be getting a commission.
Torri’s cool shoes last night: gray bucks with hot pink soles – from Target!
Kay Newhouse walking around the ballroom with a container of her homemade chocolate-chili-pepper-matzoh confections – I got so excited I knocked the entire container into the air and WE CAUGHT IT. I took the piece with the largest chunk of hot pepper and had to dance VERY fast afterwards with smoke shooting out of my ears
Lot of extended family members here this weekend either by coincidence or because this is a fun family-friendly comp to try to show what we do when we’re away for years at a time.
Tip: Don’t use the new mascara with fibers on both your upper and lower lashes because the glue sticks to itself. I spent last night trying not to blink and apologizing for winking at random strangers.
Dancing last night till 6am yet the lobby HOPPING with happy hyper jumpng dancers at 11am when we limped down for breakfast – boomboxes in every corner, privates everywhere, couples practicing or sharing new moves all over the place – front desk staff standing there smiling and staring, guess they’re used to us by now since Boston events are using this hotel at least several times a year now …
Steve and Rebecca Drzwysznovowelswhateverski are the nicest people in the world I’ve said it before and will say it again. Savvy event directors, too. They hire great people. They try to hire staff who get along well with each other (little bit of brilliance there – never heard this expressed before or its importance emphasized – the less drama the better, drama is a thing we don’t have a shortage of,) they treat their staff well, they make sure two top priorities – registration and competitions – are run seamlessly, schedule arranged carefully to give lots of time for dancing, sleeping, and feeding. All of which create the fun, relaxed atmosphere here at this no-NASDE-no-stress party event.
Finals that have been posted so far:
Open Strictly Finalists:
Andrew Mastin and Sarah Richard
Dave Damon and Mariel Manzone
Eric Cudmore and Kim Filippo
Mr. and Mrs. Novoa
Mr. and Mrs. Subey Cannon
Joe Mahoney and Heather Conkerton
Keith Stremmel and Kendra Zara
Larry Mongeau and Yuna Davtyan
Peter Fradley and Michelle Fletcher
Phouvanh Meckasinh and Stephanie Courtemanche
Stephane Dominguez and Sonya Dessureault
Stephane Roy and Eveleen Sung
Steve Wilder and Sara Mouchon
Invitational Strictly Finalists:
Arjay and Torri
Ben and Jessica
John and Melissa
Jordan and Tatiana
Kyle and Sarah
Invitational Strictly Lindy Finalists:
Andy Reid and Nina Gilkenson
Michael Pedroza and Karen Turman
Nick Williams and Nikki Marvin
Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama
Zack Richard and Annie Trudeau
Jack and Jills all day today – we’re in dinner break now, tonight is Strictly finals, and the Invitational Crossover can’t wait …
Jack and Jill Finalists!
Robert Campos Jr.
Marie-Charlotte P De Koninck
Pierre-Olivier Bastien-Dionne (what a great name!)
(Victor DJ’d all comps)
(couples got one 90′s swing tune and one lindy tune)
Kyle and Naomi – “Motown Philly” (Boyz II Men) and “Flat Foot Floogie” (McKinney’s Cotton Pickers)
Peter and Melissa Rutz – “Poison” (Bell Biv Devoe) and “Jive at Five” (Count Basie)
Lindo and Annie – “Strike It Up” (Black Box) and “Do You Want To Jump Children” (Gene Krupa) – omgawd John Lindo what a riot – danced half of the lindy portion with his fingers on his neck, taking his own pulse, making Annie run dancing around while he stood panting from 250 beats-per-minute lindy hop. Davis Thurber (who tossed his hat to John when the lindy song came on) was laughing and clapping so enthusiastically he pounded his judging clipboard in half. Hilarious dances.
Zack and Tatiana – “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” (Will Smith) and “Something To Pat Your Foot To” (Johnny Hodges) – They somehow managed to get Zack’s shirt off of Zack and onto Tatiana – or mostly onto Tatiana – she couldn’t get one arm all the way through the sleeve and after wrestling with it just gave up and danced with one hand stuck. Oh, and she also ducked under his legs, upside down, and got a little stuck in a compromising position. Compromising for one of them but I’m not sure which one. Someone next to me said “Was she biting his pants leg?” I don’t think she was. This you have got to see – look for the video I’m sure it will be posted within days.
Speaking of videos – Davis Thurber, in addition to judging, was the videographer for this event. Check him out – he’s really good.
Arjay and Karen – “Pump Up The Jam” (Techtronics) and “The Gal From Joe’s” (Duke Ellington)
Nick and Jessica – “100% Pure Love” (Crystal Waters) and “Tutti Frutti” (Slim and Slam)
Jordan and Nicki – “Now That We Found Love” (O’Jays) and oh dang I forget which lindy song they got …
Andy and Sarah – “Ice Ice Baby” (Vanilla Ice) and “Good Queen Bess” (Johnny Hodges)
Ben and Nina – “Groove Is In The Heart” (Deee Lite) and “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (Roy Eldridge)
Mikey and Torri – “Good Vibrations” (Marky Mark) and “For Dancers Only” (Jimmy Lunceford)
For the All-Skate they did both the Shim Sham and the Wobble.
Ain’t Jivin I’m Jammin’ – Leon Hull Jr.
Let’s Stay Together – Obadiah Parker
Novice Finals Music (“Walk This Way” brought them on the floor)
Mean Ole World – BB King
Boogie Shoes – KC and the Sunshine Band
Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf
Intermediate Finals (“Ghostbusters”)
Bad Case of Love – BB KIng
No Diggity – Blackstreet
I Can Only Imagine – David Guetta
Advanced Finals (“Mr. Vain”)
Fine Brown Frame
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Scream – Usher
Allstar Finals (“Tequila”)
Dave and Kay danced to “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” (MJ)
Marc Levitin and Dana Simonetti danced to “No Parking On The Dance Floor” (Midnight Star)
Stephane and Kim danced to “Boogie Wonderland” (Earth, Wind and Fire)
Keith and Anne danced to “P.Y.T.” (MJ)
Jerome and Yuna danced to “Super Freak” (Rick James)
Raj and Kendra Zara danced to “Let’s Groove” (Earth, Wind and Fire)
Erik and Anna Balcom danced to “Give It To Me” (Rick James)
Rob Glover and Anne Fleming (dancing for the second time) to “Shake Your Groove Thing” (Peaches and Herb)
Delivered by Gracie to each couple via one-handed cartwheels across the floor (the other hand carrying the trophy – a large Paul Revere bobble-head on a beautiful pedestal)
Newcomer WCS Jack & Jill
1 Stanislav Ivanov & Kristin Rothaupt
2 Paul Gersch & Raya Ioffe
3 Gabor Singer & Mika Oyaizu
4 Alexandre Quirion & Jennifer Ferreira
5 Sam Ashley & Victoria Yeung
6 Pierre-Olivier Bastien-Dionne & Pj Winchell
7 Joe Karpinski & Debbie Krawiec
8 Daren Roeder & Hannah Hudson
9 Dmitriy Gagarkin & Bridget Fischer
10 Gary Ricker & Kristine Riemer
11 Dave Tahsea & Rebecca Blake
12 Joseph Anderson & Sandra Mayer
13 Nick Scarpeni & Constance Brown
Novice WCS Jack & Jill
1 Eric Barbier & Shani Harpak
2 James Valcone & Laura Colantonio
3 Christopher Muise & Elisha Monzella
4 Peter Khoo & Lisa Siciliano
5 Florent Fabre & Wanda Llorens
6 Klaus Dobler & Amanda Clark
7 Chris Johnson & Lia Brown
8 Dylan Bushe & Catherine Miu
9 Dave Mu & Joelle Sasseville
10 Jose Blasco & Melissa Breton
11 Vincent Stagno & Janet Scuorzo
12 Rich Little & Paula Wilson
13 Joel Hale & Annabelle Pain
14 Michael Barrow & Jody Nagel
Intermediate WCS Jack & Jill
1 Robert Campos Jr. & Catherine Vourlessis
2 Martin Roy & Dani Mullin
3 Jason Lane & Katie Montgomery
4 Sean Gao & Heather Conkerton
5 YingKit (Keith) Chow & Ardena Gojani
6 Scott Chilstedt & Jennie Hartman
7 Stephane Roy & Marie-Charlotte P.De Koninck
8 Todd Coultard & Alaina Yee
9 Phouvanh Meckhasinh & Laura Ciabarra
10 Ken Kreshtool & Tracy Preston
11 Nicolas Besnier & Jill Cayen
Advanced WCS Jack & Jill
1 Billy Montgomery & Sonya Dessureault
2 Matthew Smith & Sara Mouchon
3 Brad Wheeler & Mariel Manzone
4 Steve Wilder & Kim Brolet
5 Andrew Mastin & Shoshi Kushnir
6 Peter Fradley & Nina El-Badry
7 Sean Ryan & Sophie Cazeneuve
8 GenieBoy Collins & Bonnie Cannon
9 Joshua MacDonald & Kimiko Lashley
10 Bob Gorman & Pricilla Christie
All Star WCS Jack & Jill
1 Rob Glover & Anne Fleming
2 Erik Novoa & Anna Balcom
3 Stephane Dominguez & Kim Filippo
4 Jerome Subey & Yuna Davtyan
5 Marc Levetin & Dana Simonetti
6 Dave Damon & Kay Newhouse
7 Keith Stremmel & Anne Fleming
8 Rajeev Hotchandani & Kendra Zara
1 Stephane Dominguez & Sonya Dessureault
2 Jerome Subey & Bonnie Cannon
3 Larry Mongeau & Yuna Davtyan
4 Steve Wilder & Sara Mouchon
5 Keith Stremmel & Kendra Zara
6 Joe Mahoney & Heather Conkerton
7 Erik Novoa & Anna Novoa
8 Dave Damon & Mariel Manzone
9 Eric Cudmore & Kim Filippo
10 Peter Fradley & Michelle Fletcher
11 Andrew Mastin & Sarah Richard
12 Stephane Roy & Eveleen Sung
13 Phouvanh Meckhasinh & Stephanie Courtemanche
1 Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann
2John Lindo & Melissa Rutz
3 Ben Morris & Jessica Cox
4 Kyle Redd & Sarah Vann Drake
5 Arjay Centeno & Torri Smith
Invitational Lindy Strictly
1 Peter Strom & Naomi Uyama
2 Zack Richard & Annie Trudeau
3 Nick Williams & Nikki Marvin
4 Andy Reid & Nina Gilkenson
5 Michael Pedroza & Karen Turman
Invitational Crossover Jack & Jill
1 Ben Morris & Nina Gilkenson
2 Nick Williams & Jessica Cox
3 John Lindo & Annie Trudeau
4 Jordan Frisbee & Nikki Marvin
5 Kyle Redd & Naomi Uyama
Packing for yukko middle-of-the-night flight. More tomorrow!
Friday and Saturday night social dancing was FANTABULOUS. Everyone had a blast, energy in all three ballrooms jumping hot. Dancing both nights until 7am with the floor staying full all the way to the last song – that’s unusual.
Here are a few of the GREAT dances I mentioned in the last update:
John and Annie’s Crossover final
Benji and Patty’s Strictly prelim
Ben and Jessica’s stunning Strictly prelim
John and Melissa’s Strictly prelim
Jordan and Tatiana’s Strictly prelim
Arjay and Torri’s Strictly prelim
Zack and Tatiana’s Crossover final
Ben and Nina’s Winning Crossover final
Andy and Sarah’s Crossover final
Kyle and Sarah’s Strictly prelim
Angel and Jennifer Lyons – Strictly prelim
No dance Sunday night – Steve says they tried it the first year and found that for whatever reasons (Logan Airport flight times for one) most people left by Sunday evening. We stayed over and were shocked at how fast the hotel became a spooky ghost-town – one hour after Awards the lobby which all weekend had been like a colorful mid-eastern open marketplace – so loud and busy you had to weave between groups and yell to talk – was now cold and empty, the only sound the buzz of fluorescent lights.
Wee hours of Monday morning we drove back to the airport to fly home to a surprise snowstorm (after an entire winter without snow we get a snowstorm in the spring,) a new Pope, chemical weapons in Syria, a sequester, Cypress bail-out, and gay marriage.
Next week Ronnie and Brandi’s new event in L.A., “City of Angels”! Can’t wait! We missed last year and we’re SO excited to experience what we’ve heard is a really unique stop on the circuit …
11,000 u-stream viewers watched MadJam on Sunday afternoon! From every continent, all around the world!
Chris and Nicole, “A-W-E-S-O-M-E” (Jason Mraz) So fast, so funny, so fast, so playful, so fast, so witty, and so FAST! I could watch this over and over with a big grin on my face. Brilliant choreography, gorgeous execution. Here they are debuting this year’s winner at the Open.
2nd Josh and Anyssa, “Good Feeling” (Busta Rhymes remix) Superstars on the rise, placing in every jack and jill and strictly they enter, and winning the Juniors division, with this routine, last October at Boogie. Here they are earlier this year at ACC.
3rd Kyler and Whitney Brown, “Dock of The Bay” (Otis Redding) and “Sittin’ On The Boatdock” (Fatback Deluxe) west coast and shag! Their quick feet! Their lines! Her spins are off the chain (I heard a bunch of leaders laughing about trying to do pirouette finger-spins with her an their hand and arm not being able to keep up the speed of her turns – she’s CRAZY fast! Whitney’s got the “it” factor – watch out world, she’s here. Oh and yes, if you were wondering she is one of TWO gifted daughters of beautiful, beloved Gina Amato Brown – both daughters clearly inherited their mother’s talent. The next few years are going to be fun, watching these two! Here’s the routine at ACC earlier this year.
4th Akil and Alexis, “Shake It Up” (Selena Gomez) and speaking of beautiful daughters inheriting their parents’ talent – Alexis (and younger sister Taylor) are the lucky inheritors of Dean and Dawn Garrish’s “entertainer genes” born to perform, to be happiest in a crowd, to be so attractive there should be a law against you, and to go through life making people laugh. Alexis has her mother’s face and expressions, her dad’s height, and her own sense of grace and balletic movement. Her partner Akil has been an audience favorite in routines as well as social-dance competitions from the day that he smiled through the front doors of our Cherry Hill dance one Friday night only a few years ago. When Akil walks through a door his smile enters first, the rest of his body following after. Here they are last October.
1. Lindsey Nastos wowing the audience (and receiving a standing ovation) with her gorgeous heart-rending modern piece: “Give Me Love” (Ed Sheeran) Here is this beautiful creation.
2. Marya Wallace and Taje Lowe, “Fireball” (Willow Smith) in hot-pink ruffle-skirts, neon-striped knee-socks over black leggings, sparkly Chuck Taylors, and braids – ridiculously adorable sweet little girls hip-hopping and bouncing all over the stage like matching candy-covered cupcakes. Watch them here.
3. Kurt and Heather “Close Your Eyes” (James Taylor) with their lovely, graceful, sweet, perfectly choreographed Nightclub Two-Step. So nice to see Kurt bring his Country background and Heather her lifetime in ballet to the west coast competition floor. Gorgeous couple. Here they are.
What a blast this division was! Like a shot of 5-Hour-Energy-Drink coming just at the right time at the tail-end of the weekend.
1. Role Play in lime green, neon purple, and black, in checkerboard and diagonal stripes, “Do You Remember” (Pitbull and Glee), everybody leading and following, boys and girls and purples and greens all morphing in and out and amongst each other in beautiful shapes like a colony of amoebas oozing across a slide in biology class.
2. Capital Swing in black and gold animal prints, “Dinner At The Sugarbush” (Brent Lewis) (a piece of music so brilliant for a team routine – huge credit to Dawn for finding and choosing this), thumpy, “call-and-response” style choreography filled with jokes, wit, attitude, and boatloads of “Oh yeah? Watch THIS!” moments. Great routine.
3. Love To Dance in black and shiny metallic blue, a smooth and sexy DC hand-dance team, to Michael Jackson’s “Come Together” and “Leave Me Alone.”
4. DC Swing, “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) in which they did the “sprinkler” and got a roar, whistles, and a spontaneous standing ovation from the crowd, who never sat down again after this. These guys are not old but they *played* old – selling it as if they were a bunch of old geezers funking it up ghetto-style – pretty hilarious. Fun routine!
5. Swinging In The Rain (from San Diego – Arjay and Katie , in neon green and hot-pink, tops, wristbands, and ties to 80′s classics “Push It,” “Bust A Move,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Livin’ On A Prayer” – high-spirited and fabulous! The audience went crazy insane, the French contingent actually jumping up and down and yelling to the beat in unison from start to finish. You couldn’t sit still for this – so much fun!
MadJam was great this year. We live here so we’ve been every year, and have watched it grow from very small to pretty daggone big. Not sure what the final numbers were this year but it was big. Too big for the ballroom, really – the floor was fine but seating was difficult. I’m still hearing comments about how great the floor was – anyone who competed on it this year loved the backdrop, the freaky-great spotlighting, and the amazing energy created by allowing audience members to sit on the floor for routine and spotlight divisions.
However. We also heard a lot of griping that sitting on the floor you weren’t able to see a thing if you’re a short person or had too many rows sitting in front of you. And that there was nowhere to sit at all if you wanted an actual chair. Seats on either side of the ballroom were completely obstructed by the crowds of competitors and staff lining up there – these seats ended up empty for much of the event. Seats at the front of the ballroom were few and were appropriated and “marked” (like cat-spray) early in the event. Much of the weekend was standing-room only which doesn’t work for everybody.
Venues for our events are hard to find, especially as our dance gains in international popularity and the comps get bigger. This hotel may be the best that’s available in DC.
An event director is lucky if he lives in a city with
- a convention center
- near an airport
- which is affordable
- with a gigantic ballroom
- with wiring, structures, and codes to allow for stage and spot lighting, screens, streaming
- great guest rooms
- an all-hours affordable buffet
- friendly hotel staff
- who can accommodate our weird sleeping/eating/sweating patterns
Event directors try so hard to get it right, and it’s not easy. I’m glad they do what they do so the rest of us have places all over the world where we can go play for four days and nights.
Five cases of laryngitis during MadJam! Total laryngitis, too, these folks could only whisper. People said it was a virus but I don’t think so. I think it was five cases of Yelling-Your-Head-Off cheering for friends.
And a lot of laughing.
What a fun weekend!
SPECIAL NEWS! Arjay and Bridget have a baby boy! Born March 11! Which, as Arjay pointed out, is a cool palindrome: 3-11-13
In other news: I am getting hourly CNN alerts about the color of smoke coming out of a chimney. Cool it CNN! Wolf Blitzer dude seriously! Take a chill pill. If the smoke is still black don’t tell me about it okay? That’s not news. Also if it’s dark grey, slate-grey, battleship grey, ash-grey … I don’t need to know the 50 Shades of Grey coming out of the Vatican chimney. Just tell me when it’s white. Put it on an elevator TV.
Classic was OUTSTANDING.
1. Eddie and Elise, “Beauty and A Beat” (by Bieber) omg so FAST! And so different than last weekend, first time on the floor! Wow, what a difference one single week makes. It was the BOMB last night – clean, so energetic, so full of joy and health, complete trust and commitment to every movement – she goes full force all the way from one side of a connection to the other whether it’s a bend, lean, or whipped body part – she’s all the way there and looks like she’s having a blast at every moment. Love the look on her face. This routine doesn’t “breathe” – a thing you’re “supposed” to have according to some people who know much more about dance than I ever will – but in my uninformed opinion this song doesn’t “breathe,” either, and the choreography fits the breathlessness of the song perfectly. I loved this.
2. The Uspenskys, “Eet” descriptions here and here HOLY CRAP THE BALLROOM these guys are LOVED here on their home turf. It was good to have a raucous ballroom tonight since the room had seemed quiet on Friday, timid almost, not how I remember mid-west events. But tonight – different story. Musta been saving up all their yelling for routines. The Uspenskys got a wild standing ovation. I must say that as much as I love this routine I will never ever again be able to see it – or hear the song – without remembering one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: Matt and Brennar and this.
3. Hugo and Brianne, “Fade” (Claude Hay,) in red and silver diagonal slashes of fabric. So smooth! She’s adorable, he’s adorable, they’re both talented, funny, and great dancers.
4. Sebastien et Blandine (dancing to a personal favorite: “Skinny Love” by Birdy) – OMG I love this routine! Blandine’s dancing? OMG! How she has progressed! In such a short time! This is the girl who only two years ago couldn’t speak or understand a word of English, came to the States for the first time with Sebastien (and Verane, Stephane, Estelle, Benjamin and Melodie, and a few others) to her first event (Atlanta? SwingDiego?) a Novice dancer who really didn’t know the dance. SUPER nice people from their first tentative foray into the west coast community but obviously new to our dance. Sebastien had been tossing a team of girls around his neck and heaving them up to the ceiling as effortlessly as if he was juggling oranges so he may have been a bit more comfortable at the beginning than Blandine, but both were new. And both have worked their butts off, worked so hard to improve, and boy does it show. They get orders of magnitude better every month. We were blown away by this routine at the Open but last night? OMG simply astonishing. You must see it!
Here is the link to the paid “thumbsupvideo” for last night’s Classic Division.
5. Shane and Keri, “New Alphabet” (Eels) with another of their bad-ass, dangerous, cool “fusion” pieces – combination of swing with Argentine Tango, contemporary and lyrical, hip-hop, gymnastics, thrashing, and jazz. I love their courage in putting daring, cutting-edge routines out there knowing they’re pushing the edges of what and is and is not swing, and that in terms of competing they are taking a risk cause they might not please judges. My favorite part of this routine is how they go from extreme speed and bouncy energy to extreme extreme slo-mo. Pretty cool. They take risks with costumes, too. This one is military-inspired, khaki and camo. My favorite was this dramatic flamboyant costume from the US Open two years ago, with Keri’s stunning face paint.
6. Kyle and Sarah! With their funky, funny, fun, fast, “Seven Nation Army” and “I’m In Miami Trick.” Check this out – their footwork! The combination of speed and smooth! How they slide around the floor as if on wheels! They’re crazy amazing. Here’s a description, and here’s a video of the routine in full costume.
Kyle and Sarah make west coast look easy. I’ve always said and will say again: when it looks really easy is when you know you’re looking at greatness.
Because west coast is hard! Really hard. I’d put money on wcs being way harder than any other social/street dance. First of all you have to cooperate with another person. That in itself is impossible, especially if they’re the opposite gender (which I think of as The Enemy.)
Second, you have to be able to be creative and make things up on the fly which is a problem if you are any of the following:
- an accountant
- a stripper
- an academic
- an exhibitionist
- an introvert
- a 60′s hippy
- Lindsay Lohan
- haven’t slept for four days
The really great champion dancers, like Kyle and Sarah, make it look easy no matter how they are feeling. You think “Shoot. That looks easy! I know I can do that. Watch me make Champions by next year.”
7. Matt and Crystal, “You Don’t Know Me” – HOLY SHAMOLY THE BALLROOM! So much pounding and screaming when they walked out onto the floor it was bouncing the floor boards up and down! The Auclairs are beloved in Chicago. What a pretty routine this is – I love these guys’ taste in music. And Crystal, sheesh! She’s curvy and sexy, and that beautiful face, and her sensuous movement – oh my goodness. Standing ovation for the Auclairs, of course.
8. Jordan and Tatiana, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Gotye, Dubstep and Frisbee remix.) The amazing, blazing, winning routine that has brought cheering crowds to their feet at the Open and everywhere they’ve performed it since in Europe, Australia, and far-flung cities across the world. Here’s the description from the Open. Have you seen it? Hope you’ll be lucky enough to see it live. It’s thrilling!
9. Josh and Lindsey, “This Love Is Over” (Ray LaMontagne) the gorgeous routine we saw at MadJam last weekend. This routine became an immediate audience favorite – both weeks we heard breathless exclamations about the beauty and emotion of the piece and predictions of high scores and placement. Lindsey is a stunning dancer – she performed a Cabaret routine at MadJam (we were hoping to see her perform this here, too, but didn’t) which outshone most everything else on Sunday – she has not only extreme technical ability, strength and grace, but she has heart and connects with the audience, she speaks to you boldly and directly. Josh is a great dancer too, and the partnership seems, from what I can make out so far, to be a good one. So far the routine hasn’t placed in the top five which might mean that as lovely as it is other routines were even better. Or it might mean judges aren’t seeing swing content. Or who knows what – a whole host of other criteria on which judges base their scores. All I know is that I’d never want to judge. I would put everybody first.
10. Mike and Sheli, “Too Close” (Alex Clare.) Sheli’s balance is amazing – she can do anything. Funny too, she’s so funny. She says she’s smiling in the routine not because you’re supposed to smile when you’re dancing but out of sheer petrified embarrassment. Now that I think of it her face is always red which I’ve always found charming. But now I know why she’s bright red and smiling. Her face is stuck that way. She told me the funniest story years ago, about hitting the very first break at the beginning of their routine only doing it backwards by mistake so that she found herself right up against the backdrop, arms outstretched, smiling a huge smile into the drapes. She’s fun to watch social dance because she, literally, can do anything, and does. Oh, and Mike, social dancing, I will only say this: girls tell me he’s so good and so hot they lose the ability to talk and can only grunt space-cadet noises. Maybe that’s why Sheli is always smiling. Also: I have on my office wall an autographed picture of Mike with his shirt off. Limited edition, distributed to a lucky few at Spotlight New Year’s.
11. Kris and Rebecca, “More Than Words” (The Piano Guys.) Beautiful ballet-like slow routine, much different than last year’s fast “Gold,” to show their control, lines, and mastery of balance and strength. Rebecca’s ballet training shows – her long neck, extensions, flexibility and grace.
12. The Markers, “Creep” (Radiohead) AUGHGHGH! THE BALLROOM WENT WILD! CHICAGO LOVES JASON AND ANNMARIE! They NAILED it. We’ve now seen this three times, each time it gets even baaaaader, and I mean that as a compliment. Their quality of movement is different in this routine – how can I describe it – they do “sharp” stuff, angular, fast jabs, quick hard hits, stuff you might expect to see from short people who are quick and agile not huge tall Saginaw, Michigan people with long limbs that take forever to extend and retract. The feel of this routine is new – it’s just, I don’t know, not as nice. It shows the not-quite-as-nice-as-you-thought side of the Markers. Twice now I’ve come home from a comp and in my notes, right beside the word MARKERS!!! scrawled across the page, I find I’ve written “spit.” I guess that word must come to mind when watching this routine. Spit. Like spitfire, or spitting mad. Restless, impatient, itchy. It’s just great. And, like I say, they nailed it this time. I didn’t see a single hiccup, not a moment’s indecision or lack of focus. Not that *I* could see, at least.
Oh! About the Boston Globe reporter! He (or she?) was seen around 1am Saturday night being escorted out the front door by security. So who was this person? Not a reporter I don’t think hahaha. I’m guessing someone dropped that business card on the floor and this lady (man) thought “I have an idea!” Which actually is a great idea now that I think of it. I’m going to use a business card myself the next time I want to crash a party. Maybe I’ll say I’m from CNN and I’m doing a story which will appear on elevators world-wide.
1st Place Jordan and Tatiana
2 Kyle and Sarah
3 Matt and Crystal
4 Sebastien et Blandine
5 Arthur and Colleen
1st Place Myles and Tessa
2 Greg and Lemery
3 Robert and Nicola
4 Rob and Connie
5 Jason and Sophy
1st Place Hieu Le and Natalie Gorg
2 Kyle and Aimy Patel
3 Chip DiStefano and Michelle Haynes
4 Scott Mehlberg and Tatiana Zavyakova
5 John Elms and Lori Rousar
1st Place Tommy Gibbs and Renee Lippmann
2 Chip and Janice DiStefano
3 Wayne and Cindy Rohr
4 Buzz and Debra McCreary
5 Mike Booth and Cheryl Grange
JACK AND JILL CHAMPIONS
1st Place Jordan and Tatiana
2 Matt and Kellese
3 John Lindo and Blandine
4 Robert and Sarah
5 Ben and Lemery
JACK AND JILL ALLSTAR
1st Place Hugo and Angie Cameron
2 Josh Sturgeon and Sheli
3 Kyle Patel and Melissa Rollins
4 Brad Whelan and Lori Rousar
5 Eddie and Natalie Gorg
JACK AND JILL ADVANCED
1st Place Hareesh and Marina Moeller
2 Jeff Mumford and Kelsy Petrykowski
3 Sebastien and Aimy Patel
4 Jon Elms and Katie Slater
5 JC Bryant and Katia Aviasevich
JACK AND JILL INTERMEDIATE
1ST Place David Brown and Olga Usmanova
2 Miguel Ortega and Tatiana Zavyalovaa
3 Roger Batista and Allison Brown
4 Chris Kompanene and Allison Shu
5 Michael Saloka and Amanda Staley
JACK AND JILL NOVICE
1st Place Pavel and Sarah Sheaff
2 Bruno and Jocelyn Lopez
3 Jean-Pierre Sach and Nicole Skelly
4 Jonathan Villar and Shelby Vandenberg
5 Richard Falls and Amy Laederach
JACK AND JILL NEWCOMER
1st Place Shimpei Muraoka and Lindsay Burkley
2 Jon Young and Jennifer Hutchinson
3 Brett Stacer and Ali Reilly
4 Matthew Freeversyser and Jennifer Czech
5 Karl Dunajcik and Anne Dunajcik
JACK AND JILL MASTERS
1st Place Chip and Peggy Allen
2 Wayne Rohr and Renee Lipman
3 Tommy Gibbs and Jennifer Vaughn
4 Vince Peterson and Theresa McGarry
5 Mike Booth and Nancy Buchler
1st Place Jordan and Jessica
2 Kyle and Tatiana
3 Brent and Kellese
4 Robert and Rebecca
5 Ben and Sarah
1st Place Chip DiStefano and Renee Lipman
2 Mark Endo and Theres McGarry
3 Mike Booth and Peggy Allen
4 Claude and Gordana Fortin
5 Tommy Gibbs and Joann Podleski
Remember the tall hairy bearded guy in the pink tutu and ballet slippers? Who crashed the party? At Swing Dance America 2007, I think it was, Saturday night? Hollering and making hellaruckus when security escorted him out of the ballroom? Tried pulling off his tutu in protest?
Well I think we maybe got crashed here tonight by a very drunken, pretend newspaper reporter (she gave us a Boston Globe business card) a woman about my age, blonde, in way too tight skinny-jeans, with lipstick applied up to her nose, in high heels, which either because of alcohol or because of age she couldn’t stay up on so instead she kind of thumped over to the reserved seating table, her ankles taking turns flopping on the floor, to ask Julie Hein, Rosa Passi, and Bob and Beverly Budzynski if they were important people she should talk to. But she immediately lost interest and anyway was too drunk to stay for an answer and her eyes were rolling around in her head so before anyone could say anything she flopped herself out onto the floor where she stood, wavering, in between dancing couples, staring them down intently for as long as her eyes would stay put then turning to stare at someone else, swaying on her bent ankles like a tree about to go down, which was a little disconcerting for the dancers. And then she pulled a small red camera out of her bag mumbling something incoherent about somebody posing if she could figure out how to use her camera.
Rosa coughed into her hand and said “bbbprr” we said “What Rosa? What?” She coughed into her hand again, a cough with a word attached, “[cough] -ipper! [cough cough]” We were laughing we said “Rosa WHAT?!?” so she cough-talked louder and this time we heard “[cough] zipper! [cough]“
“Oh!” we said, “Zipper! Her zipper is open?”
And indeed it was, the woman’s fly was down, actually more busted open than down since the pants were so tight simple engineering would show that unless that zipper was made of aircraft grade steel it was not about to stay zipped.
By this time we were starting to suspect she wasn’t from the Boston Globe.
Should we tell her? What should we do? We thought we really ought to tell her so I walked over and said “Excuse me honey your zipper is down” – I had to repeat it three times, loudly, before she could focus – and you know what she said? She said “Uh oh! Hope my thang wasn’t stickin’ out. Just so long as my you-know-what wasn’t pokin’ out if y’know what I mean.”
That is what the reporter from the Boston Globe said when I told her that her zipper was down.
The last I saw of her was just as Classic was about to begin. When everyone ran to find a seat on the floor she wobbled herself over to the table and trying to reach to get her pocketbook her knees and ankles just kind of gave out – slowly – she got shorter and shorter like Groucho Marx on bent knees, sinking downward almost gracefully, in slo-mo. Have to ask if anyone saw where she went.
Or he. Where he went.
Tonight was routines! Eight Masters couples (this comp is on Bob and Beverly Budzynski’s Masters Tour) and thirteen Classic couples! SO much superb dancing tonight! I am not just being polite – the routines tonight were absolutely terrific. I would NOT want to be a judge! Judging seems impossible when each routine is over-the-top marvelous in its own unique way. Like trying to judge a Renoir against a Picasso.
I’ll tell you all about routines, and the wonderful Champion Strictly finals, tomorrow.
Cold, overcast, gray weather out there today but who cares? This hotel is so beautiful you don’t want to go outside. You’re too busy lounging on a plush couch in the lobby, with your notepad, watching the balconies.
Or maybe down in the ballroom watching Jack and Jill prelims which are today …
Grace is our emcee this weekend – so funny! Jim and Nancy opened the event last night entreating us to be nice to each other. “Turn to the person you came here with, tell them how much you love and appreciate them.” Then they introduced Grace who said “I feel weird. I didn’t come here with anybody I came alone. So I’ve been back behind the curtain, in the dark, with my arms around myself, saying “I love you Grace I appreciate you.” She’s hilarious.
Pro couples came on one by one to dance to a song they’d chosen:
~ The Roystons to “Swannee,” (Grace: “Robert you always look fierce, you dazzle audiences. No pressure.”)
~ Brent and Kellese to “Things are Changin” (Gary Clark) – Kellese in Daisy Mae short-shorts denim overalls, a one-armed paisley peasant blouse, black tights with knee-high black lace-up suede boots and red, red lips. I love Kellese’s sense of style, every outfit she’s ever worn a totally different work of art, created at the moment like cooking with whatever you find in your pantry, created not from high-end designer pieces but from stuff anyone could find in a mall, or collect from hand-me-downs, or by tying your husband’s dress shirt around yourself upside down, or by draping curtains or other large swaths of fabric around yourself like she did one year with only two strips of metallic gold and scarlet red. I love Kellese’s artist’s soul.
~ Luis and Taletha to “Better Without You” (Rhian Benson) and because the Keys had just left the floor kissing Luis felt moved to enter the floor kissing so he put a smacker on Taletha but with a hand covering his mouth. Taletha gagging, barfing, looking totally nauseated and grossed out. That’s how they started their sexy romantic dance hahahaha.
~ Ben and Jessica IN 6″ spike heels and a miniskirt – Ben said “Do we have to do anything? Can’t she just stand here and we can all clap?” which she did, and we did. Jessica brings a party wherever she goes. She’s gorgeous, smart, and a tireless worker. I listened to her explain to a new competitor how she handles nerves, stress, pain, mistakes on the floor – how she sees her responsibility to an audience, her duty as an entertainer, her duty to be “on,” to bring positive energy, love, laughter, cheering, and support. Jessica is the person any event director – any producer in the entertainment business – wants to hire. (They did dance, too, to “Valerie” – she can dance in 6″ heels as ferociously as she dances in 1/2″ sandals. She’s not human.)
~ The Auclairs to “Let Me Love You” – wow Crystal holy mackerel more beautiful every time we see her. Matt more funnier. And more faster if that is possible. (Grace: “I don’t feel old at all when I remember that I competed with Matt when he was ELEVEN.”)
~ John Lindo, Jessica, and Jessica’s Shoes, to “Booty Voodoo.” She is not Homo Sapien Sapien.
~ Myles and Tessa to “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. We heard they were out on the town Thursday night – would have been a treat to see these two tearing up some of Chicago’s famous blues bars! Did they do lifts?
~ Kyle and Sarah to “Naked” by Kevin McCall – SO FUNKY! SO FUNNY! SO FAST! SO SMOOTH! SO MUCH HEART! What a treasure Kyle and Sarah are! How precious to the community! How lucky are we to be part of the community now, and see them live, and know them! Future generations will look back at videos and wish they could feel what it’s like to be here now, in these heyday years.
~ Jordan and Tatiana to “Beauty and The Beast” (by the Bieber) in which Jordan, on that last YAA!, at the end of the song, that last yelp that you might not have noticed before but will now, forever after, always wait for, on that yelp Jordan yelled YAA! and sprung straight up in a jump shot that would scare Kobe Bryant. I caught the bottom half of him on camera – the rest of him was up near the ceiling.
Daylight Savings begins on Sunday at 2am which means I must “Spring Out Of My Bed One Hour Earlier Than I Want.” Do they have this in countries other than the US or is this a uniquely confusing custom we have here like the truly nutty 0.3048 meters in a foot and 8 ounces which does it weigh that much? Or does it fill up a cup but weigh who knows what. You decide! Cause we’re a little confused here in the US and this is why I don’t bake.
Want to see the ballroom? Watch the live stream all weekend! Click here for Thumbs Up Video!
Dim, sexy red lighting for late-nite dancing in the ballroom! It’s a trend! It’s a meme! We’re getting great moody lighting at more and more events. Really ads trancey dramatic atmosphere as the night goes into the wee hours.
Great Rising Star tonight! LOVE this division! How terrific to see new couples put routines on the floor for the first time! Cool new ideas, new personalities being revealed through dance, new music choices, new history being made, new drama … what a great place for new west coast dancers to get their feet wet.
I think that here at this event the division is called “Rising Star Classic,” which I think means you can’t test out your showcase skills if that’s the division you’re aiming for. I think a Rising Star division should include both Classic and Showcase so that any new couple thinking of competing will know there’ll be a division for them.
Seven Rising Star couples tonight:
1. Levi and Melissa, “Arms,” Just saw them dance this last weekend, giggling throughout their performance which was delightful. No giggling tonight though which made them look much more powerful, bold and confident.
2. John Elms and Lori Rousar, “Save The World” (by Swedish House Mafia.) Brand new! Great dancing! Oh and by the way last night Lori got her suitcase stuck in the escalator (the long, open, golden escalator which takes you from the front door up to the lobby) causing her to do a back flip-roll over her suitcase tumbling all the way back down to the bottom. She wasn’t hurt at all. It sounds scary but I’ve now heard at least ten different people tell the story (she had a large audience) and everyone says it was one of the funniest things they’ve seen in a while.
3. Chris and Amy, “Hazy,” now the third time we’ve seen this and it just gets better and better. Amy is so elegant!
4. Scott and Tatiana, “I Want You Back,” – just saw this one, too, last weekend.
5. The Patels – Kyle and Aimy – Sexy And I Know It” (by Noah) – new (to us, at least) – Kyle without the GINORMOUS bushy black santa-claus beard he was sporting last weekend and Amy cute as a button with that infectious smile that makes you want to laugh, both of them in bad-ass black with laces/cut-outs or some embellishment suggesting bikers and bondage which on these two is particularly funny and adorable.
6. Hieu and Natalie, “Unfold” (by Jason Mraz) – this we saw in – okay where did we see this everything is a blur – where am I right now oh yeah Chicago okay we saw this at Spotlight, New Year’s Eve. Beautiful dancing. Beautiful music, beautiful choreography, beautiful dancing.
7. Chip DiStefano and Michelle Haynes, “Foxy Lady” (Alain Clark) – Michelle is one of our favorite people. So are Chip (and Janice, his wife) as a matter of fact. Fun, funny people, and it shows in their dancing – full of spirit.
2. Braden O’Dell and Lila Ferguson (from Denver) to “Beauty and The Beast” (Justin Bieber) – brand new! first time on the floor! and what a supportive audience. And what a great routine! She lifts HIM at one point, in a kind of slow-mo leveraged balancing planking thing for which they got a rousing ovation. This was prettttttty daggone great for a brand new couple with a brand new routine, first time out.
3. Hareesh Kapoor and Angela Baker to “Pretty Little Heart” (Robin Thicke) – also brand new, first time on the floor, fun routine.
4. Myles and Tessa who NAILED it! Nailed the trick (they didn’t last weekend at MadJam – ugh hate it when they fall! And Tessa is fearless – brave and determined and fearless – their tricks are scary great, scary dangerous, and it feels like we’ve seen Tessa fall more than a few times at this point. But does it stop her? No way. She’s inspiring.) And they nailed his pirouette at the end, spinning himself on one leg while holding her above his head. Sheesh. This routine is really beautiful. Great song, great choreography.
5. Jason and Sophy! (to “Starships”) Back on the floor again after two pregnancies, two births and two BEAUTIFUL little daughters. Sophy looking more chic and stylish than ever before. Talk about inspiration! Or fearless! Holy cow. Sophy is tough as nails, immune to pain, ferocious, and absolutely clear-minded and unambiguous about what matters in life.
6. Greg and Lemery, with their stunning, emotional, clean, quiet, theatrical, heartfelt piece – “Your Eyes.” It’s fun sitting with people seeing this routine for the first time – they shake their heads at a loss for words, wipe their eyes, shake their heads some more.
7. And finally the beloved Roystons with “Mercy,” Nicola so sexy in her bustier, ruffly short-shorts, boots and above-the-knee socks.
This hotel! OMG stunning. The lobby! Most dramatic, elegant hotel on the circuit (at least here in the United States) that I’m aware of. Contemporary, Hyatt-atrium style, like Atlanta. Excellent for spying! Relaxing in the lounge or bar you can watch every person walking around the balconies on every level on their way to their room. Or someone else’s room. You get the picture.
This is that great hotel where one year the Bondage Convention was held. Such goings-on that year! Also the Wheelchair Convention and the Soapy-Clean Salesman’s Convention, all simultaneously. That was a good year at this hotel.
Televisions in the elegant lobby restrooms! One over each sink projected from within onto the wall-to-wall mirror beam-me-up-scotty-style.
Televisions in the elevators! Brilliant! I’ve always been bored on the elevator. No more! Now I can watch CNN on the way to my room and keep up with important world news: “Hideous norovirus outbreak on the Royal Caribbean! Cruise ship forced to turn around mid-ocean to power to nearest hospital.” Eeeew. Last month overflowing raw sewage and mass starvation on Carnival, this month vomiting and diarrhea on Royal Caribbean. Eew eew. That settles it. Cruises definitely on our Not-Bucket List. Also, CNN is stupid.
Glass elevators with multi-colored light show on the underside which one watches float up! up! up to the skylight and night stars at the tippy top. (Glass elevators are also favorable for spying. One hides behind a planter watching to see who exits the elevator on one floor, after a few moments appearing on another walking quickly to duck into a different room. Tip: it helps if you carry a small notepad to keep track of which room goes with who, etc.)
Fire at the entrance to the clubby restaurant in the gigantic atrium lobby. A big fire, not a small fire.
Way over on the opposite side a second restaurant – upscale, fine-dining – also open to the lobby. And a bar lit with multi-colors glowing through the bottles on glass shelves. Like you’re on a space ship. Lobby floor dotted with enormous glowing glass tiles lit from below like you’re walking in outer-space in a starry galaxy. Contemporary touches at every corner – skylights everywhere, angles, curving corridors, floor-to-ceiling glass.
Club Lounge is awesome – elegant food for breakfast, dinner, snacks throughout the day, honor system for beer, wine, even mixed drinks! How nice to be treated with respect as if I’m trustworthy.
They forecast 1-2 feet of snow for DC the day before I was to fly here to Chicago. Grocery stores sold out of bread, toilet paper, and milk – all things I need in a snowstorm. They were calling it the “SnowQuester” (for non-US’ers – that’s a play on the word “Sequester” which is your guys’ version of “Austerity” or, in plain English, “We’re broke.”) They closed the government for this snowstorm! That’s unheard of in DC.
I thought between the sequester and airport personnel being fired and a snowstorm I am never getting to Chicago.
Snow dumped on Kansas and Boston. But in DC? Nothing! Not even a dandruff flake. I had a totally easy flight, and this hotel is walking distance from the airport so getting here was tres magnifique.
Hey, I have a question: Do you use Sky-Mall? Any of you Frequent-Circuit-Travelers? For Christmas shopping, since you’re on a plane more than you’re in an actual mall? I earmark a SkyMall magazine every flight, take the catalog home with me intending to buy stuff, and a month later look leaf through what I marked and wonder WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? I don’t even have a cat! Why do I need a Litter Kwitter 3-Step Cat Toilet Training System? Or a Bacon Throw and Pillow Set Complete With Bacon Fragrance?
Frequent-Circuit-Traveler Question #2: Are barf bags good for anything besides barfing? They’re free so I could be collecting them if I had some re-purposing ideas.
“Well it’s kind of everywhere, the entire hotel is MadJam.” Hal Greenwald, lost in the empty lobby, had asked, “where is MadJam?”
“Everything’s MadJam. See over there? That line of computers and stations is the registration area – that’ll be buzzing in an hour. There’s the ballroom – floor is already down, backdrop and lighting are up, they’re building the sound system and seating now. Jordan and Tatiana for the opening kickoff workshop at 8 o’clock JORDAN AND TATIANA RIGHT HERE IN DC! AWESOME! WAY TOO AWESOME! Oh what a big weekend this is gonna be! What a pro lineup this year! Impossible to get all these guys these top Champion dancers together in one place they’re always travelling hither thither and yon everywhere in the world it’s like trying to keep cats in a damn box whew this many top pros all at once! right here in DC sheesh what a weekend what a weekend. Hotel sold out in October we almost didn’t get a room! Thank you Kiona thank you Wayne Wisdom! thank you for thinking of us this would not be the weekend to miss holy shamoly so many of our friends coming over from Europe cause here on east coast usa it’s the same distance from Europe as from California so we always get a crowd from France and uk, and eastern europe, and russia and OMG the lighting at Dave’s events! Moody nightclub noirish trancey great photographs with extreme light and shadow and some photos like you were shooting in a watery blue aquarium or an irradiated fantasy land of dancing smurfs oh yeah and the closed-circuit TV! You can watch the ballroom in your hotel room 24/7 all day all night fall asleep to silent silhouettes floating back and forth back and forth across a glowing purple backdrop what a weekend what a weekend what a weekend.”
Looks like not much hustle on the program this year unlike last year and the year before and the many years before. Don’t throw a shoe at me – here’s my opinion: Yippee less hustle! The less the better is my opinion. Those interminable hustle heats! A person could keel right over and pass out from endless air jabs and disco music. But I will say: I would like Erica Smith to model her hustle outfits which if you put all her hustle outfits in a pile you could stuff them into one of my socks. But who’s looking at her clothes, anyway? Nobody is looking at Erica’s clothes.
Smoke machines! Multi-colored light-shows on the walls! What a night of dancing!
PACKED ballroom last night, jammed until the last 25 dancers left to have breakfast at 6am. Louis and Helen – music was crazy great!
We walked out into the lobby at 1:30am to find a small city of bleary-eyed bed-headed black-coated Europeans and Asians clutching pillows, dragging suitcases staring into space passively zombie-like beaten down the way you get from a day in airports waiting to check in at the front desk and in lines at the registration table. MadJam is using the cool new ipad system (Chris Palmieri’s creation) we saw last summer at Swing Fling. Super cool (tied to the scoring system too, I think, which is even cooler – you sign your agreement on an ipad how cool is that!) but not super fast. Yet, anyway. I’m sure she’ll keep working on it.
Great energy here today! We’ve been watching pro-ams from morning till now in our room and on tv’s around every corner in the hotel. The lobby’s been humming with people all day – crowds at the front desk, crowds at the registration tables, crowds on the lobby floor taking private lessons, crowds in the shoe-hall buying shoes (Shoshi worked yesterday from 7am till 1am when they finally closed shop – she lost her voice from talking to customers 18 hours non-stop.)
The zillion dollar question: How are 1,600 people going to fit into this ballroom? There’s a second floor outside the ballroom (where the bar used to be – which is what the rennovation was: removal of the bar and remodeling of the hotel restaurant – the ballroom and guest rooms have not been redone) so maybe if the ballroom floor gets crowded some people will move out to the lobby? We shall see! The floor doesn’t look huge but I’ve learned that the apparent size of a floor can be deceptive and the actual size is often way smaller or way huger than it looks. Tonight’s late-nite dancing will tell the tale!
Impromptu zouk and bachata demonstrations tonight in the club lounge! The waitress was loving it but moved the couple away from the food when the wild hair-whips started flinging carrot sticks, celery and pot-stickers at the diners (just kidding. But she did move the couple. Cause the wild hair whips were actually whipping food across the room. No just kidding.)
I had the most incredible one-and-one-half-handed massage today. Melissa Greene – smart, superbly sensitive, talented massage therapist – fell on her hand last night and busted half of it. The other half performed magic – can’t overemphasize enough. She’s here all weekend – grab some time if you can!
1st Place Luis and Heather
2 Ken Roesel and Lisa Schaupp
3 Kurt Senser and Kristin Wenger
4 Gary Jobst and Sue Lambell
1st Place Jean Pierre Sachs and Christelle Ouvrad
2 Tze Ming Wee and Krystal Symbolin
3 Blaine and Miki Schultz
4 Mairon Batista and Vanessa Sorres
5 Dave and Gina
1st Place Pavel Pavlov and Olga Usmanova
2 Ramero Royster and Veronica Castilla
3 Casey Miller and Tatiana Zavyalova
4 Miguel Valle and Nadia Serova
5 Corey Flowers and Cat Silvers
1st Place Grigory Lebedev and Kat Aulasevich
2 Jerome Fernandez Irina Puzanova
3 Hugo Miguez and Lindsey Nastos
4 Reginald Beason and Linda Cuccio
5 Akil Boatwright and Whitney Brown
… and the most AMAZING Open Strictly … seriously astonishing dancing … jam style with spot lighting …audience circled around on the floor … finalists (14 couples from a field of 40 fabulous dancers) dancing two times through (WHAT A TREAT!) and a final all skate …
Picture these couples, at their happiest, most creative, energetic, joyful, craziest best:
Jordan and Sarah
Brandi and PJ
Luis and Tren
Marcus and Kellese
Brent and Tessa
Benji and Tatiana
Brennar and Deborah
Kyle and Torri
Arjay and Melissa
Jason Barnes and Lemery
Chuck and Laureen
Maxence and Virginie
Robert and Jill Demarco
Stephen and Nicole
… and the Open Winners:
1st Place Benji and Tatiana
2 Arjay and Melissa
3 Jordan and Sarah
4 Kyle and Torri
5 Maxence and Virginie
I keep asking people “are you having fun? do you like this event?” and I have heard nothing but 100% HAVING A BLAST OMG SO MUCH FUN I LOVE THIS EVENT OMG. Seriously – I’ve asked brand new people, allstars, people who’ve been to only a few comps, people who go to every comp, chronic complainers, Russians, Texans, blondes, old-timers, kids, and lots and lots of pros (cause there are lots and lots of pros here to ask, and if pros are having fun there’s a “trickle-down” effect in my opinion) and so far nothing – seriously, nothing – but enthusiastic rave reviews …
Also, so far no problems with the floor being too crowded. Of course it’s still early as I write this – 2am so dancing’s just starting ..
~ I forgot to mention a third DJ last night – Erica Lyons! How could I forget Erica? Sheesh.
~ And the reason registration was slow is because the wifi connection in this hotel leaves much to be desired. I know I’ve been struggling with it myself and I’m told they’ve been struggling down at registration, too.
Here’s the Open Strictly Final!
WHAT AN AMAZING CHAMPION JACK AND JILL FINAL OMGAWD ….
Benji and Tren to “This Girl Is On Fire” and “Shakin’ The Shack”
Brennar and Brandi – darn I forget which songs they got i was too busy watching. gorgeous control, subtlety, clean, attentive
Maxence and Deborah – “Best You Ever Had” and “Spankin’ Leroy”
Kyle and Torri - AMAZING dancing = “Sure Thing” and “Funky Mamma” – brilliant dancing. so fun, so funny.
Jordan and Tatiana (they drew each other OMG SUCH DANCING! CRAZY GREAT!) – “Talk That Talk” and “Thanks for the Memories”
Markus and Sarah – “Thrift Shop” SARAH!!! HOW SEXY FUNKY BRILLIANT ADORABLE IS SHE and “Drinking Wine Spody Ody” (starting off with a fight scene)
Parker and Kellese – “Night Call” and “Wall To Wall”
Braaaayyyynt and Melissa – “Wide Awake” and “Spankin’ Leroy” – omgawd the most ADHD sugar-high red bull double espresso flying-across-the-floor dancing in the history of swing
Arjay and Lemery – “Madness” and “Spankin’ Leroy”
Robert and Tessa – “Shine Bright Like A Diamond” and “Move Across The River”
Juniors (Josh and Anyssa, Chris and Nicole, Kyle and Whitney, Akil and Alexis)
(Judges: Arjay, Robin Smith, Festa, Gary Jobst, Brennar, Bill, Chief Judge Dawn)
Jordan and Tatiana (mind blowing.SUCH powerful dancing! wow are they loved here the audience went wild)
Hugo and Stacy (NEW! “Wild One,” How beautiful these two look together! Great chemistry!),
Josh and Lindsay (“This Love Is Over” her exensions! emotional choreography, their fingers at the end),
Ronnie and Brandi (aughghgh! GORGEOUS GORGEOUS mesmerizing too beautiful),
Eddie and Elyse (NEW! “Beauty and The Beast” fast! joyful!),
Alexi and Katrina (“Small Bump” her long limbs, her grace, his cravat, pretty hot pink and white costumes),
The Markers! (love this routine – it’s saucy, mean, troubled, very different for them),
Luis and Taletha (“Hotel California” sad, moody, melancholy – love that they never smile),
Maria and David (fun fast bluesy piece from last year),
Kyle and Sarah (so GREAT so funky, fun, fast, so damn FUNNNNY)
(Judges: Arjay, Bill, Gary Jobst, Festa, Chuck, Parker, Robin Smith, Chief Judge Dawn)
Ronnie and Laureen (“Bring It On Home To Me” OMG! So fast! Fast and slow, clean stops in mid-flight, incredible lifts and drops, Ronnie has WAY too much fun – they both look so relaxed like they’re having a blast, even when she’s balanced high above his head on one hand;
Stephen and Sabrina (“Somewhere With You” their quality of movement gets so much better each time we see them. Their transitions are so smooth)
Miles and Tessa (“Let’s Get It On” oh my gosh so beautiful, so sexy, and that crazy trick …)
Greg and Lemery (love this routine. can’t see this without crying. feels very real, like it comes right from the heart. gorgeous song, gorgeous choreography)
Luis and Jen (better and better each time we see this)
Brennar and Torri (no words. mind blowing. astonishing dancing. utter control, brilliant choreography, powerful technique, joy, showmanship, chemistry, years of practice and work and artistry and soul … showcase at its finest)
The Roystons (their best routine yet! so young, fresh, fun, bad-ass, full of life … love this routine)
Jack and Jill prelims all day today – finals tomorrow.
Parties all night tonight – hotel security is going a little bonkers with all the noisy room parties – they don’t know how to handle an entire hotel that’s taken over by a single event, where everybody in every room knows each other. It’s like a college dorm.
Ballroom is absolutely packed as I write this. Last night ballroom stayed packed till 7am floor trials. Really fun energy here.
I’ve managed to get this written, in between visiting four different party rooms. Hope it’s coherent … and I am heading down to the ballroom now to dance for a few hours …
1st Place Chris and Nicole
2nd Josh and Anyssa
3rd Kyler and Whitney
1st Place Jordan and Tatiana
2nd Ronnie and Brandi
3rd Kyle and Sarah
4th Kris and Rebecca
5th Luis and Taletha
1st Place Benji and Torri
2nd Greg and Lemery
3rd Ronnie and Brandi
4th Myles and Tessa
5th Robert and Nicola
1st Place Brian and Pam Bennett
2nd Levi and Melissa
3rd Scott and Tatiana
4th Frank and Faith
5th Tze Ming Wee and Dalena
1st Place Lindsey Nastos
2nd Heather and Kurt
3rd Fireball (Marya-Montez Wallace and Taje Lowe)
1st Place Swingin’ In The Rain (Arjay and Katie)
2nd Capital Swing (Dawn)
3rd Roleplay (Arjay)
4th DC Swing (Dawn)
5th Love To Dance (Anthony Jones)
1st Place Luis and Heather
2nd Kenny Roesel and Lisa Schupp
3rd Kurt and Kristin
4th Gary Jobst and Sue Lambell
1st Place Jean-Pierre and Christele
2nd Tze Ming Wee and Krystal
3rd Blaine and Micki
4th Mairon and Vanessa
5th Dave and Gina
1st Pavel and Olga
2nd Romero and Veronica
3rd Casey and Tatiana
4th Miguel and Nadya
5th Cory and Cat
1st Grigory and Kat
2nd Jerome and Olga
3rd Hugo and Lindsey
4th Reginald Beason and Cuccio
5th Akil and Whitney
2nd Arjay and Melissa
3rd Jordan and Sarah
4th Kyle and Torri
5th Maxence and Virginie
JACK AND JILLS
1st Place Josh and Anyssa
2nd Akil and Whitney
3rd Chris and Ashley
4th Wesley and Nicole
5th Christopher Wrigley and Hannah
1st Place Kurt Senser and Robin Grimsby
2nd Matt Nichols and Sue Lambell
3rd Bruce Baker an Kristin Wenger
4th Vence Harbuck and Wren Newman
5th Lawrence Bunde and Jamie Callahan
1st Craig Myanmodo and Karen iWilliamson
2nd James and Saave
3rd Jonathan and Schoeder
4th Philip and Carole
1st Place Tze Ming Wee and Blandine Goudou
2nd Brian Richards and Hanna Tuominan
3rd Jean-Pierre Sachs and Lori Fleicher
4th Mairon Batista and Carrie Smith
5th Aran Peily and Ramune Sveekyte
1st Alfredo Melendez and Olga Usmanova
2nd Roger Batista and Dalena Lee
3rd Frank Blakemore and Ashley Brown
4th Roy Legaspi and Veronica Castilla
5th Yu Sun and Sophie Caseneuve
1st Place Eric Byers and Whitney Brown
2nd Josh Williamson and Lindsey Nastos
3rd Jerome Fernandez and Beverly Brunerie
4th JC Bryant and Irina Puzanova
5th Grigory Lebedev and Stacy Kay
1st Place Hugo and Virginie
2nd Josh and Anyssa
3rd PJ and Yuna
4th Chris and Erica
5th Akil and Melissa Rollins
1st Place Kyle and Torri
2nd Jordan and Tatiana
3rd Benji and Tren
4th Markus and Sarah
5th Brennar and Brandi