Liza May

City of Angels 2015 Update #4 - The Invisible Man

As I've said in previous years, I love the lobby of this hotel with its contemporary design, social and activity areas with monitors and ports, its two excellent restaurants, circular bar, and through the glass doors the pool, cabana, and fire-pit area where we dance on Sunday nights.

Haven't been particularly impressed with the rooms. They're not terrible, just a little tired. The biggest annoyance, as I wrote in 2013 and last year, the bathroom door which bangs into your knees if you're taller than 4'10" and use a toilet.

But! Great news!

The hotel has new owners! Complete renovation - all rooms - for City of Angels 2016. Bathrooms, too.

But seriously - rooms a little less than perfect? Bathroom door issues?

I must be a very spoiled American if that's what I think matters.

What really matters - a LOT - is where the hotel is in relation to the airport. Can we get there without having to add extra hours (and money, and carpooling) by car?

In that regard this hotel could not be better. Right next to the airport, walking distance, free shuttle every 10 minutes. Can't beat that.

But what matters most about an event hotel ...

The ballroom!

Cause that's where you spend 347% of your time. Six months later, reminiscing about the event, you're picturing the ballroom.

The ballroom really matters. Right?

And this ballroom is grrrreat, as I've written before.

It's square (as opposed to long and skinny,) spacious, accommodates a beautiful big floor, elegant feel, room for tables and risers, ample carpet space to move around, hang with friends, hit the bar, hide in the back ...

Ballrooms can feel elegant or tacky, upscale or ghetto. Ballroom look and feel - as with events in general - are as varied as family living rooms, reflecting the tastes and values of the event directors.

The City of Angels ballroom is 100% Ronnie and Brandi - clean, uncluttered, elegant, bright, attention to detail, intelligent, artistic, "user friendly."

That, in large part, is because of this man:

This is Tom Perlinger, who I've been meaning to mention for three years now, since Ronnie and Brandi, Parker and Earl, the entire Denver community - anyone who mentions his name - immediately launches into a rhapsody about how superbly talented, indispensable, tireless, brilliantly knowledgeable, critical he is to creating a successful event. He is regarded by those who know him as the very best we have for all technical aspects of creating a great ballroom.

Tom is the man who does sound and lighting.

Humble, self-effacing, generous, friendly and unassuming to the point of almost disappearing, Tom's expertise comes from 25 years touring with a band, creating sound and light shows for major conventions and music spectacles (big shows in Vegas, LA, around the country, Matrix, Redken, much more - he simply will not brag it was like pulling teeth trying to extract these details.)

In other words, he knows his stuff.

In 1992 he discovered west coast swing, started attending conventions, and in 1995, at Swingtime (which he now owns and runs as Event Director) he said "you know, I might be able to help you with this."

And thus began his role in the community as the sound and light man you want to have if you can possibly get him.

He comes equipped with all the necessary equipment. The truss lighting is all his, all the sound equipment.

He views his job as "putting on a show" - creating an "experience." A sound and light show.

His philosophy is what made the biggest impression on me.

Tom says that he sees his role as accenting and enhancing what is happening. He's there to create energy, mood, accents.

He says when it's right -- you don't notice it. When it's right you're only aware of the experience.

The moment you do notice lighting, or sound? That is the moment these effects are interfering. Competing with the show - rather than enhancing it.

You never want to overdo it - a mistake often made. You want sound and lighting to be "invisible," so to speak.

He pointed to the lights he was using at that moment. High on the trusses I could see neon lights, black lights, spotlights, all sorts of effect type lighting small and large, pointing in different directions. But looking back at a floor filled with dancers (we were talking during a song break between divisions) I would never have dreamt that a carefully designed "mix" was being managed to enhance that very moment.

It's about creating energy and mood --- without being noticed.

No one better at this than Tom.

Ronnie and Brandi can't say enough good about this man - on Friday he (and they) began set-up at 8am and only finished at 7 that evening. Tom worked without stopping then, and for the rest of the event, seemingly without sleeping or eating.

He probably hates that I've written about him publicly.

But now you know. Tom Perlinger is the man you want if you're after a quality ballroom experience for your event.


I had said that the great synchronized-neon-orange-bullhorn table was Ben Morris' table.

Teveya Dovbish has corrected me:

"The table with the megaphones was one of Vivian's tables, but I helped organize this one in particular and brought all the orange gear. Ben is our friend and one of our coaches, so he sat with us. Tip wasn't the one who threw the megaphone at Victor and boo'd - it was someone else. Tip wasn't even at the table at that moment. He went to the restroom."

Thank you Teveya for the correction!

Any other corrections? I'm always grateful for help getting stories straight, since I'm re-telling only from memory and scrawly notes so illegible that I can't even read them myself afterwards. So please let me know if I need to correct anything, ever. I need help achieving my mission to report with 347% accuracy.

Filed Under: City of Angels

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