Liza May

Phoenix 2014 Update #8 – POOL STORIES

So, The Pool.

The thing about the pool …

…was that it was right outside the ballroom.

You walked out of the ballroom – and – there you were!

On the the deck!

Food! Drinks! Music! The Pooooool!

So that meant …

You’d do your prelims. Then you’d walk outside onto the deck. Throw off your shoes, belt, wallet …

And jump into the pool to cool off!

In your dance clothes.

(If you had forgotten to wear your bathing suit underneath)

In that blazing desert sun it’d take five minutes to be completely dry again.

And then … you’d put your clothes back on … and go inside to do finals!

The pool was never closed.

All day, all night, the pool was open with food, drink, music, and a hot tub.

No late-nite dancing at Phoenix, in those early years. Which meant the entire event was out there at the pool having a raucous all-night party, from the minute they closed the ballroom till daybreak.

Think about it – you can probably picture what it was like, right? – a pool full of dancers – every dancer at the event, everyone! – lying around eating, drinking, laughing, throwing each other in the water.

Party all night, wake up on a lounge chair as the sun came up.

So many shared memories of first light at the Phoenix pool!

100 dancers at the hush of dawn watching together as that blazing desert sun rose slowly over the splendor of the Camelback mountains. Images and emotions forever burnt into the memories of those years.

The Sunday Competitors’ Meeting was mostly to find out who wouldn’t be dancing – not because they were hung over but because every year a bunch of people found themselves fried to a crisp on Sunday from playing in the sun all day Saturday.

Even after they closed that first pool, the tradition continued. Phoenix was always about ballroom to pool to ballroom to pool again.

Because the pool is where everyone would be.

The entire event either dancing in the ballroom or hanging at the pool.

Including the hot-shots!

That was a highlight of Phoenix: All the big name celebrities came, and they were right there with you in the pool, all weekend long!

It was a rare opportunity to hang out for four days and nights with the greatest names in the swing dance world. You got to watch them horsing around, attempting lifts and moves in the water, chatting, relaxing, and telling stories, always telling stories.

You had a chance to have actual contact with your heroes, to get to know them as people instead of the distant superstars you’d only watched from the nosebleed seats.

Many life long friendships began at Phoenix – Phoenix is famous for this. Because there was time – loooong stretches of time at the pool – with nothing to do but hang out and get to know each other.

Pros would come to Phoenix and refuse to work. No private lessons, no workshops. They’d rent cabanas and spend the entire weekend chilling at the pool.

You seriously planned for Phoenix cause you had to look great. You’d shop all year for the perfect bathing suits, sarongs, hats, flirty dresses. January would arrive and you’d panic! Summer was just around the corner! Gym and tanning salon memberships immediately! Need to increase the hotness quotient for Phoenix!

Phoenix was Adults Only. No kids allowed, no juniors divisions, you couldn’t bring your own young children. Strictly an adult vacation.

And it was the first event held at a major resort — the only one held at a resort for years.

And not just any resort either. The Camelback! One of the most beautiful resorts in the world. (To this day J. W. Marriott celebrates his birthday here at The Camelback. Of all his Marriott hotels around the world, the Camelback is his favorite.)

Phoenix was where you went every year to get spoiled and pampered, to dance and celebrate the Fourth of July in style and luxury. To have a classy adult party with your friends – some of whom you only saw at Phoenix, once a year.

Some things have changed at Phoenix since those years. But one thing that has not changed is The Camelback.

Just as the City of New York is a character in Woody Allen movies, and Albuquerque is a character in Breaking Bad, The Camelback is a character – a major character – at Phoenix.

Lucky us that George (that’s George Pavlatos, Event Director) happens to know management of the hotel (his ties here go back 46 years to the Air Force and Viet Nam war) and has been able to get us back to the Camelback, and in a way that’s affordable for dancers.

Next ….

More stories … and news from this year. The routines, the Invitational, the Presentation, the competitions, the music, the parties, the pool …

SUBSCRIBE to get real-time Updates!

Filed Under: Phoenix

Get the news, stories and awards as it happens!