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Here we go!
So great to be here again after missing last year. It is huge! The ballroom is gigantic. You enter from the open sky-lights atrium in the lobby and there, way out beyond the dark rows of spectator seats and tables, is the huge floor shimmering and rippling under the stage lighting, dancers seem to be floating and bobbing like sailboats, a floor so vast you feel like you’re gazing across the San Francisco Francisco Bay.
Packed ballroom last night, all night into the wee hours. Two boxes of bands already snapped onto wrists – that means 500 people banded last night. Online registration (“Now Dancing” the great program created by Jen and Michael Diener – check it out and create a profile for yourself to make your life easier at your next event: Now Dancing ) shows 967 people pre-registered – that’s a lot!
Lovely gray fog over the bay this morning which lifted by 10am to reveal a sunny blue sky, windy white-caps chopping across the water, a lovely balmy San Francisco day. What a great city this is! Rich with culture, so much here to do.
And what a crazy weekend here this weekend! If you’re driving in be forewarned – it’ll be impossible to drive through the city. The America’s Cup World Series regatta begins today! First time hosted in the States since 1995!
This is also the weekend of Fleet Week, a tradition since 1981 and the most anticipated Fall event in San Francisco with an estimated audience of 1 million spectators drawn every year to the city’s northern waterfront to be awed by a parade of Navy ships and a spectacular aerial show which includes the Navy Blue Angels.
And if that wasn’t enough this is the weekend of the Oktoberfest Beer Olympics!
And if *that* wasn’t enough this is also the weekend of the enormous annual event, the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival,” held across the rolling meadows of Golden Gate Park!
And the Giants playoff! And a 49ers game!
And the Columbus Day Parade and the huge annual “Decolonize the New World” *anti*-Columbus Day Parade, and the hugest of all Italian Heritage Festival and Parade!
And a Florence and The Machine concert, a Dead Kennedys concert, the Central Market Arts Festival and the Castro Street Fair!
And Boogie By The Bay!
This is a big comp, a big, serious NASDE comp.
There are all different personalities of comps on the circuit, flavors for every taste. There are small homey comps, party comps, new contemporary-feeling comps with a new creative vibe, traditional comps, Texas comps that are uniquely Texas, comps with a jillion competitions all weekend (that’s Genieboy’s favorite flavor. Once, either at Miami or John Wheaton’s Jack and Jill O’Rama, Genieboy entered 27 different competitions in a single weekend (being Masters age does have some benefits) which means that we *paid* for 27 competitions which, what can I say. I have at least 27 pairs of shoes.) Every flavor.
Jeanne DeGeyter puts on three comps a year which are hilarious fun, their own unique flavor. Homey, welcoming, smallish, and the main thing is that because Jeanne is both creative and very funny her comps always include loads of wacky competitions (with costumes and props) and dancing-meets-party-games late nite silliness. Some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the circuit are stuck forever in my mind’s eye from Jeanne’s comps (like Kyle Patel in pink spinning so fast he rotated himself entirely off the floor into the audience taking down chairs, tables, and people in his path like a small Indian car gone haywire.) (Pictures from 2009 Grand Prix). That middle section of the States is a fun area of the country. Doug Rousar, our dear friend and the kindest, real-est, wisest, most humble and heartfelt person you will ever meet – also happens to be fall-down hilarious, silly dorky childish stupid hilarious. Matt Auclair is in that part of the world and he easily could easily be a stand-up comedian performance-art celebrity he’s that funny. The Markers are there, with their fun-loving, enthusiastic, rowdy community from the university created in their image. All of these folks are superbly talented dancers in addition to loving to laugh, so at comps in that part of the world you’re not only delighted by their humor but by their astonishing west coast as well.
I’m not like most people we meet as we travel the circuit. I like every kind of comp, unfortunately. Every single flavor. Like ice-cream. It’s a problem! Especially now with so many new events cropping up around the world. I can barely stand it. I want to be everywhere! Right now!
Anyway. This comp is of the humongous variety. A NASDE comp in every sense. Very “serious” (if west coast can ever really be serious) vibe here, more about the thrills and joys of competing and “doing it right” than, as at some events, the joys of being silly, laughter, and dancing for the pure fun of it – who cares if it’s correct or not. I love the bigness, the gravitas, the presentation of the Jack and Annie Scholarship (I love the respect for tradition and history that goes with this, love the presence of Jack and Annie, love the opportunity to pay tribute. If Desert City, as I wrote last month, is a relaxed party atmosphere because it’s *not* NASDE, then this is the exact opposite. This is San Francisco, people take their pleasures very seriously here. You don’t just have a doughnut in this town. You have the *right* doughnut.
Flew in on Virgin America which doesn’t have rows of seats becoming detached and flying backwards through the plan (CBS story on the flying seats) and which has such a funny safety video, with such good cartoons and voice-over, that you actually want to watch (“For the .00001% of you who never operated a seatbelt before, here’s how to to it,” or the cartoon guy who didn’t pay attention to the turbulence annoucement and throws water all over himself, or the matador and bull seated next to each other (I would like to see *that* arm-rest fight,) or “please remember, the seat-cushion is *not* a flotation device so don’t take it home with you to use in the pool.”) And Richard Branson coming on, himself, to encourage you to donate to cancer research using Virgin America’s nifty interactive touch-screen.
The guy in the seat next to me, a short wire-rimmed glasses vaguely tense kind of a man, spent the first two hours of our flight watching the presidential debate over and over, laughing his head off so loudly while heaving himself back and forth against his seat and pounding his knee, that the flight attendant finally had to come and ask him if he could please keep it down a little. He then spent the next two hours shaking his fist wildly at the Gogo inflight log-in page, red-faced and sputtering, entering and re-entering his credit card number a hundred times (wanna know his credit card number? I have it memorized) until finally, when we only had an hour left to the flight, he finally got through to google, went to this page: (google weather) and sat there staring and laughing so loudly that people up and down the aisle were craning their necks around to see what the commotion was. This was after four gin and tonics, I should add.
Everybody arriving, so exciting, the lobby and atrium are buzzing with crowds of raggedy dancers towing suitcases and neck-cushions, arriving from all over the world. This is the greatest lobby/registration area. Something about it, the height and skylights way at the top, walking four steps down to register, the ballroom doors right there – something about the flow or feng shui of it is great.
Lots of juniors checking in this afternoon – I’ve said it a million times but I do love when Juniors are at a comp – changes the whole feel, makes the whole event feel more playful, creative, energetic, funny, goofy, and in an odd way more serious – you kind of feel like you’re taking care of your young people and you’re taking care of the future of your dance, both at the same time.
Registration here is a breeze – tables stretching the length of the atrium with a row of smiling laughing happy faces to greet you and sign you in. All volunteers, club members, who every year seem to be having just too much fun. They do have registration down, though. Been at it a long time here and they know what they’re doing. And this is San Francisco after all, where things are done right.
We are just about to kick into high gear. Strictlys in an hour (6pm on the program,) semi-finals, all levels.
There is a judges meeting occuring at this moment. Geeeeesh, wonderrrrr whaaaat is being discusssssssed therrrrre.
Strictly finals follow at 8pm, then Stricly Lindy, and last of all tonight Champions Strictly at 11. That will be fun.
Corrections! That last link for flying airplane seats didn’t work – here’s the correct one: American Airlines Flying Seats
Got any more corrections? Not that I’ve ever needed correcting.
I do welcome all corrections, additions, or comments, though! If you want to put your two cents in just drop me a line and let me know if it’s repeatable, printable, or not.
Which reminds me … this update-writing has ruined my relationships. People greet me like this, “Hi Liza! Nice to see you! DON’T PUT THAT IN YOUR UPDATE.”
First, two quick tidbits:
Gotta love San Francisco! I mentioned the Castro Street Fair, right? Check this out: Weiner says Put Your Pants On
(And yes Weiner is really his name. To find this article I googled “naked weiner castro”) My favorite line, “He arrived in business clothes, stripped down to his shoes, socks and sunglasses and ate a pasta salad.” Classic. Gotta be my next status update.
Second Tidbit: This one totally unrelated to Boogie. Check this out: “Schmoyoho sets debate to music! 115 bpm, totally danceable“
Last night was Strictlys, 6 pm till just after midnight. I wasn’t quick enough to catch the names of Strictly prelim contestants, but here are your finalists. Sure wish I could make fun of people’s names. But that wouldn’t be nice. Would it.
Novice Strictly Finalists:
Matthew Leszcsenski and Diana Jaunzeikare
John and Paula Squibb
Matthew Lietzke and Alaina Yee
Tip West and teveya Dovbish
Shin Aoki and Sheryl Fernandez
Ben Porter O’Neal and Robin Vann
Rick Manderscheid and Caitlin Kinsella
Adam Hager and Yeaw Su Ann
Gabriel Munoz and Devin McBain
Doug Groo and Michelle Crozier
Jonah Deitz and Tiffany Miller
Anddrew Vogel and Amanda Denney
Austin Kois and Katie Vannetti
I really REALLY wish I could make fun of people’s names. But no. That wouldn’t be nice.
Intermediate Strictly Finalists:
Matthew Levine and Melissa Mcrobbie
Claudiu Simion and Desie Damaso
David Guido and Delphine Grivel
Jason Bryan and Larisa Tingle
Alex Waller and Skyle LaPointe
Dean Fields and Victoria Henk
Jonathan Tatum and Tasha Veal
Brendan Jacques and Madison Malone
Chris Mendoza and Jessie Divine
Kiko Fernandes and Giulli Kimura
Morgan Burks and Shanna Porcari
Ian Lee and Olga Usmanora
Cassie Winter and Rebecca Savaca
Seriously, can I make fun of people’s names? Okay no that wouldn’t be nice.
Advanced Strictly Finalists:
CJ Caraway and Leigh Young
Brandon manning and Anyssa Olivares
Matthew Taylor and Amanda Mckamey
Brad and Sarah Wheeler
Travis DeVoid and Marina Mollman-Gutsch
John Piper and Terra Deva
Glint Glasgow and Kylie Davey
Carson Brand and Samantha Ward
Steven Guido and Hayley Minkin
Josh Williamson and Maddie Finley
Koichi Tsunoda and Lindsey Nastos
Kevin Kane and Shantala Davis
Steven Van Nguyen and Nicki Almost Mrs. Silton Smith
Evan Pardo and Lura Klipp
All-Star Strictly Finalists:
JB and Kara
Cameron and Janelle
Alfred and Shannon Tobin
Josh Sturgeon and Dana Simonetti
PJ and Tashina
Daniel Guido and Stacy
Bret and Bella
Connor Goodmanson and Libbaaaaaay (who, the day after Desert Swing, was supposed to have flown home to Australia but just couldn’t bear to leave the US dance community so here she is at Boogie hahaha – yaaaaaay! Maybe she’ll stay forever we hope we hope we hope!)
Jason Taylor and Sharon Her
Brad Whelan and Tara
Chris Dumond and Jessica Greer
Rob Jackson and Heather Powers
Edwin Li and Patti Thompson
Masters Strictly Finalists: (at this event, I’m guessing because of scheduling restraints, one must choose between Masters and one’s actual competitive level – this applies to both Strictlys and JJs.)
Mark Endo and Theresa McGarry
Layton and Loretta Berry
Gerry Morris and Kelly Wentling
Warren Pino and Bess Rodriguez
Michael DeFranco and Glenda Smith
Marty Deluna and Debbie Montalban
Peter Witte and Ginny Howe
Michael Salvados and Sarah Grusmark
Gary and Laura Thompson
Martin Brown and Brenda Koster
Here are your Champion Strictly prelim contestants:
Robert Cordoba and Amanda Warren
Ben Morris and Deborah
Doug Silton and Laureen
Luis and Lemery
Ben Hooten and Taletha
Mr. Marker and Mrs. Uspensky
Mr. Uspensky and Mrs. Marker
Ben McHenry and Courtney
Paul Warden (SO! GREAT! to have Paul and Cat back in the States! Been two whole years. Cannot wait to see their routine tonight!)
Arjay and Brandi
Ollie and Cameo (Cameo is a blonde! She was a stunning brunette, strikingly gorgeous, and now is almost unrecognizable as an equally stunning blonde. I pointed her out to several people who insisted I was wrong, that’s simply not Cameo, can’t be. It really changed her appearance. She now looks so much like her mother it’s uncanny.)
Nick King and Samantha Buckwalter
Robert Royston and Torri
Sean and Yenni
Nick Jay and Cat
Debennedeta and DeLuca (Somewhere in Italy is one lucky woman whose last name is Debennedeta-DeLuca. I can’t stop saying DebennedetaDeLucaDebennedetaDeLuca while waving my hands all over the place. Try it, you won’t be able to stop.)
Leeeeeeendo and Roooooootz
Kyle and Jessica
Jake and Tessa
Parker and Sarah
Peter Strom and Naomi Uyami
Judges for Champion Strictly prelims: Yvonne, Mario, Bess Rodriguez, Dani, Simone, Kim Sifter, Sylvia, Carla, Carlito, and Chief Judge Kelly Casanova
Champion Strictlys were spotlight (Yay! So much more fun, and easier on your neck, when you don’t get whiplash trying to watch everyone at once). Grace emceeing.
Judges for Champion Strictly Finals: Bess, Mario, Carla, Dani, Carlito, Sylvia, Yvonne, and CJ Kelly
Music was “Beth and Andy’s Favorite Classic Swing Songs” (sounds like a CD on 4am cable tv) – couples were to choose either faster or slower than 120 beats per minute (120 because this is the 20th anniversary of Boogie.)
First up Ronnie and Jenn, or, as Grace said, “from the law firm of Debennedeta and DeLuca,” choosing “slower than 120″ – “True Love” – so smooth, both of them in inky blackest black, such slinky smooth soulful sensual dancing. Loved these two.
Lindo and Ruuuuuutz (this is Melissa’s home turf so she gets a howling, resounding, bass roar when her name is called – rooooooooooootz – hotel guests and staff must wonder what the heck is going on in the ballroom.) They chose fast (>120) and got FAST – “It’s Better to Have And Don’t Need” – so fast – John at his best tearing up the floor like we rarely see – and then! Last beat of the song, BAM! down went Lindo flat onto his back crashing down onto the floor. For half a second we worried but when the scene instantaneously devolved into chaos – Melissa crawled on top of him, straddling him, lying on his belly looking right into his face laughiing – Kyle, Ronnie, Parker and Ben running out to pump his chest and give him CPR – Ronnie jumping on top to administer full mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Lindo heaving him off yelling PTUI! PHLEGH! EEEW! making faces like he was going to barf sticking his tongue out utterly appalled and grossed out – once all that happened we knew Lindo was alright. (Grace: “Welcome to San Francisco! Sometimes I feel like half of my job as emcee is being a Rodeo Clown.”)
Robert Royston and Torri (Robert: “I want to remind you that my partner wasn’t even born when this event started.” Grace: “So Robert do you want a fast or slow song? Your partner can do either, it’s you I worry about.”)
They got “Baby Work Out” and WOW! This dance was incredible. Royston, Holy Shamoly, the dude knows Every. Single. Beat. in this song, every lyric, every eighth note. By heart, so thoroughly second-nature like riding a bike, total intuitive “on” dancing. And of course with a partner like Torri how can you do better? She’s amazing, period. The two of them together with this song – west coast at its best. This is a video you’ll need to see, it’s a classic. What a treat!
Luis and Lemery to “Mustang Sally”
Nick King and Samantha Buckwalter to “Kiss”
Olivier and Cameo to “Good Rockin’ Daddy” (Cameo did a splits, a beautiful balletic Russian splits; and Olivier followed without even a beat between with a splits of his own, flexed feet, lindy-esque – great moment)
Parker and Sarah to “Let’s Rock”
Peter and Naomi to “Caeser’s All Star Joint”
Ben Morris and Deborah to “Swannee”
Kyle and Jessica to “Fever” – WOW! Smooth, subtle, sensual, passionate – this was gooooood dancing.
Ben McHenry and Courtney to “Stray Cat Strut”
Arjay and Brandi to – ooops, don’t remember! – what I do remember was that it was lovely. I love these two, apart and dancing together. This year both Arjay and Brandi seem to be even more dazzling than ever before, each in their own unique way. I can’t take my eyes off either one.
Running down to ballroom now for Jack and Jill prelims, all levels.
Oh! Music – for all the strictlys yesterday (all Beth all the way) and social (also Beth, until Ruby in the wee hours) has been SO good. (In my opinion, that is. I realize this is totally utterly thoroughly irritatingly subjective.) I am loving Beth’s music this weekend. Well all except the songs listed above, which, irony of ironies, are Beth and Andy’s favorite songs. (hahaha poooooor Beth poooor deejays you just cannot please people no matter what you do deejaying is the most thankless job in this business.) Anyway – I’ll list the names of yesterday’s comp songs in the next update (I’m asked for music names a lot – dancers around the world must be collecting music to practice to, or to deejay in their home communities.)
Down to the ballroom!
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG CLASSIC AND SHOWCASE IN AN HOUR OMG OMG OMG
We just finished buffet dinner (comes with your ticket – chicken, cheesecake, pasta with meat marinara, lemon meringue pie, rotelli alfredo, coconut cream pie, steamed veggies, apple pie, romaine and cucumber salad, boston double fudge cream pie) and now I can’t fit into my clothes.
Forgot to mention: Tara Trafzer is okay. I heard a big box or speaker fall on the floor last night during Strictlys, turned my head to continue watching Tara dance just at the moment she was pulling herself up from the floor. I said Wait did Tara fall? and everyone around me said You didn’t you hear that? That was her HEAD! I said you’re kidding holy crap and we all watched Tara dance as if nothing had happened, smiling and seeming to be fine. She says she has no memory of anything after hitting the floor, doesn’t remember finishing the dance at all, walking off the floor, nothing. Tara’s mom – Lee Ann – says they took her to the hospital last night and she does indeed have a concussion, some swelling at the base of her skull, is watching for signs of nausea, dizziness, or anything out of the ordinary, and has been advised against practicing her Showcase routine. But she is fine. Totally fine. Nothing to worry about!
Except maybe Earl Pingel who, an hour later, walked over and wopped her a good one on the back of the head to say Heya! Howya doin! Tara said fine but don’t hit me in the head I’m concussed and Earl said Yeah right hahaha that’s a funny one Tara! Tara said no really I fell I’ve got a concussion. So from now on when I see Earl I’m going to cringe and duck, saying “don’t hit me don’t hit me.”
Anyway – for those who might be worrying – Tara is fine. Just taking it a little bit easy.
Yesterday’s Strictly songs: (Thank you Beth!)
Cause I Said So
Let’s Stay Together
Pride And Joy
A Good Time With The Blues
The Tracks of My Tears
Love You Like a Love Song
Movin’ and Groovin’
Mr. So and So
Dedication to My Ex
Let Me Go My Merry Way
Further On Up the Road
Man in The Mirror
Don’t Turn Out The Lights
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
The Pleasure’s All Mine
Looking for Love
Me, U & The Music
I’m On To You
Something Like Olivia
Dock Of The Bay
All Star Prelims:
What’s Up With That
Take My Love With You
Back In Time
Down in the Valley
All Star Finals:
Sweet Home Chicago
Don’t Cry On My Shoulder
You Got Me Runnin’
Let’s Get It On
How Sweet It Is
Fly Me To The Moon
Bed For My Soul
Today has been JJ prelims all day. Novice went to semis, everything else was a prelim, with finals tomorrow.
And now for routines! I am so excited – always SO love this part of a weekend – it’s my favorite part. All the work, the blood-sweat-and-tears, that go into these routines, the years of training, hope, frustration, discipline, passion and commitment that go into these routines – this is the part where you see the love for this dance most clearly. They’ll all tell you that the time and effort is all worth it for this moment, putting your piece of work on the floor out there, having the audience applaud for you, for what you’ve done. I just love this part. Can’t wait to see the new ones that are going out there tonight for the first time, in anticipation of the Open next month.
Speaking for myself, I am so very sad that I don’t get to see Jordan and Tatiana, or Kyle and Sarah, dance tonight. There’s a big hole here this weekend where Jordan – the very first winner of Jack and Annie’s Scholarship – and Tatiana, the second winner of the scholarship the following year – used to be, have always been, for thirteen years. It feels weird for them to not be here this weekend, or dancing tonight. For me, that is. I’m sure many people don’t even notice. But for me it’s sad. Their routines are dazzling, their dancing is astonishing. Their routines inspire me.
But there are so many events now and the time has passed when all the greatest pros in the community could all show up at one event. Those days are over! Now there are multiple events around the globe, every weekend of the year. Only the USOpen … maybe! … will, hopefully, be able to gather everyone in one spot.
Anyway. There will be plenty of wonderfulness to see tonight, even without these two beloved and extraordinary couples.
And down to the ballroom I go! Love this part!
Quick and dirty update here cause rushing down for JJ finals and JUNIORSS ROUTINES!!
Finals posted on the wall at whatever o’clock, throngs of people crowding to see, squealing in excitement or staring in sad silence,
Novice Jack and Jill Finalists:
alt Doug Groom
Clarise Ok Watch
alt Caitlin Kinsella
Intermediate JJ Finalists:
Cesario Dos Santos
alt Claudiu Simino
alt: Phallon Tillis
Masters JJ Finalists:
alt Michael Salvador
alt Vivian Glucksmann Weiss
Advanced JJ Finalists:
Matt Nichols (who will have shoulder surgery – TOMORROW – that is how crazy he is (count me in on that kind of crazy, I’d be dancing too, and will continue to keep dancing until body parts get so rusty they’re falling off on the dance floor)
Steve Van Nguyen
alt Brad Wheeler
Anyssa d-up Olivares
alt. Auntonya Rogers
Doug Almost Mr. Silton-Smith
alt Brandon Gautreaux
Champion JJ Finalists:
1st Ben and Melissa
2nd Ronnie and Brandi
3rd Arjay and Jen
4th Gary and Susan
5th Sean and Courtney
1st Benji and Torri
2nd Myles and Tessa
4th Ronnie and Laureen
5th Greg and Lemery
1st Josh and Anyssa (first time on the floor!)
2nd Chris and Nicole
3rd Brandon and Madison
1st Joe Broderick with Samantha Ward
2nd Evan Pardo and Shanti Davis
3rd Carson Brand and Hannah Clonch
4th Josh and Anyssa (they drew each other!)
5th Andy Vanosdale and Maddy Finley
1st Place JB and Malia
2nd Chris Dumond and Cameo
3rd Ryan and Janelle
4th Jason Taylor and Stacy
5th Alfred and Taylor
1st Kyle and Sarah (they drew each other! ha!)
2nd Arjay and Sharlot
3rd Ben Morris and Samantha Buckwalter
4th Myles and Melissa
5th Robert Royston and Jessica
1st Rob Jackson and Heather Powers
2nd JB and Kara
3rd Cameron and Janelle
4th PJ and Tashina
5th Daniel Guido and Stacy
1st Kyle and Jessica
2nd Arjay and Brandi
3rd Robert Royston ad Torri
4th John Lindo and Melissa
5th Ronnie and Jen
And you know what? I am so tired that when I got distracted in the middle of taking pictures of these names and scores I then left the scoring room without finishing and am sorry to say I don’t have any of the scores that were on the other wall (Novice, Intermediate, or Masters.) They’ll be posted online by the event directors, soon, though, I’m sure.
Great atmosphere in the scoring room, by the way. Picture-taking was allowed, all judges names were posted, names of all the contestants in prelims in all divisions including judges scores for who made finals – and it was very “chatty” in there, lot of laughing, friends explaining to each other how to interpret scores, how to read judges key, lot of relaxed joking and cameraderie between dancers, Annie, Kelly, and maybe five other scoring staff hanging out behind the tables chatting with each other and offering easy-going clarification to anyone who asked about anything. I have been in some scoring rooms – MANY scoring rooms, actually – where it’s dead silent, everyone’s whispering, the air is so thick with secrecy and tension you can hardly see the scoring sheets through the fog, with roving police ready to lock you up if you take a picture, ask a dumb question, or blink your eyes in the wrong tone of voice. This was a totally different scene, very loud and happy feeling. Good thing, too, cause there were a *lot* of young people at this event and young people don’t put up with that kind of rigid spooky weird adult behavior – they don’t come back.
Can’t stay awake! Flight early tomorrow morning, haven’t packed yet, descriptions of NASDE routines last night, Juniors and Sophisticated routines today, and Champions JJ finals will have to wait!
It’s been GORGEOUS brilliant blue skies, sunny, warm, simply gorgeous here all weekend.
Here’s who danced in Champion Prelims:
Mark The Marine
Here’s Champion J&J Prelims Music:
“Feel So Close”
“Starships” (Alex G version)
“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”
And here’s Champion Prelims Judges:
Dani, Yvonne, Carlito, Peter, Mario, Sylvia, and Chief Judge Kelly
Champion J&J Finals
To celebrate Boogie’s 20 Anniversary the choices were either slow blues or fast “contemporary” circa 2000-2005 (which is not actually contemporary. I mean, it used to be contemporary. Twelve years ago. But now it needs a different name, like “not contemporary” or “contemporary a long time ago.”)
Judges for this division: Mario, Bess, Yvonne, Carlito, Peter, Dani, Sylvia, and Chief Judge Kelly
1. Benji and Tessa to “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” (Angie Stone) – Beautiful dancing, these two together. Lyrical-meets-West-Coast, creative, risky, dynamic, and nobody fell on the floor!
2. Kyle and Sarah (they drew each other!) to “Bring It On Home” (Kenny Neal)
3. Robert Cordoba and Brandi to “Just Got Paid” (‘N Sync) Both of these dancers so subtle, quiet, quick, understated, witty, sensitive – great partnership.
4. Arjay and Sharlot to “I Don’t Know” (Janiva Magness) – Mesmerizing. Arjay is a chameleon with an amazing ability to adapt to any woman’s style, to understand the essence of how she expresses herself and not only dance that way himself but provide for her a stage on which she can shine. This dance was mesmerizing, so thoroughly Sharlot – shy, elegant, quiet, dramatic. The ballroom was silent as if they cast a spell on every one of us watching – the only sound was their shoes barely sliding across the floor as they floated from one end to the other, following each others’ momentum. Gorgeous dancing.
5. Robert Royston and Jessica to “Let’s Walk” (Austin de Lone)
6. Myles and Melissa to “Big Walter” (Jean-Jacques Milteau)
7. John Lindo and Deborah Szekely to “All For You” (Janet Jackson)
8. Parker and Torri to “Don’t Stop Movin’ ” (S Club 7)
9. Ben McHenry and Jen (Ben-n’-Jen, Ben-n’-Jen) to “Come On Over” (Christina Aguilera)
10. Ben Morris and Samantha Buckwalter to “Tilt Ya Head Back” (Nelly)
And the All-Skate to “Back For The Taste Of Your Love” (Jonny Lang)
Here’s who danced in Allstar JJ Prelims:
All Star J&J Finals were Spotlight format, dancers had a choice of slow blues or fast contemporary (Beth DJing).
Judges for Allstar Finals: Sylvia, Kelly, Sharlot, Laureen, Mark, John Lindo, and CJ Kelly
1. Alfred and Taylor to “Imma Go” (Taio Cruz) – Alfred at his kooky, creative, funny best; Taylor following it all while looking like a movie star.
2. Brad Whelan and Elyse, “She’s Taking Me To Heaven” (The Crawl)
3. PJ and Chevy, “More” (Usher) Have you danced with PJ or Chevy? If not you must! They are both amaaaaazingly great dancers, fun, kind, both very athletic and both FULL of energy. So they’re tearing up the floor when BOOM! down they go, falling on top of each other and rolling, rolling, rolling across the floor almost like two kids rolling down a hill, from the momentum of having been dancing at 95 miles per hour. And they roll to a stop and without missing a beat up they go and they’re back dancing again. Their fellow competitors leaped from their seats along the back of the stage, waving their towels in the air, clapping and screaming … the whole ballroom jumped to their feet cheering in applause. Grace: “This only proves my theory that anything that John Lindo does becomes a move. They say ‘Lindo did it … well I can do it too!’ Honey, I invented that move. I do that move every morning putting on my panty-hose.”
4. JB and Malia, “Wild Turkey 101 Proof” (Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne)
5. Chris and Cameo, “Me, U & The Music” – man oh man Cameo’s control! Was that a pirouette while ducking out, into more pirouettes in the other direction?!?
6. Conor and Joanna, “Please Don’t Go” (Mike Posner)
7. Shaheed and Helen, “Moves Like Jagger”
8. Daniel Guido and MacKenzie, “Tonight Is The Night”
9. Ryan and Janelle, “Let’s Go” (Calvin Harris) Stunning. Including the part where Ryan’s shoe came loose so he kicked it across the room. To the beat, of course. Grace: “Just call him ‘Cinderfella.’ Honey, my skirt fell off once when I stood up on an airplane, so seriously, that’s nothing.”
10. Jason and Stacy, “Do I Have to Go That Far?” (Kenny Neal)
11. Rob and Kara, “Blues Stew” (Kenny Neal)
12. Dawne and Cameron, “I Can Only Imagine” (Chris Brown & David Guetta)
13. Doug and Colleen, “Movin’ On” (Volker Strifler Band) – So smooth! Fast footwork with quiet upper-bodies – mostly closed position as they glided across the floor – this was almost shag-like. Gorgeous dancing.
And the final All-Skate to “Payphone” (the Alex G version)
Here’s who danced in Advanced JJ Prelims:
Steven Van Nguyen
Libbaaaaay Collins (She’s back in Oz boo hoo waaaa. We need to get her back here permanently.)
Anyssa D-Up Olivares
And the Advanced Finals couples were:
Clint and Heather
Brett and Jessica Greer
Steven Guido and Terra
Joe and Samantha
Josh and Anyssa (yes, they drew each other!)
Steven Van Nguyen and Rachel
Carson and Hannah
Kevin and Leigh
Evan and Shanti
CJ and Marina
Andy and Maddy
Piper and Liana
Matthew Taylor and Anya
Matt Nichols and Alaina
Dancing (in one heat) to:
“Show Me” (Usher)
“Ultimate Insult” (Anuhea)
“Tell Me What I Did Wrong” (Janiva Magness)
“Sixteen Tons” (Tom Jones)
It is autumn here at home. Wistfully lovely. Day after day of crisp chilly air, cornflower blue sky, maize-yellow sun falling in shafts through red, orange, gold, green, brown leaves – it’s enough to make you drunk from staring at the colors, light, and shadows dancing with each other in the October breeze.
Pumpkins in huge crates at the supermarket, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns on every doorstep. Halloween right around the corner, apple cider, mini-snickers, cranberry sauce, lines at the mall, freezing rain, candles, blazing fireplace, snow storms, New Year’s …
And the US Open!
This time of year bittersweet hangs in the air. Goodbye to summer, goodbye to 2012. Many routines we saw last weekend at Boogie may never be danced again – there is now only one NASDE comp (Tampa) before the Open. Classic and Showcase at Boogie were, for me, even more emotional than at other times of the year. Some routines I hate to see end!
Thirteen couples in Classic.
1. Arjay and Jen with their fast, sexy “Moves Like Jagger,” interrupted in the middle of this year by Jen’s knee injury but danced last weekend as if there’d been no interruption at all. I’m a Jen DeLuca fan. First time I saw her, years ago, I thought “I want to dance like that.” Her quickness, her sharp, precise, tiny movements have always reminded me of a sparkly-eyed, nimble forest animal – a baby deer or fox darting about. I will never dance like Jen of course but I’m just as entranced now as I was the day I first saw her. And Arjay! They’re great.
2. Gary and Susan – NEW ROUTINE! For me, at least, and for others last weekend at Boogie. Testing it out in anticipation of the Open perhaps? “Maybe I’m Amazed” by the Beatles. Love these guys’ music choices! For me favorite classics, for young people “retro” classics heard for the first time. Susan’s lines! AUGHGHGH! Someone (don’t worry buddy I won’t embarrass you) said last weekend “Susan is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, ever, anywhere. In life.” I’m sure other men agree. Susan is appallingly beautiful standing still – when she moves she’s jaw-dropping. Her lines, her control, her multiple pirouettes into backdrops or controlled splits, never needing a second leg for balance. Her head-whips, her limber, passionate neck and arms. Too gorgeous! Oh yeah and there’s Gary. He’s okay too.
(haha joking of course. Gary’s pretty daggone handsome himself, and a stupendous dancer)
3. Clint and MacKenzie, “Folsom Prison Blues.” These two are lovely together. Perfectly matched heights, perfectly matching long legs and shape and feel of their two bodies – beautiful couple. They accentuate how well their bodies match by synchronizing the timing and angle of every movement, line, and pose. This routine is not particularly emotional or overly dramatic, it is simply an accomplishment of visual lovliness, like a painting, aesthetically pleasing. MacKenzie is another jaw-dropping beauty; a gymnast with absolute control, balance, groundedness, and an extreme feel for the music. The piece is a series of lovely turns, poses and lines punctuated by quiet triples, anchors, whips and pushes. And a one-handed cartwheel to finish.
4. Ronnie and Brandi, “Boys Don’t Cry.” And I did cry knowing this is probably the last time I’ll see this wonderful, haunting, personal favorite, a routine which spoke to me for whatever reason and will be forever burned on my mind’s eye. Don’t know if people realize how fast this routine is, how fast their triples are, how small, contained, and clean their movements and footwork have to be in order to be as dense and complex as the choreography requires. This is definitely not Ceroc. No triple is spared, no moment is left empty. Ronnie’s joy! Every time he looks out at us his face spreads into a wide joyful grin. Brandi’s crazy spins! Her understated emotion!
But what I want to know is how, for an entire year, I’ve thought their costumes were palest mint green, which I’ve thought: How beautiful! Pale mint green! Perfect for the mood of this piece! Their costumes were never pale mint green. They’re white.
5. Ben and Cameo, “Fort Knox,” Cameo’s long legs, her extensions and balletic control and precision, her grace and elegance, her smile that lights up the room – she’s stunning. Have I mentioned that they do a series of “Jen DeLuca elbow” chenee turns? Or 13 effortless pirouettes and fouettes ending in a sexy shimmy? Or her splits?
6. Luis and Taletha, “She’s On Fire.” Love Taletha’s long limbs, her fiery hair and eyes. This routine is almost dirty. Not quite, but almost. Not obscene, but it does convey what I think was intended – sexuality. Raw, salacious, wanton, erotic sexuality. Another routine we’re probably not going to see again after last weekend (not sure if “Luis and His Women” will be in Tampa or not.)
7. Ben and Melissa “You and I.” AUGHGHGH!! THEY NAILED IT! Best EVER all year! Such a hard routine! So fast! And risky! So many mess-ups all year! But at Boogie? THEY NAILED IT!
I. Love! This! Routine! Never woulda thunk, either, since I wasn’t particularly crazy about the song when it first came out. But their choreography has made me love the song and I will never hear it again without seeing every part of the routine that went with every measure of music.
Melissa’s hair danced this routine. It was Ben dancing with Melissa’s hair. Thrashing and whipping through the air, showers and ripples of ringlets.
Ben is such a great partner! Melissa – that tiny lil’ dress, those spiky high heels – is right there in front, in your face, stealing the show. But Ben! He’s SO damn good – catching her with perfect timing, precision, speed and control, redirecting her momentum, her leverage and compression; stretching, leaning, spinning, stopping on a dime, creating shapes, narrative, sound-byte moments one after the other after the other. Love his face on “It’s my dad and Nebraska and Jesus Christ,” tossing her up from a double neck-drop, shouting WOOO!
8. The Markers! “The Rest Is Still Unwritten.” I love these people and have loved this routine all year. They choreograph just how they talk! In sentences comprised of bits of colorful ideas and punctuated with wide-eyed joyous exclamation points. I – everyone else who knows these two – love their love for each other and how it shows in their dance. Annmarie is tall – there’s a lot of her – long hair even. I love how all of that length moves through space in its own way, like a proud Great White Egret around a lake, landing here and there, spreading it’s huge white wings to lift up again.
Three-quarters in they lost hands, taking almost twelve counts to find their place again. Talk about love and support! One might think our audiences love you more when you make a mistake. The entire ballroom breathed in sharply, held their breath, gripped their neighbors arm, then jumped up cheering when the routine got back on track. Lot of love for this couple.
9. Gerald and Robin Cote, “Do You Remember,” with their great neck-drop trick in which she’s kicked up with one foot then caught in a 2×4 drop, turned, and passed between his legs.
10. Paul and Cat, first time back in the states in two years! Dancing to Usher’s “Euphoria,” in all-black, long, skinny, slinky, dangerous – very clubby feel. Love the start as they breathe and unfurl in slo-mo from crouched over. They’re best when they’re slow, using to advantage their long LONG torsos and ability to isolate hips and rib cage to show fluidity and movement. Most people don’t have this advantage. It’s like playing with a long piece of string. With those torsos and limbs they can form shapes most of us cannot – wide curving lines, round shapes, gently undulating designs in space. Gorgeous couple!
11. The Uspenskys, “Eet.” LOVE the song, love the choreography, love the dancing. A piece overflowing with emotion, sweetness, sadness, and a perfect interpretation of the music. Colleen is cute as a button, Arthur is strong, witty and graceful. For me, as a musician, what is especially pleasing is the tiny syncopated footwork *between* the bigger movements. That’s my favorite part of this routine, that it is so rich, there’s no wasted empty space. It’s dense, complex – a physical and visual expression of every breath, silence, and phrase of music. Not just movement for the sake of movement, though, like one sometimes sees. Movement which makes sense, has meaning and emotion. A gorgeous piece of artistic choreography is what I’m trying to say, danced beautifully by these two. Love this routine!
12. Jake and Kara, “Do I Move You,” their bluesy steamy boudoir-pink-and-black-lace sultry interpretation of Nina Simone. This is a year-old partnership that becomes more powerful, passionate, and in-sync as the months go by. Both Jake and Kara are strong, both are “all-the-way” dancers. Whatever the opposite of “tentative” or “timid” is, that’s what they are. Separately and together. This is a good partnership. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us at the Open! SO EXCITING!
13. And finally, last Classic routine of the night, our beloved Sean and Courtney with the routine we’ve seen ~20 times since last November, loving it every time. Great routine, clean first time out of the gate and now, a full year later, even tighter. And what are THEY working on for the Open?!? TOO EXCITING!!
Some music notes:
Here is the more accurate version, with artists, of the songs played for the Champions’ Strictly. As Beth said, “I wouldn’t want anyone to think that “Let’s Rock” (as I had listed it before) is a favorite song of either of us”
“Beth & Andy’s Classic Favorites”
True Love by Pat Benatar
It’s Better to Have (And Don’t Need) by Don Covay
Baby Workout by George Benson
Mustang Sally by The Commitments
Kiss by Tom Jones
Good Rockin’ Daddy by The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Ray’s Rockhouse by The Manhattan Transfer
Danny’s All-Star Joint by Rickie Lee Jones
Swanee by Aretha Franklin
Fever by Elvis Presley
Stray Cat Strut by Stray Cats
Don’t Play That Song by Aretha Franklin
September by Earth Wind & Fire
And some songs from other divisions: (Thank you Beth!)
Novice J&J Finals:
“Domino” (Jessie J)
“Pillow Talk” (Joss Stone)
“The Truth Hurts” (Kenny Neal)
“Ability To Swing” (Patty Austin)
Intermediate J&J Finals:
“The Way You Make Me Feel” (Kurt Hunter)
“Rack Em Up” (Jonny Lang)
“On A Slow Boat To China” (Ronnie Dove)
Masters J&J Finals:
“Love You Like a Love Song” (Selena Gomez)
“All Shook Up” (Basix)
“The Low Life” (Fathead)
“A Natural Man” (Lou Rawls)
Friday morning I had breakfast in the club lounge. Thought I was being smart as I surreptitiously slid a few bottles of water into my bag to take back to the room for later, forgetting that intending to take a drink I had just removed the cap from one of them but had become distracted when my table-mate – a pretty young blonde who made me think of Hansel and Gretel and the Sound of Music – asked me a question so utterly unintelligible I had to have her repeat it four times, s-l-o-w-l-y enunciating each word, before I realized she was indeed a Hansel and Gretel Sound of Music – she was German! – with an accent so thick her tongue might have been made of bratwurst. When she said for the fourth time (at this point mouthing each word so carefully and loudly- as if talking to a thick-headed first-grader – that people at other tables had stopped talking and were only pretending to eat their breakfasts) something that sounded like this: “Aww Yaww Hyaww Faww Dah Haww-Taww-Caww-Chaww Kawn Foontz?” the random sounds which had been knocking around my brain suddenly sprung up and snapped together like legos and English words emerged from the German stew, and I answered triumphantly No! I am not here for the Horticulture Conference! I am here for the dance convention! and I jumped up, feeling very relieved, grabbed my bag and ran for the door to escape the intense awkwardness that had become my breakfast.
I heard “Mahm? Mahm!? Awk Scuse me Mahm! Yurrr bog! Eees leeeekin’ yur bog!” and there, in a steady stream from the bottom corner of my beautiful new Target pocketbook, flowed the entire bottle of water which I had shoved in uncapped and upside-down, and across the carpet was a river leading from my table with Edelweiss to where I stood at the door with a large puddle growing under my feet while I muttered apologies and gibberish to the wall and floor and hotel guests who were now enjoying a full morning’s entertainment there in the club-lounge, a one-woman dinner show during breakfast, as they sat watching me humiliate myself even more than I already had in the prior ten-minutes, frantically exhuming my sopping wet wallet, soaked receipts, dripping bits of paper, drenched lipstick and eyeshadow, at last pouring out onto the floor the entire embarrassingly personal contents of my bag along with the small lake which had pooled at the bottom and three full bottles of water and finally one completely empty bottle without a cap.
So much for trying to sneak some water back to my room.
Don’t know if I’ve described the hotel. It’s a Hyatt Regency with a wide open atrium lobby, skylights above giving beautiful natural light, encircled by rooms around the perimeter – same architecture you’ll find in many Hyatts. Nice hotel, not new, but nice enough. Rooms are standard, clean, well kept. Because it’s an atrium your room opens either to the outside (if you’re lucky you might be able to see the bay but most rooms look out onto the highway) or to the lobby below, and you may have a room right next to the elevator or a room directly opposite the elevator – opposite as in 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock – which could mean rawther a long walk. That’s where my room was this year – precisely opposite the elevator – which I didn’t mind except when I was lugging my heavy camera bag and equipment. But I did hear some funny mutterings-under-their-breath from other guests when they realized they’d be getting some unanticipated exercise at this hotel. From the top floor you are able to get a gorgeous 360° panorama view of the bay, the Bayshore Highway buzzing off into the city, mountains and hills stretched out along the horizon, and planes and birds criss-crossing each other in the sky or coming in to land on the cliffs or promontory on which San Francisco International Airport is located. The hotel provides a free shuttle to and from the airport – it runs every 10-15 minutes and takes under five minutes drive time.
Did I mention that Jim and Catherine Anne were married on Friday, at the hotel? I only know because I got into the elevator and there they were, smooching, giggling with happiness! Cat so beautiful in her wedding gown! Isn’t that wonderful? What a great place to be married, at a dance event! I’m sure they have tons of pictures on the way, but here are a few I’ve seen on facebook as of this writing: Jim and Cat’s Wedding! More of Jim and Cat’s Wedding!
(Do these links work? FB changed photo settings and I’m not sure if non-friends can view pictures like you could last month.)
In the last Update I described Classic. I loved Classic. But I *always* love Classic and Showcase. Even though, as I said in an earlier update, I was sad to miss seeing both Jordan and Tatiana, and Kyle and Sarah’s routines. There was a definite emptiness where those two couples should have been. But even without them I loved Classic.
But I did not hear resounding praise for Classic from others I asked, however, which is puzzling to me. Saturday night just afterwards, and again on Sunday I asked people “Wasn’t last night GREAT? Didn’t you just love the routines? What did you think of Classic?” and I was surprised to hear mostly lukewarm responses. No negative comments but not as enthusiastic as I was expecting. A few people decided to sleep through Classic and Showcase entirely, saving their energy for social dancing instead. On Monday at the airport I heard the same tepid response from dancers reviewing their weekend – two separate groups I bumped into there, and another couple who slept through it.
I don’t think I have ever – could ever – sleep through routines. I can’t imagine being at a comp and missing routines!
On reflection it did feel like a dampened energy in the ballroom on Saturday night. Audience response not as loud and excited as it often is, the energy level just low somehow. I can’t imagine it was because Jordan and Tatiana, and Kyle and Sarah, weren’t dancing – I don’t reckon most people were even aware that Boogie is an event where these couples have always been (or have been for the last twelve years, anyway.) So I don’t think it was that. Maybe just tiredness from a long day? Or maybe there’d been a muted mood all weekend and I hadn’t noticed till Saturday night?
Hearing this mentioned more than a few times – from different sorts of people, old-timers, juniors, newbies – made me think about the tenor of the rest of the weekend and on reflection it did feel to me a little “down” compared to previous years. Boogie has always been a huge event – hugely important, hugely exciting, hugest floor, hugest attendance, full roster of NASDE competitors, loads of juniors. Huge excitement and high energy is how I’ve thought of Boogie.
We used to have four-plus tables from DC. This year we didn’t have enough DC dancers to fill a single table. When I returned home last week I was curious to ask our friends what their reasons were for not going and of course each had a different reason that was personal to them. But there did seem to be a common thread. A few said they don’t go because they’re Masters and don’t like that at Boogie they’re forced to choose between that division and their skill-level. Another couple haven’t been back after the year they were told that despite more than adequate points and a first place win they still wouldn’t be permitted to dance in Advanced because “the win wasn’t at a good enough event to matter” (our friend, retelling this, said the most irritating part was that she had actually placed out of Intermediate, points-wise, at Boogie! The year before!) Another friend was warned in a way that felt demeaning that because he was from the east coast he wasn’t going to do well “out here where the level of dance is so much higher” and was strongly urged to dance down in a lower division. That was five years ago and he was so insulted he hasn’t been back since. Another friend went last year and realized on Sunday she’d been in a glum, negative mood all weekend long – very unlike her normally irrepressibly happy self. She returned home saying she simply didn’t have fun. At a dance event! This year she went to Montreal instead. Another couple haven’t been back for four years because they said they don’t feel welcomed – in their words, “they don’t have good customer service at that event. We don’t feel like “valued customers” there.”
It’s hard for us to come out from the east coast, anyway. We lose a day or two just travelling and airfare is expensive (maybe not as expensive as from Australia, Asia, or Europe, but expensive enough. My ticket this year, because I only decided two weeks before that I simply couldn’t miss the 20th Anniversary, cost us $700. For us that’s a lot of money. And normally Genieboy is buying airfare, too, so we’re stuck with paying double.) So an event needs to be pretty special for those of us on the east coast to spend the money and make the trip.
Speaking of travel from far-away places, that was another thing which might have contributed to the lower energy this year – there were no international competitors, or very few anyway. Boogie has in the past had a large, rowdy, excited French contingent who added a lot of fun. Maybe all those folks followed Maxence to Montreal? From UK I only counted three Londoners. Two Aussies. No Brasilians, Russians, Europeans, or Asians. I missed the presence of other countries, I feel like they’ve been at Boogie in previous years. Haven’t they? Or am I just imagining it? If not, they should be. Boogie is an event that should have a huge international contingent.
The event felt smaller in general this year than I’ve remembered it. Don’t know if it actually was but it felt that way. I do remember years when that enormous floor has been almost too crowded to dance and every table, every corner of that humongous ballroom, has been jammed with circles of people laughing and trying out dance moves. That was not the case this year – there was always plenty of space on the floor and the ballroom always felt a little emptier than it should have.
For myself, I know I had a rough time finding a place to sit on the floor to be able to take pictures. I kept finding my feet, my camera, my scarf, or my pen or paper, either too far forward or too close to a judges’ chair or somehow in the wrong place, over and over again, no matter how many times I readjusted. I just couldn’t get it right, sliding this way and that, blocking people behind me or being blocked by people in front, struggling all night while being relocated to more and more awkward positions. In the middle of Classic they announced they were no longer allowing people on the floor to sit between judges’ chairs – everyone was to move back behind, and the chairs which had been far enough apart for me and my two beautiful floormates – Peggy Allen and Kristin Fangmeier (more about the grrrreat Phoenix folks later) – to snuggle between were moved tightly against each other so you couldn’t see between them at all. At that point I gave up trying to take pictures.
I was later told that the judges were distracted by people on the floor and nervous that people were looking at their score sheets (score sheets were posted on Sunday anyway so not sure what that was about.) The whole feel, though, in retrospect, was that all in all it was kind of an uncomfortable vibe rather than a happy one. And for me personally, between the hard floor, the mono-pod and heavy camera, scrambling for my notepad to scratch down Grace’s funny comments, unpacking, repacking, moving this way sliding that way … by the time the night was done I was aching all over, everything hurt. I would have chalked this experience up to my own personal problems with aging bones, all my heavy equipment and the junk I lug around. But now I’m thinking maybe not? Maybe other people on the floor or even in the seats behind were uncomfortable too? Maybe it’s indicative of – I don’t know what. Lack of friendliness?
Or maybe I’m imagining it and if you talked with someone else they’d describe an entirely different impression of the weekend.
I hope, by the way, that what I write here is not being used as a travel-guide for where to go, which comps are good or which not. That’s not what these Updates are intended to be. I’m not a reviewer or critic I just like to tell about what has become 90% of how we spend our time while we’re still healthy enough to do this crazy thing we love doing. It’s a record for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren and anyone else in the future who might be interested in reading about what it was like for us when we’re not around anymore to describe it. It has happened many times that I’m having the time of my life while the person at the next table is having the most miserable weekend ever. Experiences at these events are so subjective. Someone is rude and your whole weekend is ruined. Someone special asks you to dance and you’re on cloud nine. It’s so personal how your weekend goes. I hope readers remember that my accounting of our travels on the circuit is our own biased, purely subjective version of reality.
If you are just reading this for the first time or on your Iphone (where, if Genieboy’s Iphone is any indication, you can’t easily see the click-able list of events or click-able list of years and dates – the archives of past Comp Updates in other words) you may not be aware that I started writing these Updates when we started this obsessive travelling in 2006 (although I discovered swing dancing in 197–rhghblrbgghrg not gonna tell that last digit) purely as a way to “update” our dancer friends back in DC who wanted to hear what was happening on the circuit, who made finals, who won, who was there, and of course any juicy gossip (which, back then, before these updates went out to a wide audience, I could have lots more fun with.) At any rate, in case you didn’t know that’s what these are. A series of “updates” which I try to get out during the event but am often forced to finish up after the event is over. Often on the plane to the next event. All the archives (those I’ve been able to gather, anyway) can be found here: Liza’s Comp Updates
Oh! Forgot to include this in an earlier Update …the list of who danced in Intermediate Prelims:
Cesario Dos Santos
Oh, and also, Brad’s terrific pictures are for sale here:
Brad’s BBtB 2012 Photographs
And you can buy Bruce’s “thumbsup” DVD or watch the entire event or segments of it, online, here:
Bruce’s BBtB 2012 Videos
My pictures (only a few so far – it takes me forever to get mine up) are here:
Liza’s BBtB 2012 Photographs
And the official Boogie results page here:
BBtB 2012 Results
Hurricane Sandy, more properly called “Superstorm Sandy” since it was the collision of three monster weather events (a tropical hurricane, a nor’easter, and a fall low-pressure system moving from California across the U.S. crashing into each other in an unprecedented, historical explosion) has hit us here on the east coast causing as of this writing 104 deaths and massive devastation. Orders of magnitude more destructive than anything seen on the east coast by anyone alive today.
New Jersey is a wasteland. Atlantic City is gone. My grandmother’s house is gone. The beach where I played in the sand with eleven great-aunts and uncles none of whom knew a word of English. The boardwalks that gave birth to Vaudeville and the culture that has defined American entertainment since the Civil War. Where my mother tap-danced and had her start as an actress. Where I sat on my grandfather’s lap licking a fat ice-cream cone and being tickled by his cigar-smoking canasta-playing Yiddish-speaking buddies. Where I strutted along the splintery boards in my glittery new sky-blue kitten-heels that I begged for until my grandparents finally gave in and bought for me, staring at the beautiful ladies strolling down the boardwalk to see if they noticed that I, too, was making that click-click-clicking sound. My beloved boardwalk! Where we would come up from the beach, stopping on the steps for grandpa to rub the tar from the soles of my feet with a benzene-soaked rag. Where my father ran from the police. Where decades later when casinos were allowed my sister met her sexy Italian card-shark soon-to-be-ex-husband. Barnegut Light where I lay on the sand with “Sun-In” bleach in my hair, feeling like sex, and after dinner we would sing seven-part harmonies while doing the dishes. My beach! My beloved boardwalk! The iconic Jersey shore, the barrier islands, our family history and our nation’s history, engulfed, swallowed up by the sea.
It’s now been a week since the storm hit and the ravage is becoming more dangerous as each day turns to night – people trapped in Manhattan skyscrapers and coastal homes with no power, no elevators, no light, heat, water, food, flushable toilets, cell phone to call for help; entire neighborhoods still under 4 – 6 feet of water which is now a cesspool of of diesel fuel, gasoline, raw sewage, floating vehicles, furniture, nails, debris, and live wires. 100 houses burnt to the ground when sparks from a downed wire flashed from house to house in the 80 mph winds.
And it’s getting colder. A storm is forecast for next week, another nor’easter, with snow. This is an unthinkable disaster.
Here on the east coast, just south of this carnage, it is difficult to concentrate on much else (even the upcoming election.) But life and dancing continue.
It’s now been a month since Boogie, the Open is three weeks away, and I can feel couples preparing in studios, gyms, and basements all over the world.
I’m always curious how couples approach practices. Never having done a routine myself (other than a one-time performance for an Indian wedding) I wonder if it’s the same way I used to attack a new piece of music:
1. Try to get through it;
2. Focus on details and difficult areas;
3. Try again to get through it but this time looking at overall coherence and meaning of the piece;
4. Forget everything so you can go out to perform with an empty mind, free to improvise based on the particular circumstances (the floor, the audience, music slower than you’ve practiced, you’re jet-lagged, bloated, not speaking to your partner, nursing a sprained ankle … million variables which are different every time you perform.)
I know couples who choreograph and practice from the end of the routine backwards to the beginning. Others perfect as they go and by the time the choreography is finished the routine is ready to be put on the floor.
It’s exciting to think of the last-minute practicing and rhinestone-sticking-on all-nighters going on around the globe …
Didn’t finish describing the routines and impressions from Boogie at the beginning of October:
Showcase comprised six couples with three new routines …
1. Eddie and Elyse’s spirited new number to Christina Aguilera’s “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” – starts right off the bat with an easy, effortless death drop (We did that once! On a marble floor, for an audience of 1,000 Indians. During practice I got a concussion smashing my head into my husband’s 0% body-fat shin,) and including a Benji-style double-cartwheel, neck-drop into a slide, the most enthusiastic rag-doll this side of the Pacific Ocean, with a snake at the end. They always look like they’re having a blast.
2. Benji and Torri … maybe the last time we get to see this sweet, sparkly, joyous celebration piece. Can’t believe a year has gone by – we’ve seen this at least 15 times probably more – yet still sat staring in amazement at the speed of their footwork, how they fly, how much they love each other, speak with one voice.
3. Myles and Tessa who, eight days after this performance became Mr. and Mrs. Munroe! (pictures here) dancing with black armbands to mark the loss of Myles’ dear life-long friend Cody Melin (Cody’s Tribute Page) Tracy Melin had ripped into strips Cody’s black T-shirt so that those who knew him could wear black armbands all weekend long. How strange and sad it was to carry a bit of Cody – his own shirt – on my arm all weekend. Very sad. When they finished dancing Myles looked up to Cody with tears in his eyes shaking his clenched fists to the heavens in thanks and kinship. I know Cody was smiling down on his friend with love in his heart.
4. Ronnie and Laureen’s elegant “Without You” – so smooth and lovely! Effortless and classy in black and white. Another one we probably won’t see again.
5. Rob and Connie’s funky new “I Feeeeeel Good” – on “hit me” they stop bam! – Connie held mid-air upside-down like a stick with one leg pointed at the ceiling – and stay frozen for three beats till the music funks back in again. So much fun! It’s a bouncy, popping, body-rolling, James Brownish soul number with crazy spins, drops, lifts and snake-throughs that seem easy.
6. Luis and Jenn with their new routine (might be called “Fight For Me?” beautiful acoustic song) with a Latin cha feel … Jenn cartwheels into a splits (are cartwheels and splits coming back? For a decade they’ve been considered passé but this year seem to be showing up again in routines and strictlys.)
7. Robert and Nicola’s beautiful “Edge of Glory” which they would dance one last time in Tampa (we’re not in Tampa this year! First year we’re missing it since its inception. Cancelled our plane tix just before the storm thinking there’d be no way we’d get out – as it turned out airports here in DC were up and running three days afterwards.) Can’t wait for the Open to their new routine!!
8. Greg and Lemery, “Teenage Dream,” danced at Boogie and one last time at Tampa. They abandoned “No Diggity” cause they say it just wasn’t feeling right somehow. If we’re lucky we’ll get to see them debut their new routine here locally, before the Open.
Young Adult was three couples including one new routine:
1. Brandon and Madison, “Into The Night,” with her lovely long legs and their tight shag-like footwork. At one point her leg floats up over his head as if weightless, coming to rest on his shoulder in a standing splits.
2. Chris and Nicole, “Disappear,” another stunning, moving piece we may not ever see live again. I’ve loved this all year and hate to see it go.
3. Big surprise of this division, Josh and Anyssa with their new routine “Good Feeling” on the floor for the first time. They won! Anyssa is adorable – I said “Wow you won! Can you believe it?” and she answered “We must have been really good!” Somehow I just can’t imagine an adult answering like that. Surprised, delighted, and completely guileless. They deserved the win, too. They strutted out like they owned the place, relaxed, chatty, confident, cocky almost. Mischievous, totally present, both of them flirting and playing the audience throughout, very obviously having fun. Superb control. To transition from the intro (a slower version of the song) to the faster main body of the routine she (or “they,” I should say, since Josh is equally responsible for making this work) does 11 pulsed pirouettes progressively faster till she reaches warp speed and they’re into the next song. On “ohhhh, ohhh, sometimes; I get a good feeling” she lies down flat on the floor, grabs Josh’s hands under her knees; on “Yeah” he flips her up to standing, both of them grinning at how easily they pulled this off. So much fun to watch them nail every moment of this routine. These two are a force! Watch out swing world!
Oh, speaking of Juniors – there were TONS of juniors at Boogie! Tons. Like four tables-full sitting beside us and clumps of juniors everywhere else throughout the ballroom. More than I’ve ever seen at any one comp. I’ll bet the median age this year was, like, omg omg omg amazing awesome epic I know, right?
Seriously though, it really was cool having that many juniors. Both Phoenix and the Bay Area are great at bringing young people into the community. Andy tells me that many of their juniors (Sean McKeever is one of these) come via the Nordquist dance program for junior and senior high school kids (notice how the girls in the picture are all wearing gloves like we did in cotillion a gazillion years ago? hahaha! not a bad idea, actually, health-wise!)
Oh and I’d said there were no Russians at Boogie. Wrong! I’ve been corrected! There was one Russian – one exceptionally beautiful Russian – Olga Usmanova. Don’t know how I forgot to mention her since I sat staring at her dance, mesmerized, for large chunks of the weekend.
Oh and no competitors meetings at Boogie! What a welcome change! It used to take all morning hanging out glazed-eyed in the hall waiting for your division to be called in for roll-call and announcements, leaving you with barely enough time to gulp a tank of coffee, charge up to your room to shower, throw on shoes and war-paint, and charge back down again for your jack and jill.
I don’t think any comps do competitors’ meetings anymore, do they? None that we’ve been to, anyway. So glad about this – frees up so much time and allows you to dance until daylight knowing you’ll have a few hours in the morning to sleep.
At the lobby level I stepped into the elevator to find two red-faced Irish women trying desperately to get to their room, about to have a conniption fit because their key-cards wouldn’t work, on the brink of lunacy, spitting and sputtering “Farst it’s oop, then it’s doon, then oop agin’! Then doon agin’! Oop! Doon! Oop! Doon! Oop! Doon! The elevator has lost its moynd!” My key-card worked fine. I stared at the floor and didn’t say anything in case they were homicidal.
- I mentioned statement-making hats last update – they’re everywhere! Cloches, fuzzy fitted caps, tweed newsboys, fedoras, bank-robbers, berets in all colors, Chinese knitted animal hats, slouch hats.
- Scarves! Every color, texture, weight, design, and shape. Girls (and boys!) in scarves to dress up an outfit. Scarves work for dancing – they don’t whip your partner’s teeth out when you spin. Gotta be tied or pinned down, however, so you don’t strangle him instead.
- Oversized non-perscription glasses (Genieboy was recently in Asia and says this is the rage in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chengdu and Singapore – they’re cheap and sold everywhere and every young person is wearing them.) Libby Collins wore a huge pair at Boogie (Ronnie and Ben McHenry tried them on – they looked great) – maybe cause she’s an Aussie she gets the jump on Asian fashion trends. Or maybe just cause she’s Libby.
- “Tom’s” for social dancing in place of ballroom shoes. Maxence started this a couple years ago (he wears a different color on each foot) and in the last six months everyone seems to have discovered they’re comfortable and thrifty (especially if you get a cheap knock-off – I’ve heard “Bob’s” mentioned.) They come in every color and pattern imaginable and spin beautifully.
- Temporary tattoos hand-painted on-site (tattoo-painters at almost every event), with or without glitter.
In other news:
Nathan Miller has now joined Parker and Earl as part owner/event director of SwingDiego. I happened to bump into all three in Boogie’s atrium bar just after they made this decision and they seemed totally TOTALLY psyched. Especially Parker and Earl seemed totally TOTALLY psyched since they were both slightly inebriated when we “bumped into” each other. hahahha Party animals. They always seem to be having entirely too much fun.
I’ve always wondered: How do I describe the difference between good dancing and GREAT dancing? Couple weeks ago I heard an interview with the conductor Leonard Slatkin in which he said something that finally struck home for me. He described concerts in which some of the audience are pleased, some loved it, and others found it blasé, meh, not memorable. Slatkin says concerts like this are the norm.
And then there are the other kind – the rare concert – where an entire audience, every single person present, is moved, touched, transported. Slatkin says when this happens he knows something different has occurred. That this time the concert wasn’t just good. It was great.
This describes dancing too. Every now and then I’ll see a routine, a jack and jill or strictly, a 4am social dance and I and everyone watching knows we’ve witnessed a bit of brilliance. Everyone feels that way, not just some. That’s when we’ve seen not just good dancing, but great dancing.
So that’s the difference!
Boogie by the Bay!
Virgin America flights here – DC to San Fran non-stop $109 round trip – pretty daggone good but the coolio consoles we heard so much about were not exactly working – the flight attendant said “Panasonic was unfortunately not in DC so couldn’t fix ‘em, but they will be fixed once we land in Phoenix” – which why is that comforting to us since we’re not going to Phoenix.
Lotsa lotsa folks here AUGHGHGHG!! France (20 of them maybe?), Aussie’s (12 of ‘em), New Zealand, UK … and the non-US-ers are GOOD – we’ve heard over and over again from the pro’s who travel that there is a real difference in the way people abroad approach learning this dance – something about thinking of themselves as life-long students – the word we keep hearing is “humble.” They study the videos, work together to get fundamentals solid, roll their feet, use a rolling count, concentrate on connection … and then they come over here to the US and they are FIERCE about being technically correct, dancing with intention and emotion and musicality …. they’re catching up to us fast. Soon the circuit will include comps in other countries and we will be the ones fighting jet-lag UH OH!!
Decent crowd of us here from DC:
Kelly and Jay Hull
Adair and Denny
MeeeeeGell and Alina
Me and Genieboy
and Julia Prescott (honorary member of our community)
Tonight was Strictly’s – Novice, Intermediate, Adv/Allstar combined, and Champions.
Advanced/Allstar couples (those I could catch – there were 54 – think I missed a bunch of names):
Lara Deni and Michael O’Connor
Trey and Zena
Benjamin Plante and Honey
Kyle and Angie
Matt Nichols and Dawn Kiehm
Todd and Joy
Tall Paul and Tara
Wendy and Scott Miller
Shane and Tiffany Lubran
Lauren and Sean
Joanna Meinl and John Kirkonnel
Vivian and Ian Kirkconnel
Peter and Sharla
Jody and Torri Ellington
JB and Taylor
Alfred and Stacy
Will Shaver and Peggy Allen
Brennar and Manna
Adair and Rome
Cat Wiles and oops forgot
Dave Damon and Margaret Floyd
Keith Gussoni and Ruth
Yenni and Scott M
Chris Lo and Kelly Hull
Stevie and Jake
Sean McGeever and Courtney
Andrew and Chevy
Jimmy Ho and –
Manny (first time in Advanced!!) and Joy Brazil
Georgie and Connor
Rachel Diamond and Eddie V
Ben Mchenry and oops forgot
Billie Montgomery and oops forgot
Who Made Finals:
In Novice, Joe Arasin and Tracy!!!! YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!
Steve Hall (UK) and Jennifer Guy
Steve Hunt (also UK) and Brianne
BJ and Erin
Santosh and Amy
Carole Stoude (French, but UK now) and Brady (Oz all the way)
Michael Heath (Lubbock, which actually has an international airport, who knew?) and Quenna
In Advanced, 17 couples (of the 54 in prelims):
Trey and Zena
Alfred and Stacy
Kyle and Angie
Shane and Lauren
Miles and —
Brennar and Mana
Darren and Amber
Yenni and Scott
Tall Paul and Tara
Peter and Sharla
Jake and Stevie
Sean and Courtney
John Kirkonnel and Joanna
Rome and Adair
Erica and Nick
Angel and Blake
Kielbasa and Rutz
Ben and Tori
Luis Crespo and –
Royston and Batista
Arjay and Sarah
Lindo and Jessie
Edwin and Katie McCaslin
Michael Kiehm and Jill DeMarco
Parker and Brandi
Samantha and Jen DeLuca
Jordan and Melina
Maxence and Szekeleley
Doug Silton and Kelly Arsenault
Chuck and Tessa
Shawn Tobias and
Jason and Yvonne Wayne
Kyle and Tat
Ben and Tori, to “Don’t Need It” (Jamie Foxx)
Luis Crespo and an adorable French girl named “Almandine” or some other name of a mixed drink to “Beat Goes On”
Kielbasa and Melissa Rutz to Strobe Lights
Mark the Marine and Sharlot to something blues which I don’t know the name of, of which I don’t know the name, the name of which I don’t know, something blues which I could care less what the name of it is
Maxence and Deborah to “Get Involved”
Lindo and Jessica to ‘Let It Rock”
Robert Royston and Stephanie to “Further On Up The Road” (blues)
Samantha and Jen to “Right Round”
Kyle and Tat to a contemporary song I hadn’t heard – “Your Love” maybe it’s called?
Yvonne and Jason to Puh Puh Puh Puh Puh Poker Face
Nic and Erica to “Fire on the Dance Floor”
Arjay and Sarah to “She Wolf”
Parker and Brandi to “What’s Your Name”
Jordan and Melina to “Troublemaker”
and last of all, Angel and Blake Hobby to some dang blues song, which I also don’t know the name of, of which I don’t know the name
Decent hotel – not the friendliest or most efficient, a Hyatt with that Hyatt Atrium thing, little old but decent enough. No hot water in the showers, oh yeah and this is the hotel where your toiletries slide off the bathtub ledge soon as you turn the water on, and where last year the towel rack crashed off the wall and into the toilet – but so far no disasters, tolerable enough. Fitted sheets – hallelujah! No sleeping on a bare mattress! Soap that is actually big enough to last two whole days!
More tomorrow, after JJ’s!!