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On our way to Summa Humma!
At the gate here in the Air Tran terminal (merged with Southwest) so we get the hip line of rocking-chairs looking out onto the tarmac, wide leather armchairs, and banks of outlets everywhere. There are *three* women spotted so far buried in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” What is it about that book?
I am receiving the funniest series of texts from Connie Gauthier and mom Tracy on their drive up to Boston together.
Connie: “there is not an agressive bone in mom’s body. hard to be a backseat driver in this car”
Tracy: “whatever my daughter is telling you is not true. she is the slo bo”
Connie: “i’m flying next year at least if I fly I can feel some acceleration”
“oh no. we’re stopping for lunch. STOPPING.”
“mom just shoved her phone in my face so I could read your last text. out loud.”
“playing my ipod over the speakers and she has the volume turned all the way down.”
“oh no! she recognizes a song and turned the volume all the way up and is singing out loud.”
It goes on like that. This road trip needs to be a SNL skit.
Forecasting beautiful sunny weather for Saturday’s pool party! Yippee! Bill runs a mean pool party.
Love that this is a NASDE comp. Love NASDE comps – love the routines, the high level of social dancing, most of all love being surrounded by people as nuts for this dance as we are.
Tonight’s the kick-off dance – hope we make it in time to dance some of it!
EXCITED EXCITED EXCITED LOVE SUMMER HUMMER!
Our flight attendant was an adorable black woman with fashionably hip gold cuff bracelets, short matte-grey nails, Mary Janes, and the cutest pixie haircut with – hyperventilating – a shiny *metallic* gold streak in her hair from crown to forehead. Metallic! First time I’ve seen that. Must have this! I asked if she modeled and yes! she does! She was the one to read the “in case of emergency float around the ocean on your seat-cushion also let your kids suffocate while you hook up your own oxygen” speech over the microphone and between exploding it out faster than Nicki Minaj and her thick black accent I did not understand a single word this woman said.
We have more dialects in this country than any other country in the world. I love America.
We fly so much yet every lift-off remains breathtaking. Watching the ground tip at an extreme angle then fall away below; the high-def lumps of white cloud, crisp and defined, hanging in arm’s reach just outside our window – no matter how many times we fly it is still majestic to soar across the sky.
My phone flew out of my coat pocket into the fetid puddle left fermenting in the bacteria-infested bathroom sink. I hate germs. I want to cry.
So excited to see friends from the UK! Haven’t seen loud-mouth Steve and his beautiful long-suffering Rachel, Caro, the rest of the London crew, for ages it seems like! Or our good friends Hrfnkel (I’m not clearing my chest, that’s his name) and Maria from Iceland! And friends from France! Feels like a long time since these folks have been to the U.S.
This event, late August, always marks summer’s end. The light is low and golden on leaves and sides of buildings, the contrast so sharp it makes me drunk. The cicadas have been roaring so loudly we have to shout to hear above the din. Crickets sing non-stop all day and all through the night, the dry grasses and trees throbbing and pulsing with a complex symphony of highs and lows, calling each other, “summer is ending summer is ending.” This is my favorite time of year, so full of promise and foreboding.
The Open is right around the corner and “Open Fever” is setting in. What new routines are in the works, new partnerships, surprises? I can barely wait! The Open will be different this year. For the first time in its history the Open will hold Novice and Intermediate Jack and Jill divisions. Whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing we shall see. Some say this makes the Open like any other comp, detracts from the uniqueness of our flagship event. Others say it’s great for lower level dancers who until now haven’t had a place at the Open. We shall see.
You either have to rent a car, catch a cab, or take public transportation to get from the airport to the hotel. We rented a car. The route takes you through the infamous “bricks dropping from the ceiling smashing into drivers’ cars” three tunnels (part of the even infamouser “Big Dig”
.) We got stuck in horrific, mind-flattening stop&go rush hour traffic along Boston’s east-west corridor – the also infamous Mass Pike – heading towards Worcester (like the sauce, as in, don’t call it War Chester.) Google Maps took us a brand new much worse way than we’ve ever come before, adding a full half hour to the trip. That’s because Google Maps was just updated on my Ipad! Yay! So now it’s much worse than before.
But we got here! We arrived at the same moment that a busload of very happy very colorful Asians pulled up at the front door – women with huge floppy hats and six totes on each shoulder stuff bulging and falling on the ground, sweaty excited men shouting and dragging seven suitcases at once, kids with four animal backpacks each and huge open bags of family-sized chips and cheese doodles – everybody pushing laughing shouting in a language I didn’t recognize – everyone stopping abruptly every few feet to stare intently up at the empty sky.
Who have we seen so far: Arjay is here! Maxence is here! Michael Kielbasa is here! Louis St. George is here!
Chris Palmieri’s cool new registration/bib/judging system – on Ipads – is in use again here, as at Swing Fling two weeks ago. Registration was fairly quick (Bill’s mom and sister!) but would have been quicker if we hadn’t messed up our own reg by making changes last minute. We held up the line waiting behind us. Hopefully tomorrow, when everyone gets in at once, they’ll have more at the registration table so when annoying dancers like us have issues it won’t make the lines last forever.
Asians are walking around the hotel in pajamas. Just pajamas, no bathrobe, no slippers. The old-fashioned kind of pajamas where you know they’re pajamas. Cracking me up.
Genieboy’s downstairs dancing. I checked the ballroom at 10pm counting 30 couples on the floor, another 10 sitting around. The floor is 40 x 80, or 3,200 sq ft. Decent size, not huge. No backdrop up yet – they say that’ll go up tomorrow. Tables are the long skinny type (five people on each side) arranged one-deep around three sides of the floor. DJ in the far left corner, platform for Global Dance TV’s cameras at the back.
Ballroom is probably picking up now … I’m gonna go down and have me a few dances!
Just finished Champions’ Strictly and WHAT FUN! Louis and Victor – the DJ dream-team, are, as Bill said on the mic, always trying to figure a new way to “bust these guys’ chops” (meaning find some new fun thing to do with their comp music.)
So guess what they did tonight? Each couple got the USOpen routine song of somebody competing tonight. Not their own routine, somebody else’s. SO FUNNY! If you know and love the routines it was beyond hilarious watching them try to pull off the iconic moves from each. If you don’t know the routines (I’m including links to the videos for each) it was still so much fun to watch these guys try to pull off hard stuff which they most of the time couldn’t. Love watching them horse around, play. Their playing is inspirational.
1. Maxence and Torri dancing to Jordan and Tatiana’s “Viva La Vida” and WOW this was not only funny watching them do J&T’s iconic moves it was also beautiful, creative and gorgeously danced.
2. Kielbasa and DeLuca! So great to see them dancing together again – they look great together. To Ben and Melina’s “Chelsea Rodgers.”
3. Greg and Sabrina to Myles and Tessa’s “She Talks To Angels”
4. Sean McKeever and Stephanie McHenry to Kyle and Sarah’s famously brilliant “Johnny B Good”
5. Arjay and Jess to Jen and Kielbasa’s “Din Da Da.” They managed to include Jen’s famous elbow-in-the-air spins, the wild head whips, the back-bend drop where she walks around him to the beat then walks back again, all the little hits … hilarious great great dancing
6. Ben Hooten and Yenni to Arjay and Melissa’s “No Diggity”
7. Myles and Lemery to Ben and Melina’s Juniors routine, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Burnin’ Love”
8. Chuck and Jill DeMarco to Robert and Nicola’s “One Night of Sin”
9. Jordan and Sarah to Parker and Jessica’s “Love and Happiness/Red Alert” – on “wait a minute something’s going wrong” Jordan’s facing front and Sarah’s suddenly squatting down behind him somehow – we can’t even see her but what we can see is missing of hands, she’s hidden, Jordan looks confused, the whole picture is wrong and then you realize they were that quick, both of them were that quick that they created a moment of “something wrong” and it’s a joke and before you know it boom they’re out and dancing so smoothly it’s stunning. The transition is invisible. Funniest part of this dance – Jordan attempts Parker’s lift (it’s a showcase routine) and bombs, can’t get Sarah up off of his shoulders. But he tells us to wait – he’s gonna try again, and just at the end they try a second time and …. he … manages … not-very-smoothly … but he manages … to get … her … up … there … and YES! Sarah’s in the air! Kinda wiggly and shaky but there she is! Smiling and waving at us! Jordan is not smiling. Funny. So funny.
10. Ben and Tatiana to Kyle and Sarah’s “9 to 5″ – Tat did the arms-of-the-clock part hahaha
11. Robert Royston and Tessa to Jordan and Tatiana’s “Let’s Get It On/Dirty Pop” (their first routine out of Juniors!)
And the All-Skate to Bill’s own 1997 USOpen routine – and as Bill told us “it just goes to show you how bad some choices of music can be!” So funny. I don’t remember the song – I’ll have to ask Bill so I can give you a link here.
Bill couldn’t have been more perfect on the mic for this comp, He loves these people, the Champions, loves the Open, and after each dance told us tidbits and funny stories about each original routine. It was a great comp.
By the way, Ron and Tyoni are here filming for Global Dance TV – you can watch the live stream all weekend here:
Showcase was tonight! Just before the Champion Strictly!
Six great routines – it will be interesting to see how they are judged this time.
Judges: Jessica, Steve Nereen, Anne Fleming, Heidi Mongeau, Donna Roesel, Kyle, and Maira Pineda as chief judge this weekend.
1. Stephen and Sabrina’s beautiful “Somewhere With You” – so many difficult lifts and drops – at one point she jumps up and then drops flat out on the floor one after the other so quickly it’s like one movement – the routine is solid tricks. So hard.
2. The Roystons with their great “Edge of Glory”
3. Rob and Connie with their brand new routine! What a crowd pleaser! The entire ballroom jumped up screaming, whistling and pounding their hands in a standing ovation for this fun, funky, playful piece, full of swing, lifts that stop sharp mid-way, constant contact and conversation with the audience, brimming with jokes … so great! A fabulous joyful thing choreographed entirely by Rob and Connie themselves. Awesome costume too – 60′s retro multi-colored fabric with a bare back, Rob with bits of the fabric decorating an elegant black shirt.
4. Myles and Tessa’s marvelous, mesmerizing “Rolling In The Deep” (they messed up their most dramatic lift – such a shame. Hate to see that happen.)
5. Greg and Lemery to last year’s beautiful “Teenage Dream” (wonder why they’re not doing this year’s “No Diggity”? I’ll have to ask them!)
6. Ben and Rebecca’s great “Little Bad Girl”
Adv/Allstar Jack and Jill Prelims:
Oops I don’t seem to have finals! Thought I did … daggnabbit. I’ll get them.
Also Adv/Allstar Strictlys:
Here are the finalists, I’ll write up prelim couples tomorrow:
Rajeev and Blandine
Jerome Louis and Natalie Gorg
Cameron Crook and Nicole Clonch
Joe Mahoney and Abby Stone
Chris Lo and Abi Leggette
Anthony Derosa and Kelly Hull
Josh Williamson and Estelle
Warren and Jen Diener
Rob Jackson and Chevy (Chevy is a blonde! it’s gorgeous!)
Stephen White and Connie
Kris Swearingen and Virginie
Chris Dumond and Hannah
Steve Hunt and Rachel
Rob Glover and Emmeline
alts Reginald Beason and Whitney Bartlett
Jerome Subey and Daria Mikloukhina
GB left the ballroom at 3 and says it was seriously rocking, GREAT energy. Victor texted at 6:15 am to say he was about to hand over DJing to Louis, 40 people still on the floor. Ha! Crazy great! I’m sure some of those cwazy people are competing at this very moment cause we have just started Jack and Jills.
[two hours have passed: insert one of Louis' show tunes or tv theme songs here]
Just finished Novice, Newcomer, and Champion JJ prelims. Funny how you can feel it in the ballroom on Saturday morning when last night’s social dancing was electric. All around you are faces still on an adrenaline high after two hours of sleep and you just feel a little somethin’ somethin’ in the air. The walls buzz and crackle. Electricity.
And the pool party is just around the corner! And Classic! There’s just excitement in the air today.
Champions’ JJ prelim songs just played:
“Finally Moving” (Pretty Lights), and
“Wild Ones” (Sia)
For Champion finals, tonight (another exciting thing about today) both leaders and followers will pick their own songs. Love when they do this for the Champions. Fun for us as much as for them cause: you learn what sound speaks to each person’s heart, you see them dancing to music that truly moves them, you get to Shazam their song.
1. The first link in Update #3, for Jordan and Tatiana’s “Viva La Vida” was incorrect. Here’s the correct link:
2. Last night was the Advanced JJ, not combined Advanced/Allstar. Cause tonight’s program kicks off with the Allstar JJ (another exciting thing about today.)
Buffet last night YUUUM. When you’ve been dancing and cheering for hours, ravenous enough to eat your neighbors’ hands, it is GREAT to have mounds of eggs, scrumptiously greasy potatoes, bacon bacon baconnnnnn, and all that other yum breakfast stuff.
And in ten minutes we get to stuff again at the pool party! Which means hamburger buffet yum! I gotta quit writing and get down there.
Courtney’s hair is way longer and blonder. So pretty! Becca wore 5″ heels and a short short dress for judging this morning. Sizzlin hot.
Okay NOW I’m going down to the hamburgers.
BRENNAR IS HERE!!! Home from boot camp! What a hunk – even buffer than before, and no hair. He looks bad ass.
Okay NOW I’m going to those hamburgers.
Pool party was SO FUN! Robert Royston! An amazement. He worked that mic for two solid hours – no stand-up comic could have done better. He’s hilarious, smart, witty, kind, inclusive, jumps around like a 12-year-old, has a potty mouth and knows when to use it (and when not), generous, silly, loves the community as a whole and the individuals in it, he’s Ocean’s 11 cool, doesn’t miss a trick, and nobody works harder. He made that party. We miss him at the Open. We miss his voice and his brilliance.
We are in the short break before tonight’s excitement so let me quickly give some names and finals stuff:
Champions JJ prelim contestants:
Adv/Allstar Strictly Prelims
Rob Jackson and Chevy
Cory Vingi and Sarah Richard
Stephen White and Connie Gauthier
Kris Swearingen and Virginie
Alfred and Anyssa Olivares
Chris Dumond and Hannah
Andrew Mastin and Eveleen Sung
Steve Wilder and Angelique
Steve and Rachel
Akil and Dana Simonetti
Ron McCarthy and Linda Leverock
Kate Lovegrove and Steve Hall
Scott Mehlberg and Anna Kondakova
Jerome Subey and daria Mikloukhina
Rob Glover and Emeliine
Bradley and Sarah Wheeler
Gosh no time to write aughghgh! Running down to ballroom again! For a SUPER fun night!
What a NIGHT!
Reginald Beason and Lara Deni
Stephane Schneider and Abi Leggette
Will and Jill – new routine! “Change The World,” in teal chiffon, sweet smooth little thing.
Chris Lo and Estelle – new routine! “Je me Lache” (personal fave song of GB and myself), black and white, both in vests with silver emblems; quick snappy fun choreography. Estelle is a rare beauty, with a heart as beautiful as her face. She told me afterwards she was terr-ri-fied. Extremely extremely scary. But fun. Sort of.
Rome and Chevy! Dancing, for the first time out of Juniors, their wonderful wonderful routine debuted at last year’s Open – “Dog Days are Over” (MAN I love this song!). Rome has been away for six months? nine months? teaching skiing, hasn’t danced at all. I was told that they only decided at 3pm this afternoon to dance. They KILLED the routine. Chevy suddenly looks very much not a Junior. And – funniest thing – smack in the middle, in a break, exactly on the beat, her shoe flew off into the air and across the room. Hilarious!
Daria and Donnie
Josh and Anyssa
Chris and Nicole,
and the ridiculously adorable Hull twins Ian and Emily, 7 years old, dancing the routine they debuted at last year’s Open *completely* differently than they did a year ago. What a difference a year makes when you’re seven.
Sean and Courtney
Blandine and Seb
Arjay and Jen (she’s not been dancing – knee injury – so this was their first time back with their great sexy “Moves Like Jagger” – Jen says there are still things she can’t do with the knee so the routine had to be modified which was frustrating. Still looked awesome.
Kris and Rebecca
Jordan and Tatiana, and
Maxence and Virginie
SUCH GREAT ROUTINES, every one of those above. And now, after a year of dancing them all over the world, these routines are all extremely tight and powerful. No clue what the judges will do – they’re all so good.
(Judges were Donna Roesel, Steve Nereen, Michael Kielbasa, Ben Morris, and Chief Judge Maira Pineta)
Champion JJ Finals! Oh man, were these fun. Guys picked a girl out of the bowl (held by Yuna in a stunning full-length turquoise dress. Yuna is strikingly gorgeous with a face meant to be on the cover of magazines. She should model. Seriously.)
1. Maxence and Yenni, to “One Love” and “Take a Dirty Picture” – Yenni did a series of pirhouettes then, still on one leg, dropped into a splits between Maxence’s legs to hit the break. She is so extremely graceful! Impeccable technique.
2. Michael Kielbasa and Tatiana, to “I Just Wanna Know” and “Dance Like Michael Jackson.” Complete with moon walks. Tatiana stood in front of Michael, arched all the way backwards into a full back-bend to the floor, went threw his legs head first, and came up standing behind him. Seriously?!?
3. Greg and Jess to “Gimme One Reason To Stay Here” and “Rabiosa” — and this crazy great song started up and BAM! Jess was IN HER ELEMENT! She’s Cuban and Pitbull is Cuban and this song is Cuban and Jessica, so funny and full of life and spirit, simply went nuts dancing her heart out, whipping her gorgeous head of hair all over the place, whipping that gorgeous body of hers over-around-under-beside-all up and down her happy partner Greg (who held his own! he looked great when I looked at him for 1/30th of a second one time.) She had the whole ballroom jumping in their seats, clapping along. What a dance!
4. Arjay and Sarah, to “Frontin” and Titanium. What great songs! Oh man, Arjay and Sarah together? So so so smooth! They skated. They slid around the floor without moving anything but feet. So quick! subtle! detailed! understated! witty! So smooth!
5. Brennar – make that Private Goree – home for a visit, drew – guess who? Torri! yaaay! They looked SO delighted what a joy to watch their love for each other and their amazing dance connection. “Powerful Stuff” and “Scream.” This could have been a routine, the impromptu choreography was so superb. They are beautiful together.
6. Royston and Lemery, “Sexy and I Know It” (acoustic version) and Robert’s beloved “Up The Lazy River.” Okay we all know Robert can win a Jack and Jill. But Lemery dang! She gets exponentially better from one comp to the next. She’s progressing as fast as Ian and Emily Hull from age six to age seven. Lemery can do ANYTHING and she does it gorgeously, cleanly, powerfully, and with style. She – they – were fabulous!
7. Jordan and Deluca to two GREAT songs, “Shoop” and “Back In Time” – they’re both so good, so damn good, so quick, funny, hip, sexy, funky, and understand the dance. And they both knew *every word* to Shoop. These two dances were crazy great. Complete with Jordan surprising her by sliding off her shirt (Jen had a layer underneath. Fortunately. Or unfortunately.) (Oh, he started their dance by sliding all the way across the floor to her on his belly. And then sliding away. And then back again.)
8. Ben and Tessa, “We Found Love” (acoustic) and Ben’s choice, the sweet oldie “Don’t Know Much About History”
and the all-skate to “I Can Only Imagine”
What a show! Such entertainment! I could watch these guys forever. They are so. damn. good.
Last night’s social dancing – everyone agrees – was off-the-charts great. Tonight is even better because all the routines are finished and everyone is psyched to PARTAY. It’s crazy down there in the ballroom, just crazy fun.
This is a great comp!
Who made Finals?
Nick De Vore
JJ finals about to start.
Dancing was CRAZY fun last night!
Me (high-maintenance OCD neat freak) and Genieboy (sloppy disorganized every-surface-covered-with-mounds of uncategorized stuff) rushing around the room here trying to take showers and not kill each other on our way back down to ballroom.
Remember last year’s hurricane, and the power went out? And we danced to cell-phones and glow-sticks? So this year, to start a tradition, the top five winners of Champions will dance with the top five winners of Novice – in the dark!
(here’s last year’s update:
Bill last night: “This is the largest fly-in event on the east coast so we want to say a huge THANK YOU to all those people who spent so much money and so much time to fly all the way here. Thank you for coming. It’s great to have you here.”
Million zillion photographers here. EVERYBODY has a camera! And they’re all fantastic cameras, too. Even cell phone cameras are fantastic these days. But the small point-and-shoots have been revolutionized – they’re even great for dark ballrooms. So cool – you look around the ballroom and everybody has a camera in front of their face. We’ve become Japanese!
Okay gotta run down!
Jack and Jills:
1 Robert Connors and Amanda Clark
2 Joshua Albert and Carol Lanzill
3 Robert Palenchar and Catherine Macinnes
4 Keith Horan and Bonny Branch
5 Michael Lynch and Karen Meyers
6 Ben Rossman and Laura Vanderwoude
7 Dave Tahsea and Sandra Mayer
8 Matt Johnson and Flora Wan
9 Douglas Roth and Roseann Brusco
10 Danny Ho and Amanda Ashbey
11 Jordan Blanchard and Genevieve
12 Jonathan Falletta and Vicky St. Pierre
1 Aleksey Grigoriev and Jennifer Chowaniec
2 David Goldenberg and Jacqueline gutierrez
3 Dominique Morin and Dani Mullin
4 Thomas Falletta and Taryn Crosbie
5 Sean Gao and Christina Perry
6 Colton Orr and Paula Wilson
7 Tony Goff and Cari Chestnut
8 Sebastien Gervais and Jody Nagel
9 Myat Nyunt and alaura Colantonio
10 Michael Pisco and Sandrine Tarea
11 Joseph Foster and Anita Beyer
12 Nathan Johnson and Barbara Jackson
1st Place Jerome Fernandez and Laura Ciabarra
2 Marlon and Samantha Ward
3 Tj Bednash and Kristin Bianco
4 Ludovic Franc and Sara Mouchon
5 Nick De Vore and Nadya Serova
6 Phouvanh Meckhasinh and Nadia Hrzhy
7 Sean Ryan and Vanessa Keroack
8 Nicolas Besnier and Catherine Vourlessis
9 Jerry Wang and Agnieszka Gaczynska
10 Sylvain Pele and Rachel Martin
11 Adam Balasy and Eveleen Sung
12 Yingkit Chow and Heather Conkerton
1st Akil and Natalie Gorg
2 Josh and Nicole
3 Jerome Subey and Anyssa
4 Cory Vingi and Emeline
5 Jerome Louis and Whitney Bartlet
6 Keith Stremmel and Anna Kondakova
7 Ewan Dupre and Hannah
8 Mike Glasgow and Kate Lovegrove
9 Steve Wilder and Shoshi
10 Marcus Schwarz and Abby Stone
11 Rajeev and Kim Lashley
12 Stephane Schneider and Daria Mikloukhina
1st Ben Hooten and Chevy
2 Kris and Virginie
3 Chris Dumond and Connie
4 Steve Hunt and Blandine
5 Stephen White and Sabrina
6 Rome and Jen Diener
7 Chris Lo and Estelle
8 Cameron Crook and Kelly Hull
1st Johanna Barnes with Greg
2 David Goldenberg with Lemery
3 Will Burbage with Yuna
4 Michele Fischer with Royston
5 Dave Cronin with Yuna
6 Michael Egan with Yuna
7 Joshua Albert with Angelique
1st Place Justin Zadro and Samantha Ward
2 Tj Bednash and Nadya Serova
3 Jerome Fernandez and Vanessa Keroa
4 Nick De Vore and Gudrun Maria Jonsdottir
5 Ludovic Franc and Sandrine Tarea
6 Barry Carothers and Molly King
7 Jim Chow and Taylor Morton
8 Nicolas Besnier and Laura Vanderwoude
9 Marlon Mills and Dani Mullin
10 Ilya Obshadko and Nadiia Hrzhymovska
11 Adam and Anna Balasy
12 Phouvanh Meckhasinh and Stephanie Courtemano
13 David Goldenberg and Lura Johnson
14 Chris Wieczorek and Heather Conkerton
15 Bryan Purtell and Pam Marshall
1st Place Rob Glover and Emeline
2 Chris Dumond and Hannah
3 Kris and Virginie
4 Rob Jackson and Chevy
5 Cameron Crook and Nicole
6 Anthony Derosa and Kelly Hull
7 Josh and Estelle
8 Chris Lo and Abi Leggette
9 Stephen White and Connie
10 Joe Mahoney and Abby Stone
11 Steve Hunt and Rachel Martin
12 Steve Hall and Kate Lovegrove
13 Rajeev and Blandine
14 Warren Pino and Jen Diener
15 Jerome Louis and Natalie Gorg
1st Place Chris and Nicole
2 Josh and Anyssa
3 Ian and Emily
1st Rome and Chevy
2 Chris Lo and Estelle
3 Reginald Beason and Lara Deni
4 Donnie and Daria
5 Stephane and Abi
6 Will and Jill
1st Place Greg and Lemer
2 Myles and Tessa
3rd Robert and Nicola
4 Rob and Connie
5 Stephen and Sabrina
6 Ben and Rebecca
1st Jordan and Tatiana
2 Arjay and Jen
3 Maxence and Virginie
4 Sean and Courtney
5 Kris and Rebecca
6 Seb and Blandine
Oops forgot to include Champions.
1st Jordan and Jen
2 Kielbasa and Tatiana
3 Brennar and Torri
4 Arjay and Sarah
5 Royston and Lemery
1st Ben and Tatiana
2 Maxence and Torri
3 Kielbasa and Jen
New Summer Hummer tradition: The “Hurricane Jack and Jill,” last comp on Sunday afternoon. Perfect end to a great weekend! Top five Novice followers and leaders paired with top five Champion followers and leaders to dance in complete dark, adorned only with glow sticks.
What a site!
Arjay! Enormous glow-stick glasses that covered half his face, enormous over-sized striped bow tie, in one hand his phone with “Vote For Us” on the screen. Hit a break by laying his partner into a dip and running a tiny flashlight strobe up and down her body.
Royston with a glow-stick patch over one eye (his son Bobby poked him in the eye Saturday.)
Mrs. Crosbie (Taryn and Neil! Just married! Scotland’s wcs community doubled in size!) so clever! Glow-stick circles on each butt cheek, circles on each boob, big circle around the hips, down the spine and ribs, and man did she make those circles dance in space! And her partner Jordan with a long … a very long … a very VERY long you-know-what hanging and swinging between his legs. Which he worked into the dance in every which way. These two together – hilarious.
The line of ten couples in the dark, pulsing to the music, throbbing, swaying in all different directions, body parts moving, and all you could see was a line of glow stick shapes waving every which way yet somehow all in sync.
Then they spread out across the floor to dance and it was like someone blew fireflies and fairies into the room, flitting around in random directions, different heights and levels in space, streaks of neon zipping about in the dark, playing on the air.
And Louis, brilliant Louis, played, of course:
“Flashlight” (Parliament); “Ooo-Wee Baby Then The Lights Go Out,” “Strobe Light,” and last of all “Turn All The Lights On”
Speaking of Louis and music here are a few songs chosen for comps this weekend (Louis or Victor):
Friday night’s Adv/Allstar Strictly:
“I Got The Blues”
“Moves Like Jagger” (Robert, after the dance: “I love that song but in the last year I’ve seen more bad impressions of Mick Jagger doing a sugar push than I’d like to remember.” Arjay, from the back of the room: “You mean my routine?” Robert: “Yes.”)
“Give Me Everything”
“Fine Brown Frame”
Intermediate JJ prelims:
“Let’s Stay Together”
“Give It To Me”
Adv JJ Prelims:
Newcomer/Novice/Intermediate Strictly Final:
“Mean Ole’ World”
“Click Click Click”
“Don’t Need It”
Adv/Allstar Strictly Final:
“Move Across The River”
“Mr. Know It All”
“Tonight Is The Night”
And speaking of Louis I was reminded again how brilliant he truly is when I paid attention to his handling of the pool party. Audio engineering genius. There was not a moment – not a single moment – during which Louis was not playing some precisely appropriate background (or foreground) music, loud or barely perceptible, just the right volume to suit the moment, just exactly the right sound. Not to mention finding on the fly any song requested for karaoke or any other reason.
Like when Maxence walked on the floor and Louis pulled out “Allons enfants de la patrie” (La Marseillaise) (while writing this I just discovered – to my astonishment – that I know every word to this song by heart. I have no idea why I should know this song. Or feel that I’m singing something dear and familiar from early childhood. ooooo-weeee-yoooo. Weird.)
Or when Jordan put on the earphones to sing karaoke and Louis threw on “What a Wonderful World” (you should hear Jordan do a Louis Armstrong impression! Got to have ripped up his throat but he makes a mean Louis Armstrong. Who knew?) and then “Niggas in Break” to which Jordan knew every. single. lyric. as well as every single music-video move. Pool was rockin’, hamburgers jumpin’ and pumpin’ in their warming plates, Jessica hands in the air, walls of the building shimmyin’ and shakin’ in the golden glow of the low sun, people at the party weavin’ and noddin’ to the beat. The scene was Jordanesque.
Or “Chariots of Fire” as Jen inched under the limbo bar to win, yet again, the Summer Hummer Limbo Competition. Jennifer Chowaniec is an amazement. She has won three years in a row now (she’s not short, either!) Robert had already whipped the crowd into a frenzy so when she won and he asked her to beat her 2009 record (two nails below this year’s) the crowd just went wild. And she did. And then Robert asked her to go under the last nail, the bottom nail, 18″ from the floor, which required her to hold herself horizontal, thighs pressed to calves, half an inch between bar and torso, creeping forward toe by toe without a body part touching ground. And this is when Louis laid on the opening chords of “Chariots,” softly in the background to not disturb her, and a throng gathered in a close, thick, silent mob – including hotel staff who left the buffet to watch and passers-by outside the fence – and you felt you were witnessing the Olympics right there in front of you and you held your breath (Robert: “I need you to do this. For me. I need you to make it under that last nail. My life will be better if you do.”) and there was not a sound, even the birds stopped to watch. It was silent out there, time froze.
Found myself mesmerized, choked up, tears in my eyes, couldn’t take pictures.
She didn’t make it. She didn’t quiiiiite make it. But what a cheer from the crowd! Will she make it next year? We will be waiting for you Jennifer Chowaniec! You are our Summer Hummer Limbo superstar.
Or Louis pulling up the last song when finally, as the sun dropped behind the trees and one more pool party came to an end, Robert brought up Chuck Serafin again this year to sing “American Pie” – which blindsided you because you thought you were going to laugh at the song and laugh at Chuck doing karaoke to it but instead found yourself singing along and you realized you actually love the song and Chuck was singing from his heart and it was unadorned and quite beautiful; and you looked around and everyone, really everyone, knew the song; and the mood had been handled so delicately that you weren’t embarrassed to put your hands up and wave back and forth with everyone else and sing. And it was one of those brief pauses, again, where you get a glimpse of how transient life is, how lucky you are to know these people, experience these rare, sweet, unselfconscious seconds together, how lucky you are to be part of this colorful community, to have the picture of this moment imprinted in your memory forever.
Summer Hummer was great. We haven’t missed a year since we started travelling the circuit. What would make it even better, in my own uninformed easy-to-say-what-needs-fixing-when-you’re-not-the-one-doing-all-the-work opinion:
The lighting in the ballroom was difficult. There *was* no lighting is the more accurate description. Other than the ballroom’s overhead lights which for some reason stayed very dim – even at their brightest it was murky dingy yellow in there – made me feel like I was struggling for oxygen all weekend. For social dancing it was just dimmer. “Dim and Dimmer” – it could be a movie. Seriously though good lighting would not only make for WAY better video and pictures it would also super duper affect the mood and atmosphere (which are already off the charts great at this event.)
Registration lines, despite Chris’ very cool new program, were long and slow, snaking around the corner of the room and taking an hour to get through. We were lucky, we handled our reg’s on Thursday. I felt sorry for the people who had to spend an hour or more on Friday just getting banded.
Competitors’ Meetings. It’s been two years since any other comp that we’ve attended has held competitors’ meetings but here they were mandatory for Newcomer and Novice, two hours before these guys’ comps, on Saturday morning. Kind of ruins dancing on Friday night when you know you can’t sleep in the next morning.
Hope I don’t get stuff thrown at my head for saying this, but: Judging Panels. SH is a NASDE comp so even more critical to have good judges as people’s careers (and incomes) are in the hands of the people on that panel. But even if it weren’t NASDE I feel it’s important to hire the best (meaning most competent, trustworthy, respected) judges on the circuit.
Need a bigger ballroom. This event has already outgrown the space (social dance floor is maxed out, and here social dancing is reallllly important part of the weekend, and realllly fun) and the event will only get bigger. As nostalgic as this funky old “castle” is it has become too small. Elevators couldn’t handle us either.
Three final random comments:
Love how Bill said “I do this all the time: I give plaques to 5th and 4th place, don’t always give ‘em money but I give ‘em plaques, but I like to have them come up here and have their moment of recognition.” I love the easy, honest, transparent way Bill talks about prizes and what he gives and doesn’t give. Very human. That brief sentence above tells you that he gives as much prize money as the event can afford, and knowing that makes anyone happy and grateful. Love how casual and real Bill is.
Love that they posted all the scoresheets, with judges’ names, and even posted prelims! So people who don’t make finals can at least see their name up there on the wall, as a competitor, “in the game” so to speak.
Which brings me to a last unresolved ongoing debate:
Should we be like ballroom and never post judges’ names so that judges would:
1. Not have to be bothered with questions or reprimands, and
2. Judges would (possibly, not assuredly) have the anonymity to score more honestly (since we are a tight (“incestuous” might be the better word) community and judges are often scoring personal friends)
Or should we be completely transparent and post all scores and judges’ names so that:
1. Competitors can know how to evaluate a particular score by knowing the person who gave it
2. Competitors can ask a judge for feedback or help
3. Judges can be expected to say “Yes I gave you that score and here’s why” or “Sorry I don’t remember what I saw at that moment”
That’s it for Summer Hummer 2012 Updates. What a GREAT comp! We had a blast!
I had commented about Competitors’ Meetings at Summer Hummer. Bill and Yuna tell me that Summer Hummer was, in fact, the very *first* event to do away with these for most divisions because they understand what it’s like to have to be at a meeting early in the morning when you’ve been up dancing the night before. They do make the Saturday morning Newcomer meeting mandatory, however, and this is intentional, because they want to take special care of Newcomers. The meeting serves to describe what competing will be like, where to go, what to expect - it’s a pep-rally, really, as Yuna describes it, to help the brand new people feel welcomed and pumped.
They take special care of Newcomer and Novice in an additional way, too, doing something unique for these divisions which I had neglected to mention and which I am glad I now have an excuse to tell you about: All Newcomer and Novice JJ competitors who *don’t* make finals – which of course is almost all Newcomer and Novice JJ competitors – are invited (not required) to attend a feedback seminar on Sunday morning where they pick one pro from a panel of pros present from whom they receive individual critiquing (one point only, time constraints) in addition to later critiquing from all the pros of division dance issues in general. From all accounts this seminar was useful and much appreciated.
DJ’s (from the team of DJ Greats this weekend) were:
Flashlight Jack n Jill: Victor and Louis
Novice and Intermediate JJ’s: Kelly and Anthony
Advanced and Champions JJ’s: Victor
All that great music listed in the last update was not just Louis (yeah he’s a genius just not *that* much of a genius don’t want him to get a swollen head) but it was Victor, Kelly, and Anthony too, all of whom are *fantastic* as I know I’ve gone on and on about before. Love when any of these guys are up.
Reg lines: Yuna tells me she checked twice and saw no line at all. Sounds like I must have passed by when the line was at its worst (I was there at 4pm and then again 7pm on Friday – just the time period, Yuna says, when the entire event decides to arrive at the hotel and flood the registration table all at once.) Outside of this crunch time it sounds like registration went quickly and smoothly.
Any other corrections?
It was a GREAT weekend. We had so much fun and so did everyone we’ve talked to. This is one not to be missed!
We have a generator! Bill says the hotel is ready for us – we can stay holed up here at the special dance rate, and Bill will keep the floors down until the storm is done with us. This is FUN! Can you imagine a funner place to be stuck in a hurricane than in a hotel with all your favorite people, a floor, DJ’s, and a generator? Instead of a pool party Bill and Yuna should have a hurricane every year.
Summer Hummer is in Framingham, 20 miles west of Boston so 20 miles closer to where Hurricane Irene is scheduled to touch down sometime tonight. Local news here is showing Red Cross shelters set up, people in long lines stocking up on water, batteries, candles, medicine. We flew in from DC on Thursday and when we asked the agent if he thought we’d have problems returning home on Sunday he burst out laughing, saying all east coast airports would be evacuated, airplanes moved into the midwest since, as airplanes are made to be lifted and tossed around by wind it might not a great idea to leave them sitting in the middle of a hurricane. So no, we weren’t going to be flying anywhere on Sunday. Or Monday. The moment we landed we got an email telling us all AirTran flights had been cancelled Saturday through Monday. So la voila! Here we are! At the Sheraton Framingham until who knows when! The same hotel which last year leaked hours of toilet water from the room above us into our clothes, dance shoes, toiletries, computers, suitcases, bed, food …
So far we are having a blast. Yesterday was Strictly’s (Adv/Allstar and Pro), JJ Prelims (Inter and Adv), and Showcase.
Adv/Allstar Prelim Judges:
Ben Morris, Melissa Rutz, Sean McKeever, Michael Kielbasa, Katrina Branson, Larry Mongeau, and Chief Judge Maira Pineda
Mrs. Anna Lumsden Balcom
Showcase was really good. Others may have predictions but I have no idea whatsoever how placements for this division might stack up. It’s a NASDE division and the Open is only three months away so it will be interesting to see what happens with these couples.
An interesting Judging Panel for this division :
Anne Fleming, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Jennifer Lyons, Larry Mongeau, Gary Jobst, and Chief Judge Maira
1. Greg and Lemery – We’ve now seen this beautiful winning routine all over the country (and at home). Just keeps getting better.
2. Brandon Lee Detty and Yvonne Dodson – First time I’ve seen this one – loved it! Love their music (some wonderful Irish step-dance-meets-rock-and-roll something or other) and loved their combination of step dancing (only a little taste – not so much that it overshadowd the swing of the routine) with west coast. They’re both tall and lean, too, so you wanted them to stand there in tandem and lift those mile-long legs Riverdance style. Seemed well rehearsed and clean to me but I was glued to the camera so might have missed bobbles if there were any.
3. Myles and Tessa – Only second time I’ve seen this (Dave Matthews – forget the name of the song) but I love it. Love their choreography, love their tricks, love how prolific they are, love their taste in music, love to watch Tessa move.
4. Robert and Nicola – Their new routine! It was beautiful at Swing Fling but was WAY beautifuller last night – they changed it and it’s great, my favorite of their routines in recent years.
5. Arjay and Jen – This routine looked way changed too (I saw it last at Liberty). I’m probably embarrassing myself – it might have been an entirely different routine. The music sounded different – was it? Or am I imagining things? Their costumes were black and neon but more refined and elegant, less baggy hip-hop, less yellow (Jen didn’t have the bright yellow wife-beater this time), the look was toned-down and tighter-fitting, cleaner lines. Whether it was the same routine revamped or a new one I preferred last night’s version.
6. Benji and Torri – Same amazing amazing routine they’ve been performing all year since the Open and what can you say? They’re astonishing. So so sososososo FAST. Sheesh. I guess I do have one prediction for placements – they’ll probably win. Then again on our circuit you never know.
More about last night in the next update … now we’re on our way down to the ballroom for Newcomer, Novice, Allstar and Champion JJ’s. Then the Hurricane Party this afternoon. Without Black Flies! We had a plague of them last year so Bill and Yuna outsmarted those suckers and arranged for Irene to be here this weekend. Ha! You abominable critturs you. Let’s see you just try to hang on to my arm in Category 3 gale force winds.
It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Boston and we are finally on our way home having survived Hurricane Irene, cancelled flights, and two extra days days in the hotel. Fifteen Europeans are still stranded for another week which they’re loving: whale-watching today, dancing every night in Boston.
We had power all weekend until Sunday during the Novice Strictly when poof! the ballroom suddenly went pitch black and silent. After the briefest pause the whole room broke out in cheers, clapping and pounding the floor. Then 30 seconds later the lights flickered on and there before us were the Novice Strictly couples! In closed position with shiny faces looking considerably less tense than the last time we saw them. Victor cranked the song back up where they’d left off and we were up and running again.
Ten seconds later Boom! the music stopped, ballroom went dark a second time, this time everyone cheering and stomping with more enthusiasm. Poof! the lights were on and Victor started up the music again.
A minute later Pop! Power out a third time and now it was really funny. Pop! The lights were back on.
Robert said “Okay you guys. Do all the moves you know in eight counts. You get 10 seconds to dance. Don’t hold back, put all your best stuff out there immediately.” This time Victor threw on a more appropriate song, “Hit The Lights” and the Novice Strictly was finally able to finish.
The power lasted through the Allstar JJ Finals. Check out the 80′s Classics Victor played! Awesome!
1. Chris Dumond and Joanna Meinl to “100% Pure Love”
Chris! Oh my goodness! Always playing, always creating on-the-fly inventions which don’t always work, whacky convoluted pretzels where he has to twist bend turn inside out duck below step between hands to exit. His face! He never stops laughing. He stumbled and fell during one of these, springing right back up BOING! like a super ball, grinning the whole time. Robert said “I could have done all that. Except I would have fallen *three* times instead of once. But I’d have had my Life Alert.” (for non-US’ers and Juniors: “Help I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up” was a national punchline in the 80′s and 90′s
2. JB and Samantha Fernandez to “Pump Up The Jam”
3. Rome and Kelly Hull to “Pump Up The Volume”
4. Anthony and Linda Cuccio to Good Vibration
5. PJ and Kim Filippo to Rhythm is a Dancer
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming to “Everybody”
7. Rob Glover and Dr. Zena Knight of Harvard to “Smooth Criminal”
And the All-Skate to Elvis’ “Steamroller”
The music all weekend long was WOW. Everyone said so, kept saying so over and over for four days so the mixes must have been brilliant to have pleased *everyone.* Who does that?!? It was Victor and Louie – both phenomenal. Anthony DeRosa played Saturday midnight straight through till floor trials at 7 or 8 and he was fantastic too. We had trouble tearing ourselves away at 5am – every song the kind that makes you say “Oh no! I love this!” and put your shoes back on. Through a door at the side of the ballroom was an alternate all-blues room which – except for a sad laptop running a continuous playlist of classic blues – remained empty all weekend. We missed out but heard that Leafy Greene brought his guitar and played some live acoustic for a little while one night.
And then … Louie’s “Between-Music” which I think I mentioned in the Tea Party updates. Louie plays bits of show tunes, classical pieces, Disney movies, classic rock, heavy metal, Zepplin, rap, marching bands, sitcoms and tv commercial clips – anything he finds funny and interesting.
Man! What a difference it makes to have upbeat background music bring on the judges, introduce the emcees, played during jj rotations, or between heats, between routines. All those transition times where normally all you hear is instructions on a mic.
“Between-Music” changes the whole dynamic in the ballroom. You get contestants rocking out or skipping like Mary Poppins to their new rotation partner, spectators jammin’ in their seats and doing the wave, emcee’s lip-syncing to famous Broadway tunes or bursting into impromptu skits. Brilliant! Energy and silliness – brilliant!
During the Intermediate JJ Louie played “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” which made Royston run over and grab Myles Munroe and Jun Ogata, yelling “Ha! I’m the tallest munchkin! I’m the Gary Jobst of munchkins!” the three of them hopping around shoulder-to-shoulder singing in munchkin-helium voices. Louie’s Between-Music made them do it! Brilliant!
(I’ve decided I’m calling everything “brilliant” now, with an English accent.)
It was Victor’s idea some years ago at Summer Hummer to let the pro’s choose their own songs for the Champion JJ. The pro’s, as in all the pro’s who aren’t female. I love this idea of pro’s choosing their own music, as I’ve written before. It makes for great dancing and interesting new music. So this year they really went out on a limb and let the pro *girls* choose. So fun to hear people’s music tastes!
1. Tessa and Ben Morris dancing to an acoustic version of Celine’s … uh oh I forget the name … Celine’s something. It was pretty.
2. Lemery and Robert Royston to “Crash” (we dance to this at home at Lemery’s all-night dance parties. Now I know why!)
3. Hazel and Myles, to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”
4. Sarah and Benji to an acoustic version of Rhianna’s “S&M”
5. Katrina and Arjay to Jeff Golub’s “Soul Serenade”
6. Jen DeLuca and Nick King to Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me” and Lawd Have Mercy – steamy sexy sweaty hair-whipping, sliding, crouching, bumping, leaning … Jen is the definition of blood on the dance floor. These two together? They could whip Hurricane Irene’s grandchildren’s butts.
7. Courtney and Kyle to James Brown’s “Get On Up,” and
8. Torri and Michael Kielbasa to Daniel de Bourg’s cover of “How to Love.”
So now it’s late Sunday afternoon, one more competition to go before Awards: Pro-Am routines, and we’re on a two-song break and the power goes out. We wait, we wait some more, but this time it doesn’t come back on. It is pitch black in the ballroom except for a dim glow from the white emergency lights seeping in from the hall outside. Rob and Robert (Glover and Royston) who had made a great comedy team all weekend, run to the front of the dark room yelling into their mics as if there were still sound and instantly became Abbott and Costello, launching into Who’s On First west-coast style – “Who’s Dancing With Arjay” – ridiculously funny. Briliant.
A couple people turned on their flashlight apps and soon the room was filled with phones being held in the air as spotlights. What a scene! Totally dark ballroom spotted with squares of blue-ish white light, ghostly faces smiling all around you.
Rob shouted “I’ve got it I’ve got it! We’ll sing a round! Row Your Boat!”
Royston ran in the darkness to the far side of the room yelling “Great idea! great idea! I’ll take this group over here, you take that one!”
Glover yelled from his side “Okay listen up everybody! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile
Don’t forget to scream!”
Royston’s voice yelled “Wait, WHAT? Crocodile? What’s – no, no crocodile! The song goes:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream!”
Glove, from the dark at the other side of the room “What is that? The American version? ifyouseeacrocodiledon’tforgettoscream!”
Another voice suddenly jumped out from the darkness – it was Ben Morris – we could make him out when every phone in the ballroom moved at once onto his ghostly figure running wildly up to the front waving his arms, “No! No! You’re both wrong! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream!”
And then suddenly there was Glover’s face suddenly in the spotlight, looking rather blue-ish and a bit too much eyebrow, little ominous actually (funny how he’s so handsome when the lights are on), and he yells “Okay three-part round! Three sections! Royston you start, we’ll come in, Ben’s group last!” and then came the worst most chaotic off-key ugliest disaster of a sing-along I’ve ever heard, and that includes every classroom of first-graders playing twinkle twinkle on the violin. It was SO shriekingly awful mating cats interrupted their howling to flee Framingham in droves in the midst of Hurricane Irene.
Bodies were flickering around in the center of the ballroom – Bill and a crowd of helpers were putting up the limbo pole. Todd Irzyik brought his laptop, Dave Raines hooked up wires, Steve Broskey set up ipod speakers and soon we had faint limbo music at the foot of the pole and instantly a line of limbo contestants weaving back into the darkness. People’s arms and necks were lighting up with neon glow sticks. Someone had gotten hold (or thought to bring!) supplies of necklaces and bracelets and soon the black ballroom was spotted everywhere with brilliant streaks of pink, green, orange, yellow. An amazing spectacle! It was like bits of Aurora Borealis had fallen to earth, into our ballroom! So we could play in a hurricane!
And then Bill had another idea: Skywalking! where we took turns walking high in the darkness over a human ladder of arms. And then another game where we lay side by side on the floor like sardines with our arms stretched up to pass bodies down the line from one end to the other. But bodies not just lying there like lumps, oh no. Dancer bodies! Holding their centers! With long backs and strong cores, arms in second position and ballet hands! All in the glow of phones held high in the air, Steve Broskey wandering around in the dark filming everything so he could stream it later, glow sticks wrapped around ears, foreheads, waists. So funny! So magical! Beautiful! Like a group-showcase routine performed in the darkness, around a campfire.
Ben said “Let’s do Pro-Am routines! We can light it with our phones!” And we did! Louie lay down on the floor with his laptop, the routine couples donned extra glow sticks, Hurricane Irene roared outside, and we all sat in the audience holding up our phones for light, cheering and yelling for the dancers.
Another of those historic moments in west coast history. Who will ever forget this? We think Bill and Yuna should include this as a tradition from now on, to commemorate 2011. Instead of Spotlight it could be Flashlight. Or “Dancing in the Dark.”
We had Awards out in the hall where two skylights let in the dim haze of dusk and Awards were unusually cozy, Bill saying in fact that he preferred them this way – all of us squished together on the floor and crowded into the small hall space, Rob and Robert swinging their legs perched on the counter, everybody hugging everybody each time the winners were announced. It felt like family. It is family. The instantaneous creativity and problem-solving, the love and cooperation, the mutual support, the life-long friendships, the jokes. Laughing, laughing, laughing, so much laughing.
I can never believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into this world.
Results! (These are the folks who braved a hurricane so as not to miss Summer Hummer. Some cancelled entirely, others flew in but didn’t want to get stuck in Boston so flew out early)
JJ Newcomer Placements:
1. Jason Zwolak and Catherine Miu
2. Kai Qu and Cristia Lesher
3. Mark Bolter and Jacqueline Joyner
4. Jack Flynn and Eveleen Sung
5. Marton Erdos and Dani Mullin
6. Florent Fabre and Joelle Sasseville
7. Dale Zumwalt and Lynne Walker
8. Asher Tenn-McClellan and Laurie Curley
9. Gabor Lippner and Michele Fischer
10. Ludovic Felten and Jessie Vitale
JJ Intermediate Placements:
1. Jerome Fernandez and Quenna Wong
2. Ewan Dupre and Kate Lovegrove
3. Josh Williamson and Anyssa Olivares
4. Jerome Louis and Nicole Clonch
5. Stephane Schneider and Marine Fabre
6. TJ Bednash and Marina Motronenko
7. Steve Yi and Alissia Bishop
8. Brandon Detty and Hannah Clonch
9. Phouvanh Meckhasinh and Liza Hillman
10. Steve Wilder and Michelle Fletcher
JJ Allstar Finals Placements:
(Judges: Donna Roesel, Jennifer Lyons, Gary Jobst, Kyle, Michael Kielbasa, Nicola, and Chief Judge Maira)
1. Rob Glover and Zena Knight
2. PJ and Kim Filippo
3. JB and Samantha Fernandez
4. Chris Dumont and Joanna Meinl
5. Rome and Kelly Hull
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming
7. Anthony Derosa and Linda Cuccio
JJ Champions Finals Placements:
1. Benji and Sarah
2. Ben Morris and Tessa
3. Michael Kielbasa and Torri
4. Arjay and Katrina Branson
5. Robert Royston and Lemery
6. Nick King and Jenn DeLuca
7. Kyle and Courtney
8. Myles and Hazel
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Jennifer Lyons, Jessica, Larry Mongeau, Maira)
1. Benji and Torri
2. Myles and Tessa
3. Arjay and Jenn Deluca
5. Greg and Lemery
6. Brandon Detty and Yvonne Dodson
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Ben Morris, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Heidi Mongeau, Nick King, Maira)
1. Brennar and Torri
2. Kyle and Sarah
3. Michael Kielbasa and Katrina Branson
4. Sean and Courtney
5. Tybaldt and Hazel
6. Kris and Rebecca
7. Nick Jay and Joanna Meinl
8. Ilya Obshadko and Ganna Kondakova
Oh my. I don’t seem to have Advanced JJ’s, or any of the strictly results. I’ll get them from Bill and Yuna …
Summah Hummah up they-ya in Baaston. It has now come and gone. WHAT a fun supah dupah fun weekend! Okay, so results first:
Novice/Intermediate Strictly (they were combined) had 43 couples in Prelims – danced all in one heat (or maybe two, can’t remember) in that circle format thing. So kinda hard for the judges, I’m guessing, Judges were Donna Roesel, Jen, Jessica, Rutz, and Stephanie Batista. (Maira Pineda was Chief Judge for the weekend).
Roberto Corporan and Sarah Richard
Jerome Fernandez and Emeline Rochefeuille (France!)
Jerome Louis and Quenna Wong
Mathew Smith and Shoshi Kushnir
Stanley Seguy and Laeticia Blanchet
Cory Wingt and Nathalie Fisher
Hrafnkell Palsson and Gudron Maria Jonsdotter (Iceland!)
Akil and Nicole Clonch (Juniors!)
Stephane Schneider and Linda Fratsa (France!)
Nicolas Besnier and Marine Fabre (France)
Phouvanh Meckhasinh (I have NO idea where this person is from but want to meet the man with a name that sounds like a hiccup followed by a sneeze) and Sheryl Williams
Brian Linacre and Mary Beth Lane
Neil Crosbie and Kim Brolet (Scotland!)
Mitch Marcello and Natalie Kuczma (France, I think)
Cameron Crook and Vivian Glucksmann-Weiss (a Junior and a not-Junior)
Steve Wilder and Emma Katzberg
and the winners were:
1st Jerome and Emmeline
2nd Roberto and Sarah
3rd Hrafnkell and Maria
4th Mathew and Shoshi
5th Akil and Nicole
Advanced/Allstar Strictly (also combined) had 35 couples in Prelims, also danced in the circle thing. Same judges (who by the way were all wearing 8″ spike heel strappy shoes or boots with skinny mini-skirts or leggings – making it hard for half of the audience – the ADD half – to pay attention to the dancers – Robert Royston, MC for the weekend, called them (at this point – he later caled them something else) the “Pussycat Dolls”): Jess, Rutz, Jen, Stephanie, Donna Roesel, and Maira.
Chris Lo and Heather
Alfred and Dana
Anne Fletcher and Dave Damon
Sascha and Alex Kosi-osi-in-come-free
Richard Smith and oops didn’t get who
Greg Scott and Erica Smith
Beverly Brunerie (14 years old and SO so good! Allez la France!) and Rome
Peter Fradley and oops
Willow and Ryan Crutcher
Julien (France!) (he wears pink underpants to match his pink shirt. Also striped underpants to match his striped shirt. “Underrrpents always mutch zeee shirt hahaha” he says. Allez la France!) and Merina (Russia!!)
Trey and Kelly Faust
Jody Moscaritolioliolio and Anna Lumsden
Rob Jackson and Sammie Fernandez
Either Stacy or Yenni – hard to tell – and Brian Faust
Either Stacy or Yenni and Doug Rousar
Genieboy and Laurie Shafer
Steven Hunt and Lisa Vivo
Billy and Chevy
Warren and Kelly Hull
Rob Glover and Jill Demarco
Joe Mahoney and Kay
Sean and Tori Ellington
Rebecca Ludwick and Kyle Patel
Heidi Batdorf and oops didn’t get it
Randy Payne and oops
Shelly Saxena and oops
Kim Filipo and Erik Novoa
Brandon Rasmussen and oops
Ed Francell and Tammy Greene
Julie Epplet and Dave Ranes
Marcus Schwartz and Jamie Beaver
JB and Abi Wood
Anne Fleming and Cuddy
Tiara and Chris
Alfred and Dana
JB and Abi
Julien and Marina
Trey and Kelly
Brian and The Tall One
Rob and Sammie
Jody and Anna
Doug and The Short One
Ryan and Willow
Rome and Beverly
Jake and Yuna
Sean and Tori
1st Alt Steve and Lisa
2nd Alt Greg and Erica
And the winners were:
1st Doug and Yenni
2nd Sean and Tori
3rd Rob and Sammie
4th Jake and Yuna
5th Brian and The Tall One
So this is maybe 11pm-ish on Friday night – Summah Hummah shifting into high gear, the prior week is fading fading fading away in the rear-view mirror, it’s getting hot and exciting (and hot) in the ballroom, social dances in between comps are explosive crazy energy, floor and ballroom totally packed, everyone’s giddy, Royston’s on a roll, and now when the Pussycat Dolls come struttin’ onto the floor to judge Showcase and Champions Strictly he gives them new names: Bitchy, Sleazy, Catty, Seriously?, and Costly. Oh yeah and he mumbles that his name is Stupid for saying all that on the microphone and live TV.
More in a coupla minutes.
Showcase was next on Friday night. Judges were Pussycat Dolls with the addition of two very happy men: Jess, Jen, Rutz, Donna Roesel, Stephanie Batista, and Deborah Szekely … and Doug Rousar and Cordoba. (Chief Judge Maira Pineda).
1. Cody and Tracy Melin – same beautiful routine we’ve now seen for six months or so. Keeps getting better and better – smoother and more elegant. Tracy tells me this time they missed the first lift – frustrating for her (Cody is much more easy-going about mistakes – for him it’s about the process – performing, getting better and better over time.)
2. Greg and Lemery – same adorable “Westie High School” (to John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”) – but now much harder, harder lifts, more complex.
3. Myles and Tessa – I *love* the song (“Black Crowes “She Talks To Angels”), and I love Tessa’s head and neck – so flexible! – flinging and swirling her gorgeous head of hair at exactly the right moments. I love Tessa’s lines.
4. Robert and Nicola – And OH MAN they are looking good! This routine changed dramatically as of two weeks ago at Swing Fling – so much that we almost didn’t recognize it, or them. They’re dancing it hard and fierce, with accelerations and decelerations that gave me goose bumps. No conservative easing into lifts or drops – Nicola flies into Robert’s arms – the trust (and skill) is scary and exciting. Love the beginning – Nicola posed like a goddess up on his shoulders. She’s gorgeous.
And the winners were:
1st Robert and Nicola
2nd Myles and Tessa
3rd Greg and Lemery
4th Cody and Tracy
Last comp of the night, Friday night: Champions Strictly! Tote-allll-lllyyyy FUNNNNNNNN, of course.
Tessa and Robert Royston – Trouble
Chuck and Rutz – One Tribe
Deborah and Brennar – Dynamite
Robert Cordoba and Jill Demarco – Beautiful
Myles and Taletha – In My Head
Arjay and Jessica – Strobe Lights
Kyle and Tat – DJ Got Us Falling In Love
Jordan and Sarah – Club Can’t Handle Me
Maxence and Jen – Baby Get Down
Torri and Ben – Bad Romance
Malia and Nick – California Gurls
So these guys (just the guys – not the girls) judged themselves, each one putting himself and his partner in last place. And the winners were:
1st Jordan and Sarah (Oh my GAWD were they funny. Jordan especially – his faces! His faces are ridiculous. I was falling off my chair laughing and I was sitting on the floor! The whole dance was a series of jokes. So witty – almost like Charlie Chaplin west-coast-swing style. And Sarah – wow, I don’t know if I’m just imagining it or what, but Sarah’s dancing this year has seemed to me to have some new magical quality to it. She just seems *on* in some new way. Crazy creative. So between the two of them you can imagine this dance. Funny and amazing.
2nd Kyle and Tat
3rd Arjay and Jess
4th Maxence and Jen
5th Brennar and Deborah
6th Chuck and Melissa
7th Royston and Tessa
8th Cordoba and Jill
9th Nick and Malia
10th Ben and Torri
11th Myles and Taletha
Buffet Friday night (and Saturday, too) and since it’s been two years since we were at this hotel (last year the event was temporarily moved to a moldy mildewed run-down facility in Siberia) I’d forgotten about the LINE to the buffet. You don’t want to know. We paid for it so we were gonna get our food daggnabit all no matter if it took two days to get it – but really, come on Sheraton Framingham. You can do better. Next year no buffet – if we’re hungry the restaurant right down the hall from the ballroom will be not only cheaper, and better (dry scrambled eggs, rawther disgusting sausage patties, bacon, muffins, and orange juice) but also waaay faster fer sure.
And then! Late-nite dancing and it was GRRRREAT! Great Friday night, great Saturday night, great THURSDAY NIGHT (yes that’s right! Thursday night! Everybody said one of the best Thursday nights of any comp in recent memory. I kinda thought Swing Diego and MadJam had great Thursday nights but everyone was saying nope this was the best Thursday in a long while. Not on a small floor, either – Thursday was in the main ballroom and was packed until we left at 6am). And – a great Sunday night too! We danced every one of those four nights till 6am. And for four nights the floor at 6am was packed and jumpin. We always hear about people who stay up until 7, and some crazies who stay up until 8am. But Rob stayed up Friday until 9AM!!! Nine o’clock in the morning! AUGHGHGHGH okay now that puts me in a sweaty panick – 9am is definitely tomorrow! It’s bright out! Rush-hour has died down! Birds aren’t chirping anymore, they’ve gone *back* to sleep. Eeeeewww!
But 6am – that’s reasonable. You can close the drapes, put your head under the covers, and pretend it’s still sort of the night time of yesterday. So that is exactly what we did, four nights in a row, getting up a couple hours later to start all over again. Total total funness! Total tiredness but total worth-it-ness. Awesome dancing every night at Summah Hummah.
More tomorrow – Rising Star, Classic, and JJ’s!
Saturday Night! The Big Night!
First, Rising Star. Judges were Stephanie, Donna Roesel, Jessica, Melissa, and Maira.
This was a VERY strong division – breathing down Classic’s neck – six couples total:
Daria and David (cute couple either Juniors or just out of Juniors, think they’re from someplace that starts with “Mi-” – Midwest or Michigan or Minnesota – wearing sparkly grey, dancing to “Free Falling”)
Brian and Shoshi performing for the second time (they’re from DC, so we get to watch this routine improve week after week)
Rob Glover and Samantha Fernandez – WOW! Smokin’ steamy sultry great. Sammie – omgawd Sammie!! What a fox! I hope this partnership lasts – these two are terrific together. Can’t wait to see what they might be able to pull off, ‘specially considering that Rob says this routine they only finished choreographing a few days before putting it on the floor. They’ll be in Classic in no time.
TJ Bednash and Lara Deni – also from DC (we have so many routine couples! And a whole lot more in the works!) – first time on the floor – cool routine, cool choreography, did it themselves
Gilbert and Melissa – awesomely awesome routine to awesome songs (Paula Cole’s “Feelin Love” and Ida Corr’s “Let Me Think About It”) – gorgeous choreography. But one problem: these two are so terribly unattractive it’s just sad. They’re such an eyesore the ugliness ruins the whole routine.
Julien and Beverly (France! Ridiculously good!)
And the placements were:
1st Rob and Sammie
2nd Julien and Beverly
3rd Gilbert and Melissa
4th TJ and Lara
5th David and Daria
6th Brian and Shoshi
Juniors (Judges were Arjay, Chuck, Jess, Doug, Nicola, and Maira):
Justin and Tiara (same routine, better every time we see it)
Cody and Krystal (omgawd how CUTE are they? Cute lil’ shaggers cute cute cute! You just wanna squinch up your face and squeak and squeal and squeeze the little squirts. And wow they can DANCE! Dang!)
Rome and Chevy (same great routine – love these two)
Brady and Kalin (cuteness OVERLOAD aughghghghgh what IS it about shaggers? Way too adorable!)
Chris and Nicole (AUGHGHGHGHGHGH!!! SO BLAZING FAST!!! SO MUCH MOVEMENT! SO QUICK! SUCH ATTITUDE! These are Schwimmer kids, gotta be. I’m just guessing, haven’t talked to them, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t. This routine is HARD! Holy Mackerel! How old are these kids, doing lifts and flips and leaps and slides and spins at warp speed? Jeepers! Really fun to watch).
And Juniors placements were:
1st Cody and Krystal
2nd Rome and Chevy
3rd Justin and Tiara
4th Brady and Kalin
5th Chris and Nicole
And then we had a Demo, because the next couple is like Britney: Not a Junior, Not Yet a Classic. You know, of course, which routine this was – the breathtaking “White Houses” (Brennar and Torri) which, if you haven’t already worn out your monitor by watching it, you can see it (at last year’s Open where it was debuted), here:
I still can’t watch this without getting choked up.
And then! Classic!
Judges were Donna Roesel, Doug, Arjay, Nick King, Chuck, Myles, Stephanie, and Maira
Parker and Jen! YAAAAAAAY we got to see them AGAIN!! First time in, hmmm, Atlanta I think it was. Second time we saw them (Liberty I think) they couldn’t do the routine because Jen had torn a tendon in her thumb/wrist/hand and spent the entire comp in bandages and a brace (she did do a strictly if I’m remembering right, babying it along. So we’ve only seen them do this once before now. This is a cool partnership – both of these guys are dancing differently, it seems to me, anyway, than either has for the last few years. I mean all of their dancing, not just their routine dancing. Their strictlys and jj’s, too, both Parker and Jen, are better it seems like. Jen seems ferocious, like she *wants* it. She’s dancing bigger, riskier, more dramatically. She fell this weekend (forget when, in a stricly or jj) – I’m always impressed when someone falls while dancing spotlight – to me falling down feels like they’re dancing on the edge, risky, dangerous. (Okay so maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone. Me for instance – I fall without being on the edge of anything, just standing in line waiting to walk on the floor, by leaning back on my heels or something, my feet suddenly slide out from under me for no apparent reason). And Parker! Man, Parker is dancing! Feels like we haven’t seen Parker dancing for a while so it’s great to see him put himself out there. I love Parker. Oh – by the way – if YOU, too, love Parker, and you happen to be a kind, loving, smart, adoring, level-headed, sweet, trustworthy, wise, decent, honest, clean, charming, good-hearted, down-to-earth, generous, funny, beautiful 27-year-old female, please let Parker know. If you’re lacking in any of these qualities, forget it. Oh yeah, and by the way, their routine is great.
Ryan and Malia – same awesome routine we’ve now seen since the Open. Choreographed (I’m told) by Ben. Beautiful, love this routine. Malia is goooooood.
Jordan and Tat – AUGHGHGHGHGHGHGH!!! this ROUTINE!!!! What is there to say? Controversial routine, freaky cool. This time danced better than ever before – best I’ve seen it yet. (if you’ve only seen the youtube video which was shot at Liberty – I think that’s the only one online so far – then you don’t have any real feel for it at all as that video chops off their lower halves at the most dramatic final third of the choreography and misses their facial expressions entirely at the climactic moments; and this is a routine which can’t be appreciated without the drama, it’s ABOUT the drama).
Kyle and Sarah – Also this routine – best I’ve seen it danced. Sarah! Sarah’s dancing, like I said earlier, is exploding. They NAILED this.
Jake and Taletha – Same sexy routine we’ve seen many times this year, each time cleaner and harder-hitting.
Sean and Courtney – Their brand spanking-new super-fast routine, danced in classy black-and-white (pieces bought at H&M and Forever 21 – see? I keep saying you can put together great outfits for very little money!) to “Mr. Brightside” (Killers) – love the routine! Love the song! Love the choreography! Love the outfits!
Rob and Abi! Yep, Rob Jackson and Abi Wood, dancing their very sweet Sweetest Thing from – when? – last year? When they realized they were both gonna be at Summah Hummah they figured what the heck, neither one of us has another routine right now, let’s just do it! So they did, with Abi gripping her top for most of the 2 1/2 minutes cause the toupe tape didn’t hold and she felt her dress migrate down to the vicinity of her navel. Abi is NOT one to give up, though, so she danced to the end, nipples and all. (Turns out her dress hadn’t slipped down after all – it just felt that way).
And the last couple, Mr. and Mrs. Erik and Anna, Fred and Ginger style, very Broadway, Anna in a dress and heels, so sweet!
And the placements:
1st Kyle and Sarah
2nd Jordan and Tatiana
3rd Parker and Jen
4th Jake and Taletha
5th Ryan and Malia
6th Sean and Courtney
7th Erik and Anna
8th Rob and Abi
More tomorrow – Jack and Jill’s, Champion Strictly, Invitational JJ
Oh! Oops, almost forgot! I hath been corrected:
Mitch Marcello and Natalie Kuczma are in fact not from France as I’d said, but rather from Pittsburgh. I really don’t see what the point was of correcting me on that one. To me France, Pittsburgh, come on. What’s the difference.
And it was my dear friend Amy Danziger who was dancing with Richard Smith. As I said to Amy I’m very sorry to have missed her, but she simply disappears in a room, fades away, very hard to spot. So it’s not my fault. (Amy’s about 6’7″).
I also forgot to mention yet another Brit, Steve Hall, dancing with Kara Frenzel in Adv Strictly. He has a very loud voice. If I forget to mention him I’m sure I would hear him yelling about it all the way from England.
Anything else I’ve forgotten or bungled?
Ohhhhhh Kaaaaaaayyyy. As I write this is Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Dallas is happening, Festa’s “Hudson Swing Affair” is happening. It is mind-blowingly GORRRRGEOUSSSS weather here in DC, and ta da! Here’s the last of the Summah Hummah updates.
Okay so lessee, already told ya about Strictly’s and routines … so Jack and Jill’s finals and placements:
Lionel Marks, Anthony Perocchi, Andrew Maury, Alex Ferguson, Andrew Maslin, Paul Babineau, John Nye, Tony Walker, Chris Sacks, Steve Yi; and Stephanie Courtemanche, Vanessa Karonack, Mary Harvey, Megan FErguson, Kristin Bianco, Maggie Jamolowski, Brittni Rea, Megan Webb, Christina Leuci, and Jessie Rosenberg.
And the winners were:
1st Andrew and Stephanie
2nd John and Mary
3rd Anthony and Megan
4th Steve and Maggie
5th Paul and Vanessa
Vernon Smith, Nicolas Besnier, Phouvanh Meckasinh Gesundheit, Brian Linacre, Matt Smith, Heath Burns, Roberto Corporan, Stanley Seguy, Donnie Neron, Miguel Valle, Jerome Fernandez, Tyler Sullivan, and Justin Spencer; and Marina Motronenko, Alice Diggs, Emma Katzberg, Laetitia Blanchet, Trista Eazell, Natalie Kuczma, Kiona Leah, Tracy Gauthier, Kelli Kilgore, Laurie Goldfarb, Anna Reguero, Michelle Fletcher, Sarah Morgan.
1st Stanley and Laetitia
2nd Justin and Kelli
3rd Jerome and Kiona
4th Matt and Marina
5th Roberto and Emma
Neil Crosbie, Cory Vingl, Morry El Badry, Mitch Marcello Paris via Pittsburgh, Cameron Crook, Jay Hull, Hrafnkell (Hrafn! Hrafn! Woof-Woof! Grrrr) Palsson, Jerry Wang, Doug Morgan, Glen Acheampong, Bradley Wheeler, Josh MacDonald, Steve Broskey; and Sarah Richard, Anna Lumsden, Beverly Brunerie, Wendy Cart, Daria Mikloukhina, Valerie Armstrong, Emeline Rochefeuille, Quenna Wong, Jessica Johnson, Anna Novoa, Kathleen Armstrong, Aly Yorek, Tracey Melin (Alts: Will Burbage, Dan Devan, Melena Bronson and Natalie Fisher)
And Winners ….
1st Cameron and Anna
2nd Glen and Emeline
3rd Mitch and Sara
4th Neil and Kathleen
5th Cory and Aly
Chris Lo, Evan Schwartz, Julien Valier, Steve Hall, Peter Bailey, Steven Hunt, Billy Montgomery, Rome Slater, Rob Glover, Brendon Rasmussen, Gilbert Rodriguez; and April Sakaluk, Erica Smith, Joanne Jephcott, Caroline Amblard, Tori Ellington, Lemery Rollins, Kara Frenzel, Priscilla Brown, Chevy Slater, Samantha Fernandez, and Connie Gauthier (Alts: Todd Sumrall, Dima, Abi Wood, and Lori Wahl) (oh yeah and the Judges for Advanced were Anne Fleming, Donna Roesel, Deborah Szekely, Chuck, Arjay, Jess and Tess).
Advanced Winners Were:
1st Brandon and Lemery
2nd Rob and Tori
3rd Julien and Sammie
4th Steve Hunt and Erica
5th Peter and April
Alfred, JB, Brian Faust, Rob Jackson, Doug Rousar, Chuck, Greg Scott, Sean McKeever, Nick, and Trey; and Yuna, Adair, Malia, Tall One, short one, Rhoni, Courtney, Taletha, Melissa Rollins, and Kelly Faust. (Alts: Haider, Jake, Krista, and Rebecca) (Judges for Allstar were Cordoba, Donna Roesel, Rutz, Szekely, Jess, and Sarah).
And Allstar Winners:
1st Sean and The Short One
2nd Chuck and Malia
3rd Trey and Courtney
4th Rob and Yuna
5th Nick and Rhoni
Saturday night there was also a World Cup thing for which I do not seem to have taken very good notes, maybe cause I didn’t quite get what it was about. It was a strictly, which you danced with the same stricly partner you’d danced with the night before. How you got chosen to dance in this division I never did figure out. There was a couple from each country present, and three or four or five couples from the USA, I kept bellowing ICELAND! ICELAND! since the entire Icelandic community (of two people) was in the room but not in the World Cup until finally Gudrun Maria Jonesdottr (I love her name! It’s even more beautiful than Hrafnkel and has more vowels) crawled across the floor to say Liza thank you but please stop yelling Iceland Iceland – we’re not dancing we’re students and can’t afford to enter). Which I guess means you didn’t qualify you just entered in the name of your country. I dunno. In any case, some of the couples were Rob and Sammie, Doug and Yenni, Maxence and Emeline, Peter and Anna, Sean and Tori, Jerome and Anna. I *think* Emeline won this – pretty sure, since I think she won everything she entered last weekend. She is adoorable. She should just win for adorableness. So I guess France won the Summer Hummer World Cup.
Also on Sunday – the Golden Ticket tour. I’m enjoying this Golden Ticket tour. I’ve said before but I’ll say it again: something about the way this comp is set up brings out a sweatier, more excited energy and surprising creativity from people you’d never have expected to have it in ‘em. Not sure why this is – maybe cause the judges are right there in your face raising their paddles for or against; or it’s going two at a time like a boxing match; or the tight circle of people at your feet cheering and jeering; maybe it’s the “dance or die” stakes where you get this one chance or you are *out* baby out; maybe it’s being paired with a person from another division, someone you’re likely to have never danced with before; maybe it’s the chance to continue to the Open with that big shiny pot ‘o gold at the end. Dunno what it is but it is different. Very cool. It’s interesting to watch the judges’ vote, too – to see what each person likes (or doesn’t like) without time to think too much, voting their gut reaction. That’s fun. The judges this time were Royston, Myles, Taletha, Stephanie, and Chuck – and I want to announce that Chuck Brown takes the prize for getting EVERY SINGLE VOTE wrong. If everybody was blue Chuck was red, they were red he was blue. This got funnier and funnier the longer it went on – got to be you were more interested in how Chuck was gonna vote than which couple was gonna win. Very funny. because he was consistent, consistently wrong. I guess you can’t call it “wrong,” just that Chuck appears to prefer any couple everybody else doesn’t prefer. I want Chuck to judge me from now on.
Golden Ticket Placements:
1st Abi and Ben Plante – this was Abi at her over-the-top soulful fiery wildest best
2nd Emeline and Jerome – Soooo elegant (and so funny! When the judges raised their paddles in that final round and they were finally beat they cried and threw a fit stamping the ground and clawing at each other making distraught faces)
This was FUN. Of course! With added funness, cause at Summer Hummer the Invitational guys get to pick their songs beforehand – WAAAAY cool! I love this. First cause it is interesting to see who likes what kinda music. What, you were hoping I was gonna make snarky comments about somebody’s musical tastes? Not in writing.
Some of them pick REALLY great songs. And because they’ve picked the music (usually several songs, the DJ then picks one from the list) this often makes for seriously great dancing. And I mean seriously gorgeous great: you get the best wcs dancers in the world dancing to their favorite songs – wow! Makes for some breathtaking creativity and wit.
And by Sunday, when Champion JJ finals are almost always held, these folks have been on their feet working since Thursday (or Wednesday, or the entire previous week, or year, or 25 years) not to mention having done a routine the night before for which they had to cram in practice between privates, dj-ing late LATE nite, workshops, floor trials at 7 am. So I’m all in favor of making their creative process *easier* not harder. Makes for a much more inspiring, educational, mesmerizing show, too.
Invitational couples were:
- Cordoba and Jessica;
- Brennar and Stephanie Batista,
- Myles and Torri (wow Torri’s dancing is just blowing me away – so CLEAN! So quick! Smooth, correct, precise – aughghgh!);
- Ben and Deborah;
Parker and Sarah (PARKER!!!! THIS WAS SOOOO GOOOOOD!!! Sarah is pure magic … but Parker! Parker got up there and from the first moment you knew you were about to witness an amazing thing. So soulful, so filled with heart, beauty. What a treat!);
- Kyle and Rutz (they are SO good – they are both so so SO good. And so goofy! I love when these two draw each other);
- Jordan and Tessa (baaaaad-ass X-rated dirty dancing, complete with Tessa’s beautiful lines, and Jordan’s funny faces and miming (maybe it’s Marcel Marceau he reminds me of, more than Charlie Chaplin);
- Maxence and Jill Dimarco;
- Robert Royston and Tat (HA!! OMGAWD this was hilarious! Guess what song Royston chose? Mwa-hahahaha gawd! oh my goodness … Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline! Okay I’m losing it here again, just writing the name of the song. This was an inspired choice. And what can I say – you should have seen Robert Royston and Tatiana Mollman skipping from one end of the floor to the other, ten standing side by side, looking out at the audience, conducting a sing-along “Hands, Touching haaaands, Touching Meee!, Touching youuuu!” Priceless. These are two Very. Funny. People.
- And the final couple, Arjay and Jen, absolutely gorgeous GORGEOUS choreography by each of them, weaving, sliding, snapping in and out and off of each other – brilliant dancing.
1st Parker and Sarah
2nd Robert Royston and Tatiana
3rd Ben and Deborah
4th Joran and Tessa
5th Kyle and Melissa
Oh, and the famous annual Summah Humah Pool Party.
But first, I have a question for Black people out there: Do Black people have a problem with bugs? Like a special allergy or something? I ask because this year at the pool party there was an attack of some horrible flying-insect thing, a stinging bee or black-fly or something. It was like a plague, a thick swarm of them dropping down like pellets from the sky. They kept getting stuck in your hair, dive-bombing into your ears, softly alighting on your shoulders and then biting a big chunk of your flesh, stinging you on your back, appearing suddenly on your lip or getting breathed into your mouth – they were everywhere. But there was a table of Black folks over between the food and the dj booth – looked like a lot of older relatives and friends of the competitors maybe – and these folks were having a TERRIBLE time, a battle. The whole table was swatting and smacking at things, each other. the chairs, the plates of food, wiggling and twisting all over the place with furious faces, jumping up and swinging at the air like they were gonna kill someone. There was a war going on over there. So I was just wondering.
As for the rest of the pool party – food, swimming, limbo, and karaoke, all fun even if a bit overshadowed by the plague sent down upon us. And here are pictures so far, loads more to upload:
So – that’s almost it for Summer Hummer. Little bit of hotel stuff I’ll tell you about next time.
We’re in Phoenix now, as I’m finishing this – Desert City Swing. I’ll send a Phoenix update later!