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Made it to SoCal! 85° balmy blue skies, rolling canyons, movies, television, music … who wouldn’t want to be here?
Thursday was fairly quiet in the hotel … saw Kellese and Mommy Cher, a buncha Texans lounging by the pool, Carmen, Rosa, and Yvonne from Chicago, a few tired Russians checking in at the front desk.
Doug Silton and Pete Greene held a “Where’s Westie” dance here last night … heard about 150 dancers attended (including 30 competitors in the All-American JJ) until midnight when locals drove home leaving only out-of-towners – mostly allstars – who danced till 3am.
Same hotel as the Open. Decent lobby, standard rooms … nuttin’ special. One hour’s drive from LAX (if you’re lucky! The only two routes are the two famously crazy L.A. traffic jam highways) or immediately across the street from the smaller Burbank airport.
Ron and Tyoni Martin (who hold the Open) are here filming for globaldance so if you’ve got a decent connection you might be able to catch some of the weekend live. The ballroom is set up differently than for the Open – cool backdrop (just uploaded a picture to Facebook if you wanna see) but only the ballroom lighting no stage or other special lights.
So far today I’ve seen Steves Hunt and Hall, April Sakaluk (Steve and April will not be doing their routine here, not quite ready yet), Trista and Alyssa (“TristAlysscious”), Michael O’Connor, Courtney (she and Sean are doing their routine yay! Haven’t seen it since I dunno – many months), several Guidos, Scott and Melina here from Australia, Kris and Rebecca coming out of floor trials, Robert and Nicola, Lasonda Campbell, Lori Hayner behind the registration desk (who tells me that there are “issues” with Dance n’ Fly – they’re going to re-think the program), Jack Smith behind the DJ booth, Vivian Glucksman-Weiss Running With Clipboard, Patti Vo with a cool new business: “Paws” – adorable specialty flip-flop insoles, Greg and Lemery checking in at the front desk, more piling in by the minute.
Kickoff in three hours with JJ and Strictlys prelims and semis, cabaret, and Classic!
Opening Ceremonies postponed ’till 9:30 so I’ve got a quick moment here …
So far we’ve had Novice and Intermediate JJ prelims: 24 Novice couples, Intermediate 10 boys 14 girls. Judges for these divisions: Chief Judge Yvonne Antonacci, Carmen, Lori Hayner, Michelle Kincaid, Kellese, and Lasonda Campbell.
Novice Strictly’s (5 couples) and Intermediate Strictly’s (7 couples) both moved straight to finals on Sunday, and will be Spotlight! Ha! Fun for these couples!
I’ve been corrected!
1. Asterix is a French cartoon character. Asterik is what indicated finalists at Swing Fling.
2. 3,600 feet is not where our plane was which I know because we were flying *above* the Rockies not crashing into the sides of them. Mike Glasgow (who knows) says my number was missing a zero.
3. Vivian Glucksmann-Weiss tells me 300 attended Thursday night’s dance, not 150 like I’d heard earlier.
Robert Royston cleared something up for me: I never did understand why this event was called the VIP Advanced/Allstar WAG Westie Awards Gala, which has seemed like a bit of a mouthful. I’ve been calling it either “VIP” (or “WAG” which has made me want to talk wike Elmoo Fudd and weave out certain wetters of the owfabet). But I have been enlightened: one of the main motivations for the event is that Barry feels there’s been a “bottleneck” in Classic and Showcase, where only the same top five couples win. He wanted to give Advanced and Allstar dancers a chance to shine, the way it’s done in the Ballroom world. Nah duh. That’s embarrassing. Everyone else knew this I’m sure.
Those who actually knew about the event, that is. On the east coast people didn’t seem to know this was happening, weren’t aware there was a Facebook group or page, or a website, didn’t know anything about voting. Word just didn’t get out this first year.
Music so far has been good: Jack Smith, Victor, and Cher …
More after the rest of tonight’s program (Kickoff, Classic, Teams and Cabaret
This is a great thing Barry is doing here. I keep hearing from one Allstar after another how awesome it feels to have this opportunity to compete without having to go up against Champion dancers in the same division.
Robert Royston on the mic tonight and he is a great emcee. So funny. So quick! SO loves our community. So respectful of all the characters in it.
Robert opened the night by telling us about the Feather Awards – how Barry said back in the mid-90′s that he’d like to bring back the Feather Awards, create a kind of People’s Choice awards event which would allow non-Champion dancers to shine. And that is how this event came to be. Because of this event people all over the world formed partnerships and worked hard to choreograph and master routines to perform this very weekend. What a great boost this is for advanced and allstar dancers in our community! A group particularly devoted to our dance, people who have put in years working to get better, competing in Jack and Jill’s, Strictly’s, and Routines. People whose faces we all recognize.
Tonight was Teams:
1. “D Troop” – five adorable young girls (from Houston) all in black and either neon yellow, orange, pink, blue or green, with big numbers on their shirts. Cool jazz/hip-hop choreography to “Do You Remember” and “Give Me One Reason.”
2. “Boom Boom Girls” – five more adorable not-as-young-as-the-last-team-and-definitely-fertile girls doing a burlesque chair-dancing act to “Welcome To Burlesque.” Man it was hot. Robert said, after a long silence, “I never wanted to be a chair so bad in my life.”
3. “Floor Play” – from Oklahoma City
4. “S Factor” – from Dallas – this is the team that wowed us at MadJam
Judges for this division: Arjay, Patty Vo, Michael and LeAnn Norris, and Chief Judge Yvonne.
And then, Classic!
1. Cooper and Jessica
2. Ed and MacKenzie
3. Steven and Carla (Texas … only their third time on the floor)
4. Sean and Courtney
5. Michael O’Connor and Linda Cuccio
6. Kris and Rebecca
7. Mike and Angie
8. Ben McHenry and Cameo
9. Josh and Katherine
Robert, with a beautiful quote from Parker: “We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been.” And throughout the evening Robert acknowledged icons of our community who were there with us in the ballroom: Skippy! Maryann! Sharlot! Val LaFemina! Kellese (who Robert called “the Winningest Woman in the history of West Coast Swing – she’s won everything there is to win. And she’s always in such a “bad” mood.”)! Michelle! Jack and Annie! So many legends. And Barry himself!
A beautiful evening.
Advanced and Allstar JJ and Strictly prelims and begin in an hour, tonight the WAG Awards! With Red Carpet interviews with: Robert and Nicola Royston, Ben McHenry and Tara Trafzer, Ben Morris and Melissa Rutz, John Lindo, Michael Kielbasa, Michael and LeAnn Norris, Earl Pingel and Parker Dearborn, Sharlot Bott and Mark Scheuffle, Mary Ann Nunez, Skippy Blair, Jack Carey and Annie Hirsch, Torri Smith, Victor Loveira, Val LaFemina, Arjay Centeno, Jesse Vos and Clint Glasgow, Steve Hunt, Michael Stephens and Karen Leiker, David Guido, Kris Swearingen and Rebecca Ludwick, Stephen White and Sabrina Paxman, Lasonda Campbell, Melina Ramirez and Scott Stuart, and Nominees in all categories.
Grace will be officiating tonight’s activities.
And the Nominees Are:
Best Dance Event of 2011 (under 500):
Desert City Swing
Chico Dance Sensation
Hudson Swing Affair
DFW Pro AM Jam
Fresno Dance Classic
Orlando Jack and Jill Jam
Tulsa Spring Swing
Best Dance Event of 2011 (over 500):
USA Grand Nationals
Boogie By The Bay
Best DJ of 2011:
Best Routine 1983-2000:
Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi (Fever)
Mario Robau & Val LaFemina (Baby Workout)
Brent & Kellese Key (Scat Man/You’re All I Need)
Robert Cordoba & Keldee B (Stuff Like That There)
Wayne & Sharlott Bott (Johnny B Good)
Robert Cordoba & Deborah Szekely (Chains)
Jason Colancino & Katie Boyle (When Doves Cry)
Jackie and Charlie (Red Beans & Rice)
Best Novice/Intermediate Female Dancer, 2011:
Best WCS Club/Dance Studio:
D’Amico Dance – Houston, TX
Loafers Beach Club – Raleigh, NC
2 Left Feet – Danville, CA
Starlight – San Diego, CA
WnY Warehouse – Novato, CA
Next Generation Swing Dance Club – San Francisco, CA
Capital Swing Dancers – Sacramento, CA
Best Swing Ambassador(s):
Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman
Jack Carey and Annie Hirsch
Volunteer of the Year of 2011:
Carmen & Rosa Passi
Best WC Routine of the Decade 2001-2011:
Kyle Redd & Sarah Van Drake (Johnny B Goode)
Mario Robau Jr & Kellese Key (Alva’s Baby Blues)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (Gravity)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (How to Save A Life)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (Pump It)
Benji Schwimmer & Kellese Key (Michael Jackson Medley)
Best Juniors Couple of 2011:
Rome Slater & Chevy Slater
Connor Goodmanson-Adlard & Alyssa Glanville
Christopher Dumond & Nicole Clonch
Steven Guido and Hanna Blonch
Ian and Emily Hull
Jeremiah Willis & Jennifer Willis
Best International Event of 2011
French Open West Coast Swing
UK & European West Coast Swing Championships
Sea, Sun & Swing
London Swing Invitational
World Swing Masters
Best Adv/All Star Dancers of 2011 – MALE:
Best J&J Dance of 2011:
Robert Royston & Brandi Tobias – Capital
Sarah Van Drake & Jason Wayne – Boogie
John Lindo and Melissa Rutz – MadJam
Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz – Seattle
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman – Reno
Best Adv/All Star Dancers of 2011 – FEMALE:
Best Masters Couple of 2011:
Michael Stephens & Karen Leiker
Chips Hough & Janice Salmon
Tommy Gibbs & Renee Lipman
Wayne Brodd & Karen Meador
Bob Gorman & Rose Bartolini
Best Novice/Intermediate Dancers of 2011 – MALE
Steven Van Nguyen
Best International Dancer:
Maxence Martin – Montpellier, France
Paul Warden – London ,UK
Tessa Cunnigham – Vancouver, Canada
Scott Stuart – Melbourne, Australia
Catriona Wiles – London, UK
Olivier Massart – Lyon, France
Katrina Ostrenski – Australia
Jesse Vos – Perth, Western Australia
Clint Glasgow – Sydney, Australia
Diego Borges – Fortaleza, Brazil
Best Event Director, 2011:
Parker Dearborn & Earl Pingle – SwingDiego
Cher Peadon & Mario Robau – America’s Classic
David Moldover – MadJam
Michael & LeeAnn Norris – USA Grand Nationals
Steve Zener – FreZno Dance Classic
Jay Byam – Palm Springs
Best Female Instructor:
Sarah Van Drake
Mary Ann Nunez
Best Classic Couple of 2011:
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman
Brennar Goree & Torri Smith
Kyle Redd & Sarah Van Drake
Ronnie DeBenedetta & Brandi Tobias
Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz
Best Showcase Couple of 2011:
Benji Schwimmer & Torri Smith
Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham
Gregory Scott & Lemery Rollins
Ronnie DeBennedetta & Laureen Baldovi
Robert & Nicola Royston
Best Strictly of 2011:
Robert Royston & Jill DeMarco – Swing Diego 2011
Maxence Martin & Melissa Rutz – Capital Swing 2011
Matt Auclair & LeAnn Norris – Swing Dance America 2011
Kyle Redd and Jessica Cox – MadJam
Brennar Goree and Sarah Vann Drake (SwingDiego)
Robert Royston and Patty Vo – Tampa Bay 2010
Best Male Instructor:
Mario Robau, Jr
… and after Awards … Showcase! Eight couples!
It’s afternoon here. The sun is so bright, skies are so blue, air is so gentle. No semi’s so we’ve got a bit of a break until tonight’s Awards. Dancers lounging everywhere – at the pool, napping on the terrace couches, at the bar. Bunch of Texans lugging cases of beer and bags of chips into the elevator.
Lotta Texans here this weekend – Texans and Okies, or “North Texans” as Robert calls them. Texans seem to be travelling the circuit this year, actually getting out of Texas. Word must have gotten out that there’s something out there and it’s *not* Texas and the brave ones are venturing out like daring explorers to see what amazing things might be out there.
The elevator for the North Tower is in a very yellow, small cave-like foyer with one wall of mirrors and a couch placed so you can sit and watch people getting into and out of the elevator. Rome Slater spent most of last night sitting in the couch elevator-watching. It’s like train-watching, only with elevators. People would debark, stop to chat with Rome for a while, then be on their way. He was like Otis settin’ on the front stoop of the general store chattin’ with the townsfolk.
There are two elevators but one’s not working. It stopped working with Michael O’Connor in it, where he was stuck for an hour and a half, which must have been boring for Rome just watching the closed elevator door.
There’s something very disorienting about this foyer. You get out and turn this way to cross outside to the ballroom, that way to enter the lobby. I’ve gone up and down the elevator 200 times and turned the wrong way every time. Last night it sprinkled for an hour so the sidewalk to the ballroom was wet. We got out of the elevator and after first turning the wrong way had to walk through puddles in our dance shoes. Except Bridgette who rode Arjay over.
I’m sure there must be more important things to tell you about …
Advanced/Allstar JJ Prelims (two heats):
Lee Ann Johnson
Judges: Annie, Michelle, Nicola, Carmen, Tyoni, Kellese, Lasonda, and Chief Judge Yvonne.
Victor played SUCH good music for warm-ups before the JJ’s started. Perfect warm-up music for Saturday morning: moderate tempo groovin’ soulful R&B. Nothing too screaming loud or pounding, just the right music to wake up to, get your bones moving again after only a few hours’ sleep. Victor’s music for the comps was also great. Perfect in fact. Perfect perfect mix. All danceable. He’s really good.
Dave and Claudette Berryhill
Wayne Brodd and Patty Jones
Don Law and Enola O’Connor
George and Diane Hughes
Chips Hough and Janice Salmon
Jorge and Angie Jones
JB and Alissia Bishop
Clint and Rebecca
Jesse Vos and Tiffany
Michael O’Connor and Tracy Staten
Jason Taylor and Janelle
Sean and Tori
Daniel and Kat Ostrenski
Steven Guido and Lee Ann Johnson
Brad and Angeline
Hugo and Bella
Kris and Courtney
Soleman and Cameo
Ed Purselle and Christy Parker
Connor and April
Steve Hunt and Kara
Greg Scott and Sabrina
Ben McHenry and Alyssa
Steve Hall and Tara
Doug Silton and Samantha Ramirez
Judges have been the same for all divisions so far.
Now I’m going to put on my gown and walk the Red Carpet!
Just walked in the front door, finally home after a long day of flying across the country from VIP, back to my Genieboy (who had to work this weekend so couldn’t make it to the event – first comp in seven years we weren’t together. We drive each other crazy but miss the heck out of each other when we’re apart.
I’ve returned home to 17 zillion requests for results, so before I say a thing about Saturday night here are the winners of the 2011 WAG Awards:
Best Volunteer: Vivian Glucksmann-Weiss
Best Club/Studio: D’Amico Dance Studio (Damon and Lisa, Texas)
Best International Event: UK Championships
Best Event Under 500: Desert City
Best International Dancer: Maxence Martin
Best Junior Couple: Rome and Chevy
Best Swing Ambassador(s): Jordan and Tatiana
Best Female Novice/Intermediate Dancer: Alyssia Bishop
Best Male Nov/Intermediate Dancer: David Guido
Best Female Advanced/Allstar Dancer: Yenni Setiawan
Best Male Advanced/Allstar Dancer: Ben McHenry
Best DJ: Victor Loveira
Best Routine 1983 – 2000: Robert and Laureen, “Fever”
Best Routine of the Decade: Kyle and Sarah, “Johnny Be Goode”
Best Female Teacher: Tatiana
Best Male Teacher: Mario
Best Jack and Jill: John Lindo and Melissa Rutz
Best Strictly: Robert Royston and Jill Dumarco
Best Masters Couple: Chips and Janice
Best Showcase Couple: Benji and Torri
Best Classic Couple: Jordan and Tatiana
Best Event: SwingDiego
Best Event Director: Earl and Parker
Lots and lots to tell about these Awards, the speeches, the whole night …
But first I have to unpack so in two days we can re-pack and fly up to Boston for Summer Hummer!
1. Kris and Rebecca
2. Ben and Cameo
3. Ed and MacKenzie
4. Josh and Katherine
5. Steven Van Nguyen and Carla Romine Haggm
6. Sean and Courtney
7. Mike and Angie
8. Michael O’Connor and Linda Cuccio
9. Cooper and Jessica
1. Greg and Lemery
2. Rob and Connie
3. Stephen and Sabrina
4. Doug and Angel Jenkins
5. Ben and Tara
6. JB and Sara Krezinski
7. Hugo and Brianne
1. David and Skye
2. Brandon and Melissa
3. Pierre and Sammi
4. Chris and Morgan
5. Brandon and Trista
6. Stephen and Louise
7. Derek and Angie
8. George and Sunshine
9. David Gontier and Maria
10. Jonathan Uy and Cheryl
1. Brandon and Maria
2. Steven Guido and Skye
3. Jonathan and Louise
4. Brendan and Sammi
5. David and Trista
6. David Teague and Renae Teague
7. Olivier and Morgan
8. Joel and Caroline
1. Sheven and Na’Kedra
2. CJ and Liana
3. Mike and Monica
4. Benjamin and Erica
5. Steven Van Nguy and Jessica
6. Alex and Heather
7. Jesse Vos and Sara
8. Thomas and Carla
9. Wayne and Auntonya
1. Greg and Sabrina
2. Scott and MacKenzie
3. JB and Rebecca
4. Clint and Cameo
5. Kris and Courtney
6. Michael O’Connor and Alyssa
7. Steven Guido and Lemery
8. Stephen White and Tori
9. Josh and Taylor
10. Daniel and Angie
1. Ben and Alyssa
2. Sean and Tori
3. Clint and Rebecca
4. Kris and Courtney
5. Greg and Sabrina
6. Daniel and Katrina Ostrenski
7. JB and Alissia
8. Brad and Angeline
9. Steven Guido and Lee Ann
10. Stephen Hall and Tara
1. S Factor
2. Boom Boom Girls
3. Floor Play
4. D Troupe