I want to tell you about the ballroom!
Innovative new layout:
Rather than the floor being laid parallel to the walls of the room, as always, they tried a new idea this year (because New Ideas is what they do) and it was wonderfully successful.
Floor, backdrop, and audience were set at a 45° angle to the walls.
You entered the room just behind a small bank of risers, turned a corner, and Boom! You’re entered another world. Almost like a planetarium, with sparkling white stars under a black night sky.
The brightly lit floor reaching out into the shadows at the far corner.
A series of white drapes adorned with necklaces of shimmering white lights hung from the vaulted ceiling high above, drapes and lights cascading down to elegant folds at the bottom, held with tiebacks in spots to allow you to peek through to the dim “bar and lounge” area behind the curtains.
(What a brilliant way to rethink the ubiquitous ballroom bar! Competitors wait backstage to enter the floor, right there in the “lounge,” along with anyone else who wants to relax at a table with a glass of wine, watching the action from behind the scenes.)
The audience arranged at small round tables along the front edge of the floor, behind these chairs fanning out in orchestra-seating style.
Brilliant lighting. Three banks of six spotlights on all but the fourth wall,* illuminating the stage with a beautiful color of white that felt like the recessive cool of moonlight. The color conveying – on a visual, emotional, and symbolic level – the concept and the feel of the event.**
Vendors were located in the far, dark corners of the room, almost as if sitting along the shadowy side-streets of an open-air market at night.
This design was brilliant. And strangely enough, it felt round.
I say “strangely” because they actually did try, the first year, a theater-in-the-round style (Here’s a description and comments) which, if anything, felt even more square than normal ballrooms.
But the layout this year felt round somehow. It made you feel encircled, like the invisible ring around a campfire makes you feel encircled, part of an intimate experience, a shared circle of light with night darkness beyond.
The configuration worked magic in that it achieved both the dramatic excitement of stage and theater; and at the same time, an intimacy – as if you’d been invited to a private penthouse party in some secret location.
As for the pool …
SO MUCH FUN!
A full day of laughing, relaxing, doing nothing and taking all day to do it.
Just having all day Saturday to hang out and finish conversations you started seven years ago. And real life conversations in real life lounge chairs with friends from other continents you only talk to on facebook or in 140-character bursts.
A entire day playing with friends. That’s was the vibe at the pool. No lonely souls sitting along the edges looking awkward or out of place, no unhappy or even bored expressions. Not a one, and I kept looking all day. Everyone was smiling, chatting, stretched out, sloppy, no makeup, no shoes, no hurrying. Eating, splashing, meandering, and laughing. Lots of laughing.
It felt like a lazy, easy, family barbeque.
With music. Sarah’s “Booty Music!” Perfect for a day at a Vegas pool party. Similar to the thumpin’ tracks floating up to my room from the private pool (“The Pond”) every day from daybreak till dark. Similar – but way better. Sarah’s got an ear! And she must have one humongous music collection spanning decades of funk.
(Maybe she’ll put out a CD! “DeeJay Sarah – Booty Music For A Vegas Pool Party.” I want that CD.)
This year we were down at the other end of the pool. I liked it better. Our area felt more contained than the last two years when we were up near the entrance and “The Pond” (which, by the way, are there rumors that we’re renting the entire Pond next year?) This year it felt busier in the pool, more of us in the water than last year, it seemed like.
The pool is about 12′ wide and looooooong. Like a bowling alley. In a complex of multi-level tile and sand-bottomed pools with terraces of disappearing-edge waterfalls flowing one down into another; architectural bridges and alcoves; angled patios laden with sofas, daybeds, rattans, and overstuffed lounge-chairs; jacuzzis; gardens; a three-acre vineyard; a poolside café and bar; and a luxury spa.
And large raised canopy-like structures across the terrazza, containing high square beds with mounds of giant pillows, which you have to climb up into. Oases of shade and semi-privacy, like Bedouin tent-dwellings stretched out across a wide Saharan concrete desert.
At night – with only the golden lights flickering down from the turrets, pilasters, and columns on the towers looming above; the glowing lights along the stone balustrades of the giant marble balcony and grand staircase; and the low lights shimmering deep down underwater in the pools – in the quiet of night these structures would house small groups of families and friends whispering softly in the night breeze, couples cuddled together to watch the palm fronds wave under the moon, or a lone night reader propped up on pillows with a glass of wine and a book.)***
Running alongside our party-pool was the row of cabanas we dancers had rented. Sea-green and aqua-blue striped canvas roofs and matching couches and pillows, in every cabana a refrigerator, ice machine, counter for preparing food, and a complete sound system with multiple audio input ports and adapters for any kind of device. Every cabana bustling with groups of dancers laughing, hanging out, eating, drinking.
Between the cabanas and the pool a narrow sidewalk as wide as one person, like a pathway through a busy marketplace, a steady stream of dancers and waitresses in bikinis squeezing past each other in both directions, all day.
Lot of cute baseball caps, funny t-shirts, adorable sunglasses, mumus and sarongs, trunks and bathing suits of every variety from Victorian Modesty to Vegas Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny-What’s-The-Point-Of-That-Bikini. Drinks served in the water so most everyone floating around balancing chilly glasses in fruity colors with limes and straws (and by the way – they make a delicious Sangria here – not too sweet, some lovely wine with loads of fresh fruit – best I’ve ever tasted.)
Down at the end, under the lifeguard and SinCity banner, a huge black inflatable beer-pong raft where a crowd was gathered much of the day, hooting, hollering, cheering, – all those impossible types that simply cannot restrain themselves from competing no matter where you put them – Kyle, Tara, Peter Fradley, Stephanie, Torri, Rome, Samir, Maxime, Wayne, Taylor…
And all day … Parker and Earl in cowboy hats and shades and Nathan in neither … all three wandering in and out of cabanas, in and out of the pool, greeting, hugging, laughing … presiding over everything, and everyone, like proud uncles.
Lots more to tell!
- Shay’s Tab
- A Wedding!
- New Innovations Next Year
- Comp Music and Hot New Social-Dance Songs, and …
- some Verrrry Funny Stories …
* I’ve heard dancers complain about front lighting – the inability to see the audience, the heat of the lamps – all those things actors learn to live with. Also heard judges and EDs complain about front lighting making our competitions feel too much like “performance” rather than “social.” Speaking as an audience member I love gorgeous stage lighting – front, or 3-wall, whatever, especially if it’s a beautiful color as it was at SinCity (City of Angels also comes to mind.)
** Don’t laugh at my obsession with lighting. I heard three independent, unsolicited comments recently – complaints, actually – about lighting at events. I like to ask people, “You guys having fun? What are your highlights? Favorite moments? Any thoughts or opinions?” To my surprise I heard “poor lighting,” as I say, three different times, mentioned as a factor affecting the energy level and feel of the ballroom. (Until now I’d thought it was only photographers and a few event directors who even noticed, much less cared, about details like lighting. But maybe not.)
*** All this gorgeous design the creation of hipster Michael Czyz, who also designed the estate of Lenny Kravitz, the Moet campaign, and other award winning contemporary projects.