ILHC 2009: The Stuff is Here

The Friday night and Saturday day activities at ILHC are in the books.  Great music from the band and the DJ’s and awesome dancing from the competitors.

We had workshops through the day before the evening events started.  I was able to sit in on Sylvia Sykes’  “What Judges Look For” workshop which drew a pretty big crowd in the main ballroom.

I didn’t really take notes, so I don’t want to put any words into Sylvia’s mouth.  But I think that if anyone there was looking for the secret to doing well in competitions, they would have been sorely disappointed. However, it was a very pragmatic and insightful look into the other side of competitions.

The ballroom opened unceremoniously right at 8:00 pm, but filled up much faster than it did the night before.  Of course, the Open Strictly Lindy Hop preliminary round started at 8:30 pm, and that had a huge number of couples.

The division featured two big heats which went off without a hitch.  Despite the size, having fewer heats made it easier for judges to compare dancers with each other.

Apparently there was some sort of mis-communication with the band who thought they were starting at 10:30 pm.  It wasn’t a problem, since we had the impeccable Rayned Wiles behind he booth to carry us through to the Strictly Balboa prelims at 10:00 pm.

Again, Sylvia decided on have one huge heat with longer songs to check out all the dancers at one time.  Having the sole heat also saved us time in wrangling dancers on and off the floor, which is usually like herding cats anyway.

The Brooks Tegler Quintet sounded great, but people had issues with the tempo and length of many of their selections even if they remained true to the original recordings.

The Classic division was the main show for the evening.  I’m not going to bother recapping them simply because they’re all already onlineIn fact, Skye and Frida’s routine popped up on YouTube before the Friday night dance was over.

When Skye rolled into town on Wednesday, I asked him if he was going to perform anything this weekend.  He mentioned that he wanted to put something together with Frida .  He seemed pretty excited to put something out there for ILHC.

They only had a couple vague ideas when she when she flew in Thursday evening.  I didn’t see them at all at the Thursday dance as they worked through the night.  They actually taught part of the routine for their class on Friday morning, which Skye had trouble remembering.

24 hours after Frida landed, I saw them run through their routine during the floor trials before the evening dance.  It made me exited to see them perform it.

I got a little concerned when they didn’t check in at the beginning of the Classic division,  and ended up missing the first couple of routines.  Turned out they were just in the next door ballroom running through their piece.  After I found them I just sat back and enjoyed the rest of the performances, including theirs.

After the excitement of the Classic division, we still had the Solo Charleston division.  We started off with a big heat with our judges eventually tapping in 8 finalists.

It wasn’t intentional, but the finalists consisted of everyone from the Killer Dillers plus Hurley Francois.

Mike Marcotte and Allen Kerr had actually selected a song that would have fit eight dancers dancing to two sets of eight 8’s perfectly.  It was a nice try except a few dancers either stayed longer or came in a little late.  Nathan Bugh had to have his last spotlight to the final all skate song.

The Killer Dillers tried out a few of their partnered spots.  Some more successful than others, but it definitely gave the contest a different flavor than other previous solo contests.

This solo contests also differs in that it was judged by our judges instead of the audience, so we won’t find out the winner until Sunday with the other results.

This afternoon’s contests included the prelims for the Open J & J, the Advanced J & J, the Pro-Am, and the Balboa J & J.  Everything went well.  Lots of competitors for every division.

I was especially impressed with the Advanced J & J because it was filled with a ton of people that would normally be in the Champions or Invitational contests of other events.  We’re being pretty selective for our Invitational J & J because it ran super long last year.  Needless to say, the caliber of dancers here is pretty high.

Unfortunately, there is no junior division this year, but we do have a team of teens from Austin, TX which performed just before the Pro-Am division.  Peter Strom dubbed  them “Boom, There Goes the Dynamite.”  Lots of great energy during a really tight performance.  I hope to see them again at future ILHC’s.

Pro-Am’s were pretty impressive.  Very high quality dancing from both the pro’s and the amateurs all throughout.  Peter made a good point that those two terms seem to have pretty ambiguous meanings in the Lindy Hop community, but I would also agree with him that that is a good thing.  I missed out on the Balboa J & J to grab some dinner.

So I’m just finishing this up in the lobby as the sun sets over the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel.  Chatting with Alice, the person behind The Rantings of a Lindy Hopper.  Some people from southern California are practicing in the corner.  I also hear Mike Faltesek’s disembodied voice coming from somewhere.  DC’s Charleston team, The Cherry Blossoms, just came out from the practice for the cabaret routine tonight.

Gotta go and get changed for tonight’s dance with the Boilermaker Jazz Band.  Comps include the Champion’s Strictly Lindy Hop prelims and finals, the finals of the Open Strictly, the Showcase division, and the Cabaret.  Looks like another fun night.


  1. Alice said,

    September 1, 2009 at 9:07 am

    HAHA. I think everyone missed the Balboa J&J for food. It’s only fun for the people in it…
    Thanks for mentioning my blog, BTW! The whole weekend was super fun and I’m so glad I got to meet you!

  2. July 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    […] agree more but I can’t really explain why. The routine certainly doesn’t make me feel excited to watch it. Reading informed criticism opens your eyes to aspects of the dance that you might not […]

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