ILHC 2009-Wrappin’ It Up

Sorry about the delay.  After I posted on Sunday, I didn’t have a whole lot of time plus the cold I was trying to fight off finally got to me.

The rest of the event itself went incredibly well.  Saturday night comps ended with Cabaret which was a great show with lots of different kinds of acts.

I was able to catch my breath once the comps were done, and even got to spend some quality time with Carla Heiney.  She was one of my first teachers when she lived in DC many moons ago, so it was great to spend quite a long time catching up with her.

For me, ILHC has a bit of a family reunion vibe to it.  DC has been home to so many great dancers over the years, that it takes a big event to get them back together.  I think that shared “heritage” helps to take the edge off the competition part of the event.

After that, I started my only social dance DJ’ing of the weekend a little after 4 am.  I was originally listed to DJ more, but I asked Mike Marcotte to keep me in reserve because I was going to be pretty busy all weekend running the event.  Mike mixed in a little bit during my set, but I pretty much took over and told him to go to bed.

Hard at work left to right:  Rayned Wiles, Allen Kerr, Mike Marcotte

Hard at work left to right: Rayned Wiles, Allen Kerr, Mike Marcotte

He deserved some rest.  Mike and Allen Kerr put in a ton of work on the competitions.  Not just selecting music for the social dancing comps (Reuben Brown chipped in by selecting the music for the Champions Strictly and the Invitational J & J) , but also their prep work for all the routine divisions.

That’s not just a matter of pressing play on a CD player.  It includes tracking down  dozens of competitors to get their music, listening to them all the way through, getting competitors to listen before the comps to confirm the correct music, ripping it onto their laptop to have a back up, and getting precise instructions when to start and stop the music.

They went 40 for 40 with performances all weekend without any music related mishaps.

My only DJ shift went until about 6:00 am.  I thought it was weird that people kept asking me why the dance kept going after 5 am.  I know that’s what it said on the schedule, but I’m not sure why people would be so suprised that I didn’t stop.

I would have kept going except the Mad Hoppers from North Carolina came in to practice for the team division.  That’s just cruel in my opinion.  I’m not sure any Lindy Hop comp is worth bailing on social dancing and waking up that early.

I would have gone to bed except there was still a big crowd of people hanging out in the lobby.  Some were playing music while many others were just chatting.  I think I was down there for another hour before I came to my senses and went to bed.

Sunday’s competitions went well.  We suffered our only significant delay of the weekend when we decided at the last minute to remove the stage to give the teams more room.  Once we did that, the teams had to re-block their routines on the floor which is why we delayed opening the ballrooom.  We didn’t run too late, and the lack of a Juniors’ division helped to get us back on time once we got to the Advanced J & J finals at 4:30 pm.

The Invitational J & J was a fun way to cap the competitions.  As I mentioned before, we took fewer people this year because it was super long last year.  That didn’t stop people from lobbying to get in.  Sorry, but we can’t take everyone as much as we’d like to.

The upside is that we were able to showcase the best of the best in our scene.  I didn’t realize we were doing this, but the contest was set up so leaders randomly selected a follower and a song.  I thought that was a nice way of ensuring a bit more randomness to the proceedings.

Still, it would have been nicer if some people didn’t draw their regular partners, but when you get to that level, there aren’t many people that these dancers haven’t performed, competed, or taught with at some point in their dancing careers.

After that contest, we closed the ballroom to give people time to grab a meal and allow us to get ready for awards.

Peter kicked things off with some nice words about Frankie Manning.  I was actually surprised by the number of people who stayed for awards.  Just about everyone who placed was there to pick up their handsome, yet hefty trophies and checks.

After awards, I decided to ambush Tena in the judges room with some embarrassing old dance footage while all the judges were there.  This turned into an almost 3 hour marathon of video watching.  It was fun to see everyone’s reactions to seeing themselves “back in the day,” and getting to hear all kinds of cool stories.

There was this weird phenomena where every once in awhile we would see a clip of a dancer, and then suddenly that person would walk into the room.  It was a little freaky.

We watched lots of jam footage from old events, and it was interesting to see hpw many of the dancers who would get out there back then are still active today.  Most of them were even at ILHC.  If I had time, it would be interesting to see what kind of correlation there is between willingness to look bad to longevity in the scene.

This respite was nice since it gave me some time to recover a bit of energy to dance during Peter’s soul set.  There’s a thin line between cliche and tradition, but this is one I enjoy every time it happens.  The whole soul trend started when Peter dj’d after parties for Tena at Lindyfest many years ago, so I think it’s only appropriate that it caps ILHC.

I danced the #&%@ out of that last set.  This was the only time I danced in any significant amount all weekend.  It was a great way to end the weekend for me at least.  Peter busted out “All The Single Ladies” towards the end and got Karen Turman and a whole bunch of other people to do the routine, before ending with a jam to “Poison.”

The floor people were already in the process of taking apart the dance floor as the song ended.  We were pretty much packed up within two hours.  I was technically “supervising,” but I spent most of my time bidding farewell to friends or otherwise debriefing the event with anyone who didn’t want to go to bed.

Other than a few people waiting for their early morning flights, the ballroom and lobby areas were clear by the time I went to bed around 6:00 am.


  1. Armand said,

    September 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for allowing those who can not go to ILHC to live it a bit through your posts. What a pitty you did not explain the reaction of dancers during the whole Nick & Carla J’N’J spotlight! (Even easily if we can imagine…)
    Hope you will be at ULHS to make us live it!

    • Jerry said,

      September 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      You’re welcome.

      I actually thought about talking about that Nick & Carla thing, but it was getting late and my post already pretty long. For those of you who don’t know, Nick had a sweat stain on the back of his pants perfectly shaped as a heart. Honestly I thought the reaction was a little overblown, but some people wouldn’t let it go. Props to Nick & Carla for not letting that distract them from winning.

      As for ULHS, I’d like to go, but I lack the resources and time off to make it happen this year. Maybe next.

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