US Open Swing Dance Championships 2009 Reactions

Yet another event I didn’t go to that I can comment thanks to the generosity of the interwebs.

First off, I’m impressed.  Leave it to the westies to get results and videos online the very next morning after the this year’s US Open Swing Dance Championships ended.

We didn’t send any Lindy Hoppers this year, but DC still represented big time with the DC Hand Dancers winning the Strictly Swing Challenge.  That contest caps the entire event,  pitting the winners of all the Strictly divisions (West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Hand Dance, and Shag) up against each other.

DC locals Tiara D.K. McCoy from Suitland, MD and Randy Portis from Washington, DC also won the Junior Strictly Swing division and Xavier Young (DC) took second in the All Star/Advanced Jack & Jill

Congrats to Shesha Marvin and Sarah Breck for winning the Strictly Lindy Hop division.  Also props to the California Rolls and Kim Clever & David Frutos for repping Lindy and winning their respective divisions.

I met Kim & David at ILHC last year.  Very cool people.  They’re not afraid to go out there against dancers that they know are younger and better than them in Lindy Hop competitions just to for the sake of representing.  I wish  more people out there had that kind of attitude instead of competing or performing just to market themselves.

I’m becoming a big fan of the Brennar Gorree & Torri Smith.  Brennar is almost local, hailing from Virginia Beach, VA.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them ascend directly into top tier of the West Coast scene once they grow out of the young adult division in the same way Ben Morris and Melina Ramirez did not too long ago.

Probably the most interesting development was seeing Tatiana Mollman and Jordan Frisbee’s winning performance in the Classic division.  That they won is no surprise, but its interesting to see them do it with a routine that they’ve been performing for the past year.

Typically, couples debut their routines at the US Open since the event is  treated like their Superbowl.  It’s the Big Dance in every sense of the word.   However, it looks like Jordan & Tatiana did the exact opposite this year and performed a piece that they debuted after US Open last year.

It does make some sense, since it gives them all year to polish and tweak everything, so they have their best performance at the biggest event in West Coast Swing.

As you can see from this year’s video, there’s the added tangential bonus that the crowd gets super into the performance, magnifying every movement with their excitement because they know what’s coming.  It reminds me of a band that does its one huge song that gets everyone to sing along.

I wondered briefly if it’ll catch on to the other competitors, but the more I think about it, only a couple like Jordan & Tatiana could really pull something like that off year to year.

I’m curious whether this is a new strategy by Tatiana and Jordan or is it a deliberate snub of US Open itself.  Two years ago, the judges at US Open 2007 made a big deal about emphasizing swinging music at the open and other events. They even went as far as to penalize competitors that used contemporary pop music for their routines.  Jordan and Tatiana were reputedly among the casualties and came in second with this routine.

I’m not sure how everything was settled, but Tatiana and Jordan came back and performed the same exact routine the following year and came in first place.

The routine that they won with this year debuted shortly after last year’s US Open.  Snub?  Strategic shift?  Coincidental timing?  Anyone plugged into the West Coast scene want to chime in?


  1. Bryn said,

    December 1, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Torri Smith is absolutely incredible.

  2. Alice said,

    December 2, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Those Hand Dancers OWNED. The whole competition was badass. They came into the lindy room both Friday and Saturday and stayed until it closed learning as much from as as we learned from them. I’m so inspired not only by their dancing but by their open mindedness to come in and enjoy our little culture.

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