Lone Star Championships 2010

Looks like all the news was coming out of Austin this weekend with the third Annual Lone Star Championships.   Run by Tena Morales and Scott Angelius, this event is meant to be a more relaxed competition weekend with an emphasis on social dance contests such as Jack & Jill’s and Strictly comps.

I didn’t go, but that won’t stop me from saying a few words and gratuitously mention that <plug> I work for Tena on the International Lindy Hop Championships happening this year August 19th-22nd, 2010.  Registration opening soon!</end plug>

Smaller scale competition events like Lone Star Championships are useful places for newer competitors to get a taste of what it’s like to be in the spotlight.  There’s also the added benefit of doing it with the support of all your friends cheering you on.

I think one of the reasons why DC emerged as such a strong scene earlier in the decade was because of events like the Virginia State Open where people like Nina Gilkenson and Naomi Uyama cut their competition teeth before taking their show to a more national audience. Plus little big events like this are a good excuse to get everyone in a local scene together with some nearby friends.

The interesting twist at Lone Star this year is that the event attracted bigger names than I thought it would when it first started a couple of years ago, but that’s what you get when you run a great event.  The lack of any performance divisions does leave plenty of time to have multiple levels for the J & J’s and the Strictly’s, so newcomers don’t have to step into the same competition floor with veteran performers and instructors.

This allows them to let even the dancers in intermediate level J & J get spotlight dances.  That’s not necessarily something you would see at a bigger national level event.

The only place where not having multiple levels was an issue was in the Blues and Solo comps.  Since Lone Star is a Lindy-centric competition, it’s not necessarily a big deal, but it does make it difficult for intermediate/advanced dancers to get a shot at the finals when they’re running up against the likes of Juan Villafane or Evita Arce and Jeramie Anderson.  Although I will say Evita and Jeramie along with Alice Mei & Mikey Pedroza absolutely slayed the blues contest.

Not sure if they can do anything about this short of creating more divisions.  It’s always a balancing act with those sorts of decisions because you don’t want to shaft the social dancing time especially with live bands.  Regardless, tt’s a nice problem to have, and it’s hard to complain about quality dancing.

Speaking of live music, the two bands that played, Giant City on Friday night and the special Austin’s All Star Jazz Band on Saturday sounded great from what I’ve seen and heard on the YouTube clips.

I really enjoyed the trumpet and trombone players in the Blues contest.  Everyone sounded great actually, but those two especially reminded me of Bubber Miley and Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton during Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club era band.

Austin has quite a rep as a music town, but I’ve rarely heard anything about the bands that play for the dancers down there.  I hope to hear these guys in person some day.

From my vantage point viewing the event through the magic of the interwebs, it looks like all the competitions were pretty entertaining.  I think the decision to have the invitational J & J danced to two songs, the first a classic swing song and the other a choice of either a neo-swing tune or a “Hot Club Jam” (not a Django reference) is a great way to take the edge off of the competitive atmosphere and make the big name dancers more accessible to everyone else.

I do have the sneaking suspicion that the Hot Club Jam selected for Nina Gilkenson (Also runs ILHC and wants you to register soon) and Peter Strom was not a random selection.

As I mentioned, there were no choreographed performance competitions, but there were a few special performances.  I did appreciate Led Feet’s performance to an easy swinging version of “Exactly Like You.”  The formations and the men’s attire were very reminiscent of the National Shag Dance Team stuff I used to see at the old North Atlantic Dance Championships back in the day.  I’m glad we’re getting away from the idea that every Lindy Hop routine has to be raw and crazy, danced to a song from the Swing Kids soundtrack.

Also, video of Evita Arce and Michale Jaegger’s Singin’ In The Rain performance made it passed the copyright police.  Check it out while you still have a chance.

I’ll put together video compilations later this week for everyone’s ease of access and I’ll also post results when I get them.  In the mean time I’ll leave you with a small taste.

Thanks to the following YouTubers for putting up their videos

floridave1

LindyLibrary

walkinspiral

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4 Comments

  1. Andrew said,

    January 21, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Typing is nerd redundant. works great 🙂

  2. Kevin said,

    January 21, 2010 at 1:25 am

    They’re actually “Superclub Jams”. Similar to Hot Club Jams, but more super.

    This weekend was really amazing. I had as much at this event as I would at any really big event, if not more, and the relaxed atmosphere actually inspired more creativity and energy in social dancing, jams, competitions, and in plain old socializing, IMHO. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotations: “If an archer shoots for fun, he has all his skill. If he shoots for a new bow, he has half. If he shoots for a gold bar, he goes blind or sees two targets!” Being in a relaxed atmosphere really let me have a better experience than usual. It was like fun party weekend with friends rather than competition learn all you can weekend with peers. Thumbs up

  3. Breanna said,

    January 21, 2010 at 1:48 am

    I had a freakin blast in Austin and at Lonestar. I have to say I didn’t love all the bands, but Giant City Sextet was absolutely wonderful. The social dancing was top notch through the whole event, and I really appreciated the social aspect that extended past all the dancing–there was basically a separate room that turned into a games room at some point. We played Fluxx, there was Jungle Speed, and I think Bananagrams made an appearance as well.

    Extra kudos to Scott and Tena for such an amazing time. My own review will be going up soon.

  4. Alice said,

    January 22, 2010 at 5:07 am

    BANANAGRAMS! It’s is taking over the world. Just so you know.


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