Boston Tea Party Swings 2010

The modern Lindy Hop community used to spend a lot of time at West Coast Swing crossover events.  The American Swing Dance Championships , The Virginia State Open, North Atlantic Dance Championships, Swingin’ New England, Swing Fling, Summer Hummer, Boogie By The Bay, and of course, The US Open.  ASDC ended in 1998.  NADC in 2004.  Lindy participation in other events has been steadily on the decline to the point where some those events are eliminating Lindy from their schedule altogether; Swingtime In The Rockies being the most recent example.

The lone exception has been The Boston Tea Party whose crossover aspect really took off after NADC folded.  I used to love going to crossover events when I first started, but this weekend was my first Tea Party.

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DCLX Interview & Boston Tea Party Results

My interview with DCLX is up.  Check it out here.  I’m not so sure about this whole “Wise Learned Person” deal, but I think I can be pretty amusing when the mood strikes me.

The event itself is in less than two weeks.  Go ahead and register.  I’ll DJ and you’ll have fun.  Trust me.

I had a great time up at Boston Tea Party.  I’m working on my Boston Tea Party post, which I’ll put up within the next day or so.  In the meantime, you can check out their website for results from all of the competitions.  Congratulations to everyone!

Boston, I will be

I apologize for the lack of updates this week.  Been a short but busy week at work, since I had to cram a lot of stuff in before I head up to the Boston Tea Party.  If you’re lucky, I might update from there.  Even if I don’t I’ve been working on a special project that will spawn many an interesting posts.  I also have a good part from Ramona to follow up her first installment of “Looking Back,” so you have that to look forward to as well.

I’m also sorry to say that I haven’t had much of a chance to work on “Artistry in Rhythm.” I have an outline of the re-write done, and although I’ll be using big chunk of stuff I already wrote for it, it’ll probably be some time before I finish it.

In the mean time, I’m making plans to re-post the multi-part epic that was my brain dump of Frankie95, so be on the look out for that.

As for the DCLX interview I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  There’s been a delay because it’s been deemed too sensitive for the family friendly DCLX website, so it had to undergo some editing.  It should be up on that site within the next couple of weeks; probably before DCLX on April 9-11 I would think.  An unedited version may be leaked to the public in a yet to be disclosed location . . .

Until all that fun happens, have a good weekend, and I’ll leave you with your Friday moment of video zen.  Watch Josh Welter’s tribute to Peter Strom in this year’s Savoy Swing Jam Jack & Jill finals in Seattle a couple of weekends ago.  You won’t have to wait very long since it happens right at the begining.

btw, he and his partner won that contest.

Weekly Video Highlights: Lindyfest 2010 with Bonus Footage

I’ve discovered that one of the barometers to measure the quality of an event is to see how many videos, how high quality they are and how fast they’re posted after the event is over.  On all counts, Lindyfest from a few weeks ago wins.

It took a little while for me to sort through them all because they’re all really good.  There’s at least three videos of every performance and jam.   I recommend  going over to Jo Hoffberg’s blog where she posted the Houston Swing Dance Society’s own videos from the event.  They had a a few camera’s going and were able to pick up the performances from some cool angles.

In addition to Lindyfest and a few other events around the Houston area, HSDS was one of the primary sponsors of last year’s mega-event, Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival.  The entire community owes them a huge debt of gratitude for the sacrifices the organization and its members made in order to make that event happen.

Here’s a video of one of Frankie’s last public appearances at last year’s Lindyfest.  It’s amazing to see the energy he had even at that point.

Thanks to all these YouTube users for posting their videos.  Check them out for more of the good stuff:

Instructor Jam

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Frida=Awesome and Other Performance Observations

The reason why I like watching good dancing is because there’s so much room for interpretation of subtleties and details.  You can watch the same thing over and over again, but still see something new.  Bad dancing just just gives me a headache from the the static of unclear intentions.

My friend Ann Mony (who’s website is imminent according to my sources) pointed out an interesting tidbit at 2:00 in this recent performance by Frida Segerdahl and Skye Humphries at Lindyfest last weekend.   At 2:00 she waves for Skye to come over and join her.

Ann was drawing a parallel to this performance of Skye & Frida at the American Lindy Hop Championships in 2006 where Skye forgets the choreography at 2:40.  He starts to swingout when he shouldn’t and not only does Frida not follow him, but she signals him to come back and laughs it off.

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Event Promotion Amusingness

I’m a little backed up writing wise.  I have a couple of Philippine travel posts to finish.  Plus, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Lindy Hop events recently.  I’ll be sharing the the reason for that in a future blog post.  In the meantime I thought I’d point out a couple of amusing little things I’ve found.

This is probably the most unique theme I’ve found from the Vintage Swing Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  Although the prom king and queen thing may be a bit much.

“This years THEME will be in spirit of characters from literaly work of Slovenian greatest poet FRANCE PREŠEREN : URŠKA in POVODNI MOŽ (Beautifull Ursula & the King of the Depths).

Ursula was the most beautiful girl in Ljubljana (she really had to be very pretty) and she loved to flirt and dance with all the men and gave them false hope, so they would worshipe her, bring her gifts and amuse her . But she just played with their emotions and nobody was good enough for her, untill one day there was a big dance on the main square ( PREŠERNOV TRG ) and the beautifull man showed up and every woman wanted to dance with him. He was the sexiest of all the men and he danced like a god. He came to invite her to dance with him. As they danced the passion started to build up and the wind and thunder started to acompany the music.

They danced like a hurricane and danced into the river Ljubljanica and than probably on to the sea to his kingdom, while his true indentity was revealed: he was the KING of the DEPTHS.

Nobody has seen them since, BUT we will follow their footsteps/dance steps and MAYBE we can unravel the 150 years old mystery!!

Not much has changed since than. Girls of Ljubljana are still famous for being one of the prettiest girls and guys from Slovenia really dance like dancing on the thunder.We will dance on the same square ( Prešernov trg ), we will travel to the Slovenian sea side, to check if they are there and we will learn the moves of the THUNDER DANCE that they danced! We will also choose the prettiest girl(Ursula) and the prettiest guy (King of the Depths) of the festival, kind like the prom king&queen but in a more fun way! Aside of having tones of fun, getting to know new moves, new friends try traditional slovenian food & wine we will also see beautiful city of Ljubljana + Slovenian coast.”

Now that I think about it, what would you rather be known as?   International Lindy Hop Champion or “King of the Depths?”

Next up is this little write up on CNN Asia of all places for the Hong Kong Swing Festival back in January.  This sentence under the description for Peter Vawter & Jandi Kim made me laugh.

“The video beneath showcases a tiny Korean lady dancing with a huge man.”

Oddly enough the two videos beneath that line are of Jandi dancing with two different tall guys named Peter.  The second one is one of my favorites of with Peter Strom.  His reaction to being hijacked at 1:45 is priceless.

Lastly, the pic of Steven Mitchell for Swingfest in St.Petersburg, Russia (on the left side of that web page) is the definition of awesome.

Weekly Video Review: Crazy Rhythm Challenge 2010

Those crazy French put on the Crazy Rhythm Challenge in Toulouse France  a couple of weekends ago.  Lot’s of good stuff posted by Teedee Hop.    You can find more videos over on their YouTube page here.

Alf & Eli

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Flashback with Ramona Staffeld: Minnie’s Moochers at the 1998 ALHC

This is the first of hopefully many installments of a special feature that I’m doing with Ramona Staffeld. We’re going to be looking at some very old school clips of her past performances and getting her reactions. Like a DVD director’s commentary except for Lindy Hop clips.  The first one is from the 1998 American Lindy Hop Championships.  Everything after the video below is written by her with a few hopefully helpful edits from me.   Enjoy!

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Feeling My Way Around

 The idea that roosters only crow at dawn is a damn dirty lie.  They pretty much crow whenever they feel like it, which seems to be any part of the day or night.  It’s something you notice when you’re trying to sleep at any part of the day or night.

It took me a little while to notice that my sleep schedule pretty much resembles what it’s like when I’m at a dance weekend.  I start to crash at about 7:00-8:00 pm local time which is about 6 or 7 am EST, and I wake up about 5 hours later which is roughly the early afternoon back in DC.   I don’t get comfortable sleeping in strange places and I’m usually attuned to getting up early for work anyway.  The result is that there’s a big chunk of time when I’m awake and no one else is around.

Yes there are roosters about.  It’s hard to describe this area; it’s a mash up of rural, suburban, and urban elements.  I’m in my parent’s home in Mangaldan, a municipality in the province of Pangasinan.  They grew up here.  My father’s old house is down the street actually, still occupied by one of my cousins.  My mother is from a barangay of Mangaldan called Osiem.  In the terms most of my friends can understand: Pangasinan=state, Mangaldan=city, Osiem=barangay=Ward (if you live in DC or a burough in New York City)

Comparing Mangaldan to a city is a bit misleading.  It’s really comprised of two a few major intersecting roads, but the sheer density of people here suggests something more urban.  It’s as if you crammed inner city slums next to the most extravagant houses found in upper NW Washington, DC along a street layout reserved for a small rural town, and is  periodically broken up by new, walled suburban sub-divisions. 

The nice houses belong to the retiring baby boomers like my parents returning home after working decades abroad.  My parents’ home is comparable to the Jam Cellar mansion back in DC.  If it was actually located there, it would probably be valued at a cool million dollars, but having it built from scratch here only cost them a very tiny fraction of that.

Their home is located in a gated community, but it’s fairly common to see brand new huge mansions built next to homes assembled from corrigated alumninum siding held together by chicken wire and duct tape.

Despite the massive gap between rich and poor, there is very little crime.  Probably due to the familiarity of the returning retirees to the locals.  There’s also a culutral deference to elders ingrained in Philippine society.  Plus the retirees employ a large number of locals who build and maintain these homes.  My parents have a gardener and a woman who cleans the house once a week; something they would never be able to afford back in New Jersey.   But they don’t employ just anyone as my mother is able to point out some vague family relation to everyone that comes by to help out.

On our way to visit my grandfather, we stopped at one of my aunt’s estate.  Her home is just a small two bedroom bungalo, but the grounds resemble a small resort  including an enormous swimming pool complete with faux-rock water feature and areas marked out for future basketball and tennis courts.  She’s not in the country currently, but as we waited for the caretaker to let us in for a short tour, I noticed an elderly woman bent over from years of hard labor driving a cargo trike loaded with junk that my father guessed that she was going to sell at the market.   She eyed us with a mixture of longing and envy that makes me wonder how long Philippine society can  maintain this relative peace amidst such stark economic disparity. 

We went on  to my grandfather (mother’s father) in Osiem.  When I visited as a kid, the road there was a simple gravel/dirt road, but it has been since paved.  Like all the side roads off the main ones, this one goes no where in particular and ends at a river.  As usual, many new houses abut older makeshift homes of the poor.  Common to many of them are silver inlined black plaques declaring the name of a successful child or grandchild and their profession.  Nurse.  Electrical Engineer.  Philippine or US military service.  Lawyer. Real estate agent.  Certified Accountant. 

My grandfather was a simple animal farmer.  He raised chickens and pigs for a living , and there are still some roosters still wondering around.   They didn’t crow, but they looked like they were taunting me to let me know that they could at any moment. 

Selling eggs and piglets is how he and my grandmother sent my aunts and uncles to college.  He was a hard man.  His main condition to his children was that they didn’t fraternize with the opposite sex until they were done with their education.  It didn’t stop most of them, but he did bust one of my aunts.   Upon discovery of her realtionship, he gave her $100 (US)  and a blanket, and promtly disowned her.  He mellowed out years later, and evetually built her a house next to his. 

 A few years ago, my mother’s brothers and sisters (there are 10 total including my mom) decided to build a huge house on my grandfather’s land for him to live in and all of them to retire to.   Grandpa objected at first, but his animal farming business went bankrupt after his health started to decline.  He’s not doing very well these days, but he’s at home because there’s no where else to take him.  He spends most of his days sitting on the porch in his wheelchair.  He doesn’t remember very much anymore.  My mother tells me that one of my aunts just finished a three week stay with him and he couldn’t remember who she was or that she was even there.

There’s no socialzed medicine here, but thankfully(?) the US has banned any foreign born nurses from immigrating into the US.   The Philippines now has a plethora of unemployed, board certified nurses hanging around because  that was usually the end goal for all their training.  Pay in the Philpines doesn’t usually justify the cost of that kind of training to stay, and it’s not like the economy can support so many medical professionals anyway.  The result is that my aunts and uncles have been able to hire two of them to look after my grandfather almost full time.

My grandfather’s english was never very good, and he’s now near deaf and blind.    People still talk to him ,but it usually invovles repeatedly yelling, point blank into his ear.  After numerous attempts to identify me, he asked how old I am.  I told them and they loudly relayed that information to him.  After about a minute, he turned in my general direction and and said in very clear english, “You’re old.”

I swear he had a glint in his eye, the same one I remember as a kid when he visited us in the states.  My parents would normally speak in their home dialect, but they switched to English during an argument when he was there.  I looked over the dinner table, and saw a little twinkle in his eye that seemed to tell me that he knew more than he let on.

Later, my mother mused on the idea that the local dialect, Pangasinan, (named after the province) is slowly disappearing.  There are about 11 language trees and over 80 unique dialiects throughout the islands.  They’re different enough from each other that people from one area wouldn’t be able to speak with people from another.  These dialects are slowly fading because the national language, Tagalog, is gaining traction throughout the country.  It replaced the former official language of English which replaced Spanish before that.

Filipinos are usually tri-lingual by default; speaking the official langiages of Tagalog and English along with their local dialect; maybe even two or three others depending where they lived.   English used to be the default language in the schools, but now it’s Tagalog, and my mother thinks its ubiquitousness through mass media is eliminating the need for local dialiects.  I think one of the reasons why I never picked up neither Pangasinan nor Tagalog was because my parent’s did not use either on a conistent basis, switching constantly depending on who they were dealing with.

I spend quite a bit of time on this blog talking about the visual aspects of dance,  but hardly anytime talking about the physcial aspects of touch in social dancing.   I noted in a recent post on Yehoodi that talking about dance has only become practical recently because technology now allows people in different places to see the same thing.  This is part of the reason why I don’t address that physcial aspect of touch.  I just don’t feel I can do it justice with words.

I thought about this as I sat next to my grandfather isolated from the chatter around us because neither of us could participate in the conversation, albeit for very different reasons.   At one point I put my hand on his arm because it was the only way I could let him know I was there.

Weekly Video Highlights: Rock That Swing

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