ILHC 2010 Preview

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write, so I might as well talk about what’s been keeping me busy.

The last few weeks before an event are usually the busiest times for event organizers and now there are just three weeks before this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships.  So instead of nitpicking another dance video, I’ve been spending my spare time trading hundreds of emails doing the bidding of my ILHC overlords: Tena Morales, Nina Gilkenson, and Sylvia Sykes.

My role in this whole thing is to make their dreams come true by acting as middle management.  They tell me what needs to be done, and then I get someone else to take care of it.

For example, this year we’re taking advantage of The Boilermaker Jazz Band playing on Friday night by having them play live music for the Solo Charleston finals.

The Boilermakers last time they were in DC playing for the Big Big Benefit.

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My Personal Favorite Lindy Moments in 2009

I had a conversation with my friend Ann earlier this year where we discussed what our greatest moments in our lives were up until that point.  She then told me that she expected Frankie95 to be one of those moments.  She brought this up since I was one of the people working on the event.  No pressure at all.

It was during this conversation that we realized that “greatest” doesn’t necessarily have to have a positive conotation.  Hitler had the greatest impact on the course of the 20th century, but I’m pretty sure we’re not going to build him a monument anytime soon.

With that in mind, “greatest” is probably a better word to describe the ultimate point of this post than “favorite.”  Although, I do have more than a couple favorite moments from this year.

One of them would be stumbling upon a jazz quartet playing in a hole-in-the-wall café in Harlem.  I had been awake for 36 hours straight on a whirlwind trip into New York City to work on Frankie95.  I was exhausted, and was looking forward to crashing at my friend Joy’s place, but the sound of jazz gave us pause as we walked from dinner.  The person running the place beckoned us in.  It was early, so we were the only people there, but those musicians had the spirit in them, like they were playing to a packed house at the Savoy Ballroom.  I hadn’t slept in almost two days but I didn’t want to leave.

Two weeks later I sat on the top balcony of the Manhattan Center watching everyone do the Shim Sham on Saturday night of Frankie95.  I’m not sure how Ann was feeling at that point, but this qualified as one of my greatest moments.  50 musicians on stage playing for over 1600 dancers from over 40 US states and 30 countries.

On one hand, I was in awe of what we had done to get to that point.  “Did we really do this?” was all I could ask myself as I watched that sea of dancers pulsing together as one.

On the other hand, I had the strong urge to punch someone . . . anyone in the face.

A noted Lindy Hop historian, who almost did punch someone in the face that weekend, told us later that almost everyone involved with Frankie’s 80th birthday had completely dropped out of the dance scene more than a decade ago.  After what we went through for Frankie95, I completely understand why.

I’m not sure what the attrition rate will be, but even before the weekend was over, I had a number of people say to me that even though that was one of the most moving experiences of their lives, they were probably never going to help out another Lindy event ever again.

I can’t blame them.  You put that much heart into something, you’re practically dooming yourself to unreasonable expectations.

I was so scarred that I spewed out almost 40 pages of thoughts and frustrations just to work things out.  It was therapeutic, and helpful in motivating me to start this very blog.  It also helped me organize my people-I’m-going-to-punch-in-the-face list so I won’t do it at random at some unexpected moment.

I could have sworn off working events, but I obviously didn’t thanks to some very good friends.

If it wasn’t for them, then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to dance with Ramona during Peter’s soul set on the last night of ILHC.  Like most events that I work, I didn’t dance very much that weekend until then.  When I finally got to dance, I made . . . *ahem*  . . . creative use of Ramona in an inspired moment.  I’m tempted to use both of the words “favorite” and “greatest” to describe those dances.  I have a feeling that she would agree since a few days later she opened a gchat session to me with the line: “That slap on the a$$ is going down in history!”

Thank you Ramona.

I guess I should thank Tena, David, and Elliot for dragging me into Frankie95.

I’ll definitely thank Tena for talking me off the ledge right after that and also Nina and Sylvia for keeping me around for ILHC.

Thank you to Skye, Ann, Naomi, Abigail, Crista, Mike, Peter, Diane, Luke, Kristin, Sarah, Shannon and all my friends for your support this year.

Thanks to Gretta, Jeff, Bobby, Kate, Andy and everyone who comes every week to the Jam Cellar.

Thanks to everyone who comes to hear me DJ.

Thanks to all my compatriots in the trenches at Frankie95 and ILHC.

Thanks to everyone who has visited and even read my blog since I started it six months ago.

Special thanks to Judy, Chazz, and especially Frankie.

Finally, thank you Mom and Dad.

I wish many of you a Merry Christmas, the rest of you good holidays, and everyone a Happy New Year!


Favorite Performances of 2009-Social Dances

Continuing on from my favorite videos from this year.  Check out my previous posts for Lindy Hop couple and team videos.

The title of this one is a bit of a misnomer.  Most of this is competition or performance social dance, but its all still unchoreographed improv dancing at least.

The Pro Lindy finals Camp Hollywood

Check out the right side towards the end during the all skate as two of my new favorite Southern California dancers, Kim Clever and David Frutos whip out 10 consecutive kips, sort of referencing one of my all time favorite moments from the year before where Nina Gilkenson and Mikey Pedroza brought the house down with 10 swingouts in a row.

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Favorite Performances of the Year-Couple Routines

2009 was a bittersweet year for Lindy Hop and its assorted and associated dances.  It marked the passing the person that most embodied the spirit of the dance, Frankie Manning.  However, I think he would have been proud of the kind of dancing that he inspired throughout the world.

I just want to highlight some of my favorite performances from this year.  I’m going to break this up into several parts starting with coupled routines, then teams, unchoreographed  dances, and finally performances in other related dances.

There’s no specific criteria for these picks.  Just a some of my favorites, stuff that resonated with me for some reason or another.

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Carla Heiney & The Boilermakers on So You Think You Can Dance

Last night Ellenore Scott & Ryan Di Lello performed a Lindy Hop piece choreographed by Carla Heiney on So You Think you Can Dance.

The dancers did a great job with the performance given the tight time constraints, but any woman that can teach me how to dance should have no problem with much more gifted performers.

I remember the years taking lessons from Carla while she was still studying biology at the U of Maryland.  When she told me about her dream of becoming a full time dancer I thought to myself “A full time Lindy Hopper?  Really?”  I was worried about her earning a living, never mind any kind of notoriety.

That was a long time ago.  Longer than I care to think about, but it was also the last time I doubted her and her drive to succeed.

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AIR pt. 14: The Plot Twist

This is part of a paper I wrote entitled “Artistry In Rhythm: Dialogue Through Dance in the Lindy Hop community.”  Previous and future posts can be found by searching my blog for the category “Artistry In Rhythm”

Two years ago, I compiled a list of my favorite routines from The American Lindy Hop Championships in response to an open request by that event’s promoter. As I was making the list, I discovered that I found it harder and harder to come up with stand out moments as time went on.  It wasn’t because the dancing was bad—in fact it was much better technically as years pass—but very little stood out creatively in the way Minnies’ Moochers, Jenn Salvadori & Justin Zillman, or Mad Dog did during their times.

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Anatomy of a Dance Contest: The Champions’ Strictly Lindy Hop Division at ILHC 2009 pt. II

This is part two of an inside look behind the 2009 International Lindy Hop Championships Champions’ Lindy Hop Division.  You can read part one here.

Champions’ Strictly Lindy Final All Skate:  “Jersey Bounce” by The Boilermaker Jazz Band

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Anatomy of a Dance Contest: The Champions’ Strictly Lindy Hop Division at ILHC 2009 pt. I

I’ve already written quite a bit about this past International Lindy Hop Championships, but to illustrate how complex any one part of an event can be I’m going to give you a peak behind the curtains of The Champions’ Strictly Lindy Hop Division at ILHC 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

ALHC Results & Other Contest Notes

Many people will be suprised to discover that The American Lindy Hop Championships took place last weekend.  In case the suspense was killing you, results are online.
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Random Videos: Non-ULHS French Dancing and All Girl Bal music

Still no word on official ULHS results.  Some more videos are making it online.  I’ll post the better quality ones together later this week or next.

While we’re  waiting on that stuff, apparently not all the action was in New Orleans this past weekend.  Here’s a quick round up of performance videos from Provence Swing Festival in France.

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