I’m pretty thrilled to have a weekend where I don’t have a dance event to go to.
Not that I’m trying to make it sound like I dislike dance events. They’re awesome. Obviously. But I’m glad to have this weekend where I can mostly rest…and give my wallet a break.
It started with the Charleston Lindy Exchange – or CHEX, which I talked about in this post over here. That was weekend 1.
Weekend 2 was Grand National Dance Championship in Atlanta, a west coast swing and shag event. I learned the basics of shag sometime last year, but I’ve since forgotten it. What I can remember is that it feels a lot like triple-step east coast swing, but you place your steps in different places in shag, compared to ECS. But man, watching some of these pros dance shag – they are so freaking smooth. I can see how the two dances have a lot of crossover. It was a cool event – a really big event, at that. There were so many competitions, different divisions, showcase performances…that the social dancing didn’t start each night until almost midnight. This was a bit annoying as I didn’t care too much for the shag events and younger divisions of the competition. I just wanted to dance, damnit, and I couldn’t stay until the wee hours of the morning seeing as I had to drive home each night. Still, what social dancing I did have, was great.
I also decided to compete in the novice Jack and Jill. This was my first official west coast swing Jack and Jill l I competed in. I didn’t expect to make it far, but I did make it to semi-finals, which was super neat. This was a massive event with dancers from all over the country, so just being able to dance with these folks was truly amazing.
What I also took away from all the competitions and performances is that west coast swing is kind of the ballroom dance of the swing dance genre. Ballroom to me is very flashy, with its costumes, and emphasis on tricks – moves that involve fancy aerials, dizzying spins, basically anything to elicit that “wow!” response from the audience. West coast swing has all of those elements. The aesthetic of west coast swing focuses on being “cool,” or “sexy,” which is fine for those who seek that kind of energy. I like to dance to have fun, and I don’t take myself seriously at all, which is why I find a more kindred spirit with lindy hoppers. But damn do I still love the feel of west coast swing.
Weekend 3 was Down South Camp Meeting, also in Atlanta, and it was a lindy hop workshop and dance event. This weekend was awesome because I learned so. frekaing. much. in the classes. The instructors that were brought in are absolutely top notch, and had I not been saving up for my trip to Chicago the following weekend, I definitely would’ve paid to have a private lesson with one of them. Still, I added a few new moves to my lindy hop repertoire while also getting great feedback on small things I could improve on. There was a also Jack and Jill competition, and I placed 3rd! So exciting. I was actually able to come to DSCM because I won a pass by placing 1st in another Jack and Jill at an earlier event I attended, Swing Out Savannah. This was my first lindy hop JnJ I ever competed in, and I was completely flabbergasted that my partner and I won first. I was not expecting to win. To place, maybe, but first? Whew. Man. Placing in dance competitions is a pretty awesome feeling, especially since it usually means winning passes to more dance events! All in all, DSCM was a pretty fantastic event.
Weekend 4 was the Chicago Underground Blues Experience. Or CUBE. So I was in Chicago for the first time last weekend. And I absolutely loved it. CUBE has got to be the most chill event I’ve ever been to yet. CUBE takes place the same weekend as the Chicago Blues Festival, which is apparently the largest, free blues music festival in the world. I think there were something like 4 or 5 different stages at any given time with people playing live blues music. So during the day, a bunch of dancers would go out to the festival and find some space to dance at a stage. Getting tired and hot? Head off into the city, get something to eat, grab a beer, then maybe come back. Later on? DJ’d dancing at a venue until 4AM. Sleep, wake, repeat.
Chicago is a really cool city. It’s very much got that super urban vibe, like New York City, but maybe not quite as crowded. I had some amazing food which included tacos, Chicago hot dogs, and Chicago deep dish pizza, a rather tasty margarita, and perhaps a new favorite beer. Public transit was a breeze to navigate. Also: the fact that you can look up not just travel routes, but public transit routes on the Google maps app on your smartphone? That’s goddamn brilliant.
I really wish I could’ve stayed through Sunday night, because from the facebook chatter, it sounded like things got pretty wild. Damn. From now on, if I’m asking off work for a dance weekend, I’m asking the Monday off instead of the Friday. All the cool stuff seems to happens that Sunday night. Geez.
And now I’ve got a two weekend break until I visit Greenville again. I will gladly take this much needed rest.