|Lindy Hop Championships|
Get on out!
First Annual American Lindy Hop Championships---Results
ARTSPECTRUM in association with BOOGE DANCE PRODUCTIONS presented the First Annual American Lindy Hop Championships October 30th, through November 1, 1998 featuring workshops, dances and competitions. Norma Miller will be Master of Ceremonies. The bands were: George Gee and The Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra and Nick Palumbo and the Flipped Fedoras!! The event was be held at Season's Resort Great Gorge, New Jersey.
All Results reported here were supplied by the fabulous Tricia Reneau
From: Sing Lim
The event was held at the Legends Resort, (apparently a former Playboy resort!) in New Jersey. There were some grumbles that it was a bit way out, but they fell on my unsympathetic ears. Having myself flown 20 hours, I figured what's another 2 on the road. And I would do it again!
The weekend revolved around competiton with several divisions and lots of social dancing in between. Here, I will only be commenting generally on the competition.
There were representations from all over America, but largely from the DC area and New York. Unfortunately, there were no competitors from Europe and few from California - I'm sure participation from these quarters would have made the standard even stiffer.
As it was, the level of the competition was quite high, with Bill Borgida's kids from Ithaca setting the pace right from the start! Ages 14-16, the ItheKids brought a dynamism and enthusiasm that we probably all feel for Lindy - if only we had the puff the show it! The Team division showed 4 teams, each with great routines, creative choreography and lots of hard work. The Showcase division (where aerials are allowed) pitted "Hollywood" style against "Savoy" Style with the top 3 proving that old line, it ain't what you do.... it's the way that you do it. Meanwhile, the Classic Division revealed some COOOL talent from Texas!
So, East, West, middle, Looks like Lindy Hop is really cooking in the States!
But the thing that excited me the most was that everyone there - competitors, supporters, spectators - all had a GREAT time dancing the afternoons and nights away. The standard of all the dancers there seemed high and of course everyone was super friendly, just loving the dance and loving the music. And boy! What music! Thanks to DJs Paul Overton, Bill Borgida and Simon Selmon, lindy music played one song after the other, stopping only to let the competitions go on. On Friday night we also had the Flipped Fedoras playing for us, and on Saturday, George Gee's Orchestra ( A REAL BIG BAND!) had us panting for more.
As in all competitions, there had be to winners and nonwinners, but I say hooray for all of them. If we have been trying to share Lindy Hop with the world and to achieve a standard we can all be inspired with, we all came out winners.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Where to start? What a weekend! We arrived late Friday afternoon, just in time to take Sylvia Sykes' workshop on Dean Collins style Lindy. For those of you who haven't discussed this topic with Jim Kranyak to the extent I have, what Eric and Sylvia teach is not exactly Dean Collins style, although it's close. So taking Sylvia Sykes' workshop was a real eye-opener. Just when we thought we were starting to get it! Looks like we need to do some privates with Jim...
Anyway, the competition lineup for Friday night was Pro/Am, juniors, and American Showcase. Nina and Naomi, with Steve's assistance, rocked the Pro/Am division. There were no DC entries in juniors as BOTH partners had to be under 18, so the division was swept by the fabulously talented kids from Ithaca who work with Bill Borgida (I think). Those kids can Lindy! They offer further support for Tom's contention that Lindy is a dance best done by very talented and energetic 15 year olds. American Showcase was just amazing. Between that, Classic and Strictly Lindy (both of which were on Saturday night), all I can say is that good dancing is back in a big way. The best part was that ALL the dancing was Lindy - the competitions were all Lindy, the music played in between the competitions was Lindy (and they gave us plenty of time to dance in between things - each division was separated by about 30-60 minutes of dancing) - all Lindy, all the time, with the fabulous Nick Palumbo and the equally fabulous George Gee providing much of the sound track.
Saturday saw us taking workshops with Marcus and Barbl - boy, are they good teachers! - and I took a jazz step class with Chazz Young (Frankie's son), while Jim sat in on Natalie's arials class (no flips for me until AFTER November 22). Marcus and Barbl started the day with a "Dancing to the Music" workshop that I found very informative, and that is already changing Jim's leading. Then it was jazz steps, which I thought was probably the most challenging workshop of the weekend - it was all new, the class was packed, and we were moving along at a pretty good clip. We learned routine-y type steps, but I'm already thinking about how I can use pieces of them in breaks. Then it was on to a Lindy class with Marcus and Barbl that was just great, with Marcus showing the boys all sorts of fun slides.
Saturday afternoon was Jack and Jill and then the team competition. Fidgety Feet's rountine was similar to the VSO routine, but they added some stuff and it was definitely tighter and smoother after another month's practicing. They were just fabulous. They did come in second to the Ithaca kids (Minnie's Moochers), and I really don't know how the judges managed to decide between the two. They were both clearly on top, but both routines were so terrific I'm sure glad I didn't have to decide who won.
After some more dancing came one of the biggest treats of the weekend - Ernie Smith was there with a videotape of close to an hour of swing clips. For those who don't know, Ernie has been documenting jazz on film since the 1960's. Jim and I calculated it, and it seems like he spent about a quarter of a million dollars acquiring images of jazz music on film over the years. In 1996, he donated all the film clips he'd amassed to the Smithsonian, and two years later they are still copying it to video tape and sending it back to him so he can continue to make presentations around the country on the history of jazz. It was wonderful to see not only some old favorites, like clips from Hellzapoppin' and Day at the Races, but also some rare news reel footage, footage of the Congeroos (Frankie's post-Whitey's LH/post-war group), and film from the Savoy Ballroom, among other treats. This stuff is a national treasure, as is Ernie for all his work and all the money he's invested in this over the past 30+ years.
Saturday night, we saw the Strictly Lindy, Classic, and Cabaret divisions. There was some SERIOUSLY fine dancing, a lot of it provided by our friends from DC. But I have to say that the biggest crowd pleaser by far was Nina and Naomi's cabaret routine, Hopping to the Beastie Boys. They brought down the house. And of course, the whole weekend was MCed by Norma Miller. She's a real wild woman, even in her 70's. She was fun, funny, delightful - what a great choice for an MC! Two other things I really liked about the set up of the weekend: first, aside from Strictly Lindy, everyone got to pick their own music. I really think it makes a major difference when people can dance to songs they really love. Second, the competitiors went out one couple at a time, so the spectators didn't have to play the "who do we watch during this heat?" game, which I really appreciated.
Sunday, we dragged our tired butts to Sing Lim's Lindy Moves class, which was well worth while. How did she have that much energy that early and after such late nights? Who knows? Then we took a break (may I be excused? my brain is full!) and chatted with Duke and Cameron and tried desperately and unsuccessfully to get Duke a root beer, and then we took Marcus and Barbl's last class, also more Lindy moves. We took good notes on everything but the Marcus and Barbl classes, because we bought their tape series. Jim's going to make a copy for lending, so just let him know if you want to borrow them. Same thing with the weekend tapes, which we also ordered, although they won't arrive until around the holidays.
Sadly, we missed the J&J finals and the final awards ceremony as we had to get Jim home - he left at 5 am today (Monday) for a business trip, so someone else will have to report on who won what, but I'm sure the DC scene was well represented on the winner's stand!
From: Cameron Sellers
Tom, Deb, and I got up early in the morning (you should see Tom, not a pretty sight) and drove to Great Gorge or was it Great Rip off New Jersey. The resort was an hour outside of NY City out in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed the drive and the scenery because I love the Fall but other than that, I hope the 2nd Annual American Lindy Hop Championship is some place else. We arrived around 2pm in time for the team competitions. When I was getting ready to check in, Steve told me the Jack and Jills were in 40 minutes and Carla signed me up for Lindy Classic. So later that night, Carla and I winged it to a Bill Haley song.
Most of the gorup were already ther and they had competed the night before. Eric and Sylvia won American Showcase, Tricia R and Jeff Booth came in 2nd. Steve C and Nina came in 1st and Steve and Naomi came in 2nd in the ProAm div. Out of the Jack and Jills, Steve and Naomi were the only ones to advance to the finals. Losing in this catagory was no tragedy because most of the judges were in it.
Tricia's Team lost to the Ithaca, NY team by one point. That team was composed of all kids and they made anyone over 20 look old.
The committee revoked Naomi and my waiver to compete in Strictly Lindy so I competed with Christy Etcher. Christy had not danced in three weeks and rarely do we get to dance more than once a month, so for us, it was like Jack and Jill. Good thing i danced with her. The photographer for Life Magazine thought she was so good that he asked her to come by for a photo shoot, and she picked me to be her partner.
If dancing with Christy felt like a Jack and Jill, dancing with Carla in the Classic Division was like dancing strictly lindy. I hadn't heard the song before so I didn't know when it was going to end. She had to back lead me into all of the breaks and tell me when it was going to end. In this division, all of the Washington couples decided to do the Tom and deb and just dance. Tom and Deb, Steve and Carolyn, and Carla and me had no choerography. For some it showed. Carla and I placed last. I admit I was the millstone. Tom and Deb finished 3rd. But Steve and Carolyn did the best and finished 2nd. The overall winner was tina, an old student of Tom and Deb. She stole the heart of the crowd and the judges.
New Jersey was fun and it was cool to hang out with other Lindy Hoppers from other places. The kids from Ithaca looked like junior Swedes, they had the moves and the style. Maybe one day these kids will be able to beat Swedes and we won't have to have an American Only Division in order to win something. The New York crowd definitely had the Savoy style down. We, the DC crowd, were noticed by the others, and I haven't figured out if that was a good thing. Another difference between DC and NY was the style and tempo of the music. They danced to more blues music at a slower tempo. Even in Strictly Lindy, the music seemed slow. I realized then that if I am going to dance with them, I am going to have to look at those Swedish tapes again and learn lots of breaks. I lose 3/4th of my moves when the music stays below 150.
I am proud of the lindy community, especially those of us from the DC area, everyone supported on another and it was hard to choose who you wanted to win because everyone was sooo gooood! But I must tell everyone that I was especially pround of my sister Tena Morales and Carnell Pipkin. Tena had started Lindy dancing last year and "caught the bug". She and I enjoyed going to Tom and Debra's classes to learn the lindy steps. Tena then had a terrific job offer in Houston and with mixed feelings left this area back in April. It was there she met Carnell and the rest is history. What I want everyone to know is that one week before the contest Carnell (because of working, teaching hundreds lindy, practicing and demonstrations was admitted to the hospital and placed in ICU for five days!! To come back from that and to be UNANIMOUSLY VOTED 1ST PLACE BY THE JUDGES and with the ONLY STANDING OVATION AND CALL BACK AT THE CONTEST is truly amazing!!
Carnell, who has always admired Paul Overton's dancing, was especially pleased when Paul came up to them and said "You guys were outstanding... that was the sh--!!!"Tena and Carnell has asked me to express their sincere thanks to the accolades given to them by Sing Lim, Chaz Young, Sylvia Sykes, Craig Hutchinson, Paul Overton, Tom and Debra and to everyone from the Washington Swing scene for their support.
"I was all by the grace of God and his mercy that allowed us to win and we are thankful!!"
From: Tricia Reneau
Here are my two bits of review of this past weekend's American Lindy Hop Championships from a competitor's perspective:
Jeff Booth and I signed up to compete in the American Showcase division months ago, yet we were little prepared. We just completed the choreography days before, and with all the effort we'd put into the Fidgety Feet team, there was little time left for our Showcase routine. Jeff was not very optimistic. He wanted to pull out. I refused. As partners are wont to do, we got into a spat on the drive up about the power of positive thinking, etc., and I was beginning to think we really should just bag it.
We were ninth in the order of the 13 couples who competed. Many competitors say they don't like watching their competition, but I really do. I've competed in waterskiing most of my adult life, and watching others boosts my concentration and energy. So we watched, and I began to get pumped. Jeff smiled weakly at my enthusiasm.
On the floor under the glare of the lights from the HBO camera crew and just seconds into the song, I flubbed up the footwork. I looked at Sylvia Sykes--one of the judges--who gave me a pitying look. All was lost, I thought. Then, upon executing our handstand flip, Jeff caught my dress on my way down so that it hiked around my waist. There I was, shagging away with my big butt in full view for all to see. Thank goodness I had bloomers to match my dress and thick dance tights to hide all my body flaws!! What happened was the skirt-up-the-waist fiasco gave me an opportunity to push it down embarrassedly at a specific part in the song where I had intended to smooth my dress anyway (at this point, the lyrics in our song are "I bought a wedding gown.") Somehow, everyone thought that was really funny, and their laughter made me forget my earlier blunders so we could finish out the song a little more cleanly.
Later, I saw the performance on video, and my heart sank. I knew it had major flaws, but it looked ten times worse than I had imagined. Looking at the running order of competitors, I marked the ones I thought would place in the top five. I didn't mark Jeff and me.
So it was with great surprise that I learned Jeff and I placed second behind the fabulous Eric Robinson and Sylvia Skylar of California. I still wonder what the judges might have been smoking, but I am absolutely thrilled. Best of all, we're both much more positive about the upcoming U.S. Open!
The Fidgety Feet team performance jammed much more solidy. Jennifer Comar called me "Sgt. Reneau" for making the team arise at 6:30 Saturday morning (after getting to bed at 3:00 a.m.) to rehearse on the competition dance floor. I must say we have the coolest group of people one could ever want in a team because no one complained!
The team division started at 3:30 that afternoon. Those of you who have competed know about a strange affliction called dry mouth syndrome. Dry mouth syndrome generates from nerves, I think, and makes it difficult to smile to the judges and audience. I learned long ago the antidote to this problem is Vaseline. Matt Smiley thought it mega-gross to smear Vaseline along his gums and tongue, but he did it anyway and later said it worked great for him. So, after slicking up our mouths, Andy Wallo gathered us together for a team prayer, saying "Father, forgive the ladies for their transgressions which they are about to perform"! Andy, who undoubtedly lays claim to the title "King of Aerials" in our group, also proved invaluable for his ability to motivate the team.
Out on the floor, we cranked. We nailed all our aerials, our timing appeared to be good, and we had not one significant mistake. The performance was a huge jump forward from our VSO debut. In the end, we placed just one point behind the remarkable kids who make up Minnie's Moochers. Intelligence reports from the judges' room indicated a bit of a deadlock ensued between us and the kids. Hearing this made our second place finish seem less of a loss.
In the end, we had a grand time. Competitions may not be for everyone, but we love them! A major draw is the fine crowd of dancers who attend these events. Best of all is the camraderie among the dancers and the friendships that span the globe. I know that, when we're all a little older and caught up in raising our kids, we'll look back on these events with great fondness. These really are the times of our lives, and we are truly blessed.
From: Angela Billingsley
Have you heard of Tena and Carnell's performance in the Classic Division? Tena started dancing the Lindy in DC, but has since moved to Houston. It is our loss. She brings so much energy and sass to the dance. She and Carnell were the only African American couple to compete in the entire competition. They've been dancing together for 5 months. It was their very first competition. Carnell had been in the hospital - intensive care - just the week before. They weren't sure he'd be able to travel, much less dance. But dance they did. Tom Koerner, at Chevy Chase Ballroom on Monday gamely said, "There is good news and bad news. The good news is they (Tena and Carnell) just blew the competition away. The bad news is we (he and Debra) were the competition." Any time competitors as good, skilled, humourous and experienced as Tom and Debra get beaten, you know that is a serious competition. They wowed the crowd with sass and attitude, great musicality, and solid, basic Lindy. The crowd leapt to their feet after their performance and demanded Tena and Carnell come back for a second bow. Every single judge placed them first. You must get the video.
Also in the Classic Division. Jeff Miller and Elaine did a humourous routine which got them 3rd place. It reminds me of some of the humor that Steve Cowles brings to the dance. Lots of fun and surprises. They danced to a tune called Hot Dog. She was dressed as a waitress, he as a short order cook. They have a move where she kicks him and he falls sprawled out on the floor and gets up dancing. Very fun and fresh.
I haven't seen a lot of dance videos, but the preliminary videos I've seen of the event were interesting and fun to watch. They showed some still photographs, highlights of the performance you were about to see. Lindy goes so fast, that there's no time to appreciate that last cool move before the couple is on to another awesome move. The stills allowed you to stop and see and ask "How did she get up there? What a great expression!
Another of the highlights for me was Steve Cowles and Angie Whitworths Advanced Jack and Jill. They danced to Caldonia. They really worked the breaks. Amazing to see in a Jack and Jill.
I was very pleased with my performance in the Jack and Jill competition. I didn't expect to do as well as at the Virginia Open (where I got 7 out of 9) because I wouldn't know my partners as well. I didn't make the finals, which were the top 5. But out of 25 competitors, I was 7th. Just 2 away from the finals!
I was also pleased, as an African American, to see an African
American presence this weekend. It was also wonderful to see
the Ithica kids. We dancers are going to have to work hard to
stay ahead of them. It's a wonder I came home. Well, let me get
back to hitting these books.
From: Matt Smiley
Greetings once again,
Starting from the beginning, Christy, Heather, and I arrived around 9:30ish Friday night. Sadly, we had missed the Pro/Am Division and half of the Junior division, but the half of the Junior division that I did see was really cool. Anyway I checked in and got back down in time to see the Showcase Division. From DC we had Jeff and Tricia, and Steve and Carla do us proud. I'd like to congratulate both couples because they had good energy and it was apparent that they were actually dancing to the song, rather than just going through the motions of putting one foot here for two beats, putting a hand over here for two beats, stepping on the right for a beat, etc. Steve and Carla really blew my mind because apparently they pulled a Tom&Deb, and just went out there and danced with no routine. A collective Congratulations goes out to all who competed that night. You did us proud. I didn't get to see who won (they announced it late Sun.), but it seemed to be the general consensus that Erik and Sylvia took home first.
Sunday I took a workshop from Marcus. He is an amazing dancer and he really helped work out some problems with my Dean Collins pattern. This was our big day. Our team, Fidgety Feet, was to perform at 3:30. The first team to go on, though, was a bunch of kids from Ithica (or was it Sweden?). They had so much energy and a really fun routine so we knew we had our work cut out for us. After seeing them, we were psyched up and I think we did a great job. Anyway, the kids won and we came in second. Normally, I would be upset about this, but if Marcus, Sing Lim, Sylvia Sykes, and Craig Hutchinson say we deserved 2nd, it is gospel to me, besides the kids really were good.
So Sat. was a blast and the night was great. Specific highlights for me were Jim K. and Deb in Strictly Lindy, Steve and Caroline in Classic, these couples from Texas in Classic, and Nina and Naomi in Cabaret. Each of these couples knocked my socks off! I will not go into great detail, save but to mention that I don't think the DC scene could have been better represented! Congratulations to everyone! That night was alot of fun, I danced with Sylia Skylar and Sing Lim and all the other international phenomeanoms that were there. I was wowed by Marcus' speed, I was wowed by Paul Overton's smoothness, I was wowed by the kids from Ithica, yada yada yada. In short, it was wonderful.
Sun. I was dead. I slept as late as possible, we
checked out around twelve and we headed home. I took no
workshops, I did not dancing, I didn't listen to music. My
mind and my body were too dead to think properly, let alone
move functionally. Anyway, I am now in withdrawl and I am
in desperate need of good dancing. Hopefully, I'll see
Home | About Lindy | Last Week's Reviews | Upcoming Events | Dancers' Forum
The Guide - Establishments - Travel - Accessories
Music | Links | Photo Gallery | Extras | Contact