It feels almost odd going back into the usual routine of sleeping at regular hours and attending classes after the awesomeness known as ILHC (International Lindy Hop Championships).
Several other people such as Rik from The Click Heard Round the World and Robert E. Lee the III Bobby White from Swungover have wrote about their experiences during or after the event. But I will give you my view, as my one friend put it, from a “bi-coastal” college swing dancer’s perspective.
Like Rik wrote in his blog, each competition was a blast to watch. Unlike some other events where going to hang out at the jacuzzi may seem like a better idea then some of the competitions, I wanted to have a good view for every single competition that weekend.
I also pitied the judges, it seemed for the most part everybody were throwing down their best in each competition. Even Sylvia Sykes was complaining of how difficult it was to judge the Strictly Balboa finals during her LED talk on Saturday.
The biggest moment for me, which has been the buzz of the internet Lindy world was the “The History of Lindy Hop” performance by Andrew Thigpen and Karen Turman. Besides being amazing, receiving a standing ovation, and causing Steven Mitchell to peel over in laughter, one of the more important effects I have noticed not just in my local scene, but on a national level is people are researching dance clips due their performance. To have a routine have such a profound effect on the community is more important then any piece of plastic in my book.
I also ended up participating in the Open Jack & Jill, due to the deal I got with my registration. From an organizational standpoint I thought it was well run. They made sure everyone in my heat was in the right order, with the right number while the previous heat was out on the floor, and had multiple points of check-ins to ensure a minimum of no shows. I had a blast drawing a follow from New York, and two follows from Canada (It seems I can never run away from Canadians).
In total I ended up attending about six classes at ILHC, and watching two additional ones. Frankly I was surprised because for a competition weekend the classes were amazing. The bar was not lowered for any classes and even the intermediate classes were taught at a level where they expected you to know swingouts, a small repertoire of jazz steps and common moves. Probably having a killer lineup of instructors and the fact that the majority of dancers attending this event were fairly decent helped as well.
The talks were a great alternative to classes for those who wanted a break or preferred not to take them. I plan to do a later blog post about Andrew Thigpen’s talk about Thrifty Hopping a.k.a. how to attend more dance events. While most of it was common sense, was a good reminder of how laziness and last minute or impulsive spending can affect your attendance at swing events in the future.
Another memorable LED of the weekend was Mark Kihara’s talk on trying things in 3 minutes or lesson. This consisted of him giving away free beer and wine, then having open karaoke, which resulted in Nina Gilkenson singing the infamous Dirty Dancing song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and Andrew Thigpen and Bobby Bonsey reenacting the lift from the film. Hopefully that will be on the youtubes soon.
I could go on about the rest but it would take too much time, I can only hope they build on the talks next year.
Having some of the best swing bands in the world (Jonathan Stout and His Campus 5 featuring Hilary Alexander, The Boilermaker Jazz Band featuring Naomi Uyama, and The Rhythm Cats & Gordon Webster helped to create some awesome nights of dance. I also liked how the sets were nestled in between competitions so you could dance your heart out then recover for energy during the comps. What was also awesome was how friendly everyone was at the dances, I had several follows who were at a much higher level of dancing and occasionally from different countries ask me to dance.
The only detraction I would say is the dance floor was smaller then Camp Hollywood, but you can’t have everything I suppose.
Fun Moments and Overall Experience
ILHC was a unique and inspiring event for me. One of the more amusing moments was when I wore my Quebec shirt I got from Benjamin Ricard in D.C. on Saturday, then having several people approach me and starting chatting in French.
For those of you wondering why the ILHC Cabaret division isn’t on youtube yet, i’m guessing its due to another memorable moment of the weekend known as the “Yes Dance”. (Apparently clicking every link in the ILHC newsletter was not a waste of time on my part.)
What was interesting was for all it had to offer, I never felt overwhelmed like I am at many other workshop weekends/exchanges/camps which is a testament to how well organized the event was.
If you missed out this year, I recommend you check it out in 2011.