ulhs 2009

14 10 2009

The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown has always been my favorite dance event, and I was super bummed to miss it again this year, but God bless the Internet for allowing me to live vicariously through other people’s uploaded clips. My favorite video to emerge so far is this overhead shot of the Blues division — just lots of funky stuff going on here that I dig, especially Todd & Alice (2nd couple).

Everyone who was there keeps saying that the vibe was unreal and I can totally believe it — New Orleans is a magical city. So much music, so much culture, so much history, and beauty and art and funk and alcohol — the magical glue that binds it all together. That city is freaking awesome even without ULHS. It’s probably a good thing I couldn’t make the trip. My head would have asploded.


ilhc 2009 team division favs

2 09 2009

Videos of the team division are up on Youtube — Hooray! Thanks to youtubist (youtuber? youtubite? youtubian?) floridave1 for making it happen. He also seems to have had a great angle on the show.

I have two favorites from this competition and I’m sort of baffled that neither even placed in the top three. We’ll start with one of two routines brought by the One2Swing Jitterbugs.

Though parts are a little campy, I really enjoyed this one. For starters, it reminded me of a period in my own dancing where Traffic Jam was (ahem) “my jam” (as the kids say these days) and when I was really into the vintage goofball stuff like All the Cats Join In or Groovie Movie. On the micro level, nothing really revolutionary happens in it, mostly just campy acting at first and then decent basics towards the end. But, the routine really shines when you look at the big picture impact — tons of formation changes, well timed wave effects, fun costumes, and a lot of polish (uniform lines, clean air steps, etc.). I would be proud to see Lindy Hop represented by these guys in a Broadway show or on SYTYCD or something like that. Normally I cringe whenever those kinds of productions attempt to “do the lindy,” and I tell myself well…our dance just doesn’t really lend itself very well to that kind of format, but these guys pull it off. Well done Ben, Sheri, & co. FAVORITE PART: the kips that hit bum-bump around 3:44.

Next up we have a team from Sweden going by the name Top Notch. They were weird. I really liked them.

The weirdness starts around 0:01 where the girls are pretending to be mannequins. Ok, I think to myself, this will be a re-telling of the classic 80s documentary Mannequin or possibly Mannequin II: On the Move, told through the medium of dance. Then they drop that whole story line, never to return to it again, and start dancing to Take 5, a song that every Lindy Hopper has tried dancing to once or twice and thought, Oh man, am I zany or what! 5/4 time!? You so crazy Dave Brubeck! Then we generally dismiss it as a novelty and move on to music that actually feels good to dance to. However these guys manage to make it look really good — nice fluid movement, interesting artistic flourishes, lots of attention to details like lines and sychronization, and of course, every now and then as the dudes pass downstage center they unleash a simmeringly sexy John Oates-style mustache glare at the audience.



But the weirdness/awesomeness continues. The real swing music starts and we get plenty more interesting visuals, unique movements, solid dancing, and strange interludes like the moment of rage and the blowing like the wind. Yes, I was confused, but I was entertained. I think they might have placed higher had they not done the unnecessary glitter toss at the end. Or maybe if they had at least come out afterwards to help clean up, as the other teams were standing around waiting to perform while the event organizers were literally down on their knees trying to pick up the glitter with their bare hands. Aside from that, though, I thought this routine was lots of strange fun. FAVORITE PART: the monster mash (?) at 2:22. Just because, well, wtf?

If you’re interested in seeing the stuff that the judges liked better, you can check ’em here, here, and here in 1st, 2nd, 3rd order.

ilhc 2009 quick takes

31 08 2009

This year’s ILHC was the first dance competition weekend that I’ve been to in 2+ years and I had a blast. There are already close to 50 videos up on the youtubes, but I haven’t seen any of the teams yet and I think those may have been my favorite part. If/when they start appearing, I’ll probably do another post on them, but in the meantime, here’s a little rundown of my favorite stuff that is currently available thanks to some seriously type-A internet addicts who must have been posting it almost in real-time:

  • The Champions Strictly Lindy Finals (link goes to part I, part II is above): I sort of pitied the finalists who were probably too busy putting on a show to be able to enjoy watching the show! It was a real treat for the spectators.
  • New Skye & Frida routine: Long time readers of this blog probably know that I’m always pretty pumped for new Skye and Frida routines and this was no exception.
  • Charleston finals: Lots of good stuff, but the highlight for me was Juan Villafane’s glorious beard, which reminds me of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign from Dos Equis. Actually, now that I think of it, it was a truly magnificent weekend for facial hair all around.

P.S. If anyone has links to the full judging results, hit me up — I had to leave before they were announced. Also, I’d appreciate any linkies to team routines – I’m especially interested in the “All The Cats/Traffic Jam” one and the bizarre, but fascinating “manequin/mustache/Take Five/monster noise/glitter” routine.

underground jitterbug contest

12 08 2009

One of the best battles I’ve ever seen — no jams/spotlights/shines, just head-to-head throwing down. Major props to the last four, still killing it at like 2:30 AM: Tiffany Wine & Kenny Nelson and Max Pitruzzella and Dax Hock.

From this year’s Camp Hollywood, via the excellent Wandering and Pondering.

frankie manning

27 04 2009


We lost a national treasure today. Dance innovator, Tony award winner, and all around wonderful person Frankie Manning passed away this morning.

If you never met him, this clip should give you an idea of the joy he brought to people on and off the dance floor:

After the jump I’ll post some clips of him from the 1940s when he was, by all accounts, the best lindy hopper to emerge from a generation of great dancers. Both clips are ensemble numbers, but he should be easy to spot: just look for the biggest smile plastered across the face of the most athletic dancer and that’s him. Read the rest of this entry »