Friday, January 6, 2012

Lindy Focus Trip report (aka/LFPT.)

Holy shit, y'all. Lindy Focus. Now that I've had a couple whole nights of sleep, I almost feel ready to try and write again.

Lindy Focus was awesome, in the "inspiring awe" sense of the word. (This was my first Lindy Focus.) The scope of the event is just incredible, with something like 700 people coming for the week (more on NYE), 3 areas to major in ["main tracks"] (Lindy, 8 levels; Balboa, 2 levels; Advanced Jazz; Comp and Show), and 12 more things to minor in ["side tracks"], from fundamental movement training to burlesque to tap to 2 levels of Charleston emphasis to aerials and even blues. Oh, and also dancing every night from 9 till LATE (multiple late night options: lindy, bal, or blues), with 4 of the 5 nights boasting live music from incredible bands. It is almost too much to take in.

No, it really was actually too much to take in. One can only be in one place at a time. There are only so many hours in the day, and one has to devote a few of those hours to sleeping. Presumably.

And while it sounds very structured, the camp was not, in fact, over-scheduled. There was enough time pretty much every single day to just wander off and dick around and see what people were up to. There was actually a whole day in the middle of the camp with no main track classes, full of side tracks and electives and talks and open practice. I took a nap, even. It was glorious.

Look, I made sections:

FAVORITE MOMENTS (including but not limited to):

- Seeing so many dance friends from *everywhere* and making new ones
- MIDWEST REPRESENT nye pizza party and group photo
- realizing I do have girl skills, doing one roomate's makeup and another friend's hair. It was a wicked faux-hawk, but still... it was hair, and I did it.
- balboa in flip flops 'cause I stumbled into a practice session and wanted to dance.
- swingout battle in the bal room at 630am and 230bpm. The DJ turns around and is like... "wait what? I LOVE YOU GUYS!"
- having someone tell me just past midnight, midweek, that they WERE going to go to bed, but after dancing with me they felt like dancing all night.
- mind-reading dances with a buddy from baltiMORE  late at night, when we're both too tired to care if failure happens.
- baltiqurque. and, hey, I *can* still lindy hop after that much liquor. or at least everyone was kind enough not to disabuse me of the notion.
- learning the phrase "c'est que what the fuck," which needs no translation.
- being the follow who happened to be dancing with a badass dancer when a couple of other badass dancers came up to him to be like, "show us that thing!" and being along for the ride.
- Chance juggling my shoes to end the dance after I lost one and kicked off the other.
- sunrise on new year's day.
- (that's what the dead hooker said.)
- a bunch of specific dances, but I told those people in person that they were awesome (or at least smiled dopily and gave a big hug), so they don't need named here. jus' smiling to myself.
- a couple of girls told me that I was fun to watch. compliments from other follows are the bestest.
- none of this is in chronological order.
- I'm still wearing my bracelet.
- live music!

Talkin' about least favorite moment, spending money and classes, all below the jump, long as usual...

Least Favorite Moment, by far:

In the neighborhood of 1am (ish?) on New Year's day (/after midnight NYE), I noticed the photo booth was about to close and the line was relatively short. I had one more picture I wanted to take, if possible, with a friend who was moving to CA directly from LF. Not sure when I'll see him again. So I'm stalking around that side of the floor, looking for him, when a guy pops out of my peripheral vision, plants himself in front of me, and asks, "Would you like to dance?"

"I'm sorry," I said gesturing behind me at the photo line, "I'm looking for...."

At which point he interrupts me, and in a tone that's split between resignation and sneering, says, "A friend, some other time, not right now, maybe at some other event?"

Kind of flabbergasted, all I can think to do is look at him, and repeat, slowly, "I'm looking for my friend to take a picture with."

"Riiiight," he says, this time plainly just angry. He rolls his eyes, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and walked away.

I didn't end up finding my friend.

[Now, that dude has no way of knowing that I wasn't lying to his face about looking for a friend. But let's just say I was lying to his face, in that same, civil tone of voice. That reaction? Still douche.]

Moving on...


All of it was fucking baller. And there was a lot of it. Live music 4 of the 5 nights, two bands on the final night, all good bands. Lindy, Bal, and slow drag rooms at the late nights that ran till very late each night.The music was fantastic, and I didn't have a single bad dance all week. dancing=happiness. Thanks all my leaders!

This was the first thing that came up on my google image search for "rainbows and unicorns."


I managed to avoid any bad kicks, but a bunch of my friends did get kicked that left marks, which was pretty unfortunate. (One woman has a 3"x6" bruise that covers the whole top of her foot [man heel], and another has a *slice* in the back of her calf [lady heel.]) Dear people who are wearing heels (men AND women): please watch your damn feet. And leaders, do watch where you're putting your follows.


Didn't do a lot of dancing at the main dance, because I wore dressy high heels (for pictures), and didn't really feel like dancing in them. And didn't change until after I got pictures taken, which didn't happen until fairly late.  But the show was super sweet! (See all 13 pieces of the Glamour and Glory, starting here.) The Novice J&J finals were also sweet. (I don't think the video of that is up quite yet.) And by the time midnight rolled around, I was standing with my roomies and a significant chunk of my midwest travelers. We had some sweet toasts, and Happy New Year! I'm smiling remembering it, and I'm glad it was that way. Thanks, friends.

The night only got better as it got later (/earlier?) I bounced back and forth between the lindy, bal, and soul/club rooms, and had wonderful dances in all of them. My goal was to be swinging out until sunrise, and I did that and then some.  I danced till 730 or so, when I was told we were taking the "survivor" photo (timed for official sunrise), which had a ridiculous number of people in it. 80 or 90? once we invited the bal and soul rooms? (though I'm told there was another 'survivor' photo even later, at like 830, when they shut the music down, but by that time I was eating breakfast.)  After bailing to the hotel breakfast place, and nearly falling asleep at the table, I thought for sure I'd go to bed, but I was wrong.  Wandering back past the lobby, I met more fun people who I hadn't really talked to yet, and we stayed up bullshitting and laughing and being dehydrated and increasingly shivering as the AC continued to pump in the absence of dancers, till 11am. 11! Insanity.  But beautiful insanity. Thanks, new friends. :)

I finally went back to my room, and my roommates were at that point getting up and getting ready to check out.  I packed my stuff, said roomie goodbyes, and migrated to the suite of other kind friends, made a nice, last-minute-addition-nest in the corner, and passed out till karaoke time.


I and my wonderful, many-trips-together-now travel companion Ali (Ali!) hit up the grocery store on the first day to minimize eating out costs.

The not-eating-out plan was fairly successful. I was there from the 27th-2nd, and I think I ended up springing for two dinners and two breakfasts (both breakfasts were technically the morning of the 1st, one at 2am (the buffet), and one around 8am after dancing all night). I had food left over at the end, though, and both dinners were more social than necessary. We had a very small fridge and a microwave in our room, and since I had a not-eating-out buddy, we could hang out in the room and refuel. I'd have been sunk if I had nobody to eat "in" with, though. Truth. Who wants to be alone at Focus?

There were shoes and jewelry and accessories to buy, but I wasn't jazzed on any of the shoes (still heel-phobic), and am not a huge overtly-girl accessories person, so I passed on those. (Though I was tempted by the idea of feathers.) I did participate in the consignment shop deal, and sold two skirts and a pair of dance shoes. Little extra cash in my pocket ftw!


Tuesday night, we got dressed but not fancy to go to Bobby White's talk on "Attending the old school," or, learning about lindy hop from old timers. First, applying the concept of cultural relativism to the differences between our current culture and that of the '30s and '40s, how people learned and lived. There was a also the caveat of using any single perspective (archival video, interviews, how they dance now, ect) to try and learn about the original dance, since each perspective has limitations that we should just be aware of when utilizing those sources (performance vs social dancing, narrator reliability [intentional or not], living in a older body will affect your dancing, ect).

So anyway, after Bobby W's talk, me and the roomies decided collectively to not really dress up for the dance that night, because it was the only night with a DJ for the evening dance instead of live music, and it didn't really seem like people were getting too fancy. This was the only night I didn't dress up pretty extensively, and it was also the only night that I went to bed somewhat "early," by about 1:30a. It was super difficult to tear myself away from the (already awesome) dance, and I know I missed some performances, but I really wanted to be in the best possible shape for track auditions in the morning.

Track auditions in the morning. So here's the dumb thing: I tried out for a track, and I told myself that I'd be really happy if I made that track. *Really* happy. Most of my friends were trying out for that track. But many of my friends, people who I'd thought our dancing was at a similar level, ended up in the track above that track, while I ended up in the track I went out for. Rationally, I should have been really happy, 'cause, zomg, I made that track that I aimed for. The reality, though, was that I was pretty bummed. I hadn't had a solid "not as good as you think you are" slap for a while, but there it was!

I'll be honest, I struggled with having a good attitude in class on Wednesday and probably mostly failed. My only step in the right direction was that I was actively and consciously struggling, but I couldn't shake the feeling. Coincidentally (or um, not), Wednesday classes were my least favorite. I petitioned to move up a track and was not moved. I struggled keep my head above water Wednesday night, as well. When I was actually dancing, all was right with the world, but if I sat for a while, I sank back in a funk.

The good news was that I got to sleep in, and my first class the next day was Evita teaching movement training. The classes I've had with Evita have always been terribly demanding in the best possible way, and this was no exception. We started out the class by doing boogie drops *to the floor* all the way across the floor of the big ballroom. No joke. And we were dancing a short, cool routine to (part of) The Rhythm Junkies Ain't no sweet man worth the salt of my tears. So I danced my blues away. Furthermore (interestingly to me), one of my Thursday main classes was thematically a repeat of one of the Wednesday classes (one of the two teachers was the same), but tweaked in a way that made it way more productive for our group. So I was pretty psyched on that as well.

Friday we didn't so much have main classes, but the Movement Training class met again, this time taught by Kevin, and we did ALL the spins. Well, we did spins all class, anyway. Solo spins are a lot harder than partnered spins. Also, I have noticed that if I'm spinning down a line, solo, I do spot and it does help. Trying to spot while spinning in place kind of messes me up, though. But when I'm partner dancing, if I'm spinning in place, I do spot my leader. I sort of wonder if it has anything to do with the face that my leader is a lot closer to me than the far wall is likely to be, but I don't really have any idea. The first dance I ever did was partner dance (swing and shag), so I don't have any more formal background.

[friday night was Baltiqurque, and I got destroyed. Beyond that, fight club.]

Saturday, we had two main track classes back to back, the combination of which was a little brain breaking. The theme of the first was whole body movement, engaging all the parts of yourself so that each of your movements seems to flow logically from all parts of you. Not moving your arms or legs in isolation from each other, for example, or swinging your arms without acknowledging the torque that creates in your chest. Also, making sure your partner knows where you are and what you're doing by all of these things. The second class, we did invisible variations. [asplode.] Maybe not entirely invisible? but the teachers did say at one point that your partner should not necessarily notice that you were doing them, and that they should work in a regular swingout. (and they do, I checked at our local dance Wednesday, lol.) Worked pretty hard all day Saturday as well, this was GOOD!

KARAOKE FOCUS TIME/staying after: 

Was one of my favorite parts. Was hysterical. Was superlative. The collective "we" consumed an unquantified amount of alcohol and broke, I think, 7 glasses at the bar.  Whoops.  I sang "Bad Touch," [as it turns out, I do have the balls to get up in front of a bunch of people and rap "do it doggie style so we can both watch X-files." sweet! also, hysterical. also, I nailed it. ungh!] Thanks to DJ from Cali for being my karaoke buddy for that one!  Also sang, "I got friends in low paces." Jumped in on that one at the last minute, 'cause I couldn't let the only country song pass me by, and "I want it that way."  Right before the last one, Andrew looks at Molly and me and is like "this is my jam, don't fuck it up."  bwahahah.  No pressure. But it was awesome, the whole bar sang.  Near the end, Nick Williams nailed "I will follow you into the dark," and I about cried. I think I was not the only one.

Dear Lindy Focus, and all my old and new friends:

Love you. See you again soon?

I don't have any, because I'm lame.  Jess Keener, however, is significantly less lame than me, and not incidentally was  one of the official photographers from the event.  Bobby Bonsey was the other official photographer, and has a few 'top' albums up already on his facebook page, which should be populated with ze photos soon.  Or may have already been, depending on when you read this?

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