Austin Rocks and Tampa Bay Classic 2013

TBC M&S All Star SS

Still recovering from Tampa. Good grief, I think it’s taking longer and longer the more I do this. I really don’t know how the pros go from event to event so quickly! Granted most of them don’t have to get up at 5:55am for work, but still. It’s exhausting!

I sat down to start writing about Tampa Bay when I realized that I never got around to Austin Rocks back in October! I love dancing in Austin. They are a small but enthusiastic group and I always have a great time there. This time we were there for Austin Rocks, part of the Challenge series ( This year, they were also joined by another new event, Same Sex Swing ( What a fun addition! There are a lot of us who dabble in role swapping in this dance – guys who follow, ladies who lead – so it was really great to have a venue for them to show off their skills!

Trent and CJ Caraway did a great job DJing the event – I really enjoyed the music and I heard a lot of good feedback from others. There was a really great energy the whole weekend. I was honored to be asked to join the invitational J&J and was privileged to draw the one and only Barry Jones! I had a blast! Naturally in keeping with the Keep Austin Weird theme, we all also had to draw a “dance move” as well. Barry and I drew the moonwalk. YIKES! Yeah so we are both really bad at it, but we tried. Good news is that we have the patented Barry Jones moves to entertain everyone with to make up for the bad moonwalking. LOL. Other couples got things like the can-can, the cabbage patch, the orangutan. Trent doing the orangutan – HA! SO FUNNY.

Then Tampa Bay Classic was this past weekend. We had heard lots of good things about this event for years and we were looking forward to going. Originally I had 3 routines planned to put on the floor, but a knee injury has prevented me from doing any real practice. So I’ve been resting the knee, and only planned to compete in JJ, SS and ProAm SS.

The resort is beautiful and right by the beach. The weather was great – the rain held off and it was never that hot. My only issue with resort type venues is that the ballroom is often quite a distance from our room and we have to go outside to get there – meaning having to carry your dance shoes around quite a bit. Minor complaint, but one to be aware of. Instead of being in the hotel itself, the ballroom was set up in a tented pavillion area, which provides a really nice backdrop. I was really impressed at how well it was cooled inside. One big drawback – because of noise ordinances, the music for late night had to be turned way down. There were times when you could not really hear the beat of the music until you got to the floor near the speaker. On the plus side, you could actually hold a decent conversation on the sidelines. For me, though, maybe because I’ve gotten used to it, it seemed like the energy late night was a little lacking because the music was just a bit too quiet. I guess there’s something to said about a pulsating beat that makes you want to get up and dance.

One really special treat was the Willis Clan. I had never seen them before since we don’t have cable, but you may have seen them on Great American Country on their TV show:,,GAC_26058_107286,00.html. They did a couple of exhibitions and I had seen a video of two of the older kids completing in the junior division at the US Open. They are super talented! From 2 to 21 years old, they sing, they dance, they play instruments, they act – they can do it all! I was truly impressed.

I danced more than I should have, given my knee, but I still didn’t dance as much as I normally do. Still, I got in some super fun dances, including one with Robert Royston (so MUCH FUN!) and one of my favorite leads, Jason Miklic. I also got to compete with two of my ams, Shane Young in Novice and Matthew in Intermediate. And they both won! So proud of my guys! It was especially satisfying for Matthew to win as it was our last time to dance pro-am together. He is moving on up in the dance world!

I also had such an amazing all star strictly swing partner, Sheven Kekoolani. Honestly I was pretty surprised that he didn’t already have a partner when I asked him about it and I am so glad I asked! That was the most fun I had in a strictly. The music was awesome, the connection was totally there, and I just relaxed and danced. And we won! What a delightful surprise to get that text when we landed in Houston! 🙂 So thanks to all my dance partners over the weekend. Can’t wait to dance with y’all again soon!

So proud of all of our students and fellow SSQQ staff that attended with us. They did fantastic! Amy, Leah and Shane all made novice JJ finals – I believe it was also the first time for Amy and Leah (and out of over 60 followers!) Leah came in 9th, Shane 5th and Amy 4th! So excited! Amy also came in 3rd in her pro-am with Trent. I know that they have all worked so hard. Additionally Matthew came in 4th in his Intermediate JJ and 1st in his ProAM JJ. Troy also came in 2nd in his Intermediate JJ. Even though we didn’t have a huge group there, we definitely represented Houston very well!

Next for us is Houston Rocks and The Challenge, complete with another Robert Royston intensive. Can’t wait!!!



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