Dallas D.A.N.C.E. (Dallas Dance) 2012 – Recap Part 1

Figured I’d share my late night playlist from Sunday night.  The floor stayed very busy until after 4 and we still had 20 in the room at 6!  Here’s what I played:

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Competition Music

Because the topic came up on Westie Discussion of the Day, I thought I’d post my thoughts here as well:

Westie Discussion of the Day – Competitive Music

So, to check myself I decided to actually go listen to what has been played for Adv/All Star/Champions levels at a small sample of events over the last 2 years. Here is the list:

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Novice Invitational 2012 – Playlist

Since I did get to sit in for a bit, I thought I’d share my playlist…

Artist Title Length Album
Anthony Hamilton Woo 3:15 Back To Love (Deluxe Version)
Jamie Cullum Don’t Stop The Music 4:48 The Pursuit
Charlie Wilson Never Got Enough 4:12 Just Charlie
mark morisson Return of the Mack 3:33 R’n’b Story 3
Al Green Love And Happiness 5:03 Greatest Hits [Expanded Version]
Marc Cohn Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Bonus Track) 3:08 Listening Booth: 1970
The Kidd Rizz Who’s Your Daddy? 3:38 Who’s Your Daddy? – EP
Will.I.Am Swing By My Way feat. John Legend 3:49 Must B 21
Hil St. Soul Until You Come Back to Me 3:54 Soul Organic
Big Head Todd & the Monsters Beast Of Burden (feat. Macy Gray) 3:42 Rocksteady
Chrisette Michele Be Ok 3:43 I Am
Ernie Halter Black Coffee In Bed 3:26 Franklin & Vermont
Marc Cohn After Midnight 2:50 Listening Booth: 1970
Beth Scalet California Dreamin’ 2:43 Roadwork

Dancing in the Caribbean

So we decided to go on vacation – and took a 7 day western caribbean cruise with Michelle’s parents.  I have to say, I had a very good time.  Lots of food (waaaaaaaaaaaay to much food)! Lots of drinks!  And probably the biggest surprise – we danced every night!

We knew that there would be live bands and we could probably find a place to dance while on the ship.  We just had no idea how much dancing we would be able to do and all the people we would meet because of it!

During the first full night at sea, there was a welcoming party on the main promenade.  It was formal night so we were all dressed up and there was a pop/R&B cover band playing.  When we realized that they were playing some excellent dance  music, we found an empty spot of floor and started dancing!  I think we danced a couple of songs and then headed off to dinner.

That night after dinner, we decided to find that same band so that we could get in some more dancing to work off all the food we had eaten so far.  While we were there, we saw another couple dancing to west coast swing.  We were so surprised to find another couple that knew our dance, we had to go chat with them.  I think they were from Colorado and they were there with a big group of dancers, who we kept running into all week.  Many of the dancers were older, but we loved that they were all out there, doing waltz, foxtrot, two step, swing, just out there getting their groove on!

Throughout the week, people kept stopping us on the boat to tell us how much they enjoy watching us dance and if we knew where they could take lessons from their part of the country.  We met couples from all over and by the end of the week, we were joking that we had groupies!  They would start asking us when and where we would be dancing each night so that they could come join us to dance and to watch.

I can definitely see the appeal of cruises and especially of going on a dance cruise!  I think we’ll definitely be looking into a dance cruise in the future.  Any recommendations?

Novice Invitational 2012

Decompressing from the weekend.  Always a fun event where we get to see so many of our wonderful new friends and tons of social dancing!  We had a great time catching with new friends from Dallas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.  The best thing about these events is getting to meet so many incredible people and having those zen moments, both on and off the floor.

This event is completely geared towards the novice and intermediate level competitive dancers, which makes it a great venue for those starting out in competition.  This year’s featured workshop instructors were Shawn and Kristen Moody and Matt and Crystal Auclair.  They are some of the best dancers in the nation and fantastic instructors.

This is the last year that the event will be held at the Hilton Clear Lake.  The hotel has made some nice upgrades to their facilities and in general, we like the hotel.  But it does deter some folks from heading down because it does add quite a bit of drive for those coming in from out of town.   It’s a far drive for most of us who live in Houston as well.  Next year, the event will be held at a new venue, the new Westin at Memorial City Mall, which we think will be an amazing location.  Easy access, in town and lots of places nearby for shopping and eating.  Can’t wait!

I had the privilege of getting to compete with my two Ams, Matthew and Louie, again.  They are really great dance partners and always a pleasure to dance with, socially or in competition.  Trent and I also got to compete in the Advanced JJ this year.  He drew Enola from Oklahoma, one of the nicest and funniest people we’ve met!  Since we had more guys than ladies, I ended up having to dance twice, with Henry from Louisiana and CJ from Dallas, both incredibly smooth dancers.  I’ve drawn Henry before and it is always a pleasure.  I haven’t danced with CJ in awhile – our paths just hadn’t crossed lately, but we also had an amazing dance and to our surprise, a 3rd place finish, amongst some of our toughest peers!  It was definitely a nice surprise to end the weekend with.




Austin City Dance Club’s 2nd Anniversay

Had a great time!  We taught a slow whip workshop and I got to DJ that night.  I had a ton of fun and thought I’d post my playlist for anyone who was interested.

**Edit – my list format didn’t show up the first time, so I’m trying again.

  1. Anthony Hamilton – Woo – 1/28/12 7:55 PM
  2. Hot Chelle Rae – Tonight Tonight – 1/28/12 8:06 PM
  3. Katlyn Swanson – Dizzy – 1/28/12 8:10 PM
  4. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson – One More Kiss – 1/28/12 8:13 PM
  5. Big Time Rush – Count On You (feat. Jordin Sparks) – 1/28/12 8:16 PM
  6. The Brand New Heavies – Boogie – Album Version – 1/28/12 8:19 PM
  7. Pretty Lights – Finally Moving (James Brown Remix) – Pretty Lights – 1/28/12 8:23 PM
  8. Colby O’Donis – Game For You – 1/28/12 8:27 PM
  9. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are – 1/28/12 8:30 PM
  10. Raphael Saadiq – Let’s Take a Walk – 1/28/12 8:34 PM
  11. Barry White – What Am I Gonna Do With You – 1/28/12 8:36 PM
  12. Donnie Klang – Take You There – Donnie Klang, P. Diddy – 1/28/12 8:40 PM
  13. Jamie Foxx – I Don’t Need It – 1/28/12 8:44 PM
  14. Joe – Come Get to This – 1/28/12 8:50 PM
  15. New Kids on the Block – Click Click Click – 1/28/12 8:53 PM
  16. Little Junior Parker – Five Long Years – 1/28/12 8:53 PM
  17. Jem – Crazy – 1/28/12 8:58 PM
  18. Martin Sexton – Boom Sh-Boom – 1/28/12 9:02 PM
  19. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson – Gangster Of Love – 1/28/12 9:05 PM
  20. Blake Lewis – I Got U – 1/28/12 9:08 PM
  21. Ana Popovic – How’d You Learn To Shake It Like That – 1/28/12 9:11 PM
  22. Tyler Ward & Katy McAllister – Moves Like Jagger – 1/28/12 9:15 PM
  23. Ben L’Oncle Soul – Seven Nation Army – 1/28/12 9:19 PM
  24. Jaicko – Jaicko ft. Danny Reid – Callin (All Night Long) – 1/28/12 9:22 PM
  25. Maroon 5 – Get Back In My Life – 1/28/12 9:25 PM
  26. Pure Prairie League – Aimee – 1/28/12 9:29 PM
  27. Mensy, Tim – You Gotta Swim – 1/28/12 9:33 PM
  28. Anastacia – Absolutely Positively – 1/28/12 9:43 PM
  29. Dion – Walkin’ Blues – 1/28/12 9:45 PM
  30. JJ Grey & Mofro – On Fire – 1/28/12 9:49 PM
  31. Anastacia – Not That Kind – 1/28/12 9:54 PM
  32. Cunnie Williams – Saturday – 1/28/12 9:55 PM
  33. Duwende – Remember the Time – 1/28/12 9:59 PM
  34. Aretha Franklin – Dr. Feelgood – 1/28/12 10:23 PM
  35. Brian Culbertson РFeelin’ It Р1/28/12 10:27 PM
  36. Charlie Wilson – Never Got Enough – 1/28/12 10:31 PM
  37. Ruthie Foster – Walk On – 1/28/12 10:35 PM
  38. Ruben Studdard – How You Make Me Feel – 1/28/12 10:40 PM
  39. Craig David – Hot Stuff [Let’s Dance] – 1/28/12 10:43 PM
  40. The Kidd Rizz – Who’s Your Daddy? – 1/28/12 10:47 PM
  41. Lloyd – Dedication To My Ex (Miss That) – 1/28/12 10:50 PM
  42. Flo Rida – Turn Around (5,4,3,2,1) – 1/28/12 10:54 PM
  43. mark morisson – Return of the Mack – 1/28/12 10:57 PM
  44. Marc Cohn – Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Bonus Track) – 1/28/12 11:01 PM
  45. Maroon 5 – Misery – 1/28/12 11:04 PM
  46. Tracy Chapman – Give Me One Reason – 1/28/12 11:07 PM
  47. Brandy – Full Moon – 1/28/12 11:11 PM
  48. Adele – Rolling In The Deep – 1/28/12 11:15 PM
  49. Drizabone Soul Family – Hit That Spot – 1/28/12 11:17 PM
  50. Charles Walker – You Got the Walk – 1/28/12 11:19 PM
  51. Cee-Lo Green – Kung Fu Fighting – 1/28/12 11:25 PM
  52. Raphael Saadiq – 100 Yard Dash – 1/28/12 11:27 PM
  53. Jamie Lidell – Multiply – 1/28/12 11:29 PM
  54. John Mayer – Come When I Call (Live) – 1/28/12 11:33 PM
  55. Mayer Hawthorne – The Walk – 1/28/12 11:37 PM
  56. C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat – 1/28/12 11:40 PM
  57. Cameo – Word Up! – 1/28/12 11:43 PM
  58. Lori Jenaire – California Dreamin’ – 1/28/12 11:47 PM
  59. Avani – Watching You Feat. Rahsaan Patterson And Carl Mclntosh – 1/28/12 11:51 PM
  60. Jamie Cullum – Don’t Stop The Music – 1/28/12 11:53 PM
  61. Eminem – Shake That (Clean) – 1/28/12 11:58 PM
  62. Oli Brown – No Diggity – 1/29/12 12:03 AM
  63. Michael Grimm – You Can Leave Our Hat On – 1/29/12 12:07 AM
  64. Boyce Avenue – Rolling In The Deep – 1/29/12 12:11 AM
  65. Clarence Carter – Love Me With A Feeling – 1/29/12 12:14 AM

What is this dance?

With all the hubbub about where this dance is heading and what has happened to west coast swing, I can’t help but ponder a bit on the topic.  Given the intensity of the discussions recently, I thought I’d actually attempt an explanation, of sorts.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am opinionated and will gladly debate any number of topics.  They also know those very few topics that I am most passionate about, with this being one.  Allow me to offer a bit of background on how swing and I came to meet.

My mother figuratively (if not literally) grabbed me by the ear one day when I was 15 and announced that it was time for me to learn to dance.  “All men should know how to dance.”  Given that we are from Texas, that training naturally started off in country and western where I learned 2-step, polka, schottische, and jitterbug.  Since we happened to live in a small town with a large Latin American population, that introduction was extended to include cumbia and waltz (I know many will wonder why I put waltz with cumbia – it is because I never once heard or danced to a waltz when at a C&W dance – only at quinces, and that is where I was taught the dance, as well).  While fun, none of it really stuck.  The music didn’t really interest me and I wasn’t much for the C&W dances that I could go to, nor where there that many quinces for me to attend.  Needless to say, I remember very little of what I was taught.

I remember my mother dragging me to her dance practice once, where they immediately drafted me for a team/exhibition thing they were doing.  I enjoyed the attention of all the women and did my best to learn what I was being taught.  This led to my learning the Houston Whip.  I asked my mom if I could take lessons in whip and she agreed to take me with her.  I started attending the Southwest Whip Club’s Wednesday classes at the Melody Club (then called Al Mark’s Melody Lane Ballroom).  I instantly fell in love with the music and have been pretty much hooked since.

My first introduction to competition was a Saturday Jack-n-Jill at The Rusty Bucket.  This was after I’d been dancing for about 2 months.  I was paired up with a pretty blonde lady, and proceeded to not have a single clue what was going on.  Seems like anything I led went wrong.  There was no connection, at least not what I had been taught.  There was no hip sway, no advanced triple, no ladies hook step.  To this day, I still don’t know who she was.  I just remember sitting back down with my mom and asking her, “What’d I do wrong?  She didn’t do anything I tried to lead.”  That was my introduction to “different” styles.

I know now that my mom was being polite.  The woman I danced with had been taught wrong.  She learned at a studio that produced students that could only dance with other students from that studio.  They couldn’t go out on Saturday night and dance with the rest of the whippers.  What I took from that experience is that I never again wanted to feel that way when I danced with someone.  I never again wanted to question, “Why can’t I dance with this person?”.  I made it my personal mission to be able to lead anyone, regardless of region or style, so long as it was swing (I feel I’ve come a long way toward that goal).  I have since danced with many, many followers whose styles were neither whip (in the early years) nor west coast swing (in recent years), but included shag, hand dance, lindy, east coast, bop, jive, push, savoy, hollywood, and imperial (to name some of those I think I recognized).

I have spent innumerable hours over the last 25 years dancing, watching, competing, teaching and learning all about this dance.  I have watched the styles change.  I have heard the music change.  I have seen the dance grow.  I have seen many, many people come and go.  I now count my primary styles of dance as 2.  They are west coast swing and slow whip.  My wife and I teach a weekly class as well as actively compete in west coast swing.  We teach workshops in west coast swing and slow whip.  I also DJ for our dances and at a few events.  I consider myself a dancer, teacher, competitor and DJ.  But most importantly, I consider myself a swing dancer.

Which brings us to the question of what is this dance?  I’ll give my opinion on that later.

DFW ProAM Jam – Memorial Day Weekend, 2011

What a great weekend!  Thanks Lori & Glenn for putting on a great event!

We had a great time this weekend, with plenty of dancing and music and just hanging out with great people – I don’t think you can ask for any more than that!

Thursday night brought us a 2 hour workshop from Angel & Debbie Figueroa (that unfortunately, we were not able to attend).  I heard plenty of good things about it and the early bird dance that night.

Friday started off with the usual suspects… getting into town, checking into the hotel, registration, getting your wristband, floor tryouts and, of course, some early socializing (and maybe a little dancing).  Terry Roseborough and Stevie Blakely taught the Friday workshop.  Ruth Gilbert was the Head DJ this year and honored me by giving me plenty of booth time.  I had the privilege of starting things out on Friday evening and for the Opening Ceremonies.  Speaking of which, Lori & Glenn did a great job honoring our Veterans.  She brought in the William Kratt Chord Company, a traditional barbershop quartet.  They were really a nice addition to the opening ceremonies.  They opened with America the Beautiful, followed by a great Armed Forces medley and finished up with the one of the best performances of our National Anthem I’ve heard in a long time.

The routine divisions were the featured categories on Friday.  In the Pro/Am routine division, I believe (I sincerely hope I’m not missing anyone) we had Kerry Turner & Claudia Buhrig, Jeanne DeGeyter & Jonathan Tatum, Alicia Turner & Bill Black, Lisa D’Amico & Harold Kramer.  Great performances by everyone and congratulations to Jonathan Tatum and Jeanne DeGeyter on their win.

The Novice division had routines by Tim Winter & Claudia Buhrig, and Harold Kramer & Patty Jones.   The Intermediate division had routines by Ben Smith & Wenni Guo, and Josh Williamson & Anyssa Olivares.  Solid performances by everyone and I think they put on a great show!

Saturday was all about Jack ‘n Jills, female Pro/Am Novice and male Pro/Am Intermediate prelims and finals.  Workshops were taught by Jeanne DeGeyter, Taletha Jouzdani, Heavy & Barbara Grammer, and Damon & Lisa D’Amico.  Lots of great dancing and some truly entertaining moments on the floor – let’s hope someone got it all on video!

Looks like Matthew Boehm’s efforts in his dance may be paying off – he made the Novice J&J finals and an awesome 3rd place finish in the female Pro/Am Novice division!  Keep up the good work Matthew!

The advanced J&J was a lot of fun.  The music was old school disco – and you can see part of the winning performance here.  It was a ton of fun.  I have to say thanks to incredibly talented Alyssa Kling for helping to make me look good (and snag a 3rd place finish).  Talk about an up-and-comer.  I fully expect Alyssa to make it to All-Stars in very short order.  I also want to thank the incomparable Angie Jones for our great J&J dance (again) and our 4th place finish (again – not 4th again, but placed again.  Seriously, I think this is 3 or 4 times together in the last year).

Sunday wrapped up the weekend with the Junior division, Strictly Swing divisions, female Pro/Am Intermediate, and male Pro/Am Novice.  Workshops were offered by Austin Murrey & Chelsea Rodgers, Shawn & Kristen Moody, Angel & Debbie Figueroa, and Jason Miklic & Sophie Kdep.

I had a great time dancing in the male Pro/Am Novice division with Laura Jean.  She feels the music in every ounce of her body and it’s a joy to be able to dance with her.

In the Novice SS, I have to offer a congrats again to Matthew and his first place finish with Sarah Thomas!  Keep up the good work Matthew, you’re doing great!

I loved the Advanced SS;  It was a great show.  Doug had the dancers all come out onto the floor together and ran it “dance jam” style.  Everyone got fast blues and the energy level rocked through the whole thing.  Stevie and Will’s outstanding performance netted them 1st place in a really tough category.  A special congrats also to my bride and her partner (Jeremy) for their great performance and 5th place finish!

The highlight of the weekend though, was easily the Golden Ticket Finals.  I have to give Doug a great big thanks for his work on the concept and promoting the Golden Ticket and how much fun he makes it.  The head-to-head nature of certainly amps up the energy and everyone seemed to have a good time – even as their role changed from competitor to spectator.  A ton of fun and a great show, you just didn’t want it to end!  The final round pitted John Bowman & Wendy Cart against Lloyd “Cookie” Chevis & Michelle Haynes.  Against the pounding backdrop of David Guetta’s Love Is Gone – John Bowman & Wendy Cart walked away with the jacket, tickets and travel vouchers for Golden Ticket Finale held at the US Open in November.  Congratulations to John & Wendy for several great dances and I hope to see you in November.  Another very special congrats to Cookie & Michelle – who were right there the whole time.  I don’t think the judges had an easy job there!

All in all, it was a great event!  So many good things that can be said about the event and I don’t think I would get it all.  I know Lori & Glenn put their heart and soul into making DFW ProAM Jam a great, friendly party and it shows.  I’ve also got to mention this year’s special gift – Strawberry-Jalapeno jelly!  This stuff was delicious!  With cream cheese on crackers, I had to seriously restrain myself.  I’m looking forward to some creative recipes using this oh so tasty condiment.

Like we do at the end of every event we go to, Michelle & I talk about how it was.  How was the pro staff, the music, the judging, the ambiance and all that other stuff.  Ruthie, Ruby & Tom did a great job with the comp music.  Shawn Moody does an outstanding job as MC.  He traded out duties through the weekend with Steve Giles – a Dallas local and solidly outstanding MC as well.  All the Pros were friendly and danced.  The hotel was nice, the rooms were roomy and the price was dang near awesome.  The people were absolutely the rockin’ist best dang group of dance partiers EVER! It was a very good event.  We will be back next year.

Class ends, class begins

As we end one session of classes and get ready to start another, we will take some time to review how the month went and see where we can improve.  As we try out new things and new techniques, I’m glad to see how enthusiastically everyone responds.

I must say that I really enjoy everyone in the class and I hope that I manage to pass along at least a little bit of why I love this dance.

Thanks for coming and we look forward to seeing you for the next session.  We’ll continue to push and poke and prod, and work to uncover the better dancer in all our students.

Slow whip workshop

We started planning out a slow whip workshop this week.  Still working on the details… breadth of material to cover, when will we have and how do we want to structure the workshop.  Should have more details in the next couple of weeks.  I’m looking forward to teaching my favorite dance again!