Part 2 (Here’s where you can find Part 1)
Funny, I remember when I first started dancing I lurked around different blogs and probably the first one I encountered was Carl Nelson’s blog (which doesn’t exist anymore, at least not where I found it. He is now writing about his lonesome travels across North America, and beyond?, here) The first blog I read was a review of that year’s Camp Jitterbug. So of course I was totally dazzled by all the videos and descriptions of classes and such and such. Now I actually got to go to Camp Jitterbug! And I got to dance with Carl (at Frankie 95, though…)! Haha! Just goes to show that all you need is the Internet to inspire dreams… no matter how small/lame. 😀
Well I have to say, I throughly enjoyed Seattle. I’m completely in love with the city. Even though to walk to any of the venues you had to walk uphill, I enjoyed walking in Seattle more than I did in NYC. We walked in Seattle more thank NYC! I think it’s because it’s just physically tiring to walk in NYC because there is always so much going on, too many sounds, too many people, too many signs and traffic signals to pay attention to. Too much sensory input all at once. Seattle was very relaxed and cool city. Also, Seattle had lots of trees and green things called plants… incredible! So much good food and shopping! Ahhh!
Also, If you are ever in Seattle, make time to take the Underground Tour. It’s insane. I’ll post some picture up later, even though they aren’t that good.
Camp Jitterbug – May 28-31 2009
The Jump Session Show
So clearly the highlight of this year’s Camp Jitterbug (and probably any Camp Jitterbug) was the Jump Session show. There were some amazing, AMAZING pieces shown. Sharon Davis’ banana dance, Karen Thurman and Andrew Thigpen’s routine, and a fantastic rendition of the Al and Leon shim sham. The Harlem Hot Shots had some nice numbers too, you can find videos of their performances from Frankie 95.
Everything at the event seemed very organized, unlike a lot of other events. The first night welcome dance at the Knights of Columbus Ballroom was VERY HOT, unbearably hot. But they did give out free vitamin water and it was video DJed which was awesome because I’m VERY into video clips so I liked that a lot, and found a few new treasures. A couple people mentioned that they didn’t enjoy it as much because the music was bad quality and it sometimes would cut off a few notes before the end of the song (due to the nature of vintage film clips). I didn’t really mind that, I say give me music and I will dance. I don’t mind if it’s a bit raspy or tinny sounding, it just adds to the allure and atmosphere.
The second night we were at a much larger venue which was not nice. Except the floor was like concrete and a thin layer of this wooden covering I think? It was ouchy. To add to the pain, they had a Charleston-y band playing the whole night. I mean, don’t get me wrong I love that Charleston-y stuff and I think people don’t break it out often enough (well at least in LA, groove city), but the whole night? On a concrete floor? Ugh..
The other venues were awesome, and the late night dances were SO much fun. Too much fun? Maybe.
The class were all fine but one thing that annoyed me that’s been starting to bug me a lot in a lot of events is the class levels and their descriptions. The different tracks or levels are described very lightly and generally having no real lines of distinction between them. Therefore things get very muddled up. You end up taking an "advanced" class where the level of dancers is beginning intermediate at most. All beginner intermediate dancers think they are advanced. I sure as heck did. Then I took the advanced track at Camp Hollywood last year which made me believe that I was actually advanced because all the dancers were at my level (or below, which is scary.). Therefore the teachers have to dumb down their material and it all becomes pointless.
Even though they had "auditions" for the advanced plus and master track at Camp Jitterbug it still sucked. The master track auditions were real since I guess they decided to only put through a certain amount of people. The people who didn’t make it were told to audition for advanced plus, which was a joke. We danced 3 partial songs and the tapped out like 4 people and said the rest of you are in. What the heck kind of an audition is that? I was excited because I was maybe going to learn something from these classes but I was wrong yet again. I talked to a few people after a class that used the tango bit from the California routine, and they were like "What is that?" I mean the track is called advanced plus, for pete’s sake! You should at least KNOW what the California routine is, if not knowing how to do it minus aerials! Yeeeeesh.
I think organizers of all events should come together and devise a certain standard for what an advanced class is, like you have to know the shim sham and at least have heard of the California routine and you should be able to do all the steps in it, not necessarily the entire routine as a whole. As simple as that! It’s not hard…
I have to say, though, that the solo track was awesome! (Probably because the teachers could teach what they wanted to and people who picked it up picked it up, not having to depend on the level of their partner.) Makes me REALLY want to got to Stompology next year but I have no money (donate at the top left!).
There were also a lot of really inspirational and mind blowing classes taught by Ramona Staffeld and Mikey Pedroza, Laura Keat and Jeremy Otth, Laura Keat and Nick Williams, and Ria DeBasie and Mikey Pedroza, Casey Schneider and Mike Faltesek, and Skye Humphries (in the solo track). These classes influenced my dancing the most because they taught concepts and not moves or steps. Especially for follows, at a certain point classes that just teach different moves become pointless because when you’re dancing, you’re not really going through moves, you are just moving your body to the music. But when someone teaches you something that influences your philosophy of dancing or your technique it really makes a difference and makes it worth your time and money. Camp Jitterbug was in abundance of classes like this, I loved it. I highly, highly recommend it.
The provided food awe delicious Thai food from a local eatery, even though it was awesome. Another delicious tidbit was the awesome lunchtime lectures by Lennart Westurland about the old school Savoy dancers and Peter Loggins’ hilarious rememberings of the old school dancers in LA.
Thanks to Sheri Kang and Ben Yau for making Camp Jitterbug even more awesome than my highest expectations!
Here’s something for the road home. Surprise performance at one of the late nights:
Also if you’re dying to find out, I’ll be at Camp Hollywood in a week and a half. I’m also trying desperately to gather up monies to get to ILHC and ULHS. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! Click DONATE at the TOP RIGHT!