Category Archives: travel

New Dance Resolutions

So I’m gonna make some goals. Because that’s what successful people do. I think I’m going to try this whole successful thing this year. YEAR OF PYE! 2013! Ready? GO!

1. Get a job. DONE.

It’s starting off pretty good. I have a job, which is incredible that anyone would ever give me a job. But not only is it just a job, it’s the best job in the entire universe. I get to play with kids all day, and on top of that help them be awesome at life, and on top of that get paid to learn a lot.

2. Drop off unnecessary baggage. DONE.

Got rid of some things I didn’t need anymore. ‘Nuff said.

3. Be more confident.

Almost there, but not quite. Just generally in my life, in my choices, and especially in my dancing. I need a little bit of Irene Thomas up in here.

4. Do things I’m scared of, but secretly love.

Here’s a secret that maybe 5 people in the world know about me. I have a dream of singing in front of people one day. By posting this fairly embarrassing thing about myself I am putting it out there. I am committing to it. This IS the YEAR OF PYE, after all.

5. Save money for things.

Since I have a job now, I can do this. I’m going to travel more and…

6. Teach more.

I was incredibly honored to get asked to teach at Le Hot Sauce this year with Conrad.  I’m so excited and I cannot wait. Also, I’m going to…

7. DJ more.

This is scary for me so it is part of #4 up there. But I’m tired of being stopped by fear. Ooooo. I got deep there for a second. Also, I will…

8. Compete more.

I’m going to ILHC or Bust, as previously stated. And…

9. Dance more.

However, this is the YEAR OF PYE. This calls for something epic. Something drastic. Something insane. Something unimaginably amazing. You know what I’m talking about. The one. The only. Herrang.


10. Care less about what other people think.

And how self centered this entire post sounds.

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School is hard. And a Chem major is harder. Trying to transfer and not being a citizen is even harder.

I still love dancing. I do it a lot. Too much. I updated the videos, photos, and awards pages so check those out to see what I’ve been up to if you’re interested. I also added a new page, called future. There you can find out about what events I’m planning on going to and about different projects I’m working on for the blog.

This weekend I was at Le Hot Sauce VI, run by the beautiful Carla. I will write more about my experience next week. It was an absolutely marvelous event.

This weekend watch out for me in Humbolt as I’m going to the Emerald Coast Lindy Exchange. Please ask me to dance if you see me!

Thanks for reading y’all!

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Blues it up good.

Oh no, blues!

Yeah, you should get over yourself.

LA Blues October 23th – 15th, 2009

It was a fantastic event from beginning to end. It was small enough to be intimate and relaxed but intensive enough to make it well, well, well worth your money.

The Dancing

Well, it was pretty good. Personally there were like four people that I wanted to dance with so if you’re looking for a great exchange with lots of fantastic social dancing, this is not it. However, 3 of those people were teachers so if you’d like to dance with some of the best dancers without the pressure of a big event where everyone wants to dance with that one instructor (Skye Home-fries, ever tried asking him to dance at an event?) than this is your event. In fact since the event was so cozy the teachers have a lot of time to hang around and dance without many people attacking them every 3 seconds you can get some valuable one on one time with them. In fact their even willing to help you if you ask them for it!

I really enjoyed how relaxed the atmosphere was. This kind of let the learning sneak up on you, so it seemed like you were not doing much but then all the sudden you’re getting better and doing lots of things you never thought you would get to do, like make it to the finals in the Jack and Jill.

The Competition

Yup. That’s me. (The first one out in the spotlight)

This was the only competition they had this year. Maybe next year they’d have a solo one, those are always more fun than anything else, but scarier to enter. A strictly would have been nice too and would have probably drawn out a few better dancers at least for the one night.

I know that the organizers felt that putting on too many competitions would not only cause a lot of work and stress for them but would also interrupts the social dancing which is so important to blues (and arguably lindy hop but that’s a whole different post). I really like this idea because at a few recent events I’ve really felt cheated out of my dancing due to interruptions for performances and competitions *cough*Frankie 95*cough*. Even when there is a lot of time for dancing, the flow of the night kind of sucks when there is an interruption every 30 minutes.

If you’re curious, here’s Part 2 of the competition:

The Instructors

They were all fantastic. There is really no other word for it. Laura Glaess and Mike Roberts, Nelle Hatley and Joe DeMers, and of course Karissa Lightsmith and Topher Howard. Fantastic instructors and above all fantistic people willing to go the extra mile to see that their students master the material given and excel. Otherwise known as picking up what they’re putting down.

I had a fantastic time and I will FOR SURE be attending next year. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about an event. Plus I have some inside information that the organizers are thinking about asking Mike Faltesek to come teach solo blues in 2010! WOW!

Don’t be a looser and miss it because you think blues sucks because you’re stuck up.

Just in case you’re wondering about future events I’m going to my last one for a while will be Lindy Focus on Dec. 27th to 31st in Asheville, NC. I’ve decided to focus on school for a while so I can finish it extra fast, try to dance at more places locally (Strutter’s and Atomic), then marry a gay man in Seattle to get a green card, move there and start traveling again. This master plan will take approximately one year to reach completion. Stay tuned my lovely Seattle friends.

Just a reminder, If you’re reading this on facebook you’re missing half the fun! Please click on ‘View Original Post’ below!

There’s a heaven right here on Earth…

"ULHS is dead! Long live ULHS!" – Jerry

ULHS October 8th – 12th, 2009

Damn. I’m pretty much speechless. Except for this long and obnoxious review below.

The Dancing

The dancing was alright. I think there was a bit of an imbalance in the lead : follow ratio so it was very hard to find some one to dance with unless A) they were your friend B) DSC_0066you attacked your victim as soon as the song was over. This was not so much fun for the followers but I’m sure the leaders had the time of their lives. I had some pretty good dances though, so I’m not complaining. I met an amazing tap dancer named Ronnie who just happened to be in NOLA that weekend.  Even though he did not know anything about Lindy Hop, he ended up buying a weekend pass! He’s amazing.

The Venues

The venues were all amazing. By far though, my favorite was the wax museum on the first night because the floor was awesome, the space was nice and intimate without being crowded, and they kept the museum open for us so you could walk around it when you were not dancing. Other venues were the WWII Museum, which was all right, the acoustics were not so great and it didn’t feel as intimate, the House of Blues, the floor was horribly dirty my shoes had like half a centimeter of dirt caked on the bottom, and I didn’t even wear them on the street! Firtzels was the late night venue which is a small jazz club on Bourbon St. It was very crowded even on the 2nd floor, so much that I didn’t really want to dance there at all and I usually look forward to late night because I get room to dance. One of the events took place outside in the french market where they put up an awesome floor where they had half the showdown contest. This was awesome until it started to rain. But I think that will be taken care of next year with some sort of canopy over the floor. Over all I really liked how all the venues were different each night. The organizers really kept the city of New Orleans in mind and even if you didn’t specifically go sight seeing you got to experience the city and the couture and history just by being at the scheduled events. This I’m guessing was a difficult task, and I say to the organizers job well done!

The Competitions

Were alright. Even though there were tons of people there, not a lot of "rockstars" showed up which to me was surprising. All I needed was some more of that Frida and Mikey sauce from ILHC. Yes please. But I have to say I’m extremely pleased with the results. I’m so glad the people that won, won. My favorites were the showdown final battle where Joanna and Chance won over Annie and Dax, Ramona winning the solo jazz, and of course Dax taking it all the way and showing people how dancing is supposed to be done in the solo blues.


The Music

Holly crap, I cannot say enough about the music. It was mind-blowing, and amazing, and awesome, and fantastic, and glorious, and wonderful. It is amazing how these musicians can play anything, catch things in mid-sentence, and play with anybody and with any instruments. It blows my mind how talented and flexible they are. I can write a whole other post about it, and I might just have to do that.

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The City

Which was a major part of the event. And I have to say that if it   was held in any other city this event would have been terrible. But because the organizers really thought about how to show people the city just by going to the places they were supposed to be it really paid off big time. The DSC_0013city has so much culture and history you can feel it pulsing through you. You can’t help yourself but connect with the history of the music we love so much and our dance, which sprang of of this music. And don’t even get me started on the food…

BTW. If you want to see some more pictures click here and here (these are significantly better).

Future Plans

October 8th-11th, 2009 – ULHS
October 23rd-25th, 2009 – LA Blues (This weekend!)
October 30th-November 1st, 2009 – EBC 
November 5th-8th, 2009 – Pheonix Lindy Exchange (Perhaps if I volunteer…)
November 26th-29th, 2009 – US Open 
December 4th-6th, 2009 – Killer Diller Weekend
December 27th-23rd, 2009 – Lindy Focus (need to buy plane tickets!)
January 10th-17th, 2010 – Sea Swing Sensation Cruise! (With my mom!) I really wish I could go here though…

Just a reminder, If you’re reading this on facebook you’re missing half the fun! Click on ‘View Original Post’ below!

The competition weekend to end all competition weekends…

ILHC was a blast. I’ll try to make this on the shorter side since I really want to go to sleep right now.

First of all, whenever possible fly Virgin. It’s awesome. Second of all D.C. is such a great place to live, their metro system is awesome. We used it to get from the airport and it was surprisingly easy, if well researched. I didn’t get to see much of the city, which doesn’t really bother me that much because they’re all the same to me, but some of my friends used the metro to see al the famed sights of D.C. Since our hotel was very close to a station it made it even more simple. You can have a very affordable and fun-filled vacation in D.C. very easily.

ILHC – August 27th-30th, 2009

When I first walked in I was surprised at how small the space actually is. You would think from watching the videos that there is much more space off to the sides and behind the camera for the audience, but what you see in the video is basically it.

The Dances

The night dances were a bit slow with less advanced dancers coming out since they were all busy worrying or practicing for their competitions. However, many came out during the late nights and Saturday and Sunday nights. But I had more fun just dancing with anyone who asked me than being a snob and trying to dance with only the ‘pros’. During one of the late nights I had a sort of epiphany about my dancing. I was so tried and sleepy that I decided to stop caring about how I’m dancing entirely.  It turns out that’s how you have fun. Stop caring about how you cool you look, what awesome footwork you’re going to do next, how good your following is, and just dance. I can’t believe I haven’t done that before.

The Music

So The Boilermaker Jazz Band played on Saturday night and they had everyone on the edge of their seats looking for a dance partner for every song. They also provided music for the Champions Strictly, which was ridiculous. They really drove the energy of the dancers. See for your self:

That’s approximately a 260 bmp song for 12+ minutes! Wha!?

However the other nights we not so exciting. The bands felt like they played a lot for crowds of people sitting down but not much for dancers. They played very long very fast songs in a row which didn’t make me want to dance very much. Not to mention one band played melody… It was terrible. I looked forward to DJ’ed late nights the most, even though the DJs were also unsatisfactory most of the time. Like that time they killed a jam on the last night by playing a slow song right after a faster song which had started the jam, and then playing a faster song right after the slow song  to keep the jam going which they already killed. Maybe there should be some sort of camp or event for DJs too. Mary Freitag and Augie Freman would teach them how to do it right!

But I guess that’s what you get for wanting quality social dancing at a competition event.

The Competitions

Amazing. The dancing was superb and awesome. But like most lindy hop today, it was missing fun.  Sometimes  don’t want constant AWESOME in-your-face lindy hop. Sometimes it’s much better to have fun. What am I saying! It’s always better to have fun! You need the dance to have a character and a direction than just a sequence of AWESOME steps/moves/footwork/styling etc. without fun, it wouldn’t be lindy hop anymore. It would be like… Broadway jazz… yech… But that’s just my personal bias. Check out my 3 favorite moments of fun:


Watch the second couple up, especially during the all-skate



The Gap

I almost forgot to post this week because I’ve been so busy. I only have like 30 minutes to finish this so that will keep it nice and short.

Back from ILHC and it was a blast, more about the event next week. Congratulations to all of my friends who placed! You were all so wonderful!

Preparing for Lindy and Party which starts today, but I’ll get there Friday night and will leave Sunday night/Monday morning depending on how you look at it.

On to the subject:

Going to ILHC and getting to meet so many amazing people again really made me glad to be in LA. But, as a follow up to last months post, we do have some disadvantages. First of all everything is so far apart. Unless you live in the OC, which would be nice if you have a lot of money. I don’t.

Another peculiar quirk about our scene is that even though we have so many amazing dancers that are very accessible to everyone weekly, there is a large gap between the ‘pros’ and the other dancers. While in an idyllic scene such as Seattle there are many dancers who are just of the verge of ‘pro’ status and so on, the dancing skill and technique is spread evenly, like smooth peanut butter on toasted whole wheat bread with bananas on top. Yum.

So why is LA so different? Maybe people are intimidated by the level of dancing?  Maybe the scene didn’t really get any new dancers after the late 90’s and only now its starting to grow again? Who knows? Do you?

Man the term ‘pro’ sucks.

People to seek out on the floor in LA:
Mary Freitag
– mentioned in the Camp Hollywood post last month as one of the DJ’s who made the weekend awesome, instead of just good, she dances in many places around LA. She is the sweetest follow you’ll find anywhere. Period. Her and Andrew Hsi took 3rd place in the ULHC open strictly! Also, check out her fantastic blog!
Roy Samson – brilliant lead and a brilliant person. All around brilliant. He teaches the beginning lesson at Lindy Groove often and you can also find him selling drinks and snacks in the lobby to raise funds for the One2Swing teams who took 3rd and 4th in the ILHC team competition which he is a part of!

Just a reminder, If you’re reading this on facebook you’re missing half the fun! Click on ‘View Original Post’ below!


T-minus 3 1/2 hours till I’m on a plane to D.C. to ILHC

Hope to see a lot of you there. I hope to dance with you!

I’m just really excited and I haven’t slept and now there’s no point in even going to bed…

Anyhow, wish me luck!

Camp Hollywood

The most anticipated lindy event in the LA area… well, after they postponed the Catalina Jazz Dance Fest till next year and Inspiration Weekend was canceled this year… so the only large lindy event in the LA area… is now over. Yes, Camp Hollywood.

Camp Hollywood – July 30-August 2nd, 2009

It was badass. Even more badass than last year, but that’s probably because I was an idiot last year. Man, I really hope I say that every year.

The Classes

The classes were alright. They were not mind blowing or innovative, they were alright. I took an aerials class and that sucked, because there were maybe 60 couples in the room. If you ever need to learn aerials, which is probably a bad idea anyway, you should take a private because it’s impossible to learn something so technical and so heavily dependent on follow-leader connection in a group workshop or class.

The Music

But the DJ’s were AWESOME. Mary Freitag was unbelievable. It was 3:00 AM and every song was so perfect I never wanted to go to sleep.  She DJ’s often at Third Saturday Swing.

As for the bands, they played very fast, very long songs for the shag and balboa dancers which isn’t too much fun on a crowded floor. That’s no surprise. I might have danced a few interspersed songs (yes, even to Jonathan Stout!) to practice balboa, but I saved the real dancing till late night because that’s when you wanted to dance and actually had room to also.

The Contests

Some pretty awesome things happened surprisingly. Must be because of Mikey Pedroza last year. Kim and David’s eight helicopters in a row, One2Swing Jitterbug’s routine which brought tears to peoples eyes (including me), Andrew Hsi’s and Sarah Breck’s routine, and other such things that cannot be summed up in words.

Californians swept the awards, maybe that’s because there weren’t as many people from out of town (perhaps due to the economic situation and most lindy vagabonds having spent their last dimes on Frankie 95). But I have to say that Andrew’s routine blew my mind, amazing. There should be more stuff like that instead of the same old trickery we see all the time with bad technique and no variation or musicality. Yawn.

I had a good time, no, I had an excellent time. Thanks to Charlotte who’s awesome in every way imaginable, Mikey Pedroza for giving me the best dance of my life so far, and to Mike Faltesek who I actually tricked into agreeing to dance with me. HA, sucker!

Future Plans

August 22nd, 2009 – Le Hot Sauce III
August 27th-30th, 2009 – ILHC
September 18th-20th, 2009 – Cowtown Jamborama (Still deciding on this one, depends on how cheap the flights get!)
October 8th-11th, 2009 – ULHS! (WooHoo!)
October 23rd-25th, 2009 – LA Blues (If I can volunteer…)
November 26th-29th, 2009 – US Open (ONLY if I can volunteer and get in for free.)
December 3rd-7th, 2009 – SF Bal Fest (Need to get a room together…)
December 27th-23rd, 2009 – Lindy Focus (Haven’t registered yet…)
January 10th-17th, 2010 – Sea Swing Sensation Cruise! (With my mom!)

I’m gonna drop out of school due to lack of funds soon… *sigh*

Camp Hollywood Recovery Time

So I had a killer headache yesterday and most of today and that’s why I’m late posting this.

Camp Hollywood was last weekend (July 30th – August 2nd, 2009)  It was a blast! I had even more fun than last year, but then again I knew nothing about anything last year. I’ll re-live it in some glorious and not so glorious detail next week.

I love it whenever there is a camp or event in LA because all the rock stars come out to dance to regular dance venues and (at least for me, I find) it’s easier to ask them to dance at a social venue than at a camp when they are kind of put on a pedestal because everyone knows that they’re the teachers. But maybe I’m crazy. But I’m sure of this: the only way to get better is to dance with people who are better than you. As Jonathan Stout put it, it’s like troubleshooting; if it doesn’t feel right it must be you since they probably know what they are doing. Also, without being too intrusive, you can ask them for tips and advice after the dance! It’s like a mini-private lesson minus the bankruptcy. Score! I’m actually too shy about asking for tips because I already had the nerve to ask them to dance (or I just stalk them all night until the feel that they have to ask me because I won’t leave them alone if they don’t. No, that doesn’t work), but if you start the habit of asking for tips early you won’t feel awkward about it.

Another thing about LA, we have a badass scene. It gets overshadowed but hotshots comming from Seattle (Mike Faltesek, drool, Bethany and Stefan, more drool) and DC (Skye Humphries, the man every one tries to dance like) but we have quite a bit cookin’ down here. When I went to NYC in May for Frankie 95 I had the opportunity to talk to people from many different places about their dance ‘scenes’ at home. This really opened up my eyes to how fortunate I am to be around enormous amounts of talent all the time! For example: Nick Williams, Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth (more like OTTH-ome), Mikey Pedroza (awesome in human form),  Nikki Marvin, Shesha Marvin, Sarah Breck, Debbie Gitt, Patrick Fredrickson (the best most unknown leader on the planet), Justin Zimmerman, and the list keeps going…

People to seek out on the dance floor while you are in LA (apart from those mentioned above…):
Charlotte Woertler – she’d  be smoking up the dance floor in the Lindy floor even though she claims she’s a "blues dancer’. I don’t believe her either. She’s helping to organize LA Blues, a one of a kind expedience. Yes, a blues event in LA!
Morgan Day – Dancer extraordinary, a triple threat; shag, balboa, and lindy. The term ‘badass’ certainly applies in all three areas of expertise. Catch him on the Sea Swing Sensation Swing Cruise! IT’S GOING TO BE MIND BLOWING!

Peace out!

Frankie 95 and Camp Jitterbug Double Whammy Pt. 2

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.

The Dances

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 Classes

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 Food

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!