Denver 2009 Update #1


We LERV this comp!

Great hotel! Great staff! Clean! Lovely white comforter (I love you bleach!) Fitted sheet! Big enough to cover both ends of the mattress! Two whole soaps! Outlets! Huge windows! The Rockies! Lake with fountains! 362 days of cloudless blue skies!

And ants! I forgot about the ants. “Mouse ants” our son calls them – they’re huge – more like rodents than insects. Gorgeous weather, stunning orange sunsets every night, lovely patio area along the restaurant surrounded by fresh herb gardens, several guitarists playing soft flamenco music, lumber-jack chairs of giant redwoods, big stone hibachi’s, your feet up around the fire, sipping your wine, watching the sun disappear into the mountains, fragrant mountain air, fountains spraying on the lake … and it slowly occurs to you that a large chunk of your own thigh is being gnawed off by a mouse ant the size of a volkswagen.

No mosquitoes. Just the damn ants. Oh, and at lunch a bee sat on my arm and even though I froze stiff while calmly telegraphing “Happy! All-God’s-Creatures! Hi little friend!” messages he decided, after thinking about it for five minutes, to sting me anyway, just for the fun of it, and then fly away about his business. Really insulting.

You get sun-burnt quick here because, being a mile up, you are right next to the sun.  My face looks like a habanero pepper.

Saturday night there was a wedding at the hotel so the patio and restaurant were filled with men in tuxes, women in flowers and lovely gowns, and tons of kids! All dressed up in mini-tuxes and poofy pastel dresses, running around squealing and happy. Two little fluff-balls of girls, maybe three years old, with shiny hair and dresses with so many puffy layers they were wider than the girls were tall, were zooming around and around in the revolving door, getting it going so fast they’d be sent flying out airborne onto the patio – ridiculously cute!

It’s the Mile-High Comp so people get big-time winded, headaches, strange heart flutters, edema, and nose-bleeds. Last year several people spent the entire weekend in their rooms vomiting. Evidently altitude sickness is not well understood, affects otherwise fit and healthy people but does not affect everyone, is made worse with exertion, and is thought to be more a result of low carbon dioxide levels (which make your blood too alkaline) than not enough oxygen. Swingtime is only a mile up – not so high, really – so most people don’t notice much of anything. This year I’ve so far heard of only one person who spent the first day nauseous. But I do notice that people seem to be huffing and puffing on the floor – not altitude sickness just not as easy to get the oxygen you need to keep moving for four days. This year there are lindy and balboa dancers here for the first time – how they manage, a mile up in the air,  to throw each other around at 200 beats per minute all day long and all through the night I do not know!

Lots and lots of our top dancers here. Allstars are comped for the weekend which brings out a lot of allstars. And it’s a NASDE comp, so lots of pros, too, here to do routines. So social dancing is funnnnnnn!! REeeeealy funnnn! And the Lindy crowd! They’re fun, too, as long as I don’t have to hear more than 14 seconds of their music. They add energy, raucousness, humour, cool hair, and UNDERPANTS! In styles and colors to meet anyone’s needs! Sascha called their strictlys “trashfastic.”

Juniors are here! Yay! I love juniors ! Not a lot of ’em but even a little bit of juniors goes a long way. Especially if they are as goofy as Trey (who has awesome neon-orange sneakers from H&M and who danced in a mask (something green – a ninja or lizard or something) and whom I discovered jumping around in floppy socks at 3am Saturday night on the carpet in the dark hall behind the ballroom flinging screaming Torri (Torri Smith, the not-his-sister Tori) around and around in circles in a sheet like a whirl-a-gig at the amusement park. And then dropping her on the floor and waving the sheet lion-through-the-hoop style for her to run from the other end of the room diving through into a somersault on the other side. And then scooping her back up into the sheet and whirling her airborne in circles a few thousand more times.  Nobody got hurt. He didn’t let go and hurl her into the windows – I guess he’s practiced this with his own Tori (who was quiet this weekend, other than having awesome glow-in-the-dark yellow finger and toenail polish.) She never even stumbled, although she did step barefoot onto a hanger and trying to get out got the other foot caught and fell into the wall. Torri says she never falls down when dancing – it’s only walking and standing still which make her lose her balance.

Who’s here from DC:
Me ‘n Genieboy
Kay and Bill
Whitney and Husband #2 (that would be Don because Husband #1 – meaning Dallas (and his bike) – are on their way to Sturgis, the biggest and most famous motorcycle convention of the year)
Rob and Abi
Kimmie, Lara, Faith, Julia, Sharon,
Keith and Margot.
How many’s that? Gosh, only 15 of us? We must be loudmouths, we’ve been making a lot of noise.

Floor has been packed until early morning (the separate Lindy floor which is also packed) – actually a little too packed, but still fun. Great floor, too! Seamless and fast (I’m sure the dry mountain air helps). Saturday night we were forewarned about a guy so exceptionally stinky that girls had to go up to the room to wash their arms and change their shirt after dancing with him. And then! This very extraordinarily stinky guy asked Kimmie to dance! And Kimmie agreed, because she is a kind and gracious soul. She said it was tolerable and that she didn’t mind being the only couple on the floor doing west-coast to a two-step (which is better, after all, than being the only couple on the floor doing a two-step.)  Until he whipped his head around flinging neck-sweat from his soaking wet ponytail into her face. That part was difficult.

Oh yeah! Fashion Alert! First Caroline Amblard, and then Erica Berg, appeared in THE most coolest awesomest vest – everyone around me was whispering ooh that is awesome ooooh gotta go shopping to find that I want one.  It is grey in the front, straps and holes and criss-crosses in the back, and a zipper up the middle! AUGHGHGH! I have to have this. Caroline refused to tell me where she got it (“I veeel note tail you? Bee coze den you veeeel buy eeet too?”) so I asked Erica and nyah nyah so there Caroline! Erica told me! And I veeel buy eeet! I’m not going to write here where to get it, though, because then everybody reading this veeel also buy eeet too.

They’re holding special workshops restricted to Allstars – very cool. Different sort of workshop – everyone knows each other, been dancing together for years, working hard for years, know the dance, know each others’ strengths and weaknesses. This is a really great idea in my opinion, especially for allstars, but I think it would be beneficial for all levels to have their own level-specific workshop.  So Saturday morning Jessica and Parker worked with Allstars on presentation on the floor, a great topic.

It seems like everyone is comping Allstars all of a sudden this year. Is it a new trend? Or have I just not been aware of it before now? In any case I like it cause it brings them to a comp. Jack and Jill O’Rama was more than 50% Allstars, and very few Champions, which lent a *very* different dynamic than this event which includes most of the top pro’s in the country (in the world, we have to say, now that our community is becoming international!)  Allstars is a funny division. The Allstar JJ prelim here was funny. In retrospect. While it was happening it wasn’t really funny … it was just a little odd, couldn’t put my finger on it but something seemed off somehow. Like a lot of great dancers all more subdued than normal, all at once.  This was a really big Allstar division, bigger than normal, comprised of people from all over the country and the world. Not, like often happens, a crowd all from one part of the country. So they didn’t know each other well. Lotta big fish from small ponds plunged into the same fish tank, floating around eyeing each other, unsure who’s supposed to eat whom.

Friday started with pro-am JJ (I got Lindo and Arjay – pretty good draws ha!) followed by strictly’s. Saturday JJ prelims and semi’s, Sat night Classic and Showcase. Thirteen classic couples! Eight showcase couples!  Both divisions included Lindy couples. The last showcase routine was Maryse Lebeau and Zack Richards – a French Canadian Lindy couple performing hilarious aerials and tricks. Amazing. Best one: he ends flat on his back on the floor (forget how he got there – I think he dove over her back or she flipped him backwards somehow) – anyway he’s lying there on his back and she walks over him, stands at his head looking away and then leans WAY out past the tipping point – he is holding her full weight by her ankles in his hands! AUGHGHGHGH!! The crowd went CRAZY! We jumped on him afterwards to scream and yell and pound him on the back with congratulations and he said in his thick accent “oh det treeek is soooo  harrrchchrd! I luuked at eeet and I taught ‘oh dees veel beee eeeazy! Vee ken do deeez! Boat den I tried eeet and you vooot note beLEIF how harrchd deees eees!! Oh oh oh! It is VECHY harrchd to hold hair by hair ankales! Deees eees verrrry VECHY heavy!”

Novice Strictly: Carole (UK) and Brady (Down Under – but here in the US for five months to get a lot of points (which he is) so he can go home and start a west coast community in Oz) – did a SUPER fun strictly together. Carole is dancing SO smoothly! And she’s funny! She grabbed his tie at one point, leading him all around by it. And Brady – HA!! Totally fun to dance with, totally fun to watch, makes up all kinds of crazy stuff. This time he did the Benji leg thing in which his leg goes over Carole’s head and Carole is not short. She’s tall, in fact, much taller than Brady. Priceless to see her face.

Joey Fanini and I did a Masters strictly. We’ve never danced together so we practiced all afternoon beforehand, all kinds of cool drops and leans, leverage stuff, twisty knee tricks, all very cool.  And then we got out there and if Joey led any of it I have no idea. I was busy not-following side passes to notice anything else. We got that STUPID stupid swanee how I love you how I love you my dear old  …. COME ON NOW! The song was written in 1936! I know we’re old but come on. We’re not 73 yet. Unless we’re Skippy, Annie Hirsch, or Faye Adkins, we were not yet dancing in 1936. Enough already with the swanee!

Jordan did his stricly with Melina and half way through the last dance she touched his hair so he just stopped and stood there. Complete dead-pan face, no expression. Not moving a muscle, no nothing, just standing there like Mr. Bean, very disturbed. For a long time. And then resumed dancing with an extremely pissed off face, focused on one thing only: messing up Melina’s hair. Or leading her by it. Ha! Jordan is SOOOOO FUNNNNNNNNYYYYY!

Sunday was JJ finals. In the Champion division Ramiro danced on the followers side! Hilarious! Christopher Hussey drew him and I don’t even remember what the heck they did it was just funny watching Christopher Hussey struggle. Ramiro is one BIG guy to lead in a whip. Ha! More guys than girls so during the all-skate they were asked to “share.” You can’t tell a bunch of Champion dancers to “share” without getting one giant confusing hilarious mess where you have NO idea who is dancing with whom or how they’re doing it – all just a big blob of creative leading and following in groups of 3 or 5 or 1. Don’t know how it happened but somehow or other there was a big boom and a pile of people on the floor with Tat and Arjay buried on the bottom. So graceful!

Then the Champion Crossover JJ! To die for! The lindy and west-coast girls traded clothes! So there was Melina’s bad-ass purple costume but not on Melina! And Jessica’s sparkly bra and pants but not Jessica! And Tat’s jacket and armbands. Meanwhile, Melissa, Melina, Tat, Jessica, Jen, Erica, and Jo Thompson came out in lindy bloomer-underpants, dresses that flew up (or were flung up, which they were, a lot), heels, red lips, flowers behind their ears. So funny!

Tatiana! Oh my gawd, she is simply beyond hilarious. Tatiana danced in: heels, also one wcs sandal and one heel, also one heel and one bare foot, two bare feet, two heels which became one heel by mistake in the middle of dancing … She said she just couldn’t figure out which combination would allow her to dance best and also look right, so she kept changing and changing her shoes. Tatiana is Laurel and Hardy, Desi and Lucy, Abbot and Costello, Cheech and Chong, George and Gracie, Minnie Pearl, and Beavis and Butthead all rolled into one goofiest goofball of a spectacular brilliant dancer with a heart as big as the Pacific Ocean.  And she is gorgeous! Gorgeous and sexy and elegant. She is one of nature’s rare creations, just a marvel. That is all there is to it.


WCS Pro-Am Jack & Jill Leaders

First     Trey Ellington
Second  Kyle Patel
Third     Jb Brodie

WCS Pro-Am Jack & Jill Followers

First     Gayla Huffman
Second  Caroline Amblard
Third     Tori Ellington

WCS Novice Strictly Swing

First     Kyle Snow & Linda Cuccio
Second   Cass Cagle & Tami Franklin
Third     Brady Stanton & Carole Stroud
Fourth   Greg Schivley & Aimy Tran
Fifth     Mike Taylor & Samantha Ramirez

WCS Intermediate Strictly Swing

First     B.J. Woolston & Eryn Dorobiala
Second   Manny Sisneros & Taylor Harrell
Third     Dylan Sisneros & Aly Yorek
Fourth   James Cisneros & Mindi Schwartz
Fifth     Roberto Villamarin & Quenna Wong

WCS Advanced/All-Star Strictly Swing

First     Maxence Martin & Torri Smith
Second  JB Brodie & Abi Wood
Third     Oscar Hampton & Kat Carstensen
Fourth   Alfred Lee & Yenni Setiawan
Fifth     Jason Marker & Courtney Adair

WCS Master’s Strictly Swing

First     Manny & Dee Becker
Second   William Stalzer & Patty Ingram
Third     Genieboy & Cheri Burk
Fourth     Larry Sanders & Laurie Shafer
Fifth     Frank Carricato & Pamela Simons

WCS Champion’s Strictly Swing

First     Jordan & Melina
Second  Parker & Melissa Rutz
Third     Ben Morris & Jessica
Fourth     Arjay & Jennifer Deluca
Fifth     Michael Kelbasa & Tatiana

WCS Novice Jack & Jill

First     Brady Stanton & Abi Leggette
Second  Jeremy Thompson & Rebecca Savoca
Third     Wayne Hall & Erin Dorobiala
Fourth   Paul Salas & Ally Yorek
Fifth     Todd Dewey & Heejung Jung

WCS Intermediate Jack & Jill

First     Manny Sisneros & Gayla
Second   B.J. Woolston & Taylor Harrel
Third     Brandon Parker & April Sakaluk
Fourth   Dylan Sisneros & Tracy Staten
Fifth     Matt Mickle & Quenna Wong

WCS Advanced Jack & Jill

First     Rob Jackson & Abi Wood (Yaaaaay! WOW were they great! Unbelievably stupendously marvellously awesomely GREAT!)
Second     Kyle Patel & Kelsy Petrykowski
Third     JB Brodie & Lara Deni
Fourth     Kristopher Swearingen & Chelsea Loomis
Fifth     Trey & Chevy

WCS All-Stars Jack & Jill

First     Nicholas King & Annmarie Laframboise
Second  Trevor Spika & Yenni Setiawan
Third     Alfred Lee & Jill Dumarco
Fourth   Miguel De Sousa & Joanna Meinl
Fifth     Jimmy Ho & Malia San Nicolas

Masters I Jack & Jill (Novice)

First     Gordon Fuller & Bernie Fanini
Second     Gary Bales & Kathy Grothe
Third     Mick Harris & Silvia Parvu
Fourth     John Cutic & Patty Moore
Fifth     Stevie Blakely & Pat Oshea

Masters II Jack & Jill (Inter and above)

First     Manny Viarrial & Cheri Burk
Second   Frank Carricato & Pamela Simons
Third     William Stalzer & Vivian Glucksman-Weiss
Fourth   Joey Fanini & Patty Ingram
Fifth     Michael Difranco & Sharon Burgess

WCS Champions Jack & Jill

First     Michael Kielbasa & Tatiana
Second     Arjay & Jennifer Deluca
Third     Jason Barnes & Melissa Rutz
Fourth     Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz
Fifth     Jordan & Katrina

Lindy Invitational Jack & Jill

First     Max Pitruzzzella & Annie Trudeau
Second     Dax Hock & Laura Glaess
Third     Carl Nelson & Teni Lopez-Cardenas
Fourth     Joseph Demers & Karen Turman
Fifth     Ben Morris & Nelle Hatley

Cross-over Jack & Jill

First     Jordan & Laura Glaess
Second     Ben Morris & Tatiana
Third     Max Pitruzzella & Jennifer Deluca
Fourth     Mike Roberts & Jessica
Fifth     John Lindo & Kelly Arsenault


First     Jordan & Tatiana (when their names were announced Tatiana was nowhere to be seen, then came charging out of the bathroom trailing 12′ of toilet paper behind her, stuck in her shoe)
Second  Ben & Melina
Third     Christopher Hussey & Katrina
Fourth     Jason & Erica
Fifth     Jason Marker & Annmarie Marker (she’s a Marker now!!! Yaaaaay!!!)


First     Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau
Second   Zach Richard & Maryse Lebeau
Third     Parker & Jessica
Fourth     Arjay & Melissa
Fifth     Patrick Szmidt & Natasha Ouimet

Six side-notes:

1. Finals were posted at 4am Saturday night. That’s a little late! Evidently there was a computer melt-down – Lance tells me it was a hardware, not a software problem.

2. Awards were moved from the scheduled 6pm to 9pm! I assume this was also because of computer problems? People buy their plane tix based on Awards, however, so lots and lots of people had to fly out not hearing results.

3. They announced at Awards that there would be no judges’ sheets. Which means that other than the top three or five placements, no one knows yet – it is now Tuesday as I’m finishing this update – no one knows yet how they did! Routine couples still, today, have no idea how they placed! I assume this is also because of computer problems.

4. Stuff ran late, pretty consistently throughout the weekend. I don’t remember this last year, in fact last year we came home raving about the tightly-run operation, professionalism of the staff, how they had their act together, extremely well organized, all that. Don’t know what happened this year but it felt chaotic and disorganized. Never for a minute unfriendly – these are the nicest people in the world, extremely friendly, hospitable, helpful, all those things. But this year something went very wrong on the organization end.

5. Anne Fleming (Boston community) has lymphoma – treatable form, but she is undergoing chemo and is scared, of course, as are all of us who know and love her. Joe Mahoney is organizing a fundraiser to help Anne through this. If you’re interested in contributing or want to know how she’s doing you can contact either Joe, Kathy, or Yuna.

6. Robert Royston’s father passed away this weekend. I’m sure he would love to hear from you. Even if you only know him a little bit. Love helps in times of sadness.


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