Tampa 2009 – Update #4

We’re home! We know there *is* a driveway in front of our house, but you couldn’t tell by looking – leaves leaves everywhere! The whole neighborhood smells like leaves!

Oh – forgot to mention!  globaldancetv.com ! Much of the weekend was filmed and will be running in a loop through Thursday of this week so go watch if ya wanna see stuff live.

So. After the relaxing Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s schedules were packed. This comp includes NASDE, WSDC, AANCE, and Masters tours, packed Newcomer and Novice divisions, largest Masters division we’ve ever seen, and Young America routines. And hustle. And a beach party. So once things got rolling there was no down time. Phil says there were 919 registrations, 600 competitors. The ballroom is small but next year they’re giving us the Pavillion (weddings there all this weekend) which is huge and lovely.

The beach party was great! Fierce volleyball (holy smokes, you should see Jordan play volleyball!), humongous water slide, limbo contest, pulled-pork, cole slaw, hot dogs, watermelon, pina colada’s, margarita’s and daiquiri’s ; dance floor, a “stick the plunger you’re holding between your legs through the toilet-paper roll she’s holding between her legs then run through the sand down to the finish line” relay race; a dancing-thru-the-ages contest (wild pre-teens, teenagers and  20-yr-olds all packed against each other on this floor in the sand screaming and jumping into each other doing the twist, the mashed-potatoes, the swim, the bump – where’d the young people they learn those dances?); spinning contests, pirhouette contests. What a scene! Mary Ann Nunez had a line of guys facing girls doing this clapping kind of game to the music, sun low and golden behind them making their hair glisten with orange halo’s, behind them the waves roaring, wind blowing, a million sea-gulls screaming round their heads, standing in brilliant white sand and shells … in the center tiny magical Mary Ann leading them gentle, dignified way.  Bill Cameron MC’d this party, because, as he said, from years of Summer Hummer pool parties he is a Pool Party Professional. It was great.

Then back up to the room to throw on JJ clothes and down to the ballroom to compete again …  then back up to the room to change into your costume for the Pirates and Wenches costume parade – about 40 SERIOUSLY bad-ass pirates and wenches which made me very glad I had been too rushed to change into my $2.99 K-Mart Halloween-clearance girl-pirate thing.  Hope my pictures of this come out – you’ll be amazed at the work put into these costumes.  The parade filed in and and paraded around the ballroom to wonderful Celtic music played by the Willis family (that is, some, not all, of the Willis family, since there are now 11 Willis kids – a new addition just born last month) – guitar, penny-whistle, accordion, keys, drums and fiddle. The Willis closed out the show with a song they wrote themselves, so heart-breakingly lovely I thought I’d swoon and pass out with delight. (Might have been titled titled “Come With Me.”)

And that night: Routines! Eleven couples in Rising Star, most very good. Four couples in Young America (three of which were comprised of either one or two of the gorgeous Willis kids). Six couples in Classic. Finishing up with a Pro and Allstar tournament like was done at Swing Diego. Two couples dance against each other, five judges vote and one couple is booted out each round. This was heeeeelarious to watch (though a little confusing cause it wasn’t clear whether it was a Strictly or a game). Maxence got down on one knee and proposed to Sarah! With a ring! A monster-sized diamond ring! And Sarah said yes! yes! yes! and leaped up on him and they would have lived happily ever after except that they lost that round. All kinds of goofball stuff – Jordan fell flat backwards again (for some reason he reminds me of a tree toppling. A funny tree.) From Torri’s wide-eyed panic-smile and the “Oh Noooo!” she yelled to herself it looked like she realized he was about to go down but that little girl is SO good she just kept dancing … and then pop! There was Jordan back up again as if nothing had happened. The couples in this division (or game, whatever it was) were Jessica and Cordoba; Greg and Dinah; Mike Topol and Sheli Schraeder; Rob and Anne Marie; Michael O’Conner and Abi; Jordan and Torri; Ben McHenry and Jill deMarco; Deborah and Brennar; Christopher Hussey and Kara; Jason Marker and Angie Cameron; Conner and ; JB and Maria Vassilieva; Sarah and Maxence; and the winners: Kyle and Tat.

Ballroom was packed both Friday and Saturday nights until we left around 4-ish. Saturday night we went swimming in the ocean in the dark. The water is warm this time of year! Huge winds come up every evening, warm winds, but really fierce, as if a storm is blowing in, all the palm trees bending and thrashing around. It is just too lovely.

Both Mario and Robert Royston MC’d the weekend which made for a LOT of funny moments. They’re both funny individually but together they are hysterical. How Robert was able to emcee I do not know. He had just had surgery three days before and was in a lot of pain. His bicep tendon had been completely torn off in the injury, so they had to un-attach his pec, pull the piece of tendon up from the bicep, stick a screw through it and wind the screw into the bone, fill it with glue so it’ll stay, and finally re-attach the pec. They went in through the front, the side, the back – poor Robert has bruises and stitches and swelling everywhere and everything on his right side hurts. REALLY hurts when someone touches it, which they kept doing all weekend long. How he was able to stand up there in a sling, in extreme pain, and still be quick and funny and get the crowd going and keep the contests organized – this is an amazement. He’s a workhorse. Doctors say he’ll be up and running in three months.

We were chatting with Mario when I realized we were in Florida so I asked if he had family in Florida and he said yeah the whole state is filled with my family, but mostly Miami. I asked Are they legal? He said yeah, they’re all legal, all gainfully employed, re-tarring driveways, delivering mattresses, stealing electronic equipment, stuff like that hey you want a watch? I can get you a good Rolex cheap. I asked if they dance and he said Cubanos come out dancing – Mom goes “uugghh!” baby goes “ball-change.”  Augh!-ball-change, Ugh!-ball-change. That’s how Cuban babies come into this world.

Doug Rousar was Contest Coordinator and worked non-stop the entire weekend. We saw him in the hall 10pm Sunday night and said we hadn’t had time to eat a thing all weekend since breakfast on Friday morning and suddenly realized, when Awards were done, that we were ravenously hungry and so had just finished having a steak dinner in the hotel restaurant,  Doug said his meals all weekend came entirely from the hotel gift-shop, which, if you’ve seen a hotel gift-shop means he lived on tic-tacs and cheese cracker packages. He was looking raggedy. Doug Rousar is great. He’s funny, kind, wise, generous, easy-going, and man oh man, he is a SUPERB dancer. At Kansas City he was just goofing around and for the heck of it did 15 pirouettes, no help, just himself spinning himself, then another 15 fouettes, then another thousand pirouettes, then stopped cause he was getting bored. The whole time making goofball faces. We looooove Doug Rousar.


Genieboy and Rob’s Alice 1st place in Intermediate Hustle Strictly!! This was Alice’s first away comp, so she was just beaming all weekend. And to win her first time out! So neat!

Masters Strictly: (Note who beat whom in the following. Certain people beat certain other people. Nobody in particular, just mentioning that some people beat some other people.)
1. Renee and Tom Cockerline
2. Me, Liza! and Michael Stephens
3. Genieboy and Dori
4. Chip DiStefano and Peggy Borque
5. Jane and David Collins.

Intermediate Strictly:
1 Loudmouth Steve Hunt and his lovely not-so-loudmouth partner, Sue Lambell
2 Reggie and Angie
3 Brady and Brianne

Advanced Strictly:
1. Andrew and Tori Ellington
2. Renee and Tommy
3. Demery and Lara Deni
4. Chris Lo and Dawn Sgarlata
5. Dima and Amanda Warren

Allstar Strictly:
1 Ben McHenry and Anne Marie
2 Maxence and Jill
3 JB and Abi
4. Rob and Sheli
5. Victor and Krista

Intermediate/Advanced Hustle JJ
1st Place – GENIEBOY!! with Sabrina Paxman

Masters JJ:
1 Robin and Renee
2 Michael Stephens and Bess
3 David Collins and Sarah Grusmark
4. Rick Bowles and Herself Liza May!
5. Rick Gendron and JoAnn Podleski

Novice JJ:
1 James Lynn and Whitley Bartlett
2 Kyle Merritt and Amanda Alexander
3 Jen Summer and Aaron

Intermediate JJ:
1 Steve Hunt and Sabrina Paxman
2 Reggie and Angie
3 Brucer Perotta and Lemery
4. Edwin Smith and Larysa Krasij
5. Brady and Dawn Sgarlata

Advanced JJ:
1 Demery and Amanda Warren
2 Andrew Malkowski and Krista Martin
3 Michael O’Connor and Melissa Rollins (who is SO hot she melts the paint off walls. GAD DANG is she gorgeous! Very funny to watch Michael try to keep cool dancing with her, and he did manage to pull off coolness. Very suave. I think he told himself “Just stare at the floor. Stare. At. Floor. Stay calm, breathe, and do not look at her, no matter what.”)
4. Gianmarco Russo and Tori Ellington
5. Mike Konkel and Abi

Allstar JJ:
1. Maxence and Kelly Faust
2. Ben McHenry and Sheli
3. Trey and Stacy Cramer
4. Greg and Angie Cameron
5. JB and Jill

Young America:
1. Torri and Brennar
2. Andrew and Jennifer Willis
3. Jeremiah Willis and Jessica Willis
4. Conner and Jeanette Willis

Masters routines:
1. Chip DiStefano and Lori Hayner
2. Gary Gammage and Judi Markell
3. Chuck Emmeck and Kathy Brooks
4. Michael Stephens and Karen Leiker
5. Buzz and Debra McReary

Rising Star:
1. Melissa and Gilbert
2. Rob and Abi – last time doing this routine! Bye, bye, sweet beautiful routine!!
3. Stephen White and Danielle Blouin
4. Michael Diener and Jen
5. Dima and Maria
6. Tony and Angie
7. Fred Price and Stacy Cramer

1. Parker and Jess
2. Deborah and Jason
3. Greg and Lemery

1. Jordan and Tat
2. Kyle and Sarah
3. Gary McIntyre and Susan Kirklin
4. Jason and Annmarie
5. Terry and Kara
6. Mike and Sheli

We’re definitely coming back next year. Love being on the beach, love the staff Phil’s been able to bring in, love having all the Juniors, love all the tours represented, love the high level of Masters competitors, loved the music (with one exception – Sunday night’s music was very not good, drove a lot of people out early), loved the opportunity to dance in many different competitions, loved the live Carribean steel-pan music in the courtyard at night, Jimmy Buffet in the bar. Loved the warm wind. Will love the huge floor in the Pavillion next year.


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