SwingDiego 2011 – Update #5

So let’s see. What else.

Well, in addition to west coast swing dancers there were some little-bit-creepy people in little-bit-creepy costumes sniveling and scurrying around the dark corners and out-of-the-way meeting rooms of the resort. It was a “Steamboat Punk” convention. Yeah, no, I don’t know either and yeah, I googled it too. Shades of Chicago-2009’s Bondage Convention – these guys should be in the same hotel at the same time. It would be a Steamboat Bondage Punk convention. You’d be trying to brush your teeth and wafting in through the vent you’d hear steam explosions, screams of ecstasy, and the Dead Kennedys.

Last year’s SwingDiego we had an earthquake, this year we had a guy with a bull-horn aimed at the hotel from the mall parking lot yelling “Guests at the hotel! Shame! On! You! Guests At The Hotel! Shame! On! You! Guests At The Hotel! Shame! On! You! Guests At The Hotel! Shame! On! You! Guests At The Hotel! Shame! On! You! Guests At The Hotel! Shame! On! You!” till we wanted to run across and stab him with safety pins from our bibs.

The Wobble! I just have to say: Barry Jones doing “Wobble baby, wobble baby, wobble baby WOBBLE!” is a thing of beauty. Barry’s presence makes everything brighter – that face! That enormous smile! Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, Barry is hosting a new event this year, a “People’s Choice Awards” for the west coast community! August 18 – 21, in L.A., same hotel as the Open (Burbank Marriott). Here’s the website:


What else.

Oh, the ice-machine repairman, a rawther large man, got stuck in the elevator *with* the ice machine, a large machine. Saturday afternoon we’re on our way down to the ballroom, open our door, and it looks like Iceland has thrown up on the back deck – there was a mountain of ice cubes taller than Sarah Van Drake. And a large red-faced man and his machine, their arms wrapped around each other, permanently jammed in the elevator. When we returned later that night the ice machine was back in its corner pretending like nothing had happened, the elevator was empty, and the only tell-tale sign that anything out of the ordinary had occurred that day was a puddle the size of Sarah Van Drake lying down.

We always get lost among the white trellises trying to find the sports-bar restaurant (there’s another fancier restaurant that gets us lost in a different direction). It feels like there are a zillion paths, alleyways, corners, hot-tubs, coves, walks and roads all lined with trellises carpeted with perennials in every possible brilliant color and roses the size of basketballs. It’s so lovely there. Not the nicest staff in the world – the lady who checked us in was impatient, unfriendly, sarcastic – just plain rude (maybe that’s what the guy with bullhorn was yelling about). And the hotel’s breakfast buffet gets the prize for the all-time grossest, most paltry offering of stale non-food ever. (On behalf of Americans everywhere I apologize to our French visitors, who I caught once, a few years ago, telling each other on Facebook that they love America but the food here is “merde.” You know who you are.) Fortunately there are other restaurants on the premises and a ton more right behind the hotel in the mall. And a grocery store a mile away.

Friday we caught a cab to the grocery store that’s a mile away and after 20 minutes it occurred to us that the driver had zero idea where he was going. It took us another 20 minutes of me keeping my mouth shut while the driver and my husband tried to sort things out until I suddenly yanked the directions from the driver’s hand and started barking drill sergeant commands with such ferociousness that everyone fell very silent and did exactly as I said. We ended up at a different grocery store than the one a mile away, a stupid grocery store that didn’t have anything we needed (my Diet Mountain Dew, his Gatorades) so I was in NO MOOD to discover, when we exited the store 10 minutes later after hurtling around in a frenzy because now we were going to be late, that the driver was not where he said he’d wait and in fact was nowhere to be seen in the parking lot, not behind the building, not down the street, nowhere. And when I called 411 to get the phone number for Town and Country the operator said I’m sorry ma’am there is no Town and Country hotel, resort, flop house, trailer park, no Town anything in or around San Diego yes I have looked again. And then voila! up drives the cab driver! Oh, he says, I just went to the post office to buy stamps and then picked up a pizza for my girlfriend. Oh I see well in that case yeah that explains it I said in my sweetest, softest, homicidal voice. Genieboy insisted on paying him the full amount on the meter plus a $10 tip cause he said the guy was nice just a little dense.

What else.

Saturday morning in the ballroom someone grabbed me, all sweaty and excited, and whispered loudly “Amorphous! The word of the day is Amorphous! Okay? Don’t forget!!!!!!” I have no idea what that was about.

Oh! The “Steal Zone!” Really cool idea. Sunday night they had a cordoned-off area at one end of the ballroom where anyone could cut into anyone else’s dance to steal their partner. Fun! It’s like Speed Dating. Instead of one, you’re making four new friends every three minutes! It’s like the meeting place for West Coast Swing Dancers Affected with ADHD.

Sunday night was wonderful, beautiful, and sad. We had a plane to catch the next morning and still hadn’t packed but didn’t want it to end. And the moody, dim ballroom lit only by that blood-red fiery sunset wall, black silhouettes still dancing and dancing in an exhausted daze, the crowd slowly getting thinner as morning approached and each group left to fly home. We didn’t want to say goodbye.

And … that’s it! SwingDiego 2011!


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