We made it home from Wisconsin! Through wild thunderstorms and airport pandemonium throughout the country (all the California people had their flights cancelled entirely, ours was just delayed and delayed), and reeking from gasoline (Genieboy, in a lather cause he thought we were late (we weren’t, we were actually five hours early) soaked himself at the pump filling our rental car – had to trash his shirt and buy a new one with WISCONSIN across his chest – three happy people stopped him to ask “Hey Wisconsin! What town?”).
What a sweet little surprise this event was! Beautiful hotel, food galore free with your ticket, great pro’s, and best of all the people! Friendly, hospitable, and FUNNY. Maybe because Doug Rousar is funny, or maybe it’s Matt Auclair, or maybe it’s all that cheese, bratwurst, and beer, but everyone’s a comedian! Instead of patterns they dance in jokes. It’s all laughing all the time, no breaks, your cheeks ache and your stomach hurts.
And the food at this comp! Holy Cows!
Dessert buffet: Lemon bars raspberry bars chocolate squares chocolate eclairs creampuffs cannoli brownies-to-make-you-faint carrot cake apricot strawberry blueberry tarts cheese cake and our favorite: pecan pie so good Genieboy swears it restores baldness.
“Breakfast” Buffet: Eggs Benedict eggs every other way, every kind of wurst, bacon potatoes pizzas roast beef ham turkey fried chicken fish shrimp asian buffet mexican buffet Italian buffet salad bar soup bar dessert bar AUGHGHGHGH
Cocktail Hour: Mellow music, candlelight, wine and cocktails, elegant servers wandering around with trays of Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Bacon-wrapped Water Chestnuts, Cocktail Meatballs, Chicken Fingers, Spanakopita, Vegetable Quesadillas, Tomato, Basil & Feta Cheese Bruschetta, and of course a specialty Wisconsin cheese tray.
Midnight Buffet: Melon fruit eggs bacon sausage potatoes muffins croissants
And a casino! The hotel is on an Indian Reservation, The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, whose original homelands were in Oneida, New York but are scattered today in Wisconsin, New York, and Canada. The Oneida are one of the 6 Iroquois nations and are known for having remained loyal to the American Colonists during the Revolutionary War (providing food and shelter to soldiers fighting at Valley Forge), and for their reputation for hospitality and love of peace. Strangers passing through Oneida lands would know they would be treated kindly and provided food and shelter. The Oneida (or Onyota’a:ka) are “People of the Standing Stone” (the name of our restaurant at the hotel). The story behind the name is that every 10 years, when hunting became scarce and the soil depleted, the tribe would move their villages to a new location. According to oral tradition after every move a large stone – too big for 20 men to move – would appear outside the village gates. They believed this stone was following and protecting them thus the stone became the national symbol. The Oneida Reservation at Lake Oneida, New York, still has a large rock at its gates, said to be the original Standing Stone. The Oneida museum was near the hotel, we only discovered on Sunday. Next year we’ll have to go visit. Oh, and Oneida Silverware is not affiliated with the tribe, but takes its name from them because they were known for their skill at making knives.
The casino is right there in the hotel, across from the Standing Stone buffet. But while it has brought money to the tribe the casino has also caused years of dispute and division among tribal leaders who feel that anything based on human greed and stupidity goes against their values and traditions and can bring no good in the end. For the time being, though, you can play blackjack and slot machines to your heart’s content. In fact, this is a comp where you might bring your non-dancing boyfriend or wife so they can be gambling and overeating while you do your Jack and Jill’s.
The Oneida have dance comps too! Here are prelims, Fancy Dance division:
This is a small comp, mostly local (meaning Wisconsin, Chicago, Michigan, Cleveland) but Doug (and Vivian Hahn) would like to see it grow and the hotel would certainly be able to accomodate growth. So next year a coupla’ tables each from our home town of DC and a few other close-ish communities (like Texas, Boston, Canada, Buffalo) and the comp could double in size. And hopefully not lose its charm. As I said earlier, the people are just NICE. Funny, and nice, just plain nice. And I mean everyone – at the airport, at Hertz (where they performed a stand-up comedy routine ragging on Stella their co-worker upstairs, making her sound like a loud duck with a sore throat), at the grocery store, strangers passing by in the hall at the hotel, and every single person who attended this comp. We were a little weirded out by so much niceness and had to make a special effort all weekend to not looked shocked and suspicious when strangers smiled and waited for us to get in the elevator first. Becky Larson (videographer and superbly nice herself) says that Green Bay is actually famous for its niceness. She says it might be because of the Green Bay Packers which is the only non-profit, community-owned franchise in American professional sports major leagues, and the team thought to have the most loyal fans in the NFL since they are owned by, well, almost every resident of the small town of Green Bay (the typical NFL city has a population in the millions). From wikipedia:
Between the Packers and the Oneida this is one friendly town, and the dance community is just as warm and welcoming as the rest of Green Bay. Nice, nice, nice! All weekend long we watched hot young dancers going to the back of the ballroom to ask the shy people and new people to dance. There doesn’t seem to be a pecking-order or if there is it’s too unimportant for us to have noticed.
- Doug, wee hours, floating from one dancing couple to another on a dimly lit floor, cutting in for a while, cracking a few jokes, then moving on, laughing his way to the next couple.
- Matt Auclair as Torri, practicing with Brennar outside the ballroom on a 4 sq. ft. piece of floor, then performing the entire routine Saturday night, both men in drag (also doing Matt’s Pro-Am in which Brennar danced as Heather Douglas). And a story Torri told, a hilarious hilarious story which I will tell you later, about the buying of the women’s clothes, Target, and a Rent-A-Cop.
- Kelly Faust discussing (over a gigantic “breakfast” buffet) the art of DJing, “feeling” the room, taking the dancers on a ride, how to choose JJ music, DJ styles and personalities, and her thoughts on marriage, family, and dancing
- Backstage before the JJ – Doug’s beautiful words thanking, humbling, and inspiring competitors about to go out on the floor
- The “Yin Yang Brothers” (Niko Salgado and Hieu Lee) who are not related but look enough like each other that they should be, and their hilarious cabaret created, as they told me afterwards, “to give something to the ladies of the world.”
- Brennar and Rutz dancing to “FU,” at the line “I got some change in my pocket” Brennar reaching into his pocket and throwing a handful of change all over the floor … later Melissa reaching INTO his pocket, pulling out a bunch of crumpled papers and tossing that out on the floor, too … all the while dancing a crazy wonderful whirl-a-gig celebration of the song
- Drawing Ben Morris as my partner in the Pro-Am JJ, him saying Gee I think we’ve never danced together before, have we Liza? me saying Yeah, no, I guess we haven’t, and him saying WOW WHEW, THAT’S a relief I was afraid you were gonna say Why, Ben! Why, yes we have danced together many times in fact we just danced together last night, you don’t remember? He’s funny. Then he said when he called the hotel they told him they’d “pick him up at the beg-udj” he had to say what? what? three times till he realized they talk funny in Wiscaansin.
- Finding German brick cheese in the supermarket and WOW this is THE stinkiest cheese EVAH. Even stinkier than the stuff we stumbled upon two years ago at Swing Dance America. We brought some home. It’s so powerful – just this side of filling your mouth and nasal cavity with fumes of rotting carrion – that I can only take tiny bites and must wash it down immediately with mouthfuls of sweet Riesling.
- NO COMPETITORS MEETINGS! hahahahahaha IT’S CONTAGIOUS! IT’S A TREND! IT’S A PARADIGM SHIFT! A WHOLE NEW ERA! hahahaha WE LOVE IT!
This was a Tier I comp for all guys and gals, all divisions but Novice which was Tier II. Six couples in Saturday night’s Open Routines division (not a NASDE comp so what we in the east would call “Rising Star” couples and what Texans in the Texas would call something else, these couples (actually just one couple) danced in the same division with Classic couples. Six couples in all in the Open: Matt and Nicole, the Magic Markers, Ben and Melissa, Mike and Shelli, Jordan and Tatiana, and Brennar and Torri. Lots of Pro-Am routines, and lots of Pro-Am strictly’s, too … these guys like to compete. They like to dance, period.
And here are results, posted THE DAY AFTER! Complete with judges’ scores! Wow, how great!
Loads of pictures to upload to Facebook …