We do partner dancing. Unlike ballet or jazz we are about Relationships.
Connection. Chemistry. Cooperating. Partnerships. Careers made, careers blown to smithereens. Stardom, Loserville, Purgatory. Marriages, scandals, pregnancies, continental jetting, continental plate tectonic shifts, volcanic eruptions, emotional explosions. Winning streaks. Reputations invented and then reinvented. Reputations ruined. Divorces, public spectacles, turf wars, cat fights. Drama. Giving it all up for love. Giving it all up for dance. Finding “The One” in the middle of a dark steamy dance floor at 4am.
Our dance is about relationships in every sense of the word.
Every three-minute Jack and Jill pairing, every Strictly couple, every routine partnership – each with the potential to light up the sky in magnificent fireworks or a spectacular crash-and-burn. And man do we love to watch it all, and tell stories about it forever after.
They say we’re a “clan” species built to live in close-knit groups of 100. But they obviously weren’t thinking about the West Coast community when they came up with that number, cause we’re like Clan of One Thousand Clans. We’re like Paleolithic Skyping Hunter-Gatherer Facebook Scavengers, emailing while slurping Red Bulls, instant-messaging, texting and tweeting. On a plane to a comp. In other words, our community is becoming huger and huger, and yet we are very close – like a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business.
So just this weekend, for instance, feeding our very human, clannish frenzy for relationship-gazing, Swing Fling is treating us to 90 (okay, 89 to be exact) Strictly duos; 1,100 Jack and Jill pairings; 150 Pro-Am couples; and 16 routine partnerships. That is 1,361 relationships! Not including social dancing! No wonder we return home exhausted!
Swing Fling is, as of this year, no longer a NASDE event. The designation has been re-assigned to MadJam in March. So this year instead of Classic or Showcase divisions Saturday night gave us an “Open Routines” contest of six couples followed by a “show” of eleven routine couples.
First, the contest:
Juniors Akil and Alexis opened the program with “Evacuate The Dance Floor” – this routine is exponentially better each time we see it. They’re juniors so their rate of improvement is like the adult rate times 200. Thousand. Two hundred thousand. So every time you see them it’s like you’re watching a different couple doing an entirely different routine. Only a month ago this routine was cute. It is not cute anymore – now it’s cool and exciting, with a mastery of movement that’s scary good. These two are both up-and-coming superstars.
Next Rob and Connie with their Showcase routine (Drops of Jupiter), ramping it up for the Open which is now looming in the not-too-distant future, experimenting with different energy in their choreography. This time out Rob was more prominent and visible, much “louder” than previously, a factor which changed the whole dynamic of the routine. They’re trying this and other adjustments to see what sort of feel they like best.
Then Tybaldt and Hazel with a lovely Hustle.
Next Erik and Anna in a slithery, snakey, slimey many-armed asymmetric black and bloody red Goth-ish piece, Erik in eye makeup with Transylvanian overtones, to Wild Thing (by Tone Loc). These two are so sweet together, Mr. and Mrs. Novoa – her pretty little legs in heels, his kind-hearted eyes and elegant grace. They are a charming couple. They were the cutest, most loeveable Mean Vampires ever. They’re so nice, such decent people, it’ll take quite a stretch for them to do the dark side justice. They’ll have to dredge up a coffin-full of hate, cruelty, and twisted psychotic mania to fill out a routine like this, and I hope we get to watch them try. But even without the darkness they were still a pleasure to watch – especially the cool shapes at the beginning, their graceful lifts, and their high ballet kicks.
Next Mike Glasgow and Kristin Wenger with “She’s Not There,” ramped WAY up a notch. Five notches. This routine has new batteries and it drank three Red Bulls, ate four packs of Skittles, took its vitamins and got a syringe of epinephrine. Don’t know what these guys did but they were juiced this time. Even under the blinding spotlight (or maybe because of it?) Mike was looking right out at us, fully engaged. The sound system helped them too, I think, because theirs is a great moody song which midway through picks up in tempo and volume and this time the dramatic second half was actually loud enough to feel exciting. They seemed to be dancing with more commitment, harder hitting, faster and slower. This is an elegant, smart routine (their first together) and it’s exciting to watch it get a heartbeat.
Luis has a new Showcase partner! Jennifer Pasetes (formerly Guy) (these guys are a couple outside of dancing, too) (she is crazy beautiful, a stunner, I’ve been following her around with my camera for years now – ask her! – falling over furniture trying to snap her picture like an annoying papparazza) dancing, as far as I know, her first routine ever. She’s all in red, Luis all in black with a red tie (and red pocket cuff) in a routine clearly designed to show her off, “introduce” her as a new routine dancer, loaded with as many lifts and tricks as could be crammed in between the obligatory swing patterns. We saw them at breakfast that morning, just after floor trials, maybe 8am. She looked a mixture of petrified, terrified, horrified, and mortified; muttering, as she ordered her omlet, that she felt “broken” from being thrown around the ceiling in a cold empty ballroom at 6:30am. Congratulations to Jennifer! She survived her first performance actually smiling the whole way through! Not the most relaxed smile perhaps, but it was a smile. I don’t enjoy imagining what my face would have looked like up there. It wouldn’t have been a smile.
That was the contest part of the evening. Robert Royston on the mic, funny as always. Judges were Festa, Stephanie McHenry (formerly Batista), Nicola, Bill Cameron, and Chief Judge for the weekend Dawn Garrish.
And the placements (not counted or recorded on any circuit) were:
1st Rob and Connie
2nd Tybaldt and Hazel
3rd Erik and Anna
4th Mike and Kristin
5th Luis and Jennifer
(Juniors Akil and Alexis were not ranked)
Next was the 11-couple show! With some verrrrrrry cooool stuff ….