Summer Hummer 2012 Update #11

New Summer Hummer tradition: The “Hurricane Jack and Jill,” last comp on Sunday afternoon. Perfect end to a great weekend! Top five Novice followers and leaders paired with top five Champion followers and leaders to dance in complete dark, adorned only with glow sticks.

What a site!

Arjay! Enormous glow-stick glasses that covered half his face, enormous over-sized striped bow tie, in one hand his phone with “Vote For Us” on the screen. Hit a break by laying his partner into a dip and running a tiny flashlight strobe up and down her body.

Royston with a glow-stick patch over one eye (his son Bobby poked him in the eye Saturday.)

Mrs. Crosbie (Taryn and Neil! Just married! Scotland’s wcs community doubled in size!) so clever! Glow-stick circles on each butt cheek, circles on each boob, big circle around the hips, down the spine and ribs, and man did she make those circles dance in space! And her partner Jordan with a long … a very long … a very VERY long you-know-what hanging and swinging between his legs. Which he worked into the dance in every which way. These two together – hilarious.

The line of ten couples in the dark, pulsing to the music, throbbing, swaying in all different directions, body parts moving, and all you could see was a line of glow stick shapes waving every which way yet somehow all in sync.

Then they spread out across the floor to dance and it was like someone blew fireflies and fairies into the room, flitting around in random directions, different heights and levels in space, streaks of neon zipping about in the dark, playing on the air.

Magic!

And Louis, brilliant Louis, played, of course:

“Flashlight” (Parliament); “Ooo-Wee Baby Then The Lights Go Out,” “Strobe Light,” and last of all “Turn All The Lights On”

Speaking of Louis and music here are a few songs chosen for comps this weekend (Louis or Victor):

Friday night’s Adv/Allstar Strictly:
“I Got The Blues”
“Moves Like Jagger” (Robert, after the dance: “I love that song but in the last year I’ve seen more bad impressions of Mick Jagger doing a sugar push than I’d like to remember.”  Arjay, from the back of the room: “You mean my routine?” Robert: “Yes.”)
“Funky Mamma”
“Give Me Everything”
“Fine Brown Frame”

Intermediate JJ prelims:
“Yeah!”
“Let’s Stay Together”
“Brokenhearted”
“Give It To Me”

Adv JJ Prelims:
“Miami”
“Come Together”
“Turn Around”

Newcomer/Novice/Intermediate Strictly Final:
“Mean Ole’ World”
“Click Click Click”
“Don’t Need It”

Adv/Allstar Strictly Final:
“Move Across The River”
“Mr. Know It All”
“Tonight Is The Night”

And speaking of Louis I was reminded again how brilliant he truly is when I paid attention to his handling of the pool party.  Audio engineering genius. There was not a moment – not a single moment – during which Louis was not playing some precisely appropriate background (or foreground) music, loud or barely perceptible, just the right volume to suit the moment,  just exactly the right sound. Not to mention finding on the fly any song requested for karaoke or any other reason.

Like when Maxence walked on the floor and Louis pulled out “Allons enfants de la patrie” (La Marseillaise) (while writing this I just discovered – to my astonishment – that I know every word to this song by heart. I have no idea why I should know this song.  Or feel that I’m singing something dear and familiar from early childhood. ooooo-weeee-yoooo. Weird.)

Or when Jordan put on the earphones to sing karaoke and Louis threw on “What a Wonderful World” (you should hear Jordan do a Louis Armstrong impression! Got to have ripped up his throat but he makes a mean Louis Armstrong. Who knew?) and then “Niggas in Break” to which Jordan knew every. single. lyric. as well as every single music-video move. Pool was rockin’, hamburgers jumpin’ and pumpin’ in their warming plates, Jessica hands in the air, walls of the building shimmyin’ and shakin’ in the golden glow of the low sun, people at the party weavin’ and noddin’ to the beat. The scene was Jordanesque.

Or “Chariots of Fire” as Jen inched under the limbo bar to win, yet again, the Summer Hummer Limbo Competition. Jennifer Chowaniec is an amazement. She has won three years in a row now (she’s not short, either!) Robert had already whipped the crowd into a frenzy so when she won and he asked her to beat her 2009 record (two nails below this year’s) the crowd just went wild. And she did. And then Robert asked her to go under the last nail, the bottom nail, 18″ from the floor, which required her to hold herself horizontal, thighs pressed to calves, half an inch between bar and torso, creeping forward toe by toe without a body part touching ground. And this is when Louis laid on the opening chords of “Chariots,” softly in the background to not disturb her, and a throng gathered in a close, thick, silent mob – including hotel staff who left the buffet to watch and passers-by outside the fence – and you felt you were witnessing the Olympics right there in front of you and you held your breath (Robert: “I need you to do this. For me. I need you to make it under that last nail. My life will be better if you do.”) and there was not a sound, even the birds stopped to watch. It was silent out there, time froze.

Found myself mesmerized, choked up, tears in my eyes, couldn’t take pictures.

And …

She didn’t make it. She didn’t quiiiiite make it. But what a cheer from the crowd! Will she make it next year? We will be waiting for you Jennifer Chowaniec! You are our Summer Hummer Limbo superstar.

Or Louis pulling up the last song when finally, as the sun dropped behind the trees and one more pool party came to an end, Robert brought up Chuck Serafin again this year to sing “American Pie” – which blindsided you because you thought you were going to laugh at the song and laugh at Chuck doing karaoke to it but instead found yourself singing along and you realized you actually love the song and Chuck was singing from his heart and it was unadorned and quite beautiful; and you looked around and everyone, really everyone, knew the song; and the mood had been handled so delicately that you weren’t embarrassed to put your hands up and wave back and forth with everyone else and sing. And it was one of those brief pauses, again, where you get a glimpse of how transient life is, how lucky you are to know these people, experience these rare, sweet, unselfconscious seconds together, how lucky you are to be part of this colorful community, to have the picture of this moment imprinted in your memory forever.

Summer Hummer was great. We haven’t missed a year since we started travelling the circuit. What would make it even better, in my own uninformed easy-to-say-what-needs-fixing-when-you’re-not-the-one-doing-all-the-work opinion:

The lighting in the ballroom was difficult. There *was* no lighting is the more accurate description. Other than the ballroom’s overhead lights which for some reason stayed very dim – even at their brightest it was murky dingy yellow in there – made me feel like I was struggling for oxygen all weekend. For social dancing it was just dimmer. “Dim and Dimmer” – it could be a movie. Seriously though good lighting would not only make for WAY better video and pictures it would also super duper affect the mood and atmosphere (which are already off the charts great at this event.)

Registration lines, despite Chris’ very cool new program, were long and slow, snaking around the corner of the room and taking an hour to get through. We were lucky, we handled our reg’s on Thursday. I felt sorry for the people who had to spend an hour or more on Friday just getting banded.

Competitors’ Meetings. It’s been two years since any other comp that we’ve attended has held competitors’ meetings but here they were mandatory for Newcomer and Novice, two hours before these guys’ comps, on Saturday morning. Kind of ruins dancing on Friday night when you know you can’t sleep in the next morning.

Hope I don’t get stuff thrown at my head for saying this, but: Judging Panels. SH is a NASDE comp so even more critical to have good judges as people’s careers (and incomes) are in the hands of the people on that panel. But even if it weren’t NASDE I feel it’s important to hire the best (meaning most competent, trustworthy, respected) judges on the circuit.

Need a bigger ballroom. This event has already outgrown the space (social dance floor is maxed out, and here social dancing is reallllly important part of the weekend, and realllly fun) and the event will only get bigger. As nostalgic as this funky old “castle” is it has become too small. Elevators couldn’t handle us either.

Three final random comments:

Love how Bill said “I do this all the time: I give plaques to 5th and 4th place, don’t always give ’em money but I give ’em plaques, but I like to have them come up here and have their moment of recognition.” I love the easy, honest, transparent way Bill talks about prizes and what he gives and doesn’t give. Very human. That brief sentence above tells you that he gives as much prize money as the event can afford, and knowing that makes anyone happy and grateful. Love how casual and real Bill is.

Love that they posted all the scoresheets, with judges’ names, and even posted prelims! So people who don’t make finals can at least see their name up there on the wall, as a competitor, “in the game” so to speak.

Which brings me to a last unresolved ongoing debate:

Should we be like ballroom and never post judges’ names so that judges would:

1. Not have to be bothered with questions or reprimands, and
2. Judges would (possibly, not assuredly) have the anonymity to score more honestly (since we are a tight (“incestuous” might be the better word) community and judges are often scoring personal friends)

Or should we be completely transparent and post all scores and judges’ names so that:

1. Competitors can know how to evaluate a particular score by knowing the person who gave it
2. Competitors can ask a judge for feedback or help
3. Judges can be expected to say “Yes I gave you that score and here’s why” or “Sorry I don’t remember what I saw at that moment”

That’s it for Summer Hummer 2012 Updates. What a GREAT comp! We had a blast!

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8 responses to “Summer Hummer 2012 Update #11

  1. Enjoyed your recap. You made me feel like I was right there enjoying all of the fun! This sounds like an event that everyone really enjoys.

  2. If you’re gonna judge you gotta be able to take the heat…actually, it would be disappointing to me for people to be rude to a judge over a score. There’s a right way and a wrong way to discuss the scores…paid professional judges, who no longer compete is the way to go. We’ve all seen showcase dancers judging classic dancers, etc…it’s hard not to be bias when people are your friends or not…though, I do think most judges try to set aside whatever differences they may have to get it right…post the scores, post the names and do it immediately…

  3. Full score sheets should be posted online with included judge’s names. Why should sports geeks be the only people who get to obsess over stats? Give us dance geeks some stats we can scrutinize!

  4. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Hummer – glad to know it’s doing so well. I love Bill and all he does for the community, and really love your comprehensive, funny, and heart-felt review. Thanks so much!

    • Thank you for the compliments Julie! I’m glad you enjoy these updates – that’s why I write them.

      Yeah, Summer Hummer was a blast this year! It is every year! Love this comp! And I’m with you, I too love Bill and Yuna.

  5. Liza, I love your writing (I read most of your reports since I attend so few events) and you are a great cheerleader for WCS, but please leave the careers and incomes out of it. This is a competition and win or lose should be based on what gets put on the floor at that moment and reputation should not have (but far too often does) any bearing on placement. Unpopular is not the same thing as wrong.

    • Hi Trent,

      Thanks for writing! I’m confused – did it sound like I said people should be judged based on their careers or incomes? If so I certainly didn’t mean it, in fact I meant quite the opposite! What I was trying to say, not very well at all it seems, was that when people’s careers and incomes are at stake, such as with a NASDE comp, that it is maybe even more important than usual to have an excellent judging panel, meaning impartial, trustworthy, well-respected in the community, all those things. There should always be an excellent judging panel, of course. But maybe at a NASDE comp even more so. That’s what I was *trying* to say Trent.

      • That’s good to know, Liza. I look forward to reading your next update about wherever your travels take you!

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