Friday morning I had breakfast in the club lounge. Thought I was being smart as I surreptitiously slid a few bottles of water into my bag to take back to the room for later, forgetting that intending to take a drink I had just removed the cap from one of them but had become distracted when my table-mate – a pretty young blonde who made me think of Hansel and Gretel and the Sound of Music – asked me a question so utterly unintelligible I had to have her repeat it four times, s-l-o-w-l-y enunciating each word, before I realized she was indeed a Hansel and Gretel Sound of Music – she was German! – with an accent so thick her tongue might have been made of bratwurst. When she said for the fourth time (at this point mouthing each word so carefully and loudly- as if talking to a thick-headed first-grader – that people at other tables had stopped talking and were only pretending to eat their breakfasts) something that sounded like this: “Aww Yaww Hyaww Faww Dah Haww-Taww-Caww-Chaww Kawn Foontz?” the random sounds which had been knocking around my brain suddenly sprung up and snapped together like legos and English words emerged from the German stew, and I answered triumphantly No! I am not here for the Horticulture Conference! I am here for the dance convention! and I jumped up, feeling very relieved, grabbed my bag and ran for the door to escape the intense awkwardness that had become my breakfast.
I heard “Mahm? Mahm!? Awk Scuse me Mahm! Yurrr bog! Eees leeeekin’ yur bog!” and there, in a steady stream from the bottom corner of my beautiful new Target pocketbook, flowed the entire bottle of water which I had shoved in uncapped and upside-down, and across the carpet was a river leading from my table with Edelweiss to where I stood at the door with a large puddle growing under my feet while I muttered apologies and gibberish to the wall and floor and hotel guests who were now enjoying a full morning’s entertainment there in the club-lounge, a one-woman dinner show during breakfast, as they sat watching me humiliate myself even more than I already had in the prior ten-minutes, frantically exhuming my sopping wet wallet, soaked receipts, dripping bits of paper, drenched lipstick and eyeshadow, at last pouring out onto the floor the entire embarrassingly personal contents of my bag along with the small lake which had pooled at the bottom and three full bottles of water and finally one completely empty bottle without a cap.
So much for trying to sneak some water back to my room.
Don’t know if I’ve described the hotel. It’s a Hyatt Regency with a wide open atrium lobby, skylights above giving beautiful natural light, encircled by rooms around the perimeter – same architecture you’ll find in many Hyatts. Nice hotel, not new, but nice enough. Rooms are standard, clean, well kept. Because it’s an atrium your room opens either to the outside (if you’re lucky you might be able to see the bay but most rooms look out onto the highway) or to the lobby below, and you may have a room right next to the elevator or a room directly opposite the elevator – opposite as in 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock – which could mean rawther a long walk. That’s where my room was this year – precisely opposite the elevator – which I didn’t mind except when I was lugging my heavy camera bag and equipment. But I did hear some funny mutterings-under-their-breath from other guests when they realized they’d be getting some unanticipated exercise at this hotel. From the top floor you are able to get a gorgeous 360° panorama view of the bay, the Bayshore Highway buzzing off into the city, mountains and hills stretched out along the horizon, and planes and birds criss-crossing each other in the sky or coming in to land on the cliffs or promontory on which San Francisco International Airport is located. The hotel provides a free shuttle to and from the airport – it runs every 10-15 minutes and takes under five minutes drive time.
Did I mention that Jim and Catherine Anne were married on Friday, at the hotel? I only know because I got into the elevator and there they were, smooching, giggling with happiness! Cat so beautiful in her wedding gown! Isn’t that wonderful? What a great place to be married, at a dance event! I’m sure they have tons of pictures on the way, but here are a few I’ve seen on facebook as of this writing: Jim and Cat’s Wedding! More of Jim and Cat’s Wedding!
(Do these links work? FB changed photo settings and I’m not sure if non-friends can view pictures like you could last month.)
In the last Update I described Classic. I loved Classic. But I *always* love Classic and Showcase. Even though, as I said in an earlier update, I was sad to miss seeing both Jordan and Tatiana, and Kyle and Sarah’s routines. There was a definite emptiness where those two couples should have been. But even without them I loved Classic.
But I did not hear resounding praise for Classic from others I asked, however, which is puzzling to me. Saturday night just afterwards, and again on Sunday I asked people “Wasn’t last night GREAT? Didn’t you just love the routines? What did you think of Classic?” and I was surprised to hear mostly lukewarm responses. No negative comments but not as enthusiastic as I was expecting. A few people decided to sleep through Classic and Showcase entirely, saving their energy for social dancing instead. On Monday at the airport I heard the same tepid response from dancers reviewing their weekend – two separate groups I bumped into there, and another couple who slept through it.
I don’t think I have ever – could ever – sleep through routines. I can’t imagine being at a comp and missing routines!
On reflection it did feel like a dampened energy in the ballroom on Saturday night. Audience response not as loud and excited as it often is, the energy level just low somehow. I can’t imagine it was because Jordan and Tatiana, and Kyle and Sarah, weren’t dancing – I don’t reckon most people were even aware that Boogie is an event where these couples have always been (or have been for the last twelve years, anyway.) So I don’t think it was that. Maybe just tiredness from a long day? Or maybe there’d been a muted mood all weekend and I hadn’t noticed till Saturday night?
Hearing this mentioned more than a few times – from different sorts of people, old-timers, juniors, newbies – made me think about the tenor of the rest of the weekend and on reflection it did feel to me a little “down” compared to previous years. Boogie has always been a huge event – hugely important, hugely exciting, hugest floor, hugest attendance, full roster of NASDE competitors, loads of juniors. Huge excitement and high energy is how I’ve thought of Boogie.
We used to have four-plus tables from DC. This year we didn’t have enough DC dancers to fill a single table. When I returned home last week I was curious to ask our friends what their reasons were for not going and of course each had a different reason that was personal to them. But there did seem to be a common thread. A few said they don’t go because they’re Masters and don’t like that at Boogie they’re forced to choose between that division and their skill-level. Another couple haven’t been back after the year they were told that despite more than adequate points and a first place win they still wouldn’t be permitted to dance in Advanced because “the win wasn’t at a good enough event to matter” (our friend, retelling this, said the most irritating part was that she had actually placed out of Intermediate, points-wise, at Boogie! The year before!) Another friend was warned in a way that felt demeaning that because he was from the east coast he wasn’t going to do well “out here where the level of dance is so much higher” and was strongly urged to dance down in a lower division. That was five years ago and he was so insulted he hasn’t been back since. Another friend went last year and realized on Sunday she’d been in a glum, negative mood all weekend long – very unlike her normally irrepressibly happy self. She returned home saying she simply didn’t have fun. At a dance event! This year she went to Montreal instead. Another couple haven’t been back for four years because they said they don’t feel welcomed – in their words, “they don’t have good customer service at that event. We don’t feel like “valued customers” there.”
It’s hard for us to come out from the east coast, anyway. We lose a day or two just travelling and airfare is expensive (maybe not as expensive as from Australia, Asia, or Europe, but expensive enough. My ticket this year, because I only decided two weeks before that I simply couldn’t miss the 20th Anniversary, cost us $700. For us that’s a lot of money. And normally Genieboy is buying airfare, too, so we’re stuck with paying double.) So an event needs to be pretty special for those of us on the east coast to spend the money and make the trip.
Speaking of travel from far-away places, that was another thing which might have contributed to the lower energy this year – there were no international competitors, or very few anyway. Boogie has in the past had a large, rowdy, excited French contingent who added a lot of fun. Maybe all those folks followed Maxence to Montreal? From UK I only counted three Londoners. Two Aussies. No Brasilians, Russians, Europeans, or Asians. I missed the presence of other countries, I feel like they’ve been at Boogie in previous years. Haven’t they? Or am I just imagining it? If not, they should be. Boogie is an event that should have a huge international contingent.
The event felt smaller in general this year than I’ve remembered it. Don’t know if it actually was but it felt that way. I do remember years when that enormous floor has been almost too crowded to dance and every table, every corner of that humongous ballroom, has been jammed with circles of people laughing and trying out dance moves. That was not the case this year – there was always plenty of space on the floor and the ballroom always felt a little emptier than it should have.
For myself, I know I had a rough time finding a place to sit on the floor to be able to take pictures. I kept finding my feet, my camera, my scarf, or my pen or paper, either too far forward or too close to a judges’ chair or somehow in the wrong place, over and over again, no matter how many times I readjusted. I just couldn’t get it right, sliding this way and that, blocking people behind me or being blocked by people in front, struggling all night while being relocated to more and more awkward positions. In the middle of Classic they announced they were no longer allowing people on the floor to sit between judges’ chairs – everyone was to move back behind, and the chairs which had been far enough apart for me and my two beautiful floormates – Peggy Allen and Kristin Fangmeier (more about the grrrreat Phoenix folks later) – to snuggle between were moved tightly against each other so you couldn’t see between them at all. At that point I gave up trying to take pictures.
I was later told that the judges were distracted by people on the floor and nervous that people were looking at their score sheets (score sheets were posted on Sunday anyway so not sure what that was about.) The whole feel, though, in retrospect, was that all in all it was kind of an uncomfortable vibe rather than a happy one. And for me personally, between the hard floor, the mono-pod and heavy camera, scrambling for my notepad to scratch down Grace’s funny comments, unpacking, repacking, moving this way sliding that way … by the time the night was done I was aching all over, everything hurt. I would have chalked this experience up to my own personal problems with aging bones, all my heavy equipment and the junk I lug around. But now I’m thinking maybe not? Maybe other people on the floor or even in the seats behind were uncomfortable too? Maybe it’s indicative of – I don’t know what. Lack of friendliness?
Or maybe I’m imagining it and if you talked with someone else they’d describe an entirely different impression of the weekend.
I hope, by the way, that what I write here is not being used as a travel-guide for where to go, which comps are good or which not. That’s not what these Updates are intended to be. I’m not a reviewer or critic I just like to tell about what has become 90% of how we spend our time while we’re still healthy enough to do this crazy thing we love doing. It’s a record for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren and anyone else in the future who might be interested in reading about what it was like for us when we’re not around anymore to describe it. It has happened many times that I’m having the time of my life while the person at the next table is having the most miserable weekend ever. Experiences at these events are so subjective. Someone is rude and your whole weekend is ruined. Someone special asks you to dance and you’re on cloud nine. It’s so personal how your weekend goes. I hope readers remember that my accounting of our travels on the circuit is our own biased, purely subjective version of reality.
If you are just reading this for the first time or on your Iphone (where, if Genieboy’s Iphone is any indication, you can’t easily see the click-able list of events or click-able list of years and dates – the archives of past Comp Updates in other words) you may not be aware that I started writing these Updates when we started this obsessive travelling in 2006 (although I discovered swing dancing in 197–rhghblrbgghrg not gonna tell that last digit) purely as a way to “update” our dancer friends back in DC who wanted to hear what was happening on the circuit, who made finals, who won, who was there, and of course any juicy gossip (which, back then, before these updates went out to a wide audience, I could have lots more fun with.) At any rate, in case you didn’t know that’s what these are. A series of “updates” which I try to get out during the event but am often forced to finish up after the event is over. Often on the plane to the next event. All the archives (those I’ve been able to gather, anyway) can be found here: Liza’s Comp Updates
Oh! Forgot to include this in an earlier Update …the list of who danced in Intermediate Prelims:
Cesario Dos Santos
Oh, and also, Brad’s terrific pictures are for sale here:
Brad’s BBtB 2012 Photographs
And you can buy Bruce’s “thumbsup” DVD or watch the entire event or segments of it, online, here:
Bruce’s BBtB 2012 Videos
My pictures (only a few so far – it takes me forever to get mine up) are here:
Liza’s BBtB 2012 Photographs
And the official Boogie results page here:
BBtB 2012 Results