Here we go!
So great to be here again after missing last year. It is huge! The ballroom is gigantic. You enter from the open sky-lights atrium in the lobby and there, way out beyond the dark rows of spectator seats and tables, is the huge floor shimmering and rippling under the stage lighting, dancers seem to be floating and bobbing like sailboats, a floor so vast you feel like you’re gazing across the San Francisco Francisco Bay.
Packed ballroom last night, all night into the wee hours. Two boxes of bands already snapped onto wrists – that means 500 people banded last night. Online registration (“Now Dancing” the great program created by Jen and Michael Diener – check it out and create a profile for yourself to make your life easier at your next event: Now Dancing ) shows 967 people pre-registered – that’s a lot!
Lovely gray fog over the bay this morning which lifted by 10am to reveal a sunny blue sky, windy white-caps chopping across the water, a lovely balmy San Francisco day. What a great city this is! Rich with culture, so much here to do.
And what a crazy weekend here this weekend! If you’re driving in be forewarned – it’ll be impossible to drive through the city. The America’s Cup World Series regatta begins today! First time hosted in the States since 1995!
This is also the weekend of Fleet Week, a tradition since 1981 and the most anticipated Fall event in San Francisco with an estimated audience of 1 million spectators drawn every year to the city’s northern waterfront to be awed by a parade of Navy ships and a spectacular aerial show which includes the Navy Blue Angels.
And if that wasn’t enough this is the weekend of the Oktoberfest Beer Olympics!
And if *that* wasn’t enough this is also the weekend of the enormous annual event, the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival,” held across the rolling meadows of Golden Gate Park!
And the Giants playoff! And a 49ers game!
And the Columbus Day Parade and the huge annual “Decolonize the New World” *anti*-Columbus Day Parade, and the hugest of all Italian Heritage Festival and Parade!
And a Florence and The Machine concert, a Dead Kennedys concert, the Central Market Arts Festival and the Castro Street Fair!
And Boogie By The Bay!
This is a big comp, a big, serious NASDE comp.
There are all different personalities of comps on the circuit, flavors for every taste. There are small homey comps, party comps, new contemporary-feeling comps with a new creative vibe, traditional comps, Texas comps that are uniquely Texas, comps with a jillion competitions all weekend (that’s Genieboy’s favorite flavor. Once, either at Miami or John Wheaton’s Jack and Jill O’Rama, Genieboy entered 27 different competitions in a single weekend (being Masters age does have some benefits) which means that we *paid* for 27 competitions which, what can I say. I have at least 27 pairs of shoes.) Every flavor.
Jeanne DeGeyter puts on three comps a year which are hilarious fun, their own unique flavor. Homey, welcoming, smallish, and the main thing is that because Jeanne is both creative and very funny her comps always include loads of wacky competitions (with costumes and props) and dancing-meets-party-games late nite silliness. Some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the circuit are stuck forever in my mind’s eye from Jeanne’s comps (like Kyle Patel in pink spinning so fast he rotated himself entirely off the floor into the audience taking down chairs, tables, and people in his path like a small Indian car gone haywire.) (Pictures from 2009 Grand Prix). That middle section of the States is a fun area of the country. Doug Rousar, our dear friend and the kindest, real-est, wisest, most humble and heartfelt person you will ever meet – also happens to be fall-down hilarious, silly dorky childish stupid hilarious. Matt Auclair is in that part of the world and he easily could easily be a stand-up comedian performance-art celebrity he’s that funny. The Markers are there, with their fun-loving, enthusiastic, rowdy community from the university created in their image. All of these folks are superbly talented dancers in addition to loving to laugh, so at comps in that part of the world you’re not only delighted by their humor but by their astonishing west coast as well.
I’m not like most people we meet as we travel the circuit. I like every kind of comp, unfortunately. Every single flavor. Like ice-cream. It’s a problem! Especially now with so many new events cropping up around the world. I can barely stand it. I want to be everywhere! Right now!
Anyway. This comp is of the humongous variety. A NASDE comp in every sense. Very “serious” (if west coast can ever really be serious) vibe here, more about the thrills and joys of competing and “doing it right” than, as at some events, the joys of being silly, laughter, and dancing for the pure fun of it – who cares if it’s correct or not. I love the bigness, the gravitas, the presentation of the Jack and Annie Scholarship (I love the respect for tradition and history that goes with this, love the presence of Jack and Annie, love the opportunity to pay tribute. If Desert City, as I wrote last month, is a relaxed party atmosphere because it’s *not* NASDE, then this is the exact opposite. This is San Francisco, people take their pleasures very seriously here. You don’t just have a doughnut in this town. You have the *right* doughnut.
Flew in on Virgin America which doesn’t have rows of seats becoming detached and flying backwards through the plan (CBS story on the flying seats) and which has such a funny safety video, with such good cartoons and voice-over, that you actually want to watch (“For the .00001% of you who never operated a seatbelt before, here’s how to to it,” or the cartoon guy who didn’t pay attention to the turbulence annoucement and throws water all over himself, or the matador and bull seated next to each other (I would like to see *that* arm-rest fight,) or “please remember, the seat-cushion is *not* a flotation device so don’t take it home with you to use in the pool.”) And Richard Branson coming on, himself, to encourage you to donate to cancer research using Virgin America’s nifty interactive touch-screen.
The guy in the seat next to me, a short wire-rimmed glasses vaguely tense kind of a man, spent the first two hours of our flight watching the presidential debate over and over, laughing his head off so loudly while heaving himself back and forth against his seat and pounding his knee, that the flight attendant finally had to come and ask him if he could please keep it down a little. He then spent the next two hours shaking his fist wildly at the Gogo inflight log-in page, red-faced and sputtering, entering and re-entering his credit card number a hundred times (wanna know his credit card number? I have it memorized) until finally, when we only had an hour left to the flight, he finally got through to google, went to this page: (google weather) and sat there staring and laughing so loudly that people up and down the aisle were craning their necks around to see what the commotion was. This was after four gin and tonics, I should add.