SwingDiego 2013 Update #1

This is an amazing event.

Last night’s Kickoff Dance – the first dance to inaugurate the new ballroom – CRAZY great.

When we left at 3am there were at least 700 dancers on the floor, from all around the world. Russians, French, Brasilians, Singapore, Korea, Israelis, Swedes, Finns, England, Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, Phillipines, Australians, Canadians, Morrocco, Pakistan, Turkey … And the level of dancing! SO many superb dancers!

An amazing thing is taking place here this weekend. It feels like the official launch of the next chapter in the history of our dance, like this marks the beginning of a new age, the recognition that efforts to spread west coast around the world have succeeded and the dance is now firmly rooted in countries outside of the United States, reflecting influences, styles, and regional color from every part of the globe.

More than once last night I found myself standing in a group of American dancers, all of us staring, smiling in amazement and delight, at a floor packed with the highest level of swing happening anywhere you looked – cool new styles, movements, tricks, postures, footwork, interpretations – sweaty couples dancing their hearts out with huge grins on their faces, unable to speak each other’s languages but communicating perfectly in the shared language of west coast swing. What a scene.

The ballroom! It’s magnificent! So enormous they’re only using half. Behind the huge backdrop, screen, and raised stage is just as much room again which will be used as a staging area with a practice floor right there for contestants to warm up before coming on to compete. Earl says they’ve got the coolest follow-spot lighting planned for bringing dancers out to the floor.

The professional crew who installed the sound system – four GINORMOUS speakers with 180 degree surround-sound – say that this hall has the best acoustics in the city (other than round symphony-halls) – they’ve held rock concerts here. Even last night, with 1,000 people yelling and laughing, the sound was incredible.

And the lighting! Oh. My. Gawd. Someone said it feels like Vegas.

The production elements of this event are spectacular! Doesn’t get any better than this!

The floor itself is bigger than last year’s – (60,000 sq feet versus 54,000 – I think I have those numbers right) – but not so big as to lose that intimate packed-dance-club feeling.  And not so small that you’re at risk of getting hurt – a delicate balance which Earl and Parker think carefully about (they think about EVERYTHING carefully, every detail considered obsessively, all year.)

Oh, and down the hall there’s a SECOND floor! Which is the same size! A second 60,000 square foot floor! In a ballroom just down the hall. Novice semi-finals will be held there during Intermediate, Masters, and Advanced prelims. (Novice prelims will be held in the main ballroom so that every competitor here will have the chance to dance in the main ballroom.) We were wondering how they planned to do the “concurrent jack and jills” thing. This is is how, and it’s ingenious. Novice is always a gargantuan division and this way the schedule won’t be held up by multiple Novice heats – and, and added benefit – there won’t be the need to cut down the number of contestants who make it to semis in order to accomodate the schedule, so many more people will advance to semis. So smart!

Yesterday the wine tour, the golf tour, shopping, site-seeing, and lots of arrivals. Today people dragging suitcases along the pathways all day long. Last year 600 people pre-registered. This year 1,000 people pre-registered. This is a huge event.

It’s 2pm as I write this – the weather is fabulous – and the pool is surrounded by dancers just waking up from dancing until breakfast, now sprawled out in the brilliant blue-sky sunshine or splashing in the hot tubs or getting dressed for pro-am strictlys at 3:00. Outside of that nothing to do today but rest up and get ready for the non-stop schedule which begins with Opening Ceremonies at 7pm followed by Champion and Open strictly prelims and finals; and SHOWCASE!

I know of SO many new Showcase and Classic routines being launched here this weekend but I can’t tell you who or what because I’ve been sworn to secrecy. But ohhhhh myyyyy gawd are we in for some great GREAT routines AUGHGHGHGH!

You can watch all weekend here!

And if you’re not here – YOU MUST TRY TO COME NEXT YEAR!

This is the event not to miss.

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