Lindy Hop in Genova, Italy

This event was a tribute to how amazing Silvia Palazzolo truly is. The Friday a week before the event was to start, the Sheraton Hotel reneged on their contract and yet Silvia was still able to pull strings to make her event happen. Amazing!

Some more of the details: The Sheraton Hotel in Genova should have been the perfect for this event. Everyone would fly into Genova, cross the street to get to the hotel, stay in the gorgeous rooms (they were really, really nice), and then wander downstairs to take class and go to the dances at night. What made it not ideal was that the Sheraton didn’t have a dance floor, so Silvia bought one. The Sheraton also didn’t have a proper sound system, so Silvia got one lined up. Now, I know what you’re say, “That’s an organizer’s job; they need to make sure there is a dance floor, sound system, transportation, a place to stay, rah rah rah.” Silvia accounted for that, like a great organizer should, but what makes Silvia one of the great organizers is that a week before the event, almost everything she had planned fell apart.

I have no idea how she did it, but she was able to pull some strings and got 4 couples (Juan & Sharon, Nathan & Evita, Kevin & myself, and Mindaugas & Gierdre) a new place to teach classes and found a new night venue on 4 days notice. That’s freaking impressive!! Unfortunately, I don’t know how many of the students who attended knew that this happened, so I am assuming parts of the event just seemed poorly run when actually, it incredibly well run.

Long of the short of it, classes went really well, the students were great, the facilities were wonderful, the dances were fun, The Killer Diller performances went well, and the hotel rooms were lovely.

PUTTING ON THE SHOW

Putting on a show to a live band is fun and slightly stressful. We’ve worked with Roberto, the leader of the Nine Pennies Big Band, before and he’s an absolute pleasure. He’s put together some beautiful arrangements for us and his band has gotten stronger and tighter over the past 3 years.

That being said, regardless of what band you’re working with, you’re adding another layer of uncertainty. For example, our rehearsal time with the band ran later than expected and people were stressing about that (I was one of them). Even though I dig the version we performed to, it’s inevitably different than the one we as a group have been rehearsing to (more of something to take note of…no judgment, just another layer to account for). There are “sound” issue to have to deal with – the sound guy, the sound system, the microphones, etc – and that’s something else that needs to be addressed. Finally, something every performer deals with (unless at the same venue every night), is the floor. Slippery or sticky? Is there anything sticking out that we can trip on? Where’s the lighting set on the floor? Where will the audience be on the floor? And so on…

Regardless of the challenges, having the band is awesome. The most important thing the band does for us is pump out sound and energy that is energizing to both performers and audience members. The music was spot on for us, the tempos were great, the sound was full, and the energy was up. The Nine Pennies Big Band nailed it and I think (*toot toot) so did the Killer Dillers!

Here’s Our Set List:

1. LIVE MUSIC (2:35) Serenade to a Savage – Kevin, Jo, Juan, Sharon, Nathan & Evita
2. LIVE MUSIC Band Segway (with a singer 3 choruses)
3. LIVE MUSIC (2:45) Lucky Numbers – Nathan & Evita
4. RECORDED or LIVE MUSIC (3:22) I ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of my Jellyroll – Juan and Sharon
5. LIVE MUSIC (4:15) Taking a Chance on Love – Nathan, Evita and Juan
6. RECORDED MUSIC (2:30) Communication – Kevin and Jo
7. RECORDED MUSIC (2:41) Shimmy Like my Sister Kate – Bellboy Routine – Sharon, Jo & Evita
8. LIVE MUSIC (4:20) Living in a Great Big Way into Fascinating Rhythm – Kevin
9. LIVE MUSIC (2:43) Eight, Nine, Ten – Nathan & Kevin – dueling ukes

Here are some photos taken at the night dances: Enjoy!!!

To see some of my (crappy cell phone) pictures from the weekend, click here!

Again, Silvia, you are wonderful, marvelous, amazing, and inspiring. Thank you for hanging in there and pushing to make sure the event went off and for making our jobs as easy as they were. XOXOX

Italy – Day 2

Relatively, this has been the most relaxing 2 days I have had in weeks.

It was a long day getting to Genova, but relatively easy (this is Wednesday). The Hamburg Airport was easy to get to and easy to get through, but Charles de Gaule was quite the opposite. Kev and I landed at the D gate and then had to go to the G gate. We were planning on walking to that gate, but it wasn’t even on the airport map (click on link above)! We ended up taking the bus to the G gate, which was also in Terminal 2, but once we got there, we decided that it should have been labeled Terminal 3 because it was so far away!

There was a Paul (a bakery chain in France) there that I wanted to buy either a sandwich or a goodie from, but decided that getting through security, again, was more important. My experience in Europe at airport security is one I would describe as a crap-shoot; sometimes I don’t have to take anything out of my baggage but have to remove my coat, and other places I have to take my computer, liquids, coats, shoes, and anything that jingles out and/or off. My experience at the G gate was of the latter. Even after taking everything out, one of the security persons went through my bag and took out a lip gloss, my hand sanitizer, and my deodorant. Since when did deodorant make the list?! The security woman then proceeded to put these articles in a plastic bag and then sent me on my way. What was the point of putting these articles in another plastic bag? Hmm…..

For the next hour Kev played video games at the Play Station hub. I flipped through some fashion magazines before I gave up (I was bored) and then went to poke at Kev. Then the weirdest thing happened. Our gate was finally posted so we headed through some serious-looking double doors, and then it was only Kev and me walking down a super long hallway. Alone. It was so weird. I felt like we had broken through a “Safe Area” and were making a break for it. Bizarre! And then, all of a sudden we were in another wing, where there were 6 new gates. Where were these guys hiding? I totally should have taken a video of the experience, but I couldn’t stop experiencing the moment….so I didn’t get my camera out. Between the colored windows and us being the only two people in the vicinity, it was a surreal experience.

We got to Italy without any problems and Silvia was waiting for us when we arrived. We puttered around the parking lot for a bit until we figured out how to exit, and then headed home, where Silvia had turned the heat on high for me. She remembered that I was rather cold last time I was here, so she turned her downstairs into the tropics. Oooh, it was (and is) so warm down here!! We dropped our stuff off and then headed to dinner.

We went to one of the places we went last year, and the three of us were the only people in the restaurant. However, within 5 minutes 12 more people arrived for dinner. Good timing on our behalf. After ordering food, Bruno, Silvia’s husband, arrived and we had a pesto feast! Kev and I shared gnocchi and a flat pasta cover in homemade pesto! OMG, delicious!!!! After we polished off our enormous plates, then plates of carpaccio with hunks of parmesan. Again, delightful! The boys shared their meat with us ladies. 😀 Then, as if we had space, we had dessert. Kev had ice cream with chocolate sauce and I had a caramel pudding.

We rolled home a bit later and Kev and I settled in for the night. I riffled through the movie selection upstairs and found some goodies to watch. After Kev jerry-rigged a DVD watching-station by putting his laptop on a box, on the bed, we finally got down to watching The Contract which had Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. It was rather predictable and not terribly complex, but still a fun movie to veg out to.

This morning I woke up at about 1am and Kev got up around 2pm and then had an outstanding lunch with Silvia and Bruno upstairs. I was planning on eating something light because I was still rather full from the night before, but the spread was too good to pass up. There was hand made olive-bread (my favorite) and foccacia something-or-rather bread, pasta, salad, carpaccio with parmesan, and Italian coffee. OMG, what a little piggy I felt like! The food was great, but the fact that Silvia bought all the fixings earlier and and then made us lunch was the best part about it. Silvia took amazing care of us last May when we were here, and has already out-done herself. What a wonderful hos she is!

After lunch we sauntered back downstairs into the heat and continued to veg out. Kev watched Dan in Real Life (an excellent movie, btw) while I updated my calendar, wrote some emails, and then went online shopping at www.modcloth.com. As per usual I didn’t buy anything, but I got to look around and tempt myself with fun looking boots and dresses.

Silvia came down right as I was showing Kev some of the clothes I was pretending to buy myself and she recognized the designers. Not only that, but she had a bunch of the clothing. What were the chances that an Italian woman would have some obscure American designer? I followed Silvia upstairs to her room and then saw her closet. It really can only be described as a bedroom for her clothing. The ceilings are at least 10 ft high, and there is an island in the middle of the room. I have seen closets like this in magazines, but never in person. Wow. So we looked through some of her clothing and I found 18 dresses to try one. The two of us brought them downstairs and I proceeded to try all of them on. About half hour later, Kev told me which one’s he like best, and now I think I am going to borrow them for this weekend. Along this clothing journey, Kev and I figured out what colors work with my skin tone, and which ones don’t, what skirt lengths are good, and what necklines work for me. I have to say, that was pretty fun for me; having Kev give me feedback was kinda like having a girlfriend there, yet could still tell me in the most platonic way that one dress was sexier than another. Nice.

About half hour after the fashion show, Silvia came back from work and took us out to dinner. We went to a restaurant which she regularly frequents and had the place to ourselves. I wanted soup and they had one with muscles, so I ordered that, and a plate of grilled vegetables. Kev and Silvia got handmade pizza, and Bruno and his buddies got pasta and lobster. My soup was actually muscles with broth and my plate of veggies was the size of my torso. I thought I was ordering small, but boy was I wrong. There was sooooooo much food at the table, but the boys were able to finish all their food. Bruno and his buddies had a plate of cheese after dinner, then coffees, and then Grappa. What Italian men!

Since getting home an hour ago, Kev and I have been listening to some of his new music and I’ve been writing on my computer. Bed is calling my name, but I need to make sure I set myself an alarm for tomorrow before I succumb to the bed-siren’s call. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow!!!!

Oh yeah, and it snowed tonight.

May 6 – We’re in Italy!!!

I can hardly put my Italy Experience into words, but what I can say is that I have arrived.

Let’s back up. I woke up at 4:45am and started packing. Kev woke up a little after 5 and after he finished packing, we headed down for breakfast, which was more impressive than dinner. There were pastries, breads, bagels, and cakes; fruit, yogurt, and fresh squeezed juice; waffles, French toast, veal sausage, and eggs; lox, meat, and cheese section. It was the best breakfast I have ever eaten. Bloody amazing. Perhaps we ate more than was necessary, but every bite was out-of-this-world.

After our morning feast we headed over to the airport and checked our luggage in. We were off to Munich and then to Genova. Sweet!!!! This whole situation couldn’t have worked out any better. The flights were easy, security was a piece of cake, and there was internet. Life was looking good.

While we were taking the bus from the plane to the terminal, in Genova, we saw a darling, old couple who turned out to be from the Bay Area. The Missus and I chatted about her and her husband’s adventures and then our luggage showed up. I caught myself looking at the luggage sign; part of it was in English and the other was in Italian. Holy shit Batman, I am in Italy. I am really here!!!
I verbally exploded onto Kevin about how excited I was to be here but had to cool my jets once we exited baggage claim because I didn’t want to startle our new host, Silvia and Bruno. She has dark brown hair that is cut at neck length and is about my height and curvy, and Bruno looks like an Italian Rock-a-billy. They are darling!
Bruno must go back to work so Silvia takes us to her place so we can drop her stuff. Once we arrive, her three dogs happily greet us. They have a 12 y.o. husky, a short haired golden lab, and a new puppy that looks like a mastiff. We eventually get inside after lots of wiggling and petting and the view from her “villa” is amazing! Jaunted green hills stick out for miles and they are peppered with villa with orange-tiled roofs. Just lovely. It’s just as I was hoping it would be.
After dropping of our stuff and doing a quick change, we headed to lunch. Many windy road later we arrived at a place that didn’t look open; however it was overlooking a cliff that had a spectacular view. Here is me and Kevo: (coming soon)

Kev had a salad, some of the best pesto gnocchi ever made and some ice cream. I had a salad, handmade lasagna strips with pesto and Crème Brule, and Silvia has penne with pesto. Apparently everything is handmade there, and pesto is very popular in the region (go figure!) 😀
Ooh, we also talked about government and the Italian government sounds worse than ours! They have a president they compare to Bush (note: this is not a pro-Bush author), and their vice president is a huge racist! He doesn’t like Muslims, Blacks, Jews, Homosexuals, and other minority groups. Apparently they government is trying to do away with abortion and there are no gay rights. Appalling, just appalling. And and and, it’s so expensive to raise children there that there is now a negative population growth. The reason it’s so expensive there is that most things are now privatized meaning there is no help from the government (i.e. no tax breaks or free education). Everything needs to be paid out of pocket: primary school, middle and high school, and a college education cost about what ours does. AND to top it off, most college graduates can’t find work so they learn a trade afterwards. They are most likely going to do some form of manual labor. Wow. Oh, and they are trying to privatize health care too. OMG!! Well, other than all of those details, I’d still love to live in Italy, ride a Vespa, and say “Ciao” while my scarf is blowing in the wind.

After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the house for a nap. After a few hours of rest, we got up and then went for drinks and tapas. OMG, there is so much food! And people are drinking! Not that that is a problem for me at all, but it seems like alcohol is appropriate to have at lunch, before dinner, at dinner, and then again as a digestive. Wow. But nobody seems to be an alcoholic here. Hmm…..makes me think about American Society….shame we can’t drink responsibly. Note: I am not saying drinking that much (above) every day is responsible; I am purely noting that people in the US seem to either drink like Frat Boys or not drink at all.
After drinking and eating, we headed to go teach class. And what a surprise, we taught people how to lead and follow again. I am kind of feeling like there is a trend here…people are not learning to lead and follow when they learn to dance; however, people are still dancing and having fun, which is “most excellent”. After class, we headed to a pizza joint, and I had the best pizza, ever. OMG, food is insanely good here. Italians really do Italian food!!!! I can’t describe it other than saying that think of the best pizza you’ve had, and it was better than that (unless of course you ate it in Italy). Kevo and I had beers, and I only made it about half way through before I was heavily buzzed.

We are now home and Kevin is watching the first season of Weeds, and I am organizing my Itunes. I have soooooooooo many songs: 38.4 days of music. Wow. That’s completely unnecessary, especially since I listen to the same 4 hours worth of stuff regularly. It’s about 4:15am so it’s time for bed.