My last day in Pittsburgh looked a little like this:
Note: sarcasm ahead.
Just so you all know, being a lindy hopper is super glamorous and is the easiest job in the world ever!
We travel the world, play dress up, listen to great music, hang out with our friends, and get to give back to the community. We rub elbows with the other micro-celebrities, exchange hot new video clips from the 1930s, and spend time being fabulous. Oh the glamour!
On the other hand, we spend a lot of our life in or on our way to airports, or flying from city to city (or doing any version of transportation to get the job done), live out of a suitcase, dance to the same music that we’ve been listening to for years (darn you Barbara Morrison & Diana Krall and your music that is soooooo often played!), and have a limited sense of personal privacy.
Ok, sarcasm and reality aside, I LOVE being a lindy hop instructor and wouldn’t trade my job for another. I am exceptionally grateful that my teenage hobby has provided me with a living and that there are so many lindy hop scenes around the world that are thriving. In all honestly, I have a great life and I know it. That being said, it’s nice to gripe every now and again, so here’s a little glimpse into what it means to being an international lindy hop instructor:
My travel schedule in May/June:
Tuesday, May 24 – Pittsburgh to Seattle (Camp Jitterbug)
Tuesday, May 31 – Seattle – Frankfurt – Thessoloniki (Swing n’ Swim)
Tuesday, June 7 – Thessoloniki – Rome – Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne (Melbourne Swing Festival)
Monday, June 13 – Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur – Rome – Barcelona (ESDC)
Tuesday, June 21 – Barcelona – JFK – Pittsburgh (Home)
Glamorous right?! Not really.
So that was the overview of my month. Let’s take a quick look at one of my biggest travel days in 2011, shall we?
4:45 wake up
5:10 leave apartment in Thessoloniki, Greece
5:30 arrive at airport
6:55 flight to Rome, Italy
– 2 hour flight, 1 hour time change –
7:55 arrive in Rome
– 6 hour layover –
13:50 flight to Kuala Lumpur
– 12 hours later –
8:30 arrive in Kuala Lumpur
– 4 hour layover –
flight to Melbourne, Australia
22:05 arrive in Melbourne
+ 1.5 hours through Customs and to get bags
+ 45 minute drive to host’s house
Just another travel day!
As some of you know, I grew up in a relatively warm climate. The Bay Area has seasons, but to get winter, and I mean real winter, you have to drive somewhere to find it. Here in Pittsburgh, on the other hand, you just have to look outside.
Yesterday (Friday), my dentist called to see if was going to keep my appointment. I asked why wouldn’t I. She informed me that a storm was coming in and a lot of people were canceling. I didn’t realize that people would cancel appointments because of a storm so I rescheduled mine for earlier. Apparently the weather was going to get exciting around noon, so I agreed to a 2:30pm appointment.
It was 10:30am at the time and figured if I was going to go out, I should probably do that sooner rather than later. I ran to Target to get a laundry bag, kleenex, and some other knick knacks. After the storm hit, I realized I should have picked up bottles of water, canned food, and matches. Oh hindsight bias! Aren’t you wonderful?! *said with a high, cutesy voice.
The “storm” hit around noon, as scheduled. It was lovely. The prettiest storm I had ever seen! Beautiful, little snowflakes fluttered from the sky in a light dusting. Our neighborhood slowly started to blanket. Around 1:00pm, that’s when the “flutter” became a “fall.” Snow came from the sky much more vigorously, but was still so pretty! “Oh how cute” I thought to myself. “This whole storm this is rather grand! If ‘storms’ mean that Pittsburgh becomes a winter wonderland… than I’m in!” canceled my appointment 20 minutes later.
It continued to snow all day. Apparently, it wasn’t the “lovely snowflakes” we had to worry about. It was the fact that it was going to warmed up a bit, then the snow would melt, then the temperature was going to drop (which it did) and everything was going to freeze (which it did) and finally there would be ice. Hmm….this “winter wonderland” didn’t seem nearly as wonderful as I had expected. It’s like the dentist lady knew something I didn’t. It’s like she’s lived in winter before and understood what “storm” really meant. Hmmm…..so what could I do to turn my frown upside down? I asked myself “What could Sharon and I do to make being trapped in the house better?” There was only one answer: “DELIVERY!!”
Shaz got on the google machine and looked up delivery restaurants. We found this awesome delivery site called Meals Delivered and they have access to 40 different restaurants. We could order almost anything!!! What a great place we live in. We ordered up some Thai food because Kevin wasn’t around and waited for our food to come to us.
Forty minutes passed and we were starving. Garrr….was it the storm? Was is the weather? Or did delivery just take that long? It arrived within the next five minutes and Shaz and I chowed down. Yum yum yum. The food was soooooooooo good. About an hour later I was falling asleep. “Dang it! It’s only 7pm and I am fit for a nap!” That’s how I said it in my head, but as I announced that to Shaz, it sounded more like mumbles. I decided to grab a half hour nap.
Around 8 (yup, my half hour nap took longer than expected) I woke up and Shaz told me she was going to bed. I figured I might as well go back to sleep if my partner in crime was hitting they hay. Snooze time.
I hear yelling in the street. “Crap, what time is it?” I look at my phone and it’s 2am. “Great. Now I am going to be awake all night.” Kids were in the street throwing snowballs. Since I had been asleep a foot of snow had dropped. It was gorgeous! Slowly our street started to fad away under all the snow. “Winter is rather lovely” I say to myself while enjoying it from a heated view.
What does a girl do with spare time in the middle of the night? Get on internet!!! I read lots of cool things, wrote some great emails, discovered the meaning of life, posted some blogs, stretched, and so on. Ok, most of those things are true 😀 Anyways, it starts to get light outside and I figure that’s my cue to go back to bed. It was about 8am when I started to wrap things up. At least another foot of snow has dropped and my car has disappeared in the snow. At 8:30, the power went out. Fuck. The internet is down. And seriously, that was my first though. …. I know. I am shaking my head as well. Stop judging! 🙂
I check to see if the stove works. Gas works just fine, fire doesn’t light because it’s electric. Now realizing that we’ll probably run out of heat because the starter on the gas heater is electric. Buggar! Call John (our fix-it man). John says we should be fine, there are guys working hard to get power back to everyone but because there is so much snow the road are blocked. That being said, the house is warm and will stay that way for a while. I feel better.
I watched people try to dig themselves out of their house for a bit before retiring to bed. Ahhhhhhh, sleep. What a wonderful thing. At 9am Shaz woke up and so did I. I gave her the run down of what I knew and she geared up to go outside. I told her if she made it to Giant Eagles, she should grab matches.
Hopefully she’ll post her video, but she has some really great footage of her experience in the snow. The snow was sooooooooo fluffy and so amazing…wow. Perhaps pictures will do it justice. Shaz was knee-deep during a bit of her walk about a mile down the road. How fun! Well, let me be specific. “How fun” when you get to visit a city. I don’t think I’d like that every day.
Fast forward to 2pm. Shaz and I keep thinking about fun things we could do today, oh but wait, they all require power. Merde!
We could watch movies. Nope.
We could make costumes on my new sewing machine. Nope.
We could make popcorn. Nope.
We could make toast! Nope. Unless we wanted to do it over the gas stove.
We could catch up on all the writing we wanted to do. Nope, not if we were planning on doing that on our computer.
I could talk on the phone! Nope. Not unless I was willing to run out of battery and then not have a phone.
Crap. What a fun, possibly-creative day we could have had if we had just had power!
In the end, we were fine. We had endless cups of tea, chatted, I worked out a teeny bit, and then we made pesto pasta and a salad. Around dinner time it was starting to get dark. We lit some candles and prepared the guest room to be an awesome, girly fort! We had magazines, laundry, books, trumpets, canes and top hats to keep us busy. Hehe, well, some of things are harder to use in the dark, but they were there! Then we fell asleep around 8pm, reading by candle light. Lots of people called to make sure we were ok, which woke me up, but the sentiments were really nice.
OK, now onto Quick Life Lesson! What did I learn from this?
- When a storm is coming, pay attention to what’s going on. And take it seriously.
- If you have time to get supplies before a storm hits, go do it. Seriously, just go pick stuff up while you can still get out.
- Keep your electronics charged so you have access to them. This includes spare cell phones. You never know when one cell phone will die and you need to make a call.
- Have water, canned food, matches, windup flash lights and serious sleeping bags in your house. When the time comes, you’ll be super grateful you have these things.
- If the power goes out, conserve your batteries so you can use them when you need to.
- Pick a small room with the least amount of windows to sleep in for the evening. Covered the window with a sleeping bag or something to help create an airlock.
- Stay warm.
Ok, so some of you East Coast folk probably know all of that already, but I didn’t. I haven’t lost power during the wintertime before, and even though it wasn’t scary, I knew I wasn’t prepared. I will definitely remember that picking up supplies ahead of time is freaking smart. Making sure there is enough food in the house to comfortably eat for 3 days is super, duper smart. Gas stoves rock. Fully charged electronics are awesome!
Ok, so that’s the story and there was the QLL. xoxo
Considering how small the Pittsburgh lindy hop scene is, we have some great live music here. Last year I saw the Preservation Jazz Hall Band at the Byham Theater and they rocked my world. Juan Villafane and I went, tapped along to the music, danced in the walkways, and had a blast. This week the Boilermaker Jazz Band is playing for three nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) here in Pittsburgh and next week the Cangelosi Cards will be playing at Steel Town Stomp September 16th. Woohoo!! Some great live music here in Pittsburgh. Come out and support!!!
That being said, modern day Pittsburgh has nothing on the Savoy (but then again, who does??). Here is a newspaper article from the 30’s I found. It reads “Savoy Shatters Own Record “, from the Wednesday 5th of October 1932 edition of the New York Amsterdam News. The article is below. Read it and try to image getting to hear all four bands live. In one ballroom. On one day. Wow.
Savoy Shatters Its Own Record
Four-Band Attraction Drew Thousands to Lenox Ave “Palais de Danse”
The Savoy Ballroom, 140th and 14st streets, shattered a long standing attendance record last Saturday night, when 4,600 spectators are said to have attended the four-band breakfast dance.
As early as 11 o’clock police reserves were called upon to maintain order among the thousands who were massed in the street awaiting admission.
The previous attendance record of 3,716 was created by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians over two years ago, and this mark remained intact until last Saturday night when a combination of four bands, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb and the New Orleans Feet Warmers smashed this record.
The “Three Keys,” radio’s newest entertainment sensations, make their first personal appearance athe Savoy Wednesday night, October 12. For the past three months, the Three Keys have been heard four times weekly on the NBC WJZ coast to coast network.
This unique trio present entertainment that is absolutely original – not an imitation, and are acclaimed as creators of a new mode of harmonizing – unnamed because it is new and known only to Bon-Bon, Slim and Bob, the Three Keys, who originated their own style from the rhythm of the old South and the modern melodies of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley.
I love being home. It is one of the greatest feelings in the worlds, and I’ve obviously spent too much time under rating it, otherwise I’d surely have been here more.
I love driving the truck. The Trooper, albeit boxy and rusted, is exactly as it’s name states: a trooper! I didn’t know whether or not it was going to start yesterday, but it started right up like a champ after not having been driven in months. I’ve enjoyed driving around an area that I am very familiar with, doing things I used to do, and seeing sights that are familiar. I enjoy getting to come back to a place that I call mine. Even though my room is a wreckage, it’s my wreckage. My clothes are strewn from hither and yonder and there are boxes piling up in every corner imaginable, yet, this glorious mess, which truthfully makes me very uncomfortable, is mine and no one will touch it because no one will be in my room until I get back. I revel in this idea.
The weather in Pitty has been lovely. It was cold last night, but tonight it’s about 60-65 and it’s awesome. And the weather during the day has been bright and sunny, probably up in the mid 70s. Wow….Pittsburgh is kinda awesome. And I missed it.
I’ve done a ton of shopping, which is a huge mistake, mostly because I don’t have enough space for my new purchases. Almost all of the pieces are coming with me to Europe, however, there isn’t a lot of space left in my room. I’ve already gone through my clothes and made a large pile of things to give away, but there is still so much there. Yikes. I can now admit that I love having a closet – full of clothes – that are mine – that I have hangers for – and drawers. Oooooh, how I love being home!!
I feel….normal. Being here at Hoodstock makes me feel normal. Walking around the mall and smelling Abercrombie gives me the sense of being normal and every day. I guess, then, that how I tend live my life doesn’t feel make me feel normal. I feel extraordinary.
Hey you guy,
My next set of local classes will be in August, and to keep things consistent, they will still be on Tuesday nights. If you want more info, check it out here.
See you guys then!!!
Oh yes, and don’t forget there is going to be a great workshop August 8-10 in Pittsburgh. Classes taught: solo movement, lindy hop, charleston, tricks, and aerials. Beginners welcome; advance dancers, be prepared! If you consider yourself a (budding) lindy hopper, then you better be there. Bells optional. More info coming soon!