Inspiration Weekend 2012

Some favorite moments from this truly inspiring weekend.


Kevin and I kicked off our weekend with a little bit of “Shake that Thang!”

The Atomic Cherry Bombs were sexy as hell! I think it’s a great video of the performance, which means it must have been that much more incredible in person.

Hat Trick Initiation

James Bianco & Irina Amzashvilli were initiated into the Hat Trick Club this weekend. They are now members of the League of Extraordinary Hat-trickers.

This is one of the best versions of this routine I’ve seen them do. Sure, there were a few little flubs, but honestly, they freaking hit it. The crowd was awesome and Tips & Tops were men of legend. Well done men!!!

Saturday Competitions

1st Place – Augie Freeman & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Conrad Friesen & Sarah Stembridge
3rd Place – Andrew Jose & Alice Pye

Yeah!!! Lindy Hop has a future!! I was so impressed by how good everyone was in Orange County. Good heavens, those cats swing! The quality of their movement and swing outs assures me that lindy hop will continue to grow and thrive. Thank you to all the competitors; all of you won over my heart.

1st Place – Peter Kertzner & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Stephen Sayer & Chandrae Roettig
3rd Place – Jack Chen & Brittany Calavatti

I freaking LOVE the concept of 30-Second Showcase! And seriously, check out what people came up with. Love it.

Sunday Pro-Am

1st Place – Conrad Friesen
2nd Place – Matt Richey
3rd Place – Sam Chan

Hahah, this one looks a little bit like a Jo Hoffberg show reel, but really, I just got lucky that the top three leads in the competition picked me as their follower. Fabulous job everyone!!

Hat Trick Shim Sham at Lindy Focus X

Unfortunately, I was in rehearsal during this amazing feat of Hat Tricking, but it was sooooooooo freaking awesome I had to post it. About a year ago, Tips and Tops had a dream were planning on performing the Hat Trick Shim Sham while at Lindy Focus this year, but when they realized that all their buddies were there, they knew it was time to take the performance to the next level. Here the eight of them are in all their hat tricking glory!!

From left to right the performers: Tin Tin, Taps, Tips, Toodles, Tops, Toes, Targoff, and Tubs.

How awesome was that?!!! This tip-top team tricked their way into the hearts of many this past weekend. What I enjoyed most about this performance was seeing the individuality of each performer and how well they all worked together. On top of that, I really liked how the choreography was modified to best use the number of performers. Neato Gang!!

In case you want to learn how to hat trick shim sham, you are in luck!! Here are the first two (of twelve) videos to get you started:

Word on the street is if you want to be initiated into the group and get your own terrific nickname, you need to learn the routine and perform it at an event (make sure to have video to prove it). I can’t confirm this, but that’s what a little birdy told me!!

Korea: CSI 2010

You might be noticing that I am posting pictures and videos from event that happened over a month ago. Well, you see, I’ve been slacking, so now I am trying to catch up. So here are some favorite moments that were captured! Ooh, and make sure you get to the bottom of this post…that’s where some fun facts are!!

And here are some of the performances from that weekend. Hot Club Stomp from Orange County and The Killer Dillers from all over put on a 30 minute show. Here you go!

The Killer Dillers – “Harlem”

OOOooooh, someone forgot to take off her leg warmers!!

Hot Club Stomp – ” Keep On Jumpin’ ”

Juan and Sharon

Laura and Jeremy

Mikey and Nikki

Juan and Kevin

Sharon and Jo

Hot Club Stomp – “Shake That Thing”

Tip and Tops Debut their new Hat Tricks Routine in Korea:

Bonus Footage:

Al & Leon Shim Sham in Fat suits:

B-boy Battle – The teachers vs. B.Boy

Some fun facts from my trip:

1. I am under the impression that Seoul has the biggest swing dance scene in the world.
2. There are 15 swing bars in Seoul – that’s 15 dance venues, devoted ENTIRELY to swing dancing, 7 days a week!
3. Food in Korea is awesome!! They have some awesome red paste that goes on everything and is spicy-goodness. Unfortunately I don’t remember what it’s called, but it starts with a “g”.
4. Heated floors are fabulous!!!! Except when you have mochi in your bag. Be careful not to let your goodies get cooked because then you’ll have to throw them out. Boo.
5. Kimchi is yummy. Rumor has it that Kimchi is the reason why the Koreans never got SARS or bird flu. If you fly to Korea on Korean Air, there is a special on Kimchi….watch it!
6. The Jack & Jill at Camp Swing It involved taking a shot of Soju (which is a Korean distilled rice wine, vaguely similar to Japanese Sake) before and after each partner rotation. To prove you had finished the shot, you had to turn the glass upside down on your head (NOTE: that’s why Kevin is doing that in the pictures above). When dancers were refusing to drop out, the challenge increased to half a bottle per partner rotation! DANG!
7. Korean dancers are freaking awesome. They can copy almost anything, so if you’re planning on teaching there, don’t demo something “wrong” too often otherwise someone might think that’s what you want them to do. Set good examples.
8. I loved our translators. Some of them translated word for word, some listened and nodded (but forgot to translate), and some told the class their interpretation of what we meant. Haha, there’s nothing like saying 5 words and having the translator speak for 2 minutes.
9. So many people were dressed well. OMG, if I can find pictures I’ll post them. Cute tap short, amazing shiny suits (seriously pimp and not tacky), blue shirts with ruffles and bow ties….these kids can make everything look good!
10. There was a costume room full of kimonos and sumo suits, wigs and giant fans in the place we filmed the Camp DVD. Interviews were thus conducted in costume, with props. Kevin, Shesha and I performed the Al & Leon Shim Sham for the camera while wearing sumo suits. SEE ABOVE.
11. Camp Swing It was the first official collaboration of The Killer Dillers with fab Los Angeles’ group, Hot Club Stomp. That’s Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, Mikey Pedroza, Nikki Marvin & Shesha Marvin. Awesome dancers, brilliant performers, real professionals. They were so lovely to work with. Here’s to many more…
12. All the instructors were challenged to a battle by a single Korean B-boy. We were beaten. Badly. SEE ABOVE.
13. We stayed in some awesome places while we were there. I wish I had taken pictures of them for you all to see. Oh yeah, make sure you watch some TV while you’re in your room because there is some funny fucking stuff on cable!
14. There was a very, very charming marriage proposal. Thank goodness she said yes, otherwise that would have been very embarrassing! The guy sang to her in front of everyone while reading the lyrics off his iPhone!

Thanks Kang Seok for making this all possible!!! xoxo

Sea Swing Sensation 2010

Back in January Kevin and I taught on a cruise with Nikki & Shesha Marvin . We left out of Los Angeles, went down to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, and then back to Los Angeles.

I had never been on a cruise before and I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be for me, but within an hour of being on the boat, I was having such a great time. Kevin and I had a cabin on the inside of the ship which made it awesome for sleeping, but not so awesome for waking up. The shower in our room was pretty awesome as well. Nikki & Shesha had a room with a window and so did Kevin’s parents (his family came along).

Kevin and I taught a few classes while we on board, otherwise we worked out at the awesome gym (which during sea swells made me nauseous), had spa treatments, did internet (but only 250 minutes worth…that was a $100 package….eeek!), rehearsed, and ate. Speaking of which, there is LOTS of eating. Good heavens, so much eating. I think you can eat at every hour of the day on board and there are soooooo many different options. Furthermore, there were a lot of overweight people on board (I am talking clinically obese) and having access to food the way we did I think was a little overwhelming and lead to lots of people eating irresponsibly (I was also totally guilty of that).

Ok, so all that aside, I had a great time. I got to hang out with Kevin and his family (they are super awesome), Nikki & Shesha and their baby girl (I adore all of them), went zip lining (thanks Shesha!!), met some great people, got to dress up (a favorite!) ate some great food (thanks Chuck!), and performed with part of The Atomic Cherry Bombs. Here are some pictures from my trip.

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Pictures from Cat Cetrone, Jesse Mergenthaler, and Steve Wilcox.

Travel Day – Switzerland to Belgium

If I hadn’t known that the Swiss and the French were so-very-different, I absolutely would have experienced culture shock earlier today.

At Leaping Lindy in Bern, Switzerland, everything ran on time. The Swiss bought our plane tickets early, arranged to pick us up on time, bought us train tickets to go to Bern from Zürich’s, put us in a lovely hotel, made sure we had food, and our drinks in the evenings were covered. Mind you, this was all the first day we arrived. On Saturday and Sunday, the students arrived early, classes started and ended on time, people were very polite, and everything was straight forward. The students were good at asking questions but mostly just listened and tried everything we told them to do. On Monday, Kevin and I had a slue of privates scheduled, but our organizer took care of all the small details that normally slip through the crack. We had a studio within walking distance to our hotel to teach 3 hours worth of classes, the students were there on time, someone had a key, the music worked in the dance studio, and there was water. Normally scheduling a private with 5 different people in another city is tricky because something is unaccounted for: the key, water, food, people run late, the sound system doesn’t work, etc., but in Switzerland, someone has accounted for everything. I was, and am, so impressed.
After three hours of privates, we headed to the station and took a train to Zürich’s where we taught another private. Again, all the details were accounted for. After the private, we headed to Uster where Kevin and I taught 2.5hr of group classes and everything ran smoothly. Classes started on time, students were on time and attentive during class, the sound system worked, and everyone had access to water. (Ooh, small slip up: Someone forgot the cable for the iPod to sound system, but the explanation of why that happened was that the person organizing the group class was German, not Swiss. 🙂 Then the Swiss person arrived with a cable and we started on time).
Finally, after class was done, Kevin and I headed home with our new hosts and there place was amazing. We had a room to ourselves, both had a bed, there was laundry, and wifi. A-mazing. And everything worked!!! I was a little beside myself, but lapped up every minute of it. It’s not that things don’t run smoothly in other countries, it’s just that things run exceptionally well in Switzerland. Now, I also say that, and am impressed by that, because I like having a schedule. I like when things run on time. I am the type of person who loves writing notes on post-its. Now, all of that aside, I must say that the Swiss aren’t as eccentric as the French or Italians.

Fast forward to Wednesday. Our host drives us to the airport, walks us in, helps us with our luggage, we check in and drop our luggage. We go through passport control, do some shopping, wander around, then go through security, which Kevin and I were the ONLY ones there. Nobody else was in sight. Nada. I little bizarre, but it kinda of felt like an expensive, European Pittsburgh. We head to the boarding gate, check in, then take a bus to our plane. About an hour later, we are in Paris at CDG.

Here’s the turning point of the entire adventure. After we exited the plane, we check our boarding pass to see where to go next, and there is no mention of the next gate. Now, that’s not particularly strange, but it’s noteworthy. Unfortunately, we were in Terminal G which is a bus ride away from everything, so we needed to know if we were staying in the terminal or not. We couldn’t find our light on any of the boards, but Kev guess we should go to connecting flights which was around the corner. We got to a passport control where we could scan our plane tickets and figure out where we were going. “No record” according to Air France. So we asked passport control. They didn’t know. They said maybe we should go to terminal 1. We headed towards the next set of gates, passed luggage, and found a full board with information. Our flight was not on there. WTF! Our flight was leaving in 35 minutes and it wasn’t on the board. ARG!! The Customer Service desk is open so I headed over there. I present my ticket and ask where to go. The man behind the counter had no idea. “What the hell is going on here? Why doesn’t anyone know where this is?” I ask myself. He looks up our flight number and says that we’re taking a train.

So we’re taking a train. Why the fuck didn’t anyone know that we were taking a train?! That explains why it wasn’t on the boards, but why didn’t anyone else know this? Why did our next organizer, after I sent our itinerary not say “BTW, just so you know, you’re taking a train to Brussels.” When I double checked that planes could fly into the Railway Station in Brussels (fuck, maybe that was the first obvious giveaway), I was assured the airport was connected to the train station (which is the same as CDG so I had no need to question it). When we checked-in in Switzerland, why didn’t the attendant say anything to us? Fuck…..maybe because she didn’t know either. But if she didn’t know either, then where is our luggage? Hahha, this is getting better and better….

Kev and I are let back in to the luggage area by the man who told us we were taking a train. When Kev and I get there, we see that the luggage from our flight has all been collected. Ok, then where is it? We go over to the customer service desk and wait to be helped. Kev and I check, double check, and recheck our tickets. Our boarding passes said they were boarding passes, there was an AF plane number on it, and it said “Here is your flight Information.” Riiiiiight. That aside, it also said “Voiture 1” which means “Car 1” which means train. The seating was also open, but it is with Southwest as well. The boarding time and departure time were only 10 minutes apart, so that should have also been a giveaway….but still… said it was a boarding pass!
Finally it’s our turn with the representative. The long of the short of it is that we should try to catch the train because she doesn’t know when the next one will come and she doesn’t know where our luggage is. Mind you, our luggage has been checked all the way through to Brussels, but on what flight? Apparently on the flight we are supposed to take, but there is no plane…..only a train. Does someone take the luggage to the train? After a 3 minute phone call, we find out no. Ok… were is our luggage. I understand that it’s unaccounted for currently, but I am pretty darn sure it was on the plane with us from Switzerland, but where was it going? We were told it would make it to Brussels as some point and then someone would bring it to us at Air France’s expense.
That’s rather nice of them to do. Little do they know that we are in Liege which is an hour away from Brussels. I realize there is nothing we can do about this and have some extra clothing and all my valuables on me, but it’s a little bit of a hassle. Ok….now to the train. We need to take the bus terminal F and then head to the train station. Check. We have 15 minutes to do this and a 10 minutes bus ride. We will be fine, I think. Well, we should be fine because the French are a tad flexible on their time schedule; however, I’ve also accepted the fact that we were going to miss our train and figured we catch the next one, hopefully with our luggage in tow.
We catch the bus which slowly winds it’s way through the airport and make it to the train station. I race after Kevin as he runs toward signs that look appropriate. Finally we see a sign for Brussels which is not on the electronic boards, but in a small corner. Unfortunately because of the train crash a few days ago and now the trains are not in use. This means we are taking a bus.

Quick recap with some extra details that you the reader do not yet have. Originally we asked our organizer to find us flights. The only flights he could find from Switzerland were $1200/person flights. That’s ridiculous. Clearly he didn’t look that hard or he’s just used to traveling much nicer than Kevin and I are. I had also asked our other organizers in France (for the next gig) what would be the best way to get to his city. A train would be boring and long, so we should fly instead. Ok, so both of them were little to no help with transportation (in every other way, they’ve been a huge help). The Swiss have bought our international ticket, and I bought our internal-Europe tickets. I found Kevin and myself some flights, sent them to the organizers, got the ok, bought them. Yesterday before leaving for Brussels I sent an email reminding our organizers that we were coming into a different place than the main airport, just as an FYI. I get a message back saying he had class to teach, so we should take a train to Liege, and then we’ll get picked up by someone. It’s nice to be picked up by the organizer, but I understand they have lives outside of the event. It would have been nice to know earlier so that I could have scheduled around that, but no problem. Then, we find out, almost too late, that we aren’t taking a plane to Brussels, we’re taking a train. Then our luggage cannot be located because it’s been improperly tagged (has this never happened before? shouldn’t there be something in the system that alerts people to the fact they are taking a train instead of a plane?). Barely making our train, we find out it’s a bus that will take 3.5hr to get to Brussels. And still, after all of this, we will need to take a train to another city and get picked up by someone for a car ride.

Boy what a day.

I am not quite sure what tone of voice you hear me speaking in when you read this (yes, I checked that sentence and decided to keep it as it was), but I want to clarify that. I am not mad or put out in the least, I am actually rather surprised. I think because I had such an organized weekend, where all the small details were taken care of,  now I feel like this jumble-of-a-time is an adventure instead of a hassle. Luckily I don’t have to teach tonight (so no time crunch) and I was smart enough to keep my valuable and some extra clothes on me, so I am fine. I’ve got Kev – who is taking this rather well, but is a tiny bit more charged than I am about this who situation – I’ve got my computer, warm clothes and some food.

I don’t know what the weekend has in store for us, but I presume this is just the beginning of a very exciting adventure. More later….. 🙂


QLL – Don’t take yourself too seriously. Travel days are only as stressful as YOU make them. Keep important stuff on you. Try to schedule yourself some downtime. And finally, in the words of the awesome Shesha Marvin, “There are no emergencies in lindy hop.”