Holy wow, Australia was so.much.fun! I feel like Kevin and I have a good time wherever we go, but this last week was a blast! I’ll start at the beginning.
Kevin and I take the month of September off so we were pretty well rested before starting this trip. And thank goodness too, because we took the longest flight I’ve ever been on to get anywhere. Roundtrip, Kevin and I will clock 24,862 miles on this trip. Might I remind you the circumference of the world is 25,000 miles. I know, right? “But wait….why? How?” you ask. We left San Francisco on a Tuesday, arrived in Seoul, Korea on Wednesday, continued onto Singapore until it was Thursday, had a 7 hour layover, and then finished in Australia. Fortunately for us, Australia was excited to have us, and we were happy to be there!
After dropping our suitcases off at the house we were staying in, we headed out to Shady Pines Saloon, which is a saloon-style, country western music playing, stuffed animal heads on the wall, $17 cocktail sort of place. We had a freaking blast. I started my night off with a Sour Apple – freshly juiced apples with whiskey. Not only did it tasted like candy, but I got to pretend like I was being healthy with my drinking! Over the course of the evening, I had half a dark beer and another mixed drink, and a 8 minute dance to a song that might be played at a West Coast Swing event. OMG, why did we pick the one 8-minute-song-they-played-all-night song to dance to??!! Whatever….the point is that we killed it!! I even took my (slightly greasy) hair down so I could properly fling it around. A decent portion of the bar stopped to watch “the show”. I don’t think they were better people at the end of it, but it certainly made the evening memorable. Oh yeah, that also got me some guys’ email address! Woo! (I didn’t have a phone so we had to email) I never saw the guy again, but 1) that didn’t matter and 2) that’s besides the point. I still [childish singing begins now] got a number, I got a number, I got a number…..
Friday rolls around and Thomas and Alice have arrived. Bruce Elder, our host, takes us to a fun breakfast spot called Corellis Cafe in Newton and we nommed on some seriously awesome food. If you don’t know that word, it’s the verb form of “nom nom nom” which is 1) a sound effect that expresses eating delicious food and 2) is part of the chorus to this awesome(ly ridiculous) song. We then headed to the Sydney Harbor, took a ferryboat ride to Manly Beach, enjoyed people watching (until we figured out that many of the great bodies on the beach belong to people that were under 20 *sad face), and then booked it back to the house – we had to get ready for the dance!!
I had such a fun time at the dance. Afterall, one of my dance crushes was there. 😀 The music was really good that night: the live band playing was really fun to dance to Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts and the DJed sets in between were pretty solid as well. I had two sweet dances with Thomas, a fun one with Alice (god she is such a good follower!), a bunch with Kieren Yee and some geeky ones with Kevin. Haha, actually, I had a really exciting dance with Kevin where the entire room watched – it was during our teacher performance. There was a little snafu with the choreography aaaaaaaaaand we decided to restart so that we could hit it. *smirk It was by no means our finest performance, but the crowd cheered us on gloriously! Damn you Aussies, you’re so awesome!!
Even though we skipped late night, we instructors were up later than we should have been and paid the price the next day. Gawd, Tommy and Alice are so much fun to gab with (I gab with Kev all the time so I don’t feel the need to include him in this list currently)! The weekend had classes Saturday-Monday, where the day was divided into morning and afternoon classes. Saturday, Kevin and I had the Advance group followed by the Intermediate group, that was reversed for Sunday, and then Monday was 4 hours of aerials open to all levels. Yeah, you read that correctly, 4 hours!
I had such a great time teaching class this past weekend. I’m actually not sure which level I had more fun with. The energy in both groups was great, the material was fun, and I felt like Kevin and I had a good rhythm together. (Side note: Kevin and I have been working together for over 5 years, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have off days. Some days we “kill it” and other days it’s “just fine”). Other than “taking airplane breaks”, staring down a vicious spider, and teaching material that strokes my inner geek, I met some really fun people this weekend. One couple in particular stood out: Lulu and Shaun Cash. They are a couple that you can’t miss, physically and energetically. Both of them are good-looking, tattooed, fun, energetic people. More on them later, so don’t forget them 😀
The BIG competition night was Saturday and literally – I’m serious now – I’ve never worked this hard to keep focus at a lindy hop event. Ever. Holy shit, we judged for hours; 4.5 hours to be exact. Now, I’m sure you saying, “Yeah, so what’s the big deal? 4.5 hours of lindy hop is a walk in the park. You’ll mentally refocus during the band breaks….” Well, guess what? There were no band breaks!! If we had to use the loo, we had to finish do business as the competitors were called out for the next competition!
Once the competition got going at 8:30pm, it was continuous until 1am. I think 8 social dance songs were played IN TOTAL once competitions started. I cracked somewhere around the 8th competition; I had such a hard time keeping focused. It was like the most INTENSE youtube session you’ve ever experienced, but you had to judge with fame and fortune at stake!!! At one point Kevin, Tommy, Alice and I got up and danced with the competitors during their all-skate because we had to get up and move our bodies. The other thing that made it tough was that similar couples competed in multiple events which made it slightly difficult to only judge them on their dancing at that very moment. Gaaah…..retardation ensued. Thank god we were drinking during the competition 😀
Holy wow. Crazy, right?!
I’ve being combing the internet for video and stats, but I’m having a hard time finding more information than what is here. If you know what I’m missing, please send it along so I can update what I have:
Yay for newbies!!! I’m so happy that some of the newer dancers in the scene were brave enough to put themselves on the competition dance floor. I really enjoyed that some of the couple had put together some routinelettes and executed them with flare. Thank you Sydney, Australia for supporting the up-and-coming dancers so that we can continue to grow our scene.
1st: Brent Bailey and Laura Ceaser
2nd: Dylan Barker and Rachel Rayner
3rd: Richard Johnston and Jeanette Tran
1st: Max Pogonowski and Catherine Alexander
2nd: Adam Miles and Kat Galang
3rd: Sam Humphreys and Patricia Falzone
1st: Anna van Dijk (am) and Eric Z Liew
2nd: Charith Nandasensa (am) and Brock Mifsud
3rd: Katerina Nicolakopoulos (am) and Joel Kohn
This was the bit of inspiration I’ve been looking for! Kieren Yee and Georgia Brooks swept first and I honestly think had they competed at this year at ILHC with that routine, they would have been in the Top 5. Yes, I thought it was that good.
There were lots of other great moments as well. We saw some beautiful aerials, Gangnam Style during a Frankie tribute, some guy on guy aerials, and sexy ladies!
Woo! There are some fine solo dancers out in Oz. Kieren Yee took gold, Kathryn Kelly came in silver, and Samantha Szetu took bronze.
As luck would have it, Kieren Yee and Georgia were paired up in the Jack & Jill and they killed it. You might think “Well, obviously. They are partners after all” – but it doesn’t always work that way. As I later confirmed with Georgia, it’s nerve-wracking to get your partner because there is the preconceived notion that you’re supposed to be better than the other couples. Luckily, neither of them buckled under the pressure, and instead took it easy and just danced. Check em out!
Yeah, so we judges kinda lost in and needed to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Luckily, we were well positioned to storm the floor and dance with the competitors! I kinda sucked, but it was still fun to get up and dance.
1st: Kieren Yee and Georgia Brooks
2nd: Joel Kohn and Katheryn Kelly
3rd: Kenneth Gosnold and Noni May Clarke
I think right before this contest happened I told all the competitor that they had to be great because I was maxed out. They took my snarkey sarcasm with stride and were amazing.
OMG, could they be more on fire?! Kieren Yee and Georgia Brooks for the win, Jarrod Bates and Kathryn Kelly took second, and Charith Nandasensa and Samantha Szetu took third.
1st: Chris Baker and Janice Lei
2nd: Adam Miles and Kat Galang
3rd: Mike Healy and Monica McNab
After the comps were done, people left for food and the “Uplate Parties” (what a cute name, right?). After grabbing some falafel, Tommy, Alice, and I were shuttled to the dance and we grabbed as much dancing as we could before closing. As I recall, we stayed until the end. The energy was so freaking good that most of us felt that the party needed to continue. For a hot second, the teachers contemplated having a house party where we were staying, buuuuuuuut we remember that we had to teach the next day, so that was a no go. As I later found out, the Melbournites (Melbournians?? what are they called?) continued drinking long into the morning. 🙂 I think some of them were paying for it the next day. :p
Let’s keep it moving here. Classes were great, the competition was awesome, and the uplate parties were a blast. Congratulations to Sharon Hanley and her team for throwing such a great event!! It was a great competition weekend and Australia has a lot to be proud of. Thank you to all the competitors that pulled together to compete this weekend; clearly it would have been nothing without you guys. And thank you to Bruce Elder for taking care of the instructors – you were an excellent babysitter and a wonderful cook!
Part Two of our Australian Adventure coming soon!