I had the pleasure to attend Lindyfest on March 13th to 16th. It had been a last minute decision on my part but I was very glad to have attended an event that I have heard so much about and that was launching the much anticipated Lindy Hoppers Fund.
I arrived Thursday afternoon and enjoyed karaoke, some drinks and time with friends new and old before crashing relatively early (2 or 3 am) to get some rest from a day of travel.
One of the great things about Lindyfest is that there are always too many amazing classes that it makes it difficult to pick which ones you’ll attend.
Friday I started the day sitting in on Andy & Nina’s “Fierce Moves” class which had some great dynamic moves showcased (really one of their specialties). Because it was such a gorgeous day Andy, Nina, Swifty and I decided to lounge under some trees in the grass between the two class venues and ended up missing the second class of the day. It was worth it having come from the drab gray of New York.
The last two classes I attended were Manu & Ria’s masters class where they had us breakdown and use a six-count swing out in some very interesting ways; and Naomi’s instructors class which was, in her words basically, “an experimental class”. Naomi’ class was great as she not only had some great points on instruction and teaching from years of experience but also had us run some exercises in teaching.
Friday night dancing commenced at 9pm with DJed music till 10:30pm when the instructors got out and jammed for everyone. Like last year, the instructor jams were excellent to watch with the young instructors really tearing it up and the old timers owning every little step. Hopefully they’ll be up on YouTube soon. After the instructor jam the floor opened back up and dancing commenced to great DJs like Ryan Swift, Jesse Miner and more.
Saturday classes were again spectacular. I started the day with Andy & Nina’s masters class which took us from dancing with the heart of old-timers to Andy’s guru like words on enjoying moving through space. This was probably my favorite class of the entire event. It was exceptionally concept oriented with a variety of exercises which broke down the strict rules of lindy hop into more-or-less loose guidelines.
I took my customary afternoon break, missing the second class of the day to spend time with friends. Following that nice break I attended Max & Annie’s masters class which was had some very interesting concepts to at work in a sequence of moves they had us do. While the concepts were great and difficult to work on, they were not explicitly discussed which for a masters level class they should have been. The last class of the day I attended, partially, was Andy & Nina’s Tips and Tricks for Showing Off. Although I was in rotation most of the class, I was distracted by Mikey Pedroza, Bobby White and Kate Hedin working out some things on the sidelines, so I didn’t get the full experience.
Saturday night had a special presentation on the life of Carnell Pipkin, who passed away fall 2007. Carnell was a pivotal figure in the early Houston lindy hop scene and inspired and worked with so many. I never got the chance to meet him, but the how he affected the lives of my friends and nurtured a community touched me greatly during the presentation.
Later in the evening there was a set of special presentations from 23 Skidoo, Max & Annie, Naomi, Ramona & Nina and an all-out jam MCed by Peter Strom and Manu Smith. These were great to watch and I have to hand it to 23 Skidoo for performing three routines with minimal breaks. Hopefully there will be footage up soon, similar to last years wonderful show by the Silver Shadows.
After the show, dancing again commenced until 1:30am when the ALHC Regionals happened. I don’t exactly know how it happened but I ended up in the competition with Teni Lopez-Cardenas. The format was frustrating with each couple getting 30 sec. or so of a different song to spotlight to. This broke up the energy and made it difficult to get into the music and I hope the format returns to a single song with each couple going out for eight eights like most jam formats. There was a mid-tempo round and a low-end fast round.
After competition, I headed back to relax a bit, changed and then went down and danced till Peter Strom wrapped up his fantastic soul room DJing at 6:30/7am. Teni and I went for breakfast as normal people were getting up enjoying omelettes and fruit at the hotel restaurant then crashed for the few hours available before classes started.
Sunday, despite exhaustion, I attended Naomi’s isolation class, latte in hand (which got a comment). I forget how great movement isolation is and how often we neglect to work parts of our body. Her isolation class pushed the edges of where my muscles were sore and tight from not having done enough stretching and warmup. Isolations are definitely something I should go back to at least once a week.
After the first class everyone headed over to the Wortham Theatre for a session with Frankie Manning. I have heard Frankie talk before and often it is some of the same tales which he spins over and over, but this time it was really great to have Manu moderating and asking questions of Frankie. The stories he told were varied from prior talks and Frankie is still wonderfully animate and entertaining. A short session was opened up for questions near the end and questions were both entertaining and thoughtful.
Classes resumed and I attended both Peter & Ramona’s Advanced Lindy Hop class and their masters class. Peter & Ramona have a great dynamic as a teaching couple and the material they worked on was great. Peter is a straightforward technician when it comes to the dance in some ways and to get feedback from him is always great and often blunt.
The last class I attended was Steven & Virginie’s masters class. I had hoped that they would have us work on a great concept or exceptionally difficult move, but unfortunately we spent the first half of the class working out the swing-out with some variation. They have great material and feedback but I really wanted to move beyond just the swing-out in a masters class.
Sunday night was the great wind down of the event. I spent most of the evening in the bar eating dinner and conversing with Mikey, Marty, Marc-Andre, and Nina. The rest of the night was spent mostly socializing until 2am or so when we hit up the soul room again for some late night dancing.
Monday I shipped off back to New York City. My plane was delayed out of Dallas, so I was switched to another flight and then they lost my luggage. After such a great weekend, it wasn’t so bad.
The highlights from the event were all of Saturday night, Andy & Nina’s masters class, relaxing on Sunday evening, and meeting so many new people from the southwest.
The unfortunate things: the class venues were mostly poorly floored and ventilated rooms, with one room even kicking up so much dust as to make it hazy. Also, in prior years the dance venue was in a real ballroom and this year it was in a hotel. Now, hotel events can be great for their convenience, etc. but they definitely take some of the atmosphere out of an event.
I hope to make it back next year.
Did you go to the Great Southwest Lindyfest this year or prior years? What were your experiences? Comment.