This past weekend a couple hundred dancers descended upon Minneapolis, MN for the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown.
ULHS kicks off Thursday evening with a traditional riverboat cruise that skips down the Mississippi with a live band. Unfortunately, my flight arrived too late to make the riverboat; however, I heard it was one of the best evenings due to the wonderful atmosphere and excellent band (despite a carpet dance floor).
Friday was the Battle of the Small Combos. The TC Seven and the Hot Swing Combo faced off in the Cinema Ballroom from opposite bandstands. The TC Seven were technically very good, they played their arrangements well, but they seemed to lack energy and dynamics. Robert Bell’s Hot Swing Combo was on fire, however. They played much more in a hot jazz style, while the TC Seven played a bit cooler and smoother (a la later Count Basie and Ellington). The Jack & Jill contest (which I had hoped to enter) was full before I even got there and the line of contestants stretched across the long dance floor. No separate heats, just one giant mash up on the floor. Five songs for the prelims; slow to insanely fast, then right into the finals for the six or seven couples that made it.
On a side note of contests: they changed the format for most of the competitions this year. Rather than having the preliminary round followed by a break and then later finals; the contests flowed straight from prelims to finals without any break for contestants (excepting the Slow, Mid and Fast competitions). You were tapped either out or in (depending upon the contest). It worked and I think I actually enjoyed it, but it definitely would have been nice to give the finalists a moment to breathe before launching into their spotlights.
In the late night was the Solo Charleston contest to the Loose Marbles (more on them later), which being the only contest I was able to enter I did my best, but with a tumultuous week already behind me and not having had any time to prep really I didn’t make the finals (although I do believe I was one of the last people tapped out – mostly from exhaustion). Disappointed, but still excited to see the finals, I plopped down with my friends for the finals. There were seven contestants I think. The finalists were mostly very good, some more in for their being known than their dancing, but I was happy to see Jojo in the finals with some of the Swedes. With two spotlights a piece it was then narrowed down by popular decision to three guys: Sakarias Larsson, Stefan Durham, and one more. Stefan was my favorite during the spotlights, but he definitely seemed exhausted during the dance off (since it was I believe the fourth super-fast charleston song). It was obvious that Sakarias was the most used to long performances as he barely seemed winded for the dance off and boy could he dance at that blazing tempo. Reminded me of the skill Frida has demonstrated in years past, for reasons plain to see. Sakarias won hands down in the dance off. I expected as much. I’ll post it up when it hits Youtube.
Here is the video from Lindy Library of the Jack & Jill finals. Exceptional dancing, my notable favorites are Todd Yannacone with Laura Keat and Andy Reid with Frida Segerdahl. My congratulations to everyone who made it to the finals and to anyone who was brave enough to enter the competition.