The Soapbox Archives:
Sylvia Sykes is probably the current Lindy Hop/Balboa demigoddess. You could almost imagine people bowing as she passes by (you think I'm kidding?). She has a wonderful style of teaching that puts everyone as ease so they'll listen to her. The microphone headsets at Beantown had problems so she didn't bother with them, yet every person heard her without it, even at the far end of the biggest class area. She kept her stories short but never omitted any details; she kept the attention of people who probably never met her (in the mini-tracks). I don't know if she got through her "agenda" for that class, but she made sure we *all* walked out of there knowing the material that she taught us. She left no student behind.
I paid a lot of attention to Michael Jagger and Evita Arce's teaching style. I first met them at last year's Beantown Camp. I expected Sylvia Sykes to be a seasoned professional dance instructor because, well, she's been at it a bit longer. Michael and Evita are fairly young but I was extremely impressed with their teaching partnership. They each have a vast amount of knowledge in their heads. When they spoke, you can tell they were bursting with some great insight. The surprising thing is that they *never* interrupted each other. Each instructor knew when the other had something important to say and they graciously passed the focus to the other teacher. Evita is clearly the more extroverted, but you could tell that they were equal partners. That made for an efficient workshop; they didn't waste any of our time.
If you're a dance teacher, take the workshops at Beantown next year and check out the *teachers*.
I was at my favorite opticians this weekend ordering new lens for a set of frames I already had. It's always interesting to have a rapport with people who have been plying their business over the years because they are usually willing to share some secrets of their trade with someone eager to listen. I learned a few useful pieces of information:
Random thought of the day:
Amongst the heated national debate on gay marriage, I was thinking that there was one really important question that no one's asking:
When two women get engaged, who buys the engagement ring?
Some of the staff worked long hours keeping the camp running behind the scenes. There must have been a lot of magical dance elves running around filling all those water containers.
For those chroming their favorite dance shoes, you should first cut the leather to fit your shoes and *then* glue them on, not the other way around. And stop sniffing the glue. :-)
In general, I don't like the dance contests; I spent most of the competitions in the café. (Yes, I was in that one contest the other month but the incentive was ice cream and I was dancing with my favorite dance partner.) I started dancing because I wanted to dance, not to watch someone else dance. You can tell I don't watch any of the TV dance shows. I'm never going to learn to dance better by watching someone dance unless it's done in a classroom. I do like the Novice and Intermediate competitions because it gets "normal" people out in the spotlight; we already know the advanced dancers can dance. I'm not sure it's to the benefit of teachers to compete at the Advanced level; there isn't much to gain and a lot to lose if a teacher is beat out by a non-teacher.
I had never previously taken take a class with David & Jennifer or Joel & Melanie but I appreciated their experience in their workshops. Naturally, I thought the world of Sylvia Sykes, Ryan & Jenny, and Michael & Evita. Kevin & Jo kept making my body do things it didn't want to do and that was a good thing. My friends who danced with Ryan Francois all seemed to walk on air after dancing with him. Maybe I'll get the nerve to ask Jenny to dance next year.
I feel sorry for those who showed up just for the Saturday dance. To them, it was just another dance. Some of us had been there since Thursday dancing all day and all night. It was more like a family reunion because we were seeing and hanging out with friends we hadn't seen in a year and feeling like it had only been a week since we had last seen them. And we were all eager to put our time in the workshops to good practical use.
I've never before danced until I couldn't dance anymore. That was neat.
One thing that surprised me is that the Saturday band played at an outside gig in the region, even though they were under contract to not play anywhere else in *New England* that weekend. I was surprised that Tony & Aurelie would agree to another venue within driving distance hosting the band the previous night (they hadn't). While I assume most of the people who went to that Friday night dance weren't going to go to Beantown anyway, it certainly removed any incentive for them to go up for the Saturday public dance.
Well, camp was over a month ago and I'm already looking forward to the next year's event.