This summer has been an absolute blast. I got to go to so many amazing out-of-state events like Jack and Jill O’Rama and Swingesota. However, I have to say, I was the most excited about being able to go to Swingtacular. Why? Other than the fact that I had heard so many amazing things about it, I was also rooming with a group of awesome friends and staying behind a couple of days in Cali to explore San Francisco. I think I can safely say that Swingtacular was definitely one of my favorite events of the year.
I arrived on Thursday and was able to get situated at the hotel and dance dummy for an amazing private lesson; my friend Joshu was working with Tony Schubert. Tony was awesome and even asked me at the end of the lesson whether I had any questions for him, which was very thoughtful of him. Following, the social dancing in the pool pavilion that night was a blast; I met so many amazing dancers!
Friday, however, was when my excitement started growing, like an exponential curve. My roommates (Casey, Chris, Sam, and Ben) and I got lunch together, along with some other Austinites, and every moment with them was a blast. That evening, Joshu, Danika, and I did the Three-For-All Strictly, which was such a fun competition – one that I have never done before. While we were observing the other heat, we saw some really well-seasoned Three-For-All dancing (Janelle Guido and her girls were insane! I’ve never seen anything like it). Another cool experience from Friday night was competing in the High-Low Jack and Jill for the first time as a High (funny story: Tracy and I accidentally registered me twice for the Jack and Jill so we just ended up transferring one to the High-Low Jack and Jill). Since I am new to advanced, I felt kind of out of place next to some of the other Highs that were successful All-Stars and Champs. During my dances, I felt kind of bad for my lead because I wasn’t sure if he was disappointed with his draw or not. However, he looked pretty happy and was very friendly. However, watching the Invitational Three-For-All Jack & Jill was the highlight of the night. It was really funny seeing what they came up with – I’m pretty sure I was cramping after laughing so hard. To top the amazing day off, I stayed out social dancing until late and got to dance with some Cali friends I made at Wild Wild Westie.
The excitement continued to build on Saturday! I attended Victoria’s hip hop workshop, and let me tell you, that girl’s talent never ceases to amaze me. She taught us a really cool piece that she choreographed (she mentioned that it was her favorite!). Just watching her dance was enough to give me some ideas. Today was also the day that Jack and Jills took place. I felt pretty intimidated competing in advanced for the first time in a big California competition but I gave it my best and found out later, to my surprise, that I made finals! I could not be happier (I really think Tony’s lesson with Joshu on blues helped with this :P). The same night, Pro/Am and Rising Star routines took place, along with the Galactic Show. Both were absolutely AMAZING!!! First of all, I’m doing a pro-am routine at the moment, so watching the pro-ams were really good inspiration for me. Second, I loved how Ben and Cameo made the Galactic Show special by using live music. The dancing paired with acoustic music made the experience completely different. And of course, social dancing that night was a blast.
On Sunday, Jack and Jill Finals took place. My partner, who I didn’t know before, had some great dances. We didn’t place, but we had a lot of fun, and honestly making finals at a big comp like Swingtacular was enough to make me happy. Following, we watched the Invitational Jack and Jill, which was the wildest one I’ve seen yet. I think we can all agree that the dancing at that level is high quality; however, I don’t think we can all say we saw Tatiana Mollman kiss a random stranger. Yup. That’s how crazy it was. Honestly, Ben and Cameo did such a good job of putting on a show every day of the event for us. Enough said.
And if that wasn’t enough excitement for the week, I got to stay an extra few days in Cali and live with Connie. The westie community’s generosity is overwhelming. Connie housed me, drove me around to socials, and made sure I was fed XD. On top of being able to explore San Francisco with excellent tour guides (Alaina, Hewson, and Taylor), I was given the opportunity to DJ ay WnY and Mission City Swing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to dance, let alone, DJ in California. I am beyond thankful to Yenni and Warren and Eric for letting me have that opportunity.
On my flight home, I groggily thought of all of the fun things I got to experience at Swingtacular and the few days after it. Despite being terrified of riding planes, I briefly drifted to sleep. When I woke up, I felt extremely grateful. CSS is what gave me the chance to go to Swingtacular. And as my scholarship period comes to an end, I can’t help but smile when I think about all of the adventures it has given me.