I had been looking forward to TAP all year for three main reasons. First of all, the sheer number of workshops that are offered outnumbers any other convention I've ever been to. Not only are there a lot of workshops, the workshops cover a wide variety of topics, from run-of-the-mill connection drills to incorporating other dance styles into WCS. I attended TAP for the first time last year as a newcomer, so I was excited to go back with a year of dance experience behind me. Second, TAP attracts dancers from not only across the United States, but from around the globe. Since it falls on the weekend right after the US Open, many international dancers choose to attend both events. This means that you get to meet and dance with so many new people (which just so happens to be my favorite part of WCS!). Finally, TAP is my first official event as a CSS Scholar, which includes some cool new opportunities and responsibilities.
My "weekend" actually started on Thursday night, as Demetre asked me to help DJ the late night social dance at the event hotel! He had the amazing idea of promoting all the female DJs in the Los Angeles WCS scene by having us all play at the Thursday dance. We were advertised as SoCal WOW, which stands for Women of Westie. I got to the hotel a little early, so I was able to take a contemporary workshop with Igor. After seeing Igor's spotlight final with Jung at DCSX, I knew I had to take his workshop. As someone who's never danced any other styles besides WCS, this workshop definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone; taking solo dance classes has been a great way for me to get styling ideas and gain better body awareness.
As this was only my second time ever DJing at an event of this size (the first time being the Sunday night dance at Wild Wild Westie!), I was a little nervous. However, the other three DJs - Helen Tocco, Katie Smiley-Oyen, and Danae Cardenas - were a huge help. I DJed the first half of the night with Helen, who's given both Emily and me DJ training. Overall it was a great learning experience, as Helen gave me more tips on how to read a crowd and adjust the music accordingly. I got positive feedback from the crowd as well, so my practice DJing for the weekly social at my school seems to be paying off! After my DJ shift was over, I stuck around the ballroom for a little bit to support Katie and Danae, as well as catch up with friends I haven't seen in a while.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early (at least by convention standards). Friday was started off with a workshop by Jakub and Emeline, who taught variations on duck turns and creating shape with the upper body. After lunch (a Trader Joe's salad -- my way of saving money during an event weekend!), I took 5 more workshops. Two of my favorites were contemporary dance with Jakub and partnered hip-hop class with Hugo and Stacy. Both combos were choreographed to some of my favorite songs -- Powers by Lostboycrow and Lost in Japan by Shawn Mendes -- which definitely added to my enjoyment. After 6 workshops in a row, my body and mind were thoroughly exhausted, but it was time to press pause on the learning and get ready for comps!
Having been in intermediate for the past few months, I've been trying to gain my footing in a new division. My JnJ results have been super inconsistent, ranging from not making it past prelims to placing in finals. I knew TAP was going to be a tough competition, due to the large number of international dancers, so I went into JnJ prelims without high expectations; I was pleasantly surprised when I made it through to semifinals! After my comps were over, I watched the strictly DJ battle, which was one of my favorite parts of TAP last year. As someone who wants to get into DJing, I love watching the DJs pick songs that they think will fit the champs best -- it leads to some pretty crazy antics, like Ben Morris taking off his clothes. Finally, Emily and I got to kick off the late night dancing as the CSS DJs!
Unfortunately I didn't make finals this time, but I resolved to not let that put a damper on the rest of my weekend. I woke up early again on Saturday to take Ben and Victoria's workshop, followed by Maxime and Torri's workshop on shag footwork (so amazing! I want to learn shag so badly now), and Victoria's hip-hop class. For dinner, Emily and I helped host the college mixer pizza party, where we had a t-shirt cutting contest with some very creative entries. I spent the rest of Saturday night cheering on my friends in finals (spotlight finals are always the most fun to watch!).
After catching up on some much needed sleep, it was time for my last competition of the weekend! Strictlies are on Sunday at TAP, and I got to compete with one of my friends from Texas, Eric Hung. One aspect of Eric's signature look is wearing a scarf, so I decided to wear a scarf as part of our matching outfits; little did I know how difficult it is to dance with something swinging around your neck! My favorite part of Sunday was watching the One World One Love finals; the songs were from different countries, so it was hilarious seeing groups of international dancers recognizing some of the songs.
I wasn't sure if TAP would be able to top my experience from last year, but it seriously went above and beyond my expectations. Demetre does an awesome job of providing opportunities for college students to get involved in the event as well. If you have the chance to go next year, you definitely should!