Hullabaloo

Hullabaloo was excellent. I returned late last night with Lotte, with very sore muscles and a dose of the traditional exchange virus. We skipped the morning workshops on both days but still had plenty to challenge us. 3 hrs of classes per day really is enough when you’re social dancing as well, but that might just be us. We are probably beyond the phase in our learning where we are excited enough to get up in time for an 11am class after having danced til 4am. For me the physical challenge was clearly enough as well.

The workshops were overall extremely valuable, which is something I found last year as well. There were some things that were are a disappointment of course. I was a bit frustrated by being invited to DJ and then being given a 30 minute spot in a non-preferred time. On top of that, invited DJs were expected to pay full price and were not paid. I thought that was pretty poor. Also the only live band I got to see was the Fremantle Jazz Orchestra at the Ball, and it was a really good line up with a fairly poorly chosen set list for the occasion. They played what I would expect to hear at any big band gig at a local fete — not what I would expect for a bunch of hardcore swingers wishing to relive the swing era. They played what you would call “progressive jazz music” rather than big band swing. All young faces (which is fantastic) using new arrangements, sometimes of tunes that would best be classified as bop or trad jazz rather than swing. They performed a couple of Basie numbers, but only the one they did as an encore had any real Kansas feel about it. The other was a showtune done with a distinctly Sinatra-Basie style (I can’t quite remember the number right now).

These things are certainly a matter of taste, and taste is personal. However I noticed that a lot of people were sitting down for a lot of the night, so I started to feel that I wasn’t Robinson Crusoe. The rhythm just didn’t have that swingin’ drive, and there were no themes you could play with. It makes it tough on dancers.

Enough of my minor nitpicks, though. On the positive side of the ledger the Perthies have got to be just about the most welcoming and generous group of swing dancers in the country. Their passion is unsurpassed. This always gives me a great feeling, and it comes through in their events. The weekend opened for me with a riverboat cruise down the Swan. That was really a lot of fun. The boat itself was larger than I had imagined and had two floors where you could dance. There wasn’t a lot of room to swing out because everyone tended to congregate on the upper deck floor, but that gave it a really terrific atmosphere. Lotte and I concluded that “enough space” was not an important factor for good atmosphere, and in fact can often detract. The riverboat cruise was probably my favourite event actually, even though it wasn’t a full on dance night.

The Saturday night dance was also really good. CRR member Brian Renehan ended up winning the Jack & Jill with Sarah Farrelley, which was a buzz for all the CRR crew because we had been working on competition stuff the previous week. They danced really well and deserved it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Brian look as relaxed while competing.

CRR performed the Big Apple that night too. That was also a huge buzz because it seemed to go over very well. I personally felt good about my performance, although I was struggling a bit at the beginning with a sore hamstring/groin from the classes. It was funny because I just decided to dance all out anyway and started yelling “RAAAAAAAAHH!” at the top of my voice at various stages to get myself hyped past the pain barrier. It worked. Got to remember that.

Another highlight was our host Wes, who did nothing but wait on us hand and foot all weekend. The best part was when Lotte complained that the only thing they could do to improve the service at “this hotel” was to make up the beds every day. For a nanosecond Wes looked troubled. It was very funny. We thanked him buy making him a breakfast of Dutch pancakes and hid a gift for him in his room.

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