Australian Hellzapoppin’ Prize 2010

This year the Australian Hellzapoppin’ Prize was held in its birthplace, Melbourne, in celebration of the 10th Melbourne Lindy Exchange.  The venue was the beautiful Ormond Hall, which last played host to the contest in 2008.  The judges included myself as head judge, Romona Staffeld (who recently relocated to Melbourne from the US), Russell Turner (Canberra), Cheryl Glasgow (Perth) and Kara Martin (Hobart).  Anthony Wheaton did an excellent job as DJ.

Once again we had an extremely hard fought and exciting battle with a lot of highlights.  The semi final was particularly tight, and there was some brilliant dancing from all couples. The band, Jason Downes and the Tempo of Doom, played for the Final round, and it was an absolute killer diller.  So much so that we had to get them to play another song at a slightly slower tempo!  Andy Fodor and Shob Nambiar faced off against Evan Hughes and Noni Clarke, with Evan and Noni edging out their opponents to take the title.  Both Evan and Noni have won AHP before, but never together.

Evan Hughes and Noni Clarke

Next year’s AHP will be held in June as part of Devil City Swing, Hobart, Tasmania. The full honour roll appears below:
2010 Noni Clarke & Evan Hughes (VIC)
2009 Francine Jeffrey & Evan Hughes (VIC)
2008 Noni Clarke & Cam Mitchell (VIC)
2007 Cathie Gough & Kieran Yee (VIC)
2006 Annie Ryan & Shane McCarthy (WA)
2004 Noni Clarke & Josh McKiterick (VIC)
2003 Sarah Farrelly & Anthony Wheaton (VIC)
2002 Nicole Smith & John Tenaglia (VIC)

Enrolling for the DJ Masterclass

We kicked off with Part 1 of the DJ Masterclass on Monday night, and dare I say it, I think it was a raging success! The recording came out really well I think — I actually had two different methods on the go and both worked. One became a slide-show podcast and the other is just an audio podcast (with a mic in the centre of the table to capture discussions). I think I’m going to continue doing that for the whole series.

I’m now getting more and more inquiries about the class, and we’re running a little online poll about the cost of the course. Basically almost everyone’s telling me it should be exactly the same price as the face to face class ($20 for 3 classes), so I’ve now set up automatic enrolment via PayPal. So if you want to enrol, it’s definitely not too late, just go here:

DJ Masterclass video

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

If you’re interested in being involved in the DJ Masterclass, drop me a line and I’ll enrol you!

DJ Masterclass next week

The DJ Masterclass is due to start on Monday week.  Since my original email, I’ve been contacted by about 6 or 8 DJs from places outside of Melbourne — people who would like to be here but who can’t.  Some are within Australia, and some aren’t.

I’m considering trying to put some of the materials, capture some of the conversations, and even perhaps putting together some new materials so that someone could actually take part in the DJ Masterclass at a distance.  For example I’ve begun talking to some international DJs about recording interviews over Skype, and we could even potentially have an online conference using Skype with some of the DJs who aren’t able to be there (the venue has broadband).

I’d like your feedback on whether you think this idea is worth the effort.  If the Monday night time slot is not suitable for you, you know of people who would like to be involved but can’t, or you just think it would be cool to review this stuff at a later date, could you let me know?

A reminder that the DJ Masterclass is a 3 week course, starting on Monday October the 19th at 7pm.  Since I am putting some resources online in Moodle, you’ll need to enrol beforehand by sending me an email at

DJ Masterclass Flyer [PDF, 102K]

Australian Hellzapoppin’ Prize

The Australian Hellzapoppin’ Prize was held in Sydney for the first time on Saturday night. From my perspective it was a really fantastic occasion, and generated a lot of excitement and interest in a scene that hasn’t seen AHP close up before.

Evan Hughes and Francine Jeffrey, Australian Hellzapoppin Prize winners 2009
Evan Hughes and Francine Jeffrey, Australian Hellzapoppin’ Prize winners 2009

The winners this year were Evan and Francine from Melbourne, who were only narrowly defeated by Cam and Noni in the final of last year’s event. The list of winners remains dominated by Victorians, however, so there is a strong argument for keeping it moving around the country. If you or someone you know runs a Lindy Hop event that you think would be a good match for AHP and you would like to host it in 2010 or 2011, drop me a line!

2009 Francine Jeffrey & Evan Hughes (VIC)
2008 Noni Clarke & Cam Mitchell (VIC)
2007 Cathie Gough & Kieran Yee (VIC)
2006 Annie Ryan & Shane McCarthy (WA)
2004 Noni Clarke & Josh McKiterick (VIC)
2003 Sarah Farrelly & Anthony Wheaton (VIC)
2002 Nicole Smith & John Tenaglia (VIC)

DJ Masterclass

Lotte decided I needed to run a DJ workshop, so over the past few weeks I’ve been chatting to DJs around Melbourne about the idea.  The response was pretty positive, so I decided to put some time into designing one.  I realised it would need to be more than a one-off workshop, so it’s going to be a 3 week course, starting on Monday October the 19th at 7pm.  So if you’re interested in becoming a swing DJ, or you’re already getting gigs and just want to become an outstanding DJ, download the flyer below.  Since I will be putting some resources online, you’ll need to enrol beforehand by sending me an email at

DJ Masterclass Flyer [PDF, 102K]

Reflections after a smooth landing

Lotte and I are finally back in Melbourne. In the end it felt as though a lifetime had passed since we first got the news that started off our 2 year adventure to England. And yet, inevitably, when we returned it felt a little like that was just a moment ago. It has predictably been a good time to reflect for both of us, and we’ve spent a lot of time just talking about what an amazing journey we’ve been on. We really have been so incredibly fortunate just to have the chance to do this. It’s difficult to describe how many ways we’ve been effected, but just by looking back over this blog it’s obvious that we’ve both been given all kinds of opportunities in terms of family, work, travel, dancing, teaching and (perhaps most significantly) life long friendships.

Photo copyright Duncan GrisbyThe last couple of weeks in Cambridge were pretty frenetic, and they just reinforced this last point for us. First of all we performed in Perspectives with the troupe, who have all become really close friends to us. Doing a show for 6 nights in a row is such a great way to have fun, and Perspectives was the most rewarding performance experience of my life so far. The sense of inspiration it gave all of us was palpable and lasting, and every time we danced in the last couple of weeks it showed.

And we did dance rather a lot. Somehow we ended up with a really intensive schedule, starting with our last night of teaching on Wednesday where again had something close to 60 students in the beginner class and 25 or so in intermediate. We held the AGM in between because there was no other time and we were really pleased when 6 new committee members put their nominations forward. Then on Friday night we taught a class at Wolfson, and partied until midnight and on Saturday it was the main event: the Lindyhopathon!

Lotte did a wonderful job in her interview with ITV for the hopathon (above). Unfortunately Ros, the main organiser, was too sick on the day to be there for the interview. But the good news is that we raised over £5,700, including more than £450 for the taxi dances alone! Actually the media campaign for the event was very successful, because we had 2 radio interviews and a front page in the local weekly as well as this. At the very least there should be a few more people who are aware of it next time around.

By Sunday night we had finished packing, and all that remained was to get rid of Lotte’s bike, and to party with everyone at The Snug in Lensfield Road. The send off turned out to be pretty emotional, particularly when Maria handed over a leather bound memory book with contributions from all of our friends. The book has all kinds of photos, stories, illustrations and in-jokes from the last two years. We’re going to add some of our own photos as well.

At 7.15am on Monday morning we took the bus to Heathrow and promptly fell asleep, blissfully unaware that the bus would run into traffic on the way, delaying our arrival by about half an hour. We were also told by the driver that Terminal 4 was a mess because of roadworks, so we would be better off getting the train from the central bus terminal. We struggled down to the underground with all our stuff, and found that the next train was not for another 9 minutes. That was when we started to panic. We had to check in at least 90 minutes before departure, and with nearly an hour of delays we were now cutting it very fine. We formulated a plan that Lotte would run ahead to the Qantas check in desk while I struggled along behind with most of the luggage. For whatever reason, they don’t actually have a Qantas sign up anywhere at departures, and with about 2 minutes to spare Lotte was not strangely not all that amused when a she asked a BA employee where to go and he just scratched his head, pretending he’d never heard of Qantas! Eventually he directed her to the BA counter where I met her, just as she was told (to our great relief) that we had made it in time.

There was just one problem. We had booked separately because I was claiming frequent flyer miles, and the plane was full, so there were no more seats together. We were still just thankful to be on the flight at all, but the lady at the desk started to see if she could work something out so we could sit together. It was at this point that Lotte let it slip that we were going home to get married. The lady was on the phone for about 5 minutes in total, and then just reached over with our boarding passes and said: “Sometimes it pays to be late. You’re going to be flying Business Class today”. Lotte literally jumped up and down on the spot and blew her kisses. I just stood in stunned silence, before giggling my head off. Needless to say the flight was absolutely amazing. The level of comfort is just unbelievable, and I remember thinking to myself “how could there be another class even higher than this?”. By chance we got seats right at the very front of the flight deck, directly behind the cockpit. It was like the flight was entirely for us, because we basically didn’t see anyone other than the pilots and the doting flight attendants. The seats recline to be as flat as beds, so we slept about 85% of the time, waking up only to eat the (really really good) meals. We figured out how much the bill for such extravagence would normally be: just under £9000: just under $A20,0000 AUD (you read that right). And yes, I got my flight on frequent flyer miles. Our saving? $A18,188.29.

Holland & Sweden

We’ve just returned from our trip to Holland for Christmas and Sweden for The Snowball.  I think we saw almost everyone we could possibly have hoped to see on this trip, including both Ans and Ko’s families, lots of good friends from Holland, and lots of our European dancing friends.  It was a jam packed trip, but we still felt like we had time to relax. Along the way had 3 days of Christmas celebrations, 5 dance parties, stacks of dinners out, and learnt how to play the Nintendo Wii (my shoulder still hurts, but not as much as Lotte’s).

Christmas Eve 2007 Zeeland
Christmas Eve

Christmas Day 2007
Christmas Day

Boxing Day

The Snowball
The Snowball, Stockholm

Catch up time

Okay.  I just took a quick look at my photo library to see how far I’ve let my blog slide lately, and came up with the following list of events since my last entry! Yikes.  So, I finally got around to uploading photos albums each one — go to the Photos page to see them.  If it seems like there has been a lot going on lately, there has.  These are just the things we have photos for.  There were lots of other important things going on!  The biggest and most time consuming was Lotte’s Visa Application, which weighed 1.7 kg and basically took Lotte 3 months of full time work (keep your fingers crossed).  We also launched a new weekly live jazz club called The Speakeasy at the on August 27, which has been a great success.  I presented at the ALT-C and BERA Conferences in September and at a research symposium called Poke 1.0 this month (no photos, but I’m sure you know what a conference looks like). The cricket season ended well, with Cavendish winning the league with 9 wins and 1 loss.  We’ve had lots of new challenges to keep us busy too. Work for me has been quite intense since the start of October, because I have been conducting the second phase of the day experience stuff we started last term. Meanwhile Lotte has got herself two part time jobs: selling soap at Lush, and summarising news articles for important people at the Government News Network. All this, and trying to plan for our wedding next year!