Thursday, July 19, 2012

San Luis Obispo

SLOLX, one of the best cities in the states, with some of the nicest people. SLOLX this year was just me and my baby girl. And what a great event it was!
The day time event were just as I remembered them from last year - fun and relaxed. Games at the park and more games at the beach, sitting with friends and their ukeleles singing songs and talking about how great life is.
The evening and late night dances were at the college, which is appropriate because SLO is really a college town and the swing scene there is based mostly of college students. The low budget is to their advantage, IMO, because they dig for the local music that is inspiring, and get DJs from close by that DJ for the love of the music more than anything else. They brought the Tipsy Gypsies from last year, whom I LOVE, and had a great Lindy and Blues room. We had an amazing time. This is an event I recommend for everyone who loves to dance, both for Lindy and blues.
My set list for the blues room - which included some classic favorite songs of mine :)

'TAin't Nobody's Business - BB King
Crawling Kingsnake - David "Honeyboy" Edwards
They Call Me Sundown - Barbara Morrison
Insane Asylum - Asylum Street Spankers
Reconsider Baby - Al King
Mean Mean World - John Lee Hooker
Careless Love - Ray Charles
Back Home Blues - Lowell Fulson
Your Heart Is As Black As Night - Melody Gardot
Just Won't Burn - Susan Tedeschi
Baby What You Want Me To Do? - Jimmy Reed
A Sunday Kind of Lve - Etta James
I'm Bad - Katie Webster
Black Coffee - Ella Fitzgerald
It's a Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown
Honey Baby Blues - Rising Appalachia
Mo' Better Blues - Gordon Webster
Your Good Thing Is About to End - Lou Rawls
Evil Train - Trampled Under Foot
Blind Love - BB King
Snake Drive - The Yardbirds
Same Old Blue - Popa Chubby
Some Cold Rainy Days - Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Cory Chisel
Snowden's Jig - Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Mooche - Sidney Bechet
In the Wee Hours - Junior Wells and Buddy Guy
Empty Bed Blue - Janiva Magness
Friar's Point - Susan Tedeschi
Busted - Ray Charles
Pussycat Moan - Katie Webster
BB Blues - Nellie McKay
Take a Little Walk With Me - Robert Lockwood, Jr.
Suitcase - Keb' Mo
Got My Mojo Workin' - Asylum STreet Spankers
Dark Cloud - Chris Thomas King
Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You - Gordon Webster
Down Home Blues - Gene Harris
In the Dark - Norah Jones
Good to me as I am to You - Kim Massie
Lonely Avenue - Ray Charles
Am I Wrong? - Keb' Mo and Taj Mahal
Ain't Lost Nothin' - Janiva Magness
Things Ain't What They Used to Be - Gordon Webster
Blood On the Ground - Richie Sambora
Glory Glory - Mikel Lander and Merideth Moore
I Lost Everything - Charles Brown
Here Come The Hot Stepper - Ini Kamoze

Baby traveling was a bit different for me this time around. I used Michael's previous PBEx trick and brought a "team baby" with me. Colin Hay  was almost a Michael replacement in that he carried all of my stuff around everywhere we went. It was quite perfect, actually. Babies come with a lot of stuff. We stated at the "Holliday Inn," which is Katelyn' Holliday's parent's house. Her parents actually left for the week and let dancers take over everything. I had my own room, which Carrie Carillo (one of my current housemates and my second "team baby" member) slept in there with me. The hardest part about taking a child to a dance event comes at 7 or 8 AM, when the child is up. Being awake at that hour after staying up all night dancing is torture. Carrie saved us on the second morning when I couldn't stand to get up before 10. The first morning after late night, I was able to get up with Kaylee. I strapped her in the moby wrap and went for a walk to the store. The second morning, Carrie got up with her and took her for a walk. She got sick later because of it, but she really saved me from totally losing it. I think if I would have had to do that all by myself I would have sworn off dance events with children. Because it's HARD and impossible to do alone. I am very very grateful for Carrie and Colin. They made that experience possible.
For the record, I don't have to take my kids with me every time I travel. I had to bring Kaylee this time because I was still breast-feeding her. Michael stayed home with Evelyn. We hope that in the future, when our finances are a bit more flexible, that we can take the whole family to this event. It is just that great. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

San Francisco Fusion Exchange 2012

Biggest and best year yet! I'm on such a high from the adrenaline of being at a 400+ people event! It was so great to see so many friends, to have amazing dancing, to hear great music all weekend, and to be in San Francisco once again. I love that city.
With a well-organized team of people running this event, it seems they had everything covered from a professional sound-guy all weekend to a pre-event city-wide scavenger hunt for those who came early.  This event just keeps getting better every year.
There were almost always 3 rooms of dancing in the evening, and a DJ during the lunch hour during the day for those who attended workshops. In short, there was always music playing to dance to, and always someone to dance with. The many who I've talked to returned home sore, exhilarated, and satisfied.
This year, I stayed on staff as the main music coordinator. It was a lot of work, but it was so much fun! I got to meet and work with a lot of DJs, I learned how to push passed my own level of comfort and become more professional, and I got to watch the magic unfold as the DJs and bands we chose filled each room with their fantastic music. Way to go music team for making this event so amazing!

And now I will lists my sets for you -
Friday main room 10-11pm band break blues set
Ray Charles - It Makes No Different Now
Moreland and Arbuckle - Variations on Juke
Watermelon Slim & The Workers- Hard Times
Otis Spann - One More Mile to Go
Tuba Skinny - Frosty Morning
Janiva Magness - That's What Love Will Make You Do
Muddy Waters - I Love the Life I Live
Ernestine Anderson - Please send me Someone to Love
Blue Harlem - Drown in My Own Tears
Charles Brown - I Lost Everything
James Cotton Blues Band - Soul Survivor
Susan Tedeschi - It Hurt So Bad
Luther Allison - Little Red Rooster
Bettye Lavette - Joy
Mikel Lander & Meridith Moore - Heaven
Taj Mahal - Cakewalk

Sunday room 3 10-11 Jazz-blues set
The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - The Mooche
Diana Krall - Stop This World
Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers - Pink Champagne
Count Basie and Joe Willians - Hallelujah I Love Her So
Sidney Bechet - Blues In The Air
Tuba Skinny - Nobody's Blues But Mine
Gene Harris - Down Home Blues
Gordon Webster - Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You
Dream a Little Dream of Me - Bar Scott
My Blue Heaven - Norah Jones
Mikel Lnder & Merideith Moore - Ramblin' Man
Jimmy Forrest - Flight 3-D
Maria Muldaur - Empty Bed Blues
Nina Simone - Since I Fell For You
GRP All-Star Big Band - Stormy Monday Blues

My 3rd set during Saturday late night was shared with A'lan. It was a great set, but it was only an hour long and was spit between the 2 of us. I only ended up play 6 songs, which I am not posting unless someone absolutely requests that I do.

It truly was a great event. I learned a lot helping organize it, I learned a lot during it, and I am continuing to learn as we prepare for what lies ahead next year!

For those interested in how we took care of the kiddos. This trip was particularly challenging, with a newborn and a 2-yr-old. We decided to leave Evelyn home with some friends, but needed to take Kaylee since she is still nursing. Having Kaylee at the event was really fun, but it hindered actually being able to dance a lot. Someone always needed to be holding her since she's bit colic-y and hates the car seat. We were fortunately able to solicit a little help during the weekend (thanks, Carly and Carrie :), but it wasn't he easiest task keeping her happy all the time. She's used to her swing, and her bumbo chair for comfortable sitting, both of which were left at home. We had arranged housing with a close friend, so we were at least taken care of on that front. And we had a rental car for safe and warm transportation. There was no way I was going to add trying to take the BART everywhere to my complications, especially since the neighborhood was rumored to be unsafe.
This is the first trip that we did almost have to call it quits early for our kids though. We got a 4am call after Friday's dance from the people taking care of Evelyn. Her minor stuffy nose had turned to a sever cough overnight. She was coughing so hard she couldn't breath and our friends were afraid for her life. They decided they were no longer comfortable caring for her in the condition she was in and they asked us to catch the next flight home. In a panic, Michael and I pulled all resources, including our pediatric 24-hr nurse, Michael's cousin who is a nurse at Children's, and friends who might be up for caring for a sick 2-yr-old. Fortunately, Anna, our housemate, was on her way home from her Alaska trip and was happy to bring Evelyn home and take care of her. Having Evelyn sleeping in her own bed with some instructions on ways to treat her cold and help her be comfortable, in addition to having family on call, saved our weekend for us. Thank you SO much Anna, Alan, and Dave, for coming in last minute and caring for her when we could not. Coming home early would have been difficult, expensive, and would have turned months of planning into a complete failure of a trip. Of course, if she really would have been in distress enough to need emergency care, we would have been there. We had the travel agent on the phone and all we had to do was say yes and we would have been on the Saturday morning flight home. We were happy it was simply a cold. A BAD cold, but a cold non-the-less.The lesson we learned from this seems so obvious now that I can't believe we didn't think of it before hand. Always leave the pediatrician's information with care givers, and a signed note that gives them permission to take her in for care.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Where have I been?!

The last 2 events I attended very sadly did not get blogs written on them. I will now do a quick summary followed my excuses for missing it:

PBEx - coolest event ever! What an experience! This event was seriously unlike any blues event I've been to. Live blues all day and into the evening, a cruise ship experience with live and DJ'd music, and late night dances to follow it all up. I wish I would have been less pregnant so I could have enjoyed it a bit more. I can't wait for next year's!

ECBF 2011, the last one! It was a great event, but it seemed to me that this event hit it's prime a few years back. The best part about this event, for me, was the Friday night trapeze venue. What a place! And of course, I always love Brother Yusef :) I didn't get to experience a lot of the event myself because I had a brand new baby, and the recovery from the delivery took its sweet time.
This year, I did the housing for the event and actually really enjoyed it!

So, if you didn't get this news earlier, I had a baby on September 24th, so I've been unavailable for dancing and events since about mid-July, when my body stopped allowing it. With my first pregnancy, I continued to get out at night a lot. That's because I could sleep during the day. With this last pregnancy, I had a toddler to care for during the day and thus, needed to take things a little more easy.
The good news is, I have 2 beautiful girls, and I won't be getting pregnant again any time soon. Even better news, my babies love to dance! HOORAY!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Show Me Blues 2011

Well organized with local highlights like Kim Massie, Show Me Blues has once again won me over.

Kim Massie, although sick for her performance (nausea), sung her heart out and did amazing. Everybody loved her, as they always do.
The Friday night band was good at playing authentic blues music, but could have probably tailored their set more toward performing for dancers. I still enjoyed them.
Steven Watkins, no surprise, played great sets. Due to his relationship with Kim Massie, I don't think that event can function without Steven :) Nor should it!
The DJ battle took a lot longer than expected, but I think that's okay. The DJ choices for next year will be great! It was a tie between Tyler Robbins and a very handsome man whose name I knew last week. The other DJs for the event did really great too! I like how much jazz-blues is played when I travel east.

The Saturday activity - St. Louis City Museum. I brought Michael and Evelyn with me to this event specifically for this activity. It was so fun! It will be more fun when she's older, but we had a great time going through the cave tunnels with her, 6 month pregnant belly and all. I worked really hard to stay in shape throughout my pregnancy just for this museum and it's tunnel-climbing. What a BLAST! More pictures will soon be posted on my facebook profile!

I got the DJ right before the band on Friday, and the band breaks. I love to DJ band breaks! The energy is always so high in the room! The downside this time was that because the band wasn't accustomed to playing for dancers, they didn't understand that they needed to give me a warning before they stopped playing. It was kind of a shocker to be watching the clock thinking "the scheduled break is in half an hour," and then hear the band say "we're gonna go take a break now." AH! Okay! *run to the front of the room, open of the laptop and quickly find an awesome song* Unfortunately, the first time this happened I was in the bathroom. I came out to a bunch of people saying "everyone's looking for you!" THAT was exciting ;)

Sunday night dancing started at 6pm and ended at 6am! WOW! And it was awesome. I got the DJ the very last set, so we were there till the bitter end, which is a set I want every year! The last hour became a total party hour. The sun was coming up, it was the end of the weekend, and we'd all passed extremely tired and gone straight to crazy!
My set list from the weekend:
Robert Lockwood, Jr. - Take a Little Walk With me
Ernestine Anderson - Please Send Me Someone to Love
Josh White - Woman Sure Is a Curious Critter
Mikel Lander and Merideth Moore - Ramblin' Man
Ray Charles - I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town
Big Mama Thornton - Sometimes I Have a Heartache
Tommie Lee Bradley - Walkin' After Midnight
Koko Taylor - Piece of Man
Atlantic Jazz - Evenin'
Fiona Boyes - Mercy
Lowell Fulson - Everyday I Have the Blues
The Fabulous Thunderbirds - She's Tuff
Elvis Presley - Steamroller Blues
The Yardbirds - Take It Easy Baby
Muddy Waters - I Just Want to Make Love To You
Luther Allison - Little Red Rooster
The California Honeydrops - Rain
Sam Lay - I Gotta Find My Baby
Esther Phillips - Double Crossing Blues
Susan Tedeschi - It Hurts Me Too
Louis Armstrong - When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Louise Hoffsten - Love to Love You
Taj Mahal - Statesboro Blues
Asylum Street Spankers - Song With No Words
Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham - Midnight Mama
Etta James - You're Gonna Make Me Cry
Shuggie Otis - Sweet Thang
The Allman Brothers Band - It's Not My Cross to Bear
Fiona Boyes - Good Lord Made You So
Mark Hummel - Black Night
Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Rockin' Chair w/Louis Armstrong
Gordon Webster - Mo' Better Blues
Eva Cassidy - Stormy Monday
Josh White - One Meat Ball
Stevie Ray Vaughan
James Cotton Blues Band - Love Me Or Leave Me
Louisana Red - Sad Night
Delta Moon - You Got to Move
Lou Ann Barton - One Good Man
Louis Armstrong - La Vie En Rose
Andrew Odom - Farther Up The Road
B.B. King - Blind Love
Etta James - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
Wildsang - Come On In My Kitchen
Johnny Copeland - Down on Bended Knees
Irma Thomas and Jimmy McCracklin- Tomorrow
John Lee Hooker - Down Child
Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas - Sixty Minute Man
Ellen Whyte - Over My Shoulder
Shuggie Otis - Gospel Groove
The Bodice Rippers - Bad Girl
Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch - Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
Billie Holliday - Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You
Mavis Staples - Step Into the Light
Blue Harlem - Drown In My Own Tears
Betty Harris - Cry to Me
Solomon Burke - You're Good For Me
The Jackson 5 - Whatever You Got, I Want
*Birthday Jam to F*** You*
Kristin Andreassen - Crayola Doesn't make a Color For Your Eyes
Rising Appalachia - Honey Baby Blues
Blues Man Group - Sing Along
Cake - Let Me Go
Quix*o*tic - Anonymous Face
Soup Dragons - I'm Free
Marc Broussard - Home
David Keogh - Firecracker

The gem song I heard for the first time was one played by Steven. I can't remember the artist, but the title of the song is "I Left My Baby." The original was done by Count Basie.

Traveling with a toddler and pregnant belly? We made it our family summer vacation together. Eva was still under 2 yrs, so she sat on our laps on the plane. . mostly Michael's since mine is so small. We were extremely fortunate to have an assigned babysitter - the main organizer's daughter, Natalia! Natalia was at the dances and would randomly entertain Evelyn for some time while we danced. She also slept on the floor where Evelyn was sleeping on Friday night, and stayed home with her on both Saturday and Sunday night so that we could put her to bed and leave her. The best way to travel with a toddler to an event you want to sleep in at is to travel somewhere with at least a 2-hr time difference! In Seattle, she goes to bed at 8 and wakes at 8. In St. Louis, that stayed the same, except the clock said 10! WOOT! So, we got the pleasure of dancing late, together, without worrying about her. Then we got to sleep! (In the past, she wakes up right as we get in and want to go to bed. That sucked.) Traveling pregnant? That was my last trip on a plane until SFFX. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't easy. In addition, pregnancy causes the immune system some stress, so it was really easy for me to pick up whatever floating virus was on the plane.

Thank you, Jenni, and Jeff, and Natalia, for the amazing family weekend we have! I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SLOx 2011!

*Sigh of relaxation* This exchange, for me, outlines what every exchange should be: a vacation, with good dancing. There were places for just chilling out and having a good conversation if you needed a break from dancing. At many exchanges I feel like I have to remove myself from the dance to stop dancing. Here, you could take a break and still feel like you were part of the night.
The day events were my favorite part. No, the bands were my favorite part. No, hanging out with my friends was my favorite part. No . . . I could go on :)

But I'll start with the day events.
Lindy games in the park. Because WHO CARES if you're dancing on GRASS?! It's a game day! We want to eat powdered doughnuts and throw water balloons while dancing and you can't do that just any dance floor. My feet got green and my skin got sun-kissed, and I haven't laughed so hard while dancing since . . . . I can't remember. With this growing pregnant belly, I couldn't participate in many of the games, either because you had to move to fast for me to keep up, or because I was afraid a water balloon would hit me in the belly, but they were hysterical to watch! Banana Bal was the one I did and we probably could have gotten a lot further in the game if we hadn't been laughing so hard! The great part, majority of the time at the park I didn't even dance. I was just hanging out in the shade, seeing old friends, listening to Dexter serenade us, eating snacks, and re-connecting with the people that I only ever see at exchanges. Sunday day event: SAME THING only this time at the BEACH! Take 100 dancers, plop them on a beach. YES. Games, lying in the sun, playing in the water, and a random live band on the boardwalk that you could choose to dance to or to hang out and listen to. It felt like a vacation with my dancer friends. It was absolutely incredible.

Evening events were equally as fun. A wide variety of tempos, music, and a packed blues room. There was also a lounge outside the dance room for when you wanted to not dance but still socialize. Once again, you didn't HAVE to dance to feel like you were part of the exchange. I absolutely loved it! The dancing was good, the bands were good, the DJs were awesome. AND let me just say, this is one of the most organized events I've been to! Those college girls (and guys too). . . ;) They were all right on top of "are you ready for your set? Do you need some water?" They made sure everything I needed was taken care of immediately. They new exactly what to do, and when to do it. They knew what happened before me, what happened after me, and where to go if I needed help with anything like sound equipment. And, from where I was standing, it looked like they were also able to participate in their own weekend and have a great time with it. Way to totally nail it! VERY impressive.

The blues room. OH the blues room. One word to describe it: SATISFYING. Every DJ was totally rockin' it. I was the closing set on Saturday and the room was still full at the very end of my set. What an amazing energy to be a part of!
Because every DJ was so amazing, I'm going to do something different with this blog. Rather than post my set list (unless anyone reading it really really wants me to post it), I'm going to write down, for my own record if nothing else, all of the new music I was introduced to that I absolutely loved!

MSG acoustic Blues Trio
The White Ghost Shivers
Tipsy Gypsies
Lipbone Redding
Melody Gardot
Joe Henry

There are many more that I didn't get to write down, regretfully. All the same, the music was amazing and this event tops the charts for me.

Babies: Evelyn stayed in Seattle with my mother, who was thrilled to have her. While in SLO, it was easy to identify that, with the right housing arrangements, we could bring kids to this event. We could have brought our freakin' DOG to this event, it was so family friendly. This weekend made me want to MOVE to SLO because it seems like a great place to raise a family. The pregnant belly - I was sore, I won't lie, but it was worth it.

Oh California, I love you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is fusion?

Rising in popularity are fusion events and venues.

When you hear the word “fusion,” what kind of music do you think of? Right now, many DJs and dancers expect to play/dance to experimental songs that fall under multiple categories: dub-step, trip-hop, electronica, hip-hop, and whatever else stretches the dancer to experiment with the dance techniques and try new things. “Blues fusion” can be any song that you can potentially blues dance to that isn’t actually blues. Sometimes, hopefully more often than not, “fusion” means combining 2 different dances; other times, it means anything goes.

Fusion has so much potential for growth for all dancers because it provides an environment where multiple dance styles are encouraged. However, I really feel that the term “fusion” should be saved for when you’re fusing 2 dances together, like “tango-blues fusion,” for example. A song that you can potentially blues dance to that isn’t a blues song, I feel, should be called “experimental” rather than “fusion.” Fusion, in itself, is not a genre, and I think the term has gotten very ambiguous in the dance scene. When someone is scheduled to DJ a “fusion” set, what does that mean? I’ve come to expect just about anything, which makes me feel like there is absolutely no structure to what fusion DJs are being asked to play.

“Can you play a fusion-y set?” hmmmm . . . . . okay so a blues song maybe every . . . 4-5 songs? And what do I play in between? Anything you potentially blues dance to, which means something different to everyone. Play all the music that makes you want to dance that you can’t play anywhere else. That makes me want to play “Lean On Me” by Club Nouveau.

I would love to see more required of fusion DJs. Give us a reason to really learn the dance! Fusion events and venues organize these kick-ass classes, but those classes will produce little results if the dancers aren’t pushed to use those skills on the social dance floor. This is why I like the traveling fusion exchange so much – they have assigned sets for WCS, tango, and blues. There still are “fusion” sets, where anything goes, but you at least have multiple opportunities to dance the dances you’re learning in the workshops.

As far as “fusion” dances and venues, I think the DJs need more structure. If your lesson is on Tango, hire a Tango DJ to trade 3s with a blues DJ; do the same with WCS, Lindy-Hop, Salsa, or any other kind of dance style you’re focusing on that night. Because what it really comes down to what the DJs are playing. You can talk and teach these multiple dances at the beginning of a dance or during workshops at an event, but you’ll get nowhere if you teach different dance styles at fusion workshops and then send your dancers off to evening and night dances that aren’t full of this kind of music. Right now, there’s no salsa played in a fusion set. There’s most definitely no upbeat big band to Lindy-Hop to. I do like hearing tango-alternative music, or pop for WCS, or real blues in these fusion sets, majority of the songs you can dance all 3 of these styles to. THAT is great “fusion” music. Tango, blues, and west-coast dancers can dance to many different kinds of music and there is a lot of music that you can do all 3 dances to in one song if you want. However, the “experimental” songs, the ones that are not blues, not good songs for WCS, not Tango songs, but just something a little different to stretch the imagination for your dancing, are being classified as “fusion.” I’ve seen it called “liquid” or “alt-blues,” which I think are both appropriate. I believe this is where there is exponential room for improvement. This is where there is very little structure, and very little requirements for DJs. We need guidance! Leaders, give us direction! WHAT IS FUSION?! When you ask me to play fusion, what exactly are you wanting me to play? Because everywhere I go, it’s something different.

In the future, I plan to host a Lindy-fusion workshop and dance specific to the blues dance community who started out doing blues and haven’t yet taken the jump into the world of Lindy. More to come on that later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Urban Blues Recess 2011

I've taken time figuring what to write on the blog for this event. I like writing a review about the event as a whole, but as I didn't see much of this event, it's difficult. The parts that I did see I didn't really enjoy because it just wasn't my thing. I will say this, however, this event certainly has my mind racing, finding my own definition of what fusion means to me. That I will post in a later blog. This blog is my reflection of the event.

It started with Friday evening for us. We were planning on leaving Seattle around 6-ish. Around 4-ish, I found out, from a friend, not from the event itself, that tent city was totally packed and there wouldn't be any room for us so we had no where to stay. The warehouse venue had to be changed last minute; last minute meaning 10 days before the event. Being that we were planning on bringing Evelyn, we can't exactly find somewhere random to crash last minute, and we weren't up for getting a hotel since I was only committed to one set, which was during the Saturday workshop lunch break when everyone leaves for lunch. Aside from the fact that we didn't hear this from the event itself, and the main organizer of the event had personally told me that we could stay there, I was less than happy about this. So we weren't going to go at all. Then fate happened to have a friend who had bought a house the day before and had not yet filled it, giving us plenty of space for a toddler and her pack n' play. Had it not been for this friend, we wouldn't have gone, for sure. Thanks, Dennis, for buying a house and sharing it with us and Jean, for inviting us to stay there with your group.

Friday night venue was split between 3 different places: 2 bars and a coffee shop. With Evelyn in tow, we chose to spend the whole night at the coffee shop. I actually loved this venue and probably would have gravitated toward that one regardless of having a toddler as company. The only downside was that there was only one blues set. The rest was "fusion." (Hence my recent contemplation of what that even means). I like blues dancing because I LOVE blues music. Take that away and I'm just not that into it. Old school R&B, modern electronica, hip-hop and trip-hop are fun to experiment with for one song here and there, but I like the night to be brought back to blues during a set with those kinds of songs and these sets didn't. There was very little blues at the Urban BLUES recess (not too surprised since I read a description of the event).

Looking over the workshop schedule, I was impressed by everything that was offered! He really had a great line-up of teachers and an extremely wide variety of classes, ranging from ballet to wresting to acro to education about female health (taught by Midwife Mindy :). Very cool. The part I didn't like was actually the one set I was assigned to DJ: the lunch break blues set to keep people dancing during the lunch break. What I did not know what that this was also the schedule time for the preliminary competitions, and they didn't want blues competition songs, they wanted "fusion-y" competition songs (again, what does that even mean?!?!). I had 10 minutes to prepare. I have plenty of blues competition songs ready at any moment, but alternative, hip-hop, electronica, soul competition songs? Not really. I would have, had I known at least a day in advance. They gave me 10 minutes. What was also not communicated was that they needed to be 2-minute segments. As I was trying to find the right music, I was not paying close attention to how long a song was going. I think I even let one song go the entire 4 minutes. Sorry. I had Ruth talking to me when I couldn't hear her and was feeling the pressure of finding the right non-blues song when I'm primarily a blues DJ. I could have done so much better had I known before-hand. Oh well. That scenario has inspired me to examine all of my non-blues danceable songs and star the really awesome ones in case that ever happens again.
I will give props to Justin for finding my laptop charging cable that I left at the venue. I didn't notice I'd left it until I got home. He found and mailed it to me a week later. THANK YOU!!

*deep breath of frustration* Moving on.

The evening dance. A public, social dance for a national event. I guess I can't say I wasn't warned. The event publicized the theme. I didn't fully understand until I showed up. I'm sorry, I'm just not into that. Perhaps it's the pregnancy, but dancing without clothes on just isn't appealing to me, in any circumstance. I don't want my hand on some guys sweaty back unless I'm . . well . . in a completely different setting . . . Majority of the crowd, men and women, were dressed in women's lingerie. Some men pulled it off really well (Chris Harris with his blond wig ;), some didn't (dude in the shiny-silver, crotch-wrap thing). I mean, I know guys have packages. I don't enjoy seeing them outlined in their clothes. Some people are into that and those people had a great time, and that's awesome! A majority of the crowd was totally into the theme. The ones not into it were ostracized. I like themes and all, but I like themes where the people who opt out of participating can still have a good time. This was not one of those themes. If you weren't into it, there were a handful of people you could dance with, and rest of the time, you were uncomfortable.

Two really great things came out of this event: the organizers, although lacking in a lot of organizational skills during the weekend, did an amazing job bringing in great dancers from all over the country. There were many teachers and DJs with only one set to spin and/or one class to teach. That quickly gets a lot of really talented people at your event. I had a great time seeing and spending time with friends that I hadn't seen in a long time. I love that about dance events. Item #2: This event has motivated to me to really think about how I feel about blues, fusion, and events as a whole. My mind is somewhere different as I'm listening to my music every day. My opinion has strengthened (or changed. . I'm not really sure), about what blues means to me and about what fusion means to me. I have a new motivation to make improvements in the scene and I'm excited to see where it takes me!

Here is my lunch hour set list, and the songs I played for the competition:
Basin Street Blues by Ray Charles
This is Hip by John Lee Hooker and Ry Cooder
Zip a Dee Doo Dah by the Fabulous Thunderbirds (this is from the Blues Album we bought for Evelyn: Big Blues Blues Music for Kids :D )
Come On In My Kitchen by Rory Block
Blood On the Ground by Richi Sambora
One Meat Ball by Annie Ross
Come On Baby by Jimmy Reed
The Walk by Big Bones

comp break. Then:
Round & Round by Bonnie Raitt
I Prefer You by Etta James
Step Into the Light by Mavis Staples

Competition songs:
Swamp Dream by Roy Rogers
Gospel Groove by Shuggie Otis (sorry I let this one play too long :(
As I Am by Alicia Keys (Contemplating over this one, I should have let the beginning of the song play, but I didn't because it doesn't have a dance beat.)
Death Letter (organized Noize Remix) by Johnny Farmer
Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes by Louise Hoffsten
I Don't WAnt You On My Mind by Janiva Magness (definitely should not have played these 2 back to back for a comp, but didn't have time to find something else)
Sweet Thang by Shuggie Otis
Money by The Lovin' Spoonful
Wade in the Water by Mavis Staples
Long Way to Go by Little Axe

Next time I DJ a "fusion" comp, I'll be a bit more prepared.

With Evelyn, we brought her to the Friday dance and traded off for the Saturday dance. We skipped the workshops. This was not an event for kids, at all, and it sent me home with fantasies about having a family-friendly dance event. . .