Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Week in Review... or... Halloween, Part One

There have been so many things I wanted to share, and thought to myself, as they happened, I need to blog about that. But I keep forgetting them. Such is life.

I do remember that people have been saying awesome things about my dancing lately. I still feel like following is fundamentally against the grain of my personality, and I'm not very good at it. There's a lot to work on, but considering I've only been dancing seriously for about five months and many of my partners have been at it for years, I should probably go easier on myself.

This past Wednesday at Rock'n'Bowl, one of my frequent partners who has been out of town for a while struck up a dance with me, and immediately said, "Wow, you're moving a lot differently now!" Something good about style, confidence, attitude, things I really found myself settle into during the 5 days of dancing around ULHS. I danced a lot and found my step in many ways, and I felt this, but it's nice to know that it shows.

Later, chatting at the bar with Mr. Bud (who is one of the most cheerful, courteous, and complimentary partners a person could have), Mr. Bud said how much he always enjoys dancing with me, how nice it is to have someone he doesn't have to be afraid to try new steps with, how ATHLETIC a dancer I am (I've never been called athletic before in my LIFE!), and how he'd come off the floor after a dance with me, and a brand new dancer he talked to was *amazed* at all the cool moves we had. I know I watch the dancerly dancers I know and marvel at the moves, so it was both humbling and exhilarating to think that someone thinks that when they watch me. Wow. Just... wow.

Today I got my latest and so far most cherished compliment. I had just finished a dance at Nickel-a-Dance on Frenchmen Street when an older lady with a cane, sitting in the front row of seats by the dance floor waved me down. She said she'd been trying to get my attention three times already, and as I leaned forward to hear her better, she reached up and took my chin in her hand and said, "Sweetheart, I just had to tell you how much I enjoy watching you dance. You and that young man you were just dancing with. I used to teach dancing, and you have such a step, you keep up so well, you dance beautifully. All you need to do is smile just a little bit more, but you dance just beautifully."

I swear, I nearly cried. I love dancing so much, and I have a good time, but I've tried not to worry about whether or not I look any good doing it, because I know self-consciousness will just kill whatever poise I'm currently scrounging up. Apparently I don't need to worry. I guess if I look half as good as I feel, I'm doing just fine.

Hmm. So far this hasn't been much about Halloween. Let me correct this. I know it isn't actually until next Saturday, but, like any other excuse for a party, they start early here in New Orleans. I went to a birthday/Halloween/swing dance party on Friday night. Costumes were optional, but I love dressing up, so I wore my gypsy ensemble. Seemed like it would be fun to dance in. I also brought a change of clothes in case I was the only one there in costume.

Well, I was, but every time I started feeling awkward, someone would say how awesome my costume was, so I never did change out of it. It was a BLAST to dance in. In fact, a little too fun. Every time I spun, my skirt would keep going for two beats, and I would watch it with that easily-amused, childlike delight that I tell myself is endearing, but is probably mostly silly. Whatever. :-P

Even cooler than my twirly skirt, though, was how, about halfway through the evening, a bassist, a banjo player, and a trombonist walked into the party. I know that sounds like the start of a joke. What it *was* was the start of the dancing to LIVE MUSIC portion of the evening. Some of the best musicians I've heard play around the Quarter and Frenchmen Street, and they just show up at a party as guests, and decide to pull out their instruments and play out the dance.





The next day I went to my friend Adé's Mad Hatter Tea Party as the Queen of Hearts. That was too, too fun, and we've decided to wear our costumes again on Wednesday at Rock'n'Bowl, so Halloween just grew an extra day. I went home early-ish in the afternoon so that I could get my car parked and all before things got too nuts for the Krewe of Boo parade. Then I decided to slink up my costume and go tool around the Quarter and see the parade in style.

I got SOOOO many compliments on my costume! Most were of the simple, "I love your outfit!" sort, but I think I did steal one heart. There was a guy standing by himself waiting for the parade whom I had to walk past to get where I wanted to watch from, and he watched me for about fifty feet as I walked towards him, and as I passed and smiled, he said softly, "You *are* something!"

The parade was fun, though I think maybe the most fun part was walking down the route after it had ended where I had been watching, and seeing three Ursuline nuns laughing and clapping and reaching to catch beads. No, those weren't costumes. I see those same three nuns often on my walk to work, as they head to morning mass. Too fun!

I decided to walk up and down Bourbon Street just to see and be seen. I got high-fived by two frat boys, told that I "got it goin' on" by lady encouraging people to enter one of the gay bars, and caught countless stares and double takes. It was fun.

Outside of Fritzl's I stopped and looked in to see the trombone and banjo players from the night before, along with a different bassist and a washboard player, on the little stage at the back. I hesitated, then couldn't resist, and went on in. I sat down near the band and ordered my drink while they finished a song. Afterwards, the banjo player said he wanted to welcome all the beautiful people who had just come in, and especially this pretty lady in the costume. He looked at me again and asked, "Weren't you at the party last night?" And I said yes I was, and he asked me to stand up and show everyone my absolutely beautiful costume. Yeah, I tipped the band and bought a CD after that. :-) After a while the guy who hosted Friday's party and the girl whose birthday it was came in. They didn't recognize me at first, but when they did they asked me to join them, and the guy said I looked BEAUTIFUL.

All that attention, all that costume-wearing, and Halloween isn't even until next weekend! Then the weekend after that I dress up again for Ren Fest! I am LOVING life right about now.

So, yeah, I feel amazing tonight. Incredibly happy, incredibly liked. If I'm walking around for the next few days or weeks with a really self-satisfied grin and a little extra confidence in my step, and if my head is a bit of a tight squeeze getting through a few doors, don't blame me! Everyone is saying such nice things! I love this town, I love these people, and I LOVE Halloween!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dance, Dance, Yeah

I want to tell you all how mind-blowingly spectacular Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown this weekend has been for me, but I can't. I really just can't. But of course I'm going to try.

On Thursday, I danced on a paddleboat. On Friday I danced in front of the steps across from Jackson Square, then in a wax museum. On Saturday I danced in the rain at the French Market, then at the World War II museum. Today, Sunday, I danced all over Frenchmen Street.

I learned new moves. I met new people. I lost five pounds. I listened to phenomenal live music. I watched competition dancing that had me wide-eyed, jaw-dropped, clapping-along-until-my-hands-hurt, heart-poundingly enthralled. These people are magic.

I made new friends. :-)

I tried to work on some of my existing technical issues and, yes, discovered a few more. But thanks to one partner in particular, I started to loosen up and follow his steps in blues dancing better, and I'm MUCH better now at relaxing into a dip instead of doing the cat-about-to-be-bathed cling that I've been specializing in lately. Oh, and I found out that my hips CAN move like that, as long as I don't pay any attention to them. :-P

All in all, I can honestly say that I have NEVER IN MY LIFE had a more amazing, more fun weekend. I woke up every morning energized and ready to go, in spite of the late nights. I walked down the street to the next dance event with my heart singing and my feet keeping time to the song. I wish I could have done all the events today and this evening. Next year, because there WILL BE a next year, I'll schedule my vacation accordingly. This has been an experience of a lifetime for me, and over the next few days I expect I'll be thanking everyone who convinced me to come and who danced with me from the bottom of my heart for the gift it's been. If you EVER get the chance, even if you don't dance, go to one of these. Go search ULHS 2009 on YouTube and see some of what I saw.

Now. My legs and feet are screaming and I have to get some sleep tonight. I'm going to take some more Advil and go soak in a hot bath and dream of next year... when I'll actually know the Lindy Hop