As soon as I heard that Swing and Soul was back on for 2010, I signed up for a pass. Well, not literally — but I did immediately talk to Michelle about volunteering, because I knew I wanted to go. Since I’ve started dancing, S&S II was easily my favorite event…ever. Maybe it was because I’d just started getting the hang of dancing after a little over a year, or maybe that I had new and awesome friends coming to visit me, who I’d just met at SFLX…but it was easily the highlight of my dancing experience up to that point.
I would like to note that at S&S II, I made some significant friends for the first time — most notably: Rachel, a fellow follow in Atlanta, and Beth, who has quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. I also met people like Jeremiah and Kerry, and I solidified my super-huge-dance-crush on Chris (who, despite the fact that I’ve only seen him at two events ever, and that was over two years ago, remains one of my favorite people in the world to dance with). This series of new friends is only significant in that it is the point at which I started seeing the Swing Scene as a community rather than as this “super-cool-awesome-thing-where-all-I-want-to-do-is-dance-please-god-dance-with-me”!!!
I have to say — S&S III had the same feeling. It was one huge party, where all we did was hang out, eat good food, and sometimes dance. This year, the party was smaller by about fifty people, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the energy — I’ve been to lots of events where the energy is high, but it really did seem particularly high at S&S. Every time I looked up, the floor was full, and people were having a blast.
I think some people might disagree with this, but never get the impression of a “show-off” vibe at S&S. Sure, Peter Strom likes to get in the middle of a jam circle and shake his white boy moves…but he’s not doing it because he wants people to admire him or to talk about how fantastic he is or win crazy competitions. He’s getting in the middle because he’s having a blast, and the crowd is giving him this crazy amount of energy. And if you were in the middle of that circle, he would give you the exact same energy that you gave him. The showing off that happens at S&S is the result of the jamming and partying, rather than the cause.
One of the unique things about S&S, I think, is how interactive it is during the evening social dancing. Half of the classes taught a small routine or skill of some sort…and as a result, during the evening dance, those who took the class were allowed to show off what they learned. Particularly notable routines would be the Dance Diva routine and Peter & Manu’s Magical Mystery Ride routine (if I find a video for it, I’ll post). Another great class was Walk the Walk, resulting in a whole bunch of girls doing the Victoria Secret Lingerie walk down the middle of the floor — hilarious.
In reality, my time could have been equally well spent doing a couple other things this weekend — for example, I could have spent more time on this mapping project that is due on Tuesday. On the other hand, it was fantastic to catch up with people (example, KARA, whom I love and miss and do not see often enough!!). Also, working with the kitchen volunteer staff was easy and enjoyable, and I’d readily do that again despite the time-intensive nature of the work.
If asked, I really wouldn’t be able to put a finger on exactly why S&S fell short of my expectations, though it is probably significantly influenced by the idealized expectations from S&S II; as such, I’m not going to say more than that. Bottom line: the music was groovy, the dancing was fantastic, the energy was high, the food was great, and the people were awesome. My experience as a volunteer was smooth and enjoyable, and the event was comparatively well-organized. And man…it was a party.
In the end, I’d recommend it as an addition to anyone’s dance calendar.