At the risk of repeating a few praises I sang last year, here is my account of this years wonderful Lindy Hop dance camp in Hull, Hullzapoppin‘…
Before I started writing this post, I took a quick look at the post I wrote last year, and what took me with delight (and a little surprise) is how different my confidence level is 12 months on. Not only in my dancing (and asking the teachers to dance), but my on stage performance too. 🙂 It serves as a nice little reminder, and reason enough for me to write these things down.
In 2012, Hullzapoppin’ was the 2nd Lindy Camp I had taken my band to perform for (we didn’t even have a name yet!) and the 2nd Out-Of-Town dance camp I had attended.
With many more of both those things under my belt, this year’s Hullzapoppin’ was bound to be even more fun than the last, even though that amount of fun seemed hard to fathom.
I was given the prestigious honour by Team Hull to be the Teacher Host. In short, that meant that I was to do their every bidding; run errands, get food, and generally treat them like the talented mega-stars that they are. Only on the Saturday evening did I get a break when I myself got to ‘play diva’ and perform for the evening’s dance with my lovely Apple Jacks.
As last year, the teaching line up was fabulously exciting:
Sharon Davis (Australia)
Mikey Pedroza (USA) & Pamela Gaizutyte (Lithuania)
Veit Hailperin (Germany) & Anna Yakshina (Ukraine)
Sinclair Ang (Singapore) & Sonia Ortega (Spain)
Jim & Nicky (UK)
Having met Sonia at Leeds Bradford airport around 1pm on Friday, I drove us both to Hull and met the rest of the teachers that afternoon. Bruce introduced me as ‘Tessa, who will attend to your every need’ and I set about ensuring that the British Classic, Fish and Chips, would be ordered in time for everyone’s dinner.
A few of my friends who have worked in hospitality in the past may scoff and think me mad, but I sometimes really miss working in restaurants. It brings a satisfaction that you sometimes don’t get with other jobs. (I think it’s why I enjoy running Teapots and Twirls so much; it reminds me of my days as a waitress, as well as combining Lindy Hop, live music and cake!)
Over the weekend, I basically got to play waitress again, just on a grander scale. If someone wanted ChapStick, or a banana, or painkillers, or cereal bars, or 1000 Red M&Ms and 1 Red Smartie, I would run to the shop and get it for them as soon as possible. It was fun. I even got to pre-empt their needs and spoil them; Saturday was so sunny, I decided we all needed ice lollies. 🙂 The old Harvey Nichols mantra “Exceed Expectations” rang in my head, and hopefully made all the teachers feel well looked-after.
They were a lovely, and very talented bunch, and I felt like a friend pretty quickly. On Sunday evening, I was delighted that Lindy Super-Star Mikey even cooked dinner for us all!
Contrary to last year, this friendly interaction also meant that I didn’t chicken out of asking for dances either (I am often very nervous asking people still!) Despite not dancing a vast amount over the weekend, I did have some absolutely wonderful dances at the evening events. Particularly at the Saturday Night after party, where there was Blues, Lindy and some incredible Hip-Hop/Soul/R&B action!
The classes too were wonderful, and I was able to dip in and out as I made sure that the Teacher’s water was topped up and everyone had all they needed. I definitely feel like my dancing is improving (if not at the rate I wish..!) and through that, and some fascinating and passionate discussions about Musicality and Swing Music, I learned a lot!
Of course, one of my favourite parts of the weekend had to be my Saturday Night gig.
As I’ve probably stated hundreds of times, I LOVE playing for dancers. It’s so thrilling, and satisfying, to see people react to our music in that way, and I find the most musical dancers listen and respond in a very similar way to the musicians on the stage (just with movement, rather than sound), which is one of the essences of Jazz and improvised music that made me fall in love with performing in a band in the first place.
I am incredibly grateful that Kingston Swing booked me for a second year, and from the moment I started the performance (feeling rather nervous in front of my dance peers and teachers!) to the Shim Sham I persuaded everyone to do, to having Sinclair sit in with us, to the not-so-spontaneous encore, my smile did not leave my face.
Here is a little clip from the gig, just for you, dear readers. It contains a self-penned, Hullzapoppin-specific, alternative lyric for the verse, and a little bit of shuffling around during the solos to attempt to solve some tech issues (apologies!)… It also features the marvellous dancing of Sinclair and Sonia!
And so, after 3 nights and 2 days of top-class tuition, wine-fuelled fun, incredible performances, great conversations, lots of smiles, new and existing friendships, tasty food, singing, dancing, running back and forth to Sainsbury’s, Cheese parties in the Teacher’s Lounge, glorious sunshine, and so many laughs my face hurt, I am back in Leeds and fighting to keep my eyes open. I can’t believe I have to be at School tomorrow!
My HUGEST of thanks once more to the wonderful Team Hull – I am so proud to be considered an honorary member, to all who danced to my band (and with me), and to the wonderful teachers I was lucky enough to host; I hope I was so indispensable that you’ll consider including me in your riders from now on – I’d love some more trips around the world. 😉