birmingham swing festival

Birmingham Swing Festival! I had such a great experience! I was in the balboa stream and learned a lot in class; I danced a whole bunch of lindy in the evenings and regained a tiny bit of confidence in my lindy, I made finals in the lindy mix and match and did really well (!!!), I had lovely chats and hugs with friends. All in all, it was pretty much everything I want from a dance weekender. And this is what it looks like in my notebook. (Please note: I didn't design their beautiful logo, I just drew it in my notebook because I like it so much.)

I took two photos the entire weekend. Not even joking. I was really photo tired this week, and if it's one thing I know it's to allow myself to take breaks from photography if I'm not working and I'm not feeling it. I felt like dancing! So that's what I did.

I took this one of Georgie and Liam hugging on Saturday morning. <3

And this one from a great class with Sanna and Adam.

However! Georgie was the official photographer and as always, she did some absolutely stunning work. Not only did she capture the vibe of the festival beautifully (see her blog post here), there are also plenty of photos with me in them! That is so unusual, since I'm so often the one behind the camera. I'm delighted! Also, a good way to get photos of yourself is always to enter the comps, isn't it? :)

So here's what I looked like at this festival:

This is from the balboa prelims, I had a lovely dance with Josep.

And this is how pleased and delighted I was to be paired with Max in the lindy prelims. :)

Me and Vytas in the lindy finals!!! (Several people said after that they could see my blues dancing shining through. LIFE GOALS! to have my lindy influenced by my blues dancing, and honour the roots of swing in that way. Also, the song they gave us for our spotlight was a proper, swinging 12 bar blues! What else was I to do? :)

I also look like this when I'm dancing. I actually think this photo is probably more accurate than the others. :)

Vytas and I placed second and I'm so pleased and proud! (And yes, Liam won. As usual. He always wins.)

The video from the finals is here if you want to see it and my spotlight starts at 1:42.

Also, this one, just because you can tell immediately from my RIDICULOUS FACE that I'm dancing with the love of my life.

Thanks Birmingham! See you next year. :)

Jimmy Witherspoon | Call My Baby

sitting at the foot of the blues part II

Sunday at Sitting at the Foot of the Blues!

I didn't take any photos at all during the classes that day. I was too busy changing my life plans. Isn't it funny how inspiration can strike you so suddenly, if you've done the work and are open for it? More on that some other time. :)

Liam and I went to dinner with Louise, because she's awesome and fabulous and just being in her company feels great.

And then, dancing!

Tonight's band, Tom Attah & Katie Bradley - so so good!

And here are my favourite dance photos from the night:

I think these newly-engaged cuties were dancing, but their dancing looked quite a lot like hugging. <3

This was my favourite dance to photograph this evening - SO MUCH SASS from these two.

And this was (yet another) one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Going back to Ryan and Anna's after the Sunday tea dance, tired and slow after a whole long dance weekend, and still choosing to stay up until 2.30 in the morning to talk about life, the universe and everything. I had such a great time. (Ryan isn't in the photos because he had fallen asleep on the floor at this point. I obviously regret now I didn't take a photo of that.)

Thinking about this weekend now already gives me the feels even though it's just two weeks ago. It was such a great experience for me. I did so much good thinking and learning and DANCING and feeling and loving. I'm so grateful for this community and the work that every single organiser, volunteer, musician, DJ, sound technician, teacher, photographer, care team member and blues historian puts into it. I'm so grateful! I would be a completely different person now if it hadn't been for blues dancing. And I would like that person less.

sitting at the foot of the blues part I

Sitting at the Foot of the Blues in London two weeks ago - I had such GREAT TIME. Had hours of great dancing, hours of great learning, and about four life epiphanies. Phew! :)

Liam and I took the train down to London on the Thursday and started our weekend with cocktails.

The day after Liam worked remotely and I spent the day reading, disturbing him with kisses, and taking a walk in Hyde Park.

And then I met Annette for dinner. We all know dance life is weird - with some of your close friends spread out all over Europe, or the world - but it's also so lovely, to make time at events to spend quality time with them, to have just two hours in each others company, but those hours are worth so much, and it feels like you met yesterday, even though it's been six months.

Friday evening was Blues at the Ritzy and I took absolutely no photos at all. I just danced danced danced.

Saturday started with a history talk by Cara. I obviously love history and was excited to expand my knowledge about a part of US history that is essential for blues dancers.

Then I had two classes with Trisha. She is THE BEST. I was completely mesmerised and inspired, and I felt so much joy throughout my whole body while I was dancing, it was exhilarating!

Roundtable! The topics were interesting and the panelists well worth listening to, but this hour was not for me.
I realised: Few things makes me feel left out like a whole room laughing at things I can't hear or understand.
And also: Even people who speak clearly and slowly when they "just talk" will both lower their voice and speak faster when they're about to say something funny - even people who would normally be careful because they know you're not a native speaker. That is the nature of a joke, isn't it? It's a conspiracy between the person talking and the people listening; comments told with an air of something secret or a little bit forbidden.
The panel discussion, for me, was mostly that: jokes I didn't have time to decipher before they were gone, and everyone laughing around me. So I left, went back to the apartment and had a shower and a good cry instead, as I do when something makes me feel like I suck. Happens.

Dinner time! Yummy, yummy dinner time.

And then, a Saturday party at Merchant Moonshine. So good. So so good. I had SUCH GREAT DANCES. Obviously the dance floor was way too small for the amount of people there, but the trick is to dance as close to the musician(s) as possible - where there is often more breathing space - and just never leave the dance floor. :)

I wasn't on photo duty, but here's some stuff I captured:

How could I not want to continue dancing when Stefano Ronchi is playing?

Let's look at this one again because it's just too good.

Also, I'll just leave this here. :)

(Sunday photos soon!)