double shot of blues and fusion part II

Sunday in Valencia! No classes! There were other things happening, but we felt like a lie in and a walk, so we took a lie in and a walk.

We stayed in the same airbnb as last year, because as we said: Their tagline should be "come for the room, return for the breakfast".

We strolled through Valencia

looked at the cathedral

and took photos.

In the evening we had dinner with these gorgeous people.

During the social dancing, Julie Brown, Ruth Evelyn and Sarah Elise performed this beautiful piece of art called Pink Champagne:

I've watched it many times on youtube and it was a joy to see it live! You should all go and see it here.

And then it was time for the prize ceremony and bloody Liam bloody WON the thing. I'm not surprised, I thought he was fantastic in the finals, but then I'm severely biased so I didn't think I could trust my opinion about him ... But he won! Turns out you don't need years and years of blues dance experience to do well - but quality of movement, musicality, a very adaptive style of leading, and a fuckton of comp experience from other dances seems to do the trick. Honestly, there is a small part of me that's really relieved that we compete in different categories (I compete as a follow and he as a lead) because I think I'd struggle with him beating me in everything all the time (the way I know other leads feel about him). Instead, I get to go home with that gorgeous man after comps, every time. So I kinda won* too. :)

*I know some people might find the ownership sounding vibe - like he is a prize for me to win and own - of this statement scary and unhealthy, but I don't care. Being with Liam makes me feel like I'm winning at life. I like that feeling. I'm gonna keep it.

After the prize ceremony, the finalists danced some more:

I have no idea what's going on in this photo. Why are all three of them crouching? Does Bibi have three people in line to propose? Who will she pick? But the most pressing question: Which of the dancers farted so horribly that two audience members have to pinch their noses?

Unfortunately, not a lot happened after this. I did some dancing, which was lovely, but I wasn't enjoying the music except for one or two of the DJ:s. It turned to fusion after that, which I didn't want to dance to. I would have happily stayed and chatted with friends anyway, last night and all, but ... the music at that point was so loud it was 1. dangerous and 2. practically an insult. I just looked at Liam and shook my head and then we went home. And I felt really disappointed, I had SO MUCH blues dancing left in me still.

I found myself wondering what it is that draws me to this event. After this year, the list is pretty short.
1. Classes are GREAT. Like, truly truly great.
2. Everyone else is there. The social side of it is important.

Other than that, it was pretty badly organised, and too much of the music was either not great, or plain bad. And I felt my patience running out quite early on. (Again, to me it is a question of how expensive the event is. For a smaller, local, cheaper event, I'm super happy for things to be less smooth - for example, for the MC:s to not really have a clue what they're doing and to speak so fast I can't make out what they're saying, like this weekend. I get it - I've been there myself. But for an event like this, and for the price I've paid ... Nope, just nope.)

Thankfully, there are plenty of other events to go to. Too many, really. :)

Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers | Pink Champagne

double shot of blues and fusion part I

Double Shot of Blues and Fusion in Valencia, Spain. Just like last year, it's a lot. Just like last year, there were ups and downs, for sure. But I'll tell it as honestly as I can.

On the way there, our flight from Manchester was half an hour late ... so we missed our connection in Frankfurt and were stranded there for five hours. I was SO GRUMPY.

But at least we know how to make time pass. <3

There was only an hour left of the social night when we got there, so I didn't take any photos, just tried to squeeze in as much dancing and hugging as I could.

My favourite part of everything is always Liam. I don't know how that can be real, but it kinda is.

After classes on Friday I went out for dinner with Miranda, Helene, Malcolm and Liam. They did their very best to look like sensible responsible people; you judge the results. :)

The evening venue - the opera - is oddly beautiful. It's big and grand and for blues dancing, I don't particularly like it; it's too big and grand.

These were my highlights of Friday night - the Down and Outs performance and the teacher demo. It all went downhill from there. I did some solo dancing to David Keogh's set, which I enjoyed, but other than that I didn't dance at all. I HATED the music in the blues room. I hated both bands and the one DJ I heard (I got there late and didn't stay until the end - I was fed up at that point). Frankly, it was so bad that I felt embarrassed for the organisers. I would have been more forgiving if this had been a smaller and cheaper and cosier event. This is NOT a cheap event and for that money, I expect better music, and I certainly expect BLUES MUSIC in the BLUES ROOM. The second band couldn't even play in tune - or if it was the shape of the room that made the music travel weirdly into my ears - either way, it was bad. Also, the sound was THE WORST. What on earth was the sound person doing?!

Annywayyy ...

... classes all weekend were awesome! I had a great time in class, got a lot of challenging material, and loved all our teachers. Invitational level in Valencia is for sure the highest level of learning I can get in a group class in Europe and I want to savour every bit.

Going for lunch between classes. The weather was fabulous the entire weekend. I needed that.

After classes, time for mix and match prelims. I wasn't super happy with my dancing in the prelims, but I wasn't unhappy either. I was nervous, though. I did so well last year, I unexpectedly placed 3rd, and was overjoyed ... This year I had expectations.

I didn't make finals, and was devastated. Like, I cried my eyes out, and felt like shit, like the worst blues dancer in the world. It's not that I thought that I deserved a spot in the finals more than anyone who did make finals; they are all absolutely fantastic dancers. It didn't feel like traditional jealousy, as such; my hurt was aimed at me, not them ... It's this: I felt that since I did so well last year, and I didn't do well this year, I must have become a worse blues dancer - all the dancing and practising and nerding out must have been for nothing - and it's because I SUCK. It's quite rough.

That didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying watching the finals though. Such fabulous dancing! And at events where I'm not the official photographer, I don't have to think about catching everyone on photo; I can do what I want. Meaning 90% Liam. :)

Ruth obvs did a stellar job as the comp magician.

After that, I had an amazing dance night; it was everything that Friday night wasn't. The music was brilliant throughout and everyone I wanted to dance with asked me before I even had time to ask them. It's a wonderful flowy feeling to be able to stay on the dance floor for as long as you want - as a follow I'll often spend more time looking for someone to dance with than actually dancing - and I'm aware of the luxury and privilege.

best of 2018: dancing

Too many. Just too many. Too many dance favourites from 2018. I get better and better - such a great feeling! - and I grow more and more in love with dance photography. And no, not the gadgets ... It's the feelings I want. Here they are, in chronological order:

I can't wait for another year of dance photography! I am open for bookings from June - my weekends until then are all booked.