Category Archives: event

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

So my housemates are seriously discussing an intervention into my apparent dancing madness. It’s probably a good thing. A vague hiking trip to Lake Tahoe is planned, as are a few shopping days in San Francisco. I’m excited. This week I have a midsemester exam, and an assignment due, which is good. I’m coming to like the way things work here; there are always things due, but they are never worth very much, so you are never too stressed for an assignment.

The weather is still holding strong; it’s about 30 degrees every day which is lovely. This makes evenings in our house hot tub, or sleeping on the roof with 6packs of beer possible. I’m telling you, this is the life! 🙂 I’ve spent many lazy afternoons in the sun on campus lying on the grass.
The Campanile (giant Clocktower) at night, from below

The Geodome on the 30o’s roof where I have been sleeping the past couple of nights 🙂 isn’t that pretty?~

Last night was Oktoberfest at CZ so there was folk-y German music playing in the commonroom and a lot of beer. Fun times!


In other news; I’m very torn and trying to extend my stay here a little, if possible…. 5 months isn’t nearly enough! But am waiting to see what Melbourne Uni says about it. If not, I’ll just have to go on exchange again during postgraduate. Lau, we should totally go to the same place at the same time.
Otherwise, last weekend was boogie by the bay, a giant West Coast Swing event with a little Lindy Hop on the side. It was an experience, I’m telling you that!
What I learned:
• West Coast Swing is like the awkward niece of Lindy Hop who has gone off the rails a bit and no one likes to talk about.
• If you want to West Coast, you should quickly attain some fancy work pants, an off the shoulder sparkly top, and an ability to act out the words of a song as you hear them, charade-style. Also learn how to backlead.
• Many of the people who dance West Coast are Cougars and creepy old guys
• Listen to a lot of top 40 music. As a dj, play the same song more than once in a night, perhaps even in the same set.
• Learn how to body roll a lot and flip your hair. Learn how to stare deeply into your partner’s eyes without blinking whilst dancing.
• Learn how to dance lyrically and learn amazing spin technique.

As far as I could tell, that’s all you need to know to be able to fake it decently at west coast! Westies all dance down the line a lot which makes their dance floors very organized, with few collisions. We earned many dirty looks when we danced a bit of Lindy on those floors (Lindy is far more circular and disorganized, it moves around creatively as it wants to. Leads have to work far harder in Lindy to protect their followers from collisions.)

how wonderful are Bearded Rhythm?!

So the weekend was grand heaps of fun, a small event Lindy-wise, but still good times! This weekend is Sacramento Lindy exchange, which should be small and heaps of fun!

Finally, Laura, you know how when I was packing you let me bring hardly any clothing at all? Remember how you said I would go shopping and buy heaps of stuff?

Well you lied! I haven’t had time to yet, and I’m having to do washing almost every week! I’m practically wearing the same thing every day, and its more than a little frustrating! Gah!

the sun this morning over campus 🙂

To wrap up, MAZEL TOV to Bonnie for getting principal bass In the Australian Youth Orchestra, you should ALL go catch her playing sometime, she is a rockstar. 🙂

Also, Hannah, your package is the light of my life, and my room is fully adorned with glowsticks. You’re truly excellent!

Mbali: how were October tests? Not quite as good as Oktoberfest? (bahaha, hilarious me.)

Wow, bad jokes means it’s time to post this! xxxx

chairs atop the watermelon slice

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

I really, really do. I can’t remember who it was that said, before I left, “Oh! New Orleans! I know that place! We studied it in my geography class as the city most likely to be destroyed by natural disaster!”

Wow, I really hope that ever happens. This city, for lovers of jazz, is like going home. I was staying 5 minutes walk from the French quarter, where every thirty meters there is a veritable vivi-trap, in the form of live music, amazing live jazz. Combine this with an abundance of amazing, hardcore Lindy Hoppers, and you have vivi-heaven. New Orleans is my Vegas. After five days of solid dancing, very little sleep, and one hundred new friends, it has really captured my heart!

a random band jamming 🙂

First though, I have to thank Dad for my MAD AIRPORT SKILLZ. My first flight, to Houston, was delayed two hours, because of some technical fault. Whilst this distressed me, as it meant I would miss most of the Thursday night dance, I wasn’t really worried. Surely I would make it to New Orleans that night.

When it looked like we were going to touch down after the last flight to New Orleans left, I began to panic. Staying overnight in Houston, alone in a hotel when I could be dancing? aaaaagh! I thought; what would dad do? (if he was sitting in economy). He would do SOMETHING, for sure. So I worked myself into a bit of a state, went to the stewardess and with big earnest eyes said “Please, mate, I’ve come all the way from Australia for my brother’s wedding at 9am tomorrow in New Orleans. If I miss it, it will be completely devastating!”

The river and the city form the plane window!

They found me a spot on the plane. Thank goodness! no staying overnight in texas, in an airport!

Other than that, the weekend was incredible. A pool party in the French quarter at 2am Thursday night, a giant, second line parade with a big band on Friday – we danced through the streets of the city – it was CRAZY! There should be a parade like that every day, oh my goodness. We were solo jamming all the way around New Orleans 🙂

The firday night dance was my FAVOURITE. We danced on the Creole Queen riverboat on the MISSISSIPPI. Wow. Wow. How magical, two dancefloors, so much beautiful space, the riverboat, the river, the lights, the wind, the night. I was entranced. And then Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns for the late night, and when she sang Everybody Loves my Baby the floor went nuts! I got so injured; there was absolutely NO space to dance 🙂

Saturday was dancing outside in the markets. They set up a floor suspended higher up like a stage. But under the weight of so many people pulsing and bouncing on it, it was constantly bouncing! I loved it; it felt like you were dancing simultaneously with everyone on the floor!

The competitions on Saturday were fierce. Two Swedish girls were in the showdown semifinals against Sharon and Juan, and they brought it so hardcore. It was nuts! The judges were undecided twice and they just had to keep dancing, in the sun, in the heat. They were dying, but they didn’t show it!

Saturday night at the wax museum upstairs dancefloor; please, just watch Bobby and Chance dance off 🙂

Sunday early morning (6.30 am after the amazing late night finished) we went and got beignets, which are traditional New Orlean-ian donuts! They are COVERED with icing sugar, and when Raj (trouble maker) realized I had never had them before, he picked up the full plate and just blew icing sugar right into my face, and all over me! I looked like it was snowing, or I had severe dandruff, or I was on crack or something 🙂

the beignets!

sweet and sugary

Alex, Jenny and I

And as you can see, he got it all over my pretty pretty hairdo which Alicia, a new friend of mine did for me. Check out the 20’s pin curls! I NEED to learn how to do this. I’ve never felt so pretty!

(when I took the bottom out!)

Sunday I took classes with Chazz Young and Sugar Sullivan, some original Savoy ballroom dancers! I also met Norma Miller. What a sweetheart. That lady sure does love her fried chicken though.

There was so much more – a venue hop on Sunday afternoon where all the different bands were playing at once all on the same street. You went from bar to bar and danced and drank and talked. It was wonderful. And then Tuba Skinny playing Sunday night at the House of Blues was just my favourite. Amazing blues, amazing competitions, amazing dances. A beautiful space, to top it off! Tuba Skinny rock my socks. More beignets, because they are just amazing, and then a bike ride through the city in pursuit of the perfect frock on Monday, as well as a baseball game (hilarious, so all American!)

(before the dancing really got started)

What an adventure! It wore me out, inspired me SO much, and showed me just how amazing Jazz and Lindy Hop are all over again. I guess it’s getting to sound a bit obsessive to you all, but all I can really think of doing now is dancing. It is so full of joy, and everything I love! I have been on the biggest high all week. And I made so many great friends there 🙂

(porch swiiiing!)

After all that, I just wanted to say that to Lib and the people who keep checking this, I know you’re there, and I love you!

To Michael, who sent me a mug all the way from Budapest, you are WONDERFUL.

I saw these in NOLA and thought of you :)!

To Mum Dad and Mbali; I miss you!

To Poshi, aka. Sholecia, Happy Birthday lovely!

And to Hayden, just because I know you don’t like being left out: hi! 😉

Xxx

And that’s all I have to say about that.

from the plane window, sunset over the mississippi….

SFLX (San Francisco Lindy Exchange)

So the people in my drug den think that I’m hardcore

Though I missed the naked kitchen dance party that happened on Saturday night, the dance party that went on in San Francisco this weekend was so many kinds of excellent that I can’t even regret 🙂

It began with the wonderful Kim Nalley on Thursday night at the 9.20 Special dance. What a packed floor! She was WONDERFUL, what a voice, what an amazing stage presence. She wore this giant white flower on top of her head and just sang all of my favourites – A-tisket a-tasket, when you’re smiling, I wish I knew how it would feel to be free….. So many more! And she sang this awesome blues number “My man has a big long slidey thing” and at the end she says “I’m talking about a trombone, y’all, get your minds out of the gutter!” it was hilarious. I loved it.

So I arrived home after the perfect night of dancing to live music, and what should I find in my mailbox!? A letter from the loveliest Hannah Jones, full not only of excellent love, but including notes from a whole bunch of people from brats!!! I was so fantastically happy, I couldn’t even fall asleep. 🙂

Jammin with Kyle 🙂

Yom Kippur was Friday night and Saturday, and though there are about 25 in my house’s Jew crew, I’m pretty sure I was the only one fasting…. Ah, Berkeley and the co-ops and all the hippies who believe only in trees and drugs… I never want to leave! 🙂

But Saturday and Sunday nights, there was more dancing, and I danced until 5 and 6am respectively. I love late nights so much – people stop trying and just let it all out, and you have the best dances ever…. I had a dance with Alex where we just held on with our pinkies 🙂

more jammin!

My favourite band was the Sunday night band. They had a wicked horn section, played to the crowd exactly, played faster music (goodness, I miss the tempo of Seattle!) and I didn’t sit down one song they played! I was so so wrecked by 4am Monday morning – Kyle and I went and got 7/11 coffee…. The one with extra caffeine… I took 3 sips and was bouncing off the walls! It should be illegal, that much caffeine… it’s like straight adrenaline into your body.

BARTing home, monday morning

But the hardcore part of the weekend was still to come – in the form of a five hour central kitchen workshift at 8am on Monday…. I had arrived home at 7am, watched the sun rise over the bay and Berkeley on my roof (through the fog, of course!) changed out of my nice clothes and stacked boxes of fruit for five hours…. Then I managed a shower, and a half hour nap before my 3 hour class began! And then, because I was in this surprisingly dapper mood (possibly still high on a weekend of swingouts), I did an hour of homework before dinner, and eventual sleep.

sunrise over berkeley, sunday morning…. the Campanile is still lit up 🙂

And THAT, my friends, is why I believe in sleeping only when you are dead.

Trying to do too much!

Oh, the magic of procrastination! Lets tell you all some Vivi-related-news!

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the sun on Lower Sproul learning a Hip Hop routine for an audition to a dance team I had no intention of joining, and now I resemble a tomato. It was fun, but I am hopeless at Hip Hop. Luckily, however, better dancing was to be had last night! I decided to skip CZ’s first giant House party (with outside guests invited) to go dancing at the Rhythm Lounge in Redwood city. it was great! Carla Heiney (who runs it) had just got married so they were celebrating. she was really shiny and glamorous! and they had a welcome dance for me, and it was really nice 🙂

A wonderful thing is that I’m getting to know lots of people in the dance scene here, so am slowly feeling more comfortable. I can actually chill out an be my silly self and not worry! phew!

(two of my new dancing friends, who make Michael and I’s colossus attempt look like childs play! they DEMOLISHED everything on the table!)

In America, they bring you refills of EVERYTHING, even hot chocolate! (mum, I had the strongest hot chocolate in EXISTACE. I couldn’t sit still for 20 minutes afterwards!)

I’ve had my first week of classes! I’m taking a college writing course; creative non-fiction, an English course about race, ethnicity and creative writing, which has sparked LOTS of contentious discussion (my teacher for that is so funny! he said he runs the class on creative writing and race because he thinks race is taboo and therefore sexy :)) and a class on musical theater in American history. (YAY! “what never?! no never! what never!? well… hardly ever!~!! he is hardly ever sick at sea!” *minces around like the captain of the HMS pinafore*)

they are all great, but as well as that, I am taking two DeCal subjects (subjects taught by Grad students). one is a journalism on film class, and the other is a HARRY POTTER CLASS. oh yes. I get university credit for discussing Harry Potter, going on a field trip to see the 7th movie part 1, and playing land quidditch! I can let out my inner HP nerd for two whole hours every week! YAY 🙂

also, I decided on a whim to audition for the University chorus, and got in! they are SO good, im SO excited. they are really serious, and the teacher wants me to go to a supplement voice class, which is exciting, as i’ve never had vocal training properly before! also, I might go to a beginner ballet class run at the university.

OOH. ALSO! I am going to be TEACHING at Berkeley!!! CRAZY! They have a swing dance DeCal, and I’m teaching classes on solo jazz movement and Lindy Hop in it! so I am officially teaching a university course!!! as well as teaching dance for the first time!!! woop!!! 😀 😀 :D!!!

SO. if you haven’t already got the gist of this, I have CLEARLY already bitten off way more than I can chew. Uni is hard here, its like school. they give us homework every day, and make sure we did the reading. its just as well things are so so interesting here, or it would be seriously annoying already. 🙂

other than that, many wonderful things have happened, like, I am learning to cook all sorts of new things in our industrial kitchen! I can poach an egg! also, a friend drove me down to a giant junk store called urban ore the other week, and I bought a super cheap couch! we had to totally revamp the room to accommodate it, but it looks shmick, or as my roommate Olga would say, tight/badass. 🙂 also, I have become a drug dealer.

STAM, lol, just checking to see who was still reading ;D…!

in funny news, the Party that I skipped last night went full over capacity by 11.30 pm. they stopped letting people in, so the rowdy crowd outside got really angry, and bum rushed the door! someone pulled the fire alarm and now my house isn’t allowed to have out of house parties till January, because the cops came an gave them an Exhibit A. I missed all the drama (not sure if that is funny, or annoying), but am disappointed, as apparently they have to cancel the house’s notorious stripper party which was going to be in like a month. boo! ah well….

I’m going to leave it there, so as not to bore you/procrastinate TOO much, but a shout out to lovely Kerryn and Bonita, both of whom have admirably succeeded in turning 21! love you girls! and am sad to miss out on celebrating with you!

now I wish you’d all just be sensible already and come hang out with me on the 300’s roof. I’ll be up there for about an hour. who’s in?

xxxx

Sleepless, in Seattle

I love Seattle. I could live on Capitol Hill. it is beautiful and green and well thought out, with views, and parks and dancing and meteors.

and they dance FAST. brilliantly. until 5 in the morning. oh yes, I was sleepless. dead on my feet, in complete and utter heaven. happy like a bee in honey.

not to mention it was 40 degrees sunny the entire weekend. not ideal dance weather for a city which should promise super amounts of gumboot rain. everyone looked like sea monsters approximately 30 seconds after they entered those sweltering ballrooms. and even then, the band and djs were merciless. 200 bpm an average pace. STFO heaven for Vivi.

the live music made my weekend. dancing to live music is so much more real. It is just so much more… dancing! the give and take of energy between dancers and a band playing the music you want to hear makes the room feel a little electric. zingy, in the tips of your fingers.

But I especially love Seattle because of the people. what a warm, welcoming, down to earth bunch. I felt so immediately at home, and most importantly, able to chillax and be my wacky self 😀 a far cry from LA where the number of superstars and competitions lent a tense atmosphere to the dancing. this was just about the lindy hop…. and boy can they hop!!

so three days of intense dancing flew by, leaving me sleep deprived, on another plane with muscles not talking to me….

but here I am in the east bay of San Francisco!

expect many a post on the beauty of Berkeley and how ridiculous this whole shenanigan is, but for now,

here is our stadium…

and here is a group of us relaxing n the sun in front of the Campanile (giant clock tower thing with views like heaven.)

Berkeley is something else…

so, on another note, they have this idea in the bay area that science learning should be joyful and fun. (Harris: “but science IS fun!!!”) they express this in the form of several museums around the place, in which they teach weird and wacky magical/science things in awesome ways. I play in there for hours.

today we hiked up a RIDICULOUS hill, 3 new friends and I, to this museum. I will have thighs of STEEL upon my return, I swear it. the landscape here never considered a naive australian tourist, used to miles of flat flat flat.

one of my new friends is Nathan, whose favorite sandwich is chicken salad. the other one is Joy, with whom the reason for my friendship is self explanatory 🙂

on the way up the hill, I found cherry plums, fresh off a tree, and nearly broke something scrambling to pick them. they were warm in the sun. there was juice on my fingers. 🙂

Post Camp Hollywood JOY!!!

wow. i mean, wow, man.

not sure where to start, but to keep this short and sweet, I just had one of the best dancing experiences EVER. ever!

status of any dancing ego I might ever have had = DEAD.  seriously.

I left melbourne thinking ‘yeah, i’m a vaguely competent dancer! I might even be pretty good at what I do!’

LIES! the number of super super uberstars who live in LA is almost unreal. there are 5 or 6 troupes here, each one rehearses at least twice weekly, and man, it shows. these people can DANCE, like ive never seen anyone dance.

it blew my mind!!!!!

dancing in between band sets in the big ballroom. this is a relatively empty floor!

just to summarize the highlights of the 4 nights and three days solid basically without sleep, I have to say, the Saturday night was the craziest thing i’ve ever seen.

the pro lindy comp, the showcases, they were INSANE. yes.

but none of them had ANYTHING on th UJC. the underground jitterbug championships. 2am. in a dim back room.

this was the nastiest competition i’ve ever ever seen. it was DIRTY, CRAZY,  think hellzapoppin type war. its not judged on skill, timing, technique.

this was pure entertainment. 😀

even before it actually got crazy, one couple flipped 14 lampposts in a row. in a row! everyone was yelling and counting them….

people were throwing money into the circle, and the music was jumping-at-the-woodside fast, and the crowd and the dancers were going nuts. people were just pulling out the most complicated and spontaneous areials ive ever seen, and STFOing like freaking CRAZY!

I kept expecting someone to pull out a knife 😀 carla heiney was in her slip, and kevin’s shirt was off, and laura keat was bleeding from her lip, and they were swinging out into each other to try and push each other off the floor, or trying to steal each others partners.

it was unbelievable. insane. freaking hardcore!!!!!!

and then it was 3am, and I was dying of exhaustion, but after seeing that, how can you NOT dance???!!!!!!

every night there was a gypsy jazz jam circle with jonathan stout (swing music god, plays weekly here) and mike faltesek and others, including this 17 year old clarinet player who is one of the most talented people ive ever met. (which, after knowing one bonita williams and others of her excellent calibre, is saying something!!) and every morning before class there was yoga warmups.

so, can anyone actually think of a way to make me happier? I challenge you! ive been here a week, it feels like a lifetime. LA is an amazing place.

In other news, i’ve made some new friends who are letting me stay with them, about to meet up with some old ones, am off to venice beach today and to seattle tomorrow afternoon!

this whole thing is a little too amazing for comprehension.

hooray!!! 🙂

And Countdown is a Go!

Hi guys!

thought i’d get this up and running. rolling on the river, you might say. strap in, and get ready for a veritable stream of terrible one liners in the fashion of that last one there.

T minus 6 days till blast off, and I really should get a to do list going. instead, I waste my time with this! haven’t even left yet, and its already clear that this will function solely as a serious tool of procrastination 😀

right. packing. NOW. 🙂