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PittStop Lindy Hop ’11

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What do you get when you combine 27 hours of dancing, five fantastic bands, the Steel City and the best group of people around? PittStop Lindy Hop; that’s what.

This was by far the biggest Lindy exchange I’ve ever been to.  The Facebook event had more than 200 confirmed guests, but I’m pretty sure the crowd was more than doubled that.  We packed several of the hottest Pittsburgh dance venues and even crashed a Bruce Springsteen concert (well, sort of…).

The adventure began with packing Vera (my car) with enough stuff to get five girls through a weekend of dancing.  We managed to fit four duffel bags, one suitcase three air mattresses and several bags of  miscellaneous stuff in the trunk of my tiny car.  And then we were off.  It was interesting being in a car with four exchange virgins.  As the only seasoned Lindy exchanger it was fun to see the other girls get excited about traveling.

If there’s one thing I learned from the drive to the ‘Burgh, it’s to listen to the GPS when she says there’s traffic ahead.  We sat for 20 minutes in traffic outside the city because of construction.  Next time I’ll make sure to listen to that annoying computer voice.  And then we came through the tunnel.  BAM!  The city skyline just hits you out of no where, and man, is it pretty.  All lit up at night, it kind of takes your breath away to see it so suddenly.  Second best skyline I’ve ever seen, but i may be a little biased.

So the start of a pretty good weekend, right?  A beautiful new city and great dancing?  Does it get any better?  Actually it does when you throw your best friends into the mix.

So the girls and I make a whirlwind entrance to the merry sounds of Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators.  It was fantastic Lindy Hop music mixed with some faster tunes, enough to satisfy the Balboa dancers in the house.  Soldiers and Sailors Memorial  Hall also played host to a Bruce Springsteen concert that night and us Lindy Hoppers got a sneak peek at the backstage workings on our way up to the dance floor.  I’m not gonna lie, I was really hoping Bruce would crash our dance.  No suck luck, though it was cool knowing he was two floors below us.

After the band played their final notes, we headed over the the Pittsburgh Opera Building to blues it up to the the Solomon Douglas Swingtet.  Their blues set was a little fast for my taste, especially after having been in a car for so long, but it was wonderful music nonetheless.  It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

Once I had danced myself out Friday night, I crashed hard.  Thanks to Michelle Tomczyk for letting us use her house.

Saturday afternoon, dancers once again descended on Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, this time without the Bruce Springsteen crowd below us.  The DJs for the afternoon were spinning some great tracks and got the crowd dancing to every tempo under the sun: slow like blues, a comfortable Lindy, even ridiculously fast Bal tempos.  It was awesome.  Props to you guys, you all played great sets.

Dinner Break.

There was more dancing at Soldiers and Sailors that evening, accompanied by Gordon Webster, his band and the lovely voice of Naomi Uyama.  Now, I’ve had Naomi as a dance instructor before, but I was floored when I figured out she could sing.  She’s got a wonderful voice.  I think this may have been my favourite performance of the weekend.  Their pianist was also a lot of fun to watch, he played with some real zeal.  Oh, and I forgot to mention the trumpet player.  And the trombone player and the saxophone player.  Oh, ok, all of them were pretty awesome.  When the brass players parade off the stage and through the middle of a jam circle, you know you’re doing it right.

After a quick break, we were once again dancing in the Pittsburgh Opera Building.  Gordon Webster made a repeat appearance at the late night and played a spectacular blues set.  So, I lied.  This was my favourite performance of the weekend, if only because I love blues.  It was some of the best music I’ve danced to in a long time.

After the band played its last song, one of the dancers tickled the ivory of the piano and played a few impromptu blues numbers.  Reports say that there were some beautiful dances to these songs.

The crowning jewel of the weekend had to be Sunday afternoon when Pittsburgh’s own Boilermaker Jazz Band played at Carnegie Mellon University.  They had a great variety of tunes to play for us dancers.  I was so excited to see these guys play.  I had heard so many great things about this band and was so pumped to hear them.  They have played across the country and around the world.  Did you know their music had been played on So You Think You Can Dance?  These guys are legit.  With that said, you never know what kinds of interesting interviews might pop up on here…

Unfortunately, due to school work and the long drive back to Athens, I didn’t get to attend the Sunday evening dance, but I heard that Rick Matt’s Little Big Band rocked the dance floor.

All in all, PittStop was a wonderful event.  I loved it, although I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people there.  It was a little intimidating seeing all of those great dancers all in one place.  I realized that there is such a variety of styling and styles of dance that I can never possibly know it all.

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About Olivia

Vintage fanatic. Dancer. Armchair physicist. Polymath. Cat-killing curiosity. Wearer of many hats.

7 responses »

  1. This was an absolutely wonderful weekend! Im so glad that my second Pittstop exchange was even close to as great as my first in 2010 ^_^ ! The coordinators did an awesome job! ❤ I like your blog Olivia . keep it up

    Reply
  2. PittStop was such a great way to explore a new city!!! This exchange was awesome and Im so glad I had this kind of experience at my first out of state exchange! I don’t know about anyone else, but I need to work on my endurance!! These guys dance to some fast stuff!

    Reply
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