“Meet Me in St. Louis” is the GateWay
to the West … COAAAST SWING!!!
Crystal Auclair & Katie Slater
It was very important and personal to them to ensure fairness and kindness in all aspects of the event.
“Meet Me” is a kinda DOWN HOME convention.
Many of us might not succeed at SwingDiego or MADjam but we get a real shot at “Meet Me.”
The majority of attendees were
The event is growing like crAAAzy and will begin to attract more people from neighboring regions and abroad.
Rebecca Ludwick & Jon Young
St. Louis is a great dance destination. Sure, the event was AAAwesome, but a BIG reason to attend is the AAAmazing historically significant location.
The signature “Arch,” right on the Mississippi River, represents the start of the human journey that helped shape our modern world.
Even Lewis & Clark slept there!
This is the land of Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer’s adventures!
And then headed out to the American plains!
This is where the north stood up to the
slavery of the south.
Later on in this article, there will be lots more travel details.
The event began with an
emotional tribute to
A legend in the dance world, Jack passed away earlier in the week.
The guy made an immeasurable contribution.
We should all be so special that rooms full of people cry at our passing.
Then, the PAAARTY really got STAAARTED!!!
The music was OuttAAA-Site!
They kept us up dancing till all hours of the night.
Each song was better than the one before and it never stopped.
This is the single most important event quality.
Forget it if they can’t bring the tunes!!!
Angel Figueroa was Head Judge and then there was …
Matt & Crystal Auclair, Beata Howe, Jason Miklic & Sophy Kdep, Doug Rousar, Brennar Goree, Jason & Annmarie Marker, Kris Swearingen & Rebecca Ludwick, Jeanne DeGeyter, Bryan Jordan, Shawn & Kristen Moody rounding out the talent.
To heck with those overpriced and overrated pros.
We benefit with lessons by Jordan & Tat or Kyle & Sarah – but who can they point to and say:
“I trained them!” (?)
Most everyone who competed at this event were PROTÉGÉS of the staff.
When have we seen that at an event?
At Desert City Swing, a bunch of Europeans and Asians swooped in to collect all the trophies.
Our jaws dropped as
we got our clocks cleaned. (Lotta talent around the USA that shoulda been there.)
I’d like to see more
Mid-westies at DCS.
The teachers at “Meet Me” can confidently send their Westie-chicks to give-em’ some REAL competition!
Thursday night opened with Live Blues by Brother Yusef.
The locals came out in mass for the occasion.
His music is indigenous
to the region and highly appreciated for its influence
upon the dance.
The experience was refreshing and a good reason to come on Thursday night.
It was so Spectacularly AAAmazing to see our
Natalie Gorg & JC Bryant
Isn’t it always the beginning of an event that’s the most special?
Oh yeah, Strictly prelims were also held then.
And, lots of dancing – and finally – pizza!!!
I luvvved how the comps at this event were judged. People who did not make finals were not victims of a situation. It wasn’t the fault of our partner – or the judges – or not being able to be seen on the floor.
Not making finals wasn’t because of poor organization or favoritism.
In many regions, fairness is a
Etta Berkland & Andrew Moreley, Int J&J Finals
Here, people work at their craft, keep trying and eventually they get really good.
Saturday morning was all about workshops for people who actually get up in the morning! But, the main event is always the Jack n’ Jills. Again, everything was done very fair and those who brought it … made finals.
Things were late, but relatively smooth and we were having too much fun to care anyway.
The only problem was:
It’s the consolation prize for those of us who spend a lot of $$$ trying to learn to dance in our old age.
We devoted our youths to
paying dues …
and taxes …
and paying for EVERYBODY else!
Crystal Auclair & Dwight Miller
(Masters is likely to be on the schedule next year). However, this division needs to go on FIRST.
we take a little warming up but when we get going …
we’ll give you a HeLLuVa ride!
These teachers presented numerous students and helped them do their best in front of the judges.
Scores give dancers an idea of where they fit in the scheme of things and how it’s going over time.
Lori Rousar & Marc Carter
However, there was only one place that would do it for us …
The Steak ‘n Shake!!!
It’s kinda kitschy, old-timey and hokey …
and I LOVE THIS PLACE!
It’is exactly the right time and place for a S’mores milkshake and a BBQ burger smothered in bacon.
The cheerful décor is all red & white and the wait staff is a bunch of puppies still in school who have little idea what they are doing.
(And haven’t yet developed an attitude).
After our massive and AAAstounding pig out, we were ready for more DANCING!!!
There was lots of social dance built into the weekend. The performances did not go on too long and were really worth watching.
She sits on the floor, in the middle of everything …
like an actual participant. Maybe
that’s why she’s so on target with her videos and photos.
Beck and DJ Tim Johnson are also a heck of a dance teaching team in the Detroit area.
Brad Whelan is a celebrity photographer with a sometimes
off-beat sense of humor.
Brad often surprises his subjects.
He does portraiture well and sometimes gets these epiphanious shots.
His big contribution to the event is offering people the chance to see themselves immediately.
Brad had an outrAAAgeous dance with Annmarie Marker in the Invitational J&J. Their personalities match very well. They both dance outside the box.
Annmarie has the unique ability to make her partners feel comfortable.
The evening actually started out with ProAm routines. These people don’t know how lucky they are. A lot of places have no NO decent pros. In my region, Dave Damon & Yuna Davitan are the only ones doing this kind of thing north of DC. And their students ROCK!
Matt & Heather Douglas danced to “In My City” by Priyanka Chopra.
Heather was fabulous!
And her children, mother and charming fiance (Joe Thompson) were there to see it!
That’s the way to encourage kids to dance.
She was HOT in the Pro Strictly with Texan Trent Haynes, and then performed with her student Chris Bacon, to “Lights” by Corey Gary.
Melissa may be a rare beauty but she made Chris a SuperStar.
Everyone Melissa touches turns turns to gold.
The man can dance!
He and his partner, Lauren Assaf (another budding star), entertained us to“What A Feeling” by Kelly Rolland.
But that’s not the point.
We often get the feeling that is only the young and beautiful who succeed.
Well, sometimes the not-so young and beautiful can out-do the other 9 entries!
In Classic Division, Billy Marti & Veronica Castilla performed their new routine to “Vision of Love” by Kris Allen.
But, teaming up with Veronica was the smartest thing he ever did.
That little girl was a stick of yellow dynamite!
We all know Victor is some kinda musical genius and Kendra is a rocket ship full of talent.
Well, wait till the world gets a load of this routine! Can’t tell you much … like everyone else in the ballroom …
I was overwhelmed by the sight of Kendra’s IMPRESSIVE rack, hoisted up in a RED bra (an engineering marvel).
Kendra is the only person I ever met who upstaged herself! It’ll be interesting to watch Super-Talented Kendra integrate all of her ASSETS into this material.
By the way, the east coast sure got lucky, Gary landed a job in our region!
After all of that … and after lots of social dancing … we managed to actually work up an appetite. Breakfast was served about midnight and table seating was provided so that people could sit around and chat. It was a nice feature.
(Frankly, with such great music, I couldn’t be bothered to go to bed early enough to get up for them).
And, the Pièce de résistance: “$10 for 10 Minutes with the Pros.”
Lewis Chan (right) said:
“This was definitely a highlight! The pros gave top notch instruction, delivered in an efficient and friendly manner. The monies raised went toward development of west coast swing for local youth. Kudos to the organizers for the excellent initiative and to the pros who donated their time and expertise.”
The atmosphere was very comfortable … a
Chinny Hoan & Bryan Jordan
Saying “so-long” to my
favorite Mid-westies is always bittersweet.
I have made wonderful friends in this region. What a treasure it is
to be able to swoop down and spend the weekend in their company.
But, we don’t ever say “goodbye.“ Instead we say:
“See ya at Tampa Bay!
See ya at Cashbash!!
See ya at Spotlight!!!
The free hotel shuttle happily dropped us off at the Metro station by the airport.
We were able to get to the downtown area in about 30 minutes.
Anticipating lots of sightseeing, we purchased day passes for $7.50 to use the trains and buses.
Once downtown … the St. Louis Arch awaited. What an experience! http://www.gatewayarch.com/
Underground, there is a bunch of interesting exhibits about the western expansion. Also, there is an “elevator” which took us to the top.
Completed in 1968 and maintained in the original style, this unique transport system consists of egg shaped pods which lift groups of 5 to the top.
There is a low and narrow viewing area with little windows, on the side facing Missouri and the other facing Illinois. (Sorta like a 1960′ TV spaceship.)
The Arch is 630 ft. at its base and 630 ft. high.
Walking inland from the Arch (which is located on the Mississippi River), we had the chance to see the historic courthouse … famous for the Dred Scott decision.
Basically, slaves Dred & Harriett got the bright idea to sue for their freedom based on the doctrine of “once free, always free.”
A Master couldn’t take slaves to states where it was illegal to own people and then drag them back to where it was legal.
This wasn’t an easy fight and the complicated, long and winding road of litigation took up much of the Dreds’ lifetime.
Wonder how two born and bred slaves got the chutzpah and buck$ for this vicious fight? (Guess they were born with the right stuff!) It was a lovely summer day (at the end of September) and we wandered about the downtown area to see the gardens and unique views that included the Arch. There were fountains and water features that everyone made use of. (Get ya arrested in NYC!)
While downtown, we decided to try the local fare.
“Fried Ravioli” is to St. Louie what “Ceasar Salad” was to Tijuana. A mistake that got marketed into fame.
Just who do they think they’re messing with? I’m from New York City. FUGETABOUTIT!!!
There is all kinds of stuff to spend the day doing in downtown St. Louis. Mark Twain riverboat rides, hop on and off buses, museums, parks, etc. This is a a great way to get some culture without missing dancing!
In addition, the hotel was situated right by a Jack In The Box, Waffle House, Steak & Shake, Denny’s and Rally’s. All the fast food we could eat!
And then there are the ones that I attend every year.
Spotlight and Michigan Classic in Detroit – for sure!
Never miss Cashbash in Cleveland!
Luv Desert City Swing in Phoenix!
Tampa Bay Classic and Liberty in New Jersey are always on my always on my calendar.
Chris Edwards & Jena Mabrey
And now: Meet Me in St. Louis joins that list.
Crystal & Katie!
You guyz are AAAmazing event directors and fine human beings. Discovering your world has changed mine. http://www.meetmeinstlouissdc.com/