Swingin’ New England!

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized
Picture Courtesy of Erik Novoa
And – Erik & Anna’s Students!

Fall leaves were still full of color, temperatures were mild – AND SWINGIN NEW ENGLAND blew the ozone layer off the whole friggin’ region!!!

 Over 1000 dancers turned up to swing (lindy & west coast), salsa and tango their ba-donk-a-donkeys off!
Willow’s Shoes
Pic Courtesy of Erik Novoa

SwinginNewEngland is an annual 3-day weekend dance extravaganza PACKED into 2 days in the middle of November.

SNE is as unique as co-event director Willow Colson Wall’s shoes! She and her Dad, Neil Klein,run this event every year. 

Every girl should be able to bond with her father this way!  

Ben Morris with Kellese Key
Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow

70 hours of workshops were offered with all the GREATS:

Angel & Debbie Figueroa, Michael & Leann Norris, Robert Cordoba & Debora Szekely, Ramiro Gonzalez, Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz, Michael Kielbasa, Melina Ramirez, Arjay Centeno & Jen DeLuca, Brent & Kellese Key, Rob Glover, Larry & Heidi Mongeau, Jennifer Lyons, Erik & Anna Novoa, Eric Jacobson, Maria Cirino.

Simonida & Vladan
Pic Courtesey of Erik Novoa

And that’s not all!

Davis Thurber, Natalie Rueda & Byron Alley and Nina Gilkenson taught Lindy; Mambo PaTi, Salsa Matei and Amanda Gill taught salsa; Armando Nuria, Roger Wood and Simonida & Vladan taught Argentine tango.

There were even more teachers but it becomes monotonous to keep listing them!
Picture Courtesy of Jun Ogata

TheBookends” competition sets this event apart from all others. Nowhere is there anything like this team competition where “OUTRAGEOUS” is the keyword.

A Cubed Ensemble featuring
Zosia Newell, Melissa Zeitz, Sue Heintz,
Jill Cayen on right.

Pic Courtesy of Jun Ogata

We had the pleasure of watching the legendary Ramiro Gonzalez, from Dallas, TX, perform with Robert Cordoba.

Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow

Neil Klein and Marc Levetin dressed up insnazzy cow suits. 

Pic Courtesy of Jun Ogata

Rob Glover and Joe Mahoney imitated Laurel & Hardy.

They were better than the orginals!

This event drew enough Canadian dancers to fill the whole right side of the room. Neil Klein’s college dance protégés took over the whole left side of the room.

And then there was S-Factor” - our Dallas peeps and performers extraordinaire – set up at a table front and center.

Really nice gesture by the event organizers.

Everyone loved meeting and watching them perform.
More importantly, they brought inspiration, fresh ideas and fit into the community so well – they coulda been born here!
The crowd was awesome Saturday night!! We truly enjoyed Teams Division and Bookends! Moreover, the trip highlight was when the Pros imitated S-Factor’s exit off the floor, wrapping up Pro-Strictly! We are so humbled at the impact of our routine on others!!”  Lasonda Campbell
 Yeah – it really was that Cool!
Carefully mixed throughout the room, were numerous dance club tables from all over the region making it easy to mix, mingle and find dance partners. It all flowed very well.

Meet THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE! While most of the workshops were excellent – Angel & Debbie Figueroa blow the tops off the charts.

Everywhere I go in America and Canada – their material is regurgitated (ditto Angel’s jokes)!

Leaders tell me that they get everything and feel successful – and that their classes are like a Party!

Check it out – Debbie continues to amaze!

She and Michael Norris came in 1st in the Champion’s J&J.

Mother wifeteacher of many years –
she’s one HOT Mama

Since I’m being bugged to keep it more real, I gotta say something about Michael Kielbassa, Arjay Centeno and Jen DeLuca.
Mikey with Melina Ramirez
Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow


Michael is normally a good teacher and all around good guy.

I don’t know what he had been doing all Saturday night – but it had nothing to do with Sunday’s lesson preparation!

He tried to give a workshop without a partner – what a mistake!

That takes Angel’s skills. People were really frustrated watching him dance around by himself and let him know it – loudly! 

Hey Mikey – next time you’re short handed – grab one of the advanced girls – give her a
 REAL thrill!

Arjay Centeno & Jennifer DeLuca sometimes don’t go over very well.

From the leaders’ comments when they rotated to me, most had no idea Arjay & Jennifer were trying to make a point.

Those who figured there was a point – never figured out what that point was.

Most thought them to be surly and condescending.

Me too.
Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow
TheirMonkey See – Monkey Do” workshop was very effective and very much enjoyed, however. Not talking obviously helps.
But, ya know, Debra Szekely can be very loud – she can really let us have it – still, she is never mean or rude or superior.
Look, so-called “Advanced Dancers” (largely) do not take the workshops.

These students are pre-intermediate level and they’re working on connection and timing. They are not dumb.

They are doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs.

When Arjay taught with Melissa Rutz, there was better personality balance. Teaching with his fiancé, Bridget, it is more pleasant. I think Arjay should do a Robert Royston.

Pam with Klaus Dobler in Novice Strictly
Pic Courtesy of Jun Ogata

Loved Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz together. We want to see them more! Melissa reminds me of country western legend, Meredith Stead, who reined supreme on the east coast for many years.

Thanx God – for making another one!!!
I couldn’t take lessons with all the teachers so I asked around for a few quotes:
PamMarshallsaid: “I only had a chance to take one workshop – Rob Glover … he was excellent! Great delivery and content. It was tagged as Intermediate but it was really great for everyone as it was about body flight and carriage. Everyone seemed to love it!
Ms. New York anonymous said: “The ones that were special for me were Michael and Leann Norris. They showed us how to add sweet shag footwork into our WCS! Doug Stilton showed how a simple change in a leader’s prep makes a world of difference.”
Special Teachers’ Mention goes to Erik & Anna Novoa (frequent and generous photographic contributor to this series).  www.SwingShoes.Net
Pic Courtesy of Erik Novoa

Cindy Drury & Harold Zuckerman premiered their duo in Novice Strictly.

It was charming to witness the birth of this dance partnership.

They have Erik & Anna Novoa to thank for their prolific support – the Connecticut pros to go to!

Pic Courtesy of Erik Novoa


And they are not the only students of the Novoa’s to do well! Erin Santa placed 1st in the Novice Jack n’ Jill, Josh MacDonald placed 4th in the Advanced Jack n’ Jill.

Josh is a children’s P.E. teacher. This will come in real handy with us adults!

Erik & Anna are the kind of teachers we treasure in our local dance communities.

No event is complete without the Jack n’ Jill competitions. Its a Love-Hate relationship! 
It’s “The Thrill of Victory and (Usually) the Agony of Defeat.”  

It’sThat Which Does Not Kill You, Makes You Stronger.”
It’s a reason to get dressed up and go out and BE SOMEBODY!
Jeffrey Wormald & Annie Breault
1 . Joe Banahan & Katharine Montgomery
2. David House & Bonnie Mak
3 .Vincent Stagno & Ansia Mezini
4. Jeffrey Wormald & Annie Breault
5. Brad Willis & Andrea Knight
Jerome Suey & Erin Santa
Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow


1. Jerome Suey & Erin Santa
2. Tony Hurtado & Catherine Vourlessis
3. Gabriel Indurskis & Stephanie Courtemanche
4. Ketema Lyles & Jacqueline Joyner
5. Stephane Roy & Cheryl Williams
Cheryl Williams & Morry El-Badry
Intermediate Strictly
Pic Courtesy of Jun Ogata

Quite a bit of effort went into judging this event. There were semis just for 46 entrants in Novice and 4 partner changes.

Although there seemed to be gender bias since not one older person made finals in Novice, after careful investigation, not so fast.

The real problem was with the rotation – it did not allow people to move around the floor – since it went front to back – not side to side.
Only half the judges moved to see contestants on their right.

By coincidence - that’s where most of the older contestants were located.

Robert Cordoba & Deborah Szekely danced on Saturday night and I was struck by their endless magical chemistry – despite the sad ending to their romance.
Robert is a relator and is going to Florida where the market is better.
And Deborah – who crashed into Boston like a tsunami and made everyone fall in love with her – is moving to Texas.
Arjay Dancing with Giselle Jagai

There was a $1 Taxi Dance - and individual contributions – which raised $3,700 for Ann Fleming who has been battling cancer – AGAIN.

(We hear she is doing well.)

When the pros put themselves on sale, dancers raced to the floor as if there was an earthquake!
Mindy Carter said: The dollar dance was the best $7 I have spent in a loooooooong time.”
Pic Courtesy of Jim Chow

As if this all wasn’t enough, Friday night there was a tango salon and on Saturday night Glenn Crytzer & His Syncopators performed live downstairs.


Lotsof people stayed up all night because the music was so amazing.
How do you go to bed when you can dance to the sounds of Ken Mercik, Joe Mahoney and Cher Peardon?

WhenI got back to NYC – all I heard for days – was how sore everyone was from dancing so much!

At Strictly Connolly’s in NYC, people dragged their tired ba-donk-a-donkeys in to dance on Tuesday night anyway.

That’s New York tough!


The event was held at the Newton Marriott – about 10 miles from Boston.

Its an okay hotel – but it used to be better before the management and most of the staff changed over.

Still, there is Starbucks in the lobby, Bruggers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Shaw’s Supermarket, a pizza place and a liquor store nearby.



Since the Marriott is located next to the Charles River, in the warmer months, Paddle Bostonrents boats.


There are also wonderful riverside walking trails to explore and enjoy the views near the hotel.


WorldWide Bus,located in Manhattan at 31st & 8th Ave., drops at the Newton Riverside Bus/Train station in 4 hours and only costs $50 RT.

There is free shuttle service to the hotel http://www.worldwidebus.com 

Debbie Bernard Figueroa with
her son Antonio and Erin Caron
Pic Courtesy of Jun Ogata
 Peopledanced with friends from neighboring communities.
  They competed and performed all weekend – in all kinds of events -
 and it was enough for a week long extravaganza.
   I couldn’t do it all!

 This is a not-to-be-missed event.

  New England knows how to put on a Party and welcome the whole world!


Julie Epplett – Toronto’s 1st Lady of WCS
West Coast Swing is ALIVE and ROCKIN in Toronto!!!
Visiting Southern Ontario (Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo or Niagara Falls)?
There is a friendly and welcoming west coast swing dance community – just waiting to dance with you!
Joanna Swanson &
Chris Matsuno (Phoenix, AZ)


There is plenty of dancing in the area,
but Toronto’s most regular location is Dovercourt – held every Tuesday night.

Julie Epplett, well known dancer and teacher on the WCS worldwide circuit, gives lessons and runs a dance at 9 pm at Dovercourt House.
Its the place to be! 
6:30 pm: Rising Star (Advanced)
7:15 pm: Level 2 (Intermediate)
8:00 pm: Beginner Lesson

Drop-Ins are welcome and the lesson + dance combo is only $15! Or, just pop in and dance for a measly $5!

The1stTuesday of the month is FREE Beginner Night! Walk in and check it out.
No commitment (nooooo hasslenooooo hustle).
Bluesey Tuesday is held the last Tuesday of the month. Lots of R&B tunes are cranked out all night long!!!

Simply take the subway to the west exit of Ossington Station and walk 2 blocks west on Bloor Street to Dovercourt Road (2nd floor).

Check out Julie’s website for more information about this – and – other local venues!

Giselle Jagai & Nick Valoroso
Elaine’s Ancaster Saturdays is THE local monthly Saturday event!
This includes very popular lessons and a dance at the Marshall Memorial United Church Hall, (20 Gilbert St, Ancaster, Ontario)
7:00 pm: Beginner Lesson
7:45 pm: Intermediate Lesson
Photographer and Local Dancer
Steve Randall

Every month there is a guest teacher and sometimes there are additional afternoon workshops.

Past instructors have included:

Julie Epplett, Stan & Pat Vandermolen,
Sean Browne, Nelson Clark, David Ward & Maria Ford and Maria Cirino.

$10 admission includes the wonderful dance and lesson immediately before.

(Afternoon workshops are priced separately.)

Perched atop the Niagara Escarpment and nestled
amongst theToronto, London, Kitchener-Waterloo
and Niagara Falls communities, Ancaster is an
adorable town dating from 1793.
 And just about an hour’s scenic drive
from most of these cities, too!

Zip Cars are everywhere in Toronto! If you are visiting for business or pleasure, grab a car for a few hours and check out this amazing city.  http://www.zipcar.com/

There is a 22 mile long lakeside park in Toronto, as well as numerous cosmopolitan sites and restaurants.
Ottawa Dancers: Donnie Neron (DaCube),
Daria M+,
Maria Ford, David Ward
Many of the local dancers are people you’ve met at west coast swing events all over the world.
They are always delighted to host guests at the local dance venues!



For more info on Elaine’s Ancaster Saturdays:

For more info locally check out Maria Cirino’s site:

Platinum Party!

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

PLATINUM PARTY was aBLAST last weekend!!!

It was a perfect fall evening and everyone was reallyin the mood to dance.

This MAGNIFICENT west coast swing & hustle event is hosted by Erik & Anna Novoa on the 3rd Friday of each month at Club 412 – NYC.
Wes Carrajat & Vivian Young

There was quite a turnout: The Best Dancers came from all over the tri-state: New York City and State, Long Island, Connecticut and all over New Jersey too!!!

Jen dancing with Evan Swartz

It might have something to do with the excellent choice of DJ for the party!

Erik sure knows how to pick them.

He got one of New York City’s TOP musicologistsJen Diener (the artist formerly known as Jennifer Czarkowski)

Some DJs play just what they want. Not Jen!

Since Jen was super-duper in the mood to dance – she was right out there in the middle of all the action and felt the vibe!

There was a little vintage R&B and the latest contemporary hits.

Leaders were just thrilled to dance with her.

Instead of calling her a “guest DJ” – coulda called her “guest dancer extraordinaire!”(Jen on right dancing with Josh MacDonald)


Erik & Anna start the evening with a 30 minute “crash course” in west coast swing. This is a wonderful review for rusty dancers and a great chance for newer dancers to get a little practice.


The most important element that Erik & Anna bring to this event is the way they so very carefully and considerately nurture Newbies.

This is the way to grow and support a dance community.

(Erik dancing with Eileen O’Brien on right)

  Erik danced with just about every
  follower in the room.

  He even danced with a few leaders!

  (Erik dancing with Steve Nereen on left)

This guy has been around a while and still beats the top pros in competition.

Last summer he knocked the audience out at Swing Fling down in DC in AllStar Jack n’ Jill with DC Doll: Deonna Ball.

(1st place - of course)


(SwingFling - Open Show Division)


Anna is every leaders’ dream follower. This is a girl who can be anything she wants to be in the whole world. Famous DancerDoctor of ScienceMrs. Erik Novoa.

Add “Nice Person to that list!

Albert Boulanger & Mary Carrajat

Quite a few of the attendees are regulars from all of NYC’s west coast swing dances: including Connolly’s Strictly Tuesdays, Gotham Swing Club, Festa Fridays and YSBD’s Swing & Salsa.

This bunch may have nothing in common – except dancing – and that’s plenty!

Josh MacDonald

When asked about the evening, everyone said it was a “feel-good” kind of dance.

People said it was very friendly and comfortable.

EVERYONE had a good time!!!


And then, too, there were a few DEAR Faces we haven’t seen much of lately – and have been really missed.

Greg & Triffin Morris met while dancing – married – and now have Baby Abigail.

Everyone was delighted to see them!

Elisha Cohen Monzella

For the past 9 years, Erik has been throwing this combo hustle and west coast swing bash monthly on the 3rd Friday – it’s the New YorkPlatinum Standard!

Club 412 is at You Should Be Dancing Studios at 8th Ave. & 31st Street in Manhattan – near Penn Station, Path and NYC subways.

Check it out! Platinum is an awesome Friday night event!
There is bar and lots of space to dance.
What more could you ask for on a Friday night?

Admission is $15 and it includes the lesson (register on-line for $10).


Montreal Dance Festival 2012!

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Montreal West Coast Swing Dance Festival deserves an award for Best New Dance Event of 2011!

Canadians really GET this scene. It was soooooo amazingly “merveilleux”– I’m betting it will be the next BIG thing!!!

Friendly, warm with a refreshing approach to teaching – fair (and fast) competitions – and LOTS of social dancing! 

It took the courage of young Canadians to try new ideas without worrying about crazy politics, dinosaur era procedures and pleasing a bunch of jerks.

They just did what they thought was best. Was it all perfect?

     Noooooo way! But who cared? We were having too much fun!

The SuperStar cast of teachers included: Jordan Frisbee & Tatianna Mollman; andMichael Kielbassa & Jessica Cox. 

Also teaching and judging were New England pros Bill Cameron & Yuna Davytan; and Maria Ford & David Ward from Ottawa (making their judging debut).

The event was MC’d by Rob Glover who kept everyone laughing all weekend.

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he responded that he might like to be the next Simon Cowell!

Anda professional comedian -Broadway star and movie idol.

   Only this guy can take corny old jokes and make them fresh again.

One thing about Canadians that I quickly learned is they are very friendly and enthusiastic!

Almost everyone takes the lessons and participates in the competitions.

West coast swing is newer to them and they are ever so “appréciez” of this art form!

The event had a magical quality – probably because:

THE FIRST THING THEY DID RIGHT was treat people nicely when we came to register.
The minute I walked in I felt comfortable.
That doesn’t usually happen because people are too busy being “très” important!
They made me feel at home and I knew from the very start that it would be an exceptionnel”weekend.
Nice people run nice events.

The Next Thing They Did Right was change the lesson structure. Advanced level required screening. Everyone loved it – even those who were disappointed.

The rest of the lessons were divided into Levels 1 & 2 and given in two hour blocks with the same teachers.
This procedurehelped us dig a little deeper. Level 1 was misunderstood a bit.
It was actually basic technique for ALL levels but some people thought it was just for beginners.

And the lessons – all levels – were goooooooooooooooooooood!

The Next Thing They Did Right was pick a really great location. Although we were at a Holiday Inn by the airport, it was easy to get downtown where most of the siteseeing is.

This year, however, the event is being held in centrally located Delta Centre-Ville. 

Old churches, museums, the ballet, shops, abound in the old town.

Take the OrangeLine on the subway to “Place D’Armes” and you’ll be right in the middle of it all.

The design of this city is a work of art - architecture is an enthralling mixture of new steel and old stone.

Check out the grocery stores but don’t expect to see all your favorite American products – these Canadians have “très” better stuff!

The Next Thing They Did Right is keeping competition and performance to a minimum and running them efficiently.

No stupid competitor meeting here!

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Open Strictly, and combined Intermediate/Advanced competition on Friday night.

There were many more entrants for Newcomer and Novice.

Judging seemed to be careful.


Saturday night had a short and entertaining show.

The Westie Bombers team from Ottawa gave a great performance!

There was also dancing by Jordan & Tat, Michael K. & Jessica.


Maria Ford & David Ward performed their “Temporary Insanity” routine for the last time. 

It was better than ever!

A new routine is in the works to a hard-driving blues song.

Maria says: “…we are both looking forward to being able to smile at each other (and the audience) in this one! LOL! We’d like to keep the song under wraps until we debut…”

Tat & Davis Thurber

There was also a Lindy style dance Jam – reminiscent of WCS in NYC back in the 90′s.

Hadn’t seen this for quite a while - time to bring it back - eh?

What WASN’T included was the “Wobble.” Some of us are sick and tired of this line dance!

My Thanx to the organizers for giving it a rest!

The Next Thing They Did Right was have a whole lot of social dancing!

Out west, events are still torturing dancers with endless competitions and performances. Not here!

California is soooo passé!

Everyone danced with everyone else – there was a good ratio of leaders to followers and level was not a bar. 

Frankly, some of the beginners were étonnamment good and I am anxious to return next year and see how far they have come. 

We thoroughly enjoyed the DJs – particularly Ottawa boyz OldsKOOL and DaCube (Left).

There was even a little by Rob Glover and Davis Thurber.

It was all good and trés difficult to call it a night.

ONE MORE THINGCanadian men!
VaVa Voom! Gorgeous & young – or Balding & paunchywhatever!
“Très magnifique!”

Special mention to the Newcomer and Novice level winners.  


1. Randolph Peters & Catherine Harvey
         (Pictured on left)
2. Marie-Josee Tardif & Sonya Dessurault
3. Dani Davidov & Natalie Madison
4. Julie OBrien & Marie-Julie Plasse
5. Thomas Clyde & Alisha Ruiss


1. Jerome Subey & Claudia Joyal Laplante
2. Jason Ng & Cheryl Williams (Pictured on Right)
3. Travis Mattte & Eveleen Sung
4. Ken Kreshtool & Vanessa Keroak
5. Dominique Morin & Gwendoline Bugnot


Jordan Frisbee & Jessica Cox

Tragically,Ann Fleming has cancer – AGAIN – and a “Taxi Dance” was held on Saturday night.
(She has since recovered magnificently!)

But, this was not her first time.  

We gladly donated money to dance with all the pros. 

Michael Kielbassa



Montrealhas amazing food! My friend and I went into the old part of the city to enjoy the sights.

As we strolled the original square, we were stopped by a charming maître de in front of a restaurant called “Acite.”

I ‘m a sucker for that Frenchie style sales pitch!
The café was located next to “Rue des Artistes” – a narrow, cobblestone street which must have hosted artists for centuries. 

 The mussels were amazing, but the “frites” ruined me for all other fries for life! Unfortunately, I also discovered “sugar pie.” Enter at your own risk! (410, place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal, Quebec)

Frankly, I had a Great Time at this event and was very satisfied.

However, if I may make a coupla suggestions? 


Michelle Blaike & JP Marchand

*Many of us had been traveling on Friday night and would have appreciated a snack. Midnight is a good time for pizza.
Breakfast on Saturday night was very forgettable and many people had a big dinner earlier anyway.
Let’s try something Fresh – like – desert?
 **People would also appreciate earlier finals on Sunday.

Many of us traveling from the States need extra time at the airport to go through Customs.

Ottawaaaas & Torontoes have really long drives home.

*** Perhaps it would be a better choice to raise money for charity is  an All Americanstyle Open Jack n’ Jill competition.

Everyone at every level – from beginner to pro for $20. Throw all the Pros in too!

Hold a raffle for judges.

***TOSHCdonated $600 to the winners in the competitions. I don’t understand this. Money is nice, but that’s not what we are there for!
It’s the damn points! Wouldn’t it be more useful to invest that money in next year? 
I‘ve been all over to events and one of the BIGGEST draws anywhere is personal critique sessions. 
**** Everyone has asked me if there was any Lindy at the event - hey guyz - I think that means you should add some! The addition of other styles of swing would be a big draw. (Update: Count on Lindy and Balboa in 2012)
What the whole world really needs to know is that although WCS is a small community in Montreal – there are comparable communities in Ottawa, Toronto, upstate New York (Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo) and a large WCS community in New England.
Add the whole eastern seaboard – Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, DCwe’ve got our own California with 14 annual conventions!
The northeast is where the Gold Rush of dancing is.
Montreal was a delightful treat.  
Canada has an amazing swing dance scene and these events are a wonderful way to see this country! 

Marine Fabre, Jim Chow, Fabiola Bonilla

Thanx To: Davis Thurber - Max Pitruzzella and everyone else who worked so hard to make this event happen – and to do it their own wayfearlessly!!!

See Ya Next Year“Chers Amis”!

Special thanx to Contributing Photographer: Jim Chow


Debra DiCello & Daniel Dance

Check it out! Dancing in Philadelphia is surging!

There are WEEKLY and MONTHLY venues – and a even a new dance convention.

Freedom Swing Dance Challenge premiers January 27-29, 2012.

Rob Baen Teaching

Dance Time in Marlton, New Jersey ROCKS the Philadelphia/Del Val area with west coast swing the 1st Friday of the month and Thursday evenings!


Every Thursday there are two west coast swing lessons offered at Dance Time of New Jersey, (36 West Route 70 in Marlton, New Jersey – near Philadelphia) at 8 pm and open dancing until 11 pm or later by popular demand!

Dave Wanzor & Ethel Watson

The 1st Friday of each month at Dance Time, we hold a lesson at 8 pm and a dance party that goes until at least midnight.

Last Friday was a SMASH! The place was packed and the joint was jumpin’!

Everyone enjoyed the workshop and DJ extraordinaire Rob kept the floor going til late.

The ratio of leaders to followers was almost perfect and the music as just mesmerizing!

Kyle Shenandoah & Cheryl Hammons Delmar

We love to have visitors join us.

Please come any 1st Friday or Thursday nights at Dance Time.

And – stay tuned for more information on Freedom Swings!

John Lindo is the event coordinator – so YOU KNOW it will be spectacular!

Rob Baen & Sheila Purkey are independent dance instructors in Philadelphia, PA.


Rockaway Sundays and Thursday Night California Mix is Better Than Ever!
It’s the dead of winter but we don’t care! 
Everyone’s favorite dance venues are in FULL swing! 
Sunday, February 12 (pre-Valentines’) was a major BASH!!!
Some of our favorite couples made the most of this speciaholiday.
 Justin Bozinta & Karen Dooley, pictured on the right, never fail to enchant us with their unique dance style!
100 people (at least) came to Robert Royston’s lesson and dance.
Denis Riley and Lee Mansfield DJ’d (and did a Great Job) since John Lindo was off spreading the joy of dance in Scottland (can you imagine him in kilts?)





People from Ithaca (Jun Ogata is pictured on the left) - New York CityPhiladelphia – all over New Jersey.

Robert Royston was the featured teacher and he is one of the very best in existence. 


Besides the quality of the lesson and the skill of the delivery there are the Jokes!  



The lesson was packed and so the dance floor all night long.

But where was NicolaRobert’s lovely wife (and super-duper dancer)? 

Surely, she is home looking after their children. 

However, just once, I think Robert ought to stay home and let her come to teach instead.

Nicola has lots to share with us and it would be refreshing.

How about it?



Let’s Dance Rockaway is a great place!

2,100 sq. ft. of dance floor!

It’s the kind of space you can really spread out and make yourself comfortable.

A quality night of dancing!!!




This is the real deal California Mix mix.


Plenty of bona fide progressive and nightclub Two-Step, West and East Coast Swing, Hustle, Cha-Chas, Waltz and a few line dances – including the latest “Wobble” craze.



There is plenty of space to do all those fancy patterns that always bang into other people 




Let’s Dance Rockaway: 100 Hibernia Ave.,
Rockaway, NJ (862.209.1330)

Lesson: 5pm, $20 

Dancing til 9pm

Cold dinner buffet included.




Thursday nights are now at the American Legion:
78 Westfield Ave., Clark, New Jersey (732 574-8374) 

Every Thursday night w/lesson at 7:30pm and dancing until 11:30pm – $10

It’s not actually on Westfield Avenue – rather – it is in the middle of the block on LIBERTY Street by the “Helicopter Canon.”  

Colorado is a hard act to follow. The American Legion may not be a super cool country bar.

But the drinks are a whole lot cheaper!

And the music hasn’t changed – nor the people. 

What more could we ask for?



This past Sunday was an amazing time!

It’s an opportunity to dance with our friends from neighboring communities – many of whom we have known for many years and only see at these wonderful events. 

A night of quality dancing such as this one leaves us all feeling cheery and full - a little more ready to go back out into the world on Monday morning.   

Coming up at Rockaway:

Phil LaMothe: NightClub 2Mar. 11

Diane Nardone: Hustle – Apr 15


June, July, August – SUMMER BREAK


Happy Valentine’s John and Thanx For All You Do!


Swing Niagara

Posted: October 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

I Drove All Night to Get to You, Swing Niagara – through torrential downpours – down dark and lonely roads.

Butit was worth it.
Maria Cirino, everyone’s favorite event organizer, madeDiamonds from the Rain”!
Swing Niagara Dance Championships is the Premier Swing and Hustle dance event held every year in Buffalo, New YorkSNis not a big and splashy extravaganza.It is small and kitschy, cozy and warm.

Swing Niagara, Toronto Swing & Hustle Championships and Cash Bash in Cleveland feel like one dance convention in three parts. Thank Goodness! So lovely to see the same people again and again and again!

the Toronto event in July ended, people did not say goodbye. Instead, they said “I’ll see you at Swing Niagara” – and they did.

The July mood in Toronto survived until September!

Most of these wonderful dancers are from the Rochester/Syracuse area and Canada.

But also there were quite a few traveling dance nutz from New York City, TEXAS, New England and the DC area (and even a few from Europe).

Jasmine Williams, pictured on the right is from Dallas. She is VERY WELL KNOWN for her photography and charm!  

When Jas walks into the room, it is never the same again.

Dancing with her is DJ OldsKOOL,” i.e., Andre Danis from Ottawa. (He’s very well known for his charm, too!)


Featured teachers included Mario Robau, Arjay Centeno & Jennifer DeLuca, Ronnie DeBenedetta & Brandi Tobias andStephanie McHenry Batista.

Brandi and Stephanie offer many ideas to help evolve our dance.

Mario has a timeless gift for staying current – fresh – funny. When he is 100 years old, I’ll bet he’ll be shufflingalong with his walker to these events and his classes will still be packed.Mario Robau is the gold standard – the lessons are full of leaders and everyone always gets everything.

These local pros gave awesome lessons too:

Billy Marti, Maria Ford, Stephanie Risser, Mike Topel, Nelson Clark, Julie Epplet are all amazing dancers. Veronica Castilla offered very popular salsa lessons.

But as teachers, they really reach their students. 

These instructors are the heart of our dance community.

We had all these SUPER-DUPER BIG shots …

More importantly, Louise Gour was a wonderful Floor SuperMom! LouLou and Bob, from Ottawa, are people everyone loves to see at these events.

They are friendly, kind faces.

We are very happy that they are teaching and participating in the competitive process.

Hopefully, one day, we’ll have the Ottawa Swing Dance Championships?


It is lovely to be back on the civilized east coast for a Jack n’ Jill (see Dallas Dance). We wouldn’t think of tormenting new dancers in Novice. Newcomer level exits so beginners can have an honest shot.

If there was ever any doubt that the old west lives on – just participate in one of those cattle drives they call a Novice competition. A travesty!

At Swing Niagara,the whole thing was done with much more care and concern.Judges took time to look at each person – really look– not just glance over and tick them off.

Jack n’ Jill Winners! 


1st  Martin Tamme & Caitlyn Picard

2nd  Jason Laska & Sae Young Jeong
3rd  Bill Bray & Chinny Hoan
4th  Ken Lemoire & Julie Broskey
5th  Jeff Wormald & Liz Gilbert



1st  Jerome Subey & Gwendoline Bugnot

2nd  Kyle Fitzgerald & Gretchen Eiferle
3rd  Jason Ng & Stephanie Courtemanche
4th  Billy Marti & Linda Frasta
5th  Jean-Paul Marchand & Jennie Hartman

In the group category – nothing will ever out-do Maria Cirino’s “Ima-Bee” performance.

However, she came up with a dancing nun routine that was funny, charming and delighted the audience.

I was disappointed that Maria, herself, couldn’t participate. She’s quite a light!

Last year Rene Lipman & Tommy Gibbs premiered their Rising Star routine which they entered into the Masters category. I did not think anyone could ever match the splendid performance! They beat all their competition to a pulp (including all those young things).

Julie Epplet & LarryHough raised the roof with their routine to Come Get Higher” by- Matt Nathanson. This was definitely the highlight of the night. People were on the floor whooping and hollering!

Once again, this Masters category routine beat out everyone in the open Rising Star competition.

There is nothing quite like witnessing a spectacular performance – by people you genuinely like and appreciate.


There were quite a few Pro-Ams at this event and just about everyone entered at some level – in both west coast swing and hustle.

The enthusiasm surrounding this category is the reason why so many dancers are becoming really good in Canada.


Joanna Swanson is a very popular Toronto teacher.

She premiered 9 students in 11 contests.

Toronto received the ProAm Cup because of Joanna and the many other Toronto teachers bringing their students to this event.

Jaclyn Chantler performed in hustle and said:

Joanna is a wonderful teacher who has an innate ability to bring out your inner dancing diva.  She can make even the most nerve racking experiences fun.”


These are the teachers we need in our dance communities. People who inspire us. 

Maria Ford – a major influence in Ottawa - featured 12 students.

Danny Ho performed in hustle and said:

“Before the Pro-Am, both David (Ward) and Maria encouraged me and when I was on the floor during comps…Maria’s smile and gentle following put me at ease. Even if I missed a beat or step, we both kept going and at the end her words made me smile and feel confident even more… “Danny, I’m proud of you.”

Swing Niagara is a fall vacation. I drove across Pennsylvania on I80W to enjoy some fall color.  It was an easy drive – no major cities with traffic – just scenic countryside.

At Williamsport, I turned north on US15N and I discovered the best part of this scenic trip. 

On US20A/RT78 there is a 35 mile stretch of road in the heart of Americana.

Farmland, roadside fruit and vegetable stands (pumpkins), antique shops, cafes with live music and cows!

The Adams Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo (the right armpit of America) deserves 5 Star hotel status - in Hell!!!
It gives new meaning to the term “DUMP.” You have to beg for towels, dodge homeless people pilfering cigarette buttes left by guests in front of the hotel (do you need another reason to quit?) and – OMG – the restaurant!

The last time I was in a restaurant run this badly – it turned out there was a casino in the kitchen. This staff act like they are in prison. Forget about buying a cup of coffee – they don’t have cups! And the food? I couldn’t wait long enough for an order.

Hey Maria – here is an idea – Saturday night you could hold a pre-Halloween Adams Family Reunion Party in the ballroom and everyone can dress up as their favorite Adams’ Family member. It would certainly be appropriate.
Next year, I’ll stay at the Embassy Suites or Hampton Inn down the street (just past the holding cell for criminals awaiting arraignment).

At least it is near the “The Spot.” Wonderful baked goods and fabulous coffee - outrageous breakfast sandwiches!

The place is filled with original art for sale, comfortable chairs and sofas and a Stunning wall sized mural by Tim Gaska which appears to be a fantasy representation of downtown.

Definitely one of the most special places – anywhere. http://www.spotcoffee.com/

Another very special experience is the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery in downtown Buffalo.
This building has been there since 1841 – when the area was “the most evil mile in America.”
Now, besides offering amazing beer and stick-to-your-ribs food – it is actually a church on Sunday mornings. http://pearlstreetgrill.com/

Niagara Falls is not that close and a car is necessary – although there is a city bus available if you have the time.

Visiting the Falls at night is very special. Colored lights are focused on the mist until midnight.

During the day, it isn’t as touristy as Americans might expect.

Sightseeing in Canada is very different, no pushy sales people at the Falls!

All in all, Maria put on a hell of a party. When everyone is nice, the music is amazing and the competitions are fair, we all have a good time. That’s all we really want. 

Maria Cirino…
for giving us a chance to meet and dance and share our lives in a way that few people ever get to.

After attending some yucky events elsewhere – I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to know and dance with so many awesome people!