What I did on my Hullidays

A combination of notes on the lessons and general diary stuff about Hullzapoppin, a dance camp in Hull. I don’t always make these public out of a vague fear of the lindy blogsphere descending on me and telling me what I got wrong, but what the HellHull. Possibly only of interest to dancers, though the rest of you may be interested in the part with the blow up doll, I suppose.

Friday

u6EDiUp the A1 and over the Humber bridge to Hull. A nun walking in the grounds of the Endsleigh Centre welcomed us in and wished us a lovely weekend. We registered and got our wristbands: Intermediate Advanced ones were black, which goes with everything.

We stayed in Westfield House, which was great. It’s a big house in a leafy suburb of Hull. All of the 4 rooms were occupied by lindy hoppers, as it turned out. The landlady made the breakfast room available at all hours, which came in handy for late night toast parties. Unfortunately, the house is on the market, so we may not be able to stay there next year.

We ate in Fudge, which seems to be the subject of some sort of smear campaign on Trip Advisor but which was rather good.

Back to the Endsleigh Centre for the Friday night dance. It was crowded but manageable. I danced with once of the teachers without realising she was a teacher, so don’t technically deserve my Courage Wolf meme, but managed not to totally embarrass myself.

Saturday

Loaded up on cereal and bread, then off to the first lesson. Bobby and Kate gave us some sugar push variations and styling based on the Swing Fever clip (specifically this bit).

The main thing I remember about that for leaders was making them crisp, tapping the left foot on 3 and then allowing the body to fall onto it on 4 to lead the follow away without any arm yanking. On the triple step which follows, if we’re styling it like the film clip, the leader’s sitting a bit and allowing his feet to go further in front of his body than we might usually do. Then there was the variation of 1,2, kick across, down instead of 1,2, tap, down.

We then had lunch, which was provided by proper caterers and was very nice.

Then it was Cat and Cam for more sugar pushes. The point was to play with it a bit by either stopping the follower and taking yourself away backwards and reconnecting to bring them back in, or not quite stopping them and then taking you both backwards. There was some other nice stuff, but the marquee was hot and my brain was melting by then so I don’t remember any of it.

We then got kick ball changes with everything from Jenny and Sinclair. I think they sneaked up on scissors without blowing everyone’s minds, which was quite an achievement at that late stage in the day. I also remember the point that you needn’t just kick to the front: there’s behind and to the side available too, plus ronde (or sweep as they say in swing land) following kick or vice versa. There was also a nice thing to do on beat 1&2 of a swingout where you’d raise your left knee and your whole body in a sort of Hup! feeling.

Photograph by Barry Crabtree.
Photograph by Barry Crabtree.
Because we weren’t quite dead yet and like balboa, we hung around for the “intermediate taster” session. Bobby and Kate taught a move from the Venice beach clip from 1938 (about which Bobby has done an impressive amount of research), specifically what the couple all in white do about 8 seconds in. This was a couple of inside turns (follow turning anti-clockwise) orbiting the follow clockwise with some quite Samba maypole footwork (but without as much bounce). As the follow comes around for the third turn, when her hand is coming towards you, switch your hand left to right and then lower the hand as she completes the turn so it ends up behind her back with her wrapped into her right arm. To do this safely, you need to bring the follow’s hand low and then up again so her arm is behind her and across her lower back. You can then step in closer do a come-around to roll her out again at the end, or do some cool leg slidey business which I have on video but will not attempt to describe here.

After this, we ate a decent barbecue, went back to the B&B and changed for the “wildly glamourous” theme, which for me involved putting on a dinner suit and improvising some cuff-links out of cling film (whenever we go away to an event I always forget the cuff-links). The main hall was heaving and hot. The organisers had improvised air conditioning using electric fans outside the hall, bin liners to catch the air and flexible tubes through the windows to pump the air into the hall. I get paranoid/annoyed about the risk of kicking people or getting kicked, so I retreated to the marquee, which was cooler and less crowded. More events should have marquees. At some point, someone wearing an Advanced wristband told me I’d be OK in her level (I am sceptical but flattered), and a different someone told me she suspected I was the “smiley Cambridge guy” who her friend in Int/Adv had said was a good dancer. So that was nice.

There was an afterparty, but we had our own one in the B&B’s late night toast room before retiring. Going by Sunday’s afterparty, ours was probably a bit more sedate than theirs.

Sunday

Mickey and Gaby with a thing to do after that Swing Fever style sugar push, namely 4 walks back leading the follower forward and then to do an inside turn by lifting the left hand starting on 3 but keeping both hands so she ends up wrapped, then tripple forward, tripple backwards, kick to the front and bring the foot to the back and ball change (1 &2), tripple prepping a tuck turn (all still in the wrapped hold), then leading a double turn under the left arm (step step tripple). Style and technique-wise, it was good to get out of the way as the follower walks in and absorb her momentum, then stay low for the two tripples (forward and back). It was OK to use the right hand to impart some momentum as you let go with it into the double turn.

Lunch happened and was even better than the previous day. There was also a band playing hot jazz stuff, so we did some balboa out on the decking.

Then on to more Sinclair and Jenny, this time trying to encourage us to make stuff up in the dance more (leaving the follow free for a bit, also doing call and response stuff), and also pointing out that when the music is fast, not every move needs to be completed in 8 beats.

I was now ded, and missed the last Int/Adv lesson on the grounds that it seemed to be learning a routine and was in a room with lots of heating pipes in it. Having recovered by sitting in the sun for a bit, we went back for more Bobby and Kate balboa, this time a walk through move which comes from Maxie Dorf. Starting from a point where you’re pivoting clockwise on the left foot for a slow beat (3,4 typically, they started it with out-in-pivot), finish side by side (slight V shape, I think) and on 5 bend legs to lower and move to a more cuddly hold (right arm further around, sides of bodies close or touching), then on 6 step forward on outside foot and rise in the leg (but not the foot) pushing the inside leg through to land on 8. Variations: slow it down to land on 1 or 2 instead; “fake out” by pushing off but not following through and instead taking inside leg back and sliding outside to join it; do follow through and land as normal but push off again and take the inside leg through the move in reverse, then side outside to join it. Finish with out and in and pivot.

At this point there was a tea and cake thing, but we went back to Fudge for a hot meal and turned up when Sunday evening’s dance was in full swing. We immediately made for the marquee again. They temporarily shut it to get people to watch the batshit aerials competition, featuring knights on horseback, wrestlers and a blow up doll.

We made for the afterparty in a church hall in a slightly less salubrious bit of Hull. Messrs Pedroza and White were on the DJ station and the foghorn and gunshot sound effects, respectively. There wasn’t any Blues but I don’t really get Blues so I didn’t mind. The music took a turn for the modern and people (not me!) showed that they could dance the hip hop as well as the lindyhop. I think we got to bed around 3.

Summing up

It was fun. I like camps with food and friendly nuns. At some point we were looking for a lunch table and there was space near to Chazz Young, so we sat near him (and then were too star struck to talk to him much, but he had his daughter there so this wasn’t too awkward). Bobby White’s enthusiasm for the roots of balboa was infectious. If you had to criticise the event, I think it was a shame that the crowd density made me run away to the marquee and miss Tessa Smith, but at least there was an overflow space and clearly not everyone is as paranoid as me, so people could choose the place they were happiest.

I’d go back next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *