Lots of dancers from Columbus and other nearby scenes headed out last weekend to the 10th annual Pittstop Lindy Exchange in Pittsburgh, PA, November 19-21, 2010. One of our Columbus regulars was kind enough to offer up her experience at the event so you can hear what you missed and get excited for next year!
Christina’s Pittstop Trip Report
This past weekend, I went to my first but the tenth annual Pittstop Lindy Hop. And it blew my mind.
Pittstop is a lindy exchange, which is a type of event that’s basically just dancing all weekend. There are no classes, but there are dances Friday evening and late night; Saturday afternoon, evening, and late night; and Sunday afternoon. Exchanges are held specifically for out of town dancers to come and partake of the dancing in the host city, and to make friends with people from other scenes. I’ve been dancing socially for a few years, but I just started attending this type of event within the last year. And I hadn’t been to anything as big as Pittstop, so I was really looking forward to it.
Immediately upon reaching the Friday evening dance venue, our group was swarmed with hugs and greetings. The lovely registration table ladies wanted to know if a bus had just arrived, because our arrival coincided with several other groups from Ohio and the lobby was a bit of a tornado. The actual Friday evening dance was a bit of a blur, but I do know that I spent more time dancing than standing around. (A note on dancing at exchanges: there are usually more follows than leads, so I did do a lot of asking people to dance, but never all weekend was I flat out turned down for a dance. Sometimes you’ll get deferred, but the leads are overwhelmingly gracious and mindful of who they’ve promised dances to.)
Friday late night was when we really started throwing down. And so did everybody else. The band played lots of lindy and some blues, and in a smaller room the DJ was a spinning slower stuff and some blues. I had my first dances with the incredible Baltimore crew. Our group closed out the late night, with the music getting killed around 4:30am, before heading out to our host’s house to crash, all 11 people that were staying there (Thanks, Jay and parents!).
Saturday we went to all three dances, the afternoon, evening, and late night. The music just kept getting more awesome, with the Saturday evening dance music provided by the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn. These guys, and the Boilermaker Jazz Band on Sunday afternoon, were my favorite music of the weekend. Saturday evening was also “dress to impress” night, and everybody came all fancied up, which was super fun and, with the beautiful ballroom we were dancing in, evocative of a more genteel time. I usually dress to the minimum level of formality, and am often guilty of prioritizing comfort over swishy for dance clothes, but I decided to go all the way to ‘black tie’ for this, and the result was delightful. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten asked to dance that much. I haven’t taken a census, but I feel like all the ladies in their dresses inspired the leads to step up on the asking for a dance front.
I think my favorite part of exchanges is dancing with people I’ve never met before. This weekend I had some absolutely magical first dances. (Hey there, Baltimore, NYC, Pittsburgh!) Some of those magical first dances turned into repeated dances over the course of Saturday and Sunday, which is particularly delightful because then you know it’s not just you: the lead had a good time as well.
I was neck deep in a groove by Saturday late night, deeply relaxed and happy and having a wonderful time. This makes for some of the best dances, with new people and familiar people. I had some of my best dances ever with leads from Columbus at Pittstop, just because dancing for days straight will get you in the zone like nothing else. Another wonderful thing about exchanges is that you get to dance with people with no preconceived “status” attached to them. I know that I sometimes get self-conscious and dance worse with excellent leads, due to nerves, but when no one has told you this is one of the most sought-after leads in City X or so-and-so is an instructor from such and such an east coast city with a huge dance scene, there are no expectations to meet, only awesome-pie to eat as the dance unfolds. Blisteringly fast lindy to tempos usually reserved for Balboa and extra-sultry blues are both good ingredients for awesome-pie, in case anyone was wondering. I could easily gush about the wonderfulness of Saturday’s late night for three more paragraphs.
Sunday afternoon I don’t remember any of the particular songs played but I do remember that I floated in a pool of good feeling about the music all afternoon. The Boilermakers played a killer-diller, smoked-cat, pickled-hellyeah version of Minor Swing for the jam circle, but, to be honest, I didn’t watch most of the jam circle. [editor note- this is what a jam circle looks like!] After having hastily scrambled up on the corner of the stage to get a view, I ended up paying the most attention to the clarinet solos, which induced spontaneous tap-dancing. I don’t tap dance. But I did. And then after the circle broke up, to just adulate the band while they took another round of solos, the whole crowd was stomping on the floor in time and if you stood still you could feel it undulate. I spent almost the whole afternoon dancing, with very little sitting, trying to wring the most out of every last minute, and when the music ended I almost cried.
Saying goodbyes turned somewhat lengthy, between promises to see each other soon and spelling of last names and pictures and video-taking. Leaving was sad. I wished I was staying longer, but we rolled out of Pittsburgh around 6pm… and lindy bombed a Subway on our way home. We made it back to Columbus in pretty good time, my carpool buddies dropped me off at home. I was too high off my weekend to compose anything meaningful for Facebook, though I wanted to say something, so I threw “omg pittstop” up on my wall. It seemed to sum up my feelings at the time pretty well. Exchanges are fun but this one was especially fun! It is fun to carpool to them! And I made new friends!
And I can’t wait for next year!
Thanks to Christina for writing that to share with us!
Another review: http://taintwhatyoudo.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/pittstop-lindy-hop-x/