If you’re serious about Lindy Hop or just popping with questions about taking a chance on this old American social dance form, then you have until Wednesday at midnight to register for four days and three nights of non-stop sweaty fun: Camp Hollywood XVII at the LAX Marriott!
You don’t need a date. Last year, we followed a mother-daughter couple who took the plunge and took beginner’s track to fast-forward them into the social dance scene. They were sweaty and a big giggly, but they had great fun. That might be because, as frequent attendee and sometime Camp Hollywood instructor (since 2001) Tise Chao explains, “CH is an event that was created by dancers for dancers. It’s a swing dance camp where you can learn, social dance, compete, and be inspired by the bands, music, and dancers of all levels. Not to mention always meeting new friends and catch up with old friends once a year from all over the world.”
Rusty Frank, a local instructor (of Rusty’s Rhythm Club and Lindy by the Sea), has been attending from the beginning, perhaps missing it once or twice when she was out of the country bringing Lindy hop to other eager dancers.
“Who couldn’t hear about it if you swing dance in L.A.,” she explained in an email. “I just always knew it was happening. I have been going since the first camp. You’ll have to ask Hilary, but I think I might have even taught at the first one. Can’t remember.”
Chao has been attending CH since dance friends told her about it in 1999.
Further, Frank commented, “I love attending Camp Hollywood for a variety of reasons:
1. It’s great to take the classes from all the different instructors
2. It’s great to watch the competitions
3. It’s great to dance with a ton of people I don’t know
4. It’s great to catch up with old friends
5. It’s great to make new dance friends
6. It’s a great opportunity to hang out with the legendary old-timers.
7. It’s also fun to shop!”
Because she’s been going so long, Rusty now mainly visits with her Camp Hollywood friends and she loves seeing her students just having fun. Rusty Frank also remembers “winning” the Inter-generational competition in 2007 “with a kid a met five minutes before the competition started! That was fun!”
If you’re not sure how to proceed, Chao wrote, “The best way to prepare for CH is to read all the information on the website before attending, and know when are the classes, contests, and evening dances, so that you have a schedule worked out, pack all your wardrobe and costumes ahead, and not miss anything. There’s something going on every hour of the camp, that you’ll need to know when to take a break or nap at the hotel room, and be energized again to dance for another five hours straight or if you are the hard core type dance until 4 or 5am!”
Rusty Frank prepared a check-off list for attendees:
1. Stay at the hotel. It just makes everything easier.
2. Video tape the moves taught after each class, so that you don’t have to worry about remembering what you learned until after the camp is over.
3. Bring LOTS of different shoes.
4. Enjoy yourself!
5. Hang out at the pool.
6. Dance with LOTS of people you don’t know.
7. Enter a contest; it’s another way to meet and dance with new people
8. Introduce yourself to the old-timers
While that Sunday night competition is more fun and judged by applause, the other competitions are more serious and Rusty loves watching the Open Lindy Finals. Chao also finds the contests are her favorite part of CH. “It’s always so exciting for me to watch the creativity and energy the contestants put into their dancing, year after year.”
Chao always gets a tear in her eye when founder and main organizer Hilary Alexander presents the Golden Budgie award, but adds, “My favorite competition moment is when the Amateur dancers are doing aerials and more dangerous moves than the Pro dancers, showing a true jitterbug spirit and going all out to give the best show.”
People to watch for include Bill and Theresa who according to Frank “always have the best costumes for all the themes,” and Jeff Beauregard, who, according to Chao, “is always wearing vintage gear and looks like he lives in the 1940’s. You can always find him in the Jack & Jill contest dancing up a storm and creating lots of attention from the audience.”
This year, Camp Hollywood becomes the fourth World Cup Lindy competition (along with The Snowball in Stockholm, Rock That Swing Festival in Munich, and Camp Swing It in Korea). When a couple compete at a World Cup they gain points in a ranking system. The top three couples in Open Lindy and Showcase will receive different sponsorship to participate at the World Cup Finale at The Snowball 2014.
If you love Hollywood, Lindy hop and dressing up while working up a healthy sweat, get registered and then get ready for a hopping good time at the LAX Marriott. Current cost is $215 until 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. At the door, you’ll pay $235 all weekend.
Los Angeles Airport Marriott is located at 5855 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. They offer a free airport shuttle every ten minutes to and from LAX so there’s no need to rent a car! There are hotel reservation matchups on Facebook.
Frank is hosting a pre-Camp Hollywood event at her Lindy by the Sea on Wednesday. Thursday night, hop on the 110 and get on to the LindyGroove in Pasadena. Then the Camp Hollywood opens up at the LAX Marriott.