A report by JUYL special guest blogger Sing Yuen Lim on CSI and KLHC 2012 for the benefit of English speaking Lindy Hoppers everywhere!
There is no doubt that the Korean Lindy Scene is one of the biggest and active in the world today. Swing clubs operate every night, crowded with dancers practicing their moves.
So why did it take so long before we visited Korea? Language barrier? But I’ve hared off to Herrang without speaking a word of Swedish, I’ve jetted to Japan sans any Japanese and I’ve flitted to France even though je ne parle pas. So there was nothing to hold me back from Camp Swing It 2012!
(And what better way to prepare than to join the Korean Lindy Hop Championships too!)
Some non Koreans speaking dancers may find it a bit daunting to register, but really, the English translated site was clear and helpful. If you had any questions, just email the organisers and they replied pretty quickly.
Getting the camp was easy because i was lucky enough to have a local friend, Chris, who took such good care of us 5 Singaporeans. He hired a MPV, picked us up from the airport and put us up for the night. and the next day he drove us to the Youth Centre, with a stop at a tourist site.
However, the instructions on the camp website seemed clear enough, and from my experience of the Seoul public transport, everything is efficient and convenient and i would feel quite confident to find my way to the Youth centre.
reports from previous years led me to fear i would be weak with hunger at the camp. So of course we Singaporeans arrived laden with bags of snacks like pot noodles, bananas, chocolotes and biscuits. In the end we were so well fed that we had to eat up the food just to avoid carrying them back home.
(I have to say i cannot comment on the breakfasts served because i didnt get up for them). Lunch and dinner were provided in the canteen and consisted of large servings of rice, kimchi, a meat dish and another side dish of vegetables, as well as a soup. And in the evenings, the organisers brought out suppers of onigiri (Japanese rice balls with seaweed), pot noodles, chips, biscuits and even McDonalds tacos! There was also free flow of coffee , thanks to kind sponsors.
We stayed in the “private” rooms, which came with attached bathrooms. The floors were heated, which made for a nice warm room. We even had to open the balcony doors a little to cool it down.
Each room is provided with 4 Korean style tatamis,( sleeping mats about 2 inches thick), pillows and blankets. I had brought a foam camping mat, which i put on top of my tatami, so i was super comfortable! (These old bones prefer a slightly softer bed).
I didn’t see the other rooms, but i did notice there were communal bathrooms on the other side of the lift corridor , so im guessing there were some accommodations which did not have attached bathrooms.
All classes had translators. All the teachers taught in English, even the French (and Argentinian) ones. Some Koreans speak excellent, albeit American accented, English and do a great job translating.
The dances were held in a large sports auditorium. The floor was sprung (heaven!!!) and fairly slippery (my Bleyers were perfect, my Keds grippy). There was plenty of space to dance…yet it was pretty filled up!
The Ezer Swing Five from Japan played for us. They were experienced in playing for dancers and as usual, Peter Vawter had to crowd participating and getting involved. The band also had a tap dancer jamming along with them – a unique and relevant addition.
And of course, the dancers were WONDERFUL! The legendary Korean ability to guarantee a great dance seemed to be true because every dance I had was delightful. ( yes of course some were more delightfuler than others, but that’s getting picky)
The creativity and the standard of the competitions was as high and as entertaining as any I’ve seen in USA or Europe. The competitors take the competitions seriously and there was a broad range of choreographic talent.
The Instructors ( in this case Jo Hofferg & Kevin St Laurent, Thomas Blacharz & Alice Mei, Juan Villafane & Sharon Davis, William Mauvais & Maeva Trunzer) also performed, showing the audience why they are known to be top of their class. Professional, slick, energetic – all underlined with perfect technique. And not just in lindy hop, these rockstars showed us their versatility in jazz, tap and plain showmanship.
This is just a quick review of the event, to encourage everyone and anyone who wants to spend 2 days having one great dance after another, to sign up for CSI 2013. The Koreans are very welcoming and appreciative of visiting dancers and everyone seemed to go out of their way to make sure we felt welcomed. I can’t wait to visit again and this time , with more friends!