In our personality of the month section , JUYL is pleased to have Hong Wee & Sing with us.
They were at CSI 2012 recently and participated in KLHC 2012 competition. Being the first and only foreign participant at KLHC 2012 – they wowed the audience and judges and won 3rd place in the Lindy Hop Couples division – Showcase
Hong Wee & Sing with the Prize
Describe the KLHC experience in one sentence .
Hong Wee : One word . AWESOME .
Sing : The dancers are all so good and so creative, and it was scary to step up against them, however that was also the motivation and the challenge.
When did you start lindyhopping ?
Hong Wee : On a starlit night in 2000, my wife stormed into the room saying she’d found something for us to do on Tuesday nights. We went to a studio in Tras Street to check out this dance called the ‘something-hop’. I was not hooked until 6 months after the first class, and did not meet Sing until 11 months later (amazingly).
Sing : London, Dec 1988
What moved you to compete in KLCH 2012 ?
Hong Wee : Physically, it was Flight SQ602, followed by minivan rented by Chris Minggun. Motivation wise, there were 3 reasons for taking part in the competition – I had read Rebecca Brightly’s inspiring article (which one? all of them!!) on how to improve lindy and taking part in a competition was high on the list. The second reason was that I wanted to role-model (for my kids) the habit of setting a target and working towards it. Thirdly, Sing asked and it is such an honour and a rare opportunity to partner with her.
Sing : I was inspired by Hong Wee’s pants.
I think it reminded me of the crazy fun that lindy hop can be. And Hong Wee was the right crazy fun guy to do it with.
How did your family react when you told them you are taking part ?
Hong Wee : My wife nodded her support sagely, knowing that this was a better way to tackle mid-life crisis than gambling at MBS. My daughter and son asked, “Are you taking the iPad2 with you?” When they heard we had taken 3rd place, my wife was understandably proud, even my mother wanted to watch the performance of the other showcase dancers. My daughter and son asked, “Can you turn the volume down? We are playing iPad2.”
Sing : Chan Meng is so supportive – he is the best life partner ! : ) The kids were a bit annoyed that I was going away again .
But they accepted that their mummy does crazy fun stuff ( and sometimes they have to as well)
What was the preparation like ?
Hong Wee : I thought the creative part would be the most difficult – and this is where I give credit to Sing – she came up with the choreography in 2 practice sessions!! (And wasn’t it such an amazing storyline and choreography!) This was a couple of weeks after SEA Jam 2012, like end Feb. We practised 3 times a week (Tues, Thurs, Sat), each time working on different aspects – memorizing the routine, the aerials, integrating the moves, swing out, swing out and swing out. Actually, the swing out was our biggest problem – how to make something so common look energetic, connected and dynamic. For me, it was also the biggest improvement in my dancing. Aerials were a challenge – we had to figure out how to do them and as a result, understand how our body parts interact. For example, I found that the tighter I held, the slower the aerial and more laborious it became. So my intentions to speed up the aerial actually slowed it down. As with many things in life, intentions and consequences run opposite to each other.
Sing is such a great partner to work with – she was creative, committed, bold, supportive and fun. She was good at hinting tactfully that I should be doing something differently (correctly); she was quick at coming up with suggestions; and she was open minded in accepting some of my suggestions. A good example of someone who is focused, no-nonsense, yet does not sacrifice the relationship.
Sing: We started after SEA Jam 2012 and tried to meet at least 3 times a week. We had fun creating the performance and learning new stuff. It was great working with such a positive and encouraging dance partner who never let the team get discouraged even though there were a few disasterous moments.
How did it feel being the first ever and the only foreign participant in KLHC ?
Hong Wee : It was my first ever showcase competition and that was very exciting for me.
It had not dawned upon me there were only Koreans in KLHC; their standard of dancing is very high and I am simply in awe.
Sing : I didn’t really consider it. But I think for the Koreans it was a big deal.
They probably don’t realize how big an impact they are making on the Lindy world !
I hope I could show them some respect by being there.
The Koreans were very warm and welcoming. The organisers Adamas and Furi etc made sure we were kept in the loop and knew what was going on.
What did you enjoy most from the experience?
Hong Wee : Everything! The excitement of embarking on this journey with Sing, the creative process and the practices, bibimbap in some small alley in Sinchon, having fellow contestants come up so generously and complimenting us on our routine, and the 253 amazing Korean follows at CSI.
Sing : The whole process was challenging but of course it was the weekend of CSI/KLHC that made it wortHong Weehile. It was so great to meet the Korean dancers , to feel their energy, to see the great dancing and to learn from the great instructors like Kevin and Jo, Thomas and Alice, William and Maeuve and Juan and Sharon too. But I think what I enjoyed most was that I did it!
Was there anything you would have done differently ?
Hong Wee : Swing out.
Also, maybe start jogging to build up stamina. Sometimes after a practice run, I felt as if someone had turned off the oxygen supply.
Sing : I would work on my swing out more.
Who is Frankie Manning to you ?
Hong Wee : When we were trying to figure out the aerials, we had to watch the video a trillion times. Frankie didn’t. So calling him the pioneer of Lindy Hop is kinda understating it a bit.
Sing : Frankie reminds me to enjoy the dance, to not be too clever and to just listen to the music. Remembering how Frankie approached the dance keeps me grounded and reminds me why I love Lindy Hop. I wish Frankie was there to see the Korean scene – he would have been blown away and I know the Koreans would have been so appreciative of what he would share with them. But whenever I see a room full of happy Lindy Hoppers (or even 2 happy Lindy hoppers) I just know that Frankie is there, enjoying the atmosphere and bobbing his head to the music.
What is your next mountain to conquer?
Hong Wee : To coach my son to get into the habit of setting goals.
Sing : To get more Singaporeans to dance and to get more Swingaporeans to Korea. And world domination.
Your advice to aspiring Lindy hoppers who are secretly thinking to take part in competitions ?
Sing : Practice your swing out and Do it! I’d be happy to help out if you feel I can contribute.
And if you are interested in the team category, email me.
Hong Wee : Yes, Sing is right. Don’t keep it a secret.
You’ll get more support and admiration from fellow Lindy Hoppers that way. Speaking of which, there are some people Sing and I would like to thank…
Matt Bedell, Mattias and Hanna – tips and letting us steal their moves
Siva, Johanna and Penelope – spiritual support
Desmond – for serving drinks and hot towel impeccably
Eric – for his suit
Diana – shoe shopping!!
Ethan – for flipping Hong Wee
Ya Kun Coffee joint- sugar at the right time does wonders!
Our spouses – for understanding, criticizing and complimenting
Will we see you in CSI / KLHC 2013 ?
You will if YOU go !
( Read about their trip here )
Thank you Hong Wee, and thank you Sing . Swing on and see you at CSI 2013 .