When I first moved to Montreal, Javiera ran a once a month blues dance at Pub Brouhahahahahaahha. Now a year and half later, there are a shit-ton of blues related shenanigans going on in the city. So if you are thinking about making the trek up here (out of town) or if you already are winter-proofed (locals), here is a quick overview of what’s happening. For a complete calendar of blues dancing events in Montreal (and other Canadian cities) check out the bluespage of Hamfats.ca .
Tired of trying to find the blues dance events in Montreal on Facebook? I know I am haha. So for a short-cut, just check out the bluespage of Hamfats.ca where I do all the facebook diggin’ for you!
Here’s a youtube clip to put on the background while you re-organize your calendar around:
Sundays – Blues (Brouhaha), Lindy Hop vintage/fast swing night (Swing Connexion)
Tuesdays – Swing (Le Petit Medley), West Coast Swing (Dance Conmigo)
Wednesdays – Lindy Hop w. live music (Les Bobards)
Thursdays – Lindy Hop (Le Rialto, once a month), West Coast Swing (Studio 88)
Fridays – Lindy Hop (Cats Corner), Blues (some late nights at Cats Corner)
Saturdays – Swing (Studio 88)
Original list by Balboa Fred!
Check out when the phrase in the music changes and how the rest of the crowd gets into the groove. Really fun night at our last blues dance with a fantasmical band as always led by Patrick Tevlin.
Some more clips (but this time on vimeo):
Every two to three weeks, my life transforms into a TLC reality show episode – if I had to pick, probably most like DC Cupcakes. There is usually a seemingly easy enough challenge that I tackle head on with enthusiasm, the moment of anticipated shock when that challenge is… well a challenge, the crisis that usually involves some sort of comedic mishap and eventually a resolution with a bow of a life lesson learned to top it off.
In this episode, my partner in crime, Kevin Sue, went to some random event called “Boston Tea Party” (heh) leaving me to run the blues dance solo. Sounds easy enough right, I’ve run this event a bunch of times now that it’s pretty self sufficient… bzzzzt wrong. No cashbox, no cooler, no water, no car, and no emergency engineer to fix things that break. I found out that I had an alarming lack of knowledge of how audio equipment actually works (I’m good at plugging in my iphone to DJ, that’s about it) and I’m pretty sure that the Hobos outside of Habeebas Dance Studio were multiplying in real time as they smelled my stress level increasing.
Unfortunately, that’s just my personality – I sweat the big stuff, the small stuff, and even the non-stuff stuff (don’t ask). Fortunately, my girl Genevieve (who also taught the lesson last night with me) kept me sane behind the scenes by basically running around town with me doing errands hours before the event and reminding me to chill the eff out. This definitely rings true to me one day after the event as I reckon that even if all the big/small/non-stuff stuff didn’t work out, most likely people would still had had a kick-ass time dancing and partying.
I didn’t need an awesome check-in system form (google docs does rock though) that time stamps when dancers arrive, a piece of scrap paper and pen was more than adequate. Ditto for the cashbox (replacement: plastic tupperware), drinks to sell (replacement: “here’s a cup and a pen to write your name on it”), basic knowledge of audio tech (replacement: “plug in everything until it works”) or even drop-in teachers (replacement: me). Those are just nice to have features at a dance but sometimes you gotta just head back to the essentials. And sometimes, you just need a good old TLC episode to bring it back to what’s important.
At our dance venue on Yonge & Bloor, people mess around with the temperature of the studio all the time. To combat this, Kevin Sue installed a case-lock around the studio thermostat so that you would need a key to open the case to be able to have access to the studio heating system. Great idea in practicality, except when the key is no where to be found. So if you went to the drop-in lesson and live blues dance last night (and why wouldn’t you have gone?) and were sweating buckets, there was a greater force at work :-)
But yah what a night eh? Brian Cober and Aslan Gotov, for their first time playing for us blues dancers in Toronto, were great great great. Everybody was walking up to me throughout the night and asking where I found them. Well, actually, my israeli friend Kim found them but they have been playing in venues all around Toronto for a while now (ie. Grossmans Tavern). If you know more great blues musicians, remember to refer them to me!
I’m a big fan of statistics. It allows me to accurate gauge how many people we will have turn out for our blues dances in Toronto (2nd and 4th fridays of the month) as well as provide a good base when deciding on what to focus on next. Some key milestones in the past six months include actually hiring musicians to play for us, expanding to twice a month dances instead of once a month, and having out-of-town instructors to come and teach workshops. Without accurate record keeping for making decisions, I might have been tempted to attempt to grow too fast and too soon. Nobody likes an poorly attended dance.
There are a number of important stats that have pretty much shaped our blues scene to what is today but none more than the image above. 61% of our dancers in the blues scene are females. 47% percent are females between the ages of 18-34. My goal for this upcoming few months is to make whole wack-load of new dance friends. Male dance friends. A daunting task even for myself, but when there is a will (and the dollars and cents), there is a way.