Café – 49th Parallel


Gearing up for a short trip to Seattle and then Vancouver this week. One thing that I am always excited for when I travel to the west coast (besides home cooked meals from my parents) are the amazing coffee shops seemingly in every street corner. One in particular I really enjoy in Vancouver is 49th Parallel Coffee.

The location on Main street randomly has a Lucky’s donut shop built into it which gives the entire building a nice scent of coffee beans and sugary goodness. The atmosphere of the building is… very west coast (?)… wood furniture, open space, baristas with full on beards and people all dressed up just to drink coffee. Great place to just hang out and enjoy a shot or two.

Speaking of the coffee, I reckon because they roast their own beans, the espresso shots are always that much better than most cafés back home. It’s always hard to remember what they exactly taste like but I do remember it being very smooth and full bodied rather than the usual bitterness that is Starbucks. A local café here in Montreal, Cafe Myriade, actually uses their coffee beans as their primary source, but it doesn’t quite taste the same. Their syphon coffees are incredible though.

When you’re out in Vancouver next, definitely check them out.

Guilt & Co

You know what’s neat in VanCity? Neat jazz music at an even neater indie-hipster venue!

On Wednesday, I stopped by Guilt & Co. and listened in on the Jen Hodge All Stars band in a venue that looks straight from prohibition-era Chicago. All that was missing was a bouncer in front asking for a password before letting you in. Having learned my early swing dancing in Vancouver, I was pleasantly surprised that the dance scene came out to support live jazz even though it’s not really a dance venue. I was also pleasantly surprised that at least more than half of the dancers who came to listen actually took the time to get dressed up, like you know, what normal people do when they go out. I remember the times when “lindy-bombing” in Vancouver was a bit of an embarrassing affair – a bunch of poor university students in tshirts and jeans not buying drinks and blocking the for the rest of public.

The word on the street is that the lindy hop scene in Vancouver is in a bit of recession, with Jungle Swing doing less and less events. However, it might be a worthwhile trade-off if there are neat places like Guilt & Co hiring awesome jazz bands to listen to and there’s just enough space to dance a few jigs. What do I know though, I’m only here every couple of months ;-)

Blues, my Naughty Sweetie…

Blues dance. I always enjoy watching eyebrows raise as I mention that I dance Blues. Most do it in wonderment or realization that yes Blues music can be danced to, but then blank out when they try to picture it.

Blues music is one of those genres of music that has been around so long and through so many different eras that it’s so ingrained to our music culture that we forget about it. In my opinion, everyone loves Blues music in one form or another. I, along with a larger community, actively go out and express my love for it through dance.

Why I dance to it or why I love it is a question that is tough to answer, not for myself, but also for many other dancers. We just feel the need for it. IMHO, great blues music is full of soul and is raw in its form. There is pain, sorrow and suffering, yet at the same time there is life and hope. It’s the same for me when I dance. Dance is an expression of emotions done in the rhythm and feeling of the music, and that is what separates dancing from moving. Why I dance is a very personal thing for myself, and can only be described or understood best when dancing with me. Maybe that is why I partner dance, so I can share myself and what I feel for the briefest of moments till we part when the music ends and I can share it with the next person who I dance with.
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Chillin’ like a villain @ UBC Robson Square

In the last little while, I have felt bombarded with a mess of things to do in the dance scene other than just dance. At some point I will have my chance to do my own Half Year in Review and you’ll see what I have been up to. But, finally, in the last week, I have been able to just pause and breathe for a moment. Usually I am led to one of my favorite summer spots of the year – UBC Robson Square.

Pictured above, Robson Square is one of the main areas for dancing of all kinds to be found here. During the summer months, there’s Friday night Dancing at Robson Square (rotating forms of dances, mainly ballroom) and Sunday Afternoon Salsa. But what keeps on drawing me back is the street dancers who come and practice there every day.

There’s lockin’, poppin’, whackin’, hip hop, b-boys/b-girls, and crews of all kinds that rotate in and out of the area. You’ll find new dancers to some of the best instructors/dancers in the city watching, training, and giving advice to each other. Most of them there, probably because it’s free, open, and perfect for dancing and they are absolutely inspiring to watch. It makes me feel like I should be training as well.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do. Who wants to join me? :)

Wining and dining wit’ a bit o’Jass

Fun Organizer tip: Organizing is tough, wine and dine with your guest instructor and everything will be fine. :)

In the last little bit, I have been working to inject my ideas into to the scene. Joining Dance 4U (Salsa dance company), instructing Blues/Partnering classes with Dance 4U (with the amazing Tamara Cohen) and Diane Garceau of Night and Day Dance. My latest foray: mini-workshops with out-of-towners.

You know, putting stuff together can be tough, with all the planning and organization, emails, IMs, chats, pigeon routes (I’m looking at you Tyson), etc. I’m kinda lazy and may seem all relaxed and care-free most of the time, I’m not; I’m a giant mass of tension and anxiety, especially when organizing. While I just want to yell on the sidelines at the scene to get better, it’s not going to happen if there are no shakers and makers in the scene.

For our 3 readers, you may recognize my pal Joanna Kassoulides from Toronto, who came in and brought some Sugar Shakers choreography (RE: SASS) to Vancity. Everyone was fantastic, the turnout was unprecedented, and the grin on Joanna’s face throughout the class was completely worth the sweat (no tears) for all the organization, and anxiousness throughout.

I just wanted to thank, Angie Weddell from Jump Session (Vancouver) and Joanna for working with me to get this all organized. You guys are fantastic. Erin June for being awesome and hospitable. And of course all the Vancouver dancers that came out and joined in on the workshop.

Ladies: Alison, Mariee, Rosea, Tanya, Katie, Lisa, Lindsey, Luciane, and the girl with the dragon tattoo (Sorry! I never got your name, and I don’t think it’s a Dragon tattoo either), Erin, Becca
Men: Warren, Chris, Barney, Simon, Tristan, Robert, Vincent, Evan

I do hope I have everyone’s names correct!

Check out what you missed :) Read More…

Dancing your pants off

With the lack of any Lindy dancing this summer, it was great to enjoy 5 hours of hot dances to some hot jazz…on concrete. You could not get any better than being able to dance under the sun on the streets with one of the swingiest bands in Vancouver, the Company B jazz band. It was so hot, I literally danced out of my pants. Thanks Cara (and thanks for Bedo being close by). :P

The Showdown – Lindy Bout Round IV

Oh man, Lindy Bout Round 4 was a blast! It was great to see familiar faces from Toronto (Alcina, Geoff, and Stephanie), meet + dance with folks from Calgary, Seattle and Vancouver and to watch and record most of the competitions during the weekend.

Thank you to all the organizers (Lucy, Eileen and Stephanie) who put in the work for this event and made it a great time, as well as the volunteers! Check out the photos I was able to capture above and videos will come soon!

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