This year I went to my first Atlanta Varsity Showdown, and let me tell you, it was one of the my favorite workshop experiences to date.
Atlanta Varsity Showdown is (primarily) a Lindy Hop workshop and competition weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. This year the instructors were Annabel Truesdell Quisao, Bobby White, David Lee, Jenna Applegarth, Jon Tigert, and LaTasha Barnes. To introduce these amazing instructors, I'll fangirl a little bit.
Annabel - One of my favorite follows to watch balboa and draw inspiration from when I'm practicing. She's one of the bubbliest instructors I've ever had, along with Ramona Staffeld and Evita Arce.
Bobby - I'm a longtime fan/reader of his blog, Swungover*, and have only taken one short class from him in the past. I can't even begin to explain how thrilled I was to be taking classes from him.
David - I took a couple classes from him at Bal-Ast Off! this August and was excited to learn from him again.
Jenna - One of my favorite lindy hop follows. Did she intimidate the life out of me when I first started dancing? Yes. But probably because she's just so incredible to watch. She's a wonderful instructor and I have nothing but positive things to say about my classes with her at AVS, at Lindy Focus last year, and at Sweet Swingouts 2016.
Jon Tigert - Used to remind me of Jason Segel when I first started dancing in 2015. Just an incredibly fun lead to watch and a personable guy.
Tasha - Hadn't heard of her much until I watched her compete at Lindy Focus XV and I've admired her since.
I rode up to Atlanta with some fellow Florida ladies, Elizabeth and Victoria, and we headed straight to the dance. It was nice seeing old friends and getting to dance with new people as well. The competitions were amazing, as expected. I took some pretty great photos of downtown on the way there.
The following day I took two balboa electives in addition to my Intermediate track classes. Although I was a bit disappointed at first I wasn't placed in advanced with practically everyone else I knew, I know better than to complain or be ungrateful. I still learned a lot and was challenged to think more about things I hadn't thought about in a while. After lessons, I somehow mustered up the courage to attempt my first novice mix & match competition. It was a pretty small event and I knew several of the leads I had the chance of getting paired up with, but I didn't care much about placing or winning. I knew going into it that my biggest reason was simply wanting to dance as much as possible and learn as much as possible. The nerves still got to me as my number was getting pinned to my shirt, but it didn't matter much after the music started. Although it looks like it was filmed with a potato, I'm still grateful for whoever recorded this video. I hadn't watched myself dance in about a year and it gave me a lot to work with when I got home.
A couple hours later I learned that I had made finals, competed with my new friend Maxwell, and continued to danced until around 2:30am. At one point someone else's voice came out of my mouth and asked Bobby White to dance. I don't know why, but I'm happy he said yes. One day when I'm a better dancer maybe I'll ask him again. Who knows!
Sunday kicked off with some more classes. I was too tired and sick to take all the classes that day, so I sat a couple of them out, but did listen in to Bobby White's talk and Q+A. I didn't waste any time afterwards and bought his book about practicing swing, which you can order here.
After lunch were the award ceremonies. Not only did I find out Maxwell and I won first place, I also received a Frankie Manning Spirit Award from Tasha. A friend back home would later tease me about how silly it sounds, but in the moment I was beaming. Obviously.
I can't rave about this event enough, and I know that next year will be a definite downgrade if I don't make it back. I'm thankful for my first (small) win, and for all the awesome lessons I was able to take. Here's to another year of improving and doing all the things that scare me. My only regret is not having time to check out all the local restaurants and museums, but there's always next time.