John White over at Black Belt Lindy just posted the second part of an analysis of Frida Segerdahl & Skye Humphries’ 1st place performance from the Classic Division of the 2005 American Lindy Hop Championships. This reminded me of a comment I tried posting to another blog talking about the same clip, but for some reason never got through. (I just checked and the whole blog is gone now) I thought I’d dust it off, shine it up real nice, and post it if only because it still kinda amazes me how much people obsess over this particular performance. I mean, it’s good, but it really wasn’t meant to be much of anything.
The first thing that strikes most people is how much this looks like a social dance. That’s because it is. At least half of it. Let me back up a bit.
Frida wasn't supposed to be at ALHC that year. She was teaching with Skye in Richmond for an event called Jammin’ on The James the weekend before. Then she came up to DC to hang out for a few days before flying back to Sweden. However, there was some confusion with her flight out, and she ended up missing it. When she was trying to re-schedule, she was convinced to fly out of New York partly because everyone that could give her a ride to the airport was going to be at ALHC in Connecticut. This was back when people still went to ALHC.
Flash forward to that Friday night. I just rolled in and was waiting in the lobby for everyone to get out of the competitors' meeting which was going to let out at around 6:00 pm. This is an important detail.
Skye popped out early and asked me if I had seen Frida. Turns out that he needed to find her in order to ask her if she wanted to compete because he just entered them in the Classic division. For those of you playing at home, the Classic division at ALHC is for couples performing routines to a song they’ve selected with their own original choreography complete with costumes. Skye and Frida had none of these things at this point, and the division is scheduled to start 10:00 pm.
That only one of them even knew that they were signed up at that point didn’t seem to bother Skye. In his mind, they weren’t taking any kinds of risks. He and Frida just decided to start teaching together, and he merely saw this as an opportunity to let people know.
So with only four hours until they had to perform, did they spend the rest of their time working on their routine? Nope. Part of the problem was that Skye’s schedule was complicated by the fact that he had to be in the ballroom judging the other competitions after 8 PM.
So they still had two hours, right? Not really, because they needed to eat dinner plus Skye also decided that he needed a haircut. It’s all about priorities after all. In his defense, his hair was kind of a mess at that time.
More than anything, I think this is why they chose Slim & Sam’s “Look-A-There,” if only because it’s just a shade over two minutes long (2:17), which is also just long enough to qualify for the minimum amount of time for performances in that division. Given the limited time frame, they only got to choreograph the first 30 seconds, and everything after that (0:46 of the video) is just social dancing which is pretty much how they prepared for most of the night before the competition when Skye wasn’t judging.
A few hours later, Frida was on a plane to Sweden.
At the time it wasn’t clear that Frida & Skye would win, but I think Skye had already accomplished what he intended which was just to get his and Frida’s name said in the same sentence in public. There were only four other couples in that division, and to be honest, there really weren't any other stand out performances. Although, I thought maybe Devon Winn & Dan Amores had a shot at it. Turns out I was wrong. Freakishly enough, you can see the scoresheets still online here.
Coincidentally, Skye emailed me recently and talked about the way we view current clips versus older ones. I still think it’s kinda strange the way people dissect newer stuff. During the revival, there was very little guidance available in breaking down vintage clips. Even if the dancers were alive, time clouded their memory for many details that modern dancers craved. I remember when people were breaking down the Big Apple from the Keep Punchin clip, and how much it was a huge pain in the ass because the original clip is off by one beat. It really was a huge deal when someone went to the trouble of matching up the video with the audio.
That’s why I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t know that most of this performance is just social dancing simply because Frida & Skye are relatively easy to track down and ask about it. Frida via Facebook and Skye through . . . well . . . I guess that’s a terrible example. Although I hear that they still teach quite a bit here and there.
Anyway, that’s the story. I'll leave the more hardcore dance geeking to others. Just remember: knowing is half the battle. Although it still doesn’t give you an excuse to dance just like them.
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