I arrived in Seoul, Korea late on Wednesday after a pretty decent flight, all things considered. United does NOT have the nice individual television screens that I’ve gotten so used to. That was a shame. Grumble grumble. But my new travel pillow is awesome.

I’m here to teach Rock n’ Roll dance workshops for the Dandarra Dance Hall community. I’m teaching with my good old friend and periodic dance partner, Evgeny (Zhenya) Demchenko. We both arrived at the same time and were greeted by our hosts, Midori and Jeich at the airport. They welcomed us with open arms, took us back home to settle and in and we shared a nice arrival dinner together. I’m staying with Midori’s brother and sister-in-law (also dancers) while Zhenya is staying at a guest house a few blocks away. Zhenya and I both taught in Korea once before, about a year and a half ago. At that time we taught half Rock n’ Roll and half Lindy Hop workshops. This time the sweet dancers from the Rock n’ Roll community are keeping us for themselves.

The big event started last night with solo workshops split by leaders and followers. Zhenya taught a really great men’s routine to Greased Lightning, and I taught a very fun ladies’ routine to Fun Fun Fun by the Beach Boys. After the classes, all of the danccers gathered for a social dance that included performances. They welcomed us to the event which included some funny interview questions. Then they did some performances for us. One of the performances was a great piece of choreography to Elvis’ C’Mon Everybody from the film Viva Las Vegas which many Toronto dancers know that I like very much. They used the version straight from the film which included Ann Margaret’s exclamations. Very fun. Then we did a performance that Zhenya and I through together in 2 days once we arrived. It was more or less a Lindy Hop choreography but to the Rock n’ Roll song Rip It Up. Quite fast and energetic. I can’t say that I danced perfectly, I fumbled one of my jazz solos, but it came out just fine anyway and was a lot of fun. I always enjoy working with Zhenya. He did some great soft shoe tap for his solos and his dancing continues to shoot through the roof. What a fantastic leader and all around dancer.

Later that night they had a 3 song welcome jam for us as well and it was great to get to dance (if briefly) with so many of the leaders here before we start our proper workshops later today. The dance level has improved considerably since our last workshop here a year and a half ago. And what a fun spirit the dancers have here! They really have the right vibe. Love it.

When Zhenya and I teach together, we have more of a 6-Count Lindy Hop influenced style of dancing to Rock n’ Roll and less of a Boogie Woogie basis. This is really just a slight different in the timing of style of the moves, but otherwise isn’t really that different. The music dictates how we should dance, and Zhenya is nothing if not musical!

On Thursday night, before the workshops began, we had a free night so we went to a Lindy Hop club. The club was called Boogie Woogie… very confusing! But it’s a Lindy Hop club. The Lindy Hop scene in Seoul is ENORMOUS. They have several Lindy Hop clubs, and there are generally several places to dance on the same night. There’s also Sky Bar, The Big Apple, Swing Time, and other names I’ve heard thrown around. After much digging and discussion we ended up at Boogie Woogie. And what a terrific dance night! The level of dancing is really very high in Seoul. It was nice to show up at the venue and not be anticipated as dance instructors. Of course, being caucasion we did stand out when we arrived and some people recognized us from our last workshos here. But the dance scene is iso big that very few of the people dancing there that night would have attended our workshops last time. Zhenya and I hit the dance floor and danced about 3 songs together to get warmed up, and I guess that under the circumstances we couldn’t help but attract a lot of attention. I was just having so much fun dancing with him, the DJ music was great too, they were very fun dances, and by the end of those 3 I was revved up and raring to go.

Thus began a loooong line of nice Korean leaders asking me to dance. I can’t remember the last time I got to dance like that! I had a couple of very fun dance nights when I was in China in the spring where I danced that hard, but it’s probably been since Herrang since I danced with that big of a variety of leaders. I have no idea how many guys I danced with, but other than with Zhenya and I only danced twice with one leader (Nalla, I think) and the rest were just 1 song per guy and what a whirlwind! I thoroughly enjoyed myself, my head turned into a tomato, and I finally had to stop because I had so much sweat in my eyes. Not very lady like, I know.

Toward the end of the night I was trying to dry off and unwind and not dance anymore but Zhenya asked me to dance again and I agreed.. because I don’t get to see him very often so I’d be crazy to say no to him, right? Well at that point I was too stiff and tired and was only able to give about 50% (compared to my 200% for the earlier part of the night). As a result, I wiped out. Royally. :) Skinned my knee. It was pretty awesome. Sometimes I just need to trust myself and know when to quit while I’m ahead!

Later today we teach 2 classes, 90 minutes each. Then there’s a dance tonight with the Oh Brothers! Korean Rock n’ Roll band who we saw last time and they’re crazy awesome. Then more workshops tomorrow, another night of Rock n’ Roll dancing, and then we’re going to do some more Lindy Hop on Monday night. I think we might go to the Big Apple club on Monday, not sure. Tuesday and Wednesday are booked up with private lessons, then back home on Thursday. So far so good!

Can’t wait to get dancing again later today. I guess I should go and get ready.

Cheers from Seoul!

Mandi

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