This past week I got to experience my first Lindy Focus, in lovely Asheville, North Carolina, along with 1,000 other lindy hoppers and jazz musicians from around the US. I had almost zero expectations for the event, having only viewed a couple of videos and chatted with some friends about it.
There are a lot of things that make Lindy Focus a special place: the classes taught by world-class dancers, the dances that start in the evening and go straight to the next morning, the festive atmosphere everywhere, the DIY spirit of the event. But what stands out for me is the emphasis on live jazz music.
Lindy Focus brought together an Avengers-level supergroup of musicians for the evening dances. Led by Jonathan Stout on guitar, the lineup included the best swing musicians in the land, including Laura Windley on vocals, Gordon Au and Ben Polcer on trumpet, Aurora Nealandand Paul Consetino on clarinet and sax, Lucian Cobb on trombone, Josh Collazo on drums, Jason Jurzak on bass, and many more incredible jazz artists from all over the States. The level of tightness of this band, having never played together before, was mind-blowing.
I'm currently having a grand time at "Lindy Focus," a weeklong celebration of lindy hop and swingin jazz in Asheville, North Carolina. Held in the Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, the hotel basically gets overrun by 1,000 or so lindy hoppers and jazz musicians for seven days of festivities. There's classes, jazz jams, vintage clothing vendors, and of course lots and lots of dancing. It's kind of like Herrang in a hotel.
I bought a mount for my phone on my scooter and decided to try out taking videos of my ride. Here's one of my favorite rides in the city, from my apartment to Lands End and back.
On the way there I shot a timelapse video.
And on the way back, I shot a standard video.
Pretty bumpy both ways, but otherwise my new mount worked great! It's the RAM handlebar rail mount, if you are curious. Pretty easy to install, although I had to add a rubber strip between the clamp and the mirror post to get it to fit. Seems super stable. It's the same kind used by Scoot Networks for their scooters, so I figure they know what they are doing if they installed them on their 100+ scooter fleet.
Last week, I and some friends had an amazing time visiting the Walt Disneyworld and Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando. It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up on the explosion of themeparks since the last time I was there about 18 years ago.
Walt Disneyworld is of course the grand-daddy of them all, an enormous complex of four theme parks, two water parks, and a gigantic "Downtown Disney" shopping area that could take a week to explore and experience. Two of the four theme parks didn't exist last time I was there. Universal Studios, the up-and-coming competitor to Disney, has two connected theme parks (with separate admission) called Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There are four other themeparks in Orlando as well that we didn't visit and I don't really know much about.
It's a lot to take in. If you can manage it, I recommend going for at least five days to feel like you got to adequately visit all the parks and rides you wanted to.
Here are some of my favorite experiences from the Disneyworld portion trip, roughly grouped by park.
Last night, some friends and I ate at the "Sci-Fi Theater Restaurant" in Disney's Hollywood Studios themepark in Orlando. It's a good reminder to me of how evocative and inspiring well-designed spaces can be.
The Sci-fi Theater is actually a pretty hard place to get a reservation at, in my experience. I've been visiting Disneyworld for several days, and each day that I tried to find a reservation online or in-person, they were all snapped up already that day. So I had to book for a day in advance, and the only available time was a 5:30pm dinner seating, which is pretty early for us.
I was tempted to bail on the whole thing, but I'm really glad we stuck it out. Of all the incredible spaces I've visited this week, the Sci-fi Theater Restaurant is one that I think I'll remember year's from now.
Today was day one of my trip to Disneyworld with some friends this week. It's been nearly 20 years since I've been to this Disneypark, and it's long past due.
On this first day we tackled the centerpiece of the multi-park complex, The Magic Kingdom. We hit up a large majority of the park between 9am and 5pm. And we ended the evening with a short jaunt over to EPCOT for dinner.
So here's a little story about what me and some buddies did last weekend.
We took a trip from San Francisco to New York. We might have overpacked a little.
Not Pictured: Patrick and Natasha's luggage and our backpacks full of electronics.
We were there for a modest dance event called "Frankie100." The purpose was to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Frankie Manning, a legendary dancer, ambassador for swing, and just generally a wonderful human being.
This past weekend, I had the honor of MCing a fun panel discussion among educators in three locales in the US on the topic of fostering youth voice in local learning networks. If you are a local educator and looking for ways to better serve your youth community, I recommend that you check out the video of this session.
When we were planning this session, we were trying to find a way to break out of the typical panel discussion format. Our idea was to present it like a radio program, specifically "This American Life," as a means of telling a story in "three acts." And of course, as the only male in the planning group, I was tasked with playing the Ira Glass character. Ira is one of my idols, so it was awesome getting to play him in front of a live audience. I think I did a reasonably passable impression, although nowhere near as awesome as Fred Armisen.
You can watch the results in the YouTube archive below. (Unfortunately, there was an audio glitch in the opening that doesn't get fixed until around the 8 minute mark.)
We at Yehoodi.com are so excited to announce that we are giving away two free passes to theFrankie 100 Festival, happening from May 22-26, 2014 in New York City. The Frankie100 Festival of course is going to be the lindy hop event of the year, if not the decade, with a couple of thousand swingers from around the world coming together to celebrate the legendary dancer Frankie Manning, and the enormous legacy he leaves to the world.
It's super easy to enter the contest. All you have to do is write down in 4-5 sentences what being at Frankie100 would mean to you. Submit your answer to our SwingNation Facebook page or email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have until Sunday March 10 to get your entry in!
See Yehoodi.com for all the details on the contest. See you at Frankie100!
The Digital Media and Learning conferenceis one of my favorite professional events of the year. DML gathers several hundred of the leading practitioners, researchers and supporters of the field of digital learning for an intense three days of sharing, discussions, and strategizing. It's like an extended family for me, after many years of participating.
This year DML is taking place from March 6-8 in Boston, one of my favorite cities in the US, and the home of many innovators in the field. Along with attending and absorbing all of the awesome talks and sessions and exhibits at DML, I'll also be on stage for a couple of sessions.