Probably should be doing real work like organizing the kitchen and mailing bills and making sure my bank account isn't at zero...but I'm not. Instead I plan to regale you with the stories of Cowtown Jamborama X. Get comfy, maybe grab a snack.
I will try not to bore you with the many organizational plans I had for getting all the volunteering stuff, though I will say that I'm not at all afraid of delegating things. And in the long run, me not being responsible for everything was probably wise. The Wednesday before Cowtown I went back to my house and borrowed some housing stuff from my mom, since we were supposed to be housing two people (more on that adventure later), and then hung around and ate dinner, and found it difficult to leave because the house was so cozy, and because it was pouring down rain when I left. I managed to get back to the flat, though it was raining harder than it had probably for the whole summer and I couldn't get the bedding out until Thursday.
Flash forward to Thursday afternoon, me running around like crazy to get the house tidied up a little, Adam coming over to do small home improvements to our bathroom, buy food, etc., before I needed to be at the airport when I discovered that the finished room in the basement was damp and soggy from being flooded the night before. Oh joy. Panic did not set in just then, I had too much else to do. Once Adam and I had finished hanging the towel rack, he went off to help set up the Thursday night dance, and I went to the airport to pick up our weekend lodger, Claire. She was coming from St. Louis where she studies, originally from California, and I knew I liked her the moment we met since she was wearing a Stark-Rogers 2012 campaign t-shirt, and had a button on her hat that said, "I believe in Sherlock." Was she ever staying in the right house. We picked up her luggage and headed back to the house where I attempted to get my bearings, and then we headed off to the Thursday night dance. But food was necessary, so we found the venue, and then walked a few blocks to get pizza with Amanda, Lacey, Eric, and Jose. Once stuffed, it was back to the club with the Black Top Ramblers, who were awesome but OH SO LOUD!!! Louder than that. No, seriously, louder.
Aside from the band, the group wasn't too big or small, there was some pretty good dancing, even if I never actually put my Keds on. Adam and I danced to a song that was all about Adam Cartwright from Bonanza (there's a song, who knew?) and Eric watched the Bears lose to the Packers, and Kim and David taught the Stroll, and for about 45 minutes, it was like Soul Train in the club. After that, we decided we valued our hearing, got slightly lost on the way back to the house and eventually sleep.
I was up and going as soon as I could the next morning, determined to be at the Eagles by 9:00 when we were allowed to open. I had several projects ahead of me, ably assisted by several volunteers, and no major disasters until I'd been there at least 40 minutes. Sharon took care of the desk, Mike started his first class, Ruth handled the food, Eric helped hang curtains that Lee made especially for the ugly corner in the back, and then our director called with news. The drummer for Saturday night's band flying from New Orleans was ill with botulism and definitely would not be flying that day. Instead our director worked to get him on the next day's flight as long as he was able to walk. All in all, not a totally major blowup, and there wasn't a whole lot I could do to fix it, so instead, I just dealt with the rest of the day, which went pretty well.
Friday was easily the most stressful day, so much to think about and get in order, but I managed to have a little fun, and buy two t-shirts, and talk to people. I wanted to dance more, but there was too much to do that day. After the dance, I ran home and changed, and then went back to the Eagles to pick up the instructors for their dinner at Susanna's house. My driving coordinator Jacquelyn could not have been more patient or invaluable that weekend, she was everything I needed and more. And Susanna's house was gorgeous, and it provided me at least an hour of not needing to be anywhere, take a rest, enjoy fine weather and company.
I must point out that I probably spent eighty percent of my waking hours for the Cowtown weekend standing up. I had some issue with sitting down, mainly every time I managed to get there, something would happen that required my presence. Usually my phone ringing. Ah, well.
After dinner, I took Kim and David back to the hotel, swept back to my house, rapid changed (one more skill for my superhero set), and made it over to the Friday dance in excellent time. That night's band, the Robert Bell combo, hailing from Minnesota and previously heard at Heartland was swing, was pretty awesome. It was nice to be able to dance right in front of the stage and not get your hearing blown up. I also put myself into the Jack and Jill contest, which in retrospect, was probably not my greatest decision ever, but it's one of the few times where I'm not afraid to compete in front of a huge crowd. However, I was not really built for super performance that night (I was a little tired), and I only danced with people I knew, but it wasn't bad at all. I really only compete for fun, I know my skills have not hit their best yet, and I would actually have to focus more on my dance training to really get anywhere. Oh, to be Chelsea from Wichita.
The rest of the evening went fine, I was getting pretty punchy towards the end though, and once I had the ballroom squared away, I dropped into the after hours, and then left to get some sleep. I hate it when I get all bitchy like that, but there were certain factors involved, and really, going home and sleeping was probably the best for everyone.
Saturday morning dawned and I was back down to the Lodge, making waffles with Andrew, working with Sharon and Josie at the desk, chatting with people, and actually managed to take a few classes that day. Lunch was Indian food once again, as it has been for the last two years of my Cowtown experience, Saturdays are always for chicken tikka masala. Which is still delicious, so really no complaints. Before lunch, I took a class with Mike and Casey which was really pretty below my level, and overcrowded with follows, so when I had a chance I bowed out, and managed to learn the aerial Kim and David were teaching upstairs. Adam was really good at it, and it's not nearly as scary as some aerials I've learned. After lunch, Eric and I took Peter and Mia's advanced bal swing class, which was fun, no matter how bad Eric insisted he was. After that, I promised everyone I would go take a nap while classes finished up, which sounded like a great plan.
In fact, once I got home, I did a little clean up, enjoyed the quiet, didn't hear my phone go off once, and was all psyched to take a nap on my new flannel comforter cover that I hadn't had a chance to put on my bed yet. However, as I was shaking it out across my huge bed, I stepped through one of the wooden panels on my floor. Oh, great. Upon closer inspection, it was in fact termites. I took a picture, sent it to my landlady, and proceeded to have a minor meltdown. Eventually, though, I realized that like the New Orleans drummer, there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it right away, and though I didn't have enough time for a nap, I did have time to lie down and read, which is almost better than a nap for me. After about forty minutes with prose by John Mortimer, I got up, and headed back to the hotel to ship instructors to Ruth's house. I got some excellent stories about termite swarms from Mia, and Mike was very friendly about the whole thing (I wasn't totally beyond venting about it, but I tried not to make it my only topic of conversation. Did I mention I was stressed?). And Ruth's house proved to be another nice lull in the action where I got to sit, eat, and chat with people. And attempt to forget about termites. On the way back, with Mike, David, and Mia in the car, I got the hilarious story of why they all like staying at the hotel next door to the Eagles, one word: convenience. Well, okay, but it was amusing. Plus, my Captain America soundtrack was playing, and as Mia said there was some pretty epic music happening, and I explained how I liked to motivate myself on the drive to work, being a superhero, punching Nazis. David said he would try to work that into their aerial warmups.
Another quick change back at the house, and I made it Saturday night (band complete with tired, little woozy, but completely there drummer) plenty early. No competitions for me that night, and I was free to enjoy myself for the most part. The couples competition was pretty sweet, and I managed to dance in front of the whole audience with the Cow...I still don't know how I feel about that. For most of that night, I just enjoyed myself and that seemed to be enough. Once the evening rounded itself out, I had the joy of herding up the volunteers (how do people stand me? Even more, why do they take orders from me?), but we got the instructors and the band to the late night venue, cleared up the ballroom as much as possible, and made our own way to Studio 906 for the late night festivities.
Studio 906 is such a weird place, and in kind of a creepy neighborhood, but since building the new baseball stadium just down the street, it was not nearly as scary walking around down there. Still didn't exactly go alone, but I wasn't really worried about being ambushed. And I was without my armed guard for the evening, after all. I had a taco that was mostly cheese, one Jello shot that was my entire alcohol intake for the whole of Saturday, enjoyed some goofy photography with friends, and had a nice chat with some of the instructors. David and I had a fun talk about baseball, that was pretty cool. I was also the early shuttle for instructors back to the hotel, but I only drove Mike who wanted to get some rest in case Peter brought people back to the room for more drinking and carousing. Not a bad or impossible scenario, but Mike was very tired, so I zipped him back to the hotel and had a friendly chat with him. I made another stop at the late night, since driving Mike took very little time, and I was surprisingly alert and awake despite the long hours. I think I was slightly afraid of going back to the house and the newly-discovered inhabitants. But everyone was having a good time, everything was under control, and I think I left at about 2 or 2:30. I think that's the latest I've ever stayed at the late night. After that, it was a quick change and into bed to sleep.
Sunday morning I was up by nine or so, and running a bit behind since I was still tired...but it turned out not to be a big deal since I was the only person at the Eagles until about ten minutes before the first class. First emergency of the day was no water jugs and no cash box, but all was quickly remedied. Classes went on while Carol cleaned up her vintage closet, corn came to be shucked, and a good time was had by all. I managed to get in a couple more classes, and I really enjoyed Peter's lecture on swing at the end, which was kind of general explanation on the origins of swing, and its history. He said lovely things about Cowtown, and in general made me feel proud to be a swing dancer and a part of something truly significant.
And then...the Corn Eating Contest took place. First up, the junior division, which is really too adorable and very entertaining. Billy's daughter won, as well as wore a cow suit to the contest. It rather upset Ryan's daughter, but there were only three of them in the whole thing, and luckily Vivian's little girl is too young to take it very seriously. I think the audience enjoyed it more than the competitors. Finally, the adults were brought to the stage, which had various dramas, like Ben and his unfortunate method of eating corn, Jacquelyn and Josh competing for cleanest cob, Andy who was game to win, and the piece de resistance, the female instructors all dressed as swing dancing zombies. Kim actually grabbed my arm, they were bleeding and buttering each other, it was pretty awesome. All in all, Billy won, and then we all cleaned up the mess (Ben makes the largest, even the salt shaker was sticky), and called it a day at the Eagles. I tried to get out of there as quick as I could since I had to get over to the evening venue in what seemed like a very short amount of time. Managed it all the same, but there were plenty of hysterics before I could settle down.
Our last venue was the gorgeous House of Loom, which was small but for Sunday night that's pretty safe. The Careless Lovers set up as the band, the bartenders took care of the booze, and the bouncer dealt with the carding the underage crowd. And I claimed myself a green velvet fainting couch in the balcony, and when Susanna showed up to cover the front desk for me, I had a well-deserved cocktail. In fact there was a lot of discussion with the lady bartenders about what I should drink, and after two pretty, delicious French 75s, I unwound from my stress, and put my feet up on that velvet couch...and admittedly acted pretty silly, but I don't think I ever got out of line, and it seemed to amuse several people. Then there was the Charleston contest, which I hope we have every year, because solo Charleston is sooo cool to watch. Or maybe it was because I was tipsy, I'm not sure. I didn't dance much, because of my lack of coordination, but I got to say goodbye to everyone, and eventually trucked back home to sleep (when I was safe to drive, thank you).
This year's Cowtown went great, I think. I don't know what the final numbers were or anything, but everyone sure seemed to be in good spirits throughout, and whatever disasters I might have seen were probably things that only I could see anyway. Everyone made it home safely from the biggest swing party in the Midwest, and hopefully we'll have a bigger and even better one next year.
Better start my spreadsheet now...=).