One of the best things in the world is to be able to do what you love to do all the time, in extreme excess, right? Food, music, dancing, friends, family and travel all wrap upped in a 3 day weekend remains near the top of my human experience. Southern Fried Swing has provided an experience so satisfying that if someone dared me to walk the two hour drive from my home town to the event, I just might have accepted the barefoot adventure.
Not often do I have breaks in my traveling schedule to just attend events as a student and tourist. Sometimes I get lucky enough with the timing that some of my favorite events match perfectly with my schedule. There are so many great things that Southern Fried Swing has to offer. Quality instructors, great music, lots of good places to eat, and southern hospitality.
Since relaxing and enjoying my time with my family and friends was the main focus of my weekend, I had the opportunity to sit in some of the classes. It never fails that I learn some new material to add to my dance vocabulary. Empowering aerial classes by Mark and Shauna, solid rhythm techniques by Scott and Kelly, and some really cool Charleston tricks taught by Mickey and Gabe put a giddy smile on my face. I could see the students come alive as they applied the material during the evening dances to the tunes of The Spicy Pickles.
The music of the event this year was particularly special. The Spicy Pickles were the headliner band that played such a vintage sound with clean quality melodies and rhythms. The quality of their sound is what made me a fan when I first heard them play at Hawkeye Swing Festival. They have a new cd recently released that I would recommend adding to your library of modern swing bands.
The Jack and Jills this year were extremely competitive for the level of dancers that attended. It was so fulfilling to see all the new dancers around the region rapidly improving and competing at higher levels. There were even some competitions that one would have to have been there to understand. This event is known for it’s uniquely hilarious contest that leave most attending laughing outrageously at the improvisational moments of humor.
The Dj’s continued to add to the momentum with swing tunes that kept people on the floor well after the band breaks. Most of the playlist were so good it was hard for me to pause for a moment and “Shazam” a couple of the tunes I didn’t have in my library. Big thanks to all the Dj’s: Jerry, Greg, Jaredan, and Kyle. It’s rare that I enjoy equally the band music and the music played by Dj’s. Usually one tends to be a “filler” until the other returns. Big shout out to Kyle Hankins for playing some of my favorite tunes.
The culture of the event is healthy and safe for all ages. Grandma could come and feel comfortable, and so could young aspiring dancers visiting for the first time. It’s always a bonus in my opinion when I ask someone to dance that looks like they are fitting in, and they are a visitor. The venue was big enough with just enough space without losing the intimate atmosphere. One thing that could make this event even better is maybe a bigger sound system to facilitate all the space at the new venue.
The food is always something I notice about this event. Thanks to all the volunteers for serving during the late night hours at the dance. It’s so nice to be provided with tasty morsels of fuel to nibble on throughout the late evening. Even after class I saw one of my favorite restaurants that closed in my hometown that reopened as a newer version in Ft. Smith. Being on vacation, we happen to go 3 times. A little excessive, but nonetheless mandatory to make up all the time we missed eating there in Tulsa.
Lindy Hop is such a global dance now that has lived more in modern times than it has in the past. Southern Fried Swing is contributing to the spirit and heart of what this dance is about. They keep getting better and better, and I really encourage you to budget and attend next year. I can’t wait to roll the dice and see if my schedule permits me to do the same.
I rate this event……..4.5 out of 5 shoes!