The After Party (TAP) 2018 in Review
About The Directors
The After Party or TAP is hosted by the phenomenal Chuck Jones and Demetre Souliotes, who originally sought out to create a small party for the best of the best competitors hanging out after the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships (hence the name). Over time the event grew to become a very large event in itself hosting amazing dancers from all over the world.
One of the many things that makes TAP unique is the causal nature of events. Competitors often dress in jeans and judges are asked to mark competitors on "fun" content rather than "Swing" content.
TAP is hosted at the Hilton Irvine / Orange County Airport - this is also the same hotel that hold Paradise Swing and Country Festival in October.
Thankfully, I live a quick 1.5 hours down the road and I have never had to fly into the airport to get this event. However, the airport is literally across the street. I would suppose this would make an Uber ride incredibly short, if needed at all.
As usual there was standard check in. Parking is available in a lot with in and out privileges as long as you have your room key. Parking rates for my Friday-Sunday stay totaled $12. Hotel rooms did not include a fridge or microwave (boo!) So, make sure to bring an ice chest if you would like to keep things cold. No complimentary meals are offered at this hotel. Consequently, there are lots of places to eat around the area within walking and driving distance. My personal favorites are El Torito and IHOP. There is also dining in the hotel restaurant with standard menu prices. The food is very good. Particularly, the Chicken Sandwich, the Veggie Pizza and the Turkey Burger - can you tell I've been here a few times? ;)
Workshops and world-class dances at this event were facilitated by Ben Morris & Victoria Henk (USA), Maxime and Torri Zzaoui (France), Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann (USA), Jakub Jakoubek & Emeline Rochefeuille (Czech Republic / France), Ben McHenry & Cameo Cross (USA), Semion Ovsiannikov & Maria Elizarova (Russia), Sean Mckeever & Courtney Adair (USA), Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham-Munroe (Canada), Hugo Miguez & Stacy Kay (USA), Lee Easton & Fabienne Henshall (United Kingdom), Ryan Crutcher & Mia Primavera (USA), Wee Tze Yi and Dalena Lee (Singapore), Christopher Dumond (USA), Beverly Brunerie (France), Nicole Clonch (USA), Malia San Nicolas (USA), Estelle Bonnaire (France), Brandon Gautreaux (USA), Chuck Brown (USA), Annika Välimaa (Finland), Kara Frenzel (USA), Jérome & Bonnie Subey (USA & France), Larissa Thayane (Brazil), Samantha Buckwalter (USA), Piotr Lenart & Marta Nita (Poland), Karin Kakun (Isreal) and Igor Pitangui (Brazil).
DJs & MCs
It's always a good night of dancing with DJ's Brad Whelan, Victor Loveira, Forrest Hanson, Emeline Rochefeuille, Helen Tocco, Aidan Keith-Hynes, Christopher Chung and Anastasia Leonenko.
What made the nights extra special were live performances on the Saxophone by Khayree Jones and a live Viola performance. Both took place during the very late night hours between 1 AM and 3 AM.
My personal favorites of the TAP workshops included Bameo's (Ben and Cameo) impromptu class on visual connection. In this class we were encouraged to try clean patterns without physical connection, we progressed to include mirrored movement initiated by the leader, then the follower. Eventually, when we connected we could use our feel different styles from each partner.
Another great workshop was Nicole Clonch's Contemporary class. As a warm up, she encouraged up to move across the floor telling a story. One instance, we pretended to see lasers around the room and we needed to navigate through them. In another, we acted to dance with a ball of light. We finished the class with Contemporary choreography.
I was happy to learn the TAP exclusive line dance choreographed by Lee and Fab. The combination was challenging and fun.
Last but not least, getting back to my roots in Cameo's Ballet class was a highlight. This a short was refresher course for me and a great beginning class for any other dancer. I found I have been practicing these exercises every day since.
A special competition was held between four of the DJs (Helen Tocco, Aidan Keith-Hynes, Victor Loveira and Forrest Hanson) during with the Champs invitational Jack and Jill where each DJ got to pick which couple they wanted to dance to their song. Each round the judges would pick their favorite couple and move them into the next round until one DJ and couple was left with the winning title. It was quite entertaining to watch Brad Whelan MC his own intro to the Jack and Jill and inspire Stephen White to do the same.
Another TAP exclusive event was the Invitational One World Jack and Jill aimed to pair two partners from different countries.