I must be crazy. I’m doing a blogging challenge

Here’s a post I wrote for the Swing Dynamite Blog.  This is the first of a 30 day blogging challenge.  This is the first time I do any kind of blogging challenge and I’m a bit nervous cause I am not the kind of person who can blog every day and worse, on command.  I am the kind of totally random blogger that some days will publish 5 posts and then nothing for four days.

Wish me luck!

30 Day Lindy Hop Challenge

Opening night of the 100 strangers project exhibit

Hello from the middle of nowhere

Hi there, dear blogosphere.

I’m at a golf resort in the middle of Effing Nowhere, QC. surrounded by about 800 swingers… er…. swingdancers from all over North America.

Said swingdancers are about to get hammered since all the competitions are over and tomorrow is a holiday for us Canucks.

Our school got a ton of medals as usual and everybody is ready to party hard (we don’t allow our students to drink until the comps are over)

Wi Fi sucks big time here and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to post this.

The party room is open and I hear they are doing some sort of shot (the MC told us that anybody going there should bring an umbrella and open their mouths).

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My Pretty Shoes

So, that sneaky brat of a daughter I have went and signed me up for both the Lindy Hop and Balboa Jack & Jills at the International Lindy Hop Championships in August 2012 without telling me.  That’s where the best Lindyhoppers from all over the world – about 800 of them, the cream of the cream, will gather to show who’s boss.

That normally wouldn’t be scary.  I’m used to competing.  I have medals under my belt.  So, why the screaming?

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On swing dancing and pain

(it is not a sad post, I promise. No, really!)

If you read my first post, you know by now that I was a premature baby (if you haven’t, then you should. I think it’s amusing).

I spent the first months of my life in an incubator. Very tiny I was and struggling to stay alive. In fact, my mother told me once, the doctors said to her she shouldn’t get too attached to me cause most likely I was not gonna make it. But I did. Little by little I gained strength, was able to feed from a bottle and eventually went home with my mother.

I grew up, a sickly kid frequently in and out of the hospital. But grew up I did. Then when I was about 11, the pain started.

Without getting into too much detail, I have a condition that affects my soft tissues, namely muscle and tendons. Which basically means I’ve been in pain for most of my life. On top of that (or more likely as the cause of that) my endocrine system doesn’t work very well. Some paths in my brain – like the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid axis or the Serotonin axis, are seriously misguided.

Just to give you a scope, the hypothalamus regulates functions such as temperature control, emotions, sleep, appetite and salt balance. Some of you may have seen me put ridiculous amounts of salt in my meals. Now you know why. My sodium metabolism is all screwed up and I need extra salt for my cellular membrane Na channels to function properly. I also don’t sweat much which means my body overheats and I go into heat exhaustion very easily. Some of you may have seen me wear cooling devices in the summer. That is the reason why I stay indoors (and preferably in an air-conditioned environment) on hot days (so much for the Summer Solstice Girl, huh?). Most likely, it all has to do with some crazy autoimmune disorder. It runs in the family too. In my old days of molecular biology and molecular genetics I used to obsess about it. Now, I don’t really care.

So, pretty much my body is effed up. No other way to put it, really.

However, I dance. Yes, I am in pain every time I dance (well, I am in pain every day of my life but it hurts more when I do any kind of physical activity). And yes, I overheat every time I dance. After a song or two, you’ll see me running to the nearest fan, or outside if it is winter, or to the restroom to spray myself with water so I cool down.

I also cycle, and rollerblade and play tennis when it is not too hot outside. And of course, in the winter time I skate and I also ski (downhill). Winter is the best cause I don’t overheat as much. And if I do, then I just reach for some snow and put it in my back. Instant bliss! :) If you’re ever around me in the winter and your hands are cold, just put them on the back of my neck to warm them up. You’ll be doing me a favour.

But back to dancing. Dancing gives me much joy. It makes me smile big time. Dancing is good for the soul.

Dancing in Montreal

A few months ago, a video went viral among swingdancers on Facebook. It was about this young woman with Rheumatoid Arthritis who is also a Lindy Hopper

I KNOW what she means. Every single word of it. And I am never giving up dancing. Ever!

So, save me a dance, will ya?

Trips to the bookstore are dangerous!

Fall 2004. On my way to the University of Ottawa bookstore to buy my Molecular Biology textbook.

I get to the University Centre and the centrecourt is packed with booths, tables, stands and people. As it turns out it is Club’s weeks which happens at the beginning of every semester. Cool, I think. But! I am on a mission. I’ve been told by my Molecular Biology professor that there was a screw up on the requisition and very few textbooks were ordered so I need to hurry up and get mine before they are sold out…. then I see some people dressed in Vintage (around the WW2 period) seemingly dancing in one of the corners. Naturally, my scientific mind wants to know what is that all about. I get closer and then I hear the music (hearing impaired here). And what do I hear? Wonderful Swing music!

I’ve been fascinated all my life with classic movies and particularly with Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly movies. If I didn’t like my iPhone so much I would say that I was definitely born in the wrong decade. But I disgress. My heart is racing, who are those people dressed exactly like in my beloved movies, doing what I had seen so many times in those old Turner and MGM films from the first half of the 20th century?

Now of course I absolutely HAVE to talk to those people and find out how I can get involved. It is the U of O Social Dance Club, they say (now known as SwingUO) and would you like to sign in for the term? how much is it? I ask – you know, broke graduate student and all. $15 they say. Per class? I ask. No, no, for the whole semester, they say. Sweet! where do I sign up?

That’s how I met Michelle, Bruce, Magali and Olivier, the founders of the club. I was hooked from day one. As a side note, I found out years later that I was the very first student to sign up and that they didn’t want to let me see the sign up sheet cause they were afraid I wouldn’t join if I saw there wasn’t anyone else there.

Magali and Olivier were my first Swing teachers. They thought me my first swing steps (step, step, rock step). It was Olivier who encouraged me to go to the Ottawa Swing Dance Society weekly dances.

And the rest is history, as they say. Within three months I was an executive member of the OSDS, six months later I was the house DJ. In 2005 I hired Byron Alley – then co-owner of the Swinging Air Force in Montreal, to come and teach a workshop in Ottawa. In 2006 I finally managed to convinced him (with the help of Bryn Morin and Natalia Rueda) to move to Ottawa and start a swing dance school here… but that’s another story.

The moral of this story? beware of trips to the bookstore. You never know where they are gonna take you!

UPDATE (06-06-12): You might end up in a book and/or on the walls of a very well know Blues Bar in Ottawa

100 Strangers Project Opening night