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10 Best Images of Moros Y Cristianos Festival Altea: Entrada Mora

8 Nov

In my two prior posts, I blogged about one of Altea’s most celebrated holidays, Moros y Cristianos. As promised, this blog post will focus on the highlight of the festival, the Entrada Mora, the spectacular parade of the “Moors.”

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Entrada Cristiana (Christian Parade Entry): Altea

25 Oct

In my last post, I gave a brief summary of the annual Moros y Cristianos  festival, and showed some of the opening day festivities.  This post will feature a few photos from Entrada Crsitiana, and next post Entrada Mora.

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Top Festival Photos: Moros y Cristianos in Altea Spain

12 Oct

Moros Y Cristianos Festivals or Festes de Moros I Cristianos,  in Valenciana, are very popular on the Costa Blanca, where I live. In my town, Altea, the main festival takes place at the end of September, honoring San Blas (Saint Blaise, in English.) However, the preparation for the main festival takes place all year long with each crew or brotherhood. Each of the many groups has its own marching band.  As is typical of many festivals, at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., (early by Spanish standards), there is a despertá, where musicians, drummers, and ear-numbing pellet guns stroll the streets with this form of an early wake-up call. And it is early as many of the festival participants party into the wee hours of the morning, with live bands starting nightly some time after midnight. This main part of the festival occurs Thursday through Monday, with the most popular event being the Monday night Entrada Mora, the parade featuring the “Moors.” I did ask around to find out if any actual “Moors” or Muslims participated, but was told no. This type of festival would not “fly” in the US but there are a number of festivals in Spain that may seem politically incorrect in other countries. In some of the photos of the brotherhood of the Moros, you will notice cigarettes and beer in hand, during the daytime marches. One of the “brotherhoods” has their headquarters just across the street from my patio, so I often get to witness their preparation and celebrations. Whatever one’s feelings are about the political incorrectness, the local atmosphere is electric with anticipation and excitement for the festival, and the music and costumes are fantastic.

In my next two blogs, I will provide photos of the Cristianos and the Moros, respectively.

Opening Day Festivities

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Procession up the hill to the Church in Casco Antiguo with many fabulous musicians

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Preview of my next post on the Entrada Cristiana

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Preview of post on Entrada Mora

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FISHING FIASCO ON THE ZAMBEZI RIVER

14 Jun

While fishing on the Zambezi River, I turned around from the boat’s railing and saw my pink wallet suddenly being shoved back into my purse. At first, with the bright sun, I wasn’t quite sure what I had seen, but then I realized one of the two local fishing guides intended to steal money from my wallet while the other man was the look-out. Usually one for confronting mistreatment right away, I paused, realizing the two of us were alone on this fishing venture in the middle of the Zambezi River with the two guides. These were desperate times in Zimbabwe, with the continuing pillaging and mismanagement of the economy by President Robert Mugabe, not to mention his human rights atrocities.

Almost worthless ten million Zimbabwe dollars

When we were in Zimbabwe, we were given local paper currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in the amount of “Ten Million Dollars,” which at the time was worth a mere 66 cents. There was even an expiration date on the bill. It continued to depreciate so much that this past week Zimbabwe took their currency out of circulation. One can now exchange 35000000000000000 Zimbabwean dollars for $1 U.S.

A guide at the elephant refuge center explained to us that before Mugabe took power Zimbabwe had better employment rates and quality of living; the ongoing deteriorating economic status of Zimbabwe’s citizens made things even harder for those who compare their current situation to their lot in the past. We were told that many Zulu were killed by Mugabe. Some of the Zulu warriors danced and sang for our tour group at the grand, colonial Victoria Falls Hotel. (I plan to later post video of their performance.)

As these thoughts quickly raced through my mind while on the fishing boat, I decided to casually meander over to my purse at the back of the boat, pretend to need my lip balm from it, and then carry it to the front of the boat where we were fishing. The river has a number of dangerous animals including hippos and crocodiles, and I feared if we confronted the two men that they might be desperate to protect their precious livelihood. We tried to look nonchalant while continuing to fish.

IMG_1006We were supposed to take a sunset Steam Train across the Victoria Falls Bridge over the thunderous, misty falls, but the train wasn’t running due to the inability to pay for needed parts. Our tour had also scheduled a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. If they couldn’t get parts for a train, I wondered about the maintenance of the helicopter. So that is one of the reasons we instead opted for the unique opportunity to fish on the Zambezi River. That option may have been no safer than the helicopter ride. In both cases, we and all of our tour companions ended up safely back at The Victoria Falls Hotel where we watched the colorful sunset, flanked by mist from the Victoria Falls on one side and the baboons running around the grounds and up the walls of the old grand dame hotel.

Tails from Altea Spain

13 Apr
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Check out my different colored eyes

So I finally get to offer my observations on this move to and life in Altea, Spain. I might add that I was promised I could put my two-cents in some time ago, but it has been several years before this has come to fruition.

It was confusing with all of the moves I have had to endure, first my original owner, Robbie (son of my current owner) abandoned me to pursue a career as a chef. Besides the lengthy hours he worked, he also apparently felt compelled to spend considerable time doing cross-fit and training for competition weight lifting. I am still not thrilled about this abandonment, but apparently it paid off for him as he received many favorable reviews in such publications as the LA Times, LA Magazine, Zagat, with Belcampo being one of ten top best new restaurants in 2014 by Bon Appetit Magazine as part of Downtown Central Market in Los Angeles. I got to go to his restaurant twice. Even though they don’t allow dogs, I pretended I was a service dog. I was so excited to see him! Then I was whisked off again by my new owner/mama for more changes.

This is me in mama's car before we moved to Spain

This is me in mama’s car before we moved to Spain

We ended up living in a place very different than where we lived on the Central Coast of California. The people here speak a different language, but I have learned about ten words in Spanish, such as ven (come,) muevete (move,) siéntate (sit,) and Pimienta (the translation of my name Pepper.) Many people greet me by name here; I am way more popular than my mama. People are intrigued by my two different color eyes: azul (blue) and marron (brown), and my dapple color. They also are amused when I sit up on my hind legs; they think I look like a Meer cat.

She takes me almost everywhere except when she puts on those black clothes and tells me she is going to Zumba and will be back soon. It feels like forever, especially after the uncertainty all of the changes have given me. When she goes out for a meal, I patiently (usually) sit under the table waiting for my reward from what she ate. Yum!

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Daniel and me at his 40th birthday party at Altearte

Like her, I am becoming more social. I now excitedly great her friends, sometimes surprising her and them with my new enthusiastic attempts at kissing them, as opposed to my prior indifference. I enjoy our longs walks every day, usually at least one down to the beach, and the other to the top of the hill where the iconic church is (but we are not attending church.) However, we have fun with our friends in the evening. One of our good friends, Daniel (a native of Norway) celebrated his 40th birthday at one of our local favorite bars, Altearte.

Yesterday, we met up with my new dog friend, Pogo, and his parents, Karen and Barry who recently moved here from Costa Rica (although they are originally from Canada.) We had an outdoor lunch with them and mama’s friend originally from nearby Valencia, Nina. Then we went to the neighboring town, Albir, which has the second highest population of Norwegians, after Norway, so Nina could deliver a birthday gift to a girlfriend. En route, she saw a friend, a former talented sculptor of wood, who sadly suffered a stroke and can’t do his art or speak anymore, but my owner thought the sparkle in his eyes over a drink revealed a glimpse of his former charisma and talent. The owner of the Los Angeles café, also a friend of Nina, presented them with a colorful plate of tapas. After they were done, “claro,” (“of course,” in Spanish), I got my just desserts or should I say tapas. (And, yes, my mama knows the phrase was originally just deserts.)IMG_0840

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Rafa at Club Cuba in Albir for Sunday evening salsa

It was already after the start of Sunday Cuba salsa dancing in Albir, and mama wanted to show the place to Nina. So that is where she goes when she leaves me on Sunday evening. When Rafa was initially playing some low key music, Nina loudly requested Cuban music, and he obliged. The only trouble was that they kept leaving me under the table alone so they could go dance. I guess it was better than being home alone. Then Nina drove us home where we went directly to bed after a fun- and wine-filled day. I burrow per my dachshund heritage, although I find it a little more challenging to sleep here due to traffic and people who talk way louder than I am used to.

It is quiet now during the three to four hour siesta, so I am going to take advantage of this time for a nap, before going for my evening routine of incessant ball chasing; I am ready for her to repeatedly tell me, “Dáme la pelota” (Give me the ball.) All in all, I like it pretty well here, which is good since my original owner, Robbie, is now going to be very busy at his new job at Saison, one of only four three star Michelin star restaurants in San Francisco. I just hope he and his brother Michael visit soon; here they are enjoying themselves in Belize with their brother Spencer and mama while I was left at Canterbury Tails doggie hotel. At least, Spencer will be visiting me next month.20150116_134409

Party…Spanish style!!

19 Mar
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Party paella being prepared

Yesterday was a stellar day in that I was invited to the birthday fiesta of the “novio,” (boyfriend) of my good friend, Carmen, whom I have known for about a year. She came to Altea about a year ago, and now lives with Pepe in the adjacent town of La Nucia. Since La Nucia is slightly inland, the houses are more likely to be single-family detached homes, often on large plots of land in the undulating countryside which harbors fruit trees and other vegetation, horses, and other scenic pastoral sites. Although very close to my town of beachside Altea, it has considerably different feel.

Since I (proudly) no longer own a car, Pepe picked me up and drove to his “estancia” (ranch.) En route, he explained that he lived in Altea when he was young, but has been living in La Nucia for 40 years. Upon arrival, he gave me a tour of the house, outbuildings which housed two separate barbecues, and many fruit trees. I laughed as I recognized that the blue granite counters he had in his kitchen were the same as I had installed at my former house in California.

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Mejillones (mussels) being cooked

Carmen, who is Cuban, was busy cooking dishes from her nascent land, including rice with black beans, pork (which had incredibly crispy delicious skins), and “tostones” (fried plantains.) Although I am not usually a fan of plantains, these were excellent. I watched as she pounded them a little flat and then fry them in oil. I rescued one batch from burning when she left the room to greet some newcomers. The following day (today as I write this,) when we spontaneously met for lunch and I told her how much I liked them when I usually don’t, she said she first soaks them in vinegar.

After her cooking creations were bundled for transport on party day, we took the short drive up the hill to the large outbuilding where the fiesta was to occur. Typical of this area, were two huge pans, one of paella and the other of mejillones (mussels) being expertly prepared by two local women. Paella, after all, is originally from Valencia, and Altea is part of the Communitat Valenciana (as they say in the local Valenciana dialect.)

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Carmen helping with the party preparation

Of course, there were the typical cheeses and cured meats available, with loaves of fresh baguettes (as common here as on my many trips to France,) free-flowing wine and beer. With the mussels and paella, several large mixed salads lightly dressed were served in the middle of the lengthy table.

The promise of Cuban music for dancing was frustrated by the lack of cooperation of the equipment brought for that purpose, but Pepe backed up his car to the large open doors of the building and cranked up his Cuban tunes. Rei, a local salsa teacher, got (almost) everyone up shaking their groove things. The multi-cultural assembly including locals, Columbians, Cubans, a Norwegian and others made for a great experience including the chance to practice my Spanish and find new dance friends for the weekly Sunday Cuban/salsa music at Club Cuba in nearby Albir.

Toward the end of the birthday party, they served what was the best dessert I have ever had, and even one of my best desserts ever (although I am not much of a sweet eater.) It was vanilla custard between layers of thin, crispy puff pastry like a mille-feuille (Napolean) but with fresh fruit on top.IMG_0450 As it was time to leave, leftovers and lemons from Pepe’s trees were offered to take home. I was driven home with my large, gorgeous lemons in hand, feeling utterly happy with my new life in Spain. Unfortunately, my photos do not reflect the full revelry of the day as my camera battery crashed but what few I got are shown here.

WATCHING BALLET FROM A BATHTUB IN PARIS’ OPERA HOUSE

29 Jul
Paris Opera House: Palais Garnier

Paris Opera House:
Palais Garnier

Always excited at the prospect of watching world-class ballet performed in a historic, opulent opera house, I quickly became perplexed and frustrated when the translated Paris’ Palais Garnier website offered seating in the “bathtub.” My French is limited to the most important things-ordering food and wine. The Parisian Opera House did not allow any outside assistance, such a ticketing agency or concierge assistance, so I was left to my own designs  to figure out the seating on my own, (which was further hampered by my wanting technological skills.)

I finally found a feature that, when clicked on, showed the view of the stage from those chosen seats, or at least that is what I hoped. Left with no other choice, I clicked the “purchase” button and nervously hoped for the best.

Le Grand Foyer

Le Grand Foyer

When we eventually arrived at the grand venue of the Opera House a few months later, we sipped the obligatory champagne, admired the elegant beaux-arts design, and then proceeded up the stairs to see what awaited us. We entered a private door into a vestibule where we left our wraps, and then proceeded to the red velvet splendor of our private seating area.

As I eventually learned, the bagnoire translates into English, not only to bathtub, but also to the lowest seats in a small box seating area at an opera house.  Relieved, we had a good laugh, another glass of champagne, and settled into our “bathtub”  to enjoy the ethereal, mesmerizing ballet.

JODY MULGREW: ROCKETING TO THE TOP

25 Jul
Jody Mulgrew credit: Jacob Mendez

Jody Mulgrew
credit: Jacob Mendez

Jody Mulgrew has come full circle—returning to his home turf of the Central Coast of California where he woos audiences with his stirring vocals and deftly-played guitar. He performs solo, as well as in a number of groups including Jody Mulgrew and the Skeleton Crew, and the Girls and Boys. He also enjoys writing music and performing with other individual musicians. Jody performs many of his own songs with his music being influenced by Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers, k.d.lang, Smokey Robinson or anyone who is “a good singer with a good song.” He views his voice as his primary instrument, with a focus on music that is “heartfelt” and “easy to listen to.”

The Skeleton Crew features many of his original songs, but with more of an emphasis on danceable music than during his solo performances. The group plays top rock, rockabilly, Sam Cooke, Steve Earl, and music with “a little bit of twang in it and a little bit of sizzle.” Jody notes the Bay Area-based Girls and Boys band have a great female lead singer, Brianna Lee. The group tours the West Coast. When on the Central Coast, they play alternative rock and Americana along with other styles of music. Jody also relishes the opportunity to perform with the talented Nataly Lola at the Paso Robles Inn’s Cattleman’s Lounge. Recently, Jody has relished working with his “old singing and song-writing buddies,” including Gary Garrett, who lives in San Francisco. Jody described Gary’s music as “thoughtful and humorous,” noting that their two voices blend well.

In April 2013, Jody attended a songwriter’s week in Nashville. When asked if he had received any awards, Jody revealed he was nationally recognized for his songwriting. He received the Abe Oleman award for excellence in songwriting by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Jody explained that this is a national award, and it was not something he applied for; rather “they found me.” He is thrilled that the award is signed by the current leader of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Jimmy Webb (composer of By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Up, Up and Away and many more hits.) He was also recognized by the Durango Songwriter’s Expo for his song, I Will Not Fall in Love with You Again. The prize for that win was the opportunity to write a song with hit maker, Shawn Mullins. In 2011, local New Times readers voted Jody’s Rocket Ship, the best new album.

Raised in Morro Bay, California, as a young boy, Jody remembers climbing into a self-built “fort” where he would sing along with the radio. In school, he sang in choirs in school before attending Cal State Northridge where he naturally majored in music. After graduating he spent a few years cutting his teeth in the L.A. music scene, and touring throughout the United States and Europe before he and his wife decided to return to their home turf on the Central Coast.

Jody Mulgrew - Brick - by - Brittany App HI

Jody Mulgrew
credit: Brittany App

The now disbanded group, Johnny Starlings, was one of Jody’s early musical ventures. He and fellow musician, Yohei Shikano, created a full-length album, Aiming Too High. They also composed the song, Slow Dance, sung by Inga Swearingen, which was featured on the nationally syndicated radio program, A Prairie Home Companion.

Besides his many gigs, Jody volunteers in local Elementary and Special Day Classes. His eyes lit up as he described a memorable experience he had the prior day. In this class the students are mostly non-verbal. The children were given percussion-type instruments to play. When it came to an appropriate spot during the Bob Marley song, “one little guy” suddenly shined when launching into an energetic, on tempo, drum solo.

Some of Jody’s favorite local performance venues are the Pony Club in Paso Robles and the Cambria Pines Lodge. Jody smiled as he cited the large oak tree that covers the Pony Club patio as contributing to the good vibe. Jody feels dancers inspire and energize his playing, noting that there are often great dancers at the Cambria Pines Lodge.

Jody’s playful nature and other upcoming performances can be found on his website jodymulgrew.com where he describes he fondness of “fondling figuoas” at the local Farmer’s Market.

courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com

SWING DANCING IN CATALINA’S CASINO BALLROOM

23 Jul

Catalina Casino Ballroom

The “Big Band” wails swing music in the sybaritic art-deco Casino Ballroom in Avalon on Catalina Island. Dancers of all ages dressed in their ’40s finest triple-step, lindy, glide, and even perform aerials to the rhythmic, revved-up sounds of the Second World War. The Catalina Swing Dance Festival occurs annually in November (this year November 8-10.) During the day, a variety of  classes are available including the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Collegiate Shag, 1950s Teen Swing, the Balboa, and more. The Balboa dance uses small, close dance steps which were developed to cope with California’s Balboa Peninsula’s crowded dance floors in the 1920s. Instructors at the swing dance festival are enthusiastic, renowned professional performers and teachers. One needn’t have a dance partner to participate in the dance workshops or even be a dancer to enjoy this lively, nostalgic festival.

Swing Dancing in Casino Ballroom

Swing Dancing in Casino Ballroom

On Saturday evening, even non-dancers can enjoy the live big bands and decked-out dancers in against the backdrop of the largest circular ballroom in the world. When it was built in 1929 it became the tallest building in Los Angeles. In it early heyday, thousands of dancers would arrive by steamship for the privilege and pleasure of dancing in the historic ballroom, which can accommodate over 6000 dancers!  Built with dancers in mind, the ramps to the top floor ballroom facilitate relatively quick access to the dance floor and were also designed to prevent injuries or fatigue that could be caused by stairs. In addition, the hardwood floor was constructed over layers of foam, pine and cork, which are suspended over five feet.

Besides the Casino Ballroom events, there is après-festival karaoke at El Galleon Restaurant, as well as midnight swing dancing at Antonio’s. In addition, there are both planned and spontaneous swing dance demonstrations on Crescent Avenue, the main tourist walkway. For people who wish only to make a day trip, there is typically a special 12:45 a.m. return ferry to Long Beach.

Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club

Non-dancers and dancers can enjoy the island’s many land, air and water activities. Too numerous to mention them all, some of the land highlights include Wrigley Gardens, interior tours, golf, walking tours, bike rentals, and ghost tours. Scuba, snorkeling and “snuba” are available, which will require donning a wetsuit due to the cold water this time of year. Although the Descanso Beach Club, on one of precious few sandy beach spots on the island, is scheduled to be closed from mid-October until mid-April for low season, they sometimes open for out-of season warm weather weekends. They have cocktails, beach chair rentals, and snorkeling. For the adventurous, there is a nearby zip line eco tour. Information about Catalina Island activities is available at: www.catalinachamber.com/island/activities.

The vibrantly painted Lobster Trap emphasizes fresh, tasty seafood in a casual and sometimes raucous atmosphere with friendly service at reasonable prices. Memorable appetizers include “monkey balls” (ahi-stuffed mushroom tempura), a variety of fresh fish with a choice of seven delectable sauces, as well as a good selection of chicken, beef and other land animals. A full bar, live weekend entertainment, and televised sporting events make this a fun and popular spot..

Inn on Mt. Ada

Inn on Mt. Ada

For a memorable lunch, head up to the Inn on Mt. Ada, the former Wrigley Mansion, perched atop a hill overlooking Avalon and its harbor. The highlight is spending several hours at the Inn with a lunch that includes unlimited beverages (wine, sodas, coffee and tea) and an extensive menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and the daily Mexican special. Even after finishing lunch, guests are free to roam the main floor of the Inn which houses the den, sun porch, living room, formal dining room, and the terrace, which reveals a spectacular view of Avalon, the harbor and beyond. The Inn is the premier place to stay on Catalina. Reservations required.

For a central hotel location with easy harbor and beach access, the newly-remodeled, mid-century style Pavilion Hotel is ideal for both couples and families. Amenities include continental breakfast, afternoon wine and cheese social, tranquil lounge areas, a cozy fire pit, and bright, airy rooms. The hotel is perfect for both families and couples. Luxurious accommodations are available at The Inn on Mt. Ada, but due to its location at the top of the hill, transportation is needed to get to the Inn and back to Avalon. Camping is another option for the adventurous or budget-minded.

Book the hotel, festival and ferry early and pack as lightly as possible due to the necessity of carting luggage from the car to the ferry, the hotel and then back. Round-trip ferries on Catalina Express to Avalon leave from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. The length of the boat ride depends on the route and type of boat, so carefully consider all options. The other transportation options are helicopter, or private plane which lands on the perilous-looking runway high on the island.

LET’S DANCE!

23 Jul
Linda Drake

Linda Drake

San Luis Obispo (SLO) County, in the beautiful Central Coast of California, is home to one of the premier social dance scenes in the United States. Social dance is a category of dance styles which can be performed with a variety of partners in a relaxed, social setting. While many people think this type of dancing if primarily for competition, locally less than 5% of the dancers are competing; the rest of the dancers are doing it simply for fun. Some of the dances taught here on the Central Coast include East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Argentine tango, foxtrot, rumba, salsa, waltz, cha cha, nightclub, the hustle, two-step, country and western, ballroom and more. While many people feel intimidated at the prospect of what sounds like complicated dances, the reality is learning these dances are readily attainable.

Some of the best local dance classes are offered by the fun and nimble-footed Linda Drake through SLO Dance. Linda offers over 20 years of local professional dance teaching experience. Linda and the other dance teachers include a number of nationally-recognized award-winners.  There are classes of all levels, including many beginning classes. She and her other SLO Dance teachers provide skills, patience in a friendly, fun atmosphere which makes it possible for anyone to learn to dance. Linda shared her oldest student was at least 84 and her youngest age 12. Many of the skilled dancers at such public venues as concerts in Mission Plaza, Templeton Park, Paso Robles Park, and Arroyo Grande Park have taken dance lessons from SLO Dance or other local dance teachers.

Linda started dancing with her high school drill team. She entered and did well at the Miss Dance Competition, even though she had no formal dance training. At age 18, she was hired to teach at an Arthur Murray Dance studio.  While teaching there, Linda received the coveted Top Female Instructor in the Nation award. She has also been awarded Top Professional Instructor by the World Dance-O-Rama. In order to compete professionally, she had to leave Arthur Murray, which was a difficult decision. Her decision was rewarded when her professional dance career got off to a stellar start when she became the National East Coast Swing, Jack and Jill Champion in 1984. Throughout the 1990s, she was consistently ranked in the top six female competitors in West Coast Swing. She also had the honor of choreographing several PBS dance specials including Dancing through the Decades. She also opened her own business teaching dance in Southern California, and in 1993, twenty years ago, she started teaching in San Luis Obispo.  Linda continues to participate in some dance competitions, as do a number of her teachers.

Lessons through SLO Dance occur weekly on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Oddfellows’ Hall near downtown San Luis Obispo. Classes are offered either in a series of successive classes, or tailored to be a “drop in class.” Generally, two different classes are offered at the same time, but in different rooms, with a total of six classes offered each evening. SLO Dance also hosts monthly themed dance parties at the Oddfellows’ Hall. Linda has been doing local monthly “Dance Invasions” with her students at such dance-friendly venues as The Madonna Inn and Big Chill Night.  On a designated Friday or Saturday, people initially meet for a dance class, such as East Coast Swing or foxtrot, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and then Linda and the dancers venture as a group to the planned Dance Invasion site. This is a way for dancers to try their new dance skills in the reassuring company of their dance classmates. In addition, SLO Dance offers free dance lessons a half hour prior to the start of the monthly Saturday SLO Blues Society concerts, which gives the person a chance to practice the new steps learned.

Kaye Bohler

Kaye Bohler

Linda especially enjoys opportunities for her students to dance to live music. She likes to schedule Dance Invasions with live bands which play danceable music. To that end, on May 11, 2013 she scheduled a Dance Invasion is scheduled for the dynamic, sassy blue’s performance of Kaye Bohler at the May SLO Blues Society concert. Kaye sings “blues-flavored soul and R&B reminiscent of Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.” Kaye’s 2011 CD Like a Flower was named one of the best by Downbeat Magazine. When interviewed prior to the concert, Kaye stated she was eagerly looking forward to returning to play in San Luis Obispo County where she previously lived and performed. Her upcoming performance starts at 8:00 p.m. at the SLO Vets Hall in San Luis Obispo. Kaye also performs throughout California and other West Coast locales.

Cal Poly Sport Dance Team at Madonna Inn

Cal Poly Sport Dance Team at Madonna Inn

Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) in San Luis Obispo also has an active dance teaching and performance community. About ten years ago, Chris Ellwood started out taking lessons at Cal Poly, then became the President and eventually started a dance competition team. Even though he is no longer a student, he is the Director of the Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Club and Sports Team.  They provide weekly lessons at the Architecture Building for all ages; Chris noted that they have retirees who regularly take lessons. A variety of classes are taught including samba, waltz, paso doble, salsa, mambo, nightclub two-step, rumba, East and West Coast Swing, foxtrot, cha cha, and American and Argentine tango. Every February, Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Club offers an annual competition which attracts approximately 300 dancers. More info is available at  www.cpdancesport.org/comp. SLO Swing, also consisting of Cal Poly students, features Lindy Hop, which is sometimes referred to as the original swing dance. Lindy Hop started in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, which evolved from jazz into a fusion of dance mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. They sponsor a number of workshops and events including the Lindy Exchange.

Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango

Argentine tango is a sensual partner dance originated in the 1890s along the Rio de la Plata, the river separating Argentina and Uruguay.  It has become a popular dance worldwide. Laura Andes invites people to “come and share in my enthusiasm and passion for this spectacular and magical gift called Tango!” She noted that for a community this size that there is a very active tango community, typically with five or six tango events per week, including lessons, practicas, and more. Laura’s dedication to authentic Argentine tango led her to immerse herself in tango dance and culture by spending four weeks in Buenos Aires in 2009 and six weeks in 2011. By doing this, she became recognized as a regular at the Buenos Aires milongas, which allowed her to learn by dancing with true experts. She also enjoyed the opportunity to sample the incredibly bountiful selection of specialty tango shoes. Laura offers a class for students of all levels “by donation” the third Tuesday of each month.

Courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com