Happy 2016.

This New Years Eve was very different for me.  It was the first time in 9 years that Michael and I did NOT participate in a dance event.

Every year, since 2006, Michael and I have taught and performed over the threshold of New Years Eve, celebrating the onset of new hope and resolutions with joyous swing dancing.  Our first New Years Eve dance event was Swing Out North West, in Seattle, WA, completing what marked my first year as a full time swing dance instructor.  Michael and I performed an impromptu show with the other teachers, Hannah and Mattias Lundmark, Rob and Dianne Van Haaren, Bill Borgida and Laura Glaess, Chris Chapman and Darla Weideman and the great Frankie Manning and Chazz Young.  It marked a very special year and I was honored to be there.

Since then, the wonderful Michael Gamble and Jaya Dorf have hired me and Michael to teach every year at what is now the largest, most popular event in the United States for swing dancers on New Years Eve, Lindy Focus, in Asheville, NC.  When the clock strikes twelve, this event has a sea of happy people, the highest caliber of musical talent, and a great collection of personalities that make for a phenomenal New Years Eve Bash.

This year, I asked Michael and Jaya for a break.  I felt I needed some time to rest.  I had a perfect opportunity to go to Australia where I could spend Christmas and New Years with my soon to be husband and family-in-law.  It was all great.  But after Christmas passed and New Years Eve was approaching I began to feel this pull in my heart.  I started to see ghosts of rehearsing show dancers and curious student faces slide through my mind.  I couldn’t help but start to question whether I had made the right choice to step away from “working” this year.  I wondered, what should I do with myself on New Years Eve if I’m not dancing?

Fortunately, Michael Jagger was in the same boat as me.  He had also planned to take time off and be in Australia for NYE.  So a small collection of us made courageous plans to brave the crowds and watch the world famous fireworks off the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  When first hearing this plan it seems like a cute, touristy, adventure; and why not see something so iconic to the location you are visiting.  In actuality, it was a horribly difficult, hot, uncomfortable saga.

Defending our tiny camp spot, during the hottest part of the day, our small team of four (me, Simon, Michael and Karolina) were all about ready to faint from sun exposure when I happen to glance up, dreamily, towards the gorgeous balconies of the privileged.  Yes, there are those who can afford perfect, unobstructed views of the beautiful, Sydney Harbor.

Low and behold, or in this case, high and upheld, I noticed a swaggering gentleman in a jazzy hat looking over a balcony rail.

I leaned over to Michael and said, “I bet you that’s Scott Cupit.

Well of course, Michael happen to have Scott’s phone number on hand so we gave him a call.

The guy on the balcony picked up his phone!  It was Scott!

What are the crazy, chances that we would happen to spot Scott Cupit on a balcony in Australia on New Years Eve?!?  Well . . . it happened.

Scott, and his lovely wife Laura, came down to our rescue.  Scott and Laura were visiting his Uncle Colin who works as an anesthesiologist.

Uncle Colin invited all four of us to Heaven.  It was the apartment of all apartments, the height of all balconies, the most perfect firework viewing spot ever.  For the remaining glorious hours of 2015 until the New Year rang in we were glowing with gratitude to experience this fortunate encounter.

But that’s not the point of the story.  The point of the story is that the dance was still with us.  It is in us no matter where we go.  Even if we think we are taking a “break” away from it.

Around 9:00pm Scott went over to the music player and put on some swing music.  Of course we started dancing.  We took turns, we traded partners, we jammed, Michael threw me up in the air and everyone went wild!  Especially the group of kids ages 4 – 9.  After that, we all proceeded to do the Shim Sham. (kids are amazing, they just do it, no need to teach anything) Then we circled up to do Big Apple steps and it turned into the ice breaker, uniting moment of the night where we all connected, all ages got to play together and a magical happiness filled everyone.  It was so special.  It felt like our way of saying “thank you for having us at your party”.  And I realized, I still taught, I still danced and I still celebrated the New Year through dance.

I can’t believe it all worked out the way it did.  I am so grateful.  I think it was a way of the Universe telling me it was OK to take some time off from working.  And also telling me that no matter where I go or what I do, the dance will always be in me.