DJ Mineh Ishida

West Coast Swing Events – 2012 Michigan Classic

Ben Morris and Erica Berg at the 2012 Michigan Classic

Ben Morris and Erica Berg at the Michigan Classic | Photo by Mineh Ishida

I had the benefit of being a staff DJ playing west coast swing music at the 2012 Michigan Classic over the last weekend. I have to say, this was an unique event. Doug and Lori Rousar bought the event this year and are just incredible event directors. The projected attendance was 300-400, but they ended up with just shy of 500 attendees! Below are my opinions from the perspective of a DJ and attendee.

Opening Ceremonies

Doug Rousar’s unique vision for the opening ceremonies started the event with a dynamite energy that continued through the entire weekend. He honored the pro staff as well as the djs, something you don’t see every day. To say that Doug appreciates his staff is an understatement. He makes sure everyone gets the recognition they deserve.

Alex Kosiorek put together the music and announcements for the opening ceremonies. All I can say is I was stunned. The quality of the transitions and the music cutting was top notch. There is a reason this guy gets hired to cut music for routines for the U.S. Open. and recently was hired as a senior audio engineer for the Aspen Music Festival. If I ever do a routine or need music edited, I know who I’ll hire to do it. He’s the real deal. (More information on Alex can be found at his website www.alexkosiorek.com)

 

Music

Often reviews can sensationalize. Its easy to throw around words like amazing, sensational, incredible… When I say the west coast swing music at this event was “balanced,” I mean it as the highest compliment that I can give as a west coast swing DJ. There was great blues music, soul, R&B, hip hop, pop, and old school. We had fast and slow, new and old. The DJs had differences in styles that gelled together to make a perfect balance for our audience.

We had some of the best of the current crop of west coast swing DJs. I had the honor of working the booth this weekend with great established DJs, and the rising stars of west coast swing music. Victor Loveira led the team as head DJ.  He helped the new DJs learn what to do, and rocked the booth when he played. Ruby Lair and Tim Johnson brought years of experience and incredible professionalism. Katie Fallon, Marlin Jenkins, Rajeev Hotchandani, and Lauren Wiechy brought energy and excitement that comes from playing one of their first major events. If we were a baseball team, we had a great coach, the hall of famers, and the rookies of the year working together seamlessly.

The Dancing

All I can say is that the ballroom had energy. It never felt dead. The floor was alive the entire weekend, from Thursday when we opened, until we closed it down late into the mornings each day. There are other events that have larger ballrooms, have more people, etc, but few that can boast this kind of energy. It was friendly and active. As I was working the booth and did not have the opportunity to dance socially as much as others did, I’ll leave it to others to comment more on this. As DJs however, we judge our successes by the energy of the floor, and it looked great from the booth!

Sound Equipment

DJ TJ - Tim Johnson

DJ "TJ" Tim Johnson - Photo by Mineh Ishida

DJ Tim Johnson brought the sound system for the Michigan Classic. Tim has a fantastic setup with high quality components, and really knows how to setup his gear to deliver clean audio. There were definitely no complaints from anyone about the quality of the equipment. It was loud enough, and clear and tuned very well. I would highly recommend Tim Johnson for anyone looking to rent a sound system.You can learn more about TIm Johnson at his website www.dancefanatics.com

Seminars

One of Doug’s unique ideas for this event was to have seminars on non dance related topics of interest to dancers. Melissa Rollins offered a seminar on makeup for competition which used a live model and touched on techniques that add drama and glamour that could really help a competitor stand out. This workshop touched on advanced techniques and tricks that professional makeup artists use that every competitor would benefit from.

Victor Loveira taught a workshop on music for DJs and dancers. He covered a lot of the history of the dance as well as the techniques and best practices of DJs for both social and competition music. This information would be useful for anyone who dances. Afterall the music is the heart of the dance.

Alex Kosiorek shared his expertise on music editing offering solid advice on transitions, dynamic routine pieces and the techniques to ensure a clean edit and top quality audio. This would be a useful seminar for anyone who is doing a routine. Understanding these basics allow for better choreography and music that fits the dancers.

These seminars are so very informative and useful. I hope this tradition continues.

Competitions

Competition music was fair and well thought out. The music for the standard competitions had good tempos, a variety of styles and music that was known by the competitors. The music from heat to heat was consistent and fair. The fun competitions were music that allowed the competitors to play a bit more, and keep it high energy. Everyone got involved in the competitions and the audience supported their fellow dancers. The addition of the Saginaw crew from Michigan ensured that cheering and screaming were the norm, adding to the energy in the room.

For the All star / Pro strictly at the end of the weekend, the follows of each pairing were allowed to select their own music, something that worked very well. As Victor Loveira said: “It takes the pressure off the DJs, and ensures that the pros will put on a GREAT show.” It certainly was a great show.

Conclusion

I can honestly say that in my heart, the 2012 Michigan Classic will remain a goal post for events I attend and work in the future. I know that next year it will grow, and continue to improve. Doug and Lori Rousar are caring and hard working event directors, and I hope to once again be a part of that amazing DJ team. I’m sure others will comment and review it from a dancers perspective, but if you care about west coast swing music, this event had some of the best. If you can only attend a handful events next year, make sure this one is on your list.

For more information about the Michigan Classic, go to www.michiganclassic.com

About the Author:

DJ Mineh Ishida is a west coast swing DJ living in Tampa, FL.  He founded WestCoastSwingMusic.com in 2012 and is passionate about contributing to the West Coast Swing community through DJing and his work with this website.  You can Find more information about DJ Mineh on the About Page.  For booking Inquiries, please use this Contact Form.

  • Donna

    This is an awesome article…unfortunately, I was unable to be there this year…first of many many years I had to miss, but with Doug’s event letter and yours, Mineh, I could imagine being there in the midst of all the fun and great people that come to the Michigan event every year. Sorry I missed it, but thanks so much for taking me there for a few minutes.  cYa soon,

    • djmineh

      Donna, thank you for the feedback.  I really believe that Doug is doing amazing things with his events.  My statement in the article about shortlisting this event is 100% from the heart.  I hope to continue to be a part of Doug’s amazing vision for many years!  That said, you owe it to yourself to make sure you make it to Spotlight New Years this year in Toledo, Ohio.  If I know Doug, he’s not the type to leave well enough alone, and will be striving to make sure that it will be his best event yet!  See you then!