Monday, August 15, 2011

Lindy Hop Portugal Saga - Part 3 (Story Time)

It surprises me that some friends haven't heard certain Portugal stories. Stitches, secluded beaches, aerial workshops, purse thief catcher, marriage proposals, FC Porto, and others need recounting. I'm not one for gathering people around me and telling stories en masse. Not from the guy who reads at parties. So people have gained glimpses verbally, mere written snatches on Facebook, snippets missed due to feeds. Gather round then.

I would be teaching in Portugal for three months. An aerials workshop was a given. Abeth and I planned it as soon as we could, but we had to allow time for me to train her. She had done some previous aerial training, but not to the level that was required to teach an aerials workshop.

Day 1 found us at Leça da Palmeira. We practiced basic aerials such as the frog jumps and a litany of trip flips. We worked our way towards Moons which was easy enough. Then we started building up the pancake aerial. We got to the dive into the swing prep where I realized my mistake. Don't practice in sand if you're ill prepared for sand flying in your face.

Subsequent days found us training at the Palácio de Cristal. The sand free grass made it an easier training environment. Abeth worked hard even adding pliometrics to her workout routine. The aerials progressed well since we narrowed the teaching list to 4-5 aerials. We stepped through preps, down and ups, then overs so we understood together how the workshop would proceed. This is because workshops are best when both people can contribute to the learning process. Besides, both of us would have to pass around the room assisting people and letting them know whether they could proceed or refine an intermediate stage. Here's one video of us training the pancake.
Aerials were progressing well. The aerials workshop went rather smoothly and we had about 30 students. About half the guys worked with two women each, but they hung in there and were still throwing them at the end. Everyone got the pancake that day too. Talk about success! Abeth and I then did an aerial wrapup video that went quite well too. As I wrote in an email: "Your students should also admire the effort you put into learning and teaching these aerials with me today". See for yourself.


The Francos metro station was near my house and there was a tempting rock wall surrounding it. I was training plyo jumps there for parkour. I choose a slightly higher target, one foot makes it, the other doesn't. My shin's in pain. There's an open wound but no blood. I start moving the surrounding skin and notice it's moving independently related to the white stuff I see underneath. Then the blood wells up and I freak out (foreign country, no insurance, will I need stitches?).
I call Carlos.
Then I called Abeth (yeah, not many numbers on my phone).
 She sent me numbers for Carla and Mariana. They happened to be working at the same clinic that day, so I merrily began my trek. It was a fun 20 minute walk where the blood slowly dripped down my leg. Needless to say, they were great, Mariana makes wonderful stitches, and I can't complain with 3-4 female doctors in the room with me.
The creepy thing about this- my brother predicted this in a dream. A broken arm is close enough to stitches in a shin, right? I learned Portuguese swing dancing doctors are great. Mariana learned that stitches begets Belgian chocolates.
And my stitches earned me company with traceurs from Belgium, Germany, and Japan.

The Purse Thief

Lindy Hop Portugal held the Atlantic Swing Festival June 3-5. Abeth and I taught alongside Argentina's Gaston Fernandez and Tina Rizza. After Sunday's workshops, everyone headed to the gazebo near the Jardim da Cordoaria for my farewell party. If I read Google Groups ever, I would have trusted this information. Any time someone would mention "hey, it's your farewell party", even if it was Gaston and Tina, I inwardly scoffed. It seemed appropriate to have a relaxed Sunday party, but I never trusted the intel related to me.
So many dancers came. They brought food, alcohol, and blankets. Eventually, the food and bags were pushed to the edges so people could dance. I still didn't trust the intel until there were toasts and a 3 song steal jam. It was a nice thank you from the Portuguese dancers. They even gifted me with a Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny Porto (still unopened and safely stored away). Eventually, I got worn out and headed outside the gazebo and chatted with Nuno (the suited guy).
We talked of a few things, including my possible return. Suddenly two guys run past us, snatching a purse from the gazebo's edge, and continue running. A few seconds elapse and then I threw my camera bag to Nuno and took off after them black jacket flapping open. They sprinted through the hedges, trees and down the steps exiting this garden. They were heading toward the Centro Português de Fotografia and I was catching up. When I was nearly 10-15 meters away, the back guy tossed the purse to the front guy. The front guy missed and I snatched the purse off the ground. They warily walked a few meters from me feebly gesturing toward the bag. My eyes were then quickly drawn to the 4-5 lindy hopper guys pounding pavement towards me and them. The failed thieves scampered off to friendlier environs.

It was an adrenaline rush. The purse was unopened, the guys were congratulating me, we successfully returned. It was an exciting moment that deserved mental replay, but you can't recapture that feeling. The purse belonged to Mariana, the doctor who stitched me. She jokingly proposed to me and I gently declined.

I had trouble walking after that hard sprint. I thought it was my sciatic nerve acting up and my Porto chiropractor didn't give me conclusive information to dissuade me from this self-diagnosis. Only until I arrived in Colorado did I get a proper diagnosis. My lasting reminder - a scarred meniscus. My range of motion is improving, but I have to watch my landings.


  1. Hey, that's you in the top picture! I was thinking, "That's kind of a manly gal flipping over with all that sand."
    I think Abeth's work with all the aerials was really inspiring, especially adding in plyometrics. I just watched that P90X plyometrics video...the warm-up is kind of crazy.
    Oooooh...fancy chocolates!
    Way to halt thieves!!
    How is your meniscus, now?

  2. Also "I'm not one for gathering people around me and telling stories en masse. Not from the guy who reads at parties." Heh. :-)

  3. The meniscus is ok. It's able to handle 14ers, aerials, and parkour.