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Acknowledgements: Put on your red shoes & dance the blues

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Throughout the years many treasures have passed through the Blues Belfast headquarters. And so we feel it’s important to express our gratitude & thanks to those who played significant roles in the development of Blues Belfast.

 

Travis Hartman (USA)

Our Travis!  Our very own superhero!  Where do we even start?

Travis was there before Blues Belfast was even born!  He (jokingly) named us Belfast Enbluesiasts, & for a while we even went by that!  In the pre Blues Belfast days, Travis was brought to teach occasional workshops for members of the Belfast dance scenes who expressed an interest in Blues.  During this time, amid a bus tour of Northern Ireland, we even found a little stray kitten & named her after the Queen of Swing, Norma Millar!

Cherished in the hearts of the original Blues Belfast crew, Travis brought his infectious passion for the dance & planted it firmly in the roots of the scene we have today.  A regular attendee & trusted volunteer at Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden, Travis’s continuously growing repertoire will never cease to exist.  And as an active member of Dublin’s Downtown Blues scene for a number of years, he has played a significant role in the cross community development of the Irish scenes.

Having spent a number of years in Dublin, Travis has since moved back to the United States where he continues to bring joy to everyone around him.  He is truly missed & will always be Belfast’s biggest Enblusiast!

 

CHRISTOPHER LAKE-HÄRM

Once upon a time atender-footed, three-year-old Australian was thrown into an Estonian folk ensemble and a new dancer entered the world. After sixteen years of folking it up, a few national wrestling titles and some time at university, he was born again into the world of Lindy hop. Blues dance followed six months later and since then Chris worked to pioneer the dance over Australia, teaching classes, workshops and even launching the nation’s first Blues festival before packing his bags for Europe. Over the past years Chris has been working hard, combining his passion for travel and dance, to bring Lindy hop and Blues to Spain, Iceland, Germany, Australia, France, Estonia, Ireland, England, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Infinity…and beyond!

Chris reached Belfast in 2014 following the Mooche event in Cork.  As part of our very first Deep Down Blues Weekender Chris was one of our guest teachers & provided the budding Blues Belfast community with a beautiful introduction to the world of Blues Dancing.  Since then Chris has returned on a number of occasions for both workshops and friendly visits.  He will always have a special place in the heart of Blues Belfast, and in our local communities alike. “It takes an athlete to dance and an artist to be a dancer”. (Christopher Lake-Härm)

Photo credit: Jette Haan Fotografie

 

LUCAS WEISMANN & JEANNIE LIN (USA)

Lucas & Jeannie came to us in 2015 for our first international scale event, & one of the first Tango-Blues fusion events to hit Europe, Titanic Tango Blues Fusion. The duo tailor made a full eight hour workshop that took place over two days & catered to local, national and international attendees from Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Prague to name but a few. The event also included three nights of parties where attendees got out their red shoes and danced the Tango-Blues into the late hours of the nights.

This was the first big event for Blues Belfast & Lucas was there every step of the way; guiding, advising & co-cordinating the event plans from beginning to end.  It was with his help & expertise that we got Belfast on the international Blues dancing map.  And for that we will be forever grateful to him.  Thanks Luke!

“As a Dancer my goal is to make the person I’m dancing with want to dance with me again and again. As a teacher, my goal is for any student I teach to be inspired to continue to dance and to take more classes with me in the future”, (Lucas Weismann).

 

DÁIRE MAC AN BHAIRD & JENNIFER BANISTER

Dáire Mac An Bhaird likes his music like he likes his whiskey; aged and mellow. He was born under a bad sign in Holland and has both lived, taught and DJed blues all over Europe. A mover and shaker in more ways than one, he is one of the founders of blues in Delft, Holland and co-organises Crash! The Delft Blues Festival every February. Dáire is always researching and expanding his knowledge of blues music and dance both on and off the floor. He wants to share the joy of connection; with yourself, your partner, the music, and the environment.

Originally, from the middle of cornfields in middle America, Jennifer soon headed off to travel the world. After spending six years abroad, Jennifer decided to settle in the World Capital of Live Music-Austin, TX. A dancer, she has taught dance in 7 countries and works to bring dancers and live music together. She is a volunteer board member at the Austin Swing Syndicate-one of the largest weekly swing dance organizations in the world. Jennifer loves many genres of music, but Blues is her favorite.

Together Dáire & Jennifer travelled to Belfast from Galway during their stay in Ireland in the early Blues Belfast days.  They held regular classes here in an effort to get Blues Belfast off the ground & anchor the Blues dance scene in the city.  While class numbers were small to begin with, the duo never gave up their passion for scene development.  Without them who knows where we’d be today.  But one thing is for sure, we couldn’t have done it without them! Thanks Dáire & Jennifer! Photo credit: Patrick Maguire

 

LAURA GOURLEY

Probably the biggest advocate for all things dance, vintage, glamour & style, Laura is the walking embodiment of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s.  Beginning her dance journey in Ballroom, she managed to fall down the Swing dance rabbit hole & discovered a whole new world of dance.

When Blues Belfast came along, Laura was right in there & emerged herself in bringing the scene to life.

She has since moved to Cork where she is an active member of the community there & is now teaching Balboa.