Category Archives: Clogging

Clogging and More at the Fair

DMC at Fair

Clogging Express performing at the Alameda County Fair

Yesterday the Diablo Mountain Cloggers, one of the groups I teach, danced at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. Clogging Express (our perfomance team) also danced three routines. It was a very warm day but not as hot as I had expected. Of course, clogging anytime makes you hot. I did the announcing and cueing so only danced three routines but many of the dancers clogged through most of the hour we were on stage. Kudos to them! It was fun, as always and we even got a bit of interest in classes. These photos of the cloggers were taken by Bob Michaud, who always does a great job using my camera.

DMC at Fair

Diablo Mountain Cloggers at the Alameda County Fair

There’s always too much to see and do at the fair. It’s fun to explore and discover all sorts of odd-ball things. After the performance and a quick bite of food, I spent quite a bit of time looking at the photography and painting displays, one of my favorite parts of the fair. Maybe next year I’ll actually get a picture or two entered myself. I like to see the collections and gem and mineral building. The gem and mineral part of that was barely there, but the 1970’s collection case caught my eye. Oh yes! I remember ALL those things. There were also the usual commercial displays; some have been returning each year for a long, long time.

Lonestar

Lonestar playing at the Almeda County Fair

Then I met up with more of my dancers and we headed to the Lonestar concert. After sitting and waiting in the sun for about a half hour they came on stage. Live concerts are always fun and this was no exception. They did a great job keeping the energy level up in the heat. I admit that I didn’t know much about Lonestar but did recognize a few of their hits. I especially enjoyed their encore with a medley of classic rock songs. They’re one of those bands that play country “rock hard.”

sign

Chocolate covered bacon - one of the many strange foods available at the fair

We followed up the concert with ice cream. There’s something funky about the foods you can get at the fair and nowhere else. This was the first time I’d heard of chocolate dipped bacon! We also caught a bit of Terry Hanck’s music in the wine & beer garden – just plain good music!

ride

Carnival ride at the Alameda County Fair

After exploring some of the commercial booths with Donna and getting a piece of cake at the 4-H booth, the sun had set. We wandered through the carnival, marveling at the amount of money people spend there, discussing the rides (and which we would be willing to go on or not), the games that are tough to win, and the size of the prizes. Of course, I also snapped photos of the colorful carnival rides and lights. Thanks to IS (image stabilization) on my lens, I was able to take some pictures using a longer exposure to catch motion without a tripod. We finally decided to leave and then I discovered it was almost 10:00 pm! A long day… but fun.

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Clogging at Old Borges Ranch

DMC at Old Borges Ranch

Diablo Mountain Cloggers at Old Borges Ranch

My group, the Diablo Mountain Cloggers, had a fun time at this historic ranch yesterday. Old Borges Ranch was settled over 100 years ago between Walnut Creek and Mt. Diablo. It is now part of Open Space and they have preseved many of the old buildings and equipment used on the farm. Each year there is a special Heritage Day celebration with vendors from all sorts of local groups and organizations. It’s especially fun for kids as well as the kid in all of us.

The Diablo Mountain Cloggers first danced at Old Borges Ranch in 1982, when my daughter was just a few months old. I remember it well because it was not one of my better days… taking care of a baby and trying to direct a group of dancers and costume changes at the same time! That was quite a while ago and things are much better and easier these days. We haven’t danced every year since, but have been there quite a few times and it’s always fun. The audience sits on hay bales right next to the dance floor so it’s pretty intimate.

Clogging at Old Borges Ranch

Audience dancing with the Diablo Mountain Cloggers at Old Borges Ranch

The best part was having some folks up from the audience to try a little clogging. Kids especially love this, but we had adults as well. After doing a little stomping our feet to a rhythm we also moved around a circle and did some very simple figures.

Bob Michaud has been using my camera to snap pictures of us at performances for the last few years. His wife is in the group and last fall Bob finally started clogging, too. This limits his availability for being a photographer, but he still managed to get quite a few nice pictures of us dancing yesterday. More can be seen on my SmugMug gallery.

By the way, in the top photos, that’s yours truly in the front row, second from right.

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Reflections

Duck and Reflections

Duck and Reflections

I’ve always been fascinated by reflections and how water, glass, or other shiny surfaces can change an image. Yesterday I was at the Pleasant Hill City Offices on a sunny day. The buildings make wonderful patterns when they’re reflected on the water. This duck made a path through those reflections and distorted them even more.

Pond Reflections

Pond Reflections

The reflected tree in this shot, along with the lily pads, makes me think of Monet’s garden paintings. I like the effect on the tree by the water… almost like a painting.

The buildings of the city offices have a beautifully graphic style. They must have been designed to make nice reflections in the pond.

Pleasant Hill City Office Buildings

Pleasant Hill City Office Buildings

Oh yes! And the Diablo Mountain Cloggers also performed at the farmers’ market in the parking lot. Dave Land was the musician that day. He was very good as well as easy to work with. He took a couple of breaks to let us dance. I think most of our dancers left with something from the market, too. I couldn’t resist the strawberries, myself.

Diablo Mountain Cloggers at Pleasant Hill

Diablo Mountain Cloggers at Pleasant Hill

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Dancing at the Fair

Diablo Mountain Cloggers dancing at the fair.

Diablo Mountain Cloggers dancing at the fair.

On Saturday, my group, the Diablo Mountain Cloggers, danced at the Alameda County Fair. It was a nice day for the fair… not too hot! There were 11 dancers participating. Thanks to all. Here are a few photos.

Thanks again to Bob Michaud for shooting the pictures of us dancing.

Clogging Express dancing the routine, Cripple Creek

Most of the dancers who were at the fair.

Most of the dancers who were at the fair.

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A Friend’s Passing

Doug Chin

Doug Chin

Northern California lost a terrific clogger and friend July 5. I first met Doug Chin about 1979. He was just 19 or 20 years old and eager to do as much clogging as he could. That’s one thing about him that never changed, his love of clogging. We shared an interest in photography and he also loved cooking. Doug always had a smile on his face and was too busy having fun to ever be unkind to anyone. He supported all the clogging events in Northern California and surrounding areas whenever he could and was always on the dance floor until the very end.

Doug danced first with the Young Rebels in Oakland, then also with the Diablo Mountain Cloggers, the Blossom Hill Cloggers, Hillbilly Cloggers, and the Barbary Coast Cloggers.

He’s left behind many friends who are in shock. He had just performed with the Barbary Coast Cloggers at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival in June and celebrated his 50th birthday. Doug made it possible for me to finish my SoFoBoMo project by generously loaning me his Canon 20D camera when mine died.

Thanks for your smile and friendship, Doug. You will be missed.

You can read Matt Ellinger’s tribute to Doug here, plus a gallery of photos.

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Snakes

Yesterday (Saturday) the Diablo Mountain Cloggers (one of my clogging groups) danced a couple of sets at Old Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek as part of their Heritage Day. It’s always fun to go to this annual event with lots of old-time crafts, displays, and nature information.

Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake

We also saw not one, but two snakes. First, there was this handsome gopher snake under the ramp by the barn. A nearby ranger told us some of the differences between a gopher snake and a rattler, other than the obvious rattles at the end of the tail. The gopher snake is very shiny, so much he almost looked wet. A rattlesnake is not shiny and also will be much fatter than the gopher snake. I thought this guy was rather handsome and he didn’t seem to be too bothered by the crowd that had gathered to see him. He was at least a couple of feet long.

King Snake

King Snake

As some of us were leaving, I noticed a kid pointing to a spot in the grass. Another snake! This one was a king snake, though. A different ranger told us that king snakes are good to have around because they aren’t affected by a rattler’s poison and will eat rattlesnakes. Hmmm. Good to know. The king snake was a little larger than the gopher snake we saw earlier, probably at least three feet long. Man! Two snakes in one day and I think I usually see about one snake every 10 years or so.

(With my apologies to Jennifer.)

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SoFoBoMo Project and Lessons Learned

SoFoBoMo Book Cover

SoFoBoMo Book Cover

I actually finished the book on time! I uploaded it to the SoFoBoMo site just before 2:00 am on June 11. You could argue that I was 2 hours past the deadline, but I could argue that 1) it still felt like Wednesday to me, and 2) I didn’t start the book until after 7:30 pm on May 11. So I did it all within the 31 days. Whoo hoo!

Once again, this is a photo book of my dancers, people who come to one of the clogging groups that I teach. (What’s clogging? Learn more here.) The pdf is up on the SoFoBoMo site and it is now also available on Issuu. Issuu really presents it in a cool way. I recommend checking it out there.

It has been quite a month of fun, learning, shooting, and more. Things I learned… a little bit about my dancers; a bit more of myself; the fact that I need to learn so much more about portrait photography and using a flash; I can handle a larger DSLR and still be comfortable with it; even though I don’t mind seeing my dancers’ wrinkles, they might; camera batteries lose their power after sitting around for three weeks; no matter how much I plan, I’ll still forget something; no matter how much I try, I’ll still do something stupid (like use the wrong white balance); my dancers are the best bunch of people in the world (actually, I already knew that).

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