Top 6 GLHC Highlights 2012 + 2013

My Top ‘Half-Dozen’ Highlights from the Galway Lindy Hop Championships 2012-2013

GLHC 2013 Social Dancing

This year marks the third year of an event I am particularly proud of – the Galway Lindy Hop Championships. When I first conceived of running this competition, I didn’t expect dancers from around Ireland and beyond to embrace it so enthusiastically. The GLHC has inspired dancers to increase their workload and improve areas that for many years have been neglected by most – be it their own solo dancing, their choreography skills, or just renewed vigour in improving the quality of their overall partner dancing abilities. The GLHC has seen dancers throw ego out the window and remind us all of the roots of the swing culture we love.

To celebrate the first two years of GLHC fun, I have put together my Top 6 GLHC Highlights.  I must stress that these are ‘personal’ highlights because in general these are highlights that go beyond just the artistic display of the dance, and resound with me due to the impact they had in other areas or because of my own personal relationships with those involved. I would love to hear of your own GLHC Highlights – either as a spectator or competitor.  Please tell us yours in the comments below or on-line.

6. Olga Seleznova dances up a storm in the 2012 Solo Charleston Final

In its first year, I truly worried that the solo charleston event would be neglected by competitors. Sure, people love dancing solo charleston, but how many of them would be willing to get up and do it in front of a mass audience? This was the first event of its kind in Ireland, and I knew people were nervous about being in the spotlight without a partner to share it with. I needn’t have worried – not only did we get enough entries to fill two heats, the final put a number of amazing performances on display, with none better than Olga Seleznova, who blew everyone, including her fellow finalists, away with an inspired and incredibly brave showing (I say brave because she really left nothing in the bank – she could have crashed and burned, but didn’t, and it was great to watch). The 2012 solo charleston event was a fantastic show all-round, and paved the way for dancers in Ireland to begin working harder on their solo dancing, and 12 months later the 2013 solo charleston final turned out to be a ripper!!! In the videos below, Olga is competitor no. 27 – dressed all in blue.

5. Scott and Naomi MacGowan lay waste to the 2013 Open Lindy Final

Belfast won a third place trophy in the 2012 Solo Charleston Final through a great effort from Marie McCrory, but it was that tattooed hill-billy, Scott MacGowan, and his lovely wife Naomi, that earned Belfast their first champions trophy in the 2013 Open Lindy event (Scott also won the solo charleston event). I love watching these guys dance, and consider them good friends, so watching them take this title together gave me enormous pleasure. This victory was just rewards for their mad Lindy skills.  They are couple no. 4 in the video below.

4. The Dipsy Doodles Début at GLHC 2013

Local Galway dancers have provided excellent performances as part of the nights entertainment in both years of the GLHC. In 2012, my own fiancée, Sarah McHugh, taught our ‘Swing Corps’ group the Big Apple routine, which they then went out and performed marvellously (see it at Twelve months later, Sarah, inspired by that success, put together the dance troupe we today call the ‘Dipsy Doodles’. The 2013 GLHC was their début, and their performance, to ‘Shout and Feel It’, earned a standing ovation. This was a completely original choreography put together by Sarah. I couldn’t have been prouder. Well done girls!!!

3. Dax and Sarah dance in their sleep

In its first year, 2012, the GLHC was blessed to have six guest judges (Dax Hock, Sarah Breck, Cam Mitchell, Loz Yee, Cat Foley and Alex Parker). Each couple provided a performance on the night to introduce themselves and to entertain the crowd, but unlike the other two couples, who danced previously conceived routines (which were great by the way – check them out [Cam and Loz  and Cat and Alex] ).  Dax and Sarah decided to ‘wing it’. Now understand, they had just flown in that day from Los Angeles, had no sleep, barely time to eat, were exhausted and the night was getting pretty late – they were the last performance of the night as nobody wanted to go on after them, but even with all that going on Dax still opted to dance to the song ‘Lindy Hoppers Delight’ as a tribute to the event. What they did in their ‘exhausted’ state just raised my respect for them to a whole new level.


2. Ireland v The UK – 2013 Solo Charleston Final

What else could you call the 2013 Solo Charleston Final except an epic battle between the Irish dancers: Sarah McHugh (Galway), Laura Hicks (Galway) and Tom Shanahan (Cork) versus The British dancers: Scott MacGowan (Belfast), Laura Knight (London), and Ed Barlow (London). Deservedly, it was Scott who took first place and Laura Knight who took second, sealing the UK’s dominance in this event – for one year anyway. Sarah McHugh took them on for a fantastic third, but the whole final was such high quality that any of them would have deserved a placing. If the 2012 final paved the way for solo dancing in Ireland, the 2013 final raised the bar.

1. John Costello and Deirdre Costello get engaged (and win the inaugural GLHC Showcase event)

John had it all planned – the perfect weekend, Starting with victory in the 2012 Showcase Division, and by Sunday evening, a proposal of marriage under the lights of a Christmas Tree. It could have all unravelled quickly had they not been successful at the GLHC, but they wound up being very deserving winners (followed closely by Sarah and Ger in second place), and topped it up with a ‘yes’ from Deirdre by Sunday night. I couldn’t have been more delighted (especially since I now get to be a grooms-man at their wedding). 

As I said, these are just my top highlights.  Please add yours in the comments or online and we will compile a new ‘Popular Vote’ Top 6 !

Paul Neary

Fancy adding to this year’s highlights?  GLHC 2014 will be on November 21st as part of Galway Swing’s Lindy Hopper’s Delight workshop weekend.  Check out the different divisions for this year HERE.

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