KendAlex Meets Kendama USA and co.
25. 11. 2011
One month ago, I was thinking about the Dama Fest in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I did talk a lot with my girlfriend about it, but it did not fit my wallet, so I decided not to go.
2 weeks ago I went to David from Sunrise to buy some Oozoras for my custom projects and a few minutes before i was leaving, David said these beautiful words to me: "Listen, I decided not to go to Atlanta, but I'd realy like you to go," and my reaction was, "Sorry but I do not have that kind of money to go. David said, "What if i sponsor you 50% of the ticket?" I was like, "WHAT?" With no doubts i called to home to tell my girlfriend David’s idea, and she said, "Then you should go!"
From that point everything went very fast and I really had to set up some important things, like:
Passport in 5 days; ESTA Doc to enter the USA and the plane ticket. When I had the first two items, I asked Christian Fraser if I could stay the weekend at his place and he was very happy to hear that I was coming to ATL and ofcourse i could stay with him. So everything was set up and I was ready to go.
On Friday, 18th of November 2012 at 13:00, I stepped in my car on my way to the airport to check in and take the plane to Atlanta, Georgia. At 20:30 ATL time I entered the holy ground of ATL and I sent Christian a text message that I was in the airport. He told me to go to exit 4. On the way to collecting my suitcase, i bumped into a group of people I only knew from facebook: Jake, Matthew Rice, TJ, Turner, Dave and Colin and more well know kendama players. It was insane to see each one of them live! We shook hands and I told them that I'd check up with them up later that night. After that i went to the exit, looked around a minute and then my eyes caught sight of a car with also two well-known people in it: Matt Sweets Jorgenson and Christain Fraser, so we shook hands like we were friends for a long time (I guess it was Facebook magic).
After I entered the car and took my place on the back seat, Matt ask me if I would mind if we took a hotel room for some better beds and a little space for ourselves, so I was like, "Sure why not?" and Christian was cool with that too.
So we went to the hotel near the Dama Fest building, booked a room for two and dropped all the suitcases and stuff. The first thing i did when i opened my suitcase was checking if everything was in there that i have packein, and everything was present, and i grabbed a special gift that i promise for Christian, and i handed over my first Prototype Aluminium kendama, he show a smile on his face that i never forget and he thanks me for that multiple times, i was so happy that it was in good hands now.
After that, we left the hotel to get some food in a kind of Happy Days restaurant, which was very nice and the food was delicious. After dinner, Matt called Jake Wiens to ask where we could meet each other. He were pretty stoked we would like to come to meet all the other players for the rest of the evening.
30 minutes later, we entered the Kendama USA Warehouse, which made the party complete for me. I shook hands with all the guys I missed at the airport. It felt like I was in Kendama Heaven, a dream I never could think about before. i was so happy I was there!
A few minutes later, I took out my backpack to get the presents I'd made in the last few days and gave them to the three most important ‘’Facebook friends’’ for me: Jake Wiens, Matthew Rice and DaveMateo. I zipped open my bag and gave them the three hottest KendAlex customs I ever made. They were so happy they were speechless for a few moments and did not realy find the words to thanks me but they did after all. That made me very happy and proud because I finally gave them back the respect that they always gave me, like support and blogging my edits and using my name on every event they went to or set up.
For Matthew I had an extra semi-present: I gave/sold him my second favorite almost new Bilboquet, and he was pretty stoked with it. He keeps thanking me for that. Matt, you are worth it!
When the evening came to a end, Jake and Jeremy (from Kendama USA) talked to the group to tell us something about the Dama Fest. He explained the rules and the setup of the day. After that, we all broke up and we left the building. On our way to the Hotel, we got something to eat and drink and after that Christian dropped Matt, Chaz and Rikki and me to get some sleep and get prepared for the Dama Fest event the next day.
It was at 3:30 Matt and I put out the lights and got some much-needed sleep.
Four-and-a-half hours later, Matt's iPhone went off like the world was going to end. I jumped into the shower to get ready for the day, packed my huge backpack and filled it with my most important kendamas I brought from home, including the Aluminium and the Emperor kendama (and of course my Bilbo).
Chaz and his girlfriend came down to the first floor to get some coffee and breakfast.
After a few minutes, Christian entered the hotel to pick us up and take us to the Dama Fest building nearby.
Ten minutes later, the car was parked and we went into the Dama Fest Building to get prepared for the day. Kendama USA were busy setting up the Kendama USA stand and Matt Sweets started to build up his table to display his 40 beautiful new style Sweets kendamas (marble sweets). They were pretty sick and I had to buy one before everything was sold out.
The Kengarden/Sourmash stand was already halfway set up and Matthew came in right behind us and made his stand complete with his beautiful kendama DWI full leather holsters.
There were a few things left to do, so Chaz, Rikki and I helped Kendama USA to stick some posters on all the windows around the building. Matt Sweets put some tripod signs outside the building, so the visitors could follow them to the entrance.
Within a hour, kids with parents entered the Dama Fest building and got stoked by all the pro’s that were inside: Colin, Zack and Turner(Kendama USA, and of couse, Jake(Kengarden), Matt(Deal With It), KENDAveMAteo, Tyler (the Kensession Stand) ,Chaz, Christian and Matt (Sweets Kendamas) and of couse ME.
At 11:00 the doors were opened by the one and only Colin Sander, and all the kids began to scream. They soon took over the place, that was a pretty sick thing to see.
The three pros from Kendama USA took places behind a desk to sign everything the kids bought to be signed.
Mr. Sourmash got his first live orders and started to paint Sourmash kendamas for the rest of the day. After a few hours the compressor died and from then he customized everything by hand, which was pretty insane. Even the Stoves he brought were sold out before the end of the day.
On the Kengarden stand, Jake had set up his laptop for an edit you wouldn’t want to miss: Alex Ruisch vs. the Stove. The edit was running the whole day. Even though the edit wasn’t finished, it was already sick to watch and it was the first time that I saw an almost complete Stove edit. When Jake gets back home after the Dama Fest, he will finish it up and put it online for everyone. I hope every one will like it so we can get more hits than the PAW vs. Alex Ruisch edit he made before.
The Deal With It Kendama Holsters and the Kengarden Lanyard were sick and went pretty fast, my opinion is that this Gadgets are both really cool and practical to hold your kendama in.
Matt Sweets displayed 40 new custom Sweets kendamas and after a few hours they all were sold out.
Tyler from the Kensession Stand had a few kendamas for sale and before the end of the day he ran out of stock too. I also made a really sick custom: like a Yellow Performer with the very first Performer proto ken. Tyler was busy with a charity project and was trying to raise as much as money as he could to hand it over to his charity. He made a lot a raffle tickets for people to buy with a chance to win my custom. Later in the day, the raffle was started and the winner was a nice girl and she was very happy with her prize. I went to her, shook hands and gave her my congratulations, and then told her the story behind the custom Performer.
For the whole day, many kids that walked around asked me to sign their kendamas like I was their hero. At the beginning of the day I did not have a clue that i was that popular in the US. After I'd signed 40 autographs on the kids' new and old kendamas, I started to realise I was famous in the kendama scene in the US, and I was very proud of myself for the rest of the day.
At 14:00 the battle, which was hosted by Dave and Jake, began. Man, they got the crowd very pumped up and the hall was filled to watch the competition.
I did not have the time to watch all three games: beginner, intermediate and the advanced ladder, but the game was on for sure. The advanced ladder was pretty hard and trick one was around the USA using the Sara grip (pen grip). When I saw the ladder two days earlier, I thought I was never gonna win against the other players. I did not enter the comp and decided to enjoy the day by walking around and helping everyone to answer questions. I showed my aluminium kendama and the Emperor to anyone that wanted to hold or wanted to play them.
At around 16:00, the best trick contest started. I decided to go for it and entered the ring of kids to do my trick. I planned to do a spacewalk to two-handed handroll to spike. My first try went wrong, but on my second try I spiked the huge tama and the crowd get pretty pumped. Dave gave me a prize for it: a new light blue Oozora that was still missing from my collection. So I showed my skills in realtime that everybody had only seen in the edits.
When the competition was over, people started leaving and every stand was sold out of at least 90% of their stock, Mr. Sourmash was still painting customs for customers.
The rest of the harcore Group (including me) stayed until the end, playing Bilbo and kendama. I also got my four-tama dama ken out of my bag and gave it to Zackery Yourd. He nailed some badass stall tricks like he did it everyday. No spot on the kendama was unused, way to go!
After we decided to go back to the hotel, Christian, Chaz, Rikki and Matt Sweets and I got someting to eat and then chilled out in the hotel room till 9:00.
It was my last evening and I told Matt Sweets that we had to go out to a bar or something to celebrate the beautiful day we had. We went to a bar that was called the Graveyard. When we got there, the crowd was normal sized. Later that night it was fully loaded; the scene was great. We had a lot of fun and talked about kendama a lot.
Dama Fest hardcore crew.
The music was also heavy dub, which was great. Thanks to everyone that was present, I had a great time the whole day; I never could imagine it was gonna be such a blast!
The next day we decided to get a present for my girlfriend that let me go to ATL, so I bought her an iPhone. Thanks for driving me to the iStore Christian.
After shopping, we went to the Kendama USA warehouse to chill for the rest of the day. When we arrived, the Kendama USA team and Dave, Jake, Matt Rice and TJ where trying to do a triple UFO, so I showed them how i do it. After five tries I nailed it. I was so happy to share that magic moment with the whole crew. I guess the guys gave me some extra vibes.
After that, everybody played some KEN games and explained some special tricks to each other and talk about the Dama Fest day. I guess I was lucky to be there at the right place at the right time.
At around 7:15, Christian and I decided to go to the airport and I had to say goodbye to all players that were there.
I got to line them up, so you see how lucky I am that I met so many good USA players in one weekend.
All thanks and credit go to:
Jeremy Stephenson - Kendama USA, (you made me feel at home in the warehouse).
Colin Sander - Kendama USA (I never thought we would do some battling together, but we did. Had a blast to stand next to you).
Zackery Yourd - Kendama USA (thanks, you stalled every spot on the tama dama kendama, you have skills!)
Turner Thorne - Kendama USA (it was nice to see your spacewalk to hurricane tricks live).
Trevor Starnes - Kendama USA (we had a nice talk about my customs, thanks for being interested).
TJ Kolesnik - (I never knew you were so cool, and thanks to shout out my name at the Dama Fest).
Dave Mateo - (finally we have met. I had a super great time. I feel our friendship is never gonna end. Friends for life, bro!)
Jake Wiens - The Kengarden (you are great! Thanks for the shout outs, for making two of my best edits on the Internet. I feel we are united forever. I will meet you in SF someday to play S.K.A.T.E. on the mini ramp).
Matthew Rice - Deal With It (you are the man I thought you were: friendly with respect and very gentle. I hope we meet again soon for the same reasons I wanted to meet Jake, and thanks for every shout out on you blog).
Matt Sweets Jorgenson - Sweets Kendamas (also thanks that we shared the hotel room and for the hang out for the weekend. I hope we set up our great idea someday and suprise the kendama world with it. I’m glad I gave you the special shirt, you deserve it!)
Christian Fraser - Sweets Kendamas (also thanks for your kindness before and during the weekend, riding us around the city and picking us up every day. I really appreciate it, you deserve to own one of my first metal kendamas. I’m really glad we hooked up on Facebook two years ago).
Chaz Edwards - Sweets Kendamas (thanks for the nice talk about everthing when we both needed our bad habit (cigarettes) and I’m glad I’ve met you and seen your kendama skills. I can’t get enough of your spacewalk that go on and on and on. Too bad I did not play KEN with you; I think you would win, but that does not matter as long there is fun involved. Say hi to you friendly girlfriend for me).
Mr.Sourmash Steve Pilkinton, of the Stove fame and his incredible customs kendamas. I had a nice time when I was next to you man, keep up the good work!
And my last thanks go out to Billiam Lafever and Matt Cundiff. You both became good friends and bilboqeut lovers, don’t hold back on the bilbo now. I’m sure you gonna love them.
And if I have forgotten to thank any special people, I’m sorry. The whole weekend was way too epic and I’m glad I have pictures from you all personally so I'll never forget you.
I hope to join a Dama Fest again in the future; I realy had a great time.
Thanks and I hope to see you all again, or talk to you soon on Facebook
Alex Ruisch AKA KendAlex AKA Supernog AKA you know what it is. Peace.