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Taking a journey to the centre of the universe for the National Air Guitar Championships

Friday 12th, August 2016 / 15:09
By The Riz

“To err is human, to air guitar divine.” – Bjorn Turoque, Air Guitar Celebrity

Team SK National Air Guitar champion "Sweet Dee"

Team SK National Air Guitar champion Natalie “Sweet Dee” Scott.

SASKATOON — Without hesitation Tyler “Cat Fiday” Gardener, professional air guitarist from Calgary, Alberta, sums up the Air Guitar experience in two succinct, thumb-entered sentences after having an iPhone, open to notepad, politely presented to him in the lazy-moving next-morning lobby of a Toronto hotel: “Air Guitar is about World Peace, and the world needs Air Guitar now more than ever! With great pow-air comes great responsibility.” Great “pow-air” indeed, held and maintained by a world (yes, world!) community of Air Guitar connoisseurs, enthusiasts, and performers.

Air Guitar is a unifying force, meticulously prepared and instantly shared self-expression of freedom, fandom and fervency. This mass-shared, self-created, performance art from nothing does, however, create something — funding for Right to Play Canada, an organization using the transformative power of play to enhance the lives and empower children facing adversity. Never has so much nothing created so much good for so many people.

With the philosophy of Air Guitar, the philanthropy of Right to Play, and the thirst of competition, Air Guitar Team SK including Air Guitar SK organizer Mike “Mike Glitch” Erman, the first ever Air Guitar SK Champion Natalie “Sweet Dee” Scott, and Air Guitar SK Runner-up The “Major Party” Riz embark on an emboldened mission to the Centre of the Canadian Universe, Toronto, to compete in the Annual Canadian Air Guitar Championship with the hopes of advancing to the 21st Annual World Competition in Oulu, Finland on August 24–26.

After a day and a half of exploring the glorious streets of downtown Toronto and beyond, (meaning Mississauga), buying comics from corner camped street vendors, scanning various shops, feasting on a glorious veggie burger supper, Team SK suits up for the National finale, fearlessly following Sweet Dee’s navigational skills to take them safely to the Mod Club, on time and unscathed.

The green room is a mixed ensemble of distinct personalities and curious oddities including a medieval inspired cosplay character, a heart-shape fuzzy crotch piece, a sexy librarian, two soldiers of differing style aesthetics (one with a Hawaiian shirt, one not), a space mime, a 72-year-old, a few shirtless men with neck accessories, and as much leather, spandex and costume material that could be possibly draped over 21 separate bodies.

While competitors including Matt “Champ Forrester” Hallsworth, Gen “The Geek Girl” Leblanc, Kaje “Sista Fista” Annihilatrix, Blake “The Canadian Tuxedo” Johnston, Darin “Ebony Love” McKay, and 2015 Champ Jason “THRUST” McNeely draw their numbers for performance placement, there is a genuine feeling of excitement in the air, of positivity and joy. It is a competition where everyone wants to win, but no one minds losing. After each performance is wild cheers from the audience and competitors alike, constant congratulatory salutations, a group focused on the goal not distracted by the outcome.

“The community that is Air Guitar Canada,” says Carlos “Hanzel the Manzel” Mengual, a dark horse contestant who made his way into the final National round placing fourth overall, “never ceases to amaze with its support and positive attitude. It’s amazing to see strangers from across Canada come together as if they were old friends and embrace one another with such enthusiasm!”

Group shot during this year's Air Guitar Nationals.

Group shot during this year’s Air Guitar Nationals.

The National completion of Air Guitar emphasizes the pageantry and showmanship of performance, with more than one performer emitting fire from their mouth or hands, and more arm swings, power kicks, knee slides, and back bends that could possibly be condensed into one evening.

Complete with fishnets, high heels, and kneepads, Teams SK’s Sweet Dee’s performance of “Hot for Teacher” was an amazing combination of careful choreography and reckless abandon. National organizer Glen Airy Glen Rocks put it this way, “She crawled and bent her way around the stage delivering one of the sauciest performances yet of the competition.” Sweet Dee received a total score of 17.1 after three rounds — the highest of the night, demonstrating the necessity of wearing kneepads.

Team SK runner-up Major Party created a divisive turn during the competition where, again in the words of the immortal Glen Airy Glen Rocks, “the night starts to get a little punchy” between the crowd’s reaction to the judges scoring.

Mike Glitch was like the wrestling manager of the group, hyping, helping and encouraging, brining the true spirit of Team SK Air Guitar to Ontario. An Air Megaphone will be brought for him next year, a la Jimmy Hart, to take on the manager role next year unless he competes instead.

After the qualifying round, with the subsequent top eight scores, based on technique, attitude, and “airness” using the six point figure skating system, advancing and performing in the final round, “The Canadian Tuxedo won the day,” types Zandy “The Space Mime Continuum” Pothier, “and honestly I can’t think of a better ambassador for our country.” The Canadian Tuxedo performed to a one minute clip of System of the Down’s “Chop Suey” and dominated in the compulsory round to the Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor.”

“This amazing experience was worth every goddamn mile, rug burn, and broken-ass hip!” summarizes Team SK’s own rock queen Sweet Dee, who advanced to the finals placing sixth in the country. If readers watch the posted Facebook video of her performance, they’ll understand the “broken-ass hip” reference. “My co-competitors were the best group of badass, kind, and supportive people I’ve ever met.” With devil-horned, raised fist, she rallies them to, “Rock ON!”

Team SK has already begun preparations for next year. Song selections are carefully being considered, costumes and props designed, new sponsors contacted, bigger parties planned, to create a formidable flatland force for the 2017 National Competition.

Let the Airness lead you!

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