Report from the World Massage Festival

Champ and I attended the World Massage Festival this past week, held on the Queen Mary. This grand old boat is permanently docked in Long Beach, CA. On our last day there, we got a glimpse of the captain giving a tour to the grandchildren of the original captain of the ship. The ship itself is a beautiful historical remnant from times gone by, and we really enjoyed our stay.

Once again, the Festival itself was a blast. I look forward to attending every year! We arrived on Saturday and spent the evening at a welcome party…met up with Elaine Stillerman, who is a force of nature, and a grand lady herself. I am going to share the story that Elaine has a 14-year old son who is a special needs child. After being told that he could not be in a young children’s room at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Elaine seized the bull by the horns, and is responsible for getting the museum to establish a Sensory Room for special needs children. You can read about it here. We also visited with Pamela Mucklow, my longtime FB friend from Arkansas by way of Yorkshire, England, and her childhood friend that she went 40 years without seeing…what a great reunion….and Judi Calvert, the historian of massage and owner of the Hands On Trade Association, who has given me several lovely gifts over the years, brought me a picture of a musician from the 1930s.

Sunday I helped at the registration desk all day with some other volunteers. I got to know Linda Wilson from ItWorks, who turned out to be a heck of a singer and a major performer at our karaoke night later in the week. Sunday night we had the keynote speech from Vivian Madison Mahoney, and some great entertainment from Quentin Flagg. Quentin is a hoot. I’d fall over on stage if I tried to bounce around like he does! His show is high energy and everyone enjoyed it. Champ was up dancing with all the ladies. We also had the Industry Awards ceremony, and I was honored with the Media Award…I wasn’t expecting that and hadn’t prepared anything to say, so I basically just said “Thank you.” I do appreciate it!

Monday I taught One Year to a Successful Massage Therapy Practice to a lovely group of people. I was shocked to have Sally Hacking from the FSMTB in my class…and Terry Norman, who has been doing massage for over 40 years. I don’t think either one of them need any help from me but it was great to have them there! Terry was one of this year’s inductees into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame. Sally is a past inductee. One of the perks of that is getting to attend all the classes you want for free at the WMF, so I thank both of them for choosing mine.

Tuesday I didn’t have any classes, so I spent a lot of time in the vendor hall, which was sold out, and visited with a lot of old acquaintances and made some new ones. Boris Prilutsky, another of this years HOF inductees, and someone that I have personally had many Internet arguments with on different forums, was attending his first massage convention ever. He worked on my aching shoulder and got me out of pain. Tuesday night was the Hall of Fame inductions for this year’s honorees, which included Elaine Stillerman, Terry Norman, Taya Countryman, CG Funk, Irene Diamond, my fellow North Carolinian (THE) Joel Tull, Ariana Vincent (those are just the ones I know) and quite a few others. That night, I hosted a talent show/karaoke night, and I think it was definitely one of the high points of the WMF…such a blast that we are already planning to make it an annual happening! Gina Smith can flat out sing…so can Linda Wilson, and John Evans! Elaine Stillerman sang a couple of Broadway tunes, and Ralph Stephens had the whole place rocking to the Banana Boat song. We had people lined up waiting to perform. It was really a fabulous night. I played a few songs on my guitar so now I have bragging rights that I’ve played on the Queen Mary 😀

Wednesday I taught The Educated Heart to a beautiful group that included Amber Robidoux, another longtime FB friend I was glad to finally meet in person. Wednesday night, we had a beautiful closing ceremony out on the Queen’s Deck. Vivian read a beautiful tribute prepared by Cindy Michaels….Cindy is Mike Hinkle’s wife and she is the one who, when Mike says (as he frequently does) “I’ve got a big idea!” makes those happen! After that, we had a lovely candlelight group singing of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” led by yours truly and Gina Smith. A magic moment with everyone in gratitude for another great year at the World Massage Festival.

I have often referred to the WMF as “the Woodstock of massage.” That is because of the LOVE that happens there and the laid-back atmosphere…no politics allowed…just great education opportunities with a group of wonderful teachers and students, no fancy dress required, just show up and have a good time. I will be there every year until they throw me out! I didn’t get a final count, but I’m also sure Darcy Neibaur raised quite a bit of money for Sweet Serenity, which helps the Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals, and there were about 150 stuffed animals collected for the Ronald McDonald House, too.

I hope to see you all next year at the Tuscany in Las Vegas, which is a fabulous place and the rooms are only $55 a night. You can register here. I’ll meet you in the casino!

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