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!

6 Replies to “Report from the World Massage Festival”

  1. Hello Ms. Laura. I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to finally meet you in person. I’ve heard about the wonderful work you do in our profession for a long, long time now. You are such an asset to this growing group and I look forward to working with you next year. Not that the singing part is working – just pure fun!

    I cherish our memories made at WMF and will also be a part of this amazing family with WMF until they boot me out as well. Mike and Cindy have a heart of gold and their belief in our industry for affordable education is obvious to all who choose to participate. Take care and please keep in touch!

  2. Laura Sweet Serenity Massage for Charity broke another record this year. We raised over $1303.00. I will be going up to Sumter, SC for the check presentation. It truly was the Best World Massage Festival yet. 347 days to go to July 2014 in Las Vegas. So far I have never missed a Festival.

  3. I am not used to be in a massage party and I rarely hear about that party. But after being a massage enthusiast, I always give a hop on a massage festival. With all the things youve been through, you were still lucky to meet all the massage therapist on that festival.

  4. Hi was a pleasure to meet you in person. In my today’s blog I said that you looks much much younger then on FB pictures. I also stated that you are fun lady,and we laughed a lot. Actually during my career I have participate at many professional conventions. At US WMF it was my first always your writer skills didn’t let you described all very well.thanks.on my end I just can add:”first-time at US I felt sense of professional community.”most likely this is my problem, but happy to report it is all over.At WMFI had an opportunity to discover different professional community. Shame on me. I should do it in previous years.but as they saying :”better later than never”I also planning to participate at all future WMF. Great educational and fun event.
    I’m glad your shoulder got better. Thanks for mentioning it.
    Stay blessed.

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