When a flair bartender gets out on stage at a competition, that is their time to shine. Everything they have been working on for weeks and months leading up to this day all comes down to 4-6 minutes on stage. In this short period of time you can show off your new and original moves (and therefore be able to claim them as your own); display your creativity and showmanship; and most importantly, showcase your whole routine.
Every flair bartender is also a choreographer. They must plan out flair move after move, how they will link together, if and when they will interact with the audience and how they can time the moves to coincide with the music (which they also have to pick!). Coming up with a show and then going out on stage to perform it, in front of hundreds of people, your friends, your colleagues, judges and not forgetting usually for a fair amount of money – can heap the pressure on.
With this in mind, we asked former flair bartender and long standing WFA Judge Tony Adam’s for his view on the top 5 performances he saw on stage in 2017 (although these are in no particular order):
1 & 2 – Flavius Lupu & Deniss Trifanovs at the Roadhouse Freestyle Competition
“The first two for me come together as seeing these two performances one after each other really added to what made them both great. In the Freestyle Comp it is about bringing incredible flair, as well as great entertainment, I think each of these guys nailed this. In order to come somewhere near the top in any flair bartending competition I think you need to bring something new, whether it is new moves, new music or a new sequence.
Deniss (Skip to 5:24 in above video) was of course the winner of this competition and he did just this, bringing new and harder sequences – linking together moves that many flair bartenders wouldn’t even attempt, let alone on stage in a major competition! Flavius on the other hand, brings something completely new and fresh to every competition and the Roadhouse Freestyle Comp was no different. His moves are crazy original and he gets his personality over on stage so well in a really unique and captivating style. Seeing these two both go for it in the finals with very different styles, but both bringing something new, is why they have both made it in to my top 5 for 2017″.
3 – Ayako ‘Ollie’ Kumashiro at Chicks with Flicks (Starts at 5:40 in below video)
“Ollie was the deserved winner of Chicks with Flicks in 2017 and it is the style in which she was able to carry off this win that made this on stage performance really stick out for me. Having won the competition in 2016 you could see she was under immense pressure to defend it and sometimes as a flair bartender being the current holder of a title can be one of the hardest things to manage when it comes to the next year. However, Ollie came with what was clearly a really well thought out and organised routine, which she pulled off with the highest levels of professionalism under a lot of pressure. You could see her grow into her routine with each and every move she landed and it was almost like embarking on a journey with her, the last 2 minutes of her performance were particularly impressive. It goes to show that a well thought out and choreographed routine can provide huge levels of support in high pressured situations, which I think is good advice for any flair bartender”.
4 – Vitaly Kolpin at the Roadhouse World Open (1:23 in below video)
“I couldn’t miss out a working flair extraordinaire in my top 5. Vitaly made it into my top 5 performances of 2017 not only because of his incredible working flair, but also because it was the first time we had seen him on stage for 4 years. It was great to see him return to the Roadhouse stage and he did so in the World Open with a bang! The World Open had a working flair section of the on stage performance and Vitaly stepped up and nailed it, both his craft and working flair were awesome and probably the best their on the day. What he can achieve with bar spoons is really cool and the working flair part of his routine really sticks in my memory as one of the greatest examples of that I saw in 2017”.
5 – Marek Posluszny at the Roadhouse World Finals
“Our World Champion from 2017 had to get a mention in here somewhere and here it is. Although Marek pulled out some pretty spectacular performances across 2017, his standout for me was the Roadhouse World Finals. It was quite a nervy World Final in 2017 with a few mistakes happened all around, you could see that everyone really wanted to win. For Marek himself, this was the last major competition he had yet to win so the nerves and pressure were clearly just as high in him as they were in the other finalists. However, he not only stepped up his performance in the final round but he did so in style!
I think it may well have been one of the most awesome sequences I have ever seen on stage, it is one thing to perform it in a practice room but to do it on the Roadhouse stage when it really matters, is something else. His 3 and 4 bottle routine, with the bottle on the head, the arm roll and more, all under the big lights was very impressive and he became a deserved winner of the legendary Roadhouse World Title”.
I wanted to give out some honourable mentions to a few flair bartenders that I also had the pleasure of seeing last year and did particularly well, in my opinion:
Ravi Camadoo – Freestyle Competition “Ravi’s personality and style really stood out for me in this competition and he was great to watch, very entertaining!”
Luis Ortiz, Colby Ashton, Mike Guzman & Eric Parker – America’s Open “Although the level of the flair wasn’t incredible, the bartending style was second to none. You could tell these guys really love being bartenders for a living and it was a pleasure to watch them all have a go.”
Niko Valemaki – Hard Flair “The working flair part of Niko’s routine at Hard Flair was fabulous. It was original, really smooth and sharp and overall one of the best examples of working flair I saw all year.”
Roman Zapata – Gaeta Flair Competition “Of course the winner of the Gaeta competition, I have never seen a performance from Roman like it. A well deserved winner, with Roman you know he is always going to go for it. Sometimes it can go really wrong but on that day it went really right. A 6 minute routine with a high level of difficulty and only 2 drops, hats off to him.”