Indigo SwingArmed Forces Day and BET
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Two Interesting Events --- Send in your photos!

Armed Forces Day at Glen Echo

Saturday May 16, 1998

The Washington Swing Dance Committee really put on the dog celebrating Armed Forces Day --- the Spanish Ballrooom was decorated like a USO canteen and all the dancers came in period military and civilian costume.

Here are some photos that Jim Engel scanned. Send us more and we will update this page. We like to get JPG files, one per e- mail

Anna and My partner
Anna and My partner
The Cigarette Girls

We went to Armed Forces Day at Glen Echo, where My partner spent the first hour parading around in next to nothing as a "Cigarette Girl" The dance was really spectacular, although it hit the capacity limits quite early.

Anna and My partner
Anna and My partner
The Cigarette Girls (again)

Just in case you didn't see the first photo...

Sam, Buck and Elizabeth
Sam, Buck and Elizabeth
This guy is always surrounded by girls...

On the left is the gorgeous Christina Legasse, or Sam for short. On the right is Elizabeth Engel and the famous dress that eventually got ruined by the end of the night. It is very nice that it is memorialized here. Don't wear your best vintage when you go out Lindy Hopping --- especially in a sweat-box like Glen Echo in the summertime.

Jim Deb and Frank
Jim Engel, Deb Brooks and Frank
The Navy was well-represented.

Deborah is really as light as a feather.

Jim and Elizabeth
Jim and Elizabeth Engel
Their first Jam

We were finally able to get Jim and Elizabeth out in the Jam. This is a great photo of the action and excitement of the jam!

Frank and My partner Jam
Another Jam Photo
Some people we don't know

We want to thank Jim Kranyak for sending in this nice photo.

Here is some old-fashioned text about the event.

From: Sue Fedor

It's amazing how sometimes it's hard to tell a band from its past performance. Walt Wagner had disappointed many of us in the past, but this past Saturday, they had us swinging from the rafters. The lead singer (sort of a Rosemary Clooney type) was wonderful the drummer was on fire and the band was hot! The jam featured a seemless segue from Sing, Sing, Sing to Jumpin' at the Woodside.

The jam marked the return of Mike Duggan to the dance floor, after a long absence due to injury. The jam also featured the debut of Two-tone Elizabeth and Sailor Jim. Elizabeth's dress was NOT two-tone, that was real, live, human sweat. And yes, many women experienced the power of human sweat as it weakened delicate vintage fabric as it shreaded panels and ripped seams.

Oh the secrets people tell when you least expect...My partner showed us her "device" (a.k.a. bustier) and a modification she made with some strategically placed shoulder pads. This infrastructure made possible the cleavage that you all enjoyed while she was wearing her Cigarette Girl outfit. She changed into her mom's nurse's uniform later...and Debra remarked that she looked like an extra from a porno movie (I think Debra dated Koerner way too long...)

People I didn't recognize until I was up close: Duke (aka Cabana Boy) who slicked his pomp down under an army hat. Gay, who wore a wonderful vintage number that I was convinced would not withstand the rigors of out-and-back Charlestons...I was proven wrong.

The dance was attended by a wonderful cadre of folks who probably have vivid memories of WWII--having lived through the era. It was nice to see them there... one of the guys even hit on me! Hey...I guess I still got what it takes (if you're over 70)! And once again, Arnold was the hit of the dance with his vintage Speed Graphic camera as a press photographer. He kept threatening to set his mighty flash off...which sent folks scurring everywhere.

Randi Sue and Howie were there with Howie's mom and dad, who were very impressed and were having a lot of fun dancing. They're very proud to see their son dancing too. Christie had a new friend, Rob (Bob? The music was loud and I didn't really hear). He was very new to dancing, so we all took turns teaching him 6-count and taking him out for a spin.

Everyone looked fabulous and the band was outstanding. What a great night.

From: Elizabeth Engel

First, a note to those who didn't get in: I'm so sorry to hear it and, after Battle of the Bands, I can empathize. It bears repeating: when it comes to Glen Echo these days, come early or come late. We've certainly learned our lesson.

Mike and Buck - the decorations were fabulous! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all the work you'd done with the webbing, the parachutes, the bunting, the flags - the Spanish Ballroom never looked better. We really put on a brave show for all our soldiers back from the European and Pacific theaters.

Upon arriving in the Ballroom, I was greeted by two lovely cigarette girls with raffle tickets for a can of Spam - quite a valuable prize, with the rationing situation these days. Some folks were even able to locate enough gasoline to bring their cars, polished to a perfect shine, chrome gleaming.

All our boys in uniform turned out in their finest, medals gleaming, shoes brightly polished. The ladies looked just as dazzling in their finest dresses, hair carefully coiffed in the latest styles. Some even splurged on stockings for the evening! (I can't imagine where they were able to come by them.) Only the best for our boys!

The band played one killer-diller after another, to the delight of the dancers. They really seemed to enjoy us as well. The band and the dancers seemed to feed off each other's energy all night long, despite warm temperatures.

I danced with so many of the soldiers, but there was one fellow in particular, a sailor, who just stole my heart! We danced the night away, and he's asked me to write to him while he's in the Pacific. He even asked me to dance with him in the jam, assuring me that it was a first for him - of course, it was a first for me, too. For something so impromptu, it was really fun and not too nerve-wracking.

A young airborne soldier tried to steal me away, but my heart was taken by that sailor. Who knows? Maybe we'll meet up again after the war....

From: Bill Lehman

I thought that Saturday night's dance was quite good. Walt Wagner has certainly come a long way in the last 2 years. And I loved My partner's black dress (and the nurse outfit is not too bad, either). I cant believe how wet my clothes were. I was much happier after I changed into shorts. Another reason to do the jam after the first set.

I thought that the vintage cars out front was a nice touch, too. I had never seen some of the models before.

From: Christine Bamberger

Evenin' Chillun--How y'all?

And the crowd went wild!! I think the Lindy Hoppers were pleasantly surprised at how Walt Wagner and his Serenaders could swing. Although they quieted down a little toward the end (mostly, I think, because the elderly guests from the Retired Soldiers and Airmen's Home were requesting waltzes), they seemed to delight in departing from the wedding band tempo, and they even played Charlie Barnet's "Skyliner" for me (one of my all-time faves, because I'm clarinet-crazy). I got to dance that one with young ace reporter Arnold Taylor.

The WSDC and volunteers did their usual beautiful job of decorating the place, complete with Red Cross flag, parachute bunting, and USO banners to accompany Old Glory. Rounding out the time-machine feel were the many folks who showed up dressed in such perfect retro clothing that I imagine many of the veterans present were impressed. For those of you who don't know, I can tell you within about two years what year something was made just by looking at it (I can do the same thing with movies, even if they are period films), and I felt that people evoked 1941-45 pretty darn well.

If the band was hot, the dancers were hotter--literally, that is. The chief disadvantage of vintage clothing for dancers is 1) it is inflexible and 2) it is usually warm, especially if it is a uniform. Even summer G.I. was coming off not long after things got under way, but many folks were wearing wool. Like sensible dancers, most brought changes of clothing. I canned the idea of any of my vintage clothes before leaving home and wore a cotton blouse and skirt. I looked vaguely bobby-soxerish, but I didn't bother to enter the costume contest. One of the winning standouts was Anna's adorable cigarette girl outfit. Chris to Anna, noting that she offered only Camels: "No Luckies?!" Anna to Chris: "Sorry dear, but there's a war on!" (Let me add that I never touch the stuff, though "Now, Voyager" is probably my favorite non-musical picture.) Slim Jim Engel had on a fabulous sailor suit, and Elizabeth's red hair looked gorgeous all night long in a Janelle-inspired 'do with plenty of hairspray. Deb Brooks was one of the wool uniform wearers, and she fretted that when she removed the jacket, her neat white blouse, pinned-up braids, and suspenders made her look a little bit like one of the Hitler Youth! Betsy Thomassen wore an exquisite deep blue strapless ballgown that was very '40s and swirled in a very Rita Hayworth way when she twirled.

A new system of wrist bands was implemented so that leaving dancers could turn theirs in and enable those waiting outside to enter within the capacity limit. If you had any trouble with these getting caught in someone's fingers or sweating off, I noticed that some people solved the problem by fastening them around their ankles.

The jam was as near-perfect as you could wish. Walt and the band originated a policy of playing through "Sing, Sing, Sing," and the "One O' Clock Jump" without extensive improvisation--that is, they played one, then played the other, then repeated Sing, then repeated Jump. This kept the energy level tight and prevented me from worrying about the trumpeters getting sore lips or the sax soloist exhausting his lung power. In addition, much as I love jazz and swing jam sessions, I reckon dancers benefit from knowing what to expect from the tempo and melody of the music.

Thanks for all the lovely dances, fellas. All in all, it was the kind of event I love the best. Lindy in a '40s setting: That's for me!
Mrs. B

From: Cameron Sellers

1940 vintage cars, vintage clothes and uniforms. What else could you ask for? Walt Wagner and 650 swing dancers at Glen Echo. If you showed up at 9:00, you were late. Days of coming after the lesson be ween 9:00 and 10:00 are gone. The doors closed ten minutes to nine becasue the place fills up.

If you got in, it was a grand time. Walt Wagner sounded great and the dancers looked awesome. Anna and My partner dressed up as cigarette girls and entertained the people waiting in line. Buck looked cool in his zoot suit, and a few guys wanted to know who the girl was that he brought.

The Washington Swing Dance Committee brought in vintage cars for people to look at and brought a bus load of veterans from the Army-Navy Home. One veteran walked up to me and showed me his glider badge that he wore. He was a glider soldier from WWII. The Committee did a great job setting this up.
--Cameron Sellers

The Taping at BET

Friday May 29, 1998

This is the second year in a row that Lindy Hoppers have been invited to participate in the taping of the program "Jazz Central" on the cable station B.E.T On Jazz.

A whole gang of us went down to the BET Studios for the second annnual "BET Taping", including Tricia and Thomas, Carolyn and Jeff, Arnold and Lil, Steve and Christi, Buck and Carla, Cameron and Heather, Jim and Elizabeth, Bill Lehman and Trish Manetti, Daniel and Julia, Trista, Chris, Maura -- and several others, including some hand dancers. Once again, this was a big hit. The preparation was impressive --- we got to use a very big makeup room and they had arranged a buffet of fresh fruit and juices for us. We had a great time and it was interesting to watch the ladies helping each other get their 1940s style makeup just right --- it had the feel of a real dance troupe. Here are some photos that Jim Engel scanned. Send us more and we will update this page. (We like to get JPG files, one picture per e-mail)

The Band
The band in Vintage
Some of the J Street Jumpers

Left to Right: Arthur Gerstein (Piano), Jeff Lodsun (Drums), and Jeff's daughter.

Buck and Chrissy
Sam and Buck
How does he do it?

This is the lovely Christina Legasse (or Sam for short) and Buck (a.k.a. Vinnie the Clothes Horse)

Buck and Girls
Buck and His Entourage
He did it again!

We may be contributing to the Buck "cult of personality" --- On the other hand, when you are in the media business, you have to go with color. So, all of you who think that we cover Buck too much, DO SOMETHING COLORFUL, something like pose with (l. to r.) Maura, Sam, Elizabeth, my partner, Heather and Christi. By the way, this is the very nice "makeup room" that the BET staff had waiting for us.

Frank and Christi
Christi Etcher
(With a zoot-suited hustler)

The good part about this is the photo of Christi Etcher, our high flying Hoppette with the great legs. The bad part is that Lindy Hop attracts riff-raff in yellow zoot suits.

Christi at Bet
Christi Etcher
Great Dress...

Here is a much better picture of Christi --- without the zoot suit riff raff.

Steve Cowles and Bill Lehman
Bill and Steve
Get that RED suit!

Steve Cowles and Bill Lehman came to BET loaded for bear. Bill's red suit AND red and white shoes caused the color technician some nightmares.

Braiding Jim's Hair
Braiding Jim's Hair
Changing the 90s into the 40s

Jim and Elizabeth Engel are emerging as a really fine Lindy couple --- here, Elizabeth is braiding Jim's sizable ponytail so that it will fit under his "Dixie Cup" cap. That's Steve Cowles and Heather Thoemke in the background.

Elizabeth and Jim
Elizabeth Engel and Jim Engel
The Fleet's In!

Here is the happy couple ready to make their TV debut.

Steve, Maura and Buck
Steve, Maura, and Buck
Ready to face the cameras

Yes, another picture of Buck. That's the price of looking at Maura.

Here is some old-fashioned text abot the event:

The J Street Jumpers played songs off their new CD. Well, during the first song, it seemed like they were going to play their songs over and over... An audio glitch, forced the director to call "cut" on a performance of "Onion" three times. This is a fairly fast song and everyone wanted to kick it off with a bang. We were instructed to come running out from the sidelines. Steve and Christy made an entrance with their "Sky-High-Fly", which they got to do four times. Finally, the audio problem was solved and the taping went on without incident.

The director decided that we would dance in two "shifts", so half of us got to rest while the other half danced under the lights. The BET staff was very good about keeping us supplied with large quantities of water. This year, however, they did not have the very nice cloth towels that they had last year.

When the band played "Gal With a Whole Lot of Money", the director called for a Mambo. We were the only ones who stepped forward, so we got to start out as a solo, but were quickly joined by almost everyone, once they figured out that you could also do Lindy to the song.

The session ended with "Jump, Jive, and Wail", the Louis Prima song from the now famous Gap commercial. We were finally free to do as many aerials as we could cram in. Steve and Christy did their "Wave" routine several times just to make sure it got on camera. One cameraman was down at floor level, so We did a driveshaft, where she came within inches of his camera. We hope that gets in...

When the session was over, a group of us went to the A-V Ristorante for dinner, and then to the Chevy Chase Ballroom to celebrate Brent, Tricia and Dave's birthday. As you all know, Tom Koerner proposed to Carolyn Biczel that evening.

Here are some of the reviews:

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

What a grand time we had on Friday night! We dashed home from work to get all vintaged up, then Frank and his partner arrived to transport us to the B.E.T. studio right on the dot of 5:30. We were so excited, we were waiting for them in the lobby. We were among the first to arrive, and we were joined by many of the usual suspects: Arnold and Lil, Trisha, Carolyn, Cameron, Heather, Steve and Chrissy, Chris, Maura, Jeff, Bill, Buck, Sam...oh dear, I know I'm forgetting to mention a bunch of people!

The B.E.T. staff was just wonderful - we had food, we had water, we had a whole makeup room to ourselves. Bravo, B.E.T.!

The Jumpers were in fine form, and Marianna really gave it her all. If you've not heard the Jumpers yet, you owe it to yourself to check these cats out. They have a terrific jump blues sound and repetoire, and Marianna has a fine set of pipes! The dancers were dressed in all our vintage finery, and the ubiquitous studio audience was very supportive. We were joined by 3 DC Hand Dancing Couples who were just fabulous. I love to watch DC Hand Dance - it's so smooth! I'm always amazed at the way they spin. I just wish I could be that fast and steady!

They taped 6 segments, and Jim and I danced 4 of them. Although Jim and I were a little nervous when we started out, by the time the Jumpers ended the final set with "Jump, Jive, and Wail" everyone was dancing well and we all looked at each other as if to say, "That's the end? Already? We were just getting warmed up!"

Charlie Hebbel told us on the way out that the band will get copies of the full edited show once it's ready, and he has two VCRs. Jim and I have volunteered to help make copies for folks, and he told us he'll let us know as soon as he has a copy. So hopefully we'll all be able to see the final show withou having to scan the TV listings religiously for weeks on end just to watch 15 minutes of inane commericals in between thedance/music segments.

After the taping, Jim and I persuaded Frank and his partner to drop us at the Metro so we could get up to Chevy Chase Ballroom and...DANCE SOME MORE (no, two hours of dancing is NOT sufficient). --- it was pretty crowded on Friday - yay!). As for the rest of you: we find your lack of Lindy obsession disturbing.

ANYway, it was a fabulous night at Chevy Chase. The band was hot, it was Brent Sessions' birthday (complete with cake), Trisha Reneau and Dave Shepherdson also had birthdays (and birthday dances), my brother and his girlfriend came down from PA and met us at the dance, and, as you've no doubt already heard, Koerner asked Carolyn to marry him...and amazingly enough, she actually said YES (girlfriend, there's still time to change your mind!).

The jam was good fun, and featured some folks who don't usually get out. Jim and I braved it again - now that we can both get out there without just about dying of fear we'll have to start working on an actual routine of some sort. I think Tom may have inadvertently passed along his loathing of choreography to Jim - maybe it was osmosis?

I got to dance with both Dave and Dr. Dan for the first time, and I'm happy to report that I'm getting much better about dancing with better dancers. A few months ago, one of the experienced boys would ask me to dance, I'd say yes, and my brain and feet would go completely blank! Now I'm at least to the point where I don't immediately forget everything I know about dancing when an advanced leader asks me to dance. PS to Dr. Dan - thanks for the tip on my shoulders and for dancing with me again later on. It's a real confidence builder for less experienced dancers when a more experienced dancer is willing to dance with us again.

After the dance, Anna and Gay worked with me on my swivel - thanks, chickies! Knowing what you're doing wrong is half the battle. Gay also worked with Jim on the whip. Ah, the whip - so reassuring to so many Lindy Hoppers - no matter how long one dances or how good one gets at other moves, there's always something wrong with one's whip. Yes, one could consider that depressing, but I prefer to think of it as a comforting constant in my dance life. (I'm trying to look at this in a positive light here, people!)

We danced until about 2 am, with Duke and I polishing off the night to a nice fast Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tune. Yes, Tom, I know you were trying to make us all drop over dead from exhaustion so that we'd go home, but your diabolical plot failed, and you had to throw us all out anyway. Before being turned out into the street, we were all treated to a more risque engagement dance than we had seen earlier in the evening to Madonna's "Spank Me" from (I believe) the Dick Tracy soundtrack.

Congratulations to Tom and Carolyn, and many thanks to the Tom Cunningham Orchestra and to the fine folks at Chevy Chase Ballroom for making May such a fun dance month!

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