Review of 1997
Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!
It was a Great Year!

Select your article from this list:

Analysis of the Phenomonon of "Being Asked to Dance"
By: Frank Morra
Appeared in the June 1, 1997 edition

I wish I had a nickel for all the ladies who say that they cannot get anyone to dance with them. What is this? Is this some strange "Twilight Zone" gap in the women's movement where it is acceptable to blame yourself for the choices of others? Sometimes it sounds like primitive superstition, sometimes it sounds like pre-adolescent teen stuff. I have decided to bring the power of modern science to bear on this question. Briefly, this involves a simple mathematical model based on a "musical chairs" analogy; it has two factors: (a) the general stamina of the crowd and (b) the number of "followers" relative to the number of "leaders". The model and results are shown below, but briefly the model suggest that:

  • at a typical night at Dancers or Vienna Grille, a lady may expect from two to nine dances based on random choice alone. If you dance more than that, you are doing something right; dance less and then you canstart to think about Binaca.
  • at a typical night at Glen Echo, it is entirely possible that a lady may not be asked to dance at all and probably a maximum of three times
  • at a typical night at the Avalon Dance studio, a lady may expect from seven to seventeen dances

None of these figures has anything whatsoever to do with the lady --- looks, breath, dancing skill, or anything else. They are simply derived from the general stamina of the crowd and the relative imbalance of leaders to followers! The cure for the problem is, as we have been harping on to some length in these pages, get more men interested in Lindy Hop!

  1. STAMINA: How many dances are available at a session and how many can one person comfortably dance to? 64 bars at Lindy tempo is about 4 minutes. With interludes between songs, etc., allow 6 minutes per song. That's 10 songs per hour. In a 3 hour dance, there are about 30 songs played. I don't think that We can do 30 Lindy numbers in an evening, and I never see Tom Koerner dancing that much. With appropriate rest, etc 15 is probably the maximum - that's 60 minutes of full-out exercise. My guess is that there is a 50% probability that any particular individual will be dancing to any given song at Mondays at Dancers or Tuesday at Vienna Grille, because there is a mix of beginners and experienced folks. This will vary with the general crowd. For example, at Glen Echo or America, there are lots of beginners who haven't built much stamina; these folks might dance one in four. On the other hand, the Thursday sessions at the Avalon seem to attract experienced, in-shape folks. They might dance to 75% of the songs. Thus:
    • P(dance) = Pd
    • note that in order for a "dance" to take place, two people must be available
    Pd is a parameter to represent the type of crowd.
  2. RATIO OF LEADERS TO FOLOWERS: How many unattached ladies and how many unattached men are there? [forgive the sexism inherent in this characterization, since we are referring to "followers" and "leaders", respectively noting that in Lindy these two groups have different movements] In general, the women (Nw) slightly outnumber the men (Nm). We may analyze this with a "musical chairs" analogy, if there are 10 unattached women and 5 unattached men, then each lady would--on a purely random basis--have a 50% probability of a "rejection" on any given dance. Thus, assuming "musical chairs" (i.e. no personal bias against or for any individual)
    • P(rejection) = Pr = (Nw - Nm)/Nw (for Nw > Nm)
    • = 0.0 (for Nw < Nm)
    • P(accept) = Pa = 1.0 - Pr
    if we introduce the variable "R" or the ratio of women to men (=Nw/Nm) then
    • Pr = (R-1)/R and Pa = 1/R

In this simple model, the actual expected number of dances (Ed) is simply the product of the number of dances available (Nd) the probability that a couple will actually dance ( = Pd x Pd, since two people have to be available) and the probability of acceptance:

  • Ed = Nd x (Pd x Pd) x Pa

Note also, that this model involves sampling from a finite population. That is, the the number of dances is fixed, number of people is assumed to be fixed, and the "typical" stamina of the group (Pd) is also assumed to be fixed. At the end of the evening, it is possible to count how many dances each person may have had (i.e. person "X" had 12 dances). Of course, not every value will be identical -- some will dance more and some will dance less. People notice that some folks dance more and some folks dance less and begin to wonder if something other than random selection is going on. It is usually brought to my attention in the form of "Do I have bad breath or something?" The question becomes, "How many dances should I expect to have and when should I start to look for problems?" To answer this, we need to rewrite the equation for the probability of any individual actually dancing; we will create the variable P* to represent this:

  • P* = Pd x Pd x Pa = f(stamina, Nw, Nm)

Under our model, P* stays constant for the evening. Given this formulation, it is also possible to develop the sampling distribution for this function to set some limits. Speifically, the formulation involving P* indicates that a binomial model would be a logical first starting place. Under this, the expected mean number of dances (Ed) and variance (Vd) follow very quickly:

  • Ed = Nd x P*
  • Vd = Nd x P* x (1.0 - P*)

Further, if the number of dances (Nd) is sufficiently large (say 30) then, tables of the Normal distribution may be used to calculate percentage points in the expected number of dances. That is, assuming random selection of partners, it is possible to calculate the "likely" number of dances that anyone should expect and the range of values in which the hypothesis of random selection remains valid.

The following table shows Ed as a function of the ratio of Nw to Nm, holding Pd constant at various levels to represent the type of crowd. The table also shows the "low" and "high" number of dances expected under the "musical chairs" model (90% of the values would lie within this region) Here are some results, assuming Nd = 30:

  • note: R = Nw/Nm

"Mixed" Crowd

R P* Ed Vd Lo Hi
1.00 0.25 7.5 5.6 3.6 11.4
1.30 0.19 5.8 4.7 2.2 9.3
1.50 0.17 5.0 4.2 1.7 8.3
1.70 0.15 4.4 3.8 1.2 7.6
2.00 0.13 3.8 3.3 0.8 6.7

Mostly Inexperienced Crowd

R P* Ed Vd Lo Hi
1.00 0.06 1.9 1.8 0.0 4.0
1.30 0.05 1.4 1.4 0.0 3.4
1.50 0.04 1.3 1.2 0.0 3.0
1.70 0.04 1.1 1.1 0.0 2.8
2.00 0.03 0.9 0.9 0.0 2.5

Mostly Experienced Crowd

R P* Ed Vd Lo Hi
1.00 0.56 16.9 7.4 12.4 21.3
1.30 0.43 13.0 7.4 8.5 17.4
1.50 0.38 11.3 7.0 6.9 15.6
1.70 0.33 9.9 6.6 5.7 14.2
2.00 0.28 8.4 6.1 4.4 12.5

Now, it seems to me that this little model shows two things:

  1. It is absolutely essential in the long run to build the collective "stamina" of the dance crowd. That is, get Pd up at all venues. This comes from experience. Pd is the dominant variable in this equation. Note that at "low stamina" venues like Glen Echo, it is entirely plausible that a nice lady with no bad breath could have zero dances!
  2. It is also necessary to get more men involved in Lindy Hop. That is, lower "R". The only way that you can get more men into Lindy is to "take it to the public".

The rational choice for ladies concerned about maximizing the number of dances is: go to a venue of experienced Lindy Hoppers who dance to almost every song. Further, by choosing Avalon, where a large number of "unpartnered" male dancers attend, a lady may maximize her expected number of dances. Another strategy is for a lady to learn how to lead. Both Lizzie Hess and Tricia Reneau have had a lot of success with this.

Note that this has nothing to do with "controversy", "Bad breath" or anything else.

About that Statistical Analysis (various Authors)
Appeared in the June 8, 1997 edition

Well, we have received some interesting mail about our statistical analysis of the phenomenon of "being asked to dance". Here is some of it:

From: Mark Ormsby

I have just started drinking my coffee, so the analytical part of my brain won't start functioning for another hour and the higher math sections won't be available until noon. Quite an interesting piece of work, though.

As a refinement, I think you might add a weighting function to account for the random dance floor walk. Suppose a dancer is in the middle of the floor. The song finishes, he or she thanks his or her partner and starts to walk to the side. There is a certain probability that he or she will cross paths with another dancer and ask or be asked to dance again. This creates the never-gets-off-the-floor phenomenon favoring those already dancing over those waiting to dance.

Your numbers from Vienna Grille might be slightly skewed by the Beverly factor, which reduces the number of dances available due to the consumption of fabulous desserts. This might be compensated by a temporary increase in stamina from the sugar buzz.

Stamina is also a function of the music, to first order probably inversely related to the average tempo. But that's far to simplistic. If it's swingin it doesn't matter how tired you are. Which reminds me that I'm drifting too far back into my previous life as a physicist, which is the last thing I want to carry with me when I'm out Lindy Hopping.

From: Larry MacDonald

Hi Frank,
I just want to make a case for Leslie's Thursday dance to crack your top ten list. After all, she's got Mark (THE BEST Lindyhop DJ) Bernstein and you yourself have statistically proven that the Avalon Studio offers more dance time for females than any other place on the planet (okay, I exaggerate a little). Anyway, Leslie is really making an effort to accommodate us so I hope we can repay her by showing up at her functions.

From: Daniel Fierer

Frank, You clearly need to think about getting a day job (loved the formulas though).

From: Brenda Seidman

I like the idea of you distributing your probability formula. It sends a valuable message to all of the folks (guys included!) who get depressed and discouraged because they don't have a regular partner to dance with, and feel that no one wants to dance with them. Sunday night at Flying Home a lovely lady was agitated. She told me that the Sunday night dance would be her last Lindy dance because she never gets asked to dance. I walked outside with her for a few minutes and told her that while I sympathized with her, and had been just as upset in the recent past myself, I also told her that part of it is HER responsibility: that she needed to ask guys to dance (instead of relying on them to ask her), and that she needs to make more of an effort to learn Lindy so that she is more enjoyable to dance with. I don't think she is currently taking lessons. In short, I hope that you will tack on a note to your formula which encourages folks who find themselves on the sidelines to be more active in getting themselves on to the floor. I probably ask people to dance with me about 90% of the time I'm at a dance! I can't afford to be proud! I'll never become a better dancer that way, and I'm not interested in being depressed!

From: Cherri Harris

I just love your equations! Have you heard of the "Journal of Irreproducable Results"? I'd love to turn this into a published article!!! I think I need a better math background to actually follow what you wrote, but I love your application of logic and reason to a dancing issue. Do you think we can get one of our NASA or physics-types to write about the aerodynamic effects of the G-force in doing the kip? Or have Dr. Dan write about the increased calcium depletion rate that occurs in pre-menopausal women as a result of repetitive pressure on the metatarsals (I think this is the balls of your feet). Or the varying effect of the earth's rotation and gravitational pull when doing a swing-out as you approach the North Pole. I think you get the idea. See what I am reduced to thinking about when I don't get to Lindy enough? I think I could be dangerous.

From: Tricia Reneau

You are just tooooo much! After reading your mathematical/statistical analysis of why women sit out more dances than men, I have to agree with Sue Devoney's assertion that you have WAY too much time on your hands! Obviously, this fact has benefited the rest of the Lindy Hop community via your electronic newsletter, which I for one look forward to each week.

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Thursday May 22, 1997
Taping of the BET Program on Swing

We had a fine turnout for the taping of a segment on "Swing Dance" for the cable channel BET on Jazz. First of all, let me say that the staff at BET were just incredible. This was the smoothest dance event that I have ever attended. BET went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The guard at the gate had been alerted to the fact that dancers in period costumes would be showing up; he got one look at the purple zoot suit and gave us a big friendly smile. He even insisted that I step out of the car and model it for him -- he got a website card in return. Next, there was a personal escort waiting for us at the door; she also admired my partners's dress and made us feel at ease-- although she also had us sign a release in which I think we gave up any rights to our firstborn children; even the lawyers in the crowd couldn't understand it. Next, we met the director and got a briefing on the program. They had at least three cases of bottled water, lots of diet soda, and TOWELS for us. During all this socilaization, I handed out a bunch of website cards, so I hope that we may have made some Lindy converts. We had a great turnout: Tom and Debra, Randi-Sue Rimerman and "Dr. Dan" Fierer, Larry MacDonald and Carolyn Biczel, Dave Quidas and Marie Tomassi, John "Psychoboy" McCalla and Cherri Harris, Ron "Mountain Man" Meadows and Janice Saylor, and Tuan Tranh and Elizabeth Magin.

The set looked like a nightclub out of the old "soundies" films. Ramsey Lewis was the host and the music was provided by the Eric Felten Orchestra. John Cocuzzi was the special guest on piano and vibraphones. Although the dance floor was of the portable variety, it was very fast and had a lot of give. The band was really hot and we got a real workout. Taping started at about 7:00 and went until 9:30. There was a lot of equipment used. I saw three stationary cameras, a camera mounted on rails, and a hand-held camera operated by a lady dressed entirely in black so that she could get in close without changing the lighting. The most amusing camera was very small and mounted on a crane; it could peep in anywhere on the set and once, when we were doing cross-kicks, we turned around to see the little guy looking right in our faces. Surprise!

We had two warmup dances and things began in earnest. The boys led off with "Red Point Boogie" and "A - Train." The script called for two numbers and then a bit of interview and commercial break and then back to the dancing. All in all, we danced to twelve songs including the warmup. Eric's band is a trombone lead, much like Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey, so it sounds a bit different than Tom Cunningham or Doc Scantlin, both of which are trumpet leads. John Cocuzzi's vibraphone styling was excelent and he had a great solo on "Honeysuckle Rose", a real barn-burner. We were able to get in a shim-sham as well to "Stompy Joe" a song which is, alas, not heard that frequently although it was the first tune that Fletcher Henderson arranged for the Benny Goodman "Let's Dance" band.. We were instructed to save most of the big aerials for "Sing Sing Sing", the last number. Eric played an extended version (about 9 minutes), so everyone was able to get in their full routine; Dave and Marie did their "Mop the Floor" bit and Larry and Carolyn got off another super-high "A-Kick." Tom and Deb executed one of their best "Death Spikes" ever, timed exactly to the end of the song.

Everyone was truly exhausted at the end of taping and we opted for eating instead of going to the "Taking Off" dance. [Sorry, Suzi] We wound up at the A-V Ristorante (607 New York Avenue, NW) which is known for its good, cheap simple southern Italian fare and the opera juke box. Our period clothes got a lot of attention, and we all had a great time playing "name that aria." Debra and "Dr. Dan" did a fair job of accompanying Pavarotti on "La Donna e' Mobile" (Rigoletto) and all chimed in to the "drinking song" from La Traviata. All-in-all, this was sophisticated Lindy Hopping at its best!

Debra Sternberg checks in with this:

From: Debra Sternberg

My thanks to all who showed up for the BET taping--I was worried it'd be me and Tom fighting over who gets to dance with Carolyn (sorry, Tricia) but we had a real nice group and, I thought, looked great! The BET staff was incredibly professional, and there was no waiting around. As a matter of fact, there were times when I wished they were a little less efficient and we'd have more of a breather between sets. We were finished at 9:30 and I was talked out of going over to Suzi Nonn's pre-flight party for the out-of-towners at Dancers in lieu of going over to AV's Italian Ristorante with Dave & Marie, Larry, Koerner & Carolyn, Daniel, Randi-Sue and Frank and his partner. Carolyn and I shared a half-litre of wine and unbeknownst to everyone I became all sentimental and goofy. Frank and Daniel and I belted Italian opera, badly, we ate pizza and anchovies, everyone yakked, We talked about how swell it was to be doing this stuff instead of sitting home watching TV, and my little heart just swelled and tears came to my eyes. Was it indigestion or the garlic? What a great bunch of friends, what fun we all have, how blessed we are to be laughing and dancing, how wonderful this all is, how great it is that Lindy, by being our common passion, has become the thread that ties us all together. Love to all, and I really mean it,

Randi Sue is our next reviewer of the festivities:

From: Randi-Sue Rimerman

I went to the BET taping on Thursday and had a blast. It was the most fun I had as a lindyhopper since I started. It's a shame that more people didn't go, but I'm kind of glad because I'll have a better chance to be on television!

The series we were a part of is on jazz performers. This episode eatured the Eric Felton Orchestra, in particular, but more generally was about the days when jazz was THE dance music. They attempted to recreate a dance club atmosphere, and had customers sitting at tables, donned with white tablecloths and flowers, around the dance floor. The orchestra looked wonderful in tuxedos; the dancers were in a mix of "low vintage" wear (except for Frank, in his purple zoot suit, Tuan, in his striped(?) zoot suit, and me in a vintage black 40s wool dress). The most surreal part of the evening was the fact that the "entertainment" was all white, whereas the audience, and the production staff, were all black. Pretty ironic, given that the lindy hop came from Harlem!

We danced to 10 songs -- including three that were killer up tempo tunes. There was plenty of room on the dance floor, and most people had an opportunity to strut their stuff. The highlight for me was actually a slow dance -- Larry and I decided to ham it up with risque dipping to see if, in Larry's words, "we could get kicked off television." Other highlights were the shim sham, and the jam. I stayed out of the jam (to the chagrin of poor Dr. Daniel -- who was eager to have an opportunity to shine), because I was ready to collapse at that point. But everyone who performed did a great job. Larry and Carolyn did their killer kip, and Debra timed her spike perfectly to coincide with the last note of Sing, Sing, Sing.

Afterwards, we went to AVs where we had a delicious feast of Italian food. One of my favorite things about the lindy crowd is that they know how to relish, and share, food. At AVs, I was treated to a beginner lesson on opera, including an animated recreation of the plot of Rigiletto by Dr. Daniel (okay, so I now know what it's about, but I can't spell it!). So it was a learning experience as well. All in all, a good time was had by all.

And, Carolyn Biczel has this for us:

From: Carolyn Biczel

I went to the BET taping on Thursday night and it was great fun. I think this show will be one in a series about jazz which will air sometime in September. The studio was set up to look like a nightclub, and they even had extras sitting at the tables pretending to be customers. The Eric Felton Orchestra was in top form. They played about 7 sets with two songs each and pretty much everyone danced to every song. The only song I could have done without was the 250bpm version of the Woodchoppers Ball that I ran through and which caused me to completely mess up my hair. He ended with "Sing, Sing, Sing" at a good tempo (not screamingly fast) and of course we had a jam. I think just about all of the 8 or so couples were in it, and Tom and Debra finished it with Debra timing the "spike" perfectly to end on the very last beat. It was a good deal for us because we got a great night of dancing out of it for free, plus we get to be on TV. And they even supplied us with drinks and towels.

Afterwards we all went out to AV's Italian restaurant for dinner. (I highly recommend the spinach with garlic.) We had some wine and practiced our opera. The whole night was very enjoyable.

And, we have this from Marie Tommasi:

From: Marie Tommasi

The BET taping Thursday night was a lot of fun--about 16 dancers showed up, if you count Koerner as a dancer. Anyway, in attendance were myself and Dave, Frank and his partner, Debra, Carolyn, Tom, Larry, Dan, Pyschoboy John, Sherry, Tuan, Randi, and a few others who's names I don't know....sorry!! The band (Eric Felten) sounded phenomenal, although it seemed like they were playing everything about 20% faster than the recordings! On top of that, there were a few tunes on the set list classified as "smokin!", which were even faster! However, their arrangement of Sing, Sing, Sing was definitely manageable for dancing.

We danced in sets of two songs each from 7:00 to about 9:30. The set was basically a dinner club atmosphere with tables surrounding the dance floor and a typical bandstand. All we had to do was get out there and dance! The great Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis led into each segment with a few words and, at some point, an interview with Eric Felten. The crew working on the set was incredibly nice and more than willing to accomodate with towels, drinks, etc.

Toward the end of the evening, we all got up and did the Shim Sham to a song I think was called Stompy Joe, which was an incredibly long song! In any event, this could be a nice alternative to Tuxedo Junction once in a while.

The grand finale was jamming to Sing, Sing, Sing. Everyone got out there and did their stuff!! During the drum and trombone solos, the dancers respectfully stood to the side while the musicians did their thing. Tom and Debra finished off the jam with Debra timing the spike perfectly with the music!

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Black and White Shoes

During the month of June 1997, we asked people to write in and offer actual proof that Lindy Hoppers really wore black and white shoes during the 1930s and 1940s. These are the responses to our request.

From: Jennifer Manlove
Appeared in the June 1, 1997 edition

I was looking through a book (in the music section at Barnes and Noble, Georgetown) on the New York jazz/swing era, and found a few photos of dancers in Harlem. One of them had a woman dancing in black and white flat dance shoes (which look a lot like ones that women in the DC community wear). I saw a couple of crowd pictures with women in higher heeled spectators and a woman in saddle shoes (watching dancers). In another book, I also saw a portrait of Marlene Dietrich (I think) in heeled spectators and a long gown. It appears that spectators have often been fashionable among women! One of the photos included a male dancers in wing tipped shoes, but they weren't spectators.

From: Sue Fedor
Appeared in the June 1, 1997 edition

Steve and I had a lovely dinner at Bertolucci's in White Flint....risotto, glass o' wine... you know what that means....(get your mind outta the gutter)....Sue's gonna spend money she doesn't have at BORDERS!

Went to BORDERS! and got SWING ERA, NEW YORK, by W. Royal Stokes (Temple University Press, 1994) featuring the Jazz photographs of Charles Peterson. It's a book Beavis and Butthead would like. Lots of pictures, not too many words.

  • Page 29 (picture of a zoot suiter dancing with a lovely gal at the Savoy): "Note the 'draped' zoot suit with with its high waist and baggy pants and nearly knee length jacket--high fashion for Harlem jitterbugs of the time. Popular accessories included narrow belts and ties [narrow ties?!], yard-long key chains, padded shoulders, zippered pants cuffs, and wing tipped shoes. The women favored billowed or short pleated skirts, and brown, black, or maroon and white SADDLE SHOES." [Where can I get a pair of maroon and white saddle shoes?]
  • Page 31 features a female Savoy dancer wearing two tone shoes (much like the kind they're selling in the Spiegel catalogue this season). She's dancing with a guy who's SWEATING THROUGH HIS SUIT JACKET! (Could Psychoboy be reincarnated?)
  • Page 203 features a mob of jitterbugs with their feet up on the stage of the Meadowbrook Ballroom (Cedar Grove, New Jersey -- now probably an oil refinery) and seventh from the bottom right is a chap with the scuffiest saddle shoe I have ever seen. He must have been a bad lead if the girls kept stepping on his feet!
  • And Page 205, same ballroom, a circle of dancers are watching a jam. Girl in plaid skirt with flowered sweater and her partner in a suit and tie are wearing SADDLE SHOES, complete with the trademark "Charleston Scuff" featured prominantly on the young man's toes. They are in the cuddle up position and look ready to take over for the couple in the middle.


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May 23-25, 1997
Flying Home -1997

ALL the Lindy Hoppers were at "Flying Home". Let me say that this was the place to see and be seen. Hats off to Marc and Ellen for the hard work and determination that made this possible. I'm going to make yet another argument for the magical curative powers of Lindy Hop, so bear with me.

For us, Friday night had the potential for 100% disaster - my partner's foot was killing her after the BET marathon, my ankle is still sore from the tumble at L'Enfant, I DETEST Crystal City, and my partner forgot her orthotics, so we were an hour late retrieving them. When we finally found the hotel (do you know that every hotel in Crystal City has "Crystal" in its name?), we were surprised to find that Marianna Previti was right behind us --- she had gotten lost as well. And, it turned out, the J Street Jumpers did not have their regular drummer. [Dark Clouds, rumbling... no that's Sunday] Well, we walked into the hotel and the whole world lit up when we saw Tina Connors and Mike Reis collecting tickets. Who can be upset when great people are around?

The Friday night dance was held in an "Exhibit Hall" which was more like a parking garage hidden with bunting. Lesser mortals might have been discouraged, but the Lindy Hoppers were out in all their finery and provided more than enough color to offset the room--if you get enough zoot suits together, any place can be the Savoy Ballroom. We walked in to a veritable Who's Who of Lindy Hop. It was just amazing! Anna Duncan had grabbed Frankie Manning and was walking him around the place. I even managed to get a word in edgewise about the showing of a "soundie" featuring Duke Ellington and Whitey's Lindy Hoppers doing "Cottontail" on the BET Jazz channel that morning. Believe me, any words with Frankie Manning are worth their weight in gold.

We certainly enjoyed dancing in this rarefied company, although my partner's foot needed rest. We spent the entire second break talking with Arthur Barry, the piano player for the J Street Jumpers. Arthur reinforced the notion that dancers are very important to the band and that they contibute to the energy in the air; he said that he enjoyed the Lindy crowd the most because they always look like they are having fun.

At 10:30, Marcus and Barbl came in and set the place on fire. They always have something new to show and it is always fast and always athletic. Just as I was about to talk to Frankie a second time, the strains of "Woodchopper's Ball" could be heard, time for the "Jitterbug Stroll". I was very surprised to see that the dance floor was filled, because we usually can only muster about six people to do this at Vienna Grille. By accident, I wound up in the first row right beside Ellen. I had to keep my wits about me because during the "tic tacs", I was in front with nobody to follow. We really have to get more people doing "Jitterbug Stroll" because it really looks great in a big group. Plus, Ellen has a great move on the "Suzy-Q" segment that should be learned by everyone. my partner wasn't dancing and noted that there was a lot of terrific styling being shown. Thus, came the paradox of "Flying Home" --- if you dance, you can't see all the great moves that are being thrown. But, the energy was so high that you couldn't sit still. We must have missed a thousand great moves! my partner had to work the next day, so we had to forego the post-dance socialization which, I am told, took place at the Silver Diner in Clarendon.

Saturday May 24, 1997

The energy just kept building during the weekend. The Sunset Royal Orchestra was in very good form. We were very glad to see Claire Colbert again. She was our original instructor in jazz steps and we greeted her with a little "Shorty George". We got appropriate suggestions for improvement... We got to meet the near-legendary John Hudson (of the "Hudson Hop" and "Hudson Lockup") and his partner Jean Shelton; these two have a budget for clothes that probably exceeds the GNP of most third world countries. Talk about "zooty"!

As John and I were exchanging names of tailors, the band announced that it was Angela's birthday. This was no normal lineup -- Marcus led off, followed by Simon, then John and then Frankie Manning. I was stunned when Frankie passed her off to me -- what an act to follow! I think that this must have been a memorable birthday for Angela [not, of course, due to any contribution that I might have made...]

Later on, we had a very good shim-sham --- it is fantastic when all the feet pound out the rhythm in unison, especially on the "half-breaks". There is something wonderful about "shim-sham" in that it is the universal language of Lindy which goes back in an unbroken thread to the Savoy Ballroom, honoring the jazz and tap roots of the dance.

We had a very good jam to the Lindy Hoppers' tribal anthem, "Sing, Sing, Sing." This was performed a lot better than the same band had played it at Glen Echo last Saturday. The tom tom solo was much more like the way that Krupa originally played it -- constant rhythm but very intense. The dancers responded with a vairiety of shine steps that did them credit. The best notice goes to Marc and Ellen for displaying the true Lindy spirit. They missed their first attempt at a "Death Spike". Most dancers would slink off the floor but Ellen came right back and executed it perfectly the second time. Hats off to Ellen for not letting anything get in her way. [Oh yes, Marc had something to do with it as well...]

Sunday May 25, 1997

Things just kept on building. Despite the worst rainstorm in the city's recent history, with an actual TORNADO just a few miles from the hotel, the dance was absolutely packed to the gills. And talk about clothes. They didn't need lights! I finally met "Lindy Bill" from LA and his red zoot suit out shone my purple. There was as much fashion competition as dance. For me, one of the high points was when I got an opportunity to talk to Frankie Manning about the "Congeroo". He even signed my copy of Life Magazine.

Eric Felten was in top form, although Cocuzzi was not on vibraphones. The Rhythm Hot Shots did two numbers which stunned everyone. The first was a tap routine in which the guys dressed as chefs and did vocals and tap to "Nagasaki" (you know, "Back in Nagasaki where the men chew tobacky and the women wicky wacky woo...") The second was an all out zany [did I say "zany"?] recreation of the Lindy scene in "Hellzapoppin". Believe me, this was worth the price of admission alone.

But, as Ronco says, "That's not all!" Marcus and Barbl gave us three numbers that illustrated the history of Lindy. The first was a Charleston (Lindy's precursor) at breakneck speed in which Barbl wore a red feather boa. Next, they changed into sailor suits and showed us some fine flying Lindy. They ended with a blistering demonstration of Boogie Woogie (a later mutation of Lindy) Simon and Rusty showed us excellent tap and Lindy routines honoring the significant jazz contribution to Lindy. All the while, Chester Whitmore kept up a rapid fire patter that moved things along.

The highlight of the evening was Frankie Manning's birthday lineup, in which he danced with 83 women. Chester and I stood on the sidelines keeping score. I am pleased to report that my partner was #58. After he heard the magic number "Eighty Three", Frankie proceeded to dance with all the girls in the Rhythm Hot Shots - so we know that he can keep doing this for an absolute minimum of six more years. With only a brief rest, Frankie led us in the Shim Sham once again--what a thrill!

The dance nominally ended with the jam to "Sing Sing Sing". And it was a hell of a jam. Everyone had their shine steps out and polished. The pros were fantastic, but some of the social dancers put on a good show as well. The folks from New York were especially hot. Claire Colbert looked very good. Tricia and Carolyn did their crowd-pleasing girl-girl routine. We had been working on a straight leg fish flip which we showed for the first time; it felt like we got a lot of height. It was a real honor to be on the same floor with this crowd! [More about the jam below]

The dance just didn't seem to want to end. Simon led the group in the Madison and I (for one) was very glad for those practice sessions at Vienna Grille. We had a small discussion about the "birdland" step which seems to have mutated away from the Baltimore original as the Madison has been revived in England. I offered as evidence the tape being shown at the City Museum in Baltimore. After we were finally ejected from the ballroom (nobody wanted to leave) a vast contingent made its way over to Bob and Edith's Diner in Arlington. This place is open 24 hours a day every day--and the food is really good! We met our friend Jean Marston from San Francisco and took her along to the diner. The crowd yakked until 4:00 am.

Enough from me - here are more reviews:

From: Carolyn Biczel

This past weekend was, of course, the Flying Home event. I'm sure Frank will get lots of reviews of this, but I know he wants everyone's input, so here are my impressions.

The shows on Sunday night were great. It's hard to get a bad performance from that group of people. And it was fun to be a part of Frankie's birthday lineup. It was a bit crowded for dancing when the band was playing, but it did clear out alot afterwards, which made it much easier to dance.

There were lots of good people to dance with during the whole weekend. I went to all three dances, and I must say that Bill Borgida from Ithaca is now one of my favorite people to dance with. One little thing that could have been better was the room used for the Friday and Saturday night dances. It was fine from a functional standpoint, but it did lack atmosphere. It's too bad we couldn't get the big ballroom for all three nights. On Saturday, we had a birthday dance for a woman named Angela, who is from the DC area and who was really fortunate to have her birthday fall on that weekend. When do you get a chance to have Frankie Manning, Marcus Koch and John Hudson in your birthday line-up?

I didn't sign up for any of the workshops, but Larry and I did take a private lesson from Eddie and Eva, which I thoroughly enjoyed and found very helpful. I hope I can remember all the good tips they gave us.

From: Debra Sternberg

My only attendance at Flying Home was the big Sunday night bash, and I had a ball! (Personally, it was nice to be a guest for once.) I saw people I hadn't seen in months or years, yakked and laughed and gossiped with Catrine Lundggren. I thought it was a beautifully run and well-paced evening, with wonderful performances by all. Kudos to Marc and Ellen, whom I know have worked long and hard to pull this together. Everyone I spoke with had enjoyed the classes immensely. The Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra sounded WONDERFUL and had my old pal, drummer Scotty Babcock, playing with them. I've been dancing to Scotty's drumming for at least 6-7 years, and that boy knows how to hit a splash on the cymbal when he sees an aerial a'comin. I was delighted to hear him do it with some of the other couples as well as Tom and I. This seems like a good place to segue into a little explanation: Tom and I were the last couple in the jam and after we ran through our stuff, I brought everyone out for 4 bars of shim-sham. Song ends, everyone applauds--and Eric announced me and Tom! I can assure all of you that this was not pre-planned and took us entirely by surprise. I have no idea why Eric did this and you'd have to ask him for an answer. My assumption is that it's just because we've worked together for many years and it was an old habit coming into play--he's only recently stopped announcing us as the Joe and Mo dancers (the restaurant we worked at with Eric, which closed over three years ago). I feel very badly about this for a couple of reasons: the night belonged to Marc and Ellen; I've already heard that many people think Tom and I set this up with the band. So one more time: we didn't plan this, we didn't do it on purpose. I know we're crass, but we're not THAT crass.

So once again congratulations to Marc and Ellen for a great show and a wonderful weekend. Us old-timers remember when there was just a handful of people in the area doing Lindy--look at us now! Together we can save the world through Lindy.

Cherri Harris has this review:

From: Cherri Harris

Frank, first I want to thank you for all of the effort you are putting into this bulletin board! It is great! I don't know if you heard about it, but some Lindyhoppers from Australia have been reading it, and recognized some of our people from the photos when they came to Flying Home.

If you want a some feedback on Flying Home... I will try to drum up the energy to is exhausting trying to think about everything I did over the weekend! To sum it up, I thought the classes and the teachers were fantastic. The fact that I was able to learn to transition from front-to-back charleston to a face-to-face charleston by itself was worth the price of tuition (for me, anyway) I was really impressed by the quality of the teaching. At times I thought the rooms could have been bigger or better configured, perhaps they could have brought in some mirrors, but that is minor. I thought the dances ended too early, it would have been nice if they could have had some coordination for spinning CD's after midnite. I think once people get going, they don't want to stop.

I know that putting on something like this takes alot of work, and I give Mark and Ellen all the credit and gratitude in the world. Building on one of the comments that Chester made on Sunday, tho, think of what we could accomplish if we worked together. It was really nice to watch the jam and see what great dancers we have in the Washington area. The high quality is due to all the great teachers we have here, and the willingness (and patience) of those great dancers to share their talents and help and mentor those of us who want to be great too.

And, finally, we have this from Marc and Ellen:

From: Marc and Ellen

We just wanted to thank you for all your help, support and coverage of Flying Home. Actually, we would like to thank everybody for making Flying Home such a big success. We got a lot of compliments on the track system, the range and quality of the instructors and the dances.

It was great to see everyone on Sunday evening dressed in their finery and really cutting loose. It has been a lot of work, but well worth it to see everyone having a good time and to see so many people learing so much Lindy (from moves to technique to style). We have been keeping a list of suggestions and compliments and plan to do our best to do an even better job next year!

We still have some instructors in town and details to clean up and will try to give you a better review in a little while. In the meantime, Ellen and I want to thank everyone for their support and cooperation. It was a blast!
With appreciation,
---Marc and Ellen

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Catalina Swing Camp - 1997
By: Debra Sternberg

Dear Uncle Frankie-Wankie,
Here's my quick review of Our Trip to California: Tom, Carolyn and I headed out for sunny Cal on the morning of Tuesday, June 3. We get out to LA and meet up with Tom's brother Todd (the NICE one) who now lives in Hermosa Beach. Wednesday we saw Tom's dream girl, Jean Veloz, and her brother Ray Peters, they guy who actually taught Jean how to dance. They do a lovely style of Lindy that Craig Hutchinson calls Classic Swing or just Swing, Koerner calls a slotted Lindy, and Jean and Ray call West Coast. They used to do it to incredibly fast music but it is a much smoother style--no Savoy-type kicks. Go look at Groovy Movie for reference. Anyway, we spent two hours in a studio with them (probably the highlight of the trip!) and then rendezvoused with them later that night at the Rhino Room where we also ran into John Hudson. Met some of the LA kids, had fun.

Next day, we're Catalina-bound. We hitch the ferry to the most beautiful island in the world, to the town of Avalon. Quaint, kinda European-looking, just adorable. Suzi Nonn meets us at the ferry and escorts us to the house we're sharing with Brian McGill, the ephemeral Diane Hudson-Wiley, Susan Lusi, and Bill Lehman. Our first entrance to the ballroom is absolutely breathtaking--the place is just stunning! It is the largest circular ballroom either in the country or in the world. High deco, immaculately maintained. I tell ya, the whole trip was worth being in that ballroom alone! What with all the LA kids completely into the hair, dress and look of the 40s, the Saturday night dinner-dance was like a step back in time. Overall review of the weekend--fabulous. We all must go next year. Great instruction ( we think we learned a lot but we can't remember), wonderful performances by the teachers, fun dancing every night in the ballroom, a charming island, all contributed to a fabulous dance vacation. Naturally, we're all talking about going back next year.

Love and kisses and undying affection from
---Auntie Deb

Susan Lusi's Trip to Catalina
By: Susan Lusi

Catalina was, to put it mildly, an aesthetically pleasing experience. The warm weather, the clear ocean water, the wild flowers, the quaint town of Avalon, not to mention the high caliber of teachers, and range of classes offered contributed to an enjoyable getaway and a great learning experience. But Debra is right - dancing in that ballroom, sea breeze wafting across the floor - made the trip worthwhile. Yes yes, we should all go next year.

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By: Frank and his partner

The only dance connection we have here is that Whitey's Lindy Hoppers give a stellar performance in the Marx Brothers film "A Day at the Races." All the old 1930s films have people going to horse races. Either the gangster owns a race horse or Fred & Ginger get into some improbable situation at the track. So, We thought that it was time to attend our first Horse Race. Having no experience, we dressed just like Fred and Ginger. I had on a tattersall vest and a Panama hat and my partner wore a floral print with a floppy hat. Immediately, we were an object of attention, as this attire is not the norm... I even had a pair of vintage binoculars. Off we went to Pimlico in Baltimore (up I-95 to exit 18A, down 7 traffic lights, left Turn onto Northern Pky and follow the signs.) We found valet parking ($3.00) and that admission to the Club House was $5 each. This entitled us to look through a museum of racing artifacts and to have a pleasant lunch in a restaurant that overlooked the Finish Line. The food was actually pretty good. I had a club sandwich and my partner had a Caesar Salad. There is a little TV at your table and you can watch the odds changing and see the parts of the race that are too far away. With tip, lunch came to about $25, so I think it was reasonable. You can get up from your table to go to the Paddock to see the horses as they are saddled and you can go outside to hear the thunderous finish as the horses gallop by. On Wednesday, it is rarely crowded, so we had a lot of opportunity to meet people and learn about the process of handicapping. my partner even hit the Exacta in the second race ("I had a dream about '1' and '4") which sent some of our new found senior handicappers back to the drawing board. In the eighth race, I saw a horse rearing up, refusing to be saddled. Her name was "Trisha"; my strategy was to bet on all the horses that had dance-related names and I had been losing... But this horse had the spirit of our own Tricias (Reneau and Manetti -- no physical resemblance, spirit only) so I put $2 on her. She won and paid for our whole day, including gas (for the car, the food was good.)

On the way back, we stopped at the DAV Thrift Shop (6035 Liberty Rd) and my partner found me a whole box of sox from the '30s that still had their original labels on them. One pair in purple is spectacular.

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Saturday June 7, 1997
Marshall Day Celebration

We started the evening off by attending the Marshall day celebration in Leesburg, Virginia. At 6:00 pm, the New Columbia Swing Orchestra kicked off the proceedings with "Let's Dance." Brooks Tegler was playing drums and went all out, since he is a Leesburg hometown boy; he had his Slingerland Radio King drums and was in fine form, sparking the band to great danceable rhythms. New Columbia can really swing---Frank Guldseth is a fantastic clarinetist and they have a tenor man who does Vido Musso's old solos with great panache. The band was unbeatable on "Roll 'Em" and they played Chu Berry's "Christopher Columbus" in its entirety, a rarity, since it is usually sandwiched into "Sing Sing Sing". Berry was a sax man with Fletcher Henderson and his composition really shows of saxophone ensemble playing. The dance floor was small and slippery. We thought that we were going to be the only ones there when Cherri Harris showed up in the middle of the first set. Guess what -- "Psychoboy" had overslept again. Next, Steve and Sue showed up. We'll let them take it from here:

From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney

We kidnapped Mike Henry and set off for Leesburg, VA to pay our respects to George C. Marshall and his fabulous plan. Not an easy task. While trying to find the event without benefit of signage, we almost crashed a wedding. We were met by Psycho-John and Cherri, both of whom were arguing--John had overslept once again. Too many late nights. Frank and a strange woman in a wig who looked an awful lot like my partner were there too. We enjoyed the New Columbia Swing Orchestra--they were the hottest we'd ever seen 'em!

The tent was small and the tiny dance floor was a portable contraption set up on grass. Every panel had it's own grade, slickness, and degree of stability. It was like dancing on a floating pontoon bridge. Oh...and there were Christmas lights strung above the floor--just to psyche out John! Of course, we were not deterred from ending our mini-jam to "Sing, Sing, Sing" with a side car/straddle/spike-- after we jockied into the perfect position--my feet missed not only the lights, but the lead singer and the band leader as well! my partner, Frank, Mike, Steve, and I enjoyed a nice meal at a local Leesburg eatery [The Laurel Brigade Inn]. Then Steve, Mike, and I took the wrong turn and ended up NOWHERE, while Frank, his partner, John, and Cherri joined the gang at Glen Echo. Thanks to Mike Henry for letting us kidnap him for a little adventure.

We should like to add that Doug Jay and the Blue jays drew a large crowd to Glen Echo. We didn't get there until 11:00 pm, but the place was still crowded. The switch in music was somewhat jarring, given that we had been listening to hot Big Band music for three hours. We still got in some good dancing, though--about every third song was 8-count music.

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Boogie in the Mountains---1997

These are the accounts sent in by our readers for the annual Boogie in the Mountains event

From: Ray Wiles
Appeared in the June 15, 1997 edition

This past weekend some serious partying took place at Boogie in the Mountains at the Fallsview Resort in Ellensville NY. Washington DC was in the house; attendees included Caroline, Tuan, Rob, Magee, Jane, Bernstein, Vickie, Don, "Zydeco" Heidi & friend, et al. There was an awesome line-up of instructors including our own Tom & Debra [hot, hot, hot -- more later on the pj contest]. The instructors included Marcus Koch & Barbl Kaufer, Charlie Mead & Margaret Batiuchok, Debbie Ramsey, Michelle Kinkaid, John Festa, Angel Figuroa, Bob Thomas, Bob Thomas & Idy Codington (of the Kamikazee Jitterbugs), Andrea Deaton, Robert Norris [the kid is bad], Elena Iannucci (of the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers).

The weekend was packed with all sorts of activities including jack & jill contests [Tuan won the lindy division, Martha Dimes came in third, and Jane got paired with a guy who barely knew 4 jitterbug moves], cocktails, pool parties, and a barbecue. There were shows each night during the dancing, a pajama contest [guys you've got to get Debra to model for you], and a pajamas jack & jill. In addition, to the awesome dancing you would expect from the instructors [good save Tom], several comedy skits were put on, and one segment where four of the women teachers performed a routine where they switched partners and the lead. Marcus Koch's pantomine on how to make breakfast that was hilarious; you've got to see him do bacon on the grill. There was another skit caricaturing some of the types you wish to avoid on the dance floor such as Betty Backleader, Gary the Groper, Susie Syncopation, Lucy the Lush, Paul the Pattern Master, and Linda Lookaway.

Tom Koerner was a natural as Gary the Groper; guys we've got to get him to give a seminar on some of those moves. If that wasn't entertainment enough, Saturday night after everyone changed in pj's, except for Tom Koerner and Bernstein, the whole lindy teaching contingent got drunk [the west coast crowd was already drunk; they were downing shots called "blowjobs" at the bar]. Everyone was cutting up and telling risque jokes; Marcus had everyone in stitches - he's very funny. Around 3am Debbie Ramsey rounded everyone up from the bar, loosened Koerner's tie, and we went back for more dancing.

The west coast crowd has some serious partyers; I left the dance around 4:30 and most of the instructors and top dancers were still jamming. Since you can never get in too much dancing, a barbecue and dance was held Sunday afternoon outside on the terrace -- i.e., one for the road. The lindy crowd was a little light [a few lindy hoppers from Flying Home were there such as Maury from Connecticut, Peter & Kathe from Ithaca, and Rick "with the sweat band"; and there were lots of new friends -- Hi to the Connecticut crew], which is a shame given the good instruction, Bernstein to spin great tunes, the serious partying, and the idyllic settings. So let's see you all next year at Boogie in the Mountains.
---Rayned Wiles

Carolyn's Trip to the Catskills
From: Carolyn Biczel
Appeared in the June 15, 1997 edition

I don't know that I can add anything that was not said in Debra's report of Catalina, other to say that I had a nice time.

As for Boogie in the Mountains, I really did not do that much dancing. It was a West Coast event for the most part. I took two classes from Marcus and Barbara, which were worth it. And I was in the Lindy Jack and Jill, which was fun (by the way, congratulations to Tuan for winning it). What I enjoyed most about the weekend were the non-dancing things. There was a pajama party on Saturday night, which I did not plan on taking part in, but Debra was nice enough to lend me a pair of her PJs. About 30 people wore their pajamas and they had a contest for the one with the best outfit. Barbara won it, but I must say Debra looked very glamorous in her 1940s black dressing gown. Then we did something which I don't think I've ever done after a dance. We went to the bar in the hotel and started drinking. Even Tom had 3 glasses of wine, which is very unusual for him. Soon people were telling their favorite dirty jokes and singing. We were no match for the West Coast crowd though, in terms of loudness and drinking. They are REAL partyers.

The resort itself is nice, if a little old. It is right in the Catskill Mountains, and it is very picturesque. We had wonderful weather, so it was nice to just walk around the grounds or sit by the pond and watch the ducks.

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The Beantown Lindy Hop Camp --- 1997

These are the reviews of the 1997 Beantown Lindy Hop Camp, but first this:

From: Tony and Aurelie Tye

The details for the Beantown Lindy Hop Summer Camp 1998 are close to being ready. We will post them on our WEB site at Camp Update, once they are ready. We will also be mailing flyers. In the meantime you can check out the photos from last year's camp Thanks to all who sent in photos.
Happy Holidays,
-Tony & Aurelie

My Two Bits
From: Brenda Seidman
Appeared in the July 7, 1997 edition

The Beantown Lindy Hop Camp, in my opinion, was fabulous. Great instruction, friendly atmosphere and people, impressive food service. Like most of the attendees, I had to be very selective about the activities I attended: classes during the day, working out at the gym, or dancing and other entertainment until the early morning. I tended to opt for the daytime instruction and occasionally visiting the gym, but I wish I could have done it all. I slept through an evening talent show which got rave reviews and a couple of evening dances, but I made it to my classes, two or so evening dances, and and an early evening showing of vintage Lindy film clips and somewhat current tapes of Lindy competitions assembled by Ivan Berggren. Ladies, this Swede is as good looking or better looking, warm, and charming than the gorgeous actor Liam Nielsen (is that how his name is spelled?) and WHAT a dancer! By the way, he appears to be very well-appreciated by his equally warm, talented and charming wife Elisabet.

I enjoyed Steve Mitchell's classes, although I think I (and not necessarily others) may have carried away more theory with me than actual moves. His most thought-provoking instruction was something every follower probably would want to hear. He discouraged the leads from imposing their interpretation of the music onto the follower and encouraged the leads to go through a preliminary swing out to get a sense of how the follower is interpreting the tune and how she likes to move. The rest of the dance, ideally, would be a dance relationship (interaction between lead and follow) and not a somewhat mechanical leading and following of routines. I suspect this is a difficult one to accomplish and that it probably takes willing, skilled, creative and brave leaders and followers. I also suspect it can make the dance incredibly enjoyable.

This was my best Lindy experience so far!

More Beantown
From: Cherri Harris
Appeared in the July 7, 1997 edition

There were 6 dancing souls from this area at the Beantown LindyCamp last week; it was held at the very quaint and hospitable campus at Wheaton College, between Boston and Providence. About 100 people were there; including several from Australia, the UK, Canada, and a guy from Poland. Tony and Auralie Tye, who put on the event have quite a following (reminded me a bit of those of us who are Tom and Debra groupies). Evrything was great, including the comraderie. Classes were relatively small, the teachers were very generous with their time and danced with all the students during the evening dances, and the entertainment included a lindy spoof of Jeopardy (How many lindyhoppers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Wrong answer: I don't know, but it will be $80 for a private lesson. Right answer: 2; one to make a circle, and another to explain to the west coasters what a circle is. One of Tony and Auralie's students is a stand-up comedian (really!), and he was the emcee.

The teachers were all very good; Unfortunately, Erin Stevens couldn't make it, but Steven Mitchell had Helena, from Sweden, and she was great. Ivan and Lizabeth from Sweden were my favorites.. they even taught me some Swedish. Ivan gave John and me some good advice about competitions... we literally froze on the dancefloor when we tried to show him some of our routine. They taught classes in all the line dances (Madison, Jitterbug Stroll, Big Apple, Shim Sham) We hope we can remember them! In fact, by the third day, I am so numb with 6 hours of classes a day and dancing all nite that I literally could not remember any basic steps....but that was part of the fun. In fact, being so exhausted was actually liberating, and it was great fun to go on the dancefloor and do silly stuff (to the music, of course). The DC area has quite a good reputation as a dancing haven (and a fun group!) ; many remembered Tom and Debra from when they taught a few years ago in Conn, and several had just been (or heard about) Boogie in the Mts. I would definitely recommend going next year...its alot closer than Sweden. Well, I will let John or Susan, Brenda, Misha or Brian fill you in on the rest.

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Friday June 27, 1997
Basies Bunch at America

It was a tough choice -- Peaches O'Dell was playing at the Black Cat (she had managed to slip by our radar, having issued no flyers and who can read the ads for the Black Cat, anyway?) We as well as most of the other Lindy Hoppers opted to see Basies Bunch perform alongside the Tom Cunningham Orchestra at America. I don't think that anyone was disappointed.

It's going to be tough to write a review without excessive use of superlatives, so let's get one thing straight --- I am not on their payroll! Basies Bunch is a group of dancers from Almhutt, Sweden specializing in dances from Harlem during the Twenties and Thirties. Five of Sweden's top ten couples are in the group. These kids LOOK great and their dancing is non-stop, to-the-limit Lindy. They knocked everyone cold. You can learn more about Basies BunchBasies Bunch by looking at their website.

We have some other observations of the scene, first from Bill Lehman:

From: Bill Lehman

Basies Bunch was so impressive on Thursday [at Avalon], in fact, that I went to America on Friday night, where they performed 6 or 7 numbers, this time with aerials, and including the Swedish social dances "bug" and "double bug." Bug is their equivalent (but not the same as) of 6-count--easy to learn, but not as fun as Lindy. Double Bug is more of a performance routine, where a leader dances with two followers at the same time. I understand that PsychoBoy is looking for partners -- aerials with 2 women at once! On Saturday Basie's Bunch taught two very good lessons. The first was Lindy, the second was Back Charleston. Nice moves, good styling. I cant say enough good things about the instructors. Be sure to catch them when they come back.

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Friday July 4, 1997
July 4 Pallisades Parade

In DC, the daytime action was centered around the Fourth of July Pallisades Parade on Mac Arthur Boulevard:

From: Ellen Engle

Hi Frank,

While Frank & his partner were away, a group of us danced in the parade that Janice Saylor had mentioned in a previous forum. There are many people out there who complain that DC has lost all/most of it's neighborhoods, but I say those people should come out to the Palisades neighborhood's parade on the 4th of July to see that this is not true! This parade is a cross between your small town parade (4 kids in the back of a pick-up calling themselves the "Beatles") and a city parade (the mayor and other politicos, special horse units, bands, old cars, etc..).

Sure, it was a hot day and dancing on hot asphalt is not as nice as a good wooden floor, but the crowd was quite appreciative. Multiple times as we took breathers or when the music stopped, people in the crowd called out "We want to see you dance!" "Please dance for us!" or other such comments. I doubt the mayor or the "Beatles" got such requests! We even made the 11:00 news that night (or so I've heard). And how many of you have experienced travelling the Shim Sham up the street? It's a lot of fun & a challenge that I think every dancer should try!

Not everything went great -- the music system kept cutting out on us, but we'd keep dancing until the music came back. One drawback of this year, however, compared to last is that we had fewer people participating. It's always more fun in a parade when there are more people -- it's possible to dance with more partners, there is more for the spectators to see, more styles of dance get exhibited, etc. More people also means that each person can take more frequent breaks, get more hydration, etc -- a VERY good thing in DC in July! More people also led us to win an award last year -- something we weren't able to repeat this year (we may have been taking a breather as we went by the judges this time.) So, I know it's a long way off, but if you're in town over the 4th in 1998, come out and join the WSDC and your friends and experience a little bit of that small town feel in the heart of the city!

Tricia Reneau was also there:

From: Tricia Reneau

For various reasons, I did not get to sleep late one day during the long holiday weekend. Friday's excuse was the Palisades Parade down MacArthur Boulevard in Washington, DC. Larry MacDonald and I tooled over to the other side of the Potomac to meet a small contingent of Lindy Hop dancers to partake in the community parade. We were supposed to follow D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's car, but ironically, we wound up behind the Committee to Remove the Mayor. Never mind that, however, as it didn't take long for us to hold up the entire parade and create a yawning distance between ourselves and the group preceding us. This was due to our inability to dance and move forward simultaneously despite being accomplished at carving our wide diameters for doing swing outs. Moreover, we had just four couples who each pooped out rather quickly under the hot July sun. Near the end of the parade, I even went int heat exhaustion and had to be treated by the local Freemasons (ho embarrassing!). Despite this, we all had a delightful time and were cheered by many. Hats off to Janice Saylor for organizing our participation. Next year, maybe we'll have even more dancers who ca alternate performances so that none of us pass out.

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Remembering Jimmy
By: Cameron Sellers
Appeared in the July 7, 1997 Edition

Jimmy Stewart, my favorite movie actor died recently. I thought since he came from the "Age of Swing" and he played Glenn Miller, my reflections may fit in your Dancing Forum.

"It's a Wonderful Life" was my first Jimmy Stewart film. I was ten years old and I watched it with my father and brother during the Christmas holiday in Arizona. That movie left an indelible impression for the rest of my childhood. Jim Stewart became my favorite actor, and I also fell in love with classic Hollywood movies.

But it was Jimmy Stewart movies that I really enjoyed. During my junior high school years, my dad and I watched four re-released Hitchcock films that starred Jimmy Stewart: "Rear Window", "Rope", "Vertigo", and "The Man Who Knew Too Much". "Rear Window" with Grace Kelly remains my second favorite Stewart movie.

During high school, I would catch a Stewart Western on television after work late at light: "The Man who Shot Liberty Valance", "Winchester 73", or "the Shootist". During College, I would rent other of his movies: "The Philadelphia Story", "Harvey", or "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". When AMC came to cable, I would watched some of his obscure films: "The Far Country", "Take Her She's Yours", "Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation", or "Strategic Air Command".

I liked Jimmy Stewart for the same reasons as everyone else. Every character he played was believable whether he was a lawyer in "Anatomy of a Murder", Charles Lindbergh in "The Spirit of St Louis", a one legged baseball player in "The Stratton Story", a Big Band leader in "The Glenn Miller Story", or an unarmed sheriff in "Destry Rides Again". The roles he played were so convincing, and I have a hard time visualizing the real people he played like Glenn Miller and Charles Lindbergh.

Also, Jimmy Stewart was so un-Hollywood. He was a Hollywood star with no baggage. Jimmy Stewart represented everything that was good of the Golden Era of Hollywood. He was a true role model for me. He never forgot where he came from, did not take his success for granted and did not forsake his duty.

Jimmy Stewart gave up a $3000 a month acting job with MGM and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941. During World War II, he volunteered for combat and flew 20 missions over Germany as bomber pilot. The Army Air Force was so terrified of losing him, they promoted him to keep him out of combat, but he always found away to fly another mission. One veteran told me that as his Wing Commander, Lt. Col. Jimmy Stewart, did his mission briefings effortless just like he did in his movies.

Jimmy Stewart lived his life like most Americans. He lived in Southern California with his only wife of forty something years quietly without scandals or mishaps, but not without tragedy. He lost a son in Vietnam.

When I read that Jimmy Stewart had died, my friends and I were trying to figure out if there were any present day actor that came close to his stature. The answer, of course, was no. I realized that day that we lost a great man. I can take comfort in the fact that while his mortal body is gone, he will forever be immortalized in his classic films.
---Cameron Sellers

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Thursday July 10, 1997
Our British Visitors

We played host to four Lindy Hoppers from the UK: Judy Martin, Gilly Love, Anne Beauchamp, and Porl Smith. They actually arrived the day before, but I guess that even Lindy Hoppers cannot overcome the rigors of jet lag. However, we had an eventful Thursday for them. The evening began at the Ritz-Carleton where we saw Doc Scantlin and the Imperial Palms Orchestra. Doc and Chou-Chou were extremely gracious and introduced our visitors to the crowd. During the first break, we were visited at the table by John Coombs and Tommy Barrick and we caught up on the further adventures of the Red Hot Swinging Johnsons. While John was talking, i caught sight of a lady wearing a fabulous red satin dress. "What a knockout," I thought, even though I could only see her from behind. I walked over, web-site card in hand, and I was stunned to find out that it was none other than Debra Sternberg. Believe me, this dress was something that, well, didn't lead you to focus on the wearer's face. In fact, my partner had sold her the dress--and it must have been MADE for Debra. And I wasn't the only guy there who noticed it... Let me say that Deb got a real bargain there. We had a great time at the Ritz, the only downside was that the band did not do "Sing, Sing, Sing."

From the Ritz, we made our way to Vienna's Grille to catch the last set of Daryl Davis and David Earl. Tom and Carolyn had been there for some time, so none of our antics could make a dent in the crowd. On the other hand, Daryl is always entertaining and never fails to give the Lindy Hoppers something to get their feet into. I think that our guests enjoyed the variety, although everyone seemed quite tired at 12:30 when we adjourned.

Friday June 11, 1997

Tricia and Thomas were entertaining our British friends for dinner, so we headed straight for America and the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. There was quite a nice crowd on hand, topped off by the presence of Steve Mitchell and his ever-so-lovely Swedish partner Anna (What a cutie!) The UK gang got lost and didn't make it to America until about 10:30. [We are going to issue a full set of maps to any future visitors] This was a real fun night. We got in a very good jam to "Two O'Clock Jump" and the boys played "Stompin at the Savoy" while Steve Mitchell led the Shim Sham. After one time through the Shim Sham, Steve called "Everybody Dance". Unlike Frankie Manning who only calls "freeze", Steve called for specific dance moves, like "Suzy Q", "Charleston", "Swing Out" and the like. I think that the crowd rather fancied this and perhaps we should do it more often. We bade our visitors goodbye as they headed for Augusta.

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Thursday July 17, 1997
The Devoneys in Cleveland

It seems that the Flying Devoneys were in Cleveland:

From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney

The Dancing Devoneys spent the weekend in Cleveland, Ohio....

Sue is losing her marbles...marriage will do that to you...I left Carl Knopp's phone number at home, so we missed the big swing dance in Ashtabula--don't make me tell you where it is--it's practically in Pennsylvania. But that doesn't mean we didn't dance. Thursday night, itchin' to kick up some dust, we headed into the Warehouse District to see Bill Wharton & the Ingredients. Bill, a.k.a. the "Sauce Boss" plays New Orleans boogie woogie & blues WHILE...get this...he makes a big pot o' gumbo. Everyone gets to eat at the end of the second set. During the break, he hawks his Liquid Summer hot sauce. We didn't taste the stuff ourselves, wanting to get a good nights sleep and all... but if you're interested, you can call the toll free "hot" line...(get it?) 1-888-YO-SAUCE or visit his web site (doesn't everyone have one?)

We haven't danced in a bar in ages. Tom do you do it and still BREATHE? Clevelanders are into this cigar thing, which made breathing even that much more difficult. But the reward is in stopping the lead singer dead cold in the middle of a tune, having half the crowd stagger up to you and ask what kind of dance you're doing and where you teach...and having the band nod their heads approvingly.

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Friday July 18, 1997
Tom Koerner's Birthday

This was the social event of the Millenium. Gay Shepardson went all out in preparing a unique and memorable birthday celebration for Tom Koerner. Nobody deserves it more than Tom, since he constantly promotes Lindy Hop, especially among the next generation. Gay created a commemorative jacket, embroidered with a killer "Hell's Lindy Hoppers" logo. She also fashioned a large "Cake" which was wheeled out at the appropriate moment; John McCalla, dressed in grass skirt and a bra made of coccoanut halves, popped out of the cake. Happy 39th Tom --- you're just as old as Jack Benny...

Cameron Sellers has this review of the festivities for us:

From: Cameron Sellers

When you asked me to write to you about Friday, I thought what could I possibly write. We showed up, danced, and left. Boy, was I wrong. It was a very amusing night. My night started on a down note when my friend cancelled on me. But by the end of the night, I definitely was glad I went.

First, it was Tom Koerner birthday. Gay and David Shepardson constructed a big birthday with John "Psychoboy" McCalla, jumping out of it. Tom was shocked and surprised. And he should be. John was dressed as a hula dancer with a grass skirt. It was a very funny. The females definitely liked John in the costume more than the guys. I was amazed how John walked across that floor in the cake.

As usual, the females got to dance with Tom. But what was unusual was Eric got in the line and danced a couple whips and throw outs with Tom. Between the laughter and tears, Gay asked, "Is that what we look like out there?"

Finally, during the Jam, the KIDS, (Dave & Jen) did an amazing routine with all sorts of aerials. Ron and Wendy were next, and Wendy gave an expression, "How do we follow that!" She then proceeded to put her hands together and pretend that she was ready to launch Ron across the dance floor.

All and all it was a fun night. Tom Cunningham was good as always. Liz came back from Russia, and Gay gave me a few pointers while dancing, "Keep eye contact, Cameron!"
---Cameron Sellers

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