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

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Music for the Road
By: Ray Keaney


[We have had an ongoing assignment about "What to Dance to When You're Away From Home" This is Ray's response. How about more from the rest of you?]

Hey Frank,

Many DJs have some version of "In the Mood." Another tune that's in the repertoire of many DJs is "Good Rockin' at Midnight" by The Honeydrippers. This is a good, long, medium tempo swing tune. Doug played it last Tuesday night at the Grille. When in Niacargua with Valerie, we borrowed a portable CD player and a copy of Elton John's Greatest Hits and did Lindy to several tunes including "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (good up tempo for Lindy) and "Get Back Honkey Cat" (slower funky tempo, but fun nonetheless). By the 3rd tune we drew an appreciative crowd and danced to the same songs for over an hour.

If it's a band situation, any good up-tempo swing blues tune should do. Even if they don't know any songs that you recognize, ask them to play an instrumental blues in which player gets to improvise. Just close your eyes, think of your favorite Lindy tune, get the beat in your head, then tap your foot or clap your hands to give them the tempo you want. We did this with a jazz band in Central Park last year (Tuan, Erika, Carolyn and me). They played "Fly Me to the Moon", a standard swing tune that even most wedding bands know. I gave them the tempo and off we went, entertaining ourselves, the crowd and the band.

Dancing to the Grandsons at Twist 'n Shout has taught me that with the right attitude, you can Lindy or Swing to many different styles of music. Tempo and feel are most important. Get creative and remember.... Attitude makes the difference.

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New Lindy Book
By: Mark Ormsby

Hi Frank & my partner,
"This Thing Called Swing" is a fantastic book on Lindy that has just been published by Christian Batchelor of London. It's 300+ pages FULL of the history of swing music and Lindy, complete with hundreds of graphics, timelines, tempo listings, movie and CD lists, and on and on. This is the book I've been looking for ever since I got hooked on Lindy.

It just came out a few weeks ago, and I'm very thankful to Porl Smith who brought a few copies to Augusta. It's not available in the states as yet. People lucky enough to go to Herrang or London can pick it up. For now, you can order it from:

The Original Lindy Hop Collection
12 Alba Gardens
London NW11 9NR
ISBN number: 0-9530631-0-0.

I've misplaced my order form, but I thinkthe price is $56 plus about $14 shipping. When I get more details I'll pass them along. To get an idea of the graphics you can look at scans of the front and back covers at the home page of the West Coast Jitterbugs (which presents some interesting translation twists, doesn't it?).

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For the Martini Nation
By: Frank and my partner

Last Saturday night, Daniel Fierer told me that, on impule, he had purchased a silver art deco martini set at Sloane's Auction Gallery. I (Frank) am in the process of restoring a martini bar from the same period. We shared some amusement because neither of us drink alcohol. Alas, the martini cocktail is inextricably linked with the late 1920s and the 1930s, a period where economics forced fashionable young couples to give up servants and entertain on their own. If you couldn't afford a butler, you could "treat" yourself to an artistic cocktail set and make the preparation of drinks a part of pre-dinner festivities. Also, during Prohibition, the cocktail bar was usually hidden in some object of furniture (mine is a coffee table); you never knew when Aunt Minnie the temperance firebrand might show up. Well, it seems that the Martini is back in style -- lord knows how many "Martini and Cigar" bars have opened in town. And, it seems that many of our new converts to swing have come to us through the "Martini Nation."

Well, I'm not Aunt Minnie, but I don't drink and don't encourage others to do so. On the other hand, the romance of the Martini---the ritual, the perfect conical glass suspended on a thin stem, the olive---all of these things are actually quite artistic. So, without further ado, I offer you a way of having your Martini without the alcohol.

Frank and my partner's Ideal Martini (Grays #1)

In the upper part of a double boiler, mix a pint of clam juice with a tablespoonful of canned consomme. Warm until the conomme melts, mix well and add a half a teaspoonfull of worcestershire sauce, half a bay leaf, and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters. The result will be a muddy looking mess of repulsive aspect. To correct this, beat into the warm mixture the whites of two eggs, entirely free of yolk. Turn up the heat and let the water in the lower half of the double boiler boil for half an hour. As the egg white congeals, it collects every particle of suspended matter. By simply straining the liquid through a fine cloth---a handkerchief is excellent--it comes out clear and sparkling. Chill this very cold and it is completely indistinguishable from a gin Martini. Indeed, a sensitive chemical test would be required to determine that this is not, in fact, a real Martini. Simply put this concoction in your gin and vermouth bottles (but--keep refrigerated) and you may perform the ritual of Martini making. Since there is no gin to "bruise" you may make your Martinis either shaken or stirred. Use olives not onions. Best of all, this potion is extremely nutritious!

from Peter Gray, The Mistress Cook, NY: Oxford University Press, 1956

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Keeping the Non-Dancers Interested
By: Ray Keaney

My friend Joan from work is very interested in dance and dancing but her husband Steve is not. A few years ago the Jivin' Lindy Hoppers were in town and were going to do a performance at Glen Echo on a school night. I figured this would be a great opportunity for Joan to see Glen Echo, the local dance scene, and the outrageous JLHers. She accepted my invitation and somehow got Steve to come along. (Either that or Steve didn't want his wife unescorted in a hall full of guys who might ask her to dance.)

In either case, they both came. After the performance there was music and dancing. I could tell that Joan was enjoying herself but poor Steve was getting a little bored with it all by now. To keep his interest piqued for a while I shared with him the secret that one of the women, a cute brunette with fabulous legs and a somewhat mini skirt, was actually a bit eccentric and frequently danced without underwear. He was skeptical at first, as was Joan, but after I reassured them several times that I wasn*t kidding, Steve was occupied for close to a half hour, wondering if he might catch a glimpse.

When Auntie Deb finally did enough of a spin to lift that skirt and reveal her colorful dance underwear they both smacked me a bit. But they did agree that it gave Steve something to do while Joan enjoyed the scene. They're still not dancing, not that I expected to convert Steve, but that are still very happily married.
--- Ray Keaney

P.S. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, which leaves out our lovely Debster.

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This is devoted entirely to the 1997 Virginia State Open Dance Championships, held in Fairfax, Virginia on October 8-12, 1997. First of all, we at Lindy Week in Review want to thank the following folks:

  1. Frankie Manning for just being himself.
  2. Craig Hutchinson for organizing the event.
  3. Lizzie Hess and John "Psychoboy" McCalla for admirably showing the Lindy flag.
  4. Sue and Steve Devoney on their "Rising Star" award
  5. Tom and Debra for tirelessly promoting Lindy Hop and goading folks to compete. and
  6. All the people who turned out to show just how big the Lindy Scene is

We plead guilty to NOT being there as this was the only week that we could take for a vacation. However , Cameron Sellers, our ace reporter, was there and filed the following report:

By: Cameron Sellers

Thursday, October 9, 1997
Westpark Hotel, VA

Frankie Manning was great. It was weird being taught by a legend but then again, I'm being taught by Tom K. (or is that infamous). I'll ask Deb if being banned from a country and a college is legend status or infamy. Anyway, before the lesson I arrived just in time to help drill some screws in the floor. Ron actually had the drill and he kept telling all the young ladies that he was screwing around.

The beginner's lesson by Frankie Manning was crowded, so the word got out. There must have been about 70 people in that room. Frankie had us warm up doing the Electric Slide before he began the lesson. I can't remember ever hearing of a dance called this but it worked. The whip or swing out that he taught is the same as Tom and Deb's, a quarter turn on the three and four count as oppose to a half turn on the same count. Like I said earlier, I'm always learning new things about the Whip. After the lesson, the room was open for the lindy crowd because it was so big, but the crowd thinned pretty fast because it was a school night and other couples were practicing for the competition.

Friday - Sunday, October 10-12, 1997
Westcourt Hotel, VA

Virginia State Show Case and Classic Open and Amateur Competition The Virginia State Open consisted of six swing dance competitions: West Coast Swing, Carolina Shag, DC Hand Dancing, the Hustle, the Jitterbug, and the Lindy Hop. Both Friday and Saturday night, Lindy ruled. Lindy categories had more participants and the lindy crowd was big.

Friday night was Showcase night. Showcase allows couples to do aerials in their routines. The Lindy community had six couples in the Amateur Division and three couples in the Open Division, the most participants of all the dance groups there. The Lindy community had a few entries in other dance divisions as well. Tom and Deb and Larry and Tricia R. were in the Jitterbug.

The overall winner for Showcase Night was John "Psycho Boy" and Lizzie Hess. Tom and Deb came in second place. To win Showcase, Psycho Boy and Lizie had to compete against the winners of the other dance divisions which included the Shag, West Coast Swing, etc...

Also, Tom and Deb came in first in the Jitterbug Division; Eric and Carolyn came in first in the Amateur Showcase Division. Steve and Anne, the new comers to the Lindy scene, came in a close 2nd, a one point difference between Eric and Carolyn and them . Psycho Boy and Lizzie beat Tom and Deb in the Lindy Open Showcase.

Tom and Deb entered three contests Friday night, including the two mentioned above as well as the Hustle Division. Tom smiled throughout the whole routine and they looked like they were having fun out on the dance floor. Others would claim they were mocking the Hustle, so it's up to interpretation. But the funniest scene out there was when Debra latched her legs around Tom's waist and then she fell backwards with her hands on the floor and Tom plays a drum roll on her stomach as he walked around. I was dying with laughter as was everyone else in the place. Out of three couples, Tom and Deb placed second. Good job!

After the competition, a few of us went to America and danced to Tom C. Dave and Jen were supervising the night. 267 people showed up which was great considering the VSO going on at the same time. At midnight, Frankie Manning came over and did routine with Tom C. playing a song. Frankie commented after the routine that he hadn't heard that particular song played that good since Count Basie. Tom C. was in heaven after that comment. Check Tom C. website and see if that quote appears anywhere. After Americas closed, we headed back to Westcourt and danced another two hours.

Saturday- October 11, 1997
VA State Open and Amateur Classic Competition

The prelims for Jack and Jill started at noon. The way Jack and Jill works is that men and women who entered the contest are randomly matched with partners they have not danced with before-- in theory anyway. For many of the lindy folks, we lucked out except for Debra. Steve and Anne were paired as well as Scott and Karen. Ron Haron was also paired with Karen and I was paired with Anne. Out of nine couples in the Amateur Jack and Jill, five couples would advance to the finals that evening.

Before the Jack and Jill finals, The Open and Amateur Classic Lindy Hop competition were held as well as the other dance divisions. Amateur Classic Lindy had nine couples in it. The most of any division. Psycho Boy and Lizie won the competition with Sue and Steve a close second. Sue and Steve's routine was the most innovative and funny routine that I have ever seen. The audience had their eyes fixed on them and laughing at every scene they did. One judge made a comment that it was couples like them that keep the audience from watching the other dancers. I think that was suppose to be a back handed compliment. Even though they came in second, they would be rewarded later in the evening with the Rising Star Award.

Five couples entered the Open Lindy Classic: Tom and Deb; Psycho Boy and Carolyn B.; Jennifer Comar and partner, and two other couples that I cannot remember. And one of the couples I cannot remember won the contest. I believe they also were from New York.

The rest of the night was filled with West Coast Swing, the Hustle, the Carolina Shag, the Jitterbug, and DC Hand Dancing. One male dancer, Steven Mitchell, in the DC Hand Dancing division got a leg cramp after a routine but managed to go back out there and danced in different division minutes later. That took "guts". The Fly Cats from Baltimore took first place in the new Team Competition. They really looked good. I can't wait to see them again on Halloween night at Glen Echo.

By the luck of the draw, Steve and Anne were paired up again and won the Jack and Jill Amateur finals. Sasha from New York won the Jack and Jill Open. I couldn't believe when we were signing up she said that she did not know if she was ready for competition. After the Jack and Jill, give me a break.

As the night dragged on, Ben, Susan, Ellen, and I went to Randy's Lounge and danced to the Lindy tunes that Bernstein was spinning. Saturday night concluded around 3:00 am in the morning.

Sunday - October 12, 1997
Virginia State Open

Sunday concluded with the fourth and final Frankie Manning class. He built on the routines that he had taught before on Saturday. We learned falling off the log, new charleston routines, and bumping butts. After the lesson, we broke down the dance floor and the VSO was finally over.

We also have this report from Tricia Reneau:

From: Tricia Reneau

This weekend's Virginia State Championships was full of excitement and entertainment. I was one of the few who experienced some disappointment due to the recent deportation of my true love and jitterbug dance partner, Thomas Iveson. To my amazement, my good friend Larry MacDonald gamely volunteered to step in at the last moment so that I could compete. He didn't even seem to mind that 1) He had never heard the song before, 2) I adorned him with a cigarette pack in his sleeve, and 3) He had to worry about flipping me without knocking off my bleached blond wig. The net: We wound up a respectable third (those of you who were there know what that means).

Every Lindy Hopper who competed did a bang up job this year. For me, the most exciting and pleasing part of the weekend was Steve Devoney and Sue Fedor's wonderful performance in Amateur Classic Lindy Hop. Their Charleston brawl had me standing on my seat cheering wildly. The pair took second place, but to everyone's delight, they received this year's Rising Star Award. The entire contingent of Lindy Hoppers did a standing ovation upon that announcement, and we all smothered Steve and Sue with enthusiasm and congratulations after the awards ceremony.

Another coup d'etat for the Lindy Hop community was the first place win in the team competition by Baltimore's Fly Cats. I had never seen this routine before, and as I am rarely at a loss for words, all I can say is that it was OUTSTANDING. Unfortunately, much of the thrill of victory was undermined by an incorrect announcement placing the group second at the awards ceremony. Only later did it become apparent that the Fly Cats had, indeed, placed first.

If this weekend proved anything, it was that the Lindy Hop is kicking butt. No pair demonstrated this more than Psychoboy John McCalla and Lizzie Hess who performed "An English Patient" and swept the awards ceremony--most significantly, with first place overall in the Showcase division. In fact, I don't believe there was a single competition in which either of these two dynamos participated where they either took first or placed in the top three. The time invested and professionalism of all Lindy Hoppers were apparent and acknowledged by the entire crowd of W.C. swingers, hustlers, hand dancers, and shaggers. (By the way, can anyone explain how swing dance inherited this string of suggestive names? You'd think the dance came from the streets of Las Vegas!).

Congratulations to everyone--including the New York crowd of Sasha, Jennifer, Paolo, Janice and Bill--on such fine performances!
---Tricia Reneau

Brenda Seidman sent in the following note:

From: Brenda Seidman

Congratulations to all of the local Lindy Hoppers! You all looked great out there this last weekend and clearly gave it everything you had!

Randi-Sue Rimerman also showed up for the festivities

From: Randi-Sue Rimerman

You missed it. Howie and I went to watch the showcase competition for the Virginia State Championships and had a great time. Everyone did such a great job in the amateur showcase champs (it was a really close competition from my vantage point, regardless of what the judges thought), and watching Tom and Debra do the hustle was one of the funniest things I have every seen.

Being at the championships made me really miss lindy-hopping, so I took Frankie's class the next day, and went to the Vienna Grill that Tuesday. I would go tomorrow, but I'm feeling pretty under the weather and have a dinner party to go to in any event. I think Howie now knows enough six-count for us to go out and dance, so we'll show up either Friday or Saturday to see Tom Cunningham.

Jennifer Comar, our friend from New York, described her first time at the VSO

From: Jennifer Comar

We did miss you at the VSO. It was my first time down there, and I thought it deserved a bit of a review from the NY end of things. Usually, I dread the swing competitions because the ASDC last year was like being trapped in West Coast hell. I had heard similar things about the VSO from Bill and Angie, who went down last year, and although my friends down in DC had assured me that it was going to be different this year, I was still expecting to spend most of the time over at the mall doing research for my 9-5 job.

The week leading up to the event had been kind of difficult: I was on a 3-day business trip, I was sick, and to top it all off, I had a whole other routine that I had to worry about and perform on Thursday night for a benefit dinner at The Colony Club on Park Avenue, (Frank, you would have loved that place. It's a ladies only club for the old money of Manhattan, and they spend their days playing bridge next to priceless old master paintings. It is easy to get a bit of a complex about money in Manhattan anyway, so I usually stay away from Park Avenue because I still can't fathom that the average apartment rental in the area of the club is about $15,000 a month). Basically, the only time I would be able to rehearse with Bill was on Friday afternoon, after we got to the hotel.

I have been told that just about everyone has a disastrous routine of some sort that has been immortalized on video at the VSO. I guess it was my turn on Friday. I felt bad for Bill because last year he had a disaster when he and his partner were standing on the floor and all of the sudden they realized that the music being played was not the song they had worked out their routine to. After our division was over, I went up to my hotel room, (I think I was going to hide under the bed).

In the elevator there were a bunch of 13 year old girls who were staring at me. Finally, one of them said, "Did you just dance in the competition?", and I said, with a bit of embarrassment, that, yes, I had. "Oh, you were great!" was the reply, and I have to say that those three girls did more for my spirits than anyone could have at that moment. I smiled at that for the rest of the evening, and decided that I was going to enjoy myself, and just remember the joy of dancing rather than the agony of the competition. I took Bill over to America afterwards, and he was pleasantly surprised to discover the existence of a big band that actually knows how to play for the dancers. My other memorable moment of the evening was when I was standing talking to a few people before leaving; all of the sudden someone came up behind me and kicked in the back of my knee. turned around, about to give this person a piece of my mind, only to see Frankie Manning standing there, grinning and laughing at me with this impish look in his eye. Oh, how we love him.

Saturday morning dawned a little too early, and Sasha and I resumed the conversation we had been having for the last three weeks:

  • Sasha: I don't know if I want to do the Jack and Jill. I hate competing, I hate things like this.
  • Jennifer: You are one of the best dancers I know. Just shut up and do it.
  • Sasha: But I'll be nervous. I won't do well...
  • Jennifer: You're crazy. You basically walked into the last competition you did and won with no routine. Just shut up and do it.

I had decided that I was just going to have a great time, no matter what happened that day. I ate a huge breakfast, and read the paper until it was time for the Jack and Jill preliminaries. On a whim, (and a desire not to spend my afternoon hanging out at the mall), I entered both the Open and the Amateur divisions, and was fortunate enough to be matched each time with a good leader, (I lucked out in the Open with Bob Kleinpeter). Sasha just entered the Open and was matched up with Eric Celarier. I figured that all I had to do was enjoy myself with my partner, and let the judges decide if they liked me or not.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was a bit mundane in comparison. I wandered around the hotel, bought a Flycats t-shirt, watched a cool movie on AMC, (I don't have cable at home, so hotels are always a treat for me), wandered around some more, took a nap, and finally made myway downstairs to rehearse with Bill, (who is on a quest to bring DC hand dancing to the NY area, so he had been spending the day doing workshops). I met up with Sasha in the lobby, (she was on her way to a friend's house), and we wandered over to see the results of the Jack and Jill. Lo and behold, she had fussed about it all week, and there was her name right at the top of the list! I was thrilled to see that I had made the finals for both of the divisions. We did a little victory dance and I headed over to the mall, at the suggestion of a friendly dancer who saw that I was fed up with the hotel cuisine. So I had a nice sandwich for dinner and window shopped until it was time to get ready for the night's activities.Bill and I competed in Open Classic that evening, and despite a minor glitch in the beginning of the routine, it actually went pretty well considering that I was a bit shell shocked from the previous night. We were standing in the backstage hallway when the Amateur Classic division was going on, and were lucky enough to have a perfect view of Sue Fedor and Steve Deevoney when it was their turn to dance. I have to commend them on a wonderful routine that was funny and well danced and all those other things that I've told them about their performance that night. They looked great!

Then came the Jack and Jill finals. I actually started to regret having entered both because my adrenaline level was almost unbearably high, (with all the wonderful symptoms that go with, like not being able to breathe very well because your airways have dried up etc.). But, I made it. I'll spare you the blow by blow, but again I was lucky to get 2 more great partners, (lucked out again with Bob!). Didn't anyone ever tell those competition people that they don't have to play super fast music for every lindy category, or did I just imagine that it was fast because of my mental state?

And then it was all over and I could sit back and enjoy the rest of the evening. The Flycats were great in the team competition, and although I wanted to run when they first announced the Feather Awards section of the evening, I did enjoy all of the couples who danced that evening. The social dancing was sparse the whole evening, with the lindy songs coming few and far between, but I faked some West Coast and did an awful job of leading the hustle with Gay. So guess who won the Open Jack and Jill, (with the help of her talented partner, Paolo)? Of course it was Sasha who walked away with the evening! I never want to hear it from her again, all the nerves and the hemming and hawing, (she'll kill me when she sees this), because I have always maintained that she has this amazing ability to instinctively, (and gracefully), follow and improvise, and she proved it once again that evening. Bill and I placed third in the Open Classic, and I was very happy to finish second in the Amateur Jack and Jill.

There was a small NYC contingent , including Janice and Paolo, two talented dancers who finished third in Open Showcase and First in Open Classic, on hand for the competition. Paolo was Sasha's partner for their Jack and Jill victory. We were also joined by our friend Alan Sugerman, who has been setting up a NY swing website. (He posted the results this week and has pictures) [Editorial Note: Thanks to Ray Wiles for also sending us this website]

Saturday turned into Sunday morning while a bunch of us were dancing in the lounge, where Bernstein was the DJ. The guys seemed to outnumber the girls, and every time I tried to make over to the water cooler I was intercepted by somebody else who wanted to keep me on the floor. I think I finally crawled into bed around 4am. Five hours later I was up and about, packing and getting ready for the trip home. I was joined at breakfast by a nice guy named Bill Poulter from Philadelphia, who came to the VSO for the West Coast but was so impressed with the style and energy of the Lindy crowd that he had decided to take lessons, and was asking me about places to go dancing in NYC. From how he tells it, the Lindy scene in Philly is just getting started, and the level of dancing is not as advanced as NYC and Washington. If anyone knows about the scene in his area, let me know, and I'll forward the info to him. I topped off my VSO weekend by taking Frankie's last workshop, which put everybody in a good mood for the car ride home. Paolo and I slept most of the way, (Bill had rented the car, so he insisted on driving), with a stop at Roy Rogers, and although we were stuck in tunnel traffic for an hour in New Jersey, I made it home and got the first good night's rest I've had in about a month.

Some great moments from the weekend:

  1. John and Lizzie winning the a trip to the US Open by winning the Open Showcase Championship!
  2. Sue and Steve's Amateur Classic Routine.
  3. Tom and Debra's Friday night second place winning hustle routine, during which he played her stomach like a conga drum.
  4. Frankie at America on Friday dancing to Shiny Stockings
  5. Gay asking me if I could see her purple underwear underneath her white dress Saturday night before her Amateur Classic routine.
  6. Andy asking Bernstein to play something "over 190 bpm" at approximately 3:30 am Sunday morning.

All told, I had a great time. I brought home some trophies, got my competition legs under me, and I'm all set for next year. Good luck to John and Lizzie at the US Open next month, and I hope to see everyone in April at the ASDC. Hopefully I'll see you all before then at Glen Echo.
Your friend in NYC,

Chris Bamberger, the wife of WAMU-FM DJ Rob Bamberger sent us this:

From: Chris Bamberger Dear Frank and my partner,
I had such a wonderful time at the Virginia State Open Championships, held October 9-12. I signed up for the entire package way ahead of time, because as a Lindy beginner, I was determined to soak up all I could.

I learned a lot about my dance pursuit preferences that weekend. Because I am a youngish fan of classic film (especially musicals) and pop culture (especially of 1930s and '40s), I thought "swing dancing" described the kind of "jitterbugging" done in the late '30s and the 1940s. I thought of it as post-Big Apple but pre-Bop in the pantheon of dances done by adolescents in malt shops and at proms from roughly '37 to '47.

So it was a surprise to me to learn that "swing" includes the Hustle, a dance I associate exclusively with John Travolta; and when I got a look at West Coast swing and Carolina shag, I was surprised at how relatively modern and far-removed they seemed from the aforementioned idea of swing. The people who competed in these categories were terrific, but it just wasn't SWING to me.

In short, my idea/ideal of swing dancing crystallizes in the Lindy. THAT'S the dance those black & white teenagers (though they weren't even really called that yet) are doing in all those black & white films and soundies and photos from the closing years of the Depression and all the years of The War. And the thing I love about the people that are now out there doing it in color is, they care about authenticity. They care about HISTORY. They try to have the look of the time, the original intent of the dance. And that weekend they danced at the feet of an 83-year-old master--one of the dance's originators!--appreciating the time whence he came.

There are a few wishes I would have if a genie were to come along and ask me. I'd like to see a further division of all the swing dances; maybe so that West Coast, Hustle, and Shag were a separate competition. Then not only would the competitions and award ceremonies be a better length, but the social dances would be better attuned to each specialty. I often heard the Lindy hoppers moaning at all the disco music and the Hustle/West Coast folks grumbling when swing sides (translation for the very young: "big band tunes") were played. (I don't know how the absolutely incredible D.C. hand dancers felt about music selection.) But I could be wrong. After all, Tom & Debra entered the Hustle competition, and the song "I've Got the Music in Me" always makes me want to shake it. The length-of-evening issue is the main argument. I just can't do 2 a.m. anymore! And some of the most important awards, saved "best-for-last," seemed rushed.

No matter what their area of dance, people were SO sweet to me when I was trying to learn. I'm not a quick study--as my mentors Tricia and Thomas have heard me say umpteen thousand times, it seems to me as if it takes me forEVER to get the steps flawless, but once I have 'em, I never forget. If I get the occasional partner who loses patience with my stumbles, I get paralyzed and become deaf to his counsel. Then there are the guys who just look at you and waggle their eyebrows as if to say, "Hmmm; now THERE'S an interesting interpretation of that step!"

Don't think I don't appreciate how much harder it is for the leader to learn this stuff, but my fave leaders show understanding, remember how tough it was in the beginning, and overlook fumbles as much as they're able. And that was pretty much the only kind of leader I danced with for an entire weekend, whether I was hustling, six-counting, or Lindying.

I made a lot of friends and formed a lot of admiration as I enjoyed all the marvelous dancing. Thanks so much to everyone who made the weekend possible. Here's something from Ira Gershwin for you all:

"I'll build a stairway to paradise
With a new step every day

I'm going to get there at any price
Stand aside, I'm on my way

I get the blues, but up above it's so fair
Shoes--come on and carry me there;

I'll build a stairway to paradise
With a new step every day--
With a new step, EVERY DAY!"

---Chris (a/k/a the shy Mrs. B)

AND -- we think that's a great way to close out our coverage of the Virginia State Open.

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Our Fabulous Week in California
By: Debra Sternberg

Well, by this time most of you have probably seen the list from the US Open that Rayned posted. You cannot imagine my shock and delight to see that Tom and I placed 4th in the first US Open Lindy Hop division!!!! The week we spent in the Los Angeles area could not have been better (for me, anyway) and I honestly didn't think we'd done that well in the competition. To find that we not only made the top 5, but finished 4th, was icing on the cake!

The week was absolutely wonderful. Tom and I went to compete in the Lindy division and Carolyn Biczel and John McCalla (PsychoBoy) decided to try their hand in the Strictly Swing division. Fun was had by all. I'll try not to bore you all with too many details but rather hit the high spots. Oh, forget it. Here's the week in all it's glory:

Sunday: We arrive at Tom's brother Todd's place in Manhattan Beach, change and run back out to meet me and Tom's idol and friend Jean Veloz (star of Groovy Movie and Swing Fever; you may remember her as special guest at the 1996 VA State Open); Gil Brady, a famous California Lindy Hopper of the 1950s and a featured dancer in Rock Around the Clock with Bill Haley and the Comets; and dear friends Marcus Koch and Barbl Kaufer who were in LA to pick up their second Feather Award in a row, at a place called Bobby McGee's. I thought this place used to be West Coast but the DJ was playing superlative swing. There we ran into people we'd met when we went to Swing Camp Catalina back in June, plus a new couple, Erik and Sylvia. They just knocked me and Tom for a loop!! They're doing this fabulous Dean Collins-style west coast Lindy Hop just like Jean Veloz does, along with some great shag stuff that Tom and I forgot we used to know. Dancing for only 11 months, they were both amazing. All their stuff is lead-and-follow, they're both full-time teachers these days, and they have the 1940s look down to a T! I mean, they could have just stepped out of a movie! I danced with the legendary Gil Brady and could have stopped right there and gone back home, I was so happy.

When the dancing there stopped, we piled in the car and all drove to Pasadena for more dancing. We got horribly lost on the way there (ended up in Palm Springs and we're STILL trying to figure that one out!) but as we pulled up next to the restaurant, I could hear the familiar strains of Sing, Sing, Sing along with cheering, and I knew the jam was well in progress! We ran in, threw our stuff on some table, and Koerner and I jumped into the circle, chasing Simon Selmon and Rusty Young out! We did what we did best--a few moments in the spotlight to do our biggest tricks and then get the hell out! John and Carolyn could not be convinced to get in, unfortunately. (I think they were both car sick!) All the fabulous local dancers were there and it was heady and exhilarating.

Monday: Headed for the legendary Derby, formerly the Brown Derby or something. Found a beautiful club with a teeny dance floor in front of a very 1920s band which reminded us all of Doc Scantlin. We four didn't really enjoy the dancing that much and spent a fair amount of time in the large overflow room where we once again played with Marcus and Barbl, John Hudson and Jean Shelton (John was the guy in the yellow zooty suits at Flying Home) and cadged stuff from Erik and Sylvia. Chester Whitmore came in and hugged me and jumped around and used me to demonstrate aerials. He told us to make sure we showed up at his dance the following night at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

Tuesday: We had plans to meet the adorable Jean Veloz for dinner and were joined by Craig Hutchinson. Had a lovely meal and told Craig all about Erik and Sylvia. He went to a West Coast place with Jean for a short while and then joined us at the Hollywood Athletic Club to see The Kids, as we'd taken to calling them. Before he showed up, I danced with a million fabulous LA guys and was charmed and delighted. Chester was a warm and welcoming host and kept saying, "Gotta get you guys out to LA again!" Craig came in, met the kids, and went nuts.

Wednesday: On to Music City, where Ryan and Jenny were having a nice time dancing socially. There was to be a dance contest and I know it's no surprise to anyone that Tom and I and John and Carolyn were the first two couples to sign up! However, the contest was cancelled because only one other couple entered. Harrummph. I danced a whole mess with Bernie, who was kind enough to show us some new stuff in that California Lindy style Koerner and I are so mad about. STILL couldn't get John and Carolyn in the jam, though!

Thursday: Thanksgiving. Tom now has two brothers living at the beach, Todd and Tim. So Mrs. Koerner the Mom flew out that morning to make us all Thanksgiving dinner! Uncharacteristically, we ate and laid around on the living room floor watching bad movies on TV. No dancing that night.

Friday: Off to Anaheim to begin the US Open. Competitors meeting at 4:15 where we saw Ryan and Jenny again, greated Sing Lim and partner Andrew, saw Paolo and Janice from New York (you'll recall they competed in the VA State Open), Tricia Reneau who was competing with Alan Rocoff from New York, and a million other people. Koerner and I have been inserting ourselves into this scene so long, we know and are known to many. It's always fun to get to these things and see people you only see at dance weekends and competitions!

John and Carolyn were dancing that night in the Strictly Swing division. Our understanding of this division was that it was to be any swing dance, unchoreographed and uncostumed. Carolyn had spoken with event-organizer Mary Ann Bridges, who had assured her that Lindy Hoppers would be welcome in this division.

Unfortunately, this was not really the case. John and Carolyn were the only non-West Coast Swing couple out of 19 entrants; the music was ALL slow, blues and R&B. They got really lucky with a song that was thunderingly fast by West Coast standards at 130 beats/minute and with a slightly swingy feel to it. They danced masterfully, with a lot of style and fun, making great connection with the judges and the audience. John did a nice job of matching their movements to the the tempo and the feeling of the music, and lemme tell you all, they really danced! I thought they looked fabulous and so did many others. Other event-organizer Jack Bridges stopped them to compliment them, and Craig Hutchinson made a beeline to John to congratulate them on a great dance. All night long, people kept coming up and telling them they looked great and were a pleasure to watch. However, politics won out and they didn't even make the cut to the last seven couples. My highlight of the evening was rising star Matt Auclair asked me to dance and we had a ball. John and I got in a real bad mood and made Tom and Carolyn leave with us. Bad feelings were assuaged only by many donuts.

Saturday: The big day for me and Tom. Our category danced at 4 in the afternoon. It was a great showing for a new division. Ryan and Jenny and Sing and Andrew were, of course, phenomenal, but everyone seemed to dance extremely well. Tricia Reneau and Alan Rocoff did a wonderful dance to a favorite Louis Prima tune, "Buena Sera," a song Alan has always dreamed of dancing in a competition! Couples from Singapore, Arizona, Washington State and local LA-ites all did a great job. I was delighted to realize that, when I stepped out on the floor, there was not one butterfly in my stomach--all those jams really help take the edge off! Tom and I did not dance perfectly, but got through our number with a lot of energy, style and panache.

The rest of the evening was a joy. Who should I spot in the crowd but Catrine Lundggren of the Rhythm Hot Shots, in town for a while and out slumming with us at the US Open. I also got a chance to dance with Phil Trau, one of the pillars of that West Coast Swing world, and the amazing and fabulous Ramiro Gonzales, whom I am ready to marry. Stayed up dancing until 3 am, I think, then into the car where I watched John wolf down 3.5 donuts without breathing. Absolutely amazing!

So that's the overview of the trip. Again, for me personally, it couldn't have been better. I danced with people I've only dreamed of before, ran into international friends, made new friends, danced my fool head off. Every once in a while we had something to eat. Stayed up way too late, slept late in the morning. Had a wonderful time with John and Carolyn. Only had one fight with Koerner. It was a GREAT trip.

Love to all, and it's good to be back.
---Auntie Deb

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She's [not] Counting on Anyone
By: Jennifer Comar

The other night, after rehearsal, we all went over to our friend, (and fellow Big Apple Lindy Hopper), Karen's loft to surprise her for her birthday. Frankie Manning had arranged the whole thing with Karen's husband, and it was a nice mellow evening, with all of us hanging out and watching some of the old footage of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers that Frankie has on video. (Some amazing stuff, including old shorts that they did with Duke Ellington).

For all the classes I've taken with Frankie. it was the first time I've been able to sit down and talk to him. Dawn Hampton was also there, (some people may know her from the Herrang dance camp), and they had a bunch of us gathered like children at their feet. We were talking about timing and aerials, (Frankie has been working with us on several variations on the horses, and part of the reason for watching the old tapes was to show us how fast we really have to do them). We started talking about timing in general, and how important it is to use the cues that the music gives you in your dancing rather than counting the whole thing out. Frankie and Dawn both dance without counting, (of course they do, everyone says, they've been dancing for so long) , because they learned to dance with the music, not in a classroom.

Frankie learned how to count out the moves back when he started teaching classes in the mid 80s; and then only because the people in his classes couldn't understand the dance without the corresponding numbers. (We were joking with him, because on one of his Lindy instructional videos, he counts everything out wrong, and he gets Erin Stevens to start counting out wrong, and we were amused by the image of hundreds of new dancers watching these videos, and counting everything wrong because of Frankie).

They both expressed very strong reasons as to why they never counted - mainly because for them, the only music they heard growing up was jazz; it was the music of the masses. It was at home being played by their parents, in the clubs, at the movies, all over the radio, and because they were so exposed to it, they developed an ear for it very early on. They think that nowadays the dancers don't listen to the music in the same way.

(In our group, we have been learning a new/old routine called Stops. Before we even began to learn the steps, one of the older members of the group, Bob Crease, sat the newer people down and explained to us about Frankie's way of working with the music; although we could count the routine out, it doesn't start where you think it should, and he uses the music in such a way that we would really have to listen to hear the changes.)

They were talking about how strange it was for them to be at a dance, and to have the band play a song where there were very clear breaks, and to have everyone around them dance through and ignore the music. And anyone who has ever heard Norma Miller's opinion on the subject knows that she thinks counting is for the birds.

So I started to think a lot about counting, and my own dancing, and how I rarely count things out when I'm social dancing. This of course confuses a lot of people who dance with me for the first time, because they ask, "oh is that on the 7&8" and I sort of shrug, and I'm sure they're thinking, "well, she must not be so good if she doesn't know the count". And I started to think about how I have to backlead the musical breaks with some of the newer dancers because they are all too busy counting under their breath, (when what they should be doing is listening!!!!!). I have found that the best way to get them to stop is to point and wink at them, so they stop more in shock because of what I'm doing rather than because the music has given them that cue.

Don't get me wrong, I still count out alot of moves - I need the counts when I'm learning a new step, or a new routine, especially on the trickier syncopated things, (and anyone who works on aerials knows how important it is to set the timing before you are in the air). But the good thing about set routines is that as you concentrate more on the chosen music, and your mind begins to associate the move with the trumpet part, or the rhythm section, you begin to feel where the steps should go.

One of the things that horrified me about counting was that a few people came back from the Beantown camp this summer spouting all these theories that you have to do so many 8 count moves to so many 6 count moves to equal the required amount of beats in a phrase, and I had these awful visions of every single analytical guy I know thinking about this on the dance floor and worrying about getting the right numbers rather than listening to the music!!! This is not brain surgery! Basically, start when you hear the phrase, and finish when the song is over - I don't care as a follower how many 6 or 8 count moves I've done as long as the dance has been good for the both of us.

So, what do the other readers think about this? I open up the floor to anyone who has an opinion on the subject.
Your friend in NYC,

Debra's Two Cents on Counting
By: Debra Sternberg

Having been horrifically busy work-wise these days I haven't had many opportunities to read the Dance Forum at leisure, and especially have not had time to chit-chat with youse guys. But the big rush seems to be over now, and Jennifer's story about Frankie, Dawn, and the issue of counting was really interesting. So Jennifer, thanks for the topic because I think it's a really interesting one. And here's my two cents:

I'm an old-enough dancer to be primarily self-taught at the beginning, only having started taking classes and paying attention to those things in the last 3-4 years. In addition, don't forget, my formative dance years were spent with Koerner, the notorious Anti-Counter. Counting is fairly difficult for me and not something I enjoy. It's really only from teaching that I find I have to be aware of those things, so I can break it down and explain it to students. Left to my own devices, I figure it just comes down to being there for your partner on the rock-step!

I guess when you're learning a choreographed routine for performance the count is really important, and I can candidly admit that Tom and I hate that part too but appreciate it's necessity for a routine. For us, learning the routine we did last April at the ASDC and will do again in November at the US Open is like pulling teeth--we just despise being tied down like that, and always feels it drains the energy out of our dancing.

Certainly, as Lindy camps and weekends have become the thing they are, and as the dance spreads the way it is, counting and choreography become a more integral element of how things are taught. Like Frankie will tell you, like my sisters will tell me about growing up dancing in the 50s, no one knew any counts. You saw a step you liked and asked someone to teach it to you, and they said something like, "Okay, I hop on my left foot, put my right toe on the floor and then scooch around." But it was a different deal because dancing was so much a fabric of everyone's social life, everyone grew up doing it. I have this argument with my 55-year-old sister all the time, who thinks it's a sin that we have to TEACH dancing. Well, I think it's too bad too, but when she was going to school EVERYONE danced. Now, EVERYONE surfs the web. We all gotta learn it someplace.

My ideal situation would be a time when maybe everyone learns the ideas and theories behind counting and then forgets them and takes wing on the floor. Instinctively, I too listen for the end of the phrase and tag myself on to that, but sometimes I miss it and I'm too early or too late. Whaddya do? Fake it--shimmy, freeze, snap your fingers, play around. One of my favorite DC dancers is a guy who often stops someplace in the middle of a phrase and gets goofy.

Again, maybe it's because I've danced with Koerner so long, hitting a break is always a happy accident instead of a foregone conclusion, and I kinda like it that way. Yeah, it scares me when I hear one of those math-types start planning out the number of phrases, etc. I've always started dancing when the music starts and stops when the song is over, and I've never had any beats left over to use on the next song.

Thanks again, Jennifer. I'm sure this will set everyone thinking, and it'll be interesting to read the responses. And thanks too to Ellen Werther for her kind words about our Monday nights at the Chevy Chase Ballroom. As of the first Monday in November, we have the ENTIRE SPACE TO OURSELVES!!! So there'll be a ton more room.
Love and kisses to all,
---Auntish Deb

Dancing to the Music
By: Aurelie Tye

Hi Frank and my partner,
I'm back again with comments on a different topic. I read the bit that Jennifer Comar. wrote about counting and it brought to mind the thoughts I've had on this subject.

When I started to take dance classes (in East Coast Swing) I don't remember anyone ever talking about the music. At the dances I attended, for the most part, the dancers were doing their thing and there was some music playing. Dancing to the music meant you were on beat. It wasn't until I began to learn Lindy Hop that I even knew that the music was in 8 counts.

As beginner Lindy Hoppers, Tony and I took our first stab at choreography for a competition. Competing against all pros was a bit daunting, but early on we began to understand the structure of songs and the idea that certain types of things felt better to different things happening in a song. Since then, we've choreographed many more routines, danced many more dances, and have learned what dancing to the music is about. Unlike those of Frankie's day, this did not come naturally. I, like most, still count things out when I'm learning something new. When I'm social dancing, I do try to just tune into my partner and the music, but it took me time to get to this point.

Now as instructors, we start every new session of beginners with listening to the music, bouncing to the music and counting the 8s. When people are trying to learn new steps, we often encourage either reciting the counts or using words to get the feet to do the rhythm you want. We usually work out patterns we teach to come out to some multiple of 8. We also have classes on dancing to the music - hearing the intros, different styles, breaks, etc. We also say over and over again that the point of all this is to be aware of this concept of dancing to the music. Patterns and excercises done in class are ultimately just tools for learning to dance and material to play with. Anything goes on the social dance floor. Hopefully with experience, being "on the music" just starts to happen.

I can't speak for other people, but I would guess that when instructors talk about putting together a certain number of counts and moves, the point is really the concept. I can't imagine anyone expects leaders to be analyzing all their dance moves when they're our dancing. That would sure take the FUN out of dancing! I just believe that for most of us, none of this comes naturally and therefore we must learn how to dance to the music. In defense of newer dancers, they're concentrating so hard on their feet and their leads that there isn't much brain power left. It takes experience to hear even the counts in the music, much less the changes and breaks, etc.

One last note, there is a drawback to becoming more in tune with the music. I've also become a lot pickier. When I was a new dancer, I could swing dance to just about anything! Now there are times I'd rather sit one out.

[Editor's Note: Aurelie's last sentence really hit a chord for us: We have had exactly the same experience! my partner says, "Once we learned how to dance, we became music critics." This gave us some real understanding about what the kids were screaming for in the 1930s. In a Life magazine article (1936) Benny Goodman gave his now famous interview in which he derides the "Jitterbugs" for demanding one "killer-diller" after another. It seems that Lindy Hop creates this "urge" to demand hot music from the Bands --- and creates reactivity on the part of the non-Lindy people. Like Aurelie, We sit out the songs that are not inspiring. The new kids are more aggressive. Maybe we will relive the 1930s again.]

Don't Count Us Out
By: Sue and Steve Devoney

Steve and I worked out our VSO routine with all the intracacies of fine Swiss clockwork....and Frankie did the same thing in Helzapoppin'....'sjust that he approaches it a different way.

When it comes to dancing, some of us are left brained (Tom "don't choreograph me" Koerner) and some of us are right brained (Jenny "let me calculate where the break falls in the phrase" Manlove).

Who's right? Who's wrong? Don't know and don't care. But I can tell you this...if you want to do a routine the same way every single time, you'll have to come up with some sort of method for communicating where each move goes.

Also....when we put together the Jeep Jockey Jump routine, we listened to every group of 32 beats (the song was structured perfectly in 32 beat packages). We picked one musical feature of every single group that we wanted to emphasize and took the moves we were doing and re-torqued them to emphasize that feature. There are some holes, however, cuz we only had 2 months to put it together.

You cannot do this kind of dissecting on the dance floor! You have to develop a sixth sense--your left brain--if you will. Here's how. Do what Frankie and Norma did.

1. Watch other dancers. Norma spent the first YEAR in Whitey's Lindy Hoppers JUST LOOKING AT OTHER DANCERS. Both Norma and Frankie spent lots of time watching folks at their parents' rent parties. Watch good dancers for style, technique, and of course, to steal moves! Watch how different folks dance to the same song--see what looks good to you. Watch bad dancers to see if you can figure out what makes them bad and try to to make those same mistakes.

2. Listen to dance music. When you are doing this, listen for breaks and other musical features. Visualize different moves and how they fit (or don't fit) into the speed, beat, or musicality of the song.

3. Practice, by yourself or with a partner. Put some music on and just dance. Then replay the tune and force yourself to try different moves. Find out what feels good with different kinds of music. Straight Charleston does not always work with slower tunes--but a Traveling Charleston might. Another thing to keep in mind....we often learn moves in groups or routines. Our teachers work these out so that you can learn a bunch of moves and learn something about transitioning from one move to the next. That doesn't mean that these moves must always go in this order. Experiment and you discover how to combine a Cape with a Traveling Charleston, or Sliding Doors with Falling off a Log.

When you dance, ideally, you become a member of the band. You "play" the song right along with them. Brent Sessions tells me that we inspire him on his sax solos. Several members of TCO tell me that they can't stand it when folks stand in front of the band during the jam at America--because they play off our dancing!

Of course, you don't get this give and take with recorded music--but you do get reliability and convenience, which is important for practice.

Counting helps you learn more efficiently. It also helps you record and remember a complicated routine. For some [me], it helps them analyze a piece of music to see exactly where that wonderful riff is so that you can fit the perfect move in just the right place. For others, it gets in the way of having fun on the dance floor. Just like musicians--some read music, some "play by ear." Those who read, unless they are very talented listeners, can pick new music up more efficiently. But whether you "feel" the beat or "count" the beat--doesn't matter. What matters is that you hear it in the first place and you know what to do with it.

I leave you with Robin Cunningham's observation about Frankie Manning dancing to Shiny Stockings. "He was not just dancing to the beat, he was dancing to the music." That should be our goal.

More on Counting
By: Mike Gordon

[Last Week] Auntie Deb Opined:

"Again, maybe it's because I've danced with Koerner so long, hitting a break is always a happy accident instead of a foregone conclusion, and I kinda like it that way. Yeah, it scares me when I hear one of those math-types start planning out the number of phrases, etc. I've always started dancing when the music starts and stops when the song is over, and I've never had any beats left over to use on the next song. "

I read Debra's thoughts on counting with interest. International Style Ballroom dancing is my passion. Now, rather than indulging in hooting at the white tie and tails, consider that it's my cup o' tea, and those Zoot suts, well....

Competitive Ballroom is rapidly placing emphasis on "phrasing" one's dancing, adding yet another layer of discipline. International Style Ballroom requires enormous partner discipline, (much like the aerials in Lindy), and in closed position fo the whole dance. Point being that there is even less margin for error when you are expected to be on phrase, whether you have a routine and get bumped off or if not, then you better have the skill to "phrase" the music as you go along. Anyway it gets even harder to have that element expression of the music. (Duh)

OK, on the one hand, a couple could "fit" their groups and figures" to the musical phrases as they do tend to combine in phrases, but they might have a mechanical aspect. AS Debra says "For us, learning the routine... is like pulling teeth--we just despise being tied down like that, and always feels it drains the energy out of our dancing." Well put. Of course, part of the evolution of anything with a competitive side, is the discipline growing ever greater. Ice Dancing, Skateboarding, Ski jumping.

My guess is that discipline can be measured, whereas musical expression is so personal and in any case subjective. If everybody does whammo sidecars, then the winner got to be the ones doing it in the right place in the music. When everyone is doing lovely Waltz, then you can get rid of the couple off phrase, to get your finalists. Why, you can even put Tom & Debra second if they don't count to suit the current style. Our Local Amateur Ballroom Champion couple Tammy & Hamid, incurred sour grapes, as they were accused by some, of being "off time." Turns out they were not "phrasing" their music. So they fixed that. They leave for Germany yesterday to represent the US at the world Amateur Championships. Shows to go you. Is their Dancing better? Must be.

For me, until it becomes "natural" or at least automatic, I'll be hard put to feel that whatever creative energy I have is expressed in my dancing whilst I'm counting 6,7,8 and hoping that the couple in my way keeps moving or realizing that we did a quick/quick instead of a quick/and/quick, so that now I'm off by a beat, and figuring how to get back "in time." Sigh. When the music stops will I still have that extra beat?

More On Counting
By: Judy Pritchett

Hi Frank and my partner,
I am enjoying the discussion on counting. I don't think I could have learned a step without counting, and I don't think I could dance a step now WITH counting. A few weeks ago Frankie gave an advanced workshop in Elk, California on "Dancing the Music". It was a small group (30) and students were encouraged to experiment and ask questions so that we could get a glimmering of what makes Frankie's dancing so exquisitely musical. It wasn't something Frankie had given much thought to before he was asked to teach this workshop. It was a fantastic experience. I won't attempt to repeat Frankie's "gems", but I did want to let you know that Guy Caridi has made a video of the workshop which will be available pretty soon. I'll let you know.

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Halloween 1997
Friday October 31, 1997

We went to America to join the Halloween revelers. "Dr. Dan" Fierer tells us that a gang of folks went to see Peaches O'Dell at the Black Cat. Daniel indicates that the floor was crowded with smoking and drinking standees and that "Extreme Measures" had to be taken to get enough room to dance to Sing, Sing, Sing. We have faced this problem on occasion as well --- does anyone know any NFL all-pro linebackers who may be enticed into Lindy Hop?

The crowd at America had obviously spent some time on their costumes. The prize has to go to Gay and Dave Shepardson. Gay was chaming and demure as "Miss Virginia" while Dave met or exceeded all stereotypes as "Miss West Virginia". Dave's decolletage was...well...there, but hairy. However, to complete fully the costume, he should have been holding a dead possum. John "Psychoboy" McCalla and Carolyn Biczel came as Popeye and Olive Oyl. Carolyn had spent some time on her costume and both get credit for creating striking and "danceable" costumes. Scott and karen came dressed as "Hustle Dancers" --- great sequins, kids. Sue and Steve Devoney came as "Pfisteria Pfish" --- great open sores, kids. Tom Koerner came dressed as a zoot-suiter, while Debra looked lovely in her cat suit. Her tail seemed to come and go. During a lift, the tail got stuffed in Koerner's face, so I presume that she removed it to prevent a recurrence.

Brent sessions did another one of his stunning solos during the jam. Is this guy good, or what? If he had lived in Egypt, his face would be on the Sphynx. And the jammers! Lots of new people and lots of new stuff was shown. At the end, "Psychoboy", Steve, and Carolyn surprised everyone with a "horse". They had a few problems with the execution, but the surprise was everything. Great work!

Cameron has a few more details:

From: Cameron Sellers

Wow! Lindy has spread to the OTHER world. Witches, goblins and other ghastly characters showed up on Halloween night at Americas. I wonder where the regular dancers were. Tom C and his orchestra played swing for the ghostly crowd without a sign of fright. Speaking of fright, I saw Miss West Virginia and she was ugly. She looked a lot like David Shepardson. Gay came as herself as Miss Virginia. Funny thing, I did not see David with her. Tom Koerner dressed up and tried to pass himself of as an actual Lindy Instructor, and he and his partner, a cat without a tail, taught the high school kids before dusk.

Pop Eye and his dame Olive Oil did a mean JAM to Two O' Clock Jump as did a sparkling costume Hustle couple. A masked man with a hat jammed it up with a pumpkin. Two smelly fish did the "spanking the Devoney's" move out there in front of the scary crowd. I swore only Steve and Sue did that move. The whole thing was a little fishy. The JAM ended with Pop Eye, Olive Oil, and Steve doing a "horse" from the Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races. When the clock struck midnight, the ghostly crowd left and haunted Anita's restaurant until dawn.

Cameron understates the "after-dance" crowd. This was the largest such group that we have seen to date --- the bill came to over $250. Everyone seemed to have a great time socializing and chowing down. Lindy Hoppers can dance, talk and eat. When they get done, the plates don't have to go to the dishwasher!

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Tricia and Andy, In the Mood
Saturday November 1, 1997

Our first review is of Tricia and Andy's performance in the Bud Forrest production, In The Mood. Tina Connors got us tickets for this, but due to an emergency at my partner's office, we were not able to attend. We sure missed something:

From: Lawrence R MacDonald

Carolyn, Cherri, Susan, Chris (Mrs. Bamburger), Ron, and I trucked on over to the George Mason Center for the Performing Arts this past Saturday afternoon to see two of our finest, Tricia Reneau and Andy Wallo, perform in Bud Forrest and his String of Pearls' musical production, "In the Mood." It was a highly enjoyable show filled with beautifully played swing songs (like Juke Box Saturday Night, Drummin' Man, Stuff Like That There, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and the Bugle Call Rag) with accompanying vocals. And I know I'm prejudiced but the highlight was definitely the two Lindy dancers who gave the entire show the level of energy needed to properly depict the WWII era.

In spite of having the show's director tell them not to upstage the singers and band (no flashing, no chewing gum, no lindy moves during the vocals, etc), they stole it anyway with great dancing to superbly choreographed routines of The Bugle Call Rag and Sing, Sing, Sing. I always thought Sing, Sing, Sing was fast but The Bugle Call Rag makes our ever present jam song seem like a lullaby. And they were out there on stage doing three perfect kips in a row as well as some back flips, fish flips, hip flips, splits, and you name it. They finished Sing, Sing, Sing with Tricia pushing Andy into a back flip and then going into the splits herself on the very last beat. It brought the house down!

I just wish more of the Lindy crowd could have seen this performance -- especially our ace reporter Cameron who would have been able to provide a much better review!

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Friends of Old Time Radio Convention
By: Michael L. Henry

I missed dancing at America and Glen Echo last Friday and Saturday night Oct. 24 and 25) because I was in Newark, NJ hosting Big Band vocalist Kitty Kallen, who sang with Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Mel Torme, among others and had hit songs with I'm Beginning to See the Light, It's Been a Long Long Time, Besame Mucho, and They're Either Too Young or Too Old.

From Oct. 22 thru Oct. 26, I attended the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, which is held every year in Newark and brings together the fans, scholars, and stars of radio broadcasting of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Many live re-creations of radio drama and comedy were performed, many by the original cast members, many by young theatre groups working to keep the art form fresh and alive. There were also dealers tables set up where convention-goers could buy tapes, books, and other material relating to Old Time Radio.

There were also many panels where various aspects of radio history were discussed. On Saturday, I hosted a panel of my own, one featuring popular female vocalists Dolly Dawn, Kitty Kallen, and Betty Johnson.

Dolly Dawn sang with the George Hall Orchestra from 1935 to 1941 and broadcast from the Taft Hotel in New York City. When Hall retired from the leadership of the band in 1941, he passed the leadership of the band to Dolly. However, the demands of the military draft during the war broke up Dolly Dawn and Her Dawn Patrol Boys in 1942.

Betty Johnson performed with her family, the Johnson Family Singers from 1938 to 1951, broadcasting over WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina, traveling to churches and military bases, and recording for RCA Victor. In 1951, Betty began a successful solo career recording novelty songs and performing on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and Don McNeil's Breakfast Club.

During the panel, I asked questions of each panelist and played one of their songs. For Kitty Kallen I played a recording of the time she was broadcasting with Harry James on June 6, 1944 and her performance of In Times Like These was interrupted for an announcement of the D-Day invasion. The hightlight of the panel came when I played Betty Johnson's rendition of It's Been a Long Long Time, which Betty had asked me to play during the panel. I was initially concerned with how Kitty would respond to this song, since it had been one of her hits. However, when the song began, Kitty and Betty, who were sitting next to each other and were sharing the same microphone, embraced and sang a duet to the song. Needless to say it brought the house down!

I am on the planning committee for this convention. If anyone is interested in atteding next year's convention and would like to see certain programs or guests, please let me know and I will bring up any suggestions at the planning meeting we will have in January. You can reach me at (301) 587-8976 or by e-mail at: mlhenry@wam.umd.edu
---Mike Henry

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Vacuum Coffee Pots

By: Debra Sternberg

Maybe I've had too much coffee, but ain't life grand? I swear to God, I don't think things could be more perfect if I won the lottery, expect then I'd get a message every day. And speaking of coffee, I'm completely jealous about the coffee maker. How many times have you read everything by Raymond Chandler, especially the passage in The Long Goodbye where Marlowe is making coffee in the vacuum pot while some thug who wants to kill him looks on?

[Editor's note; Debra alludes to both the following passage from Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel The Long Goodbye and my seemingly irrational purchase of a vacuum coffee maker. To set the scene, Philip Marlowe has just been wakened from a sound sleep by a thug with a gun. Marlowe, the essence of cool, offers to make coffee:

" Fear nothing, old boy. Mr. Huggins nd Mr. Young are two of the best. They make Huggins-Young coffee. It's their life work, their pride and joy. One of these days I'm going to see that they get the recognition they deserve. So far all they're making is money. You couldn't expect that to satisfy them."

I left him with that bright chatter and went out to the kitchen at the back. I turned the hot water on and got the coffee-maker down off the shelf. I wet the rod and measured the stuff into the top and by that time the water was steaming. I filled the lower half of the dingus and set it on the flame. I set the upper part on top and gave it a twist so that it would bind....

The coffee maker was almost ready to bubble. I turned the flame low and watched the water rise. It hung a little at the bottom of the glass tube. I turned the flame up enough to get it over the hump and then turned it low again quickly. I stirred the coffee and covered it. I set my timer for three minutes. Very methodical guy, Marlowe. Nothing must interfere with his coffee technique. Not even a gun in the hand of a desperate character.

[Another Editor's Note: I should also like to suggest another quote from the same novel to you. In Chapter 14, Marlow entertains Mrs. Wade, violet-blue eyes, a pimento-colored scarf and no earrings or hat:

I went out to the kitchen and spread a paper napkin on a green metal tray. It looked as cheesy as a celluloid collar. I crumpled it up and got out one of those fringed things that come in sets with lttle triangular napkins. They came with the house like most of the furniture. I set out two Desert Rose coffee cups and filled them and carried the tray in.

She sipped. "This is very nice," she said. "You make good coffee."

Much love to all,
---Auntie Deb

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Swing, Bop and Hand Dancing
By: Sue and Steve Devoney

Sunday night (11/20) on WHMM (Channel 32) there was a special called "Swing, Bop, and Hand Dancing." It traced the roots of the these urban dances back to the Lindy Hop. Apparently, you can travel around the country and everywhere there is some variation on medium tempo swing. One thing I like about the Virginia State Open is that we can see two regional dances seldom seen anywhere else: DC Hand Dancing and Carolina Shag.

This particular show focused on three:

  • DC/Baltimore Hand Dancing--with Steve Mitchell (the guy who pulled his tendon at the VSO--from Balto & some of Yvonne Trenary's dancers) and the E-Z folks. These folks use lots of arm turns and spins. Balto folks tend to be a bit more "jerky" or bouncy than the DC folk.
  • Chicago "Steppin' " a very smooth version, almost west coast in style
  • Philadelphia Bop features a lot of footwork.

All of these medium swing styles, along with the remnants of Lindy Hop, could be seen on the many local teen dance shows that sprung up on TV during the 50s and 60s. Locally, we had the Buddy Dean show in Baltimore (which inspired "Corny Collins" of "Hairspray") DC had a white show and a black show. The black show was "Teenarama". This particular program re-united some of the "Teenarama" dancers, all of whom still dance today. Allan Freed, in New York, was one of the first TV hosts to feature black dancers on a primarily white show. Buddy Dean had them on once a month.

The show was produced by Howard University and featured some historians on dancing and African American popular culture. From the 20's, clear through to the mid-60s, dancing was intricate to American culture and much of what we were dancing and listening to could be traced directly back to the styles brought over from the slaves. Amazing how at the same time we were trying to separate the races from each other, we were becoming inextricably linked through popular culture. Amazing too, how, once we stopped touching each other while dancing, we separated racially in our music preferences too. There's a doctoral dissertation in there somewhere....Anyway, keep your eyes open for this program. I'm sure WHMM will air it again. It's well worth seeing.

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Dancers Donate to Broadcast History Library
By: Michael L. Henry

Thanks to Frank and my partner, I was almost unable to dance at Glen Echo last Saturday (Nov. 22). Soon after the music started, my partner sat me down and gave me the two scrapbooks they had found in Ellicott City last week. Both scrapbooks document the history of radio station WRC (980 AM) in 1946 and 1947. I almost spent the rest of the evening reading them, but fortunately my partner snapped me out of my trance and put the scrapbooks away so I could dance.

The following is a brief description of each:

1) Variety Showmanship Award-1946

This scrapbook describes WRCs community service efforts to help Washington D.C. through the period of conversion to peace-time after the war. Described in the scrapbook are such programs as "Tomorrow's Washington", "David Brinkley", "World Famine Emergency Campaign", "Adventures of Red Feather Man", "WRC Doll House", and two innovative news programs, "Washington Prelude", and "Matchless Service Time."

The scrapbook also documents the station's methods of station promotion,including newspaper advertising, streetcar cards, displays, trade paper ads, client tie-ins, direct mail, and public appearances. Also included are descriptions of the commercial and publicity departments.

This information is presented in the form of photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and original art.

2) WRCs entry for Billboard magazine's 11th Annual Radio Promotion Campaign, 1947-1948.

Apparently compiled by the staff of WRC, this scrapbook describes two of WRCs promotional campaigns in 1947:

  • A display promoting WRC radio and television at the Home Show Exposition held at the National Guard Armory in October 1947.The display was 18 ft. wide and featured 40 caricatures of NBC radio personalities drawn by artist Sam Berman (including caricatures of Frank Sinatra and Kay Kyser.) WRC was---and still is---the NBC affiliate in Washington)
  • Bill Herson's Whos Who Contest: A contest WRC held from November 14-November 26, 1947 (Exactly 50 years ago). WRC morning personality Bill Herson asked listeners to identify the Sam Berman caricatures of NBC radio personalities that had been featured in the Home Show Exposition display and to write a brief statement answering the question "What Radio Means to Me". Hechts Department stores sponsored the contest and displayed the unidentified caricatures and the prizes and, provided the entry forms.(By the way, the Grand Prize Winner was Mrs.Elizabeth Bowman of Rockville, MD, who won an RCA combination AM/FM Radio and record changer)

Both of these campaigns are documented with photographs, correspondence, and related literature, including the actual poster-size entry blank

Frank and my partner donated these scrapbooks to the Library of American Broadcasting, which is located at the University of Maryland. Those of us at the Library were very excited to have these scrapbooks. We already have a large collection of material relating to WRC and we actually assisted WRC-TV in preparing the observance of their 50th Anniversary earlier this year. We were particularly thrilled to have the material relating to the Sam Berman caricatures: the Library already has a full set of the original full-color caricatures, but we did not know much about their history or how they were originally used. Now we know.

Both of these scrapbooks will be a valuable addition to our efforts to preserve and understand the history of WRC.

If you would like to learn more about the Library of American Broadcasting and see some of the material in the Library, please check out our website

If you would like to see these scrapbooks, the Library is open Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5. We can be reached at (301) 405-9160.

Thanks again Frank and my partner!
---Michael Henry

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Thanksgiving 1997
Thursday November 27, 1997

We celebrated Thanksgiving in an unusual way. We had invited a few people from the Lindy Crowd who couldn't get home for the holiday. By Tuesday, the guest list had soared to 25 people. I had reserved a 15 pound turkey, but that clearly wouldn't do. Fortunately, my neighborhood grocer (the Broad Branch Market) was able to help --- a phone call brought me a 25 pound fresh tom turkey. The entire morning was spent cooking --- the fellow required 8 pounds of cornbread stuffing to bring him out to his full Norman Rockwell beauty. He was so big that I had to suture up the neck and gullet cavities with sail thread. He roasted for almost six hours. I had made a mistake on my e-mail with directions, so all the guests arrived an hour early. But, it was splendid confusion --- everyone brought something delicious. I am pleased to report that the entire bird, sixteen pounds of potatoes, four pounds of green beans, six pounds of sweet potatoes, and a gigantic quantity of cranberry sauce was consumed by the horde --- before the awesome dessert buffet was attacked. Lindy Hoppers sure can eat.

We were pleased to see (in addition to my partner's family) Cameron Sellers and his nephew Josh, Gay and Dave Shepardson, Deborah Brooks, Thea Austen, Susan Lusi, Ray Wiles, Ron Haron, Tuan Tran, Bob Kleinpeter, Liz Hanby, Cherri Harris, Mark Baron and --- most notably --- Beverly Bixler and her pies. While I was cooking, we had another surprise -- Cameron is house sitting, and who should drop in but Danielle Marabella. After some conversation, the two found out that they have an interest in Lindy Hop --- at which time Cameron got us on the phone. This is truly a small world. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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Tom's Dance Partners
By: Debra Sternberg

Hey, Frank--
I don't know why I'm bothering to mention this, and I doubt that anyone cares, but the chronology is thus: It was me and Tom first, then he danced with both Tina and Ellen. Tina became kinda the primary competition partner, but then when she and Tom split up after going to London together for the '93 Swingmaster's Jam, it was pretty much all Ellen until I came back., now there's me and Tom again. I am predated only by Mary Kay Lewis and Jenny, neither of whom can be seen on the dance scene. Parenthentically, Mr. Testosterone, aka Mark Dassoulas, once said that dancing with Mary Kay was like driving a Porsche. Do you think anyone actually cares about any of this?

By the way, I hope everyone read and noted the message about Glen Echo and the Spanish Ballroom. The danger seems real at this point in time, and the dance community should consider themselves on alert status. It will probably be extremely important for all to show up to the public meeting on February 3, plus possibly writing letters and sending email messages. We suspect that public interest is going to be vital.

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The Devoneys' Holiday Party
Sunday, December 7, 1997

The famous "Flying Devoneys" had a Holiday party. Originally, they wanted people to come as "Naughty" or "Nice", but later this was amended to be "Come as your favorite 1950s sitcom character." The crowd responded eagerly. A huge turnout ensued. The ladies included: Christy Etcher, Trish Mannetti, Elizabeth Magin, Carolyn Biczel, Tricia Reneau, Diane Hutson-Wiley, Janice Saylor, Susan Lusi, Liz Turner, Gay Shepardson, Lizzie Hess, Jenny Manlove, Chrissy Hall, Cherri Harris, Randi-Sue Rimerman, Wendy Dutcher and Julia Stewart. The gentlemen included: Jeff Booth, Cameron Sellers, Peter Gehring, Bill Lehman, Ray Wiles, "Dr. Dan" Fierer, Dave Shepardson, Ron Haron, Michael Henry, Mike Duggan, Bob Kleinpeter, Misha Akkerman, Mike Reis, John McCalla, and Mark Ormsby.

Peter Gehring cut a mean figure as either Al Capone or Elliott Ness (he never made that clear...) Gay came as Lucy in the chocolate factory episode and Dave looked a lot like Uncle Martin, including antennae. Bob Kleinpeter did an astounding impression of Floyd the Barber from the Andy Griffith Show. Possibly the most endearing character was Cameron Sellers who was a dead ringer for the Beaver, while Diane Hutson-Wiley and "Dr. Dan" scored big as June and Ward Cleaver.

Among the landmark moments of 1950s television were the refrigerator commercials by Betty Furness. Every week, she would tout the virtues of Westinghouse refrigerators while dressed to the nines in high couture fashion. Steve got out his video camera and invited all the ladies to play Betty Furness. The lines were simple: "You'll get years of trouble free service from your Westinghouse frost-free refrigerator." The tape is hilarious. We hope that Steve will edit it down and show it at some future function.

Once again, the Lindy Hoppers went through mass quantities of food. I believe that we could bankrupt an "all you can eat" restaurant if they held a Lindy dance there... Thanks to Sue and Steve for a great party.

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Jenny Manlove's Holliday Party
Sunday December 14, 1997

We went to Takoma Park for Jenny Manlove's Holiday party. Jenny and Mike have a great old house with lots of space that was perfect for a get-together. The food was just wonderful. Once again, the Lindy Hoppers demonstrated their capability of consuming mass quantities of food. Among the highlights were some butter cookies made by Elizabeth Magin and a chocolate pie made by Beverley Bixler. The crowd always "Oohs" and "Ahs" when Beverley walks in with her wicker basket. Debra Sternberg, radiant in a peach 1940s dress, held court in the kitchen for most of the afternoon.

I met a person who had just returned from a rather lengthy period of service in the Peace Corps who apparently had a dim view of American culture --- I thought about it for a while and made a statement to the effect that since I have been doing Lindy Hop, I'm more proud of American culture than I ever have been in the past. I'll never be enthusiastic about suburban mall culture, but Lindy and Swing are America's great gift to the world --- Fred and Ginger are just as good a cultural myth as the Noble Savage. [Why do I have the feeling that my name has just been put on a list of "dangerous xenophobic Phillistines" and that I can expect a knock on the front door at midnight when this person becomes either the Commissar of Culture or the Band Booker for the Swing Dance Committee...]

Fortunately, I was saved from my impassioned defense of American culture by the magic fingers of Ray Keaney. Since he doesn't know the chords to any tribal chants, we were compelled to sing Holiday carols and works from the Lennon-McCartney songbook. The bright spot was a rendition of "Sisters" by Diane Hutson-Wiley and Beverley Bixler. As the party began to break up, the group spontaneously broke into a chorus of "Stay" when someone tried to leave. Sue Fedor will continue the tale:

From: Sue Fedor

Drive-by Lindy.... That's what it seemed like as we flitted from event to event. First stop was Steve's annual punishment for being an employee at C-SPAN [not CNN, you goofs, get it straight!]....the dreaded CHRISTMAS PARTY. This year, they plied us with fine food and libation at the SEQUOIA--the only time I'd eat in that joint...or else I'd be broke...They hired a 4-piece jazz combo, complete with sleepy arrangements of every jazz song known to man. We had to beg them for something swingable. We danced and received a round of applause. Since I was not wearing an outfit designed for aerials, we executed a "John Hudson" dip--which drew gasps from the crowd.

And who did we run into at the party? Tina Connors, herself. Former Tom Koerner partner (before Debra, even before Ellen...) Her daughter works at C-SPAN and I think she dragged her mom to the party just to meet Steve. Tina transformed what would have been a dreadful bore into a delightful afternoon of dancing and dishing. Boy, did we dish! But really, she's very impressed with how popular Lindy has become and how impressive the new dancers seem to be. She is very please that so many of her old dance compatriots continue to dance and improve. We debated, at some length, her theory that Lindy really is a man's dance (west coast being a woman's dance...) Sounds like a Dancer's Forum topic to me. Steve took her out for a spin. She told him that he was a great lead, thus deflating weeks of my complaints about his dancing.

Then we hopped in the car and took off to the wilds of Takoma Park for Mike & Jen's Holiday Extraveganza. Actually, when we got there, it was turning into Ray Keaney's Christmas Special. He whipped out the guitar and the assembled guests manage to raise the likes of Ethel Merman and Janis Joplin from the dead. Bob Dylan was seen wandering around somewhere with Bruce Springsteen in drag. Bruce was in drag. Bob grew a scruffy beard for the occaision. By the way, Janis, we're now officially sick and tired of "Me and Bobby McGee". Could you please learn "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart"? Thanks.

Finally, we ended up at America for some dancing. Bernstein was spinning the CDs on his new sound system (he was like Vanna White, pointing out the new speakers and mixing board, etc....) Carolyn, Trisha, Jeff, and Cameron were there. Cameron stole me for a couple of dances....and so did Trisha. Now I'm trying to figure out why Trisha wants to dance with me. I have a theory---I'm such a bad follower that she knows if she can lead me in a move, she's got it mastered. I have many goals in life: keep a better frame, find my swivel, learn to shimmy, figure out that blasted flying lindy, kip...someday, and get enough energy to dance with Trisha."

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Erika Rubel's Holliday Party
Sunday December 21, 1997

We began the day with a long trek to Brentwood for Erika Rubel's Winter Solstice party. It seems that Erika's mom is not big on Christmas, so "Winter Solstice" was the cover. I had expected Druidical rites like cutting mistletoe off the sacred oaks with a golden sickle. What we got was a tour of Erika's wonderful house and some fantastic food. Now, guys listen up: Erika did all the work on her house herself. I am talking stripping woodwork, moving walls, relocating doors, painting, plumbing, managing subcontractors, you name it. Not only that, she is very good at Lindy Hop. Those of you with common sense ought to be sending her flowers and socket wrench sets (or both!) Ladies like this do not grow on trees. Period, look no further. This is like finding a pair of real Stacy Adams shoes in a store and passing them up, or maybe even a mint condition 78 of "Sing, Sing, Sing." A word to the wise...

Speaking of mint condition records, on the way to Brentwood, we saw an antique store open. Since we were early, we stopped in. my partner was browsing through some 78's and dropped (gasp) a copy of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters doing "Route 66". I mention this unpardonable act only as prelude to a more detailed investigation of the pile. It turned out to be a veritable Swing gold mine including mint copies of the Goodman band doing "Stompin' at the Savoy", Woody Herman doing "Woodchopper's Ball", Charlie Barnett's "Cherokee", and 80 others including very hot but little known bands like Freddy Slack and Billy Butterfield. This group helped round out our collection which now includes a good taste of most swing styles. [We stll lack a record by the Harlem Hamfats and we would be most grateful if anyone could help us here...] We purchased these at a great bargain and brought them to the party where (a) most of the Lindy Hoppers were entranced and (b) most of Erika's other friends thought we were nuts. Again, a great party and fantastic food!

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