|Lindy Across the World!|
|Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!|
You can swing out practically anywhere!
Choose a city from this list:
Lindy Down Under
Editor's Note: there is quite a bit of swing dancing in Australia and New Zealand:
Dear Lindy Hoppers,
In between, we traveled just south of Brisbane to teach a weekend of dance lessons to a gang called SWING TUIT. It's a club of dancers who have discovered Lindy through their interest in all sorts of old things - cars, music, movies, clothing. And they discuss the merits of everyone's interpretation of the era(s) endlessly.
Now, in Australia, an interest in old cars comes from very practical sources - cars cost about twice what we pay for them here. So you keep your old Holden in good running shape. There were some beauties from the 50s and early 60s. I got to ride in a big old Buick thing after dinner one night.
Back to the dancing. They took us to a dance the first evening, and the social club where it was held is a place where the old geezers dress in their white shorts and hats for lawn bowling in the afternoons. At night, they have all sorts of social events, and judging by the beautiful floor, they must do quite a bit of dancing. The dance was a fifties/oldies night, and the Band was greased up, there were full circle skirts and saddle shoes galore. Lots of jeans and white T-shirts on the men. But it all looked a little funny to me - like they all read the same magazine, and tried to reproduce the same 3 photos.
Nonetheless, everyone was out to have fun. My favorite was the Jack & Jill contest. I don't know if that's what they called it, but it had a great twist. All the contestants went out on the floor with their partners. Then, the officials came around and blindfolded everyone. Then they dragged people about the floor and switched partners, putting a new partner in front of each remaining dancer. They all danced BLINDFOLDED!! It was excellent! and hilarious. (Pronounced HIGH-larious by the Aussies)
The next day, we were ushered to yet another Bowls Club for our lessons. (I had to stop in the middle of class to take photos of the Bowls game on the lawn.) We did two days of workshops - several one-shot-deal classes. Jitterbug (East Coast 6 count stuff), Two Step, Music for Swing Dancers, Introduction to Tap Dancing, Black Bottom. This group has only been dancing for six months. to a year. They have picked up a lot of stuff from the old films showing the Lindy. And of course, they wanted more Lindy. But we had prepared them for the fact that I teach a lot of basics about all kinds of dancing, and that there are plenty of people who know more about Lindy than I do. Besides, Sing Lim had just been there, and Frankie was there in April. So we focused on technique - leading and following, listening, rhythm drills - to help them understand their bodies, and how to communicate better.
They were dying to learn Black Bottom. But by the end of the hour, it seemed to me they thought it silly, boring, and hard - all at the same time. Oh, well. The music class was baffling at first - they couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind would care to understand how swing/jazz tunes are structured. They were afraid they would have to count out songs for the rest of their lives! By the end of that session, though, they really liked learning about bars and phrases and bridges, and choruses. They heard where changes took place in each tune, and how they could use that understanding to enhance their dancing.
We did some basic six count moves, and those were challenging, because they are working mostly with 8's. They caught on to the idea that you can mix them up.
Overall, it was a sweet group of people, who tried to be very open to a lot of new stuff, but really wished it had all been Lindy. I think they did concur that the work we did was great. Wouhe wood (the bush) were some of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever seen. The pace is relaxed and friendly. the fish & chips were fabulous. the fruit is the most delectable I have ever tasted. But the best part for me was the AIR. From the second we stepped off the plane, I could feel a difference in the air. It was clean, fresh, and bore a sweet fragrance - a combination of Eucalyptus (over 200 species!) and Frangipani. It was intoxicating.
I didn't get out to the barren places in the outback. We played city kids the whole time. The cities we visited (Brisbane and Canberra) are small and civilized. Energetic and full of character. Beautiful. Don't wait. Plan to go - after all, there ARE places to go dancing!
Janice Does Tango in Buenos Aires (Janice Saylor)
The first day in Buenos Aires, a few coworkers and I ventured into the city to see the sites. We visited a barrio called La Bocha. The neighborhood is just two blocks, but they were the most beautiful blocks that I saw in Buenos Aires. The buildings were painted extremely bright colors. To give you an idea, a building would be painted bright blue, with an orange window frame, a bright green balcony, and yellow shutters. The streets were lined with artists, including a Tango singer and accordion player, and dancers. A spot was designed in the square specifically for dancing (I have lovely pictures of this neighborhood and the dancers). There were several bars along the street. By chance, we ended up in one having a beer and taking Tango lessons! The lessons were being taught by two very debonair gentlemen at a cost of $4. At one point, a teenage girl came in to dance with one of the men. It was oh so nice. We had a blast.
That night, we were treated by our hosts to a Tango Show. I discovered that evening that Tango is really not so much about dancing. Few people know how to dance to the music. Just like swing, it's more about the music, the musicians, and the singers. One of the people that I was with actually compared Tango music to our country music. The words of the songs are all about loss and tragedy, but phrased in a comedic way. At any rate, the show featured mostly music. There were about four dance numbers, and they all looked the same. It was definitely show Tango.
A few nights later I had free time, so I ventured out to find a real Tango Salon. The concierge was not much help; but again, my hosts came through. I visited the Palace of Ice where they were having a special Tango Exhibit. This museum used to be an ice skating rink (thus the name). The center of the building was two stories high with a domed ceiling, with the outside of the building being two floors (much like a donut with a hole in the middle). There was a Tango band playing, comprised of several high school aged kids. They were pretty good. There was no dancing. While exiting, they handed out flyers from various Tango salons offering lessons. So, I was off to explore!
Now you have to understand that the only Spanish I know is " No hable Espanol." I don't even know the numbers. So, I got dressed, hopped in a cab, and pointed to the address on the flyer. The driver overshot the location by a block and tried to tell me where it was (in Spanish). I tried to ask about how safe the neighborhood was (in English) since I know no Spanish and would not be able to ask for directions if I got lost. The driver was kind enough to drive another two blocks and drop me off at the door, refusing to charge me or accept a tip.
I entered what appeared to be a community center. I could see that kids were taking karate classes in the hall where the dance lessons would take place. I'm not sure how it was communicated, but I joined the group of people who had little or no experience dancing Argentine Tango. There were two other group lessons going on at the same time (3 in all) for the different experience levels. The lesson was all in Spanish. I held my own when it came to the actual dance lesson. At one point the male instructor was giving instruction on styling. The only word I could understand was America and then he would move his arm all over the place - up and down, back and forth. Then he took his hands, placed them on his hips, and moved his entire body. Translate: You do not dance with your arm; you dance with your entire body. Keep form.
The structure of social dancing was quite nice. There are four songs to a set. You dance with the same partner for all four songs. Everyone communicates with their partner on the first measure of the song. No one begins to dance until the second measure of music. There is a funny kind of music played to let you know that the set has finished. In this case, it was some kind of American country music tune. The man escorts the woman back to her seat. They pick up new partners and begin the next set. I did not dance much as it is extremely rude to bump into other dancers (and I'm not good enough not to do that). Now, I have to say that all Tango music sounds the same to me. And it was only through watching the dancers that I could see the difference in the music. At these Salons, you will not see the dramatic legs movements that you see on the dance floors here, and in the Tango shows. The dancing is VERY subtle, with very small movements. It's lovely. I left at about midnight. Of course, the Argentineans had just begun -- they begin at about 10:30 pm and go until 4 am every night except Mondays and Thursdays.
Dancing in Copenhagen
I just returned from a business trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I was fortunate to find some swing dancing with the aid of some Internet contacts.
On June 8, I went to the small town of Koege, south of Copenhagen, where the World Rock-and-Roll Confederation was holding a competition in RockandRoll, Jitterbug, and Boogie-Woogie. The event started at 11 a.m. and went on until past 8 p.m. It was held in a large gymnasium at some kind of community center. On the main floor, each dance school (more on that in a moment) had its own table, and those of us not associated with a school were relegated to the bleachers.
Apparently, in jitterbug competitions in Denmark, you represent a particular dance school. Dancers usually do not attend classes at more than one dance school (you can't do the equivalent of going to Tom and Debra's on Monday, Hutch on Tuesday, and Mark and Ellen on Thursday). Indeed, I understand that if you change schools, you are barred from competition for a time. This is very much like the situation in the world of Irish step dancing.
As you can imagine, there is a certain amount of confusion at the occasional "all school" parties if a dancer from one school tries to dance with one from another school.
Anyway, the jitterbug competitions were divided both by age groups (there were many young children) and by experience level. In each division, the competition was conducted in "heats", i.e., several dancers competing at one time. They did not know the music in advance, but all competitors in a given division danced to the same music. Most of the competitors had set piece choreography, so their improvisation was limited to deciding when to start. As you can imagine, this meant that hitting a break was entirely fortuitous. (In the rockandroll competitions, if a couple completed its routine, they just froze, even if that meant waiting out more than two phrases of music!)
The children seemed to have all been taught the same basic jitterbug step, a variation of the double step in which the knee was brought high up before the tap, and in which the rock step was replaced by a kick-ball-change. There was more variation among the adults.
In general, there was much less arm work (I did not seen any slides or complex pretzel moves; a simple cuddle was about the limit), but there was more in the way of syncopations and kicks than one normally sees in D.C. for ECS. I never saw any WCS (even on very slow music), and I met only one person who clearly knew a Lindy swingout. However, I did note the infiltration of a few classic Lindy moves, such as a mini-dip, a traveling Charleston, and half-turn kicks.
I saw some nice aerials (including a few I had never seen before), but in general the use of aerials was much less than in U.S. competitions (this may reflect the much wider range of age and experience in the Danish competition).
I also went to a social dance at a small bar called Cafe Sommerlyst in Bakken, an old amusement park in Klampenborg, north of Copenhagen. They had a live band playing 50s etc. music. The dance floor was extremely small. I would have said that it would have been comfortable for four couples; at one point, I counted 13 couples strutting their stuff (I guess I'll stop complaining about Glen Echo dances). After about two hours, I decided that it was time to call it quits.
If you want to actually be taught any figures, you have to go to Denmark during the school year.
Should anyone want more info (or if any Danes read this and need to correct me on anything), send me an email.
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Here are a few words about Edinburgh;
Edinburgh, is the capital of Scotland, the second largest country in the United Kingdom and one of the most scenically beautiful and least populated in Europe. The city itself is stunningly attractive, both architecturally and culturally, and is world famous for holding the Edinburgh Festival, a month of music, drama, art and comedy that takes place every August. If you want more information about the city in general, you can find it at the Edinburgh City Website.
Edinburgh is a good place to be a dancer. For Lindy Hoppers, there is the Edinburgh Swing Dance Society, which holds classes, workshops and regular dance nights. Modern Jivers can dance at the three-nights-a-week Ceroc Clubs, while lovers of Latin dance can find Samba, Salsa and Argentinian Tango; for a real Scottish experience, try Highland dancing at one of the many Ceilidh (pronounced 'cayley') events scattered across the city. Beginners are welcome almost anywhere.
Report From Finland
[Editor's note: There are plenty of websites in Finland to help you find dancing. Alas, most are in Finnish.]
I can tell something about us if you understand my English...
I'm the president of a Finnish dance club called Rock'n'roll Dance Club Comets. It's the biggest in Finland, so called "jenkkitanssiseura" ( a club specializing in American dances; jenkki - Yankee, tanssi - dance, seura - club). We compete and organize courses in three dances: Rock'n'roll, Boogie-Woogie and Lindy Hop. I think both Boogie-Woogie and Lindy Hop have come to Finland from Sweden, Herrang Dance Camp (have You heard?). Unfortunately I'm rather fresh person in the dance world and also dedicated mostly to Rock'n'roll, so I'm not the best person to tell you about Swing and Lindy Hop in Finland. Our couple Timo Arstila and Taina Kortelainen took just seventh place in Lindy Hop World Master Championships in Sweden at August and I think Timo is the person, who knows most of these dances in Finland.
You asked "Do the dancers there wear vintage clothes? What bands are popular?" Well, Lindy Hop dancers have their own style of dressing, very often striped loose trousers and loose shirts with collar and they wear often also vest. The word "vintage" is not familiar to me and my dictionary tells it's refers to the dressing of country people? - I just know that our farmers doesn't dress like our Lindy Hop dancers do!. I don't know much of the bands, but our Lindy Hoppers are talking all the time of CD's called "Lindy Hop Jamboree".
I'm really flattered of your interest. We here in Finland have concerns that the United States is so big country for Americans, that they are not interested what happens outside their borders... but your attitude seems to be just opposite -great! The second world war was an awful disaster to a small country like Finland, but the rise of Finland after war was a wonder. In the beginning of 80's we were fourth in the list of the most wealthy countries in the world. The border between Finland and Russia represented the biggest differences in gross national product in the world. In the beginning of 90's we meet a deep depression and we are just trying to rise again. At this time Finland is going fast towards an information society, e.g. the amount of internet connections per habitants is biggest in the world and the amount of mobile phones per habitants is also among the biggest.
I hope you really can visit our beautiful country. Did you know that the dancing culture in Finland has one very unique characteristic: we have so called "summer dance floors" in the countryside outside the densely populated areas. These dance floors are usually located in beautiful places on the shores or on the hills. There are usually no alcohol available and people come there just to dance. Orchestras and vocalists are among the top Finnish artists. The floors are big, even 1000 square meters [about a quarter of an acre] and it's possible to see 2000 people at one night. It's a big experience for a outsider; you drive tens of kilometers along small sand roads in the middle of forest and suddenly you meet hundreds of people dancing in the old barn or hall made of wood on the shore of the lake. If you come to Finland, I would ask all my club members to show you these summer dance floors.
You said "Our very best wishes to you and your friends." Thank you and same to you and your friends.
Storyville and the Rat Cats
I went to Storyville (Helsinki) Sunday night to see the Rat Cats. The band was good - a three piece rock-a-billy band from Joensuu with guitar, drums and stand-up bass. They did a lot of up tempo stuff, with the bass player really slappin' the strings. If there is ever a "Rat Cats go America" tour, it would probably be worth giving them a chance. The music would probably have been better suited to the Lindy crowd that to my Jitterbug. In any case, the dance floor was quite small, barely larger than the stage. It didn't matter much, though, since there was hardly anybody dancing. I had called ahead to the Dance Club Comets and was told that their members often went to Storyville on Sunday nights, but it did not seem that many of them were in evidence. (I was also a bit miffed that they charged me a 36 FIM cover downstairs, when the sign upstairs said 30 FIM - I noticed on the way out.)
The Famous Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden
There is so much Lindy Hop in Sweden that it boggles the mind. Here is only a small sampling of the Swedish websites devoted to Lindy:
We have two reviews of the Herrang Dance Camp, from 1996 and 1997:
Personally, I have really enjoyed it and will attend again, job permitting. This is not a picnic---the brochure does NOT lose something in translation from Swedish to English: the accommodations are mattresses thrown on a floor in a school classroom & toilets/showers are in the school locker rooms. There is no separation for males & females in the sleeping areas. Some apartments or private accommodations are available, but these cost extra and vary greatly in quality and price. Herrang is a TINY sea-side village (year round population around 800). It is beautiful, but there is not much in the way of luxuries available.
As for the classes, in most of Europe, dance is an official sport, so people take it as seriously as football or basketball. If you do not want to live, breathe, eat, sleep Lindy Hop (or one of the other dances offered) 24 hrs a day for 7 days, think twice before signing up! You really can't pick and choose which classes you want to take because the instructors pick up where they left off the last time they saw you & build from there; if you skip one class w/ an instructor, you pretty much have to skip him/her the rest of the week. Each group averages 4.5 - 6 hrs of dance class each day and there are dances each evening. I know many people who are dragging by midweek and have heard from people that they were sore after 3 days or so.
I don't want to scare you or make it sound really bad, but I do want you to know what you might be getting into.
Here are some of the things I really like about it:
(Obviously, some of these don't apply to anyone else, but I include them so you can get an idea.)
Here are some of the negatives:
I modeled the Flying Home weekend after Herrang, so that might give you a good idea of what it's like. If you are seriously considering going, I also suggest you talk to those of us who have been in recent years. Feel free to contact me by e-mail (easiest way to catch me) or by phone (301 907-2430). Others who have attended & may have additional info or insights include Tricia Reneau, Bill Lehman & Trish Mannetti. You might want to ask them what they think.
Swinging in Herrang, 1997
No amateur attempt at wordsmithing can adequately describe Herrang. It's wonderful. It's exhausting. It's worth going back for again and again.
I first experienced Herrang last year and was physically overwhelmed by the amount of dancing involved. My meager attempts at getting into shape for this year may have helped, but the fact was the class load was significantly easier. Moreover, through my far-reaching connections, I secured much more comfortable digs than last year and actually got plenty of rest.
You couldn't ask for better weather than summer in Herrang. I've been to Sweden more times than I can remember, and this was the first year I've heard the crickets sing--a sure sign of unusually warm Nordic weather. Each morning, I'd climb onto one of those old-timey bicycles where you can sit up straight, ring your bell at pedestrians and toss your store-bought Swedish cookies in the basket on the front handlebars. In this manner, I tooled off to my morning classes, passing through sun-washed fields of clover and queen anne's lace, around red-painted houses with white trim and into the chaotic din of none other than Chester Whitmore's class. How I managed to get in the group assigned five classes with Chester Whitmore, I do not know. I barely survived what can only be termed Sergeant Whitmore's Boot Camp. It was brutal. I nearly passed out each class.
When not sucking on one my asthma inhalers after Sgt. Whitmore's drill, I enjoyed classes from Lance Benishek and Betty Woods in the Big Apple (a dance we all must learn to do together--it's great fun!), Steven Mitchell and Ewa Staremo and Erin Stevens, Ron Leslie and Sing Lim and Angela Andrew (also known as Cookie!) and everybody's favorites, Eddie Jansson and Eva Lagerquist.
Now, some people go to dance classes to learn new moves and steps. I like to learn the fundamentals more than anything, because just when I think I know it all, someone throws me a new tip which I find invaluable. Last year, that tip came from Simon Selmon who told me to always keep my body behind my leading hand.
My tip of the year this time came from Eddie and Eva who maintain every move should be leadable. I asked them, "How do I know on some of the moves you teach to step, step, triple step, triple step (6-count), instead of step, step, triple step, step, step, triple step (8-count)?" This is, of course, critical since one method has you starting off on the right foot after six counts, while the other has you starting off on the left foot. This is what they said: If the leader turns the follower on the 3&4 count, it's a 6-count move. If, however, the leader waits to turn the follower on 5&6, it's an 8-count move. Of course, the leader can turn the follower on 3&4 once, then again on 5&6, which would make it an 8-count move. Sounds so simple, right? I had no clue!
By far, the best reason to go to Herrang is the opportunity to dance with the best dancers in the world. Unlike my talented friend Carolyn, who can follow someone as indecisive as President Clinton, I require a clear, decisive lead--which is something you get in abundance at Herrang. Guys in Herrang lead you with their entire bodies: both hands, torso, legs, feet, you name it. I marveled at how simple it was to follow these leads. Of course, I salivate over the prospect of one day being as good a lead myself!
Anyway, with so many leaders to dance with, I stayed out almost every night until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Alas! If only we could have dances in Washington till the wee hours! By the third hour of dancing, I'm just hitting my groove!
What else? The music--it's phenomenal. Lindy Hop all the way--except for the Boogie Woogie weeks where you also get a lot of 6-count. The Swedish ice cream--the kind that comes on sticks--scrumptious! The parties--wearing pigtails at the Children's Party, jumping rope, cake fights, hula hoops, and dancing with men dressed in nothing but diapers. Blues Night--bumping and grinding with Frankie Manning, who after our slow dance, said he was going to take a cold shower! The people--so much fun and from every corner of the world--a great bonus if you travel a lot, need a free place to stay and want to know where to go swinging! In fact, the only thing going against Herrang is the food, which is just plain awful--except for the ice cream, of course, which is not part of the Herrang meal plan. But then again, Swedes have never really been known for their food have they? I mean, how many Swedish restaurants are there in Washington? Zero!!! And there is logic behind this!
I recommend everyone who is serious about Lindy Hop make the effort to visit Herrang's dance camp at least once. It is expensive, but I believe it's worth it. Happily, Lindy Hop camps seem to be multiplying in the United States, and I for one am hep to the idea of organizing one in the fall--something my New York buddy Bill Borgida and I have discussed. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, start saving those pennies for next year in Herrang. Your dancing feet will be glad you did!
Dance Sites in Japan
January 28, 1999
The Tokyo Swing Dance Society (TSDS) was established by Hiroyuki Yamada in March 1998. The group dedicates to promote the "Lindy Hop", which is the origin of Swing Dance. Our proud adviser to the board is the master of "Lindy Hop", Frankie Manning who is at age 85, travelling all over the world as an ambassador and the living tradition of "Lindy". "Lindy Hop" is a jazz-inspired social dance originating in the U.S., which flourished from late '20s to the mid '40s. Along neo-swing band hits, the "Lindy Hop" went all the rage in the U.S. then, now it is spreading all over the world as well as the so called vintage fashion of the era. The "Lindy Hop" was seen widely in recently aired Gap commercials and also televised when The Brian Setzer Orchestra received their awards at 1998 MTV Music Awards. Dance-packed movies such as "Malcolm X", "The Swing Kids", and "The Mask" have also promoted the "Lindy". Members of TSDS consist of people who are eager to learn the "Lindy Hop" in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas. Activities include weekly lessons, workshops by top-level instructors from overseas, outdoor events and swing dance parties with live big bands! It is a good mix of Japanese and international visitors. Our website has been receiving overwhelming response. Our weekly classes are bigger than ever and still growing and so is the "Lindy Hopper" population in Japan! For more information, please visit Tokyo Swing Society Website or contact Hiroyuki Yamada or Maki Shiraishi.
If you're going to be anywhere but Tokyo, you might try one of these Ballrom sites for help
And, we bid, sayonara to the list of Japanese clubs.
[Editor's Note: The entire United Kingdom has a lot of Lindy Hop dancing and instruction available. There are a large number of websites which cover events in the UK, including:
Swing Dancing in London
I'm back from a wonderful trip to London and I am already being pestered by people to write a review. I went for a week (yes only one) to visit friends from when I lived there and to lindy. Incidentally, all the friends are now hooked on lindy hop and have all signed up for classes. Before I set off for London, I contacted Claire Colbert who is the Auntie Deb of Great Britain, friendly, full of gossip and an excellent dancer. Also, before leaving, check out Swing Time --- it has all the Swing related events listed. She arranged to meet me on Saturday, the day after I arrived in London, and drive me to a dance.
We arrived at Hellzapoppin' (Cecil Sharp House, Chalk Farm Tube Stop) fashionably late by two hours and walked into an almost empty dance floor. We stayed there for about an hour but we were both very disappointed that none of her lindy friends showed up. The place was full of 40s jive dancers (you can tell who they are by the country western outfits and the extremely bouncy hand). The dance floor was pretty good, although dimly lit. The only dances we got in were with each other. After about an hour, the English line dancing from upstairs was looking pretty good, but we dashed out of the church hall, jumped in Claire's "turquoise blue" P.U.N.K. car. We sped up to Watford (about 20 minutes away from London by car) to another dance. Here, the place was all Lindy hoppers, but only about 8 couples. Unfortunately, I had picked the night that all the dancers were either watching the World Cup (alas the English teamed got knocked out during the penalty shots) or queuing for Wimbledon tickets. I danced with all the guys several times, they were all quite friendly, but unfortunately, most were still in the process of learning the dance. The floor was nice and I joined in with the Shim Sham and the Stroll (not the Jitterbug stroll). Monday night was much better. The 100 Club (100 Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road Tube stop, 7.30-12.00 6 pounds) is definitely the place to be. I arrived on time for the lesson so that my Lindy hop virgin friends could take it and was happy to see that there was an intermediate lesson going on at the same time. I learned a new Charleston step (which I have now taught to Cameron and Debra) I also saw Chris, a fellow DC lindy hopper there. The floor was excellent, the band wonderful and the dancers terrific. All of the dancers were very friendly and happy to try out the new (and significantly younger) dancer. I joined in, or at least attempted to, with the Madison, the Stroll and an unnamed dance which I am almost certain was the Electric Slide.
Finally, Wednesday night is Jitterbugs in Leicester Square (Notre Dame Hall, 9 Leicester Place, 7.30-11.30 5 pounds). I picked the week of their 7th birthday and had a great time. There was a nice wooden suspended floor and plenty of dancers. These guys did need a bit of coaxing to get them to dance with me, but after a while, I didn't sit down once. They provided nice big bottles of water and there was a great band playing.
Unfortunately, with all the visiting of friends and dancing, I only got to go to one vintage clothes store, but, as Trisha told me, Radio Days (87 Lower Marsh Road, SE1 7AB, Waterloo Tube stop) is the best place to go. I ended up there for four and a half hours just looking through everything from clothes to fans (no toasters) to old catalogues. I only left with one dress (I'm a teenager without a job), but could have purchased the whole store.
Ron and Liz'Trip to London
Liz and I just returned from 5 days in London. We went sight seeing each day from dawn to dusk taking in the sights of The Tower of London, The Houses of Parliment, Westminster Abbey, Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, and other sights too numerous to mention including the theatre. We visited three markets including Portebello street and Covent Gardens in the never ending quest to furnish my new apartment. We purchased flowers from the flower lady just a few yards from where Liza Doolittle sold hers.
One of the hightlights was dancing at the 100 Club on the monthly Lindy night where we were dilighted to see Thomas Iveson, Janice (Paolo's partner from NY), and Terry Anderson, the DJ who visited the Vienna Grill with his wife and son. We had a fine time but it is obvious these other venues do not have the friendly atmosphere and large dance floors that we enjoy. Long live the Vienna Grill and Glen Echo as there are few place like them. We attempted to attend the "Count Basie" orchestra at Ronnie Scotts famous jazz club but with an $80.00 cover charge and standing room only we opted for another night at the theatre.
It is always good to return Home and we look forward to seeing "the fraternity" soon.
Just Back From London
I'm just back from a weekend in London, where I delighted in the company of my one true love, Thomas. With only a weekend to work with, we narrowed our activities to vintage shopping and dancing. For those of you planning a trip--and I know there are a few of you--here's what I found:
I used to think London was the ultimate in vintage shopping--mostly because the Brits don't seem to possess the throwaway mentality that we do here in the United States. People in England seem to hold on to things longer, whether those things are automobiles or clothing. Still, this particular trip was enlightening in that I found many vintage garments to be of American make. That's right folks, those Redcoats are sending over their own scouts to America to flesh out the best in vintage clothing and ship it back to the homeland. Treachery, I say!
Moreover, don't go to London and expect to find good deals on vintage clothing and accessories. Just as virtually everything in London is more expensive than in the States, so it is also with vintage clothing. You may get lucky as I did on one occasion with a well-priced item, but don't fall over backwards when you see prices at 75 pounds ($120) for a simple cocktail dress.
Finally, as a shopper of 1930s and 1940s clothing, you have both advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that demand in London sits squarely on clothing from the 1960s and 1970s (notice all the women walking around wearing go-go boots), thus, the stores stock mostly such clothing. The advantage is that the earlier period clothing tends to be less expensive when you find it after much digging through racks of Jackie O. suits and polyester blouses.
Portobello Road is the place to go on Fridays and Saturdays for the best in general antique shopping. (Tube: Nottinghill Gate or Latimer Road.) Take the tube to Nottinghill Gate and exit onto Pembridge Road. Before you turn onto Portobello Road, check out Dolly Diamond on the left (51 Pembridge Road, tel. 0171-792-2479). This store says it specializes in vintage evening wear, and indeed, you will find a few pieces here at a fairly high price. Upstairs, you'll find the selection in men's clothing, although Thomas commented there wasn't much.
Walking out of the store, turn left and then left again and work your way down Portobello Road. The first few blocks of the street market features mostly antiques. Turn into a mini-antique mall on the right for some of the finest in restored vintage jewelry. Several vendors in the mall have such wares. I found a beautifully restored rhinestone pin from the 1920's as well as one from the 1930's. Don't expect to find them cheap, however.
A few blocks down Portobello Road, the market turns into a free-for-all with fresh produce, cheap modern clothing and the like. Push your way through the crowds, under the A40 until you reach Stuart at Orsini on the left (291 Portobello Road, tel. 0181-960-5444). Owner Stuart Craig has collected a melange of clothing primarily for women. While I found his clothing selection lacking, he had a decent selection of vintage shoes from the 1940s. There, I found the elusive pair of navy blue pumps, only to discover they were just a tad too small for my feet. Sigh!
Just across the street is The Antique Clothing Shop (282 Portobello Road, tel. 0181-964-4830). Owner Sandy Stagg has gobs of clothing to look at and try on, although none of it is very reasonably priced. Moreover, the store is very dimly lit, which makes it difficult to rummage and look for stains, holes, or other faults in the clothing. This shop also has a decent selection of women's shoes. After you've made it through this shop, chances are you'll be tired and ready to call it a day. Either retrace your steps back to Notting Hill Gate tube station, or ask directions to the closer Latimer Road station. (One good resource to have in London is the London Streetfinder or London from A to Z. Both of these pocket-sized maps are excellent and will keep you well oriented.)
For another vintage experience, head to Camden Market and The Stables on Saturday and Sunday (these shops are not open during the week). The Stables, which is part of Camden Market, is an old, cobblestone-lined outdoor mall that will make you feel as if you're in the movie Oliver.
This is the kind of stuff Disney World tries to re-create, but nothing is quite as good as the real thing. Take Chalk Farm tube and head south on Chalk Farm Road. On the right, you'll see the entrance to The Stables. Walk past the Third World artifacts and bear left into a covered area. Here, you will find several vintage clothing vendors, the best of which is The Girl Can't Help It! owned by Sparkle Moore (tel. 0181-809-3923). You'll find plenty for the woman, and even a few interesting pieces for the man. Don't overlook the rack of women's tops--I found a lovely short-sleeved, beaded wool top, which is perfect for dancing.
Outside this covered area, there are plenty of other clothing shops, yet most mix together modern and vintage clothing, which makes for some headaches. Still, in one shop, I found a perfect condition 1940s black cocktail dress for just 10 pounds ($16). One could spend an entire day at Camden Market, so give yourself plenty of time. On your way back to Chalk Farm tube station, stop in at Belgo for lunch or dinner (72 Chalk Farm Road, 0171-267-0718). While England is not known for its food, you'll find excellent fare at Belgo in the form of moules, frites, and bieres (mussels, french fries, and beer). Here, black-garbed "monks" serve steaming hot pots of mussels and the best in brewed libations. Order the mussels and a Hoegarden beer (heavenly!), and a few shots of apple schnapps served in a paddle for dessert.
Unquestionably, the best in 1930s/1940s vintage shopping in London can be had at Radio Days (Waterloo tube station, 87 Lower Marsh in Waterloo, tel. 0171-928-0800). Owners Chrissie Layzell and Nik Sutherland were once married when they opened this shop. Now divorced, they still maintain the ultimate in 1940s clothing and paraphernalia. Here you'll find vintage magazines, sheet music, clocks, glassware, advertising, cigarette stands, and a whole lot of clothing for both men and women. Tell them you're friends of Thomas Iveson, and they'll treat you grandly. Each time I've been to Radio Days, I've spent over four hours in the store, so once again, give yourself plenty of time. The day I visited, Chrissie and Nik had just received a shipment from Massachusetts (I'm certain this is their revenge on America for the Boston Tea Party), which they had not yet gone through.
They allowed Thomas and me to rifle through this loot in search of treasures. I found a wonderful pair of shoes--alas, no navy pumps--and Thomas found another pair of 1940's trousers. Chances are, you'll be forced to pick and choose among all the things you find so as not exceed your Visa credit limit. Don't be too thrifty--it's not like you get to London very often!
I'm quite worn out from my review of vintage shops, so this will be very short. Essentially, there are three main places to go Lindy Hopping in London.
Wednesday night - It's Jitterbugs. A place I still have not experienced. From what I understand, this is sponsored by one side of the polarized scene in London (we all hear of cliques in the dance community, but London takes the cake).
Saturday night - Hellzapoppin. This is more of an event than a venue put on by Tim's Jumpin' Jive. Tim, who never reveals his last name, is the ultimate in retro. He reminds one of a dashing WWII fighter pilot. A wonderful dancer, Tim spins the best in CD swing music at community arts center in downtown London. The floor is wood, but the climate control is poor. Plan to sweat a lot and bring your own towel--British restrooms all have air dryers rather than paper towels. Here I ran into Simon Selmon, Claire Colbert, Ron Leslie, and a gang of my other favorite Londoners.
Sunday night - The 100 Club on Oxford Street. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Circus.) Probably the most well-known of the London Lindy Hop venues, the 100 Club features a rock and roll, or boogie woogie, theme on Sunday nights. Bear in mind that the dance ends at 11:00 p.m., so don't arrive too late. Live band with CD break music spun between sets. The center of the floor is wood, but the outside is equally danceable even though it is tile. Again, bring your own towel. Do not bring water as the club owners do not allow it. Instead, you can order a refreshing pint of orange squash at the bar for just one pound.
Monday night - Again, the 100 Club. This is the ultimate night to Lindy Hop in London. The crowd is very friendly and eager to try out new dancers (still, you'll probably have to make the first move in requesting a dance). Live band. Simon Selmon directs this event and always organizes a string of line dances between sets including the Madison, the Stroll (not the Jitterbug Stroll), and the Shim Sham. This night carries on until midnight.
Before heading to London, I suggest you check out both Simon Selmon's and Ryan Francois' web pages for classes. Both Thomas and I intended to go to these classes, but wound up doing the vintage shopping circuit instead. Many of these classes will allow you to drop in for a one-time only lesson. Of course, the best way to find out where to go is to contact someone over in London. I suggest (and I hope she doesn't kill me!) visitors contact Claire Colbert. A true ambassador for Lindy Hop, Claire has always been one of the most hospitable persons I know in London.
Cherri and Susan's Trip to London
It is hard to describe in just a few paragraphs all of the fun and wonderful experiences I had in London this weekend. I will give you just the highlights; I am sure that anyone who knows me will get as many details as they can stand in person. Susan Lusi and I had a 3-day trip to London, and we really made the most of it. Friday nite we went to an informal lindy class led by Ron Leslie (who teaches at Haerrang and can be seen on the "Can't Top the Lindy Hop" tape) and Claire Colbert which was great. I even got him to demonstrate the dip move he did on the tape. Accompanying Susan and I and Claire was Claire's flatmate, Terry, and another American expatriatet, Robbie, from Seattle who is moving to Germany who can't get enough Lindy. He was begging Ron and Claire to meet him at the airport for a quick lesson, since he will be away from dancing for a month while on travel. (sound familiar?)
Saturday nite was a Valentine's dance somewhere (in England, I think, we drove pretty far) with a lesson and demo by Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas, which was wonderful, of course. I really like the quality of dancing; men and women seemed to have a better sense of lead/follow and listening to the music, I think. It was fun to watch, and there were several superb dancers. I saw very little kicking; mostly swing-outs and moves from there.
After being locked out of our hotel on Saturday nite and spending the night on a couch and chair from a neighboring hotel, I went to Ryan and Jenny's class on Sunday afternoon. We spent an hour on lead/follow of the swivel on 1 and 2, and it was great. Ryan and Jenny went around to all the people, and I told Ryan this alone was worth the price of airfare. They teach lindy as a very subtle dance, but with big movements.
To sum it up: save your money and go to London. Susan and I had time for sightseeing and some shopping (we both got some nice vintage stuff, and Susan snagged a sharp coat at Camden Market); the dancing and instruction was superb, people were really nice (At one restaurant, they refused to take any money from me for some hot water and lemon, they said with my accent, they could take any money....I am not sure if that was a complement or an insult) One of the true highlights (there were so many) were the familiar faces. We saw Aiden, who we had met in Beantown last summer, Claire, who we had met at Flying Home, Mike, who had been in Washington, and Thomas. It really didn't even feel like a strange city. At one of the Vintage Clothing stores they remembered seeing Tricia only a week or so before, and told me what she bought. (ALOT!) I felt very lucky to be part of something that brings me in contact with such nice people. Anyone who is planning on going, I would be glad to share details about any of this, hotels, etc. Tricia Reneau's email of several weeks ago was literally our bible in getting around for dancing, shopping, and directions (thanks so much). Claire was an extremely generous hostess, and sent all kinds of information ahead of time, and made sure we were taken care of once we got there. Iver was really helpful with his email and phone list (altho the phone number for Ryan and Jenny is their home, and I didn't realize that when I called I was talking to Jenny's mother...it was actually pretty funny) Without a doubt, the real highlight of my trip was John surprising me at the airport, with flowers no less.
Dancing in England
I just got back from England and Wales, and, naturally, I didn't just go sightseeing there. I realize that you have probably gotten a few trip reports already on the London scene, but I thought an update wouldn't hurt. Also, at the last minute, I decided to go to SwingJam 97 (which, I might add, was possible only because of the contact info in your email newsletter), and I'll be reporting on that, too.
By way of a general note, the English climate is normally such that air conditioning is a luxury. None of the dance venues is air conditioned, indeed, some don't even have windows. It was just my luck to be in England during the hottest summer on record (and records go back to 1659). Therefore, I went through several washer loads worth of T-shirts.
On Monday night, I went to the 100 Club on Oxford St. This is a REAL popular place. I got there at 7:30, and the line already stretched all the way up the stairs (dancing is in a basement with a rectangular wood floor) and to the front door. Simon Selmon (last seen in D.C. at Flying Home) taught an introductory jitterbug lesson until 8:30, and then the band started in. Until 10:00 pm, the crowd was mostly jitterbuggers, but, as it got later, the Lindy Hoppers filtered in. Do not take this as a given, as I was told that the bands have reps as being more jitterbug or Lindy Hop oriented.
Trivia Note: is it possible that more male than female Lindy Hoppers have saddle shoes? At one point, when I was too overheated to dance, I took a count: males 9, females 3.
I also went to Jitterbugs in Notre Dame Hall, just off Leicester Square. This is the heart of the entertainment district, with plenty of movie theaters and playhouses. Unfortunately, according to my expert (my non-Lindy Hopping wife Lee, who sees about three times as many movies as I do), all of the movies had been released in D.C. at least 1-1 1/2 months earlier, meaning that she had already seen all the ones she had any interest in seeing. We did have a nice meal at Poon's, in the nearby Chinatown, however.
At Jitterbugs, the bar is on the ground floor, while the squarish dance floor is in the basement. Possibly because of this separation, the management seemed to be more tolerant of dancers bringing water bottles with them than at the 100 Club. The first time I went to Notre Dame Hall, they had a band, and therefore there was just a single, "all levels" lesson before the live music started up. The second time, there was first a beginners' lesson, then an intermediate lesson, and then open dancing.
The crowds at both venues were friendly, and there was definite overlap, e.g., I saw Simon at Jitterbugs the second time around.
On the Tuesday night after the Swing Jam (more on that shortly), my mother-in-law Arlene (who grew up with swing music, in fact, her cousin was a saxophonist with several of the national level big bands) and I went to check out Simon Selmon's class at the Urdang Academy, near Covent Gardens. It was a relief to find that instead of a basement, we got a third floor room with windows. Simon had a pretty good turnout for a holiday month, perhaps 20-25 people in each class. In his Intermediate 1 class, he taught a sequence with two slow Texas Tommy/half swingouts, a fast Texas Tommy to a freeze and a stompoff, a Texas Tommy with a double turn for the woman, and a series of six-count variations. In his Intermediate 2 class, he started with some Madison figures (since Arlene is from Baltimore, she thought it very strange to come to London to see a Baltimore dance) and then taught the scissor variation on the swingout. We didn't stay for the whole of this lesson, since we needed to get back to the hotel and pack.
I regret that I never got to Ryan Francois' class in London, but that way I have something to look forward to when I next go to London.
The SWING JAM was held on the Runnymede Campus of Brunel University. I got there by train from Richmond (a tube station) to Egham, and then a cab to campus. I got the impression that while this was the fifth Swing Jam, it was the first held at Brunel. If so, I thought it went pretty smoothly.
The teachers were Frankie Manning, Ryan Francois, Lennart Westerlund, Rob van Haaren, Eva "W" Staremo, and Jenny Thomas. While not listed in the program, I think that Denise Steele from Oregon also deserves mention; she served ably as Frankie and "W"'s partners. Ryan's partner was Jenny (who also taught "tap" and "spins and turns" classes); Lennart's was "W" or Asa Palm; and Rob's was Diane Thomas.
Most of the dancers were from Great Britain of course, but there were also contingents from Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the United States (Oregon, California, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, and yours truly from Virginia) and even Australia.
On Friday night, we had both open dancing and demonstrations by the teachers. Need I say that the demos were impressive? Saturday night featured the UK National Lindy Hop Championships, with both an "Open" and a "Jack and Jill". On Sunday night we had the first performance ever by Ryan's new Lindy Hop team (including Claire Colbert of Flying Home fame). They didn't try to do anything real fancy, whether in footwork or in choreography, but what they did they executed well. They were well received by the audience. There were also cabaret performances (e.g., a Charleston) by some of the attendees.
The bands played until midnight, and then they had tapes until 2 a.m. On Friday night I decided to retire at 12:30 a.m., but since my window faced the dance hall, he music kept me up anyway. Hence, on Saturday, I decided that if I couldn't go to sleep until after 2 a.m. anyway, I might as well spend the time dancing.
We got down to studying in earnest on Saturday and Sunday, during the day. The dancers divided themselves into four tracks: Beginners, Improvers, Intermediates Steps and Variations, and Intermediates Style and Technique. You were not required to remain in the track which you originally selected. There seemed to be some definitional confusion; the registration packet said that Intermediates was the level for those dancers with more than two years experience dancing Lindy at least once a week, while the poster at registration suggested that six months' experience was enough. The teachers had the power to transfer someone who was clearly unprepared for their class; Lennart did ask someone to leave the intermediate class because he clearly had never seen a swingout before. I attended some Style and Technique, and some Steps and Variations classes; I would say that the level of the dancers was the same, but more time was spent on each figure in the Style and technique class.
There were also some untracked "taster" workshops, covering Tap, Spins and Turns, Lifts & Jumps, Balboa, Shim Sham, a new swing stroll from Ryan, and, my favorite class of the weekend, Ryan's "up-tempo" Lindy technique class. I think the last actually improved my technique on slower Lindy, too, although it remains to be seen whether my partners here in D.C. will agree!
With regard to Balboa, I want to say that this is a dance I would REALLY like to see more of in D.C. I first learned it in NY at the ASDC94 (before I decided to fly down the stairs at my house and break my leg), but I didn't know anyone back home who knew it. I have heard that it's been taught at Buffalo Gap, but I haven't actually SEEN anyone in D.C. do it. Now that it's fresh in my mind again, thanks to Rob and Diane, if any lady in the D.C. area who reads this might care to practice it with me, let me know, O.K.?
Frankie taught material essentially similar to that which he taught at Flying Home, e.g., "Da Butt" and "Ride the Pony". He also taught a new (to me) move he called a "Tango Dip". Lennart's material emphasized syncopation, and playing with non-8 ct. phrasing. Ryan doesn't give names to any of his steps, which makes it harder to talk about it in an email, but I would say that he probably commented the most about technique of any of the teachers. I am real sorry I missed his D.C. workshop this past spring. Rob had (next to Frankie) the most exotic moves in his choreography (in particular, a clapping variation in a swingout). We'll see how much of all this I can remember (let alone lead) by the time I get to Glen Echo or Vienna Grille.
The second runner up in the championship was a 14 year old (Christopher) with an adult partner (Viv). Christopher has been doing Lindy Hop for only two years. Some people have all the talent....
The most unusual happening at the Championship was when a male competitor took a pratfall. He recovered magnificently by striking a pose, doing some sort of floor move (literally), and springing to his feet. This sort of thing shows terrific presence of mind and dance ability. The only trouble is he did it so well, that he may have to include it in his act.
A FEW NOTES BEFORE YOU GO:
If you know any French, brush up, particularly on names of food items. Quebec law requires that all publicly posted signs be in French, so if you parlez a bit, your life will be much easier. Menus are generally but not universally available in both French and English, however, if you don't mind having you waitron explain the whole menu to you, you can go that route as well.
Don't bother with a car - walk or take Metro, the buses, or a cab. Montreal is a very large city (pop. over 3 million), and the streets are narrow and crowded. It's hard to drive and harder still to park. Metro runs nearly all day and is cheap, quick, clean, and quiet. The cabs are clean, new, and plush. Montreal is a GREAT walking city, with fascinating little shops and restaurants on every block.
"Je ne cherche pas. JE TROUVE." (" I don't search, I find") These lighted kiosks on many street corners will become your best friends. They are comprehensive local maps (like of the particular neighborhood you find yourself in) indicating where you are and notating ALL roads and many of the nearby attractions.
EVERYONE smokes. Get used to it. Complaining, coughing, sneezing, and moving will get you nowhere.
SWING IN MONTREAL:
First of all, contrary to popular belief, there IS a swing society in Montreal - and we met the founding members when we were there for the jazz festival in July, 1998. The people to see for swing in Montreal are Mary and Fred of the Montreal Swing Dance Society. Their number is (514) 270-0797, or you can look in the Mirror, the Montreal equivalent of our own City Paper, for the latest on their classes and events.
Mary and Fred are a very charming brother and sister team who have been dancing together since childhood. Mary is a very accomplished ballroom dancer and has been a ballroom instructor for most of her adult life. While listening to some acid jazz together one evening, she gave me my first lesson in West Coast Swing, so I now have a basic understanding of the slot concept and I know the basic 6 count step. Yea! I can finally dance to blues! They got interested in Lindy Hop by traveling down to NYC in search of night life and hooking up with the NY Swing Dance Society. In Mary's opinion, if the people who do other types of dancing could see and do Lindy Hop, they'd all become coverts.
Mary and Fred are the ones who are bringing Lindy Hop to Montreal. They hop off to NYC as often as possible, take some classes, learn new moves, and then return to Montreal to share them with their friends. It's a good thing they have plenty of dance teaching experience!
They do not have a Web site yet, but Stephan Herman [(514) 484-2076] is working on one even as we speak. As of July 1998, they only have one dance a month (first Saturday), but Stephan is working on setting up a weekly DJed dance, so be sure to check in with him if you're heading up.
VINTAGE IN MONTREAL:
Montreal has the BEST vintage store I've ever seen. It's called Drags, and it's at 367 rue St. Paul Est in Vieux-Port. The stuff is not dirt cheap, but it's in excellent condition, and they have the widest selection of clothes from the 20's to the 70's I've seen anywhere. In a mere two hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon, Jim and I found two mint-condition bowling shirts, three perfect vintage ties, and two gorgeous vintage dresses. If Jim had access to a sewing machine, I would have gotten more, as several dresses I tried just needed to be altered a bit, but until I buy him a sewing machine, I'm stuck with what fits, not with what almost fits. They have the widest selection of vintage shoes, gloves, hats, bags, costume jewelry, undies (devices for all!), and hair do-dads I've ever seen! And an entire wall of vintage evening clothes, including tuxes and wedding dresses!
There's also another place called Hatfield and McCoy at 156 avenue Mont-Royal Est that's supposed to have great stuff, but we never managed to get up there (and we'd already spent enough money!).
Montreal has a huge salsa and tango scene. We only got to one place - 6/49 on St. Catherine - but we had a great time there. They have beginner lessons on Mondays, and intermediate/advanced lessons on Thursdays. And guess when we ended up there? Yep - Thursday, with all of one other salsa lesson under our belts. But the instructor was very good and we did OK, despite my Birkenstocks.
The evening was great fun, and we got to meet Sonny Allen, one of the old Savoy Ballroom crew and an associate of Mr. Manning's. He's still dancing up a storm, and we enjoyed watching him salsa, mambo, and merenge for hours. We also got to chat with him a bit about his experiences at the Savoy and in the years since, and about dance technique and theory. If you're even in NYC, be sure to look him up at (718) 762-7197. He's also very active in the New York Swing Dance Society, so if you ever see a man who looks a bit like James Brown and has some of the smoothest moves you've ever seen, go introduce yourself!
Just in case you were wondering, yes, devotees of other styles of dancing stay out much too late on nights they have to go to work, too. We left at 2 am with Mary, our lovely guide for the evening, while the regular Montreal crowd was off to yet another club to continue dancing! If you're interested in salsa or tango in Montreal, be sure to contact Mary and Fred at the above number as well.
WHERE TO EAT:
Montreal is a city of food lovers, that's for sure! There are cafes, bars, bistros, restos (small restaurants), and restaurants EVERYWHERE! If you aren't sure what you want, your best bets are St. Catherine, St. Laurent north of St. Cat, or St. Denis north of St. Cat. Of course, southeast of the intersection of St. Cat and St. Laurent, one will find Montreal's large Chinatown, and east of that is Vieux-Montreal, heart of French Montreal, both of which areas have tons of great places.
Some specific recommendations: Eggspectations on Maisonneuve just east of Crescent is a terrific breakfast place, with one of the most extensive breakfast menus I've ever seen, ranging from the light (yogurt and fresh fruit) to the eggstravagent (sorry - couldn't resist that one!). The OJ is fresh squeezed and the basket of toast brought to every table is made from home-made french bread and buttered with real butter. It can be crowded, so come during the week or expect a wait.
If you're in the mood for somthing a little less formal, check out La Farbourg on St. Catherine at St. Mathieu. It's sort of like Eastern Market, but a bit fancier. You can get fresh fruit from one of several fruit stands, any sort of bread or pastry from one of the numerous bakeries, and coffee all over. Another breakfast recommendation: Au Bon Croissant, a charming tiny French bakery on St. Mathieu just north of Maisonneuve. Really yummy croissants, and fabulous looking desserts.
Be sure to check out the Second Cup, Canada's answer to Starbucks, and A.L. Van Houte, Montreal's answer to Starbucks, for a quick cuppa and a muffin. The best ice cream in the city is the gelati at Pagliacci's on the Prince Arthur pedestrian mall. Try the mango if they have it.
Lunch is best caught at a little bistro or resto, enjoying the almost universal option of outdoor dining in the fine Montreal summer. However, if you're feeling adventurous and longing for a true Woolworth's lunch counter type experience, try Ben's virutally across the street from Eggspectations. La specialite de la masion est la viande fumee (smoked meat!), so, being vegetarians, we didn't sample, but it's supposed to be to die for. Carol Channing has been known to have Ben's smoked meat sandwiches flown to her around the world.
For dinner, if you're a meat eater, go French. This is, after all, Montreal. As we're not, we didn't, but the two best French restaurants in the city are supposed to be the Beaver Club in La Hotel La Reine Elizabeth and Toque, at 3842 rue St. Denis.
For the non-meat-eating set, your best bet will be Italian or Asian. We sampled two terrific Italian places: Bocca d'Oro on St. Mathieu (traditional Italian cuisine - hearty home made sauces on every type of home made pasta you can imagine), and Bice on rue Sherbrooke (nouveau-Italian - a bit lighter and very chi-chi). For Asian food, I can recommend Le Jardin Sakura on rue de la Montange. It's the only sushi place I've ever been to that had a full vegetable-only meal that didn't require just picking amongst the (more expensive) a la carte items. Zen, in Le Wstin Mont-Royal, is fabulous Asian fusion cuisine. And of course, there's always Chinatown where, as far as I can tell, you can't possibly go wrong.
Looking for something a little unusual? Try Founduemental on St Denis. The only fondue restaurant I've ever seen, and great fun!
One word: Biddle's. It's on rue Alymer at rue President Kennedy. Owned by Charlie Biddle, famous semi-retired string bass man, it never has a cover, it always has a line, and any famous jass musician who passes through Montreal is certain to get over there for a set with Charlie and his drummer. Small, intimate, crowded - this is how jazz was meant to be heard!
If you're in the mood for something a little more trendy, you can't go wrong any place in the Quartier Latin and the Plateau Mont-Royal. Think you've seen bustling night life in Adams-Morgan or Georgetown? You haven't seen anything until you've been on St. Laurent or St. Denis after 11 pm on a weekend. It's the place to see and be seen baby, with clubs, bars, bistros, and terrace dining everywhere.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at the Chateau Versailles on rue Sherbrooke, which was certainly very nice, but if I had it to do over again, I would stay somewhere in Vieux-Port, which is undoubtedly the MOST charming neighborhood in an overwhelmingly charming city.
Dancing in Singapore
[Editor's note: There are two websites in Singapore to help you find dancing.]
There are about 50-60 active dancers currently, and we have social dancing 3 times a week:
Thanks to Stephanie for this update.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
January 25, 1999
Hi from Toronto
I was having a look at your website (which is excellent) and took a peek on what you had to say about Toronto. What I found was a whole lot of information on the Toronto Swing Dance Society and nothing on Lindy Hop. The Toronto Swing Dance Society is a group that dabbles in all forms of swing but I thought that I should send you the information that would be most beneficial to travelling Hoppers.
In Toronto, the dance teachers to contact are:
The dance community here is in the process of unifying under the basic title of Toronto Lindy Hop. We have a mailing list --
Out of towners are welcome to contact us if they want to billet or be shown a night out on the town. I can also be contacted at my personal email address if anyone has any questions.
It would be great if you could add this information to your Toronto profile.
As soon as you even think about travelling to Toronto, you will want to check out the website of the Toronto Swing Dance Society, from whom we have lifted the following useful information
The first thing that comes to mind is an image of Canada buried under several feet of snow. Yes, it does snow in Toronto, but it is not as bad as you may think. But, you will probably want to check out the weather: Cur rent Toronto Weather This is brought to you by some clever people with a clever name, the Weather Underground. Wonder what Bob Dylan thinks ... Also, here's the Official Toronto and Region Weather Forecast if you have to rely on Government Sources.
Things to Do, Places to Go
The Palais Royale is Toronto's equivalent of the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo. The Palais Royale Ballroom, one of Toronto's nicest original ballrooms, is now in it's 74th year. It has probably the best sprung wooden floor in the city. In it's time, it has played host to Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Abe Lyman, Glen Miller, Harry James, Charlie Barnett, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Sammy Kaye and more.
Rumours abound that the Palais, which has had a rather lack-luster program of late, is under new management. New management has re-painted the place and are quite enthusiastic about working with other groups.
Get onto Lakeshore Blvd West going eastbound. There are two parking lots. You have to start from the Colborne Lodge Dr. interchange or farther west to get into the lot nearer the Palais, and you have to start from Ellis Ave to get into the farther lot. Parkside Drive (Keele St extension) isn't far enough. Turn right into the parking lot entrance after Colborne Lodge and park. If you miss the parking lot, or if the nearer parking lot is full, take the turnaround on the left side right after the Palais, and go back to Ellis Ave.
Once you find a spot, walk east towards the footbridge. The Palais is right at the base of the footbridge. Wear something warm in the winter; the wind off the lake can be quite cool.
You can also get to the Palais by public transit. Phone the TTC (below)and tell them you need to get to the foot bridge at the corner of Queen St & Roncesvalles. Make sure you ask them about timing for the return trip or you might get stranded. The other end of the footbridge is right in front of the Palais.
Here are the official city websites:
The transit system has a number of different parts:
Finally, here is a Map of Canada
Lindy in New Zealand
My name is Michelle Stoupe and I have now set up Jitterbugs New Zealand Limited in Auckland New Zealand. My website address is:Jitterbug s New Zealand Limited
Jitterbugs New Zealand has strong ties with Jitterbugs London, Jitterbugs Swingapore and Sydney Lindyhop Australia. I learned the dance while in London for two and half years on a working holiday. Originally a Ceroc dance teacher, I went along to my first class out of curiosity and have been hooked ever since! I travelled via the west coast of the USA lindyhopping at various venues before arriving back on her home soil of New Zealand to set up Jitterbugs.
Currently, I am being assisted by Claire Balfour a London lindyhopper who is in New Zealand on her working holiday until October 1998. Both of us have learned from some of the great lindy teachers, such as Frankie Manning, Ryan Francois and Steven Mitchell and are committed to spreading the lindyhop word!
Classes began in March 1998 and are steadily getting larger. They are taught on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, at the Ceroc Dance Studio, 28 Lorne Street, City, Auckland, New Zealand and can be started at any time.
Swing in Vancouver
From: Michael Ernst
October 27, 1998
Thanks for your great Swing travel pages; I've found them very helpful.
I also have a comment Vancouver, BC, Canada:
---MikeBy: Tonya Surface
Here is a great website to add to your list
If you check this out look under CSL and then you will see a picture of Theo and I for dance instruction:)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
October 22, 1998
By: Joshua Ostroff, The Ottawa Sun
In the incessant pop culture regurgitation of past glories known as retro, the swing revival is exhibiting considerable staying power. On top of weekly swing nights at The Cave and Zaphod Beeblebrox, the Civic Centre will play host Saturday night to old school swinger Colin James -- along with former Stray Cat Brian Setzer, James was among the first out the swing gate with his 1993 Little Big Band album -- and newcomers, the Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra.
And if you don't know how to do the fox trot or the lindy hop, dance teachers will help you bust a move like your grandparents used to. And if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, then wake up and smell the Gap ads, people, because swing's the thing.
But how did we get here from there.
Swing music developed in the 1930s as a fusion of black and white, of orchestral, blues and jazz, and peaked near the end of WW II. These big bands, led by the likes of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Count Basie, would play with fevered energy while the kids danced their war horrors away. Then along came some guy named Elvis and swing music was relegated to the older quadrant of popular culture. Kids just didn't want to listen to their parents' music. But what about their grandparents' music? Apparently all it took was a few movies (Swing Kids and Swingers), a Gap ad and some ironically named neo- swing acts like Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to get people to party like it's 1939.
Already schooled in dress-up martini culture from lounge nights, the club kids latched on to this new trend with fervour. But Favourite -- a Maritimer who started out in Ottawa at Maxwell's Lounge Night with Johnny Vegas -- sees a vast difference between the two revivals. "It's the difference between the Backstreet Boys and the Sex Pistols," he says. "Swing's been around for 65 years, man, it's complex, melodic pop music that is really well crafted and very structured. Lounge music is old standards and retakes on new songs that was brought into the clubs in the '60s, guys who were involved in big band music but couldn't afford big bands anymore." Not only does Favourite not consider swing to be a fad or trend, he doesn't see anything wrong with reaching into the past's musical grab bag for inspiration. "I just think our generation, we've seen every goddamned music come down the pipe in our lifetime. And unless Buck Rogers lands on earth and gives us new instruments, there's gonna be no drastically new type of music."
James, who plays a swing off-shoot known as jump blues, is less cynical about the future of music. But he agrees that having swing enter the pop lexicon of today's youth is positive. "I think it's all pointing people to a music that has not been over-exploited. It's really one of the first times that big band has ever had a revival," James says, admitting the potential for backlash. "It's always a danger when something starts getting so exposed that people turn on it. Like Riverdance, it was the straw that broke the Celtic's back. But in this case it's a little more benign and it's bringing a generation gap together. Kids are getting together with their grandparents and having something in common. And it's a reaction to what was going on in the '90s in rock and roll with that real negative vibe."
Spend any time in a swing club and you'll notice that it is indeed the antithesis of grunge. Savoy Swing night at The Cave on Fridays -- named after Harlem's famed Savoy Ballroom where many popular dance steps originated -- is filled with fancy dresses and flying elbows. They may not have the steps down but the adrenaline is as high as any mosh pit. Bill Macy, one of the masterminds behind Savoy Swing, has a simple explanation for swing's popularity. "The last 10 years has been non-involved, non-touching, morally correct dancing. The kids are all dancing to the rave music. But there's no dance steps. There's not holding hands or turning your partner around. That's the point of swing." Favourite agrees, but sees it as a broader lifestyle appropriation. "It's happy music and it comes with so much stuff. It's like something you get off an infomercial. You got the music, but it comes along with this look and feel to it, you can dress up and you can go to a club and dance with a girl you've never met before." What's more timeless than that?
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