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Archive of Dance Forum Articles From April, 1998
This is the archive of DANCE FORUM articles which appeared during April, 1998
This is the place to review and savor all of those interesting articles written by our erudite readers. We would also like to acknowledge Gay and Dave Shepardson who actually do the mechanics of the website and put up with my eternal nagging about getting the stuff up.
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Swing tea Dance at Glen Echo
Imagine, a 14-piece big band, with a GREAT dance floor, and for only $5.00... Just a fantasy? NO! This Sunday, Glen Echo will Swing in an afternoon tea dance!
So, if second seder keeps you from heading out to the dances on Saturday night or if you simply want to dance, come join us! Sunday is supposed to be a gorgeous day, so call some friends, organize a picnic & come enjoy the BEST dance floor in the DC-area!
Any questions, email me <
P.S. If we get enough people, we may be able to offer Sunday tea dances more often. That sure would make it easier on people who get shut out of Saturday night dances due to crowds! Please help us spread the word and let's show Glen Echo that we want MORE Swing dancing!
Footnotes to the Battle of the Bands
I saw your listing of bands -- and the category Neo-Retro-Swing and then another for Jump Blues --
I wrote last week in the NY Times re neo swing bands [it is on my web site, New York Swing Dance Web Site (Formerly Swing Crazy NY)] and after finishing, I have decided to try to isolate out the term "neo-swing" to mean "near, but not swing" which is how I descibe Cherry Poppin' Daddies as an example. I would like to see neo-swing beome sort of a pejorative, at least for dancers.
Retro swing to me means they are playing swing dance music, and the word retro, well, it means looking back.
Anyway, some of the bands you have under neo-retro-swing are, I think do not belong in the category. Yallopin' Hounds here in NY is just a good 5-6 piece combo playing versions of big band stuff in a real jazz style. There is nothing neo or retro.
So, I wonder if you might think up some other categories. See my article.
Enjoyed meeting you in DC. I liked your review of the Battle of the Bands -- ps, and Nathalie does Acrobatic Rock and Roll and was the French Champion. Her partner that night was Lionel. She is excellent at teaching aerials as well as doing them. That is how she describes it to me and what I have on my site as per the instruction. She is quite amazing and she is very very nice. I got to dance with Barbl which was great and have a photo to prove it. Was there a video?? [Editor's Note: Yes -- Tom Koerner will be selling them for about $25, we believe]
Also, it was not Tom Russo who was the flamboyant trumpet player but Mike Smith who jumped into "Sing, Sing, Sing" at Battle of the Bands and jumped on the floor. He is a very popular and well sought after lead trumpet player by most of the big bands. Just talked to George Gee re this. Tommy Russo from the Flipped Fedoras was not there. [The confusion may have come about because Mike Smith usually wears a Red Fedora] Mike can hit those hi-C's as he did in "C-Jam blues", [I am a partisan, but I thought Tom C. decided not to try to match him] The Trombone player -- Rob Sussman -- was there from the Flipped Fedoras as well as Nick Palumbo.
The New York musicians were impressed with Cunningham's band and mentioned how tight was their ensemble playing. They regretted not having a chance to hang out with the Cunningham band. That's what they told me. But everyone had fun and it was a great high and a high for the band. This really charged them up and me too.
What a great sound to hear both bands together. Although it
is exhausting for the bands, I would like to see a battle of the
bands where they alternate pieces, not sets, and then maybe have
a 20 minute break every hour.
Seattle, the Emerald City
Seattle, Washington may be half a world away from the Savoy, but the spirit of swing has definitely spread to the Jet City. I made the trek from New York, New York to visit family and do a bit of scouting this April (1998) and was very pleased with what I found.
Shopping the Jet City
Every Seattle tourist is required by law to check out the Pike Place Market, if only to see those famous guys who fling raw fish around, hear the street performers and pick up some smoked salmon. It's worth the trip! While you wander the market (all three levels) stop into YESTERDAZE vintage clothing store. I was overwhelmed by the "overstuffed attic" ambiance, but hard-core types are bound to find some sort of treasure here. (Sweet tooth gnawing? Grab a huge hunk of apple pandoughty from the bakery on the street level... yummm... my mouth really did say "Howdy!")
Amble up to First Avenue as you leave the market and visit two wonderful stores that make charming neighbors: OLD DUFFERS STUFF (1519 1st Ave) and ECLIPSE HAT SHOP (1517 1st Ave). Old Duffers tiny store is a virtual museum of 40's and 50's clothing, with a few older items intermixed. Don't forget to check out the spectacles and cigarette cases in the display case. Next door Eclipse offers not only millinery, haberdashery and renovations, but owner Sharon Hagerty will instruct the neophyte in hat etiquette. Before you give up that parking space, continue down First Avenue to JACK HAMMER LTD. (1909 1st Ave.) to stock up on those Hawaiian shirts. A few doors down ISADORA'S (1915 1st Ave.) is the place to go when you're looking for vintage formal wear and money is no object. Formal wear for fellas is towards the back.
Seattle is also the home of the University of Washington, with one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. University Way NE, also known as "The Ave." is the home of THE RED LIGHT (4560 Univ. Way NE) which buys, sells, and trades vintage clothing. The vast variety of items here is a bit overwhelming. With all it's pin-up-inspired artwork, it's hard to resist those vintage swimsuits.
Don't miss charming little Fremont, the corner of Seattle that considers itself "The Center of the Universe". Set your watch back five minutes so that you're on Fremont Standard Time, then visit my favorite intersection in the world, Fremont Place North and North 35th Street. It's home to three swell vintage shops and one fantastic restaurant. GUESS WHERE (615 N. 35th) features mostly menswear. FRITZI RITZ (3425 Fremont Pl. N) has a little of everything. PRIVATE SCREENING (3504 Fremont Pl. N)has by far the nicest sales staff in the universe, a selection of dresses that made me pinch myself, and prices so fair I had to double check to make sure that was in US dollars. And to top it all off, it's next door to LONG SHOREMAN'S DAUGHTER, which looks like a nothing little coffee shop, but serves the most inspired and delectable food. My taste buds were doing aerials over the sweet potato and goat cheese ravioli... downright killer-diller!!!
Dancing in Seattle
When I lived in Seattle during the summer of 1996, the ballroom in the Oddfellow's Hall building was run down and rather shabby. All chipped green paint and a worn out floor. No one wanted to dance in there for fear of ruining their shoes. That's certainly not the case anymore! Now it's the newly renovated CENTURY BALLROOM and it's companion cafe (915 East Pine, in Capitol Hill). Lovingly restored by Hallie Kuperman and crew, the 1908 ballroom has been returned to elegance with a 2,000 sq. foot dance floor, burgundy velvet curtains, chandeliers... the whole bit. Oh, and isn't it grand that the tables don't encroach on the dance floor? The cafe serves up pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches and of course espresso. Beer and wine is available at the bar and it's a non-smoking venue so leave the cigars in their humidor at home. Oddly enough, the swing kids don't seem to have discovered the Century Ballroom yet... the crowd on Saturday night was distinctly of the more mature-couples nature. (My mom got asked to dance more than I did!) The Century normally has at least one swing dance per weekend (live music). Their phone is 206-324-7263 and includes a listing of dances/events.
Where are Seattle's swing kids? They're at CLUB HI-DEE-HO at the Fenix Nightclub (315 2nd Ave in Pioneer Square). Monday nights they come out in droves to Swing and Lindy Hop to DJ Leslie $ (pronounced "Leslie Dollarsign") or DJ Hep Jen. Keith Hughes and Hillary Haselton teach a swing lesson from 8-9pm or thereabouts, with new moves every week. (Gee, I wish someone would get them a microphone!) Cover is $5, but only $4 if you're well-dressed... and though I didn't spot a single zoot-suiter in the place, a number of the ladies looked swell in their 40's and 50's frocks. The upstairs dance floor is small, but the club is swanky, with balcony seating. I understand that some nights are held on the downstairs dance floor (the Fenix Underground), but I didn't get a look at it. The number one nice thing about Club Hi-Dee-Ho? That'd be the serve-yourself water at the side of the bar!
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check out ZOOT SUIT SUNDAY at the Showbox (1426 1st Ave. across from the Pike Place Market) but you can bet I'll be there on my next visit west. Nothing makes this girl swoon like a Zoot-suiter who knows how to work his two-tone shoes! Check out www.daswingdance.com for more info.
Swing Instruction in Seattle
The SWING GIRLS offer swing and lindy instruction at the Century Ballroom expressly for lesbian, gay, bi and non-homophobic folks... couples or singles, lead or follow, skirt or trousers... all are welcome. For more info, their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask instructor Hallie Kuperman about her upcoming Shim Sham instructional video...
The SAVOY SWING CLUB practices every Friday evening at the "Dance on Capitol Hill" (340 15th Ave. E.) and opens their practices to non-members for a measly $3. The fun starts at 7:30 with a teaching session and then proceeds with taped music until 9:30. Savoy Swing Club members get a $2 discount at the Century Ballroom with their ID card. The club also offers classes on a regular basis (two nights a week). Phone is 206-547-7676.
Dave Atkinson teaches "Classic swing in a contemporary context". Check out his web site at www.daswingdance.com for more info.
That's about all I can tell you about the Seattle scene. Hope these tidbits are of help to you swingers headed for the Jet City.
See you on the dance floor!
Notes From Debra
Well, dearest Lindy Hoppers, I just wanted to give you a little update on the goings-on at America. They're messing around with our schedule a bit, so here's the deal:
We'll keep you posted on future developments.
Harlem Renaissance Exhibition
Here is a notice about the Harlem Renaissance exhibition that I picked off the net:
The "Harlem Renaissance," the cultural explosion of jazz, dance, film, poetry and painting that swept the United States, western Europe and the Caribbean 75 years ago, is getting its first major retrospective in this country.
"Rhapsodies in Black," a bow to George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," opened Saturday at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
"It explores the Harlem Renaissance not as a phenomenon confined to a few square miles of Manhattan, but as an historical moment of global significance," says the foreword to the catalog, written by Susan Ferleger Brades, director of the Corcoran, and Roger Malbert, senior curator of London's Hayward Gallery.
The show begins with two films from the 1920s. One, about a lynching, was made by black novelist-turned-filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. The other, by French director Jean Renoir, is a fantasy about a black space traveler and a white woman, who expertly dances the Charleston.
Chicago artist Archibald J. Motley Jr., who died in 1981, has eight paintings in the show. In Paris, he painted the one called "Blues," picked for the cover of the catalogue. Its tight image of dancers, musicians and instruments reflects French enthusiasm for "le jazz hot."
One of the most striking sculptures in the show is by Edna Manley, the late wife and mother of prime ministers in the Caribbean republic of Jamaica.
Though the Harlem Renaissance is often said to have ended with the stock market crash of 1929, organizers of the exhibit point to the importance of the Negro Theater Unit in the Federal Theater Project of 1935. It was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's program to end the depression that followed the crash.
The black unit was headed by John Houseman. One production was Orson Welles' landmark version of Shakespeare's "Macbeth," set in Haiti instead of Scotland, and performed with an all-black cast.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., a leader in black studies at Harvard, has also cited the "Black Arts Movement" of the 1960s and early 1970 as a new version of the Harlem Renaissance. "Almost two decades later," he wrote in 1994, "black writers and artists, musicians, dancers and actors find themselves in an era of creativity unrivaled in American History."
The exhibit will be in Washington until June 22; at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 22-Oct.19; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Nov. 22 to Feb. 14, 1999.
Mobtown Weekend Notice
The discount registration "postmarked-by date" for
The Mobtown Hop Weekend (Frankie Manning's 84th Birthday weekend
celebration May 22 - 25) has been extended to April 27th. If you
want to take advantage of the lower price, get those
registrations in! For more info, see
Lindy greetings from Finland!
First of all, I want to thank: Frank and Carole, Gay Shepardson, Claire Colbert and Tricia Reneau answering kindly my question concerning Swing dancing in London last autumn. I was asking those questions, because my friend was going to spend more time in London, but unfortunately her plans didn't come true, and she could't go. And obviously she didn't thank for your trouble either, so here are the thanks... late, but still...
Secondly, I want to tell you about the Lindy activities In Finland happening soon:
Both of these happenings are organized by the sole Swing dance Club in Helsinki area: Rock'n'Roll Dance Club Comets.
Thirdly, I'm interested how well do you know the organization: "International Lindy Hop Association"? It was founded last summer in Herrang Dance Camp, and the president of the Association is one of the members in the "Rock'n'Roll Dance Club Comets", my good friend, medical doctor: Jaana Leppälä.
hey Frank -
Pictures on the 'Net
Get a load of the photos of Lindy on Laura's Website:
Compliments of Laura Avery
May 16...Paint the Pagoda!
A Japanese pagoda in Silver Spring, Maryland? You've got to see it to believe it. You can see it get painted (one major step toward preservation and restoration) on May 16 (Armed Forces Day and Historic Preservation Week). You can help out too! Here's how:
The Save Our Seminary organization is working hard to preserve the National Park Seminary at Forest Glen. It is currently owned by the Army as part of the Annex to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This painting and restoration effort are a way that the community can show its concern for this historic property.
We are having trained volunteers actually paint the pagoda on Saturday, May 16. That still leaves plenty of work for us ordinary volunteers to do. We have other buildings we would like to preserve with a new coat of protective paint this Summer. The landscaping has become quite overgrown and needs to be trimmed and cut back in order for this work to occur.
I'll have more specific information for you soon, but for now, check the SOS Website for details:
Dance Teacher Wanted
My name is Jamie Coulter and I am the president of the Mary
Washington College Social Dance Club in Fredericksburg, VA. My
club is trying to find a dance (swing, jitterbug, or lindy)
instructor for the 1998-99 academic year. We are asking for any
instructors who may be interested to contact me so we could see
about them coming to teach lessons.
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