|February, 1998 Forum|
The Forum in February
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Archive of Dance Forum Articles From February, 1998
This is the archive of DANCE FORUM articles which appeared during 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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Free Valentines Day Dance
On February 14th (Saturday, Valentines Day) the 1869 Society--which promotes the arts--will hold a gala at the Corcoran Gallery from 9 - Midnight. The event, named An Evening in Swingtown, will feature Raggs Classic Big Band, light fare and a cash bar The organizers want good dancers there, so we are invited to attend FREE! Just for dancing! Tickets would otherwise be $25 in advance, $35 at the door. While this is not black tie, we should dress for the occassion (i.e, formal or vintage). And note that we will need an even number of leaders and followers. Contact Ellen Wertherat 703/644-3004 or email@example.com.
I got a call from Robert Rand, who (as some of you might know) is writing a book on dancing in America. He was previously with NPR. It was suggested that he speak with me about vintage clothing. He is coming to the shop on February 14th at about 11:30 to meet me, see my clothes etc. He wanted to pick a day on which dancers were most likely to be there. As I told him, I never know....This will be a great opportunity for dancers (and lovers of vintage clothing) to meet him, and maybe have some input. I know 11:30 is EARLY, so I will serve caffinated tea and munchies to anyone who wants to show up. I would suggest be there more or less at that time, since I have no way of knowing how long he is going to stay. And, while I have NO objection to anyone buying anything, this is NOT a sales pitch, just an invitation to my friends to share the experience.
RealAudio Swing Show
Hi Frank and Carole --
From 2-4pm EST, starting Feb. 7 and running alternate
Saturdays, I'll be playing swing past and present, plus some
vintage blues and random oddities. Better Living Through Radio
(www.bltradio.com) is the site, and listeners will need
RealPlayer and a 28.8 or faster connection. There's also a live
chat running alongside the music to make requests, and an archive
of past shows.
Big Time Operator
More Coffee Pots
Glenn told me he saw a vacuum coffee pot just like the one you
guys gave me for my birthday at Rough and Ready, and it had a top
and filters but no cord. So I bought it, and now I have two
coffee pots, one lid and one cord. I'm gonna try contacting
Sunbeam and see if I can get another lid and cord. Then I'll have
to actually try making coffee in the darn thing!!
Big Time Operator
Unfortunately, the dance floor in the joint was only about 4' x 4', and it was stuffed with drunk college kids making very rudimentary attempts at swing dancing. In other words, the guys were jerking the gals around by their arms. It didn't matter, because there were no adept followers present for me to lead.
As for the band, the musicianship was excellent and the
arrangements superb. I enjoyed them enough to get one of their
business cards. I would recommend that anyone traveling in
their area should try to catch them. But bring your own dance
Lindy Hoppers are Tapping! By: Mary Pat Cooney
Dear Frank and Carole,
The lindy hoppers add so much to the classes - they have better developed ears for phrasing than many adult beginners, and they are very interested in finding out how to get those shoes to WORK!
My new beginner class has 19 people - that's a big crowd for our studio - and they are delightful. Polite! Orderly! Good listeners! and of course, the biggest requirement - everyone seems to have a sense of humor. so thanks for coming, dancers. I'll do my best to keep you entertained and challenged.
Look out on the dance floor - you may start seeing/hearing
some shuffles and thirds mixed into those breaks.
love and kisses.
Shine is no more....
Hi Frank and Carole-
Wiseacre, (that's Neal) and Mr. Gerard, (that's Gerry), host BIG DADDY SWING, Thursdays at Lansky Lounge, 104 Norfolk St, (right near the F train stop on Delancey), (212)677-9489. Doors open at 8pm/ lessons at 10pm, all levels/ bands 11pm. Admission: $8. Bands:
Roddy and I are teaching the lessons this month, and we had a blast last Thursday - we were all set to teach an intermediate advanced class to the regular kids when two absolute beginners came out of the woodwork for a basic lesson. In the future, we are going to try to get Gerry to do the basic class so that we can give advanced lessons to the people who are already on the scene.
Lansky Lounge has a real speakeasy feel to it, ( you enter through a dark back alley, down some stairs, up some stairs and then in through the fire door; the first time I went , I wouldn't have known it was there except for the faint sound of swing music coming from behind the door). There is a small sign above the alley entrance on Norfolk Street. The dancing is actually held in the back room of Ratner's, the legendary Kosher restaurant on Delancey Street to which Lansky's is attached. The dancing doesn't start until 10 because they have to wait for Ratner's to close so they can clear out the tables and set up the band. The front gate at Ratner's goes down, but the back doors are then opened to the Lansky crowd.
I hear the food isn't bad, the atmosphere inside Lansky's is very period, (most of the people dress for the occasion), and when they put the candles on the tables and cover up the refrigerator cases, it doesn't even feel like you're dancing in a deli!
On another note, mark Thursday, April 2 on your calendar.
Our newly formed swing committee, (no name yet!) is bringing in
Sing and her partner Andrew to teach a night of workshops at
Musical Theater Works, which is located right below Astor Place.
This is the Thursday before the ASDC, so if anyone is going to be
in town early, they should try to sign up for the classes, (I'll
advance more info about the registration when I know it). Sing
will not be teaching at the ASDC, so this is the only chance to
take classes with her in the NYC area.
Events at Dancers
Stop by Dancers this Friday night 9-12 to participate in the ritual of warding off the evils of superstitious Friday 13th ... and at midnight sharing the first moments of Valentine's Day.
Just $7 .... $5 if you wear red.
AND this Sunday Dancers is having a Vintage Swap and Tea Dance.
If you have dance apparel, CD's vintage collectible .... that you would like to recycle, price them and drop them off at Dancers from noon til 2pm.
Then an Afternoon Tea Dance .... (and check out the bargain room)
Cost for the dance $5
Hi From Paris
Dear Frank and Carole,
Lindy hop in France was basically introduced by Franck Balbin, a guy from Lyon who spent his time and energy to make his friends discover the dance... he met Frankie Manning and also Rob van Aaren and that was the beginning of the Lindy hop in France...then we became a small group of addicted people - then we went to Herrang - then we met other lindy hoppers in the Uk, then Switzerland etc....
Now regular training and lessons exist in Lyon, Paris, Toulouse and also Montpellier and it is always a pleasure to meet people from other countries and see the different evolutions of the dance - and it's so much fun too when we try to communicate with other people in our rusty "franglish"...
So if you plan to visit Paris, don't hesitate to call me or
send me an e-mail....we'll probably bring you to the
"hot" places we know !
Association les Fous du Swing ("The Swing Crazies
Dear Frank and Carole,
Her piece on the comeback of swing music and dancing will air Saturday morning at 11 on WAMU (88.5 FM), and will be rebroadcast Sunday at 6 p.m.
Rob and I--and I'm sure Tom also--kinda steered her toward focusing on Lindy, because among "swing dances," we believe it is the one most closely associated with swing ("big band") music, AND the one with the most fascination for the youngest dancers.
We have no way of knowing how much use the program's editor
will make of any of our voices, but we did a lot of championing!
Given the chance to speak on behalf of Lindy hoppers, I hope I
did the crowd proud.
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.
[Editor's Note: Tricia's report is in the website Travel Guide under London.]
High School Students are Lindy Hoppers, Too!
Anyway, now that I've properly introduced myself, I do have a point - please stop bashing the teenagers. I realize that you don't really appreciate any infringement of dance space, but don't blame your problems on the kids. The teenagers are young, they learn quick, (here comes the nauseateingly overused cliche) they are the only hope you have for ensuring that this gets carried on. Yea, I've been kicked, I've got my battle wounds too, but they are not exclussively from teenagers. I've been kicked many a time by elderly folk or middle aged people. Age doesn't seem to be the cause, rather, I would say that lack of experience is what leads to the black and blue marks on our shins. Don't worry, they'll learn, and until they do let's not go around simply looking down our noses at the younger crowd. It's kind of like that male assumption that all women are bad drivers. There could be 100 capable women driving past, which the male will ignore, and then one lousy chick comes roaring by. The man immediatley points out how all women are lousy drivers. Logical??? No. Don't be that way about kids. Guide them in the right direction, teach them a turn or a Texas Tommy or something and then remind them to dance small. Hopefully, this will establish a sort of mutually beneficial relationship between the two crowds. Thats another thing, step down off your pedestal and try to establish one dance community, instead of the elders crowd and the young'uns crowd or the veterans crowd and the novice crowd. Dig what I'm saying? Anyway, this was just my humble opinion, its probably all been said before in some way, shape, or form so feel free not to print it. I just needed to get it all off my chest.
See you all on the dance floor,
P.S. Thanks to the editors for always stickin' up for the teenagers. We appreciate it.
[Editor's Note: It is our pleasure -- and that business about the "next generation" is no cliche --- in our travels, it is sad to see what happens to a dance club that does not reach out to young dancers. They just get smaller and smaller and wonder why no one is interested anymore. You guys are among our most valuable assets!]
So, Let's Help Rob Out!
The reason I'm writing is because in about a month, I will be headed back to DC for a wedding and wanted to make sure to hit the right places in town to get a little east coast lindying in before having to come back here. I get in on the 19th of March (I realize this might be a little premature) and would love to hook up with the scene.
So let me know, if you have the time!
[Editor's Note: Go back and read about what Claire did for Cherri and Susan and drop Rob a line, huh?]
Another Opinion About the Waltz Ball
Frank, I cannot in good conscience let slip your comments about the Forest Glen Waltz. You wrote:
"We turned out most of the Lindy Community at $10 per head for this event, but we were offered only "Pennies From Heaven" at a tempo that would have bored Lawrence Welk. All attempts at putting "one real swing song" on during the break were mildly rebuffed, while the Contra folks got to whoop (?) it up with stuff like the "Scottische" and the "Hambo". Henceforth, if you want our support at fund-raisers, play our music --- at least once."
Number one - You did not turn out the Lindy Community - I came of my own accord, thanks to Donna's flier, as did many other Lindy dancers. Number two - Speak for yourself. Your opinion does not reflect mine, nor those of at least several other people I spoke to who were at the dance. Stating that if fund-raisers want our support, then they have to play "our" music is selfish, arrogant, immature, and divisive. Don't we all (Lindy dancers, contra dancers, ballroom dancers, etc.) have a common goal here to preserve these ballrooms?
Look, I came expecting to waltz, not to Lindy Hop. After all, that was how the event was advertised. And the band played quite a large range of dance music. Personally, I enjoy waltzing as well as doing the schottische and hambo. And yes you can "whoop" it up doing both (geez, what arrogance Frank). Have you ever tried it? It just takes a little coordination and perhaps a bit more open-mindedness.
[Editor's Response: I should have said "a large portion of the Lindy Community turned out" and did not mean to imply that Lindy Week in Review was the major factor in persons attending. I only asked Ken for one ("JUST ONE") real swing song during the break. I know that several others made the same request. Further, I never asked the band to play a swing song (after "Pennies from Heaven", I produced my copy of "Life Goes to a Party" for literal and symbolic reasons) Remember that throughout the day, I was badgered by folks who don't want teenagers at these "preserved" ballrooms and who think that Lindy is somehow too undignified for their genteel presence. In my editorial, I also mentioned that many of these selfsame folks have absolutely no shame at renting the Spanish Ballroom for less than half of what the swing dancers pay for it. (By the way, that appears to be closer to "divisive" and "self-centered" than wanting one Lindy dance...) If all dance is good, then all dances should be shown at these fundraisers to show community support. If some dances are not dignified, then... well, Sue Fedor's comment applies.
I mentioned the "whooping" because one of the arguments against Lindy at Forest Glen is that the floor is too weak. In a jam, you only have one couple at a time, and I thought that the floor could certainly bear that, since it could take the weight of the total mass of the contra community stomping their feet...
Finally, Carole and I actually DO the Hambo -- it is the national dance of Sweden -- and has an unusual link to Lindy Hop. In the late 1940s, Sweden had a fairly spirited debate about acceptance of Lindy as "Legitimate" (Did it undermine the Morals of Youth?). After a lengthy study, the Swedish government decided that Lindy was the "American Hambo" and put Lindy on the List of approved dances, which led to its institutionalization there. In fact, we danced the Hambo and then told that story to everyone who would listen.]
GAAH! More Vacuum Coffee Pots!
So you remember the award-winning coffee pot you and Carole gave me for my birthday. As you recall, this one had a cord but no top. Glenn was down at Rough and Ready on 14th Street and spotted one that had a top but no cord. So I bought the one at R&R and figured I'd get another cord at a Sunbeam repair center and keep haunting the usual places for another top. (I was gonna fix it up and give it to you guys.) In the meantime, I've never been able to get the one you guys gave me apart --- it's been stuck. Glenn and I have been pulling and fighting with it to no avail. When I brought the second one home, I could see how they fit together so I showed it to Glenn and we figured that maybe the rubber was corroded or something sticky got in there and stuck them together. We thought it might be a good idea to soak it in hot water so the metal would expand and the two halves might pull apart.
Now I know and YOU know that you're not supposed to immerse these kinds of electric appliances, so I took it into the kitchen sink which I filled with hot water and stuck the thing in there upside down. The hot water barely covered the part where the two meet but it did cover it and I thought I'd leave it there for a while and see if that didn't loosen things up a little. Glenn goes into the kitchen to make lunch and I flounce in there after a while only to find him at the sink with the entire thing underwater as he fights with it. He thinks I've bolluxed it up by not getting the bottom part hot too! So I don't expect that one's gonna work at all anymore, and there goes you guys' surprise present!
However, I will continue to search for another one for you. AT
this point I do have one entire working coffee pot in my
possession, and I'm gonna try making coffee in it. Do you have
any idea how to do this? I read the Philip Marlowe passage again
and have directions for a stove-top model. I guess it'll be
basically the same for the electric kind: measure water into the
bottom, put a filter in the filter thing (yes, I even have
those!), measure the coffee in the top, and then plug it in and
wait until it stops making noise. Think that sounds about
[Editor's Note: We just collect them as examples of streamlining motionless objects. We don't use them. The guy at the Coffee Caboodle in Vienna can help you and any of our interested readers actually make coffee in one of these devlish devices...]
It was getting a little crowded in Heaven, so God decided to change the admittance policy. The new law was that, in order to get into Heaven, you had to have a really bad day the day you died. The policy would go into effect at noon the following day.
So the next day at 12:01pm the first person came to the gates of Heaven. The angel at the gate, remembering about the new law, promptly asked the man, "Before I can let you in, I need you to tell me about the day you died." "No problem.",said the man. "Well, for some time now, I've thought my wife was having an affair. I believed that each day on the lunch hour, she'd bring her lover home to our 25th floor apartment. So today I was going to come home too and catch them. Well, I got there and busted in and immediately began searching for this guy. My wife was half naked and yelling at me as I searched the entire apartment. But, I couldn't find him! Just as I was about to give up, I happened to glance out onto the balcony and noticed that there was a man hanging off the edge by his fingertips!
The nerve of that guy to think he could hide from me! Well I ran out there and promptly stomped on his fingers until he fell to the ground. But, wouldn't you know it, he landed in some bushes that broke his fall, and he didn't die. In a rage I went back inside to get the first thing I could get my hands on to throw at him. And oddly enough, the first thing I could grab was the refrigerator. I unplugged it, pushed it out onto the balcony and heaved it over the side. It plummeted 25 stories and crushed him!
The excitement of the moment was so great that right after that I had a heart attack and died almost instantly." The angel sat back and thought for a moment. Technically, the guy DID have a bad day, and it WAS a crime of passion, so he announced, "OK, sir. Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven.", and let him in.
A few seconds later. the next guy came up. "OK. Here's the rule. Before I can let you in, I need to hear about the day you died." "Sure thing.", the man replied.
"But you're not gonna believe this. I was out on the balcony of my 26th floor apartment doing my daily exercises when I got a little carried away and accidentally fell over the side! Luckily however, I was able to catch myself by my fingertips on the balcony directly beneath mine. When all of a sudden this crazy man comes running out of his apartment and starts cursing and stomping on my fingers! Well of course I fall. I hit some trees and bushes on the way down which broke my fall so I didn't die right away. As I'm laying there face up on the ground, unable to move and in excruciating pain, I see the man push his refrigerator, of all things, over the ledge and it falls directly on top of me and kills me! "The angel is quietly laughing to himself as the man finishes his story."I could get used to this new policy.", he thinks to himself. "Very well.", the angel announces. "Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven.", and he lets the man enter.
A few seconds later, the third man in line comes up to the gate. "Tell me about the day you died.", said the angel. "OK. Picture this.", says the man. "I'm naked inside a refrigerator..."
The LA Lindy Style
[Editor's Note: We just installed a link to The Rugcutters, a performance group in Los Angeles. Check out their site for this month's "Jitterbug Quiz" to see how much you don't know about Lindy. Peter and Alicia were kind enough to send us this precis of "LA Style". If you watched the PBS thing on The 40s on Wednesday, they had a clip of Dean Collins and partner doing Lindy in the rain while holding an umbrella. The clip is from the UA film, The Powers Girl and features Benny Goodman doing "Roll 'Em"]
BUT I'd have to say my heart is with the Los Angeles style Lindy Hop done around 1939 -1945 this were the most famous years for dancers, Dean Collins, Lenny Smith, Lou Southern, and Maxie Dorf. These were the dancers that won competitions from Harlem to Chicago, St.Louis to Kansas City, Las Vegas to Los Angeles. I believe they won were ever they went because at the time, dance styles were very regional and no matter what city you traveled you saw only one particular style. When these Boys and girls showed up with their incredible variations of footwork, speed AND smoothness people were basically in AWE. At least, that is how it has been told to me by a few old timers.
Maxie Dorf was probababy the fastest dancer that has ever lived, never "cutting out" steps but always working the triples. (Conversely, Whiteys Lindy Hoppers Cut Out steps in order to dance fast.) I don't think Dean was as fast at Lindy as Lenny Smith or Lou Southern But it was his way of interpreting the music that made him one of the many greatest. But then again Dean really liked Shorty George (Snowden) because of his "Razzle Dazzle" foot work that was always changing!
Dean's style is finally catching on here with the
"new" swing movement. But, it is very hard to learn
compared to the Swedish style of "Modern" Lindy hop.
Many of the "Best" lindy hoppers in LA have started to
learn Deans style. I personally feel I can dance faster using
the Los Angeles style. Before that I counldn't dance over 210
without "running" in a circle. Now I'm very
comfortable at fast speeds and of course Beginners see that style
and recognize it from the movies and imediately want to learn
1940s Hair Styling Get Together
Hey, ladies! Tired of trying to roll your hair around toilet paper tubes to achieve that perfect Andrews Sisters pompadour, only to find your 'do is ruined because you forgot to remove the toilet paper first? Have you overheard other ladies talk about putting a mouse in their hair to help with pouffage, and you ended up in the emergency room because you thought they meant the real thing?
Well, I've done all this and more. While my hair may look pretty good by the time I get to Glen Echo or America (thank you), an armed insurrection has take place on my scalp just hours prior. So I'm sick of this, sick I tell you! My boyfriend Bobby has put me in touch with Jenelle, who is one of the singers in Doc's band and is a--you guessed it!--hairdresser! I've spoken with her, and she's willing to do a girl hairdo party at her salon in Arlington where she can help us with techniques and tips on how to achieve those fabulous looks, and hopefully some hairstyle ideas too. This would be either a Thursday evening around 8:30 or some Sunday afternoon. I'd ask ladies to pitch in $10 cash so Jenelle can have a little pin money and we'd probably bring some snacks too. I'm thinking about mid-April.
Please let me know via email if you might be interested. My
new makes-sense-instead-of-a-crummy-CompuServe-number address is:
Run a Mile in Their Shoes
Just to let you know...the Engels survived our very first 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles for all you non "running geeks") with no ill effects other than some sore muscles! Yea! We finished the Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA in 1 hour 57 minutes yesterday (2/22/98).
Hope you're all well!
[Editor's Note: We hope that they will WIN the next one and do a Fish Flip to break the tape!]
The Rachel Page
Well, I am packing up and getting ready for my big trip to Austin for the Swing Riot this weekend. Very excited!!
I have a question for you--my German professor would like to buy a really good compilation-type swing CD, and he was asking me if I had heard of a new release he heard about on the radio. It's a bunch of live recordings from Carnegie Hall with the big names--Kruppa, Goodman, etc. etc. He thinks it was put together by Goodman himself, and is recently being released after a clean-up on the sound. Supposedly, it's a new thing, and he doesn't know if it's out yet, or what it was called. Have you heard of this? [Editor's Note: check out on our writeup of "The 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert"]
If not, could you recommend a good compilation CD that is your favorite? [We invite our readers to bombard Rachel with suggestions to be passed on to Herr Professor at: firstname.lastname@example.org]
I appreciate it! I'll write with the details of my weekend
when I get back. I'm so excited!!
Public Hearing on Glen Echo
The next meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club will be held on Friday March 13. As Program Chairman for the Club, I invite anyone who is interested to come to the meeting and speak about the history of Glen Echo, particularly the Spanish Ballroom's legacy as a site of radio remotes during the 1030s, 1940s and 1950s. This would be a great opportunity to publicize the park, the preservation efforts that are being undertaken, and especially the public hearing that will be held the following day (March 14).
If anyone is interested, please contact me by e-mail or by phone at (301) 587-8976.
See you on the dance floor
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