|April, 1999 Reviews|
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Review of Dance Events During April, 1999
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Thursday April 1, 1999
We have no reviews for this date
Friday April 2, 1999
We started the evening at Poli-Tiki. The early crowd was light, so we had plenty of room to dance. Jim and Elizabeth dropped by and said hello just as we had to leave for the Dance Marathon at Zones. (Elizabeth will fill you in on the details below...)
Over at Zones, there was alarge group --- about 15 couples --- who had signed up for the Dance Marathon. Steve Bailey set forth the rules: you have to keep dancing to the beat, and you have to to recognizable steps, and a limit of four bars of resting steps, like "jockey". The Judges were around to dance with folks whose partners had dropped out, so Steve, Erik Newton and I got plenty of time on the dance floor!
So, the contest was on. It went on well past 1:00 am. Carole and I had to leave at 1:15, and the outcome was still in doubt, although we believe that the team of Cameron Sellers and Christy Etcher eventually prevailed. Let us say that it was grueling! The "Best Efforts" award should go to a girl named Abby who had NO background in dance and managed to learn a fair approximation of Lindy, since she entered by herself and got to dance with the judges. She lasted until 1:00 --- almost 2 1/2 hours!
There were still about 5 couples on the floor and Steve Bailey took drastic action --- he put on a series of blistering 300bpm ska/swing songs and forced everyone to do Charleston to them at tempo. We were sad to see Bill Puschman drop out, but his arm was numb from leading. For a while, I danced with him and led...
This was an interesting event. If there is another, come prepared for at least four hours if not more.
From: Elizabeth Engel
Great night at PoliTiki. We started with a potluck where we shared yummy food (some of which was left over from the housewarming party) with Mike Henry and Meridith Byrne. Mike brought over some tapes of the old radio shows for Jim, whose family didn't have a TV until he was about 14. Jim is looking forward to reliving some childhood memories over the next few weeks thanks to Mike's efforts.
Meridith decamped after eating for the Zones swing marathon, and Jim, Mike, and I headed to PoliTiki for an enjoyable evening of dancing. The music selection is definitely the best over there when Matt Dunn DJs - the woman who fills in sometimes is nice enough, but she tends to play mostly really slow tunes. On Friday, Matt was back in his accustomed spot and the joint was jumpin'. Seems like PT is becoming the Friday night geezer hangout of choice. There was a good crowd and a good mix of beginners and regulars. Ray and Kathy came, much to everyone's delight, and Jim got to dance with Thea for the first time. I wore one of my new snoods provided by the lovely and gracious Cherri Harris. We had a really fab time only tearing ourselves away after 11:30 because of a rapidly-approaching breakfast double date with Sue and Steve.
Saturday April 3, 1999
We were at Nick's to see the Cunningham Band play to a packed house. We had a great time at the dance and a very nice time when the gang moved back into the small room. The staff at Nick's is very good and our regards go out to Michelle.
From: Sue Fedor
Everyone went to Nick's to see TCO. We would have gone, but our day started off at the crack of dawn, when we woke up to prepare for an impromptu picnic underneath the budding cherry blossoms at the tidal basin. We picked up Jim and Elisabeth to join us. J&E brewed coffee and tea and contributed a nice, thick blanket. We provided the food: Spanish tortillas, Swiss Bircher Musli, and apple muffins.
We came home and began our "journey of a thousand steps"--Balboa. Mr. Bailey will be our guide for this journey and the first task is to do the basic steps over and over until we can do them while carrying on a conversation. Then, we have to speed the music up. We should be able to Balboa at 300 bps and still carry on a conversation. Right now, our conversations consist of "you're kicking back when you should be kicking forward" and "oops, I goof up, let's start again."
This left us weary. Steve and I took and nap. When I awoke, I got absorbed in a PBS show called "A Walk Down 42nd Street". Then, Steve joined me as we got sucked into "Easter Parade". What a stupid movie but what wonderful dancing! Too tired to go to Nicks (where we would have been forced into Balboa), we went to Glen Echo.
Sorry for the long build up to a review that basically says the band sucked. But here it is. The Hula Monsters are capable of playing SWING MUSIC. I heard three whole sets of the stuff in Annapolis. Why they played mostly two-step is beyond me. Mike and Jenny Manlove-Duggan were there and very disappointed. Apparently, the first dance was super crowded as usual--full of beginners--and they were quickly frustrated trying to keep up with lightening speed two-step tunes. By the time we arrived for the second dance, they had already played one set of two-step. The second set featured some nice swing tunes and we did get to dance a bit. Other than that, it was back to two-step. Bob Kleinpeter was very steamed, vowing never to see them again.
On a happier note, Liz Turner was back on her dancing feet (after a terrible Plantar Fascia/heel spur injury) and brought her parents with her. They've moved to Philadelphia from Seattle (where they learned how to swing and took a bit of Lindy). Maybe they'll be by more often. Jen & Mike, Steve & myself left early and went to the American Diner where we talked about our kitty cats, how funny Europeans are, and how lousy Steve's job is these days.
From: Elizabeth Engel
Saturday was, with one small exception, a grand day! We woke early to coffee and the newspaper and were soon after picked up by Sue and Steve. The four of us had a breakfast picnic down at the tidal basin and enjoyed the cherry blossoms before the crowds became unmanageable. Steve regaled us with his impersonations of Marcus and Barbl, and Sue stuffed us with delicious museli with strawberries and kiwi, yummy apple muffins, and some sort of very tasty egg and potato breakfast pie/omlette type thing.
We arrived home in time for me to spend a lovely afternoon cleaning up our court yard and deck, which has been left rather a mess by the previous occupants, and planting herbs in the expensive terra cotta pots they inexplicably left behind when they moved. Now we just need a table and chairs and a lighting plan, and our outdoor paradise will be complete! Jim meanwhile spent the afternoon suffering through the taxes. We then cleaned up, dressed in some of our nicest vintage duds (including another one of my new snoods and a dress I purchased months ago and hadn't worn yet).
Meridith picked us up at the Metro and we joined a group of the Geezers at Nick's for an evening of dinner and dancing, with table service provided by the wonderful, fun, and highly efficient Michelle. She alone would make the evening worthwhile. However, Nick's also combines decent - and cheap - food, Yuengling Black & Tan on tap (which warms this Pennsylvania girl's heart), TCO on Saturday, and they've done something to the floor so that it's nice and slick! YAY!
Nick's never got terribly crowded - I suspect in part due to the holiday weekend - and the small group of 10 of us or so practically had the band to ourselves for the first two sets. It filled up quite a bit by the end of the second set, but there was always room to dance. I got to dance with a very nice young man from Santa Barbara named Alex, who may be moving out here and was very happy to see so many Lindy Hoppers in DC. Carla and Mercedes were kind enough to put up with me practicing my still pretty clumsy lead on them. Gay and Dave stopped by after we moved to the back room, carrying about 10 different type of Bleyer wedgie prototypes, a couple of which are just to die for. And we met the newest junior Lindy sensation - the talented Ms. Tracy, who at 13 makes me feel like I'm about 100 years old!
Jim, who is in California, asked me to report that he had a wonderful evening of dancing. Ladies, if you want to dance with Jim, although he's getting better about this, you may still need to ask him. He's a big chicken about asking people to dance. Let me pass on a little secret: he probably wants to dance with you; he's probably just scared to ask! So ask away. I had many excellent dances with fellow geezers, Sean dipped me until my head spun and let me lead for a little bit, and I even got in a dance or two with the elusive Mr. Kranyak and the even more elusive (lately) Mr. Bailey nee Cowles.
Sunday April 4, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Monday April 5, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Tuesday April 6, 1999
We are taking Iver Cooper's Balboa class --- it is a very good scene, over 40 people showed up and they seem to be ver enthusiastic about Balboa. Iver has done a lot of preparation for this class and it seems to be going very smoothly. Deb Brooks is doing a tremendous job of assisting him and has plenty of good advice for the followers. We have even gotten to put some of our learning to good use on crowded dance floors.
Wednesday April 7, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Thursday April 8, 1999
From: Bill Lehman
I was in Dallas last week, and was able to get out dancing. I went to Sambuca, a restaurant that has a Big Band on Mondays. It reminded me a little of Ricky Ricardo, but then some serious Lindy Hoppers showed up after their class. The food was pretty good.
On Wednesday I went the Sand Castle, but it was the last night that it is going to be open for a while.
There is a new web site, www.dsds.org, for the Dallas Swing Dance Society.
Friday April 9, 1999
We hosted our biweekly gig at the Fairfax Elks. We had been enjoying fairly sizeable crowds during March, but the Elks had a group function scheduled for the March 27 date, so we were left with a four week hole in the schedule. This evening was a bit disappointing from a numerical standpoint, since we only had 122 people. This is a BIG crowd for Poli-Tiki, but this group gets lost on the 6,000 sq. foot floor at the Elks. We had a small but enthusiastic nucleus of Lindy Hoppers including Monica, Alicyn, Barnabas, Mike Henry and Chris Bamberger. It seemed like all 122 stayed for the Charleston lesson.
Monica made an interesting comment "This is just like dancing at the Elks Club in my hometown in Washington State". I took that to heart --- most of these fraternal organizations were shaped by the World War II generation who had gone off to far-away places and returned wanting the kind of nightlife that was not normally available in small towns (including big band dances). At the time, most of these people were young --- between 20 and 30. To a large extent places like the Elks are directly in line with historical tradition -- much of the "survival" of swing dancing during the Dark Years between 1957 and 1988 is due to organizations like the Elks which created markets for those who carefully nurtured the flame of Big Band music and swing dancing.
I guess this leads to a commercial message --- the Elks have been very kind to provide four dances in a big space with a full big band. Frank Guldseth and New Columbia Swing have invested in a lot of new swing arrangements --- and are playing an all swing program rather than mixing in ballroom and Latin numbers. The rather low attendance has left the Elks with questions about the advisability of the event --- candidly, we need a very nice turnout this Friday to keep the event going. This is kind of a tough call, because we have no intention of hurting the gig at America. We got involved with the Elks because America is generally hot and crowded -- it holds at MAX 300 people and there are more than 2,000 people who have had at least a beginner swing lesson. We feel that there is a need for another Big Band dance in a large space --- especially one that has a gigantic air conditioning system and gives water away in vast quantities. I don't know whether we will ever be able to turn the Elks into a singles "scene" --- but, if you want space to dance and you want real live Big Band music, you ought to think of coming to the Elks --- and bringing a group of leaders and followers.
We want to thank Barnabas Mogan for making a great webpage for the event
Cameron gives us a report from the North Atlantic Swing Dance Championships (NASDC) at the Meadowlands, NJ:
From: Cameron Sellers
Bill Cameron did a great job running NASDC and I felt included as a Lindy Hopper. He created an atmosphere where every form of swing dance was appreciated. He hired Gracie as the MC who always does a great job getting the audience involved in the event. Kenny Rozell did a great job as the DJ bridging the divide between the West Coast dancers and lindy Hoppers. After the Strictly Lindy event, he did a JAM and then he had West Coast dancers pair up with Lindy dancers for a song. Gator did a great job selecting lindy tunes for the competition. I wish he was spinning the cds in the lindy room.
On Friday Matt, Gretta, Laura Avery, and I headed out for NJ to compete in the NASDC. After five hours on the road and quick detour through Philly, we finally made it tothe Meadowlands Sheraton Hotel. We quickly piled out of the car, checked in, and got ready for Friday nights competition.
For Lindy Hoppers, Friday night's big event was Strictly Lindy. Eight couples entered the division and the DC/Baltimore crowd had many entries in the event. Luke White and Laura Avery impressed the judges and took 1st placed followed by Matt Smiley and Mara Levy. To ensure the DC/Baltimore covered the whole spectrum of standings, Lisa and myself finished last. It took work, but we did it.
Eric Newton and Erka showed up just in time for the competition, so they missed out. To bring solace to themselves for missing the event, they joined with Lisa, Frank and myself, and headed into the Big Apple to dance at the Supper Club. the Jump Blues band sounded great and I wished that I remember their name. Apparently most of the dancers were some place else so there was lots of dance space. A photographer at the club must have taken a zillion of pictures of us on the dance floor. The highlight of the Supper Club was he place itself. That place has style. Eric manged to make friends with all of the dancers and so we headed out with them to an all night diner. I was falling asleep by this time just wishing for a place to rest my head.
Finally, we headed back to NJ when the sun was rising around 6:30 in the morning.
Saturday April 10, 1999
We paid a visit to the Lucky Bar and found a very lively crowd. The place always seems to be packed. Congratulations to Paul Lusi for providing (there is no cover) a very nice swing venue.
From: Cameron Sellers
Laura Avery, Mara Levey, Alex F, Matt S., Alex's friend, and I shared a room and we crawled over each other getting dressed. It was worth it because it was cheap. The next day the big events for Lindy people were Team, and Jack and Jill, ProAm and Lindy Open Champion. After relaxing in the hot tub, everyone geared up for the heats in Jack and Jill. I was mistakenly registered as a follower and I was teamed up with Luke White. Knowing that I was in over my head, I asked to be switched. After clearing up the confusion, I was teamed up with Lizie Hess, Janice Wilson, and Ramona Staffel. With all three dancers I felt I was in over my head anyway, but all of us manged to survive.
Team competition was next and the National Carolina Shag Team blew everyone away. They were incredible. DC Hand dancers, Dance Manhatten, Minnie Moochers, Leslie Coomb's Avalon Studios, and Tamden Swing Kids also put in a solid performance. I'm also amazed by Minnie Moochers and the Hand Dancers and Leslie Coombs and Cricket showed off some up and coming young talent.
During the break, a camera guy for a commerical group was their video taping some dancers and he invited Lisa and I for a shoot, so we must have impressed someone out there. After the 30 sec shoot, I ran back into the main room to see Steve Bailey and Mara Levy in the ProAm Division. They did a great job! The routine look choerographed but knowing Steve, it wasn't. Steve and Mara came in 2nd.
The evening was filled with different events, but most of us were waiting for the Lindy Open Champions. Steve B and Nina blew away most of their competition with their style. One couple they could not edge out was Andrew D'Angelo and the legendary Dawn Hampton. Dawn Hampton had everyone on his or her feet including the judges.
The rest of the night we danced in the lindy room as Paul Overton, Bill Borgida, and Alex F. spinned the cds. I had a chance to dance with Sylvia who is alway incredible and still haven't figured out how she comes in and shoots out so fast. The Cornell kids came down as well. Lucy and Joanna are getting better with that Hollywood whip. I was surprised how much they improved in three weeks since they were down here. As the night wore on, Nina and I were the only ones left from the DC crowd and we joined the Cornell group for an early morning breakfast.
Sunday April 11, 1999
From: Cameron Sellers
The big event for lindy was the Lindy Open. I was eager to see Matt and Gretta and Steve and Naomi. I had seen Scott and Lizzie the week before and it was solid. Matt and Gretta's was so different from the rest of the group in every area: costume, music, and style. Some of the moves look so cool and difficult. They received a standing ovation from the audience and you could tell they were pleased, but the judges weren't because they finished 4th out of five couples. When I found out what the results were, I remembered scratching my head in disbelief. I have to agree with Charlie Wyler when he said, "Man, they got robbed!" The redeeming moment was Steve and Naomi finishing first and Scott and Lizie finishing third. Steve and Naomi deserved 1st place because they looked so in sync. But come to think of it, when do they not look in sync.
Once the competition was over, Matt, Gretta, and I checked out of the hotel and headed home, reflecting what a great time we had at NASDC.
Monday April 12, 1999
From: Debra Sternberg
I saw Frank's mention that no one had sent anything in about Dan Electro at CCB last Monday, so I suppose that duty falls to me! I don't know WHO said they played West Coast tempos (which in our group is akin to a slap in the face!) but they were WRONG! Dan Electro turned in a wonderful night of well-paced Lindy music, every song nice and danceable in tempo. Their selection ranged from a knock-out version of one of my favorite songs, Moten Swing, to their signature harmonica numbers. We had a jam, we sweated and hooted, we stayed up way too late. Even Bernstein, Mr. Personality, said this was one of the best bands he'd ever heard. These guys know how to pace an evening and they love the dancers. Can't wait until we can see them again!
Tuesday April 13, 1999
We went to Class 2 of Iver's Balboa series. The large class seems to be doing very well in getting the basics of Balboa. Iver has given permission for us to put a page on the website detailing the mechanics of the basic Balboa step. Check out The Balboa Basic Step
Wednesday April 14, 1999
From: Debra Sternberg
Well, lemme tell ya, Indigo Swing at the Birchmere was just like old times! Appearing at The Bandstand this past Wednesday, April 14, the boys from San Francisco were supposed to do one long set from 8:30 to 10 p.m. but were having such a grand time they decided instead to do two long sets and played until 10:45! They were really fabulous--just like when we had them at Chevy Chase Ballroom the first time. They started out with their signature fast song and then settled back into a lovely crush groove of very danceable tunes, with high spots being a smoking boogie-woogie tune by the piano player. The Birchmere's wooden floor continues to be one of the nicer floors in the area to dance to, the food is pretty darn good, the temperature stays pretty comfortable. Johnny Boyd sent his regards out to Tom numerous times, hugged me once, and bought some ties from Ellen Werther. It was a GREAT time, and thanks as always to all who came out and made it happen.
From: Diane Carroad
Thinking of yoga and the third eye, I needed a fourth last nite to find danceable space at the Birchmere! When Indigo Swing played its two sets, the dance floor was packed. I noticed lots of folks just sitting at tables and enjoying themselves and I finally opted to dance in between the chairs and tables or at the back floor. Indigo Swing played many numbers from their current CDs as well as those from an upcoming CD. Each of the musicians had the limelight for a time and the pianist and sax player really let loose. After an ovation, out they came (finally) to play a slow ballad I enjoyed and then some more. The evening sure went quickly with two sets filled with a balanced combination of very danceable, terrific music and one break. And speaking of breaks, that's one reason I do like I.S. so much --- plenty of breaks if you are talented enough to take advantage of them. Guess Tom and Carolyn were busy with final preparations for their wedding (to which Mike He!nry commented, "TOM?! He's probably at Lulu's") and the Devoneys were attending a meeting re Forest Glen's future. Everybody there was raving about the band who did not bring any line dancers with them as before. Great night but way too short and I wish it had not been a school nite!
We were sitting with a young guy from the Wash Post, Fritz Hahn, who had a copy of a new swing magazine, Atomic, produced out of NYC, $16 for 4 issues [www.atomicmag.com]. Had good interview w/ Indigo Swing and one article about the best swing web sites. Am sure you've seen this --- yours was included (with a negative jab at the end about time to download) tho Atomic's site takes a while to come up itself! Most sites covered CA or NY rather than the whole scene but many seemed worth checking out.
Thursday April 15, 1999
From: Chris Bamberger
I am not a fan of Las Vegas, Nevada. Though less glitzy than it once was, what's glorified there is everything new and glittering and nothing old and beautiful. It's just not my kinda place. And I had to spend the week of March 21-26 there attending a trade association convention that just wasn't much fun. But I did manage to have a few nice dance evenings in Sin City.
To my chagrin, many of the spots Zoe and Mickey mentioned in their 1998 and 1999 reports to the website were no longer offering swing dancing. I did some further research and found that the very hotel in which my company's convention took place, The Bellagio, had Lindy hop every night but Monday in its Fontana Lounge. It didn't start until about 10 pm, but the band, called Jump, Jive, and Wail, was extremely danceable. Though given to a few overlong and rather self-interested jazz solos (lose the tiresome drum business in Sing, Sing, Sing, fellas!), they really swing and are fun showmen. The leader/main vocalist Ken Levine is also a dancer, and he encourages bar patrons to learn. His girlfriend Shannon is one of the best out there on the floor. A Lindy hopper named Tony Wong met up with me after I e-mailed him a few questions about the Vegas scene, and he introduced me to the small (but-authentic) Lindy crowd of Las Vegas, a really nice bunch of twenty-somethings. Danced with a guy named Seth who looked a lot like Jim Engel--he was a fun partner as well.
The neatest experience I had, though, was getting in touch with Maxie Dorf. We had begun an Internet correspondence before I went out there, and had traded a few videos back and forth. I talked with him on the phone once I hit Vegas, and he escorted me to the Fontana Lounge one evening after treating me to a swell dinner. It was so much fun talking with him about 1930s and '40s Hollywood, bands, and dancing. He was the top dancer of Balboa-swing and one of the tops in Lindy, and he appears in many of the movies we collect for their dancing sequences. He said I could tell you this little secret: He carried Jewell's books to school many years before she met Dean!
He is a real sweetheart and has a great sense of dance styles and the whole feel of the dance scene. My first evening at The Bellagio's lounge I had told the young Las Vegas dancers I was planning to have dinner the next night with Maxie Dorf. They were quite excited and spoke of wanting to meet him (many of them do a bit of Balboa). They were worried they would not make it back the next night, because they were readying for a competition in California the day after that, but I urged them to come if only to shake his hand. Only a couple were able to, much to my disappointment, but I kept telling Maxie that if he came to Washington to teach us Bal, he would surely be made much over!
Friday April 16, 1999
We are shameless fans of Peaches O'Dell and her stylish show. Accordingly, we made our way to what we thought would be the august inner sanctum of the National Press Club. When we got there, the place was PACKED to the gills. Apparently, we are not the only fans of Peaches in the city. The dance floor was so crowded that we could HEAR Marc and Ellen teaching their lesson, but we did not SEE them until the second number of the set. John Berlau, organizer of the event, said that there were more than 500 people --- and we believe it! You can bet that the Press Club is going to have more Big Band dances! We want to give big thanks to Maxie Dorf and Iver Cooper for stimulating interest in Balboa --- we got a whole lot of opportunity to practice! After the NPC event, we made our way to Poli-Tiki. Sue Fedor has a great report of both events:
From: Sue Fedor
Yes! I actually went dancing Friday night! Can you imagine? Since the National Press Club was right up the street from where I work, I could not pass up the chance to check out Peaches. Boy, was it crowded. Geezers: Chris Bamberger, Deb Brooks, and Mike Henry were there. Later, Becky, Doug, and a few others showed up, including the popular duo of Frank & Carole (sans specs). I met a new Geezer- to-be named Jennifer, who just started dancing a few months ago. We took turns practicing Balboa, as several people are in Iver's class. Deb and I practiced together...and let's say that the female anatomy makes Balboa somewhat...uncomfortable. Think about that one, guys! (Deb, they'll probably start paying us money to dance together!)
Speaking of uncomfortable, it was CROWDED. You could barely dance. We stayed for two sets under the guise of searching for Tony Kornheiser. No sign of the K-man, however. We did a mini jam in the back of the room on the carpeting. Mid way through, my shoe flew off, so I kicked off the other and continued. I can only do that on carpeting and I made a mental note never to jam in those shoes again.
We ended up at Poli-Tiki, which was as smoky, hot, and noisy as usual. Why, tell me, do we like this place so much? The dance floor is crappy and crowded (although it is really, really springy--so much so that it knocks the CD player off from time to time), the smoky air is oppressive and half the folks there are trying to pick each other up. Could it be because there's NO ADMISSION and WE'RE CHEAPSKATES?One thing I do like is sauntering over to the bar after doing some wild dance floor gymnastics. By now, everyone has seen my underwear, I'm covered in sweat, and the crowd just parts in admiration. Or perhaps the crowd parts out of revulsion at my layers of sweat. I haven't had the nerve to ask. By the end of the evening, all I had to do was look at the bartender and he started pouring me a tall Coke. I didn't even need to wave money around.
We had a low key jam, during which Frank and Carole rose to new heights of excellence with their precision aero and acrobatics....so much so that Peter (Fly Cat) Gehring commented approvingly. Yes, you can take lessons with confidence from proven jam veterans who never miss an opportunity to shine.
PS to the Friday Night Goodtime Gals: Blame me. It's my fault that Steve didn't join us. Apparently, the Koerner/Biczel (I'll never have to spell her name again! Yippee!) rehearsal dinner was over around 9:30 and Steve could have joined us had I been more firm about my plans. I'm so used to not having him around, that I plum forgot!
Saturday April 17, 1999
We were at Carolyn and Tom's Wedding. A spectacular event! Check out the big photoessay about it, with text masterfully provided by Sue Fedor. Debra sent us this note:
From: Debra Sternberg
Ladies and gentlemen and all the Lindy Hoppers at sea:
I've just enjoyed a leisurely read of Sue Fedor's accounting of the Nuptials of Tom and Carolyn and a wonderful saga it is too! Sue is right on every detail--Carolyn looked absolutely stunning, all the bridesmaids did too, and I thought Koerner's tuxedo jacket was impeccable. I had a ton of fun and shouldn't have done the Shim Sham in those high heels, but we never learn, do we? The Koerner Klan was a fun bunch, especially Tom's mother's side of the family, a nutty mixture of Italians and Maltese from the Bronx (or is it Brooklyn?). I even played with children, Tom's niece and nephew Teresa and Tai. (This is a fairly rare occurence.) I thought young Tai had a big crush on me but it turned out he was mad for Carla Heiney. My favorite moment from the wedding: I was chatting with the parents of Tom's youngest brother Troy's fiance, Kim, (WHAT????) when Kim's mother looked over my should and gasped, "The minister is DANCING!" I just realized this morning that Carolyn skipped the ritual bouquet toss and the horrible Garter Belt Humiliation, and I say hats off to Carolyn!
From: Diane Carroad
With Tom and Carolyn getting hitched and the J St J's at Nick's, I didn't think GE would be that crowded on Sat and it was but comfortably so. It reached max capacity for the first dance with only 1-2 folks left waiting and almost reached the max number for the second. Ken and Donna did a great job teaching the (loud!) crowd. Daryl Davis was in FANTASTIC form and everyone kept exclaiming how good they sounded. I'm getting used to at least one dance w/ Ed Burak per evening and my goal is to dance those breaks the way he and Ann Bailey (not there Sat nite) do! Terrific nite at GE!
Sunday April 18, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Monday April 19, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Tuesday April 20, 1999
We went to Class 3 of Iver's Balboa series. The large class seems to be doing very well in getting the basics of Balboa. Iver has given permission for us to put a page on the website detailing the mechanics of the Balboa Basic Step. The step is easy (check it out...) but the styling is ever so difficult. This is a very sophisticated dance
Wednesday April 21, 1999
We began the exciting series of tapings at BET with a fantastic performance by Big Joe and the Dynaflows --- featuring John Cocuzzi on piano. About ten couples, including Chris Bailey, Angela Tiegs, Steve Devoney, Sue Fedor, Huey Pham, Jayna Morgan, Ari, Melissa, and lots of others. (I'm old, my memory fails...) The folks at BET were extremely hospitable and although the lights were hot, the dancing was a whole lot of fun. We had to do several numbers over because the announcer kept referring to the band as the "Astroglows". All of this is in good humor. Huey and Jayna get the prize for the best move --- the camera crane swept up right between them and they did a precision fall-back that was perfectly timed. There was a whole lot of fun and laughter on the set and this was another in a long series of memorable events at BET. After the taping, we retired to the A-V restaurant for the traditional post-taping meal. If you haven't been, there are still a lot of events, including Tuesday's exciting session with Set 'em Up Joe.
Thursday April 22, 1999
WE have no Reviews for this Date
Friday April 23, 1999
We began the day at BET for the taping with The Jet Set Six. There was a great crowd and once again, the BET staff were incredibly cordial. This is a whole lot of fun and we are looking forward to the next series in May. At the end of the taping, we ran into Bruce, Seth, Charlie and Lance of Air Mail Special, who were on for the next show. Unfortunately, we had to leave to make our gig at the Elks. With some fancy driving, we managed to get home, change and out to Fairfax just in time for our beginning lesson. Frank Guldseth and the New Columbia Swing Orchestra outdid themselves with a great program of Benny Goodman, including new arrangements of "AC-DC", "Fat Man Boogie" and "In the Mood". We'd like to thank the Elks for sponsoring this five-event series.From: Sue Fedor
We left on Thursday for Philadelphia and a quick, three-day get away. My luck...I finally get to take a week off from work and the tree pollen count is off the charts. My nose feels like it is packed with napalm. Bombs are exploding in my head as the mucus shifts from one sinus cavity to another. Undaunted and armed with Tylenol Sinus tablets, we headed up to Philly. No reservations, no firm plans. We arrive to a city with three conventions going on. We managed to get the last suite at Hawthorn Suites (next to the sixth district police station, right on the edge of Chinatown and a block from the Convention Center). Steve did some fast talking to get us a discount for Friday and Saturday nights.
Since I was feeling so poorly, food was wasted on me. So we didn't eat at any fancy restaurants. In fact, we did not eat at any remarkable restaurants. We spend the day on Friday enjoying the rain (the better to clean the air of pesky pollen) as we explored the city's sorry excuse for an Antique Row (a bunch of retired millionaires who open their shops when they feel like it and charge an arm and a leg for stuff they inherited or found in the attics of homes they bought). Antique Row is just a few blocks from SOUTH STREET--a potporri of all sorts of shopping experiences--most for the avant garde. We stopped in at Lester's Shoes for Men. They're the Stacy Adams Headquarters in Philly. The proprietor told us that SA has brought back its classic 1940's style spectator AND IT'S MADE IN THE USofA. Currently, it's available in black/white and brown/white but soon will be available in red/white and navy/white. It's a pointy shoe, however, and we found it does not look attractive on a wide foot. Also, they're patent leather. We chose the more traditional spectator wing-tip in brown and white. This features a bit of a non-skid sole on the ball of the foot, which could be easily sanded off if you felt you had to do that. Lester's is on-line, by the way. Just in case you need to get a pair of aqua patent leather wing tips to clash with your brand new electric peach zoot suit. www.bigonline.com/lestersshoes .
The proprietor told us that Stacy Adams is headquartered in the same city as Allen Edmonds and the two companies are fierce rivals. AE, however, has a much more sophistocated marketing approach and has managed to align itself with upscale stores (and prices, to boot). SA is trying to catch up, however, by re-releasing its popular styles from the 1940's and getting special deals to outfit the new swing bands. This is getting to be like basketball. Perhaps we'll soon have an Indigo Swing show or an "Air Voodoo Daddy".
We also bopped around Little Italy-- especially the Italian market. My favorite store there was the HOLLYWOOD MEAT MARKET where you could buy just about any part of any red blooded mammal or fowl eaten in the West. The little neon sign in the corner advertised "CHICKEN AND TURKEY PARTS". There were small cheese stores with huge cheeses hanging from the ceiling. I mean these cheeses were the size of those new VW bugs. And for you cruelty-free folks, there were green grocers and spice and herb stores to beat the band. Steve had to bodily extricate me from the kitchen supply store, where I was about to buy a $50 hand crank coffee grinder for my friends in China. He told me that I could probably find one made in China for a lot less somewhere else. "But these grinders are European precision-engineered!" I exclaimed. He wasn't buying it. We had lunch in a little restaurant in the neighborhood and headed home for a nap.
That evening, we went to THE FIVE SPOT. Had we been a little smarter, we would have taken either the subway or a cab. The Five Spot is located in the historic district--blocks away from Penn's Landing and the Liberty Bell. It is difficult to find a parking space and public parking sets you back about $14. Steve prayed to St. Ithafanuthia, the Greek patron saint for parking spaces (it's hard to find them in Athens, too) and lo and behold, just three blocks away, a blessed, legal space appeared.
The Five Spot is two spaces--an upstairs--which features a bar, a stage, and several tables and booths surrounding a small tile-covered wood dance floor. And a downstairs, "Hellzapoppin'" which has a bar along the back wall (with a lovely lit waterfall back drop), a fish tank in the middle and an ample tile over concrete dance floor surrounded with upolstered benches. During the upstairs dinner hour, a two man piano/sax/vocal combo performs while downstairs features a beginner East Coast lesson. Near as I can tell, unless you get a private teacher, no-one is teaching Lindy en masse.
We danced a little to the combo in between bites of dinner. Dinner was wonderful. To get a table, you can skip the $10 cover, but you must have a $15 minimum. We ended up at about $36 for two appetizers, drinks and dessert. The appetizers were made tableside and were just the right amount of food to fuel dancers, yet keep us unstuffed. The young vocalist had a good tone, although he could use better diction. His song choice was classic Sinatra, jump blues, lounge fair and they did swing. The real treat, however, was the JET SET SIX, fresh from their stint at BET earlier in the day. These guys rocked the house!
Let's be honest here. THERE IS NO ROOM TO DANCE AT THE FIVE SPOT. We found nooks and crannies here and there. AND FRIDAY IS NOT THE BUSY NIGHT! Sunday is. What we found out was that the swingulars (swing + regulars) danced downstairs during the breaks and came up for a couple of band numbers then went back downstairs. The swingulars do not go out of their way to greet newcomers. In fact, a few times, when we thought about approaching them, they actually walked away from us. The nerve!
Since nobody does Lindy in Philly, we never really got kicked, although we did get bumped into a lot. Since it was crowded, nobody could work up any great velocity, so no harm was done. We managed to find nooks and crannies here and there where we could open up and dance. The spectators were appreciative, even if the swingulars were not. During the third set, the dance floor cleared and before we left for the evening, we ended the last up tempo number with a death defying sidecar/straddle/spike.
The boys in the band are wonderful. We talked to John quite a bit and I developed a serious crush on the trumpet player (who enjoyed playing along with the songs the dj played during the breaks--everything from hip hop to disco). They brought the house down with a Led Zepplin introduction to what ended up being a swinging version of "House of the Rising Sun". Later, the horn section came over to our table and played a wonderful blues number. I made googly eyes at the trumpeter, which Steve did not appreciate in the least.
Bathed in sweat and with my medication wearing off, we headed home before the band began the fourth and final set. JET SET SIX do not disappoint. See em' if you can. They're coming to George Mason in a week or so. Check em' out.
Saturday April 24, 1999
We drove up to Hood College to see the J Street Jumpers. It turns out that the dance was more-or-less a closed mixer with the US Naval Academy. We'd like to ask all college dance organizers to let us know specifically if events are open to the public. Fortunately, the security guards thought that we were part of the band. We had a great time dancing. It was great to see John McCalla as well --- he teaches Lindy at Hood. College in the 90s must be great --- you can get college credit for reading Kurt Vonnegut and doing Lindy. [If you laugh at that, you are too old...]
From: Sue Fedor
We headed to Manayuk, which is north along I-76, NW Philly. It's an old mining town along the river and features a number of large antique malls. There was a lot of interesting stuff, but nothing for us. We did find a couple of vintage clothing stores along main street. "Wear It Again Sam" and "Decades". Both have good selections. Prices are moderate to high. WIAS has a better selection of 40's stuff and is better organized. The Edge is a new club that is open there now. They feature swing dancing and it's about the same size as TFS.
That evening, we preferred to dance in the closest thing we could find to a ballroom. We found out that the Philadelphia Swing Society was hosting a "jitterbug dance" at the Commander Barry Hall out near Manayuk, deep in one of those many West Philly neighborhoods. Peggy Cole & the Central Park Stompers were the featured band. Peggy is old enough to be the mom of all the rest of the guys in the band, or so it would seem. They were pretty good. Nothing was faster than 190 bpm, but then again, I was half loopy on antihistimines, so 190 seemed fast enough to me. Upon entry, we were surprised by Mara Levy who was very surprised to see us. Mara switched off dancing with both Steve and I. We were goofing around with Balboa for a while. Another surprise was Big Ed Burak, who was up visiting the parents. Ed's from Philly! Who knew?
During the second band break, PSS has a series of "demonstrations" involving local teachers who demonstrate new moves or variations. They were pushing Lindy big time, as they are sponsoring an upcoming dance camp in West VA (over Memorial Day weekend) and later, a visit from Frankie. Mara and I are hoping that a visit from Frankie will clean up those messy whips, among the few men who actually do one. The PSS organizer later came up to Mara and I and told us that he should have had us demonstrate Balboa. We told him that we'd gladly demonstrate it...but first we should learn it! Right now, we could demonstrate something that looks like Balboa...sort of.
We tried our hands at a shim sham, but the "leader" forgot the half breaks during the first section and Mara had to stop me from doing it correctly as everyone behind us was confused. Luckily for him, I was heavily medicated or else I would have pushed him off the floor and led the damn thing myself.
It was a pleasant evening, overall. It's always nice to see Mara. I just wish I had been in better form to enjoy it more. It was nice having Mara around to introduce us to some of the Philly swingulars. None of these guys had anything good to say about the Five Spot.
Swing clubs are springing up all over Philly. One has to wonder how many of them have swingulars (I like this term...). Without an anchor cast of characters, a place has no "personality". Of course, if they anchors aren't outgoingly friendly, the place still has no personality. That aside, there is a large schooner named, The Moshulu, (735 S. Columbus St.) that is about to open up a 1940's style dance club (whatever that means). For those of you who like precious finds in little out-of-the way places, a place we wanted to check out but couldn't was BOB & BARBARA'S on South Street. They have a wonderful jazz quartet (a la Bill Elliot--all big band veterans) that plays on Fridays and Saturdays. B&B's is a bar/lounge and not a dance club, but a few dancers would be welcome. If you go on Thursday night, you get to see a revue of female impersonators!
We'll be back in Philly sometime again, hopefully with more news of some of the different venues and perhaps I'll be feeling more appreciative of my surroundings and less dependent on antihistimines.
From: Elizabeth Engel
Friday night was the first night we've missed at PoliTiki in ages, as it was our nephews' last night in town. We took them to a Bowie Baysox game which was fun, but it felt awfully strange to be spending Friday night drinking beer and watching a ball game. Anyway, in light of the week, I can say that although they're wonderful kids, I feel very affirmed in my life choices. One week every ten years is just about the amount of parenting I'm looking for.
ANYWAY, after a week off it felt GREAT to get back to dancing and to do it at Nick's. The more I go there, the more I love the place (obviously, since I'm paying $10 for a DJ, even if it is the talented Mr. Bernstein). It was full but not horribly crowded, and it was great to dance again and see so many of our friends after a week of exile.
Evening highlights: Gay the shoe pusher lured me into a pair of the now-discontinued and discounted wedgies (c'mon, every gal is wearing them...you don't want to be left out this summer, do you?). Jim worked up his courage to ask Tricia to dance for the first time. Lisa graciously put up with my klutzy lead for a dance (but I had a little trouble leading her into a Lindy circle - this is a tough move for two women who are roughly the same size and height). Cullen and I and Sean and I hammed it up on the dance floor. Jim and I got to practice more Balboa. And everyone seemed to be really relaxed and having a good time. We stayed out WAY too late at the little diner around the corner from Nick's telling jokes and drinking health shakes with Gay and Dave and Lisa and Ron and shocking the hell out of Charlotte and Keith (? oh shoot, did I get that wrong), who had their first introduction to Lindy diner culture. It was a great night!
Sunday April 25, 1999
From: Elizabeth Engel
After a truly fabulous spring day in DC, a whole bunch of the flying geezers turned out to help Ellen Werther celebrate her birthday at Cullen and Randi's gig at the charming and eclectic Paris Bisous. Jim and I arrived first and got to chat with Renaissance man Max, the owner and chef. I tried to coax Jim into trying a cha cha with me, but he was not terribly certain of the basic step and resisted my attempts to get him to dance. Cullen arrived shortly thereafter after having to work all day (the horror! on a beautiful Sunday no less!) and then Randi came with a stack of swing CDs, at which point the party started.
Within 30 minutes, we probably had 15-20 dancers taking turns on the uneven stone floor (yes, it is a rather interesting dance surface and one which strongly encourages you NOT to Charleston). Randi and Cullen both put up with my klutzy leading at one point or another. Jim danced with every willing lady in the place. We all ate French food, including really amazing chocolate crepes and a very light and lovely white wine. We had a birthday dance for Ellen to some fine Louis Prima tunes, during which she also put up with my klutzy lead. Sean and Barbara Lindyed to Mozart. And we amused the restaurant patrons no end. It was a really lovely evening.
Monday April 26, 1999
From: Bob Schmitt
Monday nights' open dancing at Glen Echo are great! It runs from 9-11:30, costs $5 ($2 for Marc & Ellen students). There is loads of room, as opposed to the usual weekend congestion at Glen Echo, so you can do lots of traveling or big moves (or whatever such things are called), and not bump into people.
Andy the DJ plays a fabulous mix of music -- great big band sounds, w/ nice tempos - perfect for dancing and some listening breaks. Ellen hangs around and helps people w/ their dance questions. And of course, GE has that great floor and ambience.
There's a nice group of regulars that come, but there's lots of room for more.
Tuesday April 27, 1999
We attended the BET taping of Set Em' Up Joe --- an amazing experience. These guys really swing! After about two hours under the hot lights, we broke speed records to get to Class 4 of Iver's Balboa series. The four lesson class was very exxpertly done and got us well on the road to doing Balboa. We can see that the stlying, grace and speed of Balboa take a lot of practice. On the other hand, Balboa has come in VERY HANDY on several crowded dance floors lately. We urge you all to start with Balboa NOW. Iver has given permission for us to put a page on the website detailing the mechanics of the Balboa Basic Step. The step is easy (check it out...) but the styling is ever so difficult. This is a very sophisticated dance
From: Elizabeth Engel
Tuesday night was the final night of Iver's historical balboa class which, to the best of our knowledge, was the first time an actual series on Maxie Dorf's Bal-Swing (as opposed to Bart Bartolo's version) was taught in DC. We finished up by adding the come around, kicks in and out, and what basically amounts to a Balboa swing out to our stable of move (Maxie's basic step, cross overs, falling into the log, the Bal-swing turn, grapevine, and reverse grapevine).
The great thing about taking a class with Iver is that he makes you learn it right from the very beginning, rather than throwing a ton of steps at you that you only half understand and don't really do right and then figuring that you'll get it together later. I think it might have been a little hard for the few real beginners in the class (folks who'd only been dancing at all for 2-3 months), but the rest of us really appreciated the immediate focus on correct technique.
For those of you who were unable to attend, Iver is going to be doing another Bal 1 series at some point in the near future, probably on a different night and in a different location, and there's also talk of a Bal 2 class. If you have any interest in Balboa and Bal-Swing (and who doesn't these days?), I HIGHLY recommend that you make all possible efforts to take Iver's Bal 1 class, or failing that, contact him for some privates. Check out Iver's New Balboa Classes At some point in the not too distant future, you are very much going to want to be proficient at the Maxie basic step and the Maxie stable of beginning/intermediate moves, although you'll have to get more information as to why from Iver. Meanwhile, just take my word for it!
Thanks and gratitude to Iver and Deb for keeping Bal knowledge alive in DC and for keeping it up when no one was interested and for being willing to share their accumulated wisdom with all of us!
Wednesday April 28, 1999
We were at the Celbration of Duke Ellington's Birthday at Glen Echo. We had a blast --- and our reviewers concur:
From: Elizabeth Engel
Duke Ellington's 100th with the Eric Felton Orchestra at Glen Echo WOW! This is the first time I've ever gotten to hear the EFO and I was totally blown away. They had an incredible two-set program of Duke Ellington music, chronicling the Duke's outstanding career and songbook. They played his well known tunes (Wham Re bop, Duke's Place, A Train) and many lesser-known chestnuts as well. The tunes generally ranged from medium-slow to medium-fast, with a few outliers on either end to allow us all to practice our smooth, sexy moves and our Balboa.
We did a shim sham to a Duke tune facing the band which was great fun, the Flycats did a terrific routine to a great Chick Webb number (according to their intro, Webb was one of Ellington's major influences) which means we all got to dance with them too, we got together a huge line of tandem Balboa at one point, I danced to just about every tune with so many fellas, some of whom I only see at Glen Echo, the wedgies got their first full evening's wearing (and the verdict is a resounding thumbs up), Eric himself sang a couple of numbers (and he has a lovely voice), and the music was just amazing, drawn from the Duke's early swing years.
Happy Birthday, Duke! DC loves and misses you still!
From: Sue Fedor
Lizzie Hess and I arrived at Glen Echo for the last three songs from the Chantilly High School Jazz Band. Boy were these kids hot! They played that bane of many a band, "Sing, Sing, Sing" and many a full grown drummer should take a cue from the CHS drummer: STAY ON THE BEAT! He kept the beat and kept it true....even throwing a few solos in. They played their hearts out and we screamed and clapped and stamped for an encore. After appologies to Eric Felton, the band kicked into "In the Mood".
I think this was an appropriate way to kick off a wonderful birthday celebration for Duke Ellington. He was forced by his mother to take piano lessons when he was a kid and when he was a teen, he was hanging out on U Street catching the jazz greats and forging his future. I'm sure he would have been pleased to see these youngsters carrying on the tradition--on the bandstand and on the dance floor.
Eric (Babyface) Felton took over for the next three sets with an all-Ellington program. It was amazing to me how diverse the songs were. Some fast enough to do balboa--and Frank started the Multiple-Tandem -Balboa line, which I'm sure he will describe in great detail. Some, like "The Mooch" were the kind that make you snuggle up to your sweetie. My sweetie had to work late, so I got to dance with all the guys! Thanks, boys! You're all terrific...but the prize goes to my all time favorite, Ray Keaney, who's back on the dance floor after a long chronic injury.
Little known fact about Eric Felton....he's a reporter for some local news agency and has frequented the C-SPAN Morning Show. We declined to ask him the latest news on Kosovo, however.
It was an old-fashioned Glen Echo night. The floor was well populated, but not crowded. The crowd came to dance, not observe, which was nice. Despite a shortage of guys at the beginning, the boys kept the rotation going and the girls got plenty of dances in. AND THE SHIM SHAM WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK OF THE BALLROOM! I've never seen such full participation in a shim sham.
[Editor's Note: At the urging of (and with the approval of) Maxie Dorf, we have created a Balboa "Line" dance called "Multiple Tandem Balboa" --- click the hyperlink for all the directions.]
Thursday April 29, 1999
From: Jennifer Comar
Hi Frank and Carole-
Friday April 30, 1999
We dropped into Poli-Tiki for a brief time and we found the joint swinging. Monica, Bob Kleinpeter, Eric, Julia, Jim and Elizabeth were there and we got a chance to practice a little multiple tandem Balboa. As usual, the crowd began to seriously impinge on the dance floor by about 11:30, at which point we beat a hasty retreat
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