|March, 1999 Reviews|
The Windy Hoppers and "Hooray for Hollywood" were the big events
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Review of Dance Events During March, 1999
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Monday March 1, 1999
From: Misha Akkerman Akkerman.Michael@orbit al.com
Here are reflections from some of the other participants in the Windy Hoppers event:
From: Young-Jin firstname.lastname@example.org A>
This past weekend was one of the most relaxing and at the same time most stimulating dance weekends I have had this year. You guys have some phenomenal dancers in DC. I had a blast meeting and dancing with all of the incredibly warm and nice people out there. I believe between SF, DC and ChiTown we pretty much define social Lindy Hop on the North American continent. It would be awe inspiring to all meet in April for the biggest bash of them all right here in Chicago.
The music at all the places was excellent and Glen Echo was incredible!. Thanks you so much for making the "Weekend 2" happen for all of us! I hope we can show you Capital Hoppers an equally good time when you come to visit us in April. We will try our best to give you guys a taste of the best dance venues and music and late night dining the Windy City has to offer.
The visual introduction to some good Hollywood style dancing was very neat.Hugs to all our wonderful hosts and new friends in DC! See you in April!
From: Mary email@example.com P>
You guys put together one of the most amazing weekends! And it paid off... I think every one of us walked away with some new friends and some wonderful memories. Thanks again!
We'll work on putting together a website for the weekend as soon as folks start getting their pictures back. Also, thanks to Scott, we'll have a great video of the weekend to share with you as well.
Take care and keep in touch. We're looking forward to seeing you in April!
From Julia Stewart juliastewart@mindspring .com
We did a wonderful job planning and organizing the Chicago folk's visit!!! I'm glad I could help out and I certainly did have a great time. Nancy is really sweet and the other folks are all as laid back as hoped (well, you can't expect less from a group from Chicago)
From Nancy firstname.lastname@example.org P>
Just wanted to send you a quickie note to THANK YOU ever so much for all the planning you did for us and putting the whole DC trip thingy together for us. I felt totally special, and I'm sure everyone else did too! Whoever said it, I think they are right: coming to DC really made a mark on all of our lives. I never imagined that everyone could be even more sweet, kind, and wonderful than I thought they would be. I loved learning and playing with everyone out there. THANK YOU, THANK YOU.....
From: Dr. Daniel Fierer email@example.com
That was the most fun that I have had dancing that I can remember, right up there with Sweden. Tremendous energy. It just felt so good. I think it went better than I could have hoped. And they were better dancers than I had hoped for, and more fun to boot. Thank you again for making that foolish proposition to them that turned out so well.
I just wanted to send you a quick note to say that it was really nice to meet all of you this weekend and thank you for all of your great planning and organization. You really planned an awesome weekend for us. I had a great time and I know the rest of the crew did too.
I look forward to seeing you guys in Chicago.
From: Lizzie Hess
What a great weekend we put together for the Windy Hoppers! My guests couldn't say enough about the fun they had. I got them safely to the airport this morning, with 3 hours of sleep for them, but since they weren't piloting the plane that didn't pose too much of a problem. Scott really appreciated the extra length we went to celebrate his birthday.
Tuesday March 2, 1999
We had a very nice turnout at the Shark on Tuesday. Sadly, it was Kelby Clement's last night in DC -- we're all going to miss her. John Coombs and the Red Hot Swingin' Johnsons kept the folks hopping to midnight. Our newcomers continue to have good things to say about the bands and the floor, so I guess that we are doing fine. So, we encourage you all to come on over to the Shark on Tuesday and join in the live band fun.
Wednesday March 3, 1999
We spent the afternoon at Keith Muckler's exhibit at the Corcoran. We had a very good time --- Keith has assembled about 20 silver gelatin prints of dancers in the various Swing Jams --- we noted Glen Echo, Morty at the Birchmere, and Forest Glen. He has arranged the photos in a semi circle. The photos on the outside are of the backs of people watching the jam and the inside has various jammers, including Duke and Nina, Eric and Alex, Tom and Deb, Jeff and Tricia, Steve and Carla. Almost all the regulars are in the pictures somewhere. These photos have a really intense quality that is very reminiscent of the photos from the 1930s that appeared in LIFE magazine. A very worthwhile exhibit that runs until March 13.
Thursday March 4, 1999
We dropped in to Lewies to see Flatfoot Sam and the Educated Fools. The club has expanded considerably since we were last there. There is a much larger dance floor that is certainly acceptable for dancing, although we would not call it gigantic. The staff seems to be very nice. Sam really shone --- they played two sets of very good jump blues that were just perfect for Lindy Hopping. Folks should seriously consider attending any event where Sam is playing.
This evening was Judy Thackeray's birthday and Carole baked her one of her fancy cakes. We had a group of folks from the J Street Jumpers drop in to help Judy's birthday. Sam even obliged with a birthday dance. The staff at Lewies even provided forks and plates. As we said, a very nice and pleasant evening.
Friday March 5, 1999
We made our way to Poli-Tiki. We got there just in time to watch Brian and Thea finish their excellent lesson. Matt Dunn did a good job with the discs, and we were honored with the presence of notables such as "Big Ed" Burak and Anne Bailey, Bob Kleinpeter, Jane Ford, Larry MacDonald, Alicyn VanDijys, and others. The place was a bit crowded and it looked like some of the beginners were, well, out of hand. There were the usual problems of attempting aerials in limited space, crashing, and bumping. This builds on Elizabeth's review last week --- we still like Poli-Tiki, but it looks like there is a need for the "Dance Police". We'd like to stress that dancing is a SOCIAL activity and that means respecting others. We are firmly in favor of a policy of "NO AERIALS except in the Jam!"
Saturday March 6, 1999
We travelled to Nick's to see a smaller version of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. The marquee outside Nicks said "Tonight -- the King of Swing, Tom Cunningham" Tom attributes this to Nick and really doesn't want to offend any of the Goodman fans around. The place was packed to the gills. The jam was spectacular. Jeff and Nina showed off a kip borrowed from the film "Junior Prom". Cameron and Carla had a great routine which ended with Cameron sliding down Carla's leg to fall flat on his butt. Robin wowed the crowd withher version of "Hey Bop a Re Bop" and the crowd obliged by singing along. A very nice evening for all.
Sunday March 7, 1999
We attended the Grand Opening of Cullen Kowalski's swing night at Paris Bisous, the unusual French Restaurant in Georgetown.. Carole's magical ability to "wish away" parking spaces landed us a spot just outside the restaurant, We walked in to find Huey Pham at the door --- and Jayna Morgan in the DJ booth. This evening was a lot of fun --- Steve Cowles and Naomi Uyama showed up as well as Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney. On the food front, Max's bean soup is off the scale! The early crowd seemed to want to know about Shim Sham, so We got a chance to be "guest instructors". We had an interesting jam --- Jayna played what seemed like the "2-year" version of "Sing, Sing, Sing". Everyone went through their whole Lindy routine. Then everyone did Collegiate Shag. Then everyone did Balboa. Then we did blazing fast Shim Sham. It was at this point that we noted that "Christopher Columbus" came in. Hmm -- that was some long song... A whole lot of fun!
From: Sue Fedor
Steve and I popped down to G-town to lend Cullen Kowalski, our International Man of Mystery, some moral support as he began his swing sessions at Paris Bisou. Frank and Carole, the lovely and talented Yvonne, and a few others were there. Carole seemed enchanted by the lanterns and fountain. I was happy to see that Max (that International Owner of Mystery) moved the bar to provide plenty of space for dancing.
Cullen gave a private lesson to some new people whose names I do not remember. They were swell! I danced with a young man whose name I did not catch and had a wonderful time. He's got the solid beginnings of a nice Hollywood whip as well as a fairly smooth Savoy. Steve Bailey & Nina G. showed up. Steve B. forced me to dance with him. I HATE social dancing with my teachers. I feel like I'm being constantly evaluated. That feeling soon departed as I was left waiting for Steve to complete his 11 1/2 spins. Then, I went into survival mode as he threw all kinds of fancy footwork into Charlestons, travelling Charlestons and the whip. I realized that I was actually dancing not just with Steve, but with his huge EGO! (Two for the price of one, which is ok since both are quite amusing.) Afterward, Nina and I discussed the faces one can make while Steve is showing off. Sticking out your tongue is NOT ladylike, but rolling your eyes and tossing your head, or pretending to stare at your watch or buff your nails on your shoulder is perfectly acceptable--AND ENCOURAGED. Nina usually just laughs and frankly, I think that is the best response, cuz it makes Steve laugh and sometimes that gets him off track.
Jams erupted, including a short stint by that dynamic duo: Steve & Steve. Steve kipped Steve (guess who kipped who... you're WRONG! It was Steve! ) Look for it in a jam near you. Too bad about that rule against same sex partners in competition. I think I saw a potential award winning partnership here. Afterward, Cullen tried to do the sidecar with Steve D. (my Steve.) Looks like another call to the chiropractor is in order. You know how boys are....
Most of the tango/salsa/flamenco crowd wasn't there, so we couldn't show off for total strangers. But that also meant that the air was fairly clean of smoke. We were disappointed to find out that Max could not get the carpenter to install the floor, but we did enjoy some good food (mercifully reduced from the usual Georgetown prices). Max is a champ for letting us use his joint for just $5. We'll see how long this lasts, but for now, it's a nice gig on a Sunday night, especially for you in-towners. We're told the floor will be in soon, so maybe some more of you GEEZERS will show up.
Monday March 8, 1999
We dropped in to see Mark and Ellen at their regular Monday night open dance at Glen Echo. This evening was just a little bit cold... But, the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. This is a good thing, and you ought to consider getting on over, especially if you need space to work on routines. Andy "DJ Daddy-O" spins the platters.
Here's a review Jitterbug Jam put on by Melinda Comeau of Ventura, California:
From: Derek Kim KIM-D@SA.UCSB.EDU
The Jitterbug Jam took place at the Hyatt Regency in Thousand Oaks (which is about 45 minutes from Santa Barbara and 20-30 minutes from LA)f rom 3/5 to 3/7. It was an all day affair, starting at 10am to at least 1am in the morning. Unlike most workshops, there was a hour break or open dancing between the classes. This format allowed the dancers to eat some food, change clothes, go over the materials presented in class, talk to the instructors, take a nap...... without missing out on the next class or to feel hurried.
The instructors were: Sharon Ashe and Paul Overton from San Francisco, Jonathan Bixby and Sylvia Sykes from Santa Barbara, Scott Price and Tami Stevens from Pasedena, Erik Robison and Sylvia Skylar from Hollywood, and Chester Whitmore from LA. Other notables present were Mary Collins (wife of late Dean Collins), Kate Ford (Boston), Tammy Finocchiaro of the Flyin' Lindy Hoppers, Lance (I can't remember his last name), one of the original Dean Collins Dancers, an appearence by Chester Whitmore's tap instructor, and the great Norma Miller.
The classes were great. Some of the highlights (at least for me) were dancing with Sylvia Skylar in the balboa class taught by Sylvia Sykes. As a guy, I don't think it gets any better that. Paul and Sharon's classes are always great. You always hear the phrase, "dance to the music". No pair does that bretter than Paul and Sharon. Chester's tap class for swingers went over my head but it was fun trying. There was even a lecture by Norma Miller and a class where we watched video from the 30's all the way up to the early 80's. Frieda (don't know her last name), the blond bombshell in those 50's-60's swing movies brought some movie clips also.
The evening dances had too many highlights to mention. The first place for the amateur Jill went to Sarah Breck who's 12 years old. Keep an eye out for her. However, there were plenty of old timers there displaying some mean balboa as well as lindy. They joined in the jam circle and showed the youngsters how it was done. Chester Whitmore and a young lady (name escapes me) did an amazing tap number on Sat. night. Chester's next big gig is with the legendary Jimmy Slide. The pro-jack&jill featured some of California's best. Being from Santa Barbara, we're heavily influenced by Souther Cal. (Hollywood style) and from Northern Cal. (Savoy, bit of hip-hop) and everyone I was with was very excited to see what would happen when a savoy style person was paired up with Hollywood style. To everyone's delight that's exactly what happened. Paul Overton (Savoy)was paired up with Alisha (iwho teaches at club Capri) and Peter Loggins (Hollywood) was paired up with Sharon Ashe. It was great to see two different styles match up so well. I think Paul and Alisha were the crowd favorites by a large margin. Sylvia Sykes (who by the way is in the finals of the Carolina Shag competition) said "double is a double, triple is a triple in any style of swing" and that was proven by Paul,Alisha,Peter and Sharon.
Well, I tried to condense it as much as possible...... The
Jitterbug Jam was a great deal of fun and not to mention a
bargain at $70. I highly recommend it.
Tuesday March 9, 1999
The snow managed to kill almost all the dancing in the city. We waited until 3:00, but the weather service said that eight inches were expected, so with some regret cancelled the evening at the Shark. We received an e-mail from Mercedes Clemmens indicating that the AIDS fundraiser at Poli-Tiki was also cancelled.
Wednesday March 10, 1999
The Big Freschetta Mirror Ball Tour event at Swing Nation took place. (Due to a prior commitment, We couldn't attend). From: Douglas Pierce
The New Morty Show et al at Nation last WED was fun, but as expected mostly too fast for anything except Balboa. The place is, as Auntie Deb said "A BIG ASSED PLACE" with two dance floors and lots of room to just hang around. The large main floor is parquet (wood tiles) on concrete. The smaller (more intimate) dance floor is a really nice suspended wooden floor. The decor is sparse and interestingly industrial. There are a few sofas to collapse onto and lots of places to get great overhead photographs of the big floor and stage.
My main complaints are the disco lights....they are really disorienting and the stage is about 6 feet above the dance floor so you feel kind of separated from the band.
The area is not one that you want to walk around in at night but it is well lit and the parking is close to the entrance. There appears to be a good bit of on street parking available as well if you would rather not spend $5 for monitored parking. I opted for the street, but I drove the old rust bucket. Also they serve alcohol but no snacks of any kind so bring your own carbohydrates.From: Kristin Hershberger
The Wednesday night premiere of Swing Nation had it's ups and downs. I arrived late that evening after apparently passing Nations by twice. It is not at all what one would think of as the "Capitol Ballroom" and is not marked very well, so look closely if you are planning on going to see TCO on the 20th. Nations seems to be a former warehouse gone DC club and is located in a rather rough section of South East. The atmosphere of Nations was very "unswing-like" with bright-colored flashing lights in an otherwise dark surrounding. This is no Glen Echo. But Tom Koerner was right about one thing, Nations could really hold a crowd if necessary. The 200 dancers that were there barely filled half of the main room, which contained the stage and the dance floor.
Since I was late I missed Alien Fashion Show and Blue Plate Special. I was later told that neither was very good anyway and unfortunately New Morty didn't prove to be much better. Although I must admit some of their songs were rather "interesting" (Swing meets Metallica) and their version of Sing Sing Sing could've made any dancer cry for a REAL dance beat. But the "Jammers" tried to suffer though the endless minutes of drum solos (Yes, there was more than one!) I think we all appreciate the Tom Cunningham Orchestra a little more now. Ironically, with all the flaws of the evening, I still managed to have a good time. I recommend anyone to go and check out Nations for themselves. With the right band and some more dancers....you never know, this could become the next Saturday night place to swing!
We also this review of the Mirror Ball Tour when it hit Dallas:
From: Rachel Blacketer firstname.lastname@example.org
Heya Frank and Carole!!
Thursday March 11, 1999
We have no reviews for this date
Friday March 12, 1999
We hosted an evening at the Elks with the New Columbia Swing Orchestra. The band was in fine form and played several arrangements that have not been heard for almost sixty years. The high point was the debut of the Goodman arrangement of "In the Mood" which is strikingly different from the Glenn Miller version --- it has a passage in which the lead trumpet and clarinet play off one another. The only recording of this arrangement is an obscure V-Disc made for the members of the Armed Services during the war. We're pretty certain that the folks who attended our dance were the first people to hear this song live in 56 years. Our first lesson at 7:30 had about 40 people. Then, at about 8:30, people started to arrive in droves --- all with the story "Couldn't get in to America." Eventually, we got a very big crowd. We had more than 120 in our Charleston lesson at the first break and we had about the same for our "Artie Shaw Kicks" lesson during the second break. All in all, everyone seemed to have a good time, and it looks like the best of both worlds -- America was full and so was the Elks.
From: Cameron Sellers
Hooray for Hollywood weekend opened up at America Restaurant with Tom Cunningham Orchestra (TCO). They were configured differently this time with the band next to the bar. The restaurant reneged on its promo that it was going to move all the tables from the window to the end of the bar. If management had kept its promise, there would have been enough room to dance. The only reason why I stayed and didn't bolt was because JEAN VELOZ, her brother Ray, Erik, and Sylvia were there from California.
Everyone crowded around them and listen to very word they had to stay. They are true celebrities in this town. One could tell the young crowd was appreciative of the style they brought to town: Hollywood Style Lindy. The jam was awesome as Erik and Sylvia demonstrated why they were the masters of Hollywood. Jean and Ray went out and reminded everyone who created it.
The evening concluded when the usual ritual with us going to Amphora for a bite to eat.
Saturday March 13, 1999
From: Chris Bamberger
Words cannot begin to express how good the Jive Aces were. After working the Hot Jazz Saturday Night/WAMU membership campaign (thank you darlings who gave us $$$), I got to Nick's so late that I was afraid most of the fun would be over. Was I ever wrong! Though it was nearly 11, there was still wonderful (if crowded) dancing to an amazing and marvelously theatrical band, an all-star jam, and some fun movie-watching and Bernstein-spinning happening afterward.
Even if the Aces just stood up there and played their swingin' jump tunes, you'd say, What a Band. But they have a trumpet-player who can come out and Lindy with a girl without missing a note, a keyboardist who looks about 20 and plays like he has far more than 20 years of experience, a bass player who can hold the box upside down and play, or sport the trumpet lead on his shoulders while they BOTH play flawlessly... what a group. The most amazing thing about them was their touching modesty. When the crowd gave them a roaring ovation in response to their ultra-excellent jam playing, they looked like James Stewart as Glenn Miller when the crowd goes wild at the Palomar: sort of surprised and overwhelmed!
Eric and Sylvia were in fine form, and Jean Veloz was grabbed by about five fellas before the jam was done. One amazing moment that I'm sure many others will write about, too: Eric took four women around the world and the precision swivel was screamin'.
Jeez. Nina Gilkerson is the best dancer I've ever seen in my life.
I got to dance with plenty of guys who were very patient with my strange mixture of Savoy and Hollywood (Savoywood? Holloy?), and I regretted endlessly that I had not brought my camera, because most cats were dressed to the nines. (Speaking of which, this band really knows how to dress, too! Well, they're Brits, so big surprise, wot?) One of the best moments of the evening was when Elizabeth (there's somethin' about ties) Engel stepped up to straighten the trumpet player's tie after his wildman antics of the number before.
You'll get so many reports on this--I'll keep it short. Bring them back soon, Tom. WOW!
From: Cameron Sellers
The Hollywood weekend continued on Saturday at Nicks down in Alexandria. What a difference in management style. At America one wonders if they really want us there. At Nicks, you can tell he wants us there. For $30 dollars, he served dinner, opened up the back and allowed the swing dancers to stay there until 2 am in the morning.
While the dance floor was absolutely crowded, it didn't matter, the band was great! The Jive Aces were outstanding. I have never seen a band that interacted so well with the crowd. One of the uniqueness of the band members was that they all could swing dance as well. During the Jam, the lead vocalist danced with Nina while playing the trumpet. The craziness did not stop there. There was a great dual between the trombone player and the vocalist, the sax, and the key board player.
If the main floor was too crowded, people escaped to the back and danced to DJ music. The Celebs were there and men and women lined up to dance with the legendary Jean Veloz and Ray. I worked my way up to the front of the line and was able to squeeze in two dances with her. When the band concluded, they danced with us into the evening.
Sunday March 14, 1999
From: Suanne Fedor
Wow! What a night! Thanks to a tip from our basement resident, Steve Bailey, we learned that the JIVE ACES would be playing at America on Sunday. So we high-tailed it out through the slush and snow to see this fabulous band.
Unlike Nicks, the night before, the band only played one, hour long set. Tom had negotiated an extra night from the boys and they agreed to play for an hour. But unlike Nicks, THERE WAS ROOM TO DANCE, so we took full advantage.
Others will describe the band and their antics in depth, but suffice it to say that it is very nice when the band dances as well as the dancers. They definitely keep a dancer's rhythm. Even the brutally fast stuff lured you to the floor like a magnet. It was hard to keep still. Knowing we only had an hour, Steve and I tried to dance every song. It was hard for us geezers (who enjoy our breaks) but the band provided a few well paced breaks with their own productions, including dueling trumpet and trombone, and the "swinging keyboard" (pianist tries to play while the other guys swing his keyboard back and forth).
They played an extensive jam, featuring the lovely and talented Eric and Sylvia. At one point, the trumpet player came out and pulled Naomi out to dance with him. The JA's officially ended their set with Hava Nagilah (which resulted in TWO concentric hora circles, in the middle of which Iver executed a series of squat kicks). After that, they played two more encores. This is definitely the best little dance I've been to this year so far!
It's always nice to chat with Eric and Sylvia. It's so hard for me to believe these kids are in movies and videos. They're so down to earth and friendly with everyone. They were both dog tired from a grueling weekend of dancing and teaching and they had a plane to catch to Seattle. But they're keeping busy and it pays the bills and they're both happy doing what they love to do, which is dancing and sharing their love for dancing with everyone else. They were both really pleased to see how popular that west coast style is in DC.
From: Jamie Mac Donald
Hiya! I've never ventured to write a review for you (first time writer, long time reader), but The Jive Aces last Sunday night at America were just too good to resist.
Not too many people braved the slush-covered roads, but those who did were well rewarded. Eric and Sylvia took over the intermediate lesson and showed us some visualization-of-Lindy exercises. Since they are Californians after all, I expected to need incense or at least a meditation crystal or two, but it turned out to be just good practice exercises.
But that ain't what all the fuss was about.
The Jive Aces were pumping out sounds that FORCED you to dance.
They played a sound check song (with Eric and Sylvia putting on a display) in the middle of the intermediate lesson, and it was obvious that the crowd was in for a treat.
Their regular set started up with the trombone player giving us a view of what "slide trombone" really means as he scooted (scootted? scat?) along the floor blasting out the tune. Soon everyone was focused on the stage as people realized that they were in for a show.
The lead singer/trumpeter called Eric and Sylvia to show their stuff (and oh, how she can work that skirt!), and Tom soon had the jam organized and rolling. In fact, between the band's antics (ever seen a bass violin player play while lying flat on his back and holding his instrument above him with one foot?), Eric and Sylvia's presence, and the usual antics of the DC Lindy Crowd, it seems we had about four jams that night.
The Jive Aces gave us three encores, including a version of "Minnie the Moocher" that somehow drifted into a Russian folk song with people circling up to do the properly ethnic kicks.
Poor me.... I'm left wishing I had signed up for the whole "Hollywood" weekend!
Monday March 15, 1999
From: Elizabeth Engel
Eric and Sylvia's classes were as great, and as packed, as ever, lousy weather notwithstanding. We took the whole shebang. Every time they go over the basics of the Hollywood swingout it gets just a little more clear and just a little better. They taught all kinds of fun stuff in Hollywood 1 and 2, including the Boogie Woogie 6 count swingout, and what they call 3 wall Lindy, a move Jim has been trying to pick up from Steve for a couple of months now.
Balboa 1 was pretty much a review of stuff Iver's taught us, but it was definitely good to go through it again. Even Bal 2 was mostly review. For the folks who enjoyed the Bal classes, be sure not to miss Iver's 4 week series in April - Tuesday nights at Maryland Youth Ballet, $40 a person. As Jim's mother would say: "What a bargain!"
Charleston was also very useful - I finally picked up Savoy Kicks. They taught 'em at VSO, I could've sworn I had 'em, and 3 days later I completely forgot them. Too much information! Since I was going to have to drop something I'm glad it was Savoy Kicks as opposed to my name and where I live. Anyway, this time I think I really have them. They also went over jump Charleston again. But I think the most useful part was the exercise in leading and following we did at the beginning of the class. Then Styling was mostly an opportunity to watch Jean dance. They worked on the Jean Pause or freeze (Jean's term) and the quick stop or deep freeze (also Jean's term). But the best part was watching her dance and listening to her talk about dancing and style and attitude. She knows more about dancing in her pinky toe than I know in my whole big head. I could've sat there and listened and watched all day long.
The dance at Nick's with the Jive Aces was a great time. It was utterly packed, but that's OK 'cause it gave us plenty of opportunity to practice our Balboa. The band was just amazing - they have a great jump blues sound and they all dance, so while the tunes were cooking, they weren't so fast you couldn't dance to them. They had a very tight sound and they put on a great show, playing with crowd better than any band I've ever seen. Highlights: dueling trumpet/trombone, the lead singer/trumpet playing while dancing, the piano player's jam turn, and the many many encores the enthusiastic crowd convinced them to play. After they quit playing, they stayed around to dance, talk, and take pictures until after we left at 1:45 am. Tom says they'll be back in August, and I would plan now not to miss it.
Eric and Sylvia also taught the Monday night intermediate class, and Tom and Debra let folks sit in and watch. They focused mostly on exercises to help you be able to use your arms and legs indepdently of each other and to help you keep your weight and balance as they should be. It was really interesting and I think will help me a lot as a follower. The Monday night dancing was unusually fun too, with a lot of folks who don't often turn out for Monday nights (Gay and Dave, I'm looking at you) present, and Jim's very first jam as a follower. It wasn't great, but at least Iver helped prevent him from waiting months and months and months again.
Tuesday March 16, 1999
We had a very nice crowd at the Shark, considering it was the first night that we didn't have a band. The crowd seemed to like Andy "DJ Daddy-O". Finally, enough of our beginner students have mastered the Shim Sham, that we can start doing this on a regular basis. We were honored to have Glynis Astier back fresh from Hollywood, where she has just completed work in a film. She plays a combination exotic dancer and assassin (Hit Woman?) Chris Bailey and Angela were there. When the crowd from John McCalla's class arrived, we had a very nice jam. We're going to be doing more with Andy in the future.
Wednesday March 17, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Thursday March 18, 1999
We have no reviews for this date
Friday March 19, 1999
Carole had laser surgery to correct her vision so she won't have to wear glasses. So, we had to stay home andlisten to swing music. However, it looks like lots of people were out:
From: Trish Mannetti
We had a nice surprise at the Dancesport in Bethesda. After John's lessons Dr. Dan (one our regulars) showed up with Rusty Frank and Peter Flahiff, Hollywood dance stars visiting from LA. It was great to see them dance and to dance with them. ( I really enjoyed dancing with Peter). Ellen Engle also came for a while and joined in on our low key Jam. And the Shim Sham was quite memorable since we had so many visiting "Stars".
From: Elizabeth Showalter
Hi Frank and Carole,
Saturday March 20, 1999
The glowing propaganda about laser surgery proved to be untrue. Carole was in no shape to go out, and we had made a commitment to do a job for the McLean PTA. Jim and Elizabeth Engel came to the rescue. We taught a beginner lesson and then got the crowd of parents dancing (we still don't understand why they didn't invite the teenagers...). Many of them had come to find out what the Swing Revival was all about. One father seemd to have Swing confused with Ska. It's funny, but all of this partner dancing seems to have completely missed a large part of the 35-45 age group. As we have said, the whole Swing Thing is a vast conspiracy between teenagers and their grandparents to bedevil their parents.
From: Sue Fedor
I try not to make it a point of reviewing private parties, but the birthday extravaganza that Steve and I worked along side Mr. Cameron and Ms. Lisa was quite a bash! We populated Chevy Chase Ballroom with "ringers" to both teach and entertain the partiers. The BILL ELLIOT TRIO plus KAY provided the cool tunes.
Cameron and Lisa taught the first lesson. Now, not to disparage poor Cameron, but how the heck did you ever advance in the Army??? Unable to command the partygoers (who were distracted when new guests arrived), Lisa sprang into action. For such a small girl, BOY does she have a commanding voice. Cameron managed to regain some semblance of control by asking the guys to "huddle" on his side of the dance floor while Lisa took the gals and drilled the six count step over and over. The guys were still in their huddle. Worried, Lisa asked Cameron what they were doing. "Trading pick up lines," he replied. Which is the whole point of dancing, after all. Most of these guys being MARRIED, Cameron was hoping to get a few pointers, I guess.
Whatever magic Lisa and Cameron seemed to work, it stuck with many of the beginners. After a couple of bottles of beer (and they had the good Czech stuff there too!) some of our beginner couples took to the dance floor to try their new steps. The rest of us fanned out to help others with one-on-one assistance.
A jam broke out during the second set and Cameron, Lisa, and the ringers did not fail to disappoint....once we got Mr. Bill Elliot up to speed (BET is the only band that has to be told to PLAY FAST during the jam!). On the whole, however, his moderate tempos were appreciated by beginners as well as those of us refining our newly learned Hollywood whips.
Steve and I taught the mob Charleston lesson during the second break. Cameron, Lisa, Steve and I lined up down the middle as the partygoers lined up on either side. The lesson ran the length of CCB.
The guest of honor got two birthday dances (and she's just a beginner!) Since they were in honor of her 50th birthday (she may have danced with 50 guys...I lost count) I told her husband that Advil, the official non-perscription pain reliever of the Flying Geezers, would be in order. She didn't look 50 to me. Both she and her husband had a ball and so did their friends, many of whom showed up in wonderful vintage garb!
On a personal note, I got some wonderful dances in with Mr. Rob Petrie (his real name). I can't believe he was just a beginner less than a year ago. Big John Mills stopped in from San Francisco to show off his new moves. Laura Avery showed off her stop traffic swivels and those of us with any energy left went to the TASTEE DINER in Bethesda. We were actually served by a very friendly waitress, who, I'm sure, would be fired on the spot if the management ever found out how friendly she was!
Sunday March 21, 1999
Breaking the first commandment of the Church of Lindy-Hop ("On the seventh day thou shalt not dance, but shall rest and spent time with thou non-lindy friends"), I went along to Paris Bisou in Georgetown, domain of our very own Chattanooga Cullen, and his trusty sidekick (or is that sidekip?), Randi.
Even the constant rain couldn't keep people away, and about 15 turned up, just enough - but not too many - to fill the small (stone!) dancefloor. After powdering down the floor and forgiving the slight unevenness (apparently a new wooden floor is in the works, but a little behind schedule), we danced the night away to tunes running the full gamut from Ella and Frankie to all the Louis', and even a touch of neo-swing. Everyone had a wonderful time - we even let rip with an impromptu jam - and ended the evening with a couple of great Big Apples!
The ambiance of Paris Bisou, with it's French cafe feel, real trees poking through the roof, and numerous little romantic hideaways, added to the wonderful mood and inspired us all. We were about to end a great night with a pile of crepes, but unfortunately we'd left it too late (it was about 11:30pm by this stage), and the chef has already retired. Maybe next time....
Monday March 22, 1999
I dropped into Chevy Chase Ballroom for a minute to deliver a new tape from Maxie Dorf to Iver Cooper. This is a great piece of video --- it shows Maxie teaching Balboa. Wow! There was a giant crowd --- I had to fight my way through the masses to find Iver.
From: Rachel Blacketer
Here's a riddle for ya:
What posesses people to drive for 4-5 hours with people they may or may not like, be drilled for hours on moves they thought they knew ("thought" being the key word here), and fight for the small amounts of oxygen in a dimly-lit ballroom--to not physically be able to even fall out of bed on Monday morning?
Why, a workshop weekend, of course--and everybody who has ever been to one knows what I'm talking about.
In my case, it was the Great Southwest Lindyfest this last weekend in Houston--yes, I know this review is a week late, but I am just now able to describe objects and movements in phrases other than scat: "Bah-dah-DA," and "Du-DOW-buh-duh-uhhh." (The most enlightening thing I learned being that numbers cannot adequately describe what goes on with your feet, and that to speak the Language of Dance Instructors, you have to be able to interpret everything in monosyllables.)
The lineup was FANtastic--Frankie and Dawn, Tom and Debra, Ryan and Jenny, Josie and Cha-Chi, Keith and Viola--all in one place. The Houston Swing Dance Society did a great job of pulling it all off, and every dancer in Texas was greatly appreciative. For me, it was such a thrill getting to see Tom and Debra again, and that eclipsed just about everything else. People in D.C. are so lucky, I hope they realize it.
I learned something that "kicked my you-know-what"
in every class (and let me just say that you haven't heard rhythm
until you've heard Cha-Chi do rhythm), and I can't wait until the
next one. As soon as I can stop limping.
P.S. Thanks for the dance, Tom!
Tuesday March 23, 1999
Well, Tuesday was our Swan Song at the Shark and we went out in style --- we had the Radio King Orchestra who were nothing short of fabulous. As usual, we had a very nice crowd, but differences with management over bar revenues made it prudent to end this gig on a high note.
Well, Frank did it again: he managed to attract a fabulous band to play at this great venue. The Radio King Orchestra kept us jumping the whole night, and even threw in a couple of mambo's for the more ballroom-included of the dancers. The singer has a wonderful voice, and regaled us with her sweet renditions of numerous classics, and the drummer... well, besides challenging the keyboard player from The Jive Aces for 'Freshest Face of the Year' award, that man can cook! Another coup for the Mr Jitterbuzz.com.
The single problem (well, not for me, but...) is the lack of men. So come down lads, the ladies are waiting for you. I, personally, had the pleasure of teaching a lovely Italian bella the basic swing steps... and there's more where that came from!
Wednesday March 24, 1999
This was not a good week for Swing Venues --- Eleventh Hour also closed its doors. Once again, the problem was bar revenues, not attendance. Two experiments with midweek live bands seem to indicate that DC does not have a "lounge crowd" of drinkers to carry the economic ball for the dancers. It is not a question of anyone losing money on swing but rather a question of expectations of management. Previous experience with headbanger music indicates that venues actually expect something like $15 - $20 per patron in bar sales (that's two $7 martinis and a cigar...) On the other hand, the population of individuals willing to spend such sums on a regular basis on a Wednesday is relatively small and rather hotly competed for by a host of other establishments (e.g ALL of Georgetown). Perhaps innovations like karaoke, pool tables, or free chicken wings will bring this crowd out. Swing doesn't seem to...
From: Doug Pierce
Well Frank, Eleventh Hour really sucked.....I knew things were not gonna be to great when I saw you and Carole leaving as I entered (I guess her eyes are better 'cause she recognized me.). I stuck around for a beer then headed to Lulu's taking Andy (the DJ) and Jamie Glover with me! Lulu's with Tom and Carolyn was ROCKIN' with about 100 people banging into one another. The band "Jokers Wild" played long and fast songs and way too many Sinatra numbers but it was fun. Regulars sighted: Ann Bailey, Big Ed, Meredeth, Luan, Larry Macdonald and a few others who looked familiar. Lulu's has added more dance space....nice new suspended wood in the area adjacent to the existing floor..
Thursday March 25, 1999
We have no reviews for this date
Friday March 26, 1999
We made a pilgrimage to York, Pennsylvania to see <Big Tubba Mista at the Valencia Ballroom. Believe me, this is a fabulous venue! It's just a bit smaller than Glen Echo, but it is in FANTASTIC shape -- big floor, stage for the band, plenty of seating in a balcony, heating, air conditioning, and bathrooms. There are pictures of all the big bands that played there in the 1940s. A very nice place. The Harrisburg crew came ready to dance, and it looked like there were about 500 people there. Big Tubba Mista put on a very energetic show with a lot of high speed numbers. They even played a cover of "Guido the Mosquito" off the Dr. Zoot CD --- we're sure that Sal and Al appreciate the flattery. This was a lot of fun! After the dance, we hit the Maple Donut Shop on Market Street --- fantastic "peanut butter and jelly" doughnuts.
From: Cameron Sellers
After practice, my long lost brother Huey and I headed for Nicks down in Alexandria for swing night. The evening was hosted by Ken and Donna and the swing band was Bill Elliot Trio. The place was crowded with all sorts of people. The Ithaca (Joanna, Liva, and Juliana) group that Alex brought down were there as well. I also noticed the group tends to be a bit older than the crowd at America.
Gretta was able to negotiate a jam with Donna with the understanding that it was short and spontaneous. The Jam started at 11:00 sharp and it was short. After Bill Elliot, people migrated towards the back and danced until 2pm. Katie, Gretta's little sister, and her friend Robyn spun the cds for us. Watch out Bernstein.
Saturday March 27, 1999
We were at Glen Echo for the regular Cunningham monthly gig. Once again, the place was packed. This was the biggest dance contest that we have ever seen --- there must have been 25 couples! We'll let our reviewers tell more of the story:
From: Cameron Sellers
Tom Cunningham was great at Glen Echo. Robin's voice never sounded better and the orchestra was solid. The place was packed and a line formed for about a half hour before everyone got in. I played Tom Koerner that night except that I was mute. Debra did the teaching and the ran the amateur dance contest. There must have been 25 couples out there competing for the water. Nina played the music and for the tie breaker, she played Jumping at the Wood side. Alex and Liva from Cornell looked like they were about to have a heart attack. Then again, looked like all of the dancers were going to have a heart attack. Sara and Gretta looked good but not good enough because they were edged out by a couple from Richmond.
From: Elizabeth Engel
What a great weekend! I was SOOOO tired on Sunday, but we had a great time. First of all, thanks to all the Flying Geezers who answered my call to come to PoliTiki on Friday night. My folks had a great time and loved getting to watch everyone dance. When we were doing the final cleaning and preparations on Saturday morning, my mom was RAVING about everyone's dancing. She and my dad really, really enjoyed themselves.
The party - thanks to all of you who came to share the housewarming and my birthday. To those of you who couldn't make it, hopefully we'll see you next time, although I'm not sure where we would have put any more people! Thanks to everyone for bringing all the tasty food and to all the guys - and ladies - who danced with me for my birthday dance. The house feels properly warmed, and the downstairs neighbor didn't call the police, so it was very successful. Sunday after my brother and his wife went home I spent the rest of the afternoon napping on the sofa, but we had such a great time!
From: Sue Fedor
Steve and I volunteered to help Frank and Lisa at the Heart Association's Heartthrob Ball at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center on Saturday night. The band (and I can't remember their name right now...sorry) was a much better than average all-purpose dance band (for weddings and stuff). They had a fine horn section, great vocals and a steady drummer. After the swing lesson at 8:00, they opened up with a great cover of Brian Setzer's arrangement of "Jump, Jive and Wail" and followed up with a solid cover of "Zoot Suit Riot." Both were extremely danceable. Occaisionally, an oldies number was thrown in that was swingable, but where the band truly shined, as most bands of this type do, was with Motown and disco. Their disco made you want to hustle. Too bad nobody could! Perhaps they should have a hustle teacher next year too!
Later in the evening, two members of the Capital Tangueros taught a tango lesson. Steve was fading, so we didn't stay for it, but one of their members, the lovely Charlotte, taught Steve and I the basic Argentine tango step. This may be the first eight, complicated steps in a long, long journey. By the end of the "lesson" we looked like we knew what we were doing. Of course, if someone had put tango music on, I'm sure steam would have come out of Steve's ears!
There were other Lindy hoppers there...those of us who run about in those young, single, Washintonian fundraiser circles....and again, I can't remember too many names...but I did get a dance in with Rob Lee, who is one of the youngsters trying desparately to hang with the Flying Geezers because we're older and have an appreciation for the finer things in life, even if we can't remember names! And Alison, Rob's friend and student of Mr. Bailey, who invited the dancers, was there showing off her new Lindy skills.
ABOUT THE FLOOR, which is all you really care about.... It is HARD COLD TERRAZZO, awful to dance on. Luckily, even with Bleyers, the floor was not sticky and had some slide to it. However, even after just 20 minutes of hard core dancing and aerials, my doggies were barkin'. I even had blisters which is something I haven't had in Bleyers since I started wearing them. Also, the large, cavernous barrel-shaped atrium is an echo chamber. The space right in front of the band is the only place where you can hear the music clearly. Off to the sides, behind, or above on the catwalk, the sound is just an echoey din. Halfway through the dance, the sound guy realized that the tweeters were missing. He put them on top of the speaker stack and the sound cleared up immensely.
The place is HUGE. I estimate we had about 400 people on the dance floor at one point. If you moved the stage back, you could easily fit in 1,000. I'm not sure what the quality of the sound would be, but you have that kind of room. On a nice note, I've never seen so many polite and genteel people in one place, so nicely dressed and full of money. Folks were drinking and eating and trying to hook up, but everyone was on their best behavior (perhaps because they were trying to hook up!) We were eating and drinking with real glass and I saw no broken glass anywhere (even after a few folks took some out on the dance floor!) Frank demonstrated his ability to Charleston with a full glass of water without spilling a drop.
Now, for me, there's only one Frank on the Lindy scene....Frank Morra. When Lisa started hangling with this new, younger Frank, I became desparate for a nickname. I'm here to announce that FRANK HAS A NEW NICKNAME! One Halloween, Frank took some hair gel and transformed himself instantly into Ed Grimley (that character from Saturday Night Live who plays the triangle and worships Pat Sayjak.) For those of you who've seen "There's Something About Mary" Frank assures me that it was hair gel. It took us all of 30 seconds to start calling him "Grimley". It really, really fits and it doesn't embarrass him a bit. Feel free to use it. He doesn't answer to it yet, but with a little practice, I'm sure he will.
Sunday March 28, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Monday March 29, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Tuesday March 30, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
Wednesday March 31, 1999
We have no Reviews for this date
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