|April, 1998 Reviews|
April started with unusually warm weather
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Review of Dance Events During April, 1998
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Wednesday April 1, 1998
We spent the day in Chambersburg, PA. This is a very nice town that has four very nice thrift stores within sight of each other. In addition, there is a gigantic four-building antique mall right outside of town. We brought back a load of goodies which sold like hotcakes on Friday night. We found a rare brown vintage tie, which was our gift to Arnold to go with his newly aquired brown zoot suit. We firmly believe that the clergy should have conservative taste in zoot suits.
Thursday April 2, 1998
Carole, and I went to Twist and Shout to see Darrel Nulisch and the Texas All Star Blues Band. Well, it was sort of a "Texas" band, except that our own David Earl was playing guitar. Darrel has a great voice and the band featured a very competent keyboard man who was greased lighning on the Hammond B-3 organ. Jack Hilton and Andrea MacIntosh joined us. It was a good thing, because there were not many other dancers. This was a really good Blues band, which meant not too many Lindy songs. So, we got to practice our six West Coast moves over and over again. It must have had an effect, because darrel asked us if there was anything we wanted to hear and I suggested that he leave the choice up to David Earl, who knew us from the long-defunct Tuesday night gigs at Chief Ike's in Adams-Morgan. We finally got a really rousing uptempo number and ran through our meager supply of aerials one after another. But, I would reccommend that Blues enthusiasts keep an eye out for Darrel -- he is really good.
Friday April 3, 1998
We were at America with fewer people than normal, since a vast contingent had decamped to ASDC. Steve Cowles and Carla Heiney did a very good job of filling in for Tom and Debra. Steve used to be a gold-level ballroom instructor and led the Charleston lesson with aplomb. He also provided expert leadership for the Jam. Here is Cameron's report:
From: Cameron Sellers
While everyone else was at ASDC, a few of us who were left behind trekked on over to Americas. Ron Haron, Mandy Rodriguez, and I arrived late into the first set of Tom Cunningham. Steve Cowles and Carla Heiny hosted the event for Tom and Deb, and they did a great job teaching the Charleston and controlling the JAM. Our faithful Frank and Carole followed suite into the JAM and a bunch of new couples ventured out for the first time. Mara's father and Greta were just a couple of newbies who entered the JAM. The night was capped off as a few of us (minus Tom, Deb, Carolyn, Sue, Steve, Gay, and Dave) went to the Silver Diner for a bite to eat.
Saturday April 4, 1998
We went to the Glen Echo to see the J Street Jumpers. We got there early to avoid the "capacity limits" fiasco of the previous week. We felt certain that a hot band like the Jumpers would fill the place immediately. Alas, this was not the case, since we hear that attendance was only in the mid 500's. This was a real bargain -- your $8 bought first class entertainment from a 10 piece band (11 when Marianna plays trumpet...). A lot of us remember the days when the Jumpers would play for practically nothing at the Monday Lindy practice sessions at Dancers. We were not disappointed -- the music was excellent and we especially like Maranna Previt'is vocal styling (and range...)
Toward the end of the evening, a lot of folks had been asking about a jam. Normally, I leave this sort of thing to Tom Koerner, but the requests were incessant. Thus, I asked Charlie Hubel of the Jumpers if they would play a Lindy-tempo jam song. The band thought it was a good idea as well, so we had a "jam". Now, since most of the regulars were at ASDC, this was not the usual jam -- but it was fun because we got a whole lot of new people to go out for the first time. It was late, and there weren't many folks left, so there was plenty of room for non-jammers to dance behind the circle. I am pleased to report that the "Junior Varsity" turned in a good performance --- that was fully redeemed by Andy and Heather at the end. Here is Cameron's report:
From: Cameron Sellers
The J Street Jumpers sounded great. They play a good variety of music. West Coast for people like Bernstein, shag music for people like me, and the dependable lindy music for the dancers at large. Ron Haron, Angela, Brian Kennedy, and I arrived to a full house. Alas, the attendance figures were more like 550) He even let the front door man keep count.
At the beginning of the third set, the band played One O' Clock Jump for the JAM. The JAM lacked participants so those who did it went out a couple of times and tried to extend the routines out there. Just before the end of the second set, Frank hunted Heather and I down and had us dance the shag for an older who had danced it in his college days. After I fished flipped Heather his daughter was impressed, but he gave us a look like "So what." I guess some folks are hard to please.
J Street Jumpers were solid and good that night. It was worth skipping ASDC.
Buck Smolow has this small note from ASDC. (Full resuls and detailed coverage by Sue Fedor are on the website).
From: Buck Smolow
To anyone who may have doubts...Carolyn and Tricia were GREAT! Great Fun, Great Routine, Great Playing to the crowd. Except for a sticky renegade hat, they were so polished it was a joy to watch. I hope they continue competing.
Sunday April 5, 1998
We went to Buckeystown and Frederick for a day of antiquing. I was very impressed with Buckeystown -- considering its proximity to the sprawl of Frederick, it remains a charming oasis of very well-kept Victorian homes. We even got to take a look at a house which Frank Lloyd Wright described as having "the most beautiful stonework" that he had ever seen. In this case, I would agree with Wright.
We are honored to have this analysis of ASDC by Peter Gehring:
From: Peter Gehring
Hi Frank and Carole,
Janice and Paolo had probably the best energy of any couple, and I had them picked to win with either Sing and Andrew or Lizzie and Misha in second. Andrew showed a lot of courage in dancing with a bad knee - I saw him the rest of the weekend walking around with a cane! Angie and Bill were dressed in great blue and yellow outfits, and they showed a wonderful style and sharpness. An unfortunate mishap occurred during their waterfall aerial that appeared to stun him, but they managed to finish their routine nevertheless. And of course Tom and Debra ended their routine with their now famous spike.
People should know that Misha did a great job with what I believe was the only aerial performed by a leader in the entire program (please correct me if I'm wrong). Misha "nailed" a backwards fish flip with Lizzie which set them both up perfectly for a side by side Charleston. (Apparently Misha likes to do backflips into the pool when he swims.) Lizzie looked like she came straight out of the roaring 20's in her red tassled outfit, and she played to the crowd with a few perfectly timed leans (supported by Misha) during an appropriately slow part of the music. In fact, Lizzie and Misha's choreography fit remarkably well with the music. I think this is an aspect of many routines that gets far too little notice. Great job guys!!
It was great fun to watch Leslie and Rick perform so well. Both did an outstanding job, and Rick looked hot in his zoot suit pants. Not too shabby a result for his first ever competition! I was a little surprised by the judging however, as I would have placed Tricia and Jeff ahead of Margaret and her partner. And I thought for sure that both Debra and Charlie Wyler would have placed in the top five. But perhaps this is just my hometown bias.
The FlyCats were disappointed not to place in the top three, but the competition was tough and Sandra Cameron gave a great performance. Our hats are off to them. The shag team was coached by Jackie McGee (a 9 or 10 time National Shag champion with Charlie Womble), and they had already won the National Shag Team Championship. These guys were just silky smooth! I really loved their footwork, though I think the men should lose their sweaters ... they looked like preppies. As for the Dance Manhattan team, well they won the ASDC Team competition last year, so everyone knew they were going to be good. I was sorry that the DC Hand Dancers withdrew the day before the competition, although I never found out why. I think they gave a demo, however, which unfortunately I missed.
I was a bit surprised by how many couples performed on each of these teams. The FlyCats have 4 for the "Here We Go Again" routine, whereas Sandra Cameron had 5, and everyone else had 7, 8 or more. It is much more difficult to stay in formation with a large number of couples, so the shag team impressed me a lot. (On the other hand, Lindy is a much faster paced dance than west coast or shag, so maybe it evens out.)
Other than performing, my favorite part of the team event, however, was watching Cricket's team from Charlottesville. I believe they called themselves the "Tandem Kids." This team was composed of only high school students who were taking Lindy Hop as part of their phys. ed. class. In fact, many of them had been dancing for less than six months. From what I understand, Cricket, who teaches high school, made Lindy an option for phys. ed. I think that is wonderful, and I only wish I'd had that option at their age. Their trip to the ASDC was basically their final exam. Not only that, but the kids themselves made up the choreography. One student choreographed the first few 8 counts, then another picked it up from there, and so on. They had a great ending with everyone lining up in a row and falling in rapid domino style.
I didn't see all of the competitions, but of those that I did, this seemed to have the best all around dancers. I agree with Carolyn that this was a very tough division. One couple, Carol and Tom, did the most amazing aerials (he was from LA and she is a dancer on Broadway), yet they had only been practicing together for 2 weeks. Another woman showed a lot of courage I thought by doing a solo number in the face of such strong competition. Certainly the most showy outfits were worn by Sing Lim's trio of dancers, as they were dressed in shimmering caps and outfits with gloves. But I thought Carolyn and Tricia were a close second (blue shimmering tops with top hats to match). This was my favorite division to just watch.
Lindy Jack & Jill
The Jack and Jill contest began after 2 am. Even so about 16 diehard couples signed up for it, and Ryan and Jenny plus one more woman from NYC were game enough to judge the event despite the late hour (we also had to deal with the one hour time change later that morning when we switched to Daylight Savings Time). After three short dances with three different partners (during which time everyone was judged as individuals), they cut the group down to 10 pairs and judged everyone as a couple. We were all pretty zoned out at the end by which time it was well past 3 am. The highlight for me and Mark Ormsby was watching Ryan and Jenny social dance - Jenny had on a short two tone red and black skirt with matching top, and Ryan was decked out in an *awesome* red and black zoot suit (I was told he made the suit specifically to match Jenny's outfit) with a crazy Daffy Duck tie. I need to get one of those ties! But Ryan would only tell me to get in touch with Keith Hughes. Who the hell is Keith Hughes?? [A LA designer, who specializes in custom clothes
Overall the ASDC was great fun. I think I barely averaged 6
hours of sleep a night. I do wish they would move the event back
to Manhattan. The Meadowlands just doesn't cut it. Fortunately
Tuan, Page, Melanie and I were able to escape for awhile on
Saturday after the Team and Strictly Lindy competitions, so we
took the ferry over to midtown Manhattan on Saturday night for
some fun (it took only 5-10 minutes), and a break from the ASDC
crowds. By the way, the ferry gives you a great view of the NYC
skyline, and it is much more convenient than trying to navigate
traffic via the Lincoln tunnel, not to mention a lot more
enjoyable. You should try it sometime!
Monday April 6, 1998
From: Cameron Sellers
Monday night at Chevy Chase, Kenny Roesell taught a class on lead and follow for the intermediate class. We didn't dance much but he taught us a lot about balance and weight change. It was great and valuable class for those who want to be better dancers. I recommend everyone who a chance to take this class.
Tuesday April 7, 1998
We were at Vienna Grille for the weekly gathering of the tribe. We were pleased to see some of our new Lindy converts attending for the first time including Dan laGrone and Dana ("Starjuice"). Doug was in good form, and only managed to plug his Roomful of Blues Event about rtwelve times. (We are going...)
From: Sue Fedor
Kind of a low key Tuesday night at the Vienna Grille. Several people who I expected to see there were not there and Iver, who I expected to be home (after his entire weekend up in NY for the ASDC) was there so I got to work on the shag, the R&J (Ryan & Jenny's reverse whip) and a host of other moves as only Iver can teach them. He's got a mind like a steel trap, that Iver. Money is better spend sending HIM to advanced workshops while Steve and I stick to the beginner basics. Lovable Fly Cat Jane was there, as usual...and midway through her rendition of the R&J...it began to hit me: I have no swivel. I keep getting it and losing and getting it again. I hang back too much or when I come forward, I lose it, ect.... I've ordered her to start giving me pointers and exercises. She laughed and told me that she's still working on hers. Dave and Marie made a rare appearance (which meant I got to dance with Dave...always a treat!) And there were a group of teens from Fairfax High School...on Spring break, I guess, since they're not regulars. As usual, they were absorbing new moves like sponges, leaving the oldsters in the dust. Hutch and Gator (fresh? from ASDC) were pitching the "Roomful of Blues" dance at the Hollywood Ballroom. A bit about the Ballroom...this is a warehouse with a suspended dance floor installed. It's a bit like a large rec hall, which will leave you wondering when the bride and groom are coming out and searching for the location of the buffet. They serve alcohol there, as this is a regular ballroom/west coast/smooth style hangout. Translation: the dances they usually do there are smooth enough to do without spilling your martini. By the way, Jane, Wendy, and I came to the conclusion that next year, at ASDC, the National Shag Team should do their routine with martinis in hand. If no olives are spilled, they win--hands down.
From: Cameron Sellers
Instead of Vienna Grille, I headed for George Mason University and practiced on spacious floor after Tom and Deb's class. They opened up an intermediate class from 9 to 10. The students are an overflow from Sunday night or from the earlier beginner class. The classes are smaller so if you have been locked out of the Sunday and Monday classes, check this place out.
Wednesday April 8, 1998
We did not go antiquing today. We will have some exciting results next week. (Carole had to save her day off for Friday when her daughter comes home from College for spring break.)
Thursday April 9, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Friday April 10, 1998
We were at America with fewer people than normal, but those who came had a very good time. Cameron has the review:
From: Cameron Sellers
There was no Auntie Deb Friday night. Truly a bummer!! 190 people showed up including little Erika and her cousin and mother. It was a night of people who had not been there for awhile. Brian McDonald, Brian Bohay, and Ryan Owens came who had not been seen there in a blue moon. Apparently Laura pulled the group to the place. With no Deb, Larry and Carolyn opened up the JAM followed by Frank and Carole and so on..... Tom K. concluded with the final dance with Erika.
What I love about participating in a JAM is no matter how well you do or how long you are out there; you can totally tank a routine, fall on your butt, drop your partner, or wow the audience and someone will always come up to you afterwards and ask, "YOU WERE IN THE JAM? Funny, I don't remember seeing you."
So if you have not participated because of fear of screwing
up, it doesn't matter. Most people won't remember.
[Editor's Note: Cameron and Heather have begun to steal the show with their collegiate shag routine...]
Saturday April 11, 1998
We went to the Hollywood Ballroom to see Roomful of Blues. There was a handful of Lindy Hoppers there including Dave and Marie and Mischa and Susan Lusi, and our friend Leon Trager showed up as well. Since space is limited in the e-mails, we're going to let Elizabeth Engel tell the story:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Lindy Hoppers: if Frank "Roberto Donna" Morra ever invites you for dinner, CANCEL any other plans you might have and get yourself out to his Friendship Heights palace of culinary delights. You'll understand why in a minute.
So, early last week Jim and I were thinking, "It'd be really nice to dance on Saturday night. But it's a non-Glen Echo week. What shall we do?" I contacted the ever-gracious Frank and the ever-lovely Carole to see if they were going to dance on Saturday and, if so, if we could possibly tag along. They said that yes, indeed, they were going to see Roomful of Blues at the Hollywood Ballroom, and we were certainly welcome to hitch a ride. Furthermore, Frank invited us to chez Morra for dinner beforehand. I asked if we could bring anything, and he politely turned me down.
We arrived on Frank's doorstep, flowers in hand (I wasn't raised by wolves, you know), shortly before 7 pm. We were treated to viewing all his groovy vintage stuff: the chrome kitchen appliances, the storied Wall of Fame, the hats, the vacuum cleaners, the various pieces of furniture, and....Gay's famous Bethesda Lindy Scene Trading Cards. One word: WOW! Gay, you are definitely a creative genius, although I'm not so sure about the evil part.
Carole arrived shortly thereafter, and Frank shooed us all out of the kitchen. What followed was a 4 course feast of unrelenting deliciousness. We started with roasted red peppers garnished with oil cured olives, proceeded to mushrooms with lemon in parchment paper, then to pasta with (at least) 4 cheeses and red and yellow tomatoes, and finished with coffee, orange slices, and yummy little Italian chocolates. And of course bread to sop up all the amazing sauces. I also consumed about 3 gallons of Frank's tasty lemonade, completely cleaning him out of lemons. I guess I should have warned him ahead of time that I'm part camel. [Editor's Note: If you are intereseted, click here for the Recipes for these things...]
Then we piled into Frank's car and headed over to Silver Spring. The band was very good, although I suspect that they ended up playing slower music than they really wanted to. Roomful of Blues is a jump blues band, which should have indicated plenty of Lindy-able music, however, the crowd was largely West Coast, and the band was doing their best to accommodate. I would say that probably 1/3 of the songs were really Lindy speed, and we were able to dance to about 1/2 of the total number or songs.
But the real treat of the evening was getting to see "Poetry in Motion," a pair of FABULOUS DC Hand Dancers, in action. We set up a little mutual admiration society in the front left corner of the room. The conversation went something like this:
Needless to say, we were both pretty much roundly ignored by all the West Coasters.
It was interesting to be in a mostly West Coast crowd. Same planet, different worlds. Two illustrations: one, all the Lindy Hoppers were sitting together muttering, "Why don't they play more fast ones? We can't dance to this stuff - it's so slow!" Later, We were in the ladies' room, and three West Coasters were talking: "I can't dance to this stuff. Why is the band playing all this Lindy music? It's way too fast!" Two, everyone complains about Lindy Hoppers banging into them all the time.
OK, that may sometimes be the case, BUT when we bump you or step on your toes, we're all wearing flat, soft-soled shoes. You haven't known pain until a West Coaster's high heel comes crashing down and impales your big toe.
However, punctured toes aside, there were some really fine West Coasters in attendance, and I found it enjoyable to observe the differences in style between Lindy and DC-area West Coast. Several of the couples there were really very, very good. And the advantage to West Coast, it seems to me, is that you can do up your hair and makeup nicely for an evening of dancing without sweat destroying the whole effect by the third number.
Sunday April 12, 1998
We went to Glen Echo for the Tea Dance. It was a great afternoon and a real treat to have a whole bunch of space AND a big band to boot. Thanks to Mark and Ellen for organizing this. We hope that more folks take adavantage of this opportunity next time.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Sunday, as you may remember, was a glorious day. After a lazy morning of coffee, croissants, and the Sunday Post, Jim and I decided to pack up some fruit, bread, and cheese and trek out to Glen Echo for a picnic and swing dancing with Ellen and Mark. (The advantage to daytimes: the buses keep running so we can get back and forth to the Metro! YAY, Maryland Ride-On!)
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the ants weren't out yet...it was a perfect day for a picnic, and we really enjoyed seeing the park in daylight for the first time. Yes, it's definitely a bit run down, but it must have really been something in its heyday.
The band was pretty decent - they certainly weren't as polished and professional as TCO, but they played all classic swing numbers and plenty of fast songs (probably 70-75%), and for $5, who's going to complain, right? But the best part was that we had PLENTY of room (there were probably less than 50 people total all afternoon, including the people who came and went). We had so much room, we were able to practice our entire HUGE repertoire of air steps (all two of them). This was the first time we've been able to dance at Glen Echo without constantly worrying about bumping into people. We mule-kicked to our hearts' content. We even waltzed (once) - the significance being that Jim can get us around the floor OK, but he still can't steer us very well. If we had room to waltz, you KNOW there was plenty of room!
Jim and I were repeatedly photographed in mid-Charleston by a fellow from the Baltimore Sun. Apparently, the Sun is doing an article or articles on the Glen Echo restoration efforts, and he was out photographing and talking to swing dancers. He said that if they decide to use our pictures, the actual reporter will probably call us later this week. If she does, we'll be sure to find out when the article will be coming out.
Ellen and Mark are working on making a monthly Sunday afternoon swing event a regular thing at the Spanish Ballroom. They weren't able to get a May date, but they will doing another Sunday afternoon swing tea dance in June, so keep your eyes open for more information. We want to show the Park Service support for swing events at Glen Echo, it's nice to meet other segments of the swing community (it was a regular cross-cultural weekend for us!), and again: $5 cover, the Spanish Ballroom floor, and plenty of room? They could play CDs, and it would be great!
To top off a terrific weekend, let me just give thanks for Jackson Hewitt. We thought we were going to owe the IRS a substantial sum of money; it turns out they owe us enough for a couple of CDs...I think a shopping trip is in order...we could ALWAYS use more swing CDs....
From Sue Fedor
Steve and I enjoyed a beautiful Easter day with back to back dance events after a delicious Easter brunch (Greek food, a week early) at Steve's mom and dad's house. Steve's Dad actually saw Hellzapoppin' on Broadway. He was just a kid, but vividly remembers the ending. The curtain lifts and workmen are coming down on wires suspended from the ceiling. They have paint brushes and tools and are looking down on the audience. They begin to talk among themselves, saying, "I wonder when the audience is going to realize the show is over?" They worked like that for quite some time until folks began to leave. Then the curtain came down.
Much thanks to Ellen and Marc for hosting the Sunset Royals at Glen Echo. While the SR's are not my pick for best band, they are getting better each time we see them.
Only a die hard group of about 30 folks showed up to dance. From time to time, folks out walking off their brunch at the Inn at Glen Echo would wander in to look. We also had a photographer from some newspaper, not sure which.
With only about 10 folks left at the end, alas, we had not enough people for a jam, which meant that we had to dance the entire "Sing, Sing, Sing" all by our lonesomes. I don't know about the rest of the couples, but Steve and I took lots of "breaks" so that we could see what the other couples were doing.
I think someone should have a workshop on creative stopping and breaks (surprisingly, the easiest thing to do is to dance to music. The hardest thing to do is to stop and make it look good). On that note, the breakmaster himself, Mark Ormsby, treated me to one of his infamous "throw everything at 'em" dances. Every once in a while, when I was not keeping a watchful eye on the ever changing Mark, I would glance over to Wendy who was laughing. She knows what I'm going through, apparently and laughs when Mark tosses moves and breaks into the air like candy--keeping his partners constantly guessing. It's a lot of fun and it keeps Wendy amused too, which is a good thing all around.
After a break for dessert with Mom and Dad, we took off for America. Steve got to go to work late on Monday, so we took advantage of some extra dance time. Carolyn and Jeff walked us through that fabulous slotted whip that all the kids are doing. Carolyn is quite the teacher, patiently counting out the eight while we went over and over and over the moves. She also helped me with the elusive R&J reverse whip. Let's see how many people it actually takes to teach me how to do this thing! Steve's got his part down pretty good. I'm definitely the week link in the chain. Cameron again put me through my shag paces (much thanks) and dusted off his first crack at what I'm confident will be an award-winning Jitterbug routine for the VSO. After a lot of work, of course. You'll have to roll credits when it's all over cuz we're stealing moves from EVERYBODY...so WATCH OUT!
At the Silver Diner, we were split up, so we had to play musical chairs and go from table to table to have conversations. Topics:
Which leads me to one final thought: I hope everyone had a blessed and happy holiday--no matter what your religion. This year, so many holidays converged at the same time all over the world. So there's no excuse not to celebrate something.
From: Matt Smiley
Wow! This has been a phenomenal week for Swing Dancing!
It all started on Easter Sunday when the show "Sunday
Morning" aired a great piece about the revitalization of
swing culture. They prominently featured the neo-swing band Big
Bad VooDoo Daddy and showed they music, the dress, the attitude -
everything that I love about this stuff. Scenes of Lindy, guys
in Zoot Suits, and people having an all-around great time
abounded! They really gave an accurate representation of what it
was all about. Secondly, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, another
neo-swing band, has a video on MTV now! I saw it last Tues. and
was awed. It seems that swing has finally made the transition
and can now officially be considered mainstream. Anything that
appears on MTV, the epitome of pop culture, the deciding factor
of whats hip and whats not, can be considered "with
it." It remains to be seen whether or not this is a good
thing, but I, for one, am very optimistic. Thirdly, Thursday's
Washington Post! The campaign to save Glen Echo got a major
boost from an article that put into words the love that many of
us have for this national treasure and the passion that is evoked
when it's questionable future is mentioned. Kudos to them! I
would like to extend my congratualtions to Frank for getting on
the front page of the Style section in conjunction with the
article. Not too shabby! And lastly, the thing that made this
week a great week for swing for myself and countless other high
school students was Spring Break! I was able to go dancing
almost every day! Sometimes twice a day! I was in heaven!
Anyway it has been a great week for swing and if this trend
continues, who knows what future weeks might bring? Walmart
brand Zoot Suits? Sure, why not! Reebok two tones? Sounds
reasonable. A NIN cover of "Sing, Sing, Sing?" Hey,
it could happen. A venue with adequate dance space? Let's not
get carried away here!!!!
Monday April 13, 1998
We have No Reviews for this date
Tuesday April 14, 1998
We were at Vienna Grille for the weekly gathering of the tribe. We celebrated Mark Ormsby's birthday in grand style with one of the biggest dance lineups that I have seen to date. Sue Fedor has this review:
From: Sue Fedor
Another hoppin' night at the Vienna Grille. Most of the usual suspects were there to celebrate Mark Ormsby's birthday. Did anyone notice how many of us ran over to be in his birthday line? It's the most fun you can have on two feet!
The night started off with Andy Wallo's inaugural Lindy Moves class. We all learned the "Ankle Biter" or at least enough of it to get one to the point where you need to know how to transition to something else. If we don't all figure out how to do it ourselves, maybe we'll be there next week! Andy's going to be a very good teacher--placing lots of emphasis on lead, balance, and footwork.
With both Iver and John Mills there, I was kept very busy practicing shag, that new slotted whip, the R&J, and Kerry kicks (!) Iver is very patient--cuz I'm a flustered learner. He has a million facial expressions for "Sue, chill out." And he's developing a million more.
And now a note about Gator. I do have something positive to say. Vienna Grille has become quite a welcoming place to dance....and a lot of that has to do with Gator. He acknowledges birthdays, he plays requests, he interacts with the dancers, he keeps our goofy traditions (Jitterbug stroll, even if Frank isn't there, for instance). With our collective prodding, he's expanded his Lindy repetoire and can be quite inventive with it. He's not Bernstein and Bernstein's not Gator and thank God for that because we really only need one of each. Now if we could just get him to quit foolin' with the tempos and fading out the endings....
Wednesday April 15, 1998
We had a busy day. We headed out to Lucketts, a small town about seven miles north of Leesburg. There are three really good antique places there, right next door to each other. This is definitely a place for the browser. From there, we headed north to Point of Rocks and took some photos of the very elegant Victorian train station. Then we went back into Virginia, through Lovettsville, and back across tre Potomac to Brunswick where we revisited our friend Jimmy of Jimmy/Jakes Antiques. We had a nice lunch at the Silver Rail Diner and took some photos of the Brunswick Train Station. We walked through the city and found a Thrift Store --- I was fortunate to find a "lewd ashtray" to add to my collection. These things were mass produced during the 40s and 50s and feature a cartoon that is a double entendre. Since this is a family medium, I shall not dwell upon it, other than to say our interest in these objects is purely sociological and highly scientific.
In the evening, we joined Cameron and Heather and Tom and Robin Cunningham for an evening with the J Street Jumpers at Whitlows'. The folks there are always very kind to the dancers and are willing to move some tables to accommodate us. The food is pretty good as well. They make an excellent Caesar salad, using all the right ingredients and very fresh Romaine. The Jumpers were in fine form and we had a great time. Cameron and Heather stole the show with their Collegiate Shag routine.
From: Cameron Sellers
Heather and I went to Whitlows on Wilson (WOW) to hear J Street Jumpers. We met Fank and Carole there but before we got near the table, Heather was stopped by the doorman. Heather had forgotten her i.d. Frank, Heather and I pleaded with the doorman to let her in because all she wanted to do was dance. Being in politics, I began to negotiate with him. I asked him just one dance and we would leave. He let us in. After he saw a couple of dances, the doorman realized that we really wanted to dance and he let us stay for the rest of the night.
When only two couples are dancing in a primarily a bar scene, you become part of the entertainment. When Heather and I were leaving we were stop by a girl and she told us not to leave because she still wanted to watch us dance.
Tom and Robin Cunningham showed up and I had a chance to sneak
in a dance with the lovely Robin. As always, the J Street
Jumpers sounded great. Can't wait for them to come to Glen Echo
Thursday April 16, 1998
The day began at 7:30 with the phone ringing and someone (I think it was Mike Mandel) informed me that my picture was on the front of the Post Style section. It turns out that the Post had done an article on dancing at Glen Echo. The article is reproduced in the Dance Forum. It is the official position of Lindy Week in Review that they ran my picture in a devious plot to scare people away from Glen Echo...
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Hair by Janelle or How to Look Like Myrna Loy in 3 E-Z Steps
The kindly Auntie Deb transported Sue and I out to the wilds of NOVA for an evening of hair dressing instruction by Deb's friend (and Doc Scantlin singer), the multi-talented Janelle. There were about 10 of us total, and Janelle did her darndest to turn us into regular '40's 'do divas. (Now the fun part for all your boys will be trying to guess who was there by viewing our 'dos over the next few weeks. One of our number promised something either fabulous or fabulously gone-awry for America on Friday last. Can you guess who it was?)
The evening was absolutely made by Chris Bamberger's contribution of books of famous faces of the '40's. It kept us from having to try to draw pictures of what we wanted to learn (which in my case would have been a stick figure with indecipherable scribbles on its head) and gave us all something to look at. She also contributed a yummy chocolate cake - MMMM-mmm! And I never did find out who made those candied pecan thingies - delicious! Some ladies were trying to be good and brought fruit, but who can turn down chocolate cake with chocolate icing?
Sue took extremely good notes and has promised to share them via the Web site. I guess I can give just a taste, though. The key thing we learned was the necessity of hair goop and a proper set. Janelle recommends Pantene mousse (because it's soft and not sticky) and Rave Hairspray level 4 (because it's basically shellac for your hair, is the only thing that seems able stand up to DC-area humidity, and doesn't get all weirdly white and flaky on your hair). And no proper '40s style can be achieved without a set - pin curls if you have overnight, real rollers if you have the time for your hair to dry, or hot rollers for the rest of us. This is the first time in a year and a half I wish I hadn't cut my hair!
Thanks to the delightful and talented Janelle for showing us the light, and thanks also to Debra for putting this all together. There was some talk of a '40s makeup party, too, so we'll have to see what happen.
Friday April 17, 1998
We were at Twist and Shout with the J Street Jumpers. We had a great time. We understand that America had returned to its usual crowded self, right before the lights go dark for a week. We have several reviews of the evening:
From: Cameron Sellers
Debra was back! Need I say more about Americas.
From: Sue Fedor
We attended the weekly sauna and dance at America and I can vouch that the techniques we learned in the Hair Session on Thursday do work. The LWIR readers can look forward to a link on the website to all the tips and tricks for creating that perfect 40s sculpted style. In brief: Wash, dry, mousse, set, style, spray, spray, spray. Those are the steps. I was wearing a wonderful 40s style summer dress (with my "device": a "merry widow" type corset with garters). But who was looking at the dress with all that lacquered hair piled on the top of my head! Just wait until Armed Forces Day. I plan to have Mt. Rushmore on the back of my head!
The action-packed jam featured Jon Mills lifting his fearless partner into the air for an almost-spike. Her feet hit the light fixtures, sending one of the halogens crashing to the floor. They danced, rather shell shocked, for the next minute while Tom ran around picking up pieces of glass and plastic. Who noticed anything after that. Cameron got fish-flipped by Christie and Tom didn't catch Debra's foot on the waterfall portion of their "Death Spike Drop".
Frank, the Rockabilly Magician, taught me some Jive moves (a.k.a. Rock & Roll) that he picked up last week at a rock-a-billy convention in Las Vegas. He got to hear some of the original bands that are still touring and picked up a lot of very cool vintage duds. We compared hair products. His pompadour is courtesy of some product that resembles paste wax. He has to heat it up with a blow drier before he can use it. Perhaps when I do my hair site, I'll have a page for the men out there too.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Friday night was a first on three counts for me: it was the first time I'd ever been to Twist and Shout, it was the first time I'd ever heard the J Street Jumpers, and it was the first time I'd ever gotten to dance with the famous Misha.
Friday night was (another?) CD release party for the Jumpers, and I must say Marianna was in fine voice and the band was smokin' (and clearly having a grand time). We were good CD release party guests and made sure to buy a CD (and Jim ran around like mad during the break collecting signatures from the band). For those who've never had the privilege, the Jumpers play very danceable jump blues. Run out and buy a CD today, and SUPPORT LOCAL MUSICIANS!
Jim reports that we received several compliments on our energy level, and I enjoyed being able to chat with Marianna and some of the other band members. Charlie, who is renting a room at Carole's place and is, of course, the sax player, and Jim were discussing the purchase of some of Charlie's vintage threads. Any tall, slender guys out there who are looking for some vintage duds should contact Charlie (or Carole), as he's looking to sell some of his purportedly huge stash.
But I think the highlight of the night (no offense to Jim or the Jumpers) was dancing a few dances with Misha. What a terrific leader! He did totally different moves from Jim's and my usual repertoire, which was really fun, and I got to dance a slow number with him. Now I usually hate slow numbers because I have NO idea what to do, but I felt like I was dancing on air - I had no idea what he was going to do next, but I had no trouble following his lead and doing what he wanted me to do. Had I known he was THAT Misha (duh! how many swing dancing Mishas are there likely to be in the Metro-DC area?), I probably would have been terribly nervous, but as it was, I just had a great time. Ladies, do yourselves a favor and ask this man to dance! You may have to get in line, but believe me it will be worth the wait!
From: Ellen Werther
My friend Bill and I met up with Frank and Carole, Michael, Misha, Jack Hilton, Bernstein, Elizabeth and Jim...at the Twist N' Shout for the J-Street Jumpers cd release party. Bill hurt his knee on the first song so we did not get to dance as much as I would have liked. I did get to dance with Misha and Jack, who are both great no matter how lousy the dance floor (and dance floors don't get much worse than at TNS) The smoke wasn't as bad as on some other occassions, but it was bad enough to give me a horrible soar throat. But am I complaining? Absolutely not. Marianna sang like a powerhouse. And the band was incredible. I had a great time doing Marianna's makeup before the gig started. Of course, with such a beautiful face as Marianna's, I can not possibly do a poor job! The band was selling (and signing) cds during the break. Bill Lehman's review is right on-- the cd is great. And thanks for your kind comments, Bill.....my 15 minutes of fame. Any way, I wish more folks had shown up---cuz the JSJ were dynamite!.
Ramblings and Errant Thoughts....First: some GREAT news. Just
heard from Johnny Boyd of Indigo Swing fame. IS is cutting a new
cd . . . and they are cutting a swath thru the DC area ("or
closer"--what ever THAT means! It IS a direct quote)
sometime soon....Johnny sez May or early June. Hope this means
Eric and Sylvia will be with them. Second: Thanks to the
Debster (and of course to Jenelle) for organizing the evening
(Thursday) at Heads Up. Jenelle--Doc Scantlin's BEST
singer--taught a bunch of us dames (gals, broads, dolls aka
Robin Cunnningham, Page, Elizabeth, Diane Carroad, Trish Reneau,
Carolyn Biczel, Sue Fedor, and.......2 more names) how to do our
hair in 40s style. We learned a lot, although you couldn't
proove it by my feeble attempt Friday night. Again, thanks to
Debra and Jenelle. Third: I have discovered Forest Glen. On
Tuesday, the 15th--oh cursed day-- I went to visit Steve Devony
(for some much needed help on my website-- new address to be
announced soon) He took me on a tour of this magical place--the
same at which many of you went for that waltz fundraiser not long
ago. If you haven't seen it, I can only implore you to do so. (I
am probably the only person in the Washington area who hadn't
seen it until the 15th. Magical is the only word I can think of
to describe it. I needed a special treat after paying my taxes.
And this was it. Go in the day time. If you are from out of
town, make a special trip!
Saturday April 18, 1998
We went to Glen Echo to see the Rockin Bones. We were so impressed with the Bonz' performance that we ran back and put up a Valentine to the guys as the News Flash on the Website. They were TREMENDOUS! Normally, we don't cover dance events in our News Flash, but this Saturday's performance by the Rockin' Bones was so spectacular that we had to cover it right away. Candidly, this was the best time that we have had at Glen Echo in years and I think that everyone who was there will agree --- the Bones just blew it away!
Earlier in the week, we had a note from a reader to the effect of "Why are you reccommending Rockin' Bones"? Here is our answer:
"You have to understand classic Rockabilly.
"In the late 40s and early 50s there was a frantic search for a way of making the excitement of jump blues, a predominately African American medium, acceptable to white America. Sam Phillips, the fellow who 'discovered' Elvis experimented with a lot of white bands that essentially played jump blues with a very thin veil of 'she done him wrong...'
"Now travel back with me to Pittsburgh in 1954. My Mom had to go away for two weeks to take care of her sister in York, PA. I was sent to stay with my Aunt Lena in Washington, Pa ( about 50 mi. south of Pittsburgh, near the W.Va border). This was fine, because I very much liked to help Aunt Lean and Uncle Ken in their grocery store ( I got to draw all day on wrapping paper...).
"At night, they put me in a small room that shared a wall with The Four Queens, a bar that featured --- of all things --- rockabilly acts (of course, they weren't called that at the time...) But, the bass beat penetrated the walls, and I went to sleep every night hearing that. That was also the very first time that I saw "jitterbug" -- especially dancing with aerials, but that is another story.
"In 1995, the Rockin Bones used to play at Dancers for our Lindy practice sessions and their styling was the closest that I have ever heard to the backbeat from the Four Queens. So, I have a very special attachment to the Bones."
Although rockabilly is not big band swing, but it is very Lindy-able. This Saturday night, the Bones proved my point in spades. They generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in the crowd with a rapid-fire succession of short (i.e. 3 min) upbeat songs that kept the crowd on the dance floor. Most of the music was just right for Lindy although there was a generous mix of six-count and slow tunes. Speaking of the latter, we could hear "Peg O'My Heart" every set and not complain!
The only downside of the whole evening was that the Park Service capped admission at 650, leaving long lines to wait outside. Since Ed and Julie are expecting a little one soon, the extra change from a few more admissions would have gone a long way. The Bones gave 110% and it is a real shame that the combination of an artificially low admission and admission caps worked to their disadvantage
We just hope that they are brought back real soon and that they get a whole lot more gigs in places with a substantial dance floor.
Way to go, Rockin Bones!
From: Sue Fedor
THE BONZ ARE BACK! The Rockin' Bones were back at Glen Echo after a very long year. The record crowd (yup, they closed the doors once again after 650) just ate 'em up. Steve injured himself and had to leave early. I hear tell there was audible cheering once the folks in line found out he wasn't coming back.
We were treated to a very nice routine by Leslie Coombs and her husband. They had won the "Strictly Lindy" division at ASDC with impromptu dancing. This particular evening, they did a choreographed outine to "Caldonia". Later, we had a jam and at one point during the third set, the ladies were moved with frenzy and simply had to rush the stage.
There was a couple (a photographer and reporter) who were taking pictures for the "International News Service". They asked Cameron and I to dance for them and they were snapping during the jam. Perhaps we'll all be on the cover of the Budapest Post tomorrow. Who knows?
The Bonz were just great--as always. They were a bit worried about running out of material and appologized for having to break-up the Lindy with slow tunes and even some latin numbers. I didn't notice any discernable decrease in the dancing during the non-Lindy tunes. Folks were even trying to do whatever they could come up with to dance to the bouncy two-step numbers. The one person who had no trouble switching back and forth was Frank, the Magician, who was able to use his Jive moves, which go well with two-step beats. The west coasters and romantics liked the slow and medium tempos and everyone liked the short songs for a refreshing change of pace.
From: Cameron Sellers
Elizabeth and Jim Engle and I got in before Stan the Man sealed off Glen Echo. We had come to hear the Rockabilly band called Rockin Bones. I showed up in my very cool looking black Army glasses (note: I wear those glasses when I parachute), and tried to woo all the women folks.
For Frank the Magician, he must have been in heaven because the band looked and felt rockabilly. Also they had their fan club off to the side, and they sang every song that the band played.
The music was solid and very lindy friendly and I became a
Rockin Bones convert. Hope that they will become a regular at
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Following Frank's lead from last week, we had Cameron (our ride for the evening) over for dinner. We ate, I played the piano for the guys (badly - it's been a while since I was playing regularly), and Cameron tried to help Jim with his Shag. Then we all piled into the Duct Tape Monster and scurried over to Glen Echo to be there by 8:30 pm. Boy was I glad we got over there when we did!
Yes, it was another Saturday at Glen Echo, another week when a bunch of people had to wait in line until the end of the first set. According to a letter I received from the Park Service (after the Battle of the Bands, I wrote to complain - aren't I just a pain in the neck?), they will be capping at 650 from now on. Come early or come late, but don't show up at 9 pm and expect to get right in any more. (Why do I have visions of this escalating into people showing up at 5 pm for a 9 pm dance????)
ANYWAY, Rockin' Bones were AMAZING! This is the first time I'd heard them, and they were FABULOUS! I think I danced every single dance and by midnight I was about ready to drop, but I just couldn't bear to miss even one dance - they were that good! And Jim is getting so brave - he actually asked a few people to dance! (Good for you, honey!) Afterwards, we took our first trip to Amphora in ages, where we enjoyed the food, the milkshakes, and the silliness (dehydration and too much sugar produce some very goofy conversations at 2:30 in the morning).
One funny thing (OK, I was upset at the time, but now I can laugh about it): I had just finished dancing with...I think Buck, he'd been scooped up by someone else, and Jim was dancing elsewhere. So I headed to the Lindy Corner chairs, sat, and was almost immediately asked to dance by an older, very heavy guy. I figured why not - better than sitting out a dance. He was a terrible leader - I couldn't figure out what he wanted me to do and when I didn't do what he thought he was leading, he would yank my arm. Then, to add insult to injury, after the song was over (thank heavens Rockin' Bones plays short songs!), he had the temerity to tell me, "You know, you should take some lessons." As Ellen observed, "The worse they are, the worse they are." You said it honey!
Sunday April 19, 1998
We have no Reviews for this date
Monday April 20, 1998
We heard a pretty good buzz on Ellen and Marc's first Monday night with Swing Shift at Glen Echo. Ed Burak was most complimentary. We couldn't go, but we're glad to see dance venues springing up all over. We hope that Ellen and Marc will be able to keep their thing going until summer when the high school and college Lindy Hoppers can get out on weeknights! Bill Lehman sent in this review:
From: Bill Lehman
On Monday at Glen Echo there were about 100 people, and a live swing band for $5. Not a bad deal. I had never heard of Swing Shift before, but they were pretty good, and I look forward to hearing them again. Lots of room to practice, and get coaching from Marc and Ellen. There was a good mixture of levels of experience.
Tuesday April 21, 1998
We joined the usual suspects for the regular session at Vienna's Grille. This week, it was Ed Burak's birthday and he managed to dance with all the girls there. A very good evening for dancing with a larger than normal crowd.
Wednesday April 22, 1998
We have no Reviews for this date
Thursday April 23, 1998
We headed out for Pittsburgh. We actually didn't plan to do much dancing. I always pack the zoot suit "just in case". The trip was great. There was hardly any traffic -- I left my desk at 4:30, picked up Carole and we were sitting at Tessaro's at 9:30pm. Peter, the owner, saw us walk in and apologized because the Beef Ribs with Atomic Sauce (the Thursday Special) had sold out. This could have been a major disaster, but he volunteerd to make us the World's Greatest Chicken Caesar Salad. It was truly magnificent! He grilled four of his wonderful chicken breasts marinated in a secret sauce over a wood fire, and made the salad with full romaine leaves, real eggs and about a quarter of a pound of big Sicillian anchovies. It was magnificent!
While we were waiting, I picked up a copy of In Pittsburgh, the local entertainment throwaway. I noticed an ad for "Swing Thursday" at Club Heaven, featuring "Dr. Zoot and the Suits". This seemed well out of character for Pittsburgh, so I called. Indeed, they played uptempo swing, had a big dance floor, and ENCOURAGED the wearing of period clothes. We prevailed upon Peter to let us change in his office. It is a short trip across the Bloomfield Bridge, down Bigelow Boulevard to Sixth Street and Club Heaven, formerly a disco. The place is the lobby of the old Fulton Theater and it is absolutely stunning -- lots of carved pink marble and a big dance floor ringed with Art Deco furniture. The cover was $3 and valet parking was $5. A small investment for a grand site.
We walked in and got eyed by everyone (it's the hat...) The band played "Go Daddy O" and we took center stage. I am pleased to report that everything worked, even the double driveshaft. I even did the thing with tossing the hat to a guy in the crowd. We made a lot of friends and stayed until closing. We gave Tom's patented Charleson lesson and had a few couples doing a fairly credible swingout.
Now, a word about the band. Dr. Zoot and the Suits is definitely an up-and coming outfit. They have good, solid musicianship and they play well together. They have been together for about two months and have a great ear for the swing sound. We hope that some of those who book bands here (Leonard, take off your clogs and listen up...) will give them a call. Stan will need to put on extra rangers to keep people out of Glen Echo if they play here. We got a nice letter from Al Peden, their Bass player.
From: Al Peden <<ALBASSGUY@Aol.com>>
Hi Frank and Carole
[Editor's Note: These guys are GOOD --- but they are just starting out. NOW is the time to get to know them. They have what it takes to get to where Indigo Swing is. Send them a note of encouragement!]
Friday April 24, 1998
We began the day with breakfast at De Luca's, in the "Strip District" (nothing lewd here, it is a long narrow strip of land that adjoins the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks that is made up of wholesale outlets and warehouses. It has become trendy of late, but De Lucas has been there forever. They always win awards for breakfasts.
From there, we went to Bloomfield, my old neighborhood. We walked around, and I noticed that one of the barbers at Cercone's had a familiar face. We went inside and chatted for a while about old times and Dan Cercone who passed away last year. I asked whether it was true that Dan had cut Caesar Romero's hair. The fellow said, "No - Dan cut Dean Martin's hair -- I cut Caesar's." I was stunned. I said, "Could you cut my hair like that?" Then I explained about our passion for vintage things, etc, etc. and we did a lockup. He looked at my hair and said, "I can give you a cut that I used to give Jitterbuggers in the 40s." So, I sat down and he began his work. He didn't use any clippers -- just a straight razor. He worked on me for two hours. It looked great. But then I realized that the beard had to go. So, he gave me a real barber shave and a facial. So, now I have a hairdo to match the vintage clothes...
From there, we went on to Crimes of Fashion (4628 Forbes Avenue in Oakland, 412-682-7010), a great Vintage store. There is not yet much demand for 40s in the 'Burgh, so I was able to STEAL a complete gray flannel suit (double breasted, high waist) for $65. I also got a linen double breasted sports coat for $16. The best buys were some Countess Mara sport shirts from the 50s -- in L.A. Confidential, Jack Vincennes (the "Dragnet" advisor is fond of wearing these) -- at $5. Carole got a really great dress as well.
We headed "Downtown" to the Forbes Room at Kaufmann's for Tea. This may well be the very last elegant "Ladies Restaurant" in a high class department store. True to form, the place was full of matrons chowing down on gigantic creations of cottage cheese and fruit. No calories there... Pittsburgh is most enjoyable for its juxtaposition of "high" and "low" culture. After the elegant Tea, we stopped into the Oyster House for a glass of their famous buttermilk. This is a real "joint" with sawdust on the floor and "atmosphere en bas". We took some time to look at the collection of photos from Miss America pageants in the 1930s.
We spent the rest of the afternoon checking up on high nostalgia sights, including the Urban Room at the William Penn Hotel. This must be the finest Art Deco room in the world, surpassing even the Rainbow Room. It is done entirely in Black and Gold, with 30 foot ceilings and smooth mirror-finish marble on the walls. This is one of the ballrooms at the hotel and we did a few steps while the staff were preparing the room for a meeting. After the first aerial, Lindy Hoppers are generally more welcome among staff than foreign potentates.
We had dinner at The Grant Bar (108 Grant Ave, Millvale), one of the city's Grand Old Neighborhood Bars. The bar and dining room are decorated in a plaster version of a German hunting lodge. The inside looks a whole lot nicer than the outside --- very good cooking. Stick to the sandwich menu, though.
Later that evening, we visited the Steel City Boogie Club at an obscure Days Inn Motel off Banksville Road. This reminded us of the early formative days of Lindy at Randy's in a Holiday Inn at Tysons. The folks there do a form of East Coast swing that has sort of merged with Carolina Shag. This is the generic swing dance of Pittsburgh that I used to practice at the old West View Park Danceland. One of the dancers had seen us at Heaven the night before and asked us to do a demo of Lindy. We made certain to tell everyone that they should really see either Tom and Debra or Marc and Ellen, our teachers. Fortunately, they had one good fast Lindy song --- "Avalon" by the Rhythm Sheiks. We want to thank Gator for making us hip to this song, because it was also familiar to the crowd. Once again, everything worked.
We made a whole lot of friends, and went out for pizza at Beto's. This place makes pizza in great big sheets and cuts them into squares about 6 inches on a side. I used to eat at Beto's after dances 35 years ago when they had a store near Carnegie Tech. This was a real nostalgia moment.
We also got this nice note:
From: E Warclaw <<E Warclaw@Aol.com>>>
I danced in High School ( 66, 67,and 68) and the steps were similiar to what they do at Steel City Boogie Club. However, my wife and I do traditional triple step Jitterbug, we were in some contests didn't win but I think its because we do a more lively version of Swing -- and that's why I'm interested in Lindy Hop (I heard it referred to as the Anti-Christ of Ballroom Dancing). But, hey we have fun. I haven't been to the Club Cafe, I am going to go there.
I plan on going to DC within the next couple of weeks, we have friends who live in Arlington, VA. At your convenience please send me a list of places you would recommend to see or do Lindy or Jitterbug.
Just a little sidelight. I happended to be in Myrtle Beach during the Shag convention so I went to North Myrtle Beach and did Jitterbug -- it didn't go over well.
Thank you for your time and take care.
[Editor's Note: We invite our readers to Bombard Mr. Warclaw with messages of Goodwill, Welcome, Help, and "Stick With It -- Lindy's Time Has Come"]Back on the home front, it looks like nobody went out dancing:
From: Sue Fedor <<Deevoo@aol.com>>>
Once in a while, it's not a bad thing to have a night off from having to dress up, go out and fight the crowds. Steve and I had the kids over for a night of dancing and fun in our living room. Cameron, Heather, Christie E., Andy, Steve Cowles and two of Heather's friends came over. We poured over last year's U.S. Open tapes-- stealing several moves from the Arizona couple. We also watched the routines from Stage Door Canteen, Hellzapoppin, Groovie Movie, Buck Privates, and A Day at the Races. The girls, with some help from Andy, worked on various freeze breaks on 6&7 and 7∓8. The guys worked on all sorts of style points. It was a nice, low key evening.
Saturday April 25, 1998
We started the day at DeLuca's again. From there, we headed south, to Washington, Pa, a small town about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. If you read our review of the Rockin Bones dance, we mentioned Washington as the home of the infamous Four Queens, where I first heard rockabilly and saw swing dancing. Alas, the bar is long since gone. Washington is also home to Shorty's, a restaurant that specializes in Hot Dogs -- real handmade German frankfurters shipped in from Lancaster and grilled on a giant hot metal plate that has been in continuous operation since 1927. The place is deservedly famous, but has very special meaning to me because it is the last remaining example of my Dad's "Speakeasy Carpentry." He and my Uncle Ralph used to build Art Deco bars out of plywood for speakeasies in the 1920s.
We made our way to the Public Library where they were having a book sale and we found (at $1 each) a copy of Saul Steinberg's All in Line (1945) and an Ellery Queen first edition. Then we dropped in on Antiques Downtown (88 S. Main St) and found a veritable treasure trove of Duncan glass (it used to be made nearby). We found a WWII cigarette case and a pair of "Willie and Millie" saltshakers. In the 1950s, Willie the Penguin was the "spokescartoon" for Kool Menthol Cigarettes. We will add this to our politically incorrect display of 1950s icons.
In the evening, we headed to Sunny Jims (Camp Horne Road in Emsworth). This place had been (in my youth) had been a roadhouse of notorious repute -- fast music and fast women... We were somewhat disapponted to find that it had been transformed into a squeaky clean sports bar. On the other hand, there was a very nice dance floor and we were just overwhelmed by William Dell and Wee Jams, an 11 piece rhythm band that played for a $3 cover. Our reputation had preceeded us in the form of Jerry, the DJ for the SCBC. We got to do yet another demo. And it was another really great nite.
We ended the evening with buckwheat cakes at Ritters Diner, a long-standing tradition.
It seems that folks were dancing and doing interesting things while we were gone:
From: Cameron Sellers <<Cameron.Sellers@mail .house.gov>>>
Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Glen Miller is the only way to explain what I saw at the Black Cat on Saturday. Peaches O'Dell played in the retro-Euro-trash looking joint to a crowded group of kids who looked like they had shown up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not surprisingly, Peaches has her own little cult following who scream, yell, and dance on cue. And for their participation, they get gifts from the master herself.
I enjoy her music variation and the range she plays. She plays 30s, 40s, and 50s music so every possible group can be satisfied. During "Sing Sing Sing", Tricia and Jeff Booth (or Marcus Jr.) shagged for the audience. I'm not sure the audience noticed because they were too busy kicking each other during the number. I love this place because you can accidentally kick these people, crowd them off the dance floor and they think it is part of the experience.
Ben and his friend from NY, Duke, Frank P., Aunt Deb, Tricia
R., Thomas, Jeff, Chris B, and Laura Avery showed up at this mad
house. So if you are looking for an alternative dance venue,
this is the place. Make sure you show up early because they
place usually sells out.
From: Sue Fedor <<Deevoo@aol.com>>
Mike Duggan and Jenny Manlove have been trying to get together with Steve and me for weeks now...just to have brunch together. Jenny finally hit on the right way to get us to come over: last minute plans. "Debra's coming over, we're going vintage clothing shopping and we're having breakfast."
We ate wonderful muffins, popovers and fruit and headed for Takoma Underground and Gladrags. I've never been to Gladrags, but T.U. is a regular haunt for me. Our vintage scrounging now includes hair accessories. The store above T.U. has some wonderful hats, hair combs and clips.
Debra came away with a wonderful pair of chic satin pants teamed up with an elegant blouse. Jenny got some wonderful dresses and I scored yet another vintage, 40's style swimsuit. This one has a built-in "device", which has nothing to do with floatation, I assure you. In fact, it might hinder floatation, as it constricts the wearer from taking a deep, healthy breath.
Sunday April 26, 1998
After once again breakfasting at De Luca's, We spent the day in the south of Pittsburgh. We visited some of the great old "streetcar suburbs", and found a wonderful '50s lounge venue called The Suburban Room (3113 West Liberty Avenue, Dormont, 412-561-3088). The place has a flawless turquoise vitriolite facade that won an industrial design award in 1953. The "lobby" is blond wood and terazzo with a great bas relief glass scupture. Alas, the interior has been semi-updated, but the mahogany stramlined bar retains much of its class. The place features lounge acts, including a credible Dean Martin clone. This would make a perfect hangout for you lounge lizards, and the owner sure needs business. There is room for one couple at a time to dance. So, have a perpetual jam...
Our next stop was Canonsburg, the home of Perry Como. In 1931, the teenage and yet unknown Perry Como asked my mother for a date. Alas, my grandparents were ultra-strict, and she was unable to go. I do not, however, think that a week went by when my mother didn't tell that story... We hit upon something much grander, however: the Tri State Antique Center (47 W. Pike St, Canonsburg, 412-745-9116). This place is the MOTHER LODE of Heywood Wakefield furniture and of High End Art Deco objets d'art.
I found a pair of "Handy Flame" saltshakers (premiums given out by the gas company in the 50s) and a Countess Mara tie featuring jazz musicians. We went on to Houston, Pa and stopped at a small store where I found four more lewd ashtrays (see last week's report). Finally, we stopped at The Old Show in Meadowlands, Pa. (Just outside Del Millers ranch also named Meadowlands, where the world famous trotter Addios was bred.) Carole found a great 1940s suit dress.
We had dinner at Mineos Pizza, in the Mother location (2128 Murray Ave, Squirrel Hill, 412-521-9864). Thus, I have been able to show Carole the Truimvirate of Pizza - Vincent's, Beto's and Mineo's. They are all great!
From there we went to the Edgewood Club (1 Pennwood Ave, Edgewood, 412-731-3443) where we attended the regular Sunday night swing dance, featuring Benny Benack Jr. (Benny's father was a famous Pittsburgh musician who had a local hit in 1960 with the "Beat 'em Bucs" song). Some of our friends from the previous three nights were there and we did another demo. Unfortunately, they put on "Jersey Bounce" instead of "Flying Home". It was very painful to try to do our whole routine at that speed. Our apologies to the Edgewood crowd. We were fortunate to meet Rich and Alexis, the local swing webmasters in the 'Burgh. Check out their Swinging Pittsburgh website. The dance was over at 10:30, and we headed home to DC.
It seems that the Oklahoma Twisters were at Glen Echo:
From: Mary Pat Cooney <<MPCooney@prodigy.net>>
Dear Frank and Carole,
But I have to tell you about the Oklahoma Twisters' tea dance at Glen Echo this past Sunday. We had a two step lesson from 3 - 4, and then the band played two sets, until 6pm. We had about 60 people, which seems miniscule compared to the WSDC and Cunningham events. But consider how much room we had for dancing!
The band sounded especially fine, and they played a variety of tunes for two stepping and swinging. They always make sure to include a few waltzes, which feel so nice on a Sunday afternoon. The crowd was a mixed bag of Glen Echo regulars, members of the Texas State society, OK Twisters friends and family (often referred to as Dust Devils) and some Two Steppers who like live music. Everyone was willing to dance with people they had never met before, and to try some new steps. It was an afternoon dance with a very pleasant feel - warm and friendly, kind of sweet. And yes, we danced hard enough to work up a sweat and crank up the fans in the ballroom.
I hope some of the Lindy Hoppers will bring friends to the
Glen Echo Ballroom to hear the Oklahoma Twisters and some fine
Western Swing Music. Upcoming Dates: June 28, July 26, October
25, November 22
Monday April 27, 1998
We spent the day recuperating from our travels. Cameron was out dancing:
From: Cameron Sellers <<Cameron.Sellers@mail.house.gov>>
Tom and Deb's beginner's class is small, but their
intermediate class is maxed out. After Tom and Deb taught some
cool Charleston moves, they opened up the studio for dancing.
Bernstein (a.k.a. Mr. Personality) spins the CDS for two hours.
Mr. Personality doesn't take request and he is usually grumpy,
but he knows his swing music. He has every possible swing CD
known to man and he can tell you what tempo it is. What I like
about Bernstein is that he develops a rhythm to his swing music.
He will start with a slow tempo and works his way through six
songs to a fast tempo. Or he will start in the 30s and work his
way to the 50s. The music is not disjunctive and is very lindy
friendly. He doesn't play rhythm and blues or be bop and try to
pass it off as lindy. He understands the era and works hard to
play music that students can lindy to. So the next time he bites
your head off when you ask him to play your favorite song, it is
nothing personal- He's just working. Wait till Cheesecake
Factory to call him a jerk or a moron for yelling at you.
Tuesday April 28, 1998
We joined the usual suspects for the regular session at Vienna's Grille. This was a very nice session with many of the regulars in attendance. Bob Kleinpeter's knee is in better shape and he actually danced to a couple of songs. I generally got good reactions on my new hairdo, but Andy Wallo greeted me with "Hey dude -- you grew up." Hmm... We had a great discussion about the relative merits of the Cherry Poppin Daddies song "Zoot Suit Riot". Opinions are mixed -- let us know whether you think that this song is actually "Swing".
Wednesday April 29, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Thursday April 30, 1998
We joined Jim and Elizabeth Engel at the Zoo Bar to hear Sidney Banda. The folks at the Zoo Bar are very generous in sharing their severely limited space with dancers and it is always a treat to visit there, especially when Sidney is playing. We're going to let Jim and Elizabeth tell the story:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel <<firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim and I hoofed up to the Zoo Bar to join Frank and Carole on Thursday night. The bar, for those of you who haven't been there, is just a little neighborhood dive kind of place, very small and friendly, and lots of people seem to know each other. I kept expecting some guy to walk in and everyone to yell, "NORM!" F&C came bearing gifts - a very cool hat (IN ITS ORIGINAL BOX no less) and a scimitar tie clasp for Jim.
The place is tiny, but they move out a couple of the usual tables by the bar for the band and one dancing couple at a time. We took turns dancing to all the fast numbers. The floor is lousy (there's a big dip in the middle that scared me to death the first time I hit it!) and covered with carpet, but it's such a fun little place we really didn't mind.
The band consists of Sidney, who blows a mean sax, Robbie, on keyboards , and a canary called "The Queen" who is richly deserving of the title. Boy, did she have a lovely voice. They played jazz, they played oldies ("Chain of Fools"), they played some classic blues ("Kansas City Here I Come"), they played "Tuxedo Junction," which led to what I would wager was the first ever Shim Sham at the Zoo Bar - and the drunk crowds who wanted to lurch against each other to slow, sappy songs didn't start showing up until we were all about ready to leave around 11 pm. And the band really seems to enjoy dancers, despite the tight quarters.
Anyway, if it's a Thursday night and you're looking for something to do, head on down to Woodley Park and stop in at the Zoo Bar, where everybody knows your name!
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