|August, 1998 Reviews|
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Review of Dance Events During August, 1998
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Saturday August 1, 1998
We headed for Twist and Shout to hear the J Street Jumpers in air conditioned comfort. In a marked departure from the OTHER venue, all with cash were welcome at the door.
The J Street Jumpers were fantastic. Almost every song was great for Lindy, and the place seemed to get a lot of the overflow from the Long Lines. We stayed to the end and were joined by even more dancers at midnight.
Of note, during the performance, Arthur and Marianna demonstrated a little bit of dancing that they have been practicing. We think that the J Street Jumpers are evolving into a first class swing band that can mount a serious challenge to the "neo Swing" bands. We would not be surprised if this group went national in the very near future. We have a photoessay on this event this week.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
We just barely made it in to Glen Echo this week. Yikes! That's the last time I get there at 8:08!! The cut off was literally one person behind us. Wow - Park Service, put in a few more doors for heaven's sake and up the stupid cap!
It was a lovely evening at Glen Echo - the weather was cooperative and so although the ballroom was warm, it wasn't uncomfortable as it has been so many weeks lately (yeah, yeah, I still dance just about every dance even when it's a sauna, but I don't enjoy it as much).
I must say, I really enjoyed Swing Speak - 5 fine musicians who played a mix of fast, slow, and mid-tempo numbers, with the emphasis on mid-tempo stuff. Despite all our constant talk about killer-dillers, I really enjoy dancing to the mid-tempo stuff (160-200 bmp) - more time to play, more time to think, not as tiring when it's hot. And Swing Speak was a very tight group - really, really enjoyable evening.
The jam was a grand time, with lots of folks heading out and showing fun stuff, although I'm not sure who stole it - Steve and Steve, or Carolyn and Tricia. It was a toss-up for me. Why is it that Steve swivels better than I do? Honestly....
Thanks to Gay and Dave for bringing along the video camera - one rarely gets a chance to see oneself dance, and it is SO helpful for picking out what you're doing wrong, what you think looks cool but actually looks stupid, what's sloppy, etc. Almost as good as some private coaching!
And of course the most interesting part of the evening was the lunatic at the American City Diner at Friendship Heights. But you'll have to ask Gay, Dave, Sue, Steve, or Debra about that one...
From: Suanne Fedor
We got to Glen Echo at 8:30 pm and waited in line until about 10 pm to get in. This is getting to be ridiculous. Expect us not to be there in the future, unless we get there late. It's really too much of a hassle to get there at 7:30 to get wrist bands so that we can get in at 9 pm.
I've heard two possible solutions:
It was worth being there for the two and 1/2 hours we were there, however. Swing Speak is turning out to be an excellent band. They really mixed the tempos up and even the slow stuff had swing. And when they were hot, they were hot!
One sour note....we had the lamest shim sham showing in Glen Echo history. The line was so sorry that even my husband, Steve (who HATES to shim sham) joined us.
Afterward, we posed and hammed it up for our roving B and W photographer....I didn't catch his name...but he's a regular now. He's the guy with the really expensive camera. Gay and Dave and Steve and I took turns going over our respective husbands' backs out of the straddle. I tried it once with Big John Mills, who mercifully stopped me just above his head, leaving me dangling and screaming. Thoughts of Sang Lam's practice vault at the Goodwill Games kept going through my head.
Now you know why I married a shorter man. In fact, I wish Cameron had the strength to muscle me up....now THAT would be the perfect height! You can bet that I will never do that move with Steve Cowles!
Jeff showed Steve and I another cool thing to do with the Natalie-esque move that we do where I jump up and sit on Steve's shoulders, then fall backward. Usually Steve just vaults over me. Now we have something really cute to do...provided I don't break Steve's nose in the process. Look for it in a jam near you.
From: Diane L. Carroad
Skip the chicken soup! Having finally gotten over the bug my
co-workers had passed around earlier in the week, I thought I'd
just come to volunteer, take it easy, and listen. I knew I had
enjoyed SwingSpeak in the past. They were better than anything
the doctor could recommend especially Tim Ford who plays piano
and sings. Their talented horn player, Chris Battistone, doesn't
always play with the band, but did that night again. Uplifting
music and terrific combo of tempos that didn't leave dancers
wiped out but gave folks a chance to shine and recoup with slower
numbers. Glad they have a CD entitled "Well Spoken."
and all copies went fast. Fortunately, they said it's available
at Tower. Needless to say, the place reached capacity limits
before 8:30 but I found it much cooler than in July.
Sunday August 2, 1998
From: Cameron Sellers
After Heather and I got back from Norfolk, I headed off to
Americas for the open dancing and good DJ music. When I got
there, Ben and Dana demonstrated their new move, the Dean Collins
Whip. Two new converts. Later that night, Steve and Sue helped
me with the Straddle move. Towards the end of the night, we
celebrated Trista's cousin's birthday with the traditional
From: Diane L. Carroad
I'll leave it up to Cameron to cover Sunday nite at America
except to say that the Washington Times photographer
unintentionally added much levity to the evening. Among the
6-count moves (good for tight places on the floor) and lindy
kicks we learned, Tom urged her to avoid his bald spot. Seems
like she was concentrating on Debra anyway who certainly deserves
some payoff for putting up with Tom's more ribald
Monday August 3, 1998
We were joined by Gay and Dave Shepardson, Tricia Reneau, Carolyn Biczel, Thomas Iveson, Jeff Booth, Ron Meadows, and Floyd Taub at the Club Hollywood in Annapolis for the opening of the "Mood Swings Monday" gig.
Mood swings was in top form. They played a whole lot of uptempo swing and the "Waltz and a Cha Cha" format at Blobs was GONE GONE GONE. The band seems tighter than ever. They did a whole lot of real showy stuff by placing featured soloists on two little platforms to the side of the band stand. Some really good stuff was played -- I cajoled the "sophisticated" crowd into doing Shim Sham to "Stompin at the Savoy" and the crowd loved it.
We also had a good time doing all our semi-erotic stuff to "Minnie the Moocher". We finally got Jeff and Carolyn together with the "Original Shag Couple", and I think they had a very good time.
So, our verdict is that Mood Swings continues to evolve into a great band. The gig at Club Hollywood will continue on the First Monday of every month. It is worth the trip! Buy the VIP package, because we found the food at the buffet to be very good --- we must have eaten a pound of barbecued shrimp --- big ones -- ourselves. They had crabcakes and really fine buffalo wings as well. But, the music is still the main attraction. A big dance floor, but (alas) asphalt tile.
So with no further ado, here are the reviews of BBVD:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Small group in attendance for BBVD. When Jim and I arrived at the club, Chris Cowles, Lian, and Catherine (who I hadn't met before) were there and dancing to the CD swing music coming out of the loud speakers. We were shortly joined by Naomi, Nina, and Duke. We danced all through the CDs until the opening band started, to the entertainment of the crowd, and spent substantial time proselytizing for both Tom and Deb and Dancestore.com.
Given our previous experience, we weren't expecting good things of the opening band (last time BBVD played the 9:30, the opened up with a very loud, very awful grunge band). Imagine our surprise at seeing Big Rude Jake! They're decent musicians, they play all original stuff, and their songs have a major sense of humor. Meanwhile, we held our jam circle, despite a Johnny swinger on the one side who was risking imminent injury to himself, his partner, us, and the crowd every moment. When he started trying a straddle, I thought we were going to have to talk to him, but after two attempts, he and his partner gave up, much to our relief. Just because you SEE Duke do an airstep with Naomi does not mean that YOU can try it too!
I know many folks have mixed feelings about BBVD, but I have
to say that I always really enjoy them, despite the fact that
they aren't an orthodox swing band. The guys put on a great
show, and, at the beginning of their set, they announced to the
very pumped crowd that their album has just gone GOLD!
We re-formed a smaller jam circle farther back in the club when they started to play. The band played numbers off their current CD, off their earlier (out of print) CD, and from the Swingers soundtrack. Interestingly, and to our great appreciation, they played their faster songs slightly slower than they were recorded, which made dancing much easier. It was a good thing, too, because Catherine split and Lian stopped dancing, leaving me, Naomi, Nina, Duke, Chris, and Jim to keep rotating into the circle. Sounds perfect, right? Well, you have to remember that Naomi and Nina dance together quite a bit, so at points, Duke and I would start, then I would get passed to Jim, then to Chris, then back to Duke...it was certainly a good thing they weren't playing at break-neck speed, or I'd still be at home resting rather than typing up this review at my desk!
It was a very fun evening, and Chris, Jim, and I stayed and danced until the very last note of the very last song. "Go Daddy-O" of course - I'm not sure, but I think maybe they were trying to kill me! Nah - that can't be it! Anyway, as I said, I know that a lot of folks are fairly ambivalent about these guys, but, in my opinion, if you do ever get a chance to see them in concert, go. It's always a fun show.
From: Catherine Andrews
Last night, Lian and I made the trek over to the 9:30 club to see the sold out concert by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. We weren't sure of how big the line might be, so we arrived pretty early, around 7:30 pm. The line by that point wasn't big at all; we were maybe 20th in line. So, Lian and I hung around for a bit, talked, made the journey to a corner shop to get a drink, etc. Lots of people showed up in vintage dress and all looked great. After a while, tall Chris [Cowles] showed up and hung out with us outside of the club. Around 8:00, they started letting everyone inside the club. I've been to the 9:30 club twice before, but to see a band very different from BBVD, so I knew what to expect. I knew what the club looked like and how many people would fit. What i didn't know was how the band would fill the stage, or how the crowd would be.
Anyways, Chris and Lian and I got in, and some swing-y type music was playing over the speakers. Lian and Chris started dancing away and got many admiring glances. Eventually, Jim and Elizabeth showed up looking wondefully vintage (nice to meet you!) and wowed the crowd with their dancing as well. A decent jam circle started with the two couples. Many people started coming up and asking about swing information. As Jim said at 9:30, there needs to be business cards to hand out to everyone, with Tom and Debra's names and numbers, and the web site address.
After a while, I made my way up to the front of the club, pretty close to the stage. This was for two reasons: to get away from this one guy who seemed to think he could dance really well (but couldn't) and always wanted to dance with me, and also because I always enjoy being close to the band so I can see them better. I find that my proximity to the band usually affects my enjoyment of the show.
So I was about 8 rows back for the opening band, Big Rude Jake. I thought they were pretty good, fairly funny, had a nice mix of tunes going. The opening band left the stage to much applause, and I deftly manuevered my way up to about 3 rows back, center. The roadies came out and started setting up elaborate stage decorations, such as a fake city skyline and about 4 big band podiums for the horn players. After a lengthy wait, the lights went down and BBVD walked on stage. The crowd went absolutely nuts!
The wonderfully dressed band didn't waste any time breaking into the music, and it continued non-stop pretty much. They were absolutely incredible. The music just made every one want to dance and sing along and scream wildly. When the band did pause in between songs once, it was to announce that their album had finally gone gold that previous Friday. I can tell you, they have definitely worked hard to achieve that. The band members put everything they had into the show, physically, mentally, and musically.
After the fantastic first set, the band left the stage while the crowd roared. A few minutes later, BBVD walked back on and played one slower tune which was sung by one of the horn players. then, Scotty took back the microphone and broke into "Go Daddy-o." What a great, energetic closing tune. Lian and I hung around after the show because the band was supposed to come out and sign autographs, which they proceeded to do about twenty minutes later. Lian had bought a shirt and managed to get autographs from all eight members, whereas I just had Scotty and "The Kid" (the trumpet player) sign my ticket stub. we finally left the club about 12:30 am, tired, but nonetheless extremely happy at having seen such an awesome show.
I just read the review of the BBVD show in the Washington Post
on Wednesday, and what the reviewer basically said is that BBVD
is not "the real thing" and therefore not that great.
BBVD may not be "real swing" but who cares? I was just
appreciative of the fact that their music was enjoyable, the band
put on a fantastic show, and I had a wonderful time.
From: Cameron Sellers
Where were the guys? That was the chant by most of the women
Monday night at Chevy Chase Ballroom. Hey, I didn't care. I
thought it was great, considering I was the benefactor of the
shortage. Bernstein spun another great set of tunes and
afterwards we headed for the Cheesecake Factory.
Tuesday August 4, 1998
There was a GIANT crowd at Vienna Grille tonight. It was actually hard to find any dance space on the floor. BUT, the crowd was really out to have a whole lot of fun. The influx of newcomers has sort of shattered some of the "sophistication" that had begun to cover the Tuesday night sessions like a shroud. We actually had a Jam! We did shim sham and Jitterbug stroll and beginners, intermediates and advanced folks swapped moves and everyone had a great time. The place was packed right up to the end.
Folks --- it ain't fun if it ain't crowded! Lindy really thrives on group energy, so we need EVEN MORE people to show up to rock the place off its foundation. We need to start doing the Madison and the Big Apple again!
Wednesday August 5, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Thursday August 6, 1998
We have no Reviews for this Date
Friday August 7, 1998
On this very pleasant Friday evening, We joined the whole gang who collectively helped set a new attendance record at America -- 278 paid admissions! It was really crowded and hot, but nobody seemed to mind --- the Cunningham Band laid down one hot number after another and we got to pay homage to Robin on "Indian Love Call". The Jam had a lot of new players, all of whom seem to be working diligently on both their footwork and aerials. We have lots of discussion this week about Swing Fling and its failure to attract Lindy Hoppers.
From: Ray Wiles
All things hang like a drop of dew
It is unfortunate that the capacity crowds engendered by the resurgence in the popularity of swing dancing has resulted in antipathy towards those individuals and organizations that have played a seminal role in the development of partner dancing in the Washington DC area. Regardless of any shortcomings, real or perceived, we do the entire swing community a disservice by fomenting hostility and disrespect. We appear as base ingrates by slandering those who have labored to nurture and foster the dances and the venues that give most of us our start. Rather, if any can see more clearly, they should roll up their sleeves and go to work implementing their vision.
It is no easy task to organize events, fight to preserve venues, and nurture the development of one's passion. The recent announcement that the Twist and Shout is closing in September should be a sobering reminder of the fragileness of venues for partner dancing. It should be no surprise that many commercial venues don't encourage partner dancing because we are light drinkers. Furthermore, some of us further antagonize our hosts by not supporting them with purchases and tips, while demanding huge quantities of free water. Hence I find it self- destructive to subject those who are laboring to preserve a non- commercial venue for partner dancing (an all-ages, smoke-free, family- friendly venue) to such vituperative comments.
This is not to imply that there are no problems or that it isn't frustrating to have to wait in line for hours to get in (and then have no room to dance). As another dancer frustrated by these problems, I am eagerly anticipating a solution to this quandry. I applaud those dancers who have floated suggestions. However, unless you plan to do Balboa or Zydeco all night, I don't think the suggestions that would result in larger capacity crowds will improve one's lindy dancing pleasure.
Given the need to develop new venues, I found it perplexing that when local dancers from another branch of the swing family extended a hand to the lindy community to participate in a local dance weekend--where incentives included a lindy competition category with prize money, a lindy ballroom, a lindy DJ, lindy workshops, and lindy flavored T-shirts- -it responded with a resounding ho-hum. This would have been an excellent opportunity to showcase the beauty of the dance. The DC Hand Dancers attended, fielded competitors in both their own category and the Strictly Swing category. They ably acquitted themselves; one couple got two standing ovations. The Hand Dancers took their dance to the public. And where were the lindy hoppers? Zoned-out?
The last statement should not be construed as a criticism of
Zones. The owner deserves credit for providing another lindy
venue. And kudos to the instructors, DJs, and dancers who are
sharing our passion with a whole new generation of lindy hoppers.
Yet we must be mindful that sharing our passion means that the
old familar haunts will get more crowded unless we can nurture
new venues and preserve old ones.
From: Rodney Payne
This years "Swing Fling" was better than ever. Barry held it at a new venue this year (the Tysons Sheraton) which was an improved location from last years event.
As one of the DJ's this year, I had a blast. It was the first big event I have worked.
This was the first year, I am aware of, that a Lindy only room was included in the event. I was a little dismayed that so few Lindy dancers showed up. DJ Bernstein was spinning the records for this event, and a Lindy competition was scheduled. The Lindy competition had to be canceled due to lack of competitiors.I was surprised at this since the hoppers have made such a strong showing at the Va State Open the past couple of years.
I am an avid WCS dancer but also enjoy doing Lindy Hop (even though my skills are limited) . I had hoped for a strong showing of the Lindy crowd since many of my friends are top notch Lindy dancers and it gives me a chance to dance with them as well as doing some socializing. The saddest part was watching DJ Bernstein being delegated to playing Hustle music in the Lindy room.
I can only hope that if Barry Durand has a Lindy room next
year, more people will come out and support it. I believe that
all types of dance are fun and that we should all support each
other at these events. If we don't, we might lose great venues
like this to learn, compete and dance at.
From: Iver Cooper
I attended the Swing Fling this weekend. I was somewhat surprised when several people accused me of sabotaging the Swing Fling's efforts to attract the Lindy Hop community by the email I sent you a few days ago. I believe that this is rather like ordering the arrest, for lese majeste, of the little boy in the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes"; I merely pointed out the gap between what the Swing Fling was promising the Lindy Hop community, and what it was delivering. I'm surprised that you haven't gotten any hate mail, since your Monday "Upcoming Week" commented, "Strange that this event which USED to be West Coast only now bills itself as a "Zoot Suit Riot" and offers discount coupons for those who want to "see the best Lindy Dancers Riot".
My rather tame (I thought) comment on the program was "some zoot suit riot, huh?" (Note that I bought a weekend pass and went to the Saturday Lindy and Sunday Balboa workshops, which would be a strange thing for me to do if I wanted to sabotage the Swing Fling.)
Compared to what Swing Fling has done in the past, this year was a major improvement. They provided three one-hour workshops, instead of none, they provided one Lindy-specific competitive division, instead of none, and they provided a separate room for Lindy Hoppers, instead of putting them in with the WCSers and letting them wait for the one fast number in 5 or 10 that was de rigeur last year.
But Swing Fling's email advertising implied that they would be doing much more. How could they tell people, "come see the best Lindy Dancers Riot" when they KNEW that they only had one Lindy Hop teacher lined up, and they KNEW that no one had registered to compete in the Lindy Division?
One person said to me that he was extremely embarassed by the Lindy Hop community's failure to support "a major swing dance event". Perhaps I should be embarassed because I don't buy clothing from the Gap, even though I liked their ad! The Lindy Hop community is under no moral obligation to support a "major swing dance event", especially one that has provided no prior support to the Lindy Hop community. (This isn't like a benefit concert for Glen Echo, you know.) If Swing Fling wants Lindy Hoppers to come, they have to provide us with sufficient motivation, and if they don't, we vote with our feet.
I actually thought that by listing the Lindy-specific workshops, I was ENCOURAGING Lindy Hoppers to come who might otherwise just ignore Swing Fling. But with only one workshop on Friday and two on Saturday, one could at best attract only Lindy Hoppers who lived nearby; you wouldn't expect people to drive for an hour or more. One Lindy Hopper who did go on Saturday night said to me, "I came here because it was closer than Forest Glen."
Compare Swing Fling to ASDC 1998 (which also features plenty of WCS), where you had Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas, Steven Mitchell, AND Jonathan Bixby and Sylvia Sykes teaching. Offhand, I'd say that there was 3-4 times as much Lindy teaching at ASDC as at Swing Fling.
Now let's talk about the competition. First of all, why didn't Lindy Hoppers compete? In general, at the national swing events, at least some of the competitors in the top divisions are people who are not just competing, but also teaching and judging. So a couple may compete in Showcase, and judge in Classic, and teach a few workshops and private lessons. Of course, at Swing Fling, the only Lindy couple on the faculty was Bixby-Sykes.
Another reason why there wasn't a good turnout is that Swing Fling is perceived as a WCS event. Any competitor looking at the faculty list would realize that they could expect that only one of the five judges would be someone who taught Lindy Hop. That would lead to some anxiety as to the fairness of the judging.
Some of the posible competitors might have had other commitments. Steve Cowles, for example, was teaching at Forest Glen. Leslie Coombs had her own event, at the Avalon. Tom, I hear, had an out-of-town paying gig (don't forget that you PAY to compete).
And, of course, from the point of view of a potential out-of-town competitor who was not on the faculty, the workshops were not enough to draw one to come. (And nobody is driving down from NYC to listen to Bernstein, or any other DJ, spin CDs!)
From the point of view of the spectators, there was one scheduled Lindy Hop event of the 14 competitions listed in the program. Compare that to two at ASDC (Strictly Lindy and Lindy Showcase) and to four at VSO (Amateur Classic, Amateur Showcase, Open Classic, Open Showcase). So, if you were only interested in the Lindy part of the program, you might not have wanted to pay $60 for a weekend pass, or even $35 for a Saturday pass... especially if you had asked around and didn't know anyone who was planning to compete.
As it turns out, not only were there zero competitors in Lindy, there were only TWO in Showcase. So why single out Lindy Hoppers as culprits? Any swing dance is legit in Showcase! Most events cancel a division if there are fewer than three couples registered.
Finally, let me comment on the evening dances. (I should say here that I misread the flyer to mean that the second ballroom would not be opened up until 11:30 on Friday and 11:15 on Saturday, which was similar to the strategy at ASDC. In fact, the intent was to open it up at 8 on Friday and 7 on Saturday; they actually opened it at 8:30 or 9:00 on Saturday.)
At the outset, let's put things into perspective. A dance to DJ music just doesn;'t draw people to the extent that a dance to a live band does. By having a DJ, Swing Fling was pretty much guaranteeing that they would draw MOSTLY from the people who were coming for the competitions.
On Friday, of course, they were competing with TCO at America's, an event, which Tom and Debra promote. Barry and company could hardly expect Tom and Debra to promote the Swing Fling dance on Fiday at the expense of their own! However, Debra told me that she did encourage people to go to Swing Fling AFTER America closed, and many of them did go on to Swing Fling, where they were disappointed to learn that the Lindy room was already closed and would not reopen.
This shows a certain insensitivity on the part of the Swing Fling management. They should have recognized (they were told) that it was foolish to set up a "pioneering" DJ event in competition with a live band event which was a mainstay of the local Lindy community. Instead, they should have waited to open up the Lindy room until 11:30 or so (or used it for Hustle until then). And, once LIndy Hoppers showed up, they should have responded.
The result, of course, was unfavorable word of mouth, as a result of which some people who might have gone on Saturday went elsewhere instead.
Turning to the Saturday event, here, a dance to DJ music in a hotel was competing with a live band (New Columbia Swing) at the historic Forest Glen ballroom (as well as with a dance at the Avalon, I'm told). I think it is really unfortunate that these dates collided, but they did (this is not ununusual in the DC-Baltimore area, where there are frequently multiple swing dance events on Saturday night), and it is not surprising that most Lindy Hoppers went to Forest Glen (or Avalon). Still, Swing Fling did draw 10-12 couples, which I thought was actually pretty good considering Swing Fling's reputation, and the circumstances.
In short, the Swing Fling made a modest concession to the Lindy Hop community, and got a tepid response (10-12 couples) in consequence. If they want more, they will need to provide more teachers, offering a full track of Lindy workshops, and to actively recruit competitors. And Barry could have made a point of personally visiting the major Lindy classes and talking up the Swing Fling, instead of just dumping flyers at each venue.
Swing Fling organizers should also realize that for the first year or two in which they seek to attract the Lindy Hop community, they may have a relatively low turnout. (Tom and Debra had to work to develop their constituency; it didn't just materialize out of thin air!) However, if they impress the people who DO come, then they will get favorable word-of-mouth advertising, and the turnout should be better in the future.
Barry Durand wasn't accusatory, but did act martyred. I tried to get Simon Selmon, to teach, he told me. On the grapevine, I heard that that was true, but not the whole story. Since Simon wasn't already on a U.S. tour, he had to be brought over specially. And Barry was not willing to pay his airfare. As a result, Simon would not have done better than break even, so he wasn't interested. And who could blame him?
I don't blame Barry for not wanting to take the additional financial risk, since Barry doesn't exactly have his finger on the pulse of the Lindy Hop community. But he could have first said to Tom and Debra, "look, if I bring over Simon, will you tell your classes to come to Swing Fling." He could even have asked them to be "co-sponsors" of the event, so they could get some publicity out of Swing FLing. He at least could have asked them to teach. And there are other teachers closer than London he could have asked. (Frankie comes to mind, although perhaps he was already committed.) And Tom and Debra aren't the only local teachers, either, there's Marc and Ellen, Ken and Donna, Leslie, and perhaps others.
So there are ways he could have minimized his risk. And he had ASDC and VSO to look to as an example of what he could have done and how he could have drawn. I don't think the Lindy scene here is greatly inferior to that in NYC.
Barry also said that Tom K. assured him that there was no competing event. Debra told me that Barry asked him BEFORE Forest Glen was scheduled.
Personally, I think it was foolish for Barry to base his plans on one person's assurances. Tom and Debra are not the only Lindy teachers in the area, and there are events which attract the Lindy community but aren't specifically sponsored by one of the teachers. Tom and Debra didn't even go to Forest Glen!
In short, I didn't seek to sabotage the Swing Fling, merely to give an accurate portrayal of what it was offering the Lindy community. LHers could then take advantage of it, or not, if they pleased. If Swing Fling wants to actually attract substantial numbers of LHers, as opposed to providing a taste of LH for its WCS/Hustle/Carolina Shag constituency, it needs to make more of an effort itself. And the organizers need to appreciate that the first year or two in which they make that effort is likely to be discouraging.
Turning to pleasanter topics, Jonathan and Sylvia's Saturday and Sunday workshops were entertaining as always. On Saturday at 10, Sylvia's beginner's session focused, as might be expected, on the basic Charleston, and the Lindy swingout, turn and circle. Sylvia did add a catch and couple spin move. It was particularly refreshing to hear Sylvia tell the attendees, you have several options here at count 5....
At 12, in the strangely named "Shine and Shadow" (coined by Barry, not them) they taught the forward to back Charleston and a butterfly exit.
On Sunday, Jonathan made a surprise switch from ECS to Balboa. He taught the basic step and the side kick. They had 10-12 couples for the Saturday workshops, and perhaps 8 for Sunday.
I can't comment firsthand on Friday night, since I couldn't go (it was my last night with my family before they headed out to Denver and points West). But I did hear that Jonathan and Sylvia taught some slick Dean Collins Lindy material.
Do try to catch Jonathan and Sylvia's workshops at Buffalo Gap.
From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney
To put things in perspective, let's consider the 1997 Virginia State Open for a minute.
Hutch flew in Frankie Manning. He also had several Lindy workshops. There were four Lindy events and four Jitterbug events (for those of us who refuse to acknowledge a difference, that makes EIGHT, count 'em EIGHT competions). And last year, there was a Lindy Jack and Jill. So make that nine.
About 20 lindy couples competed overall. Another 30-40 lindy folks were in attendence. There may have been a few more folks in the Lindy dance room, but I don't recall, since we didn't attend the dances (being way too caught up in the competition).
But here's what VSO competed against:
My observation of a lot of dance contests is that in most styles, there is a "professional" or "competition" circuit. Points count toward national status. Competition teachers and coaches are available. National events are established. Lindy only recently was allowed to garner points for national status, but you have to join a national ballroom association and you have fewer events to attend. A lindy hopper will never get enough points to win any sort of national competition between dance styles.
Most lindy hoppers are young. Summer is a time for going away to college or trying to get a job after graduation. There's little time for competions. Also, there's little cash on hand.
Lindy competitions (like the Harvest Moon Ball) were traditionally non-official events. This is street dancing, not ballroom dancing. You won't see PBS carrying Lindy competition (but ironically, for three years in a row, the couple who did the Lindy routine won the Latin division. Don't ask me why swing is in the Latin division...) So competitions that try to fit us in are going to have to patiently accomodate us and woo us, so to speak. We are mostly too young, poor, and/or overworked to hop onto a competition circuit and have routines ready for every competition that springs up.
And most dancers, of any stripe, are not competitive. They do it for the fun and love of dancing. Competion takes a lot of time, energy and preparation--especially if you do not have years of ballroom experience under your belt.
Furthermore, the issue of judging needs to be considered seriously. Lindy experts know the difference between "flashy" and good (Barry Durand lectured my husband on that point last year after our Amateur Classic competition). But Lindy people also know that energy sometimes is desired over smoothness--if the music calls for it. This point might be missed on some West Coast judges, who are extremely focused on technique. By that same token, I would make a lousy West Coast judge. The couple I like in competion never seems to win. I'm missing some finer point on the dance, apparently.
In any case, it did take ASDC a few years to court a Lindy crowd. This year, Alan Rocoff is sponsoring a Lindy only competition. He may come up zeros or have a big hit on his hands. Who can tell? It will be quite a challenge to encourage the best dancers all over the east coast to compete.
I wouldn't suggest that Barry try to do a Lindy only event. That would be folly. He just needs to be patient and more visible in the Lindy community.
Saturday August 8, 1998
We went to Forest Glen and joined a record crowd for more-or-less general dancing to the New Columbia Swing Orchestra. Although the first set was a lot of waltzzzz and cha-cha, we have nothing but praise for Brooks Tegler and Lynn McKuhn. It was fairly hot inside, and I don't think that anyone begrudged the band a few slow numbers. We had many more would-be jammers than the music provided for, so all of you who got left out, please accept my apologies. The high point of the jam was a "Death Spike" by Big Jon Mills and Jackie Lapp. In a couple of weeks, they are going to do this with the same fluency as Tom and Debra. Here's the full story from Steve and Sue:
From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney
Wow! What a rip-roaring success! With just our second effort, we managed to make as much money for Save Our Seminary as we paid out in expenses. Much thanks goes out to the New Columbia Swing Orchestra and Frank Goldseth for a) getting Brooks Tegler, b) sticking to standard, ballroom repetoire, and c) getting Lynn McKuhn as "stand-in" vocalist (Lynn also sings with Doc Scantlin). NCO sounded stellar!
Now onto some general comments...
I feel the need to appologize for the wretched condition of the ballroom. To the tune of 'Pennies from Heaven' we could sing "Every time it rains it rains plaster from the ceiling..." The plaster dust and chips need to be swept up and ideally, vacuumed every time we use the ballroom. We get no help from the Army. We're going to ask for some assistance (it's the least the could do, especially since they use it too). The floor is filthy and needs a good scrubbing. The tables are crappy and flimsy. The list goes on and on. Much thanks to our top notch set-up volunteers, including Cameron, Mike (floor buffer) Henry, and Mercedes. When we ask folks to help us with set-up in the future, we really mean it. There's a lot to be done.
I am constantly amazed at the good behavior of the dancers at Forest Glen. Perhaps its the elegance of the ballroom. Perhaps it's the way the ballroom is designed to allow folks to stand off to the side to observe, out of the line of dance. But there was no kicking, no bumping, and no jam ups (except for the polka, where we had some velocity problems and could have used a traffic cop). Kudos to all of you.
As you may have noticed, the crowd and the song selection had much variety. This was not a strictly Lindy event. We had a great turnout from the surrounding neighborhood (thanks to promotion from WWDC, AM 1220) and from the University of Maryland ballroom dance association. We also had at least 150-200 beginners (thanks to Steve's canvassing the line at Glen Echo last week). Much thanks to Steve Cowles and Carla for doing the beginner lesson and a charleston lesson. Both were overwhelmingly popular.
We had a markedly older crowd too, thanks to WWDC (for once, Arnold was not the oldest one there!). There was a woman who attended who had danced in the ballroom in 1939!
The turnout, for those of you who care, was close to 400. With that capacity, the floor still did not seem crowded. You have to admit, as ballrooms go, this one is very well designed. Except for the breeze control. We did not have the benefit of heat breaking rains (which would have been more of a disaster than a benefit, believe me) and one of the Army fans is broken, so it was very hot. Sorry. But that meant that SOS made more money from beverages.
Those of you who attended were given cards with phone numbers on them. Here's a little background on that. This ballroom is not open to the public. SOS has an agreement with the Army to use the ballroom to raise some restoration money. We do not have the benefit of the constant use that Glen Echo enjoys. It was Glen Echo's thousands of users who alerted Montgomery County and the State of Maryland to the importance of that site and their involvement in its preservation. The Seminary at Forest Glen needs that same sort of attention. Very soon, it is expected that the Army will turn this property over to GSA. We need your help in telling the County and the State that they need to be involved in the transfer and the selection of a good developer. One big priority should be the public access to this ballroom.
As you know, Silver Spring Council voted last week to tear down the Silver Spring Armory. This would have been a wonderful dance site (close to Metro), had the Armory not been carpeted a few years back. The wood floor is still there, but, alas, the whole place will soon be rubble. The fate of Glen Echo still depends on the Park Service. Even if the site were preserved, the Spanish Ballroom would have to be shut down for repairs for a while. We've got a shortage of large public spaces in the area. Ask any of the bands and the folks who try to book them in various venues. So your help is needed and greatly appreciated.
And now onto something I wish I didn't have to say....
We've received some criticism for counterprogramming a few events that were going on this week. There was no scheduling conspiracy...we had to negotiate dates with the Army and this particular one was free. Let's clear a few things up here, right now, because in the future, we may end up counter programming all sorts of events. We are not out to undo anybody's dance constituency. Having stood in line at Glen Echo for the last three night's we've attended, Steve and I can attest to a demand that exceeds the current capacity. The next few events SOS sponsors are very likely to be exclusively Lindy, mostly because some opportunities for exciting bands are presenting themselves to us, but we're also going to branch out and do other things. Another Sunday afternoon waltz is scheduled in September. We may be doing a special veterans event in November. We're trying to get as many eyes on the ballroom as possible. For the record, we may be counterprogramming Glen Echo. Since so many folks stand in line at Glen Echo and since Glen Echo enjoys activity almost every night of the week, we believe our once or twice a month functions should not impact their fundraising and programming significantly.
SOS is also running out of time for programming events. Once GSA takes over the site, SOS's use agreement expires. We may be able to re-negotiate it, but that is unclear. So while we can, we need to get as many people there to enjoy the ballroom. Steve and I hope that doesn't offend anybody. We're sorry if it does, but we live across the street from this complex and care about having public ballrooms in Mongomery County...so we have our priorities and we're clearly biased.
Thanks again, to everyone who attended, all our wonderful volunteers, and to NCO for making it a fabulous night. We'll see you in September. An announcement will be out shortly on our September events.
From: Chris Bamberger
Dear Frank and Carole,
Its design is perfect for a dance evening, because there is a 24-foot-wide seating area on two sides of the dance floor. A few steps up from the wooden floor there's a carpeted area with tables, chairs, even an elaborate fireplace! This "ambulatory" dates back to the ballroom's days as a dancing and socializing room for the young ladies who attended the girl's finishing school on the property in the 1920s and '30s. After the Army took over the site during World War II, they built a stage at the far end against one side of this space, and Sue says even Benny Goodman played upon it.
That must have been neat for Frank Guldseth, one of the all-time reverent Goodman fans, and he and his band were in fine form Saturday night. They still played a few more cornball numbers than Frank and I could comfortably bear (To the cha-cha-cha I always sing, "South America, Take it Away!"--if that is even whence that dance actually hails), but the high swingin' numbers sounded solid, and he had a marvelous girl singer. Jeff Booth and I had our usual conversation on the way over to the Devoney's about modern singers who don't quite do it for us because they try to sound like Barbra Streisand or Neil Diamond when we want them to sound like Jo Stafford or Dick Haymes. But we agreed that Lynn McKuhn had the authentic sound. And of course we did our usual raving about Brooks "Krupa reincarnate" Tegler.
I saw some folks I hadn't seen in awhile, saw some of my favorites, took lots of pictures (look for 'em here, in time), and even bought a pink-and-cream dream of a dress (late '50s vintage) from Angela Billingsly, who sometimes shops for us a la Carole. She had several dresses laid out for the ladies to take a look at. I hope Mara Levy bought the one she tried on in the ladies room while I was struggling to get mine over my sweaty self, because it looked sensational on her!
Mike Henry is the greatest about giving me valuable dance critique in a non-intimidating way, and I told him that night that I was feeling so bold that I was gonna ask all the guys for a critique. John McCalla graciously spent about 20 minutes going over my swing out with me (I'm sorry I stole your partner, Lizzie! But thank you!) and I have been practicing the advice ever since.
Also got to talk more with another LWCGHHTD comrade (lady who can't get her husband to dance), Mercedes Clemens, an absolutely delightful person, and her talented partner Eric from Capetown, South Africa. I plan to help Sue and Steve in every way I can with coming Forest Glen fundraising events, and I hope last Saturday night will inspire all you hoppers out there to do the same.
From: Diane L. Carroad
On Saturday, in the mood for A/C, more music by SwingSpeak and less crowds, Avalon was the place to be tho I imagine the group energy at Forest Glen was uplifting. It was a COOL night in every way -- cool temp, cool music, cool Jitterbug Stroll, cool people, cool floor, cool water and soda!
Swing Speak is becoming one of my favorite bands although, on
this nite, the music was toned down a bit considering the smaller
venue compared to a Glen Echo -- the basic quartet without extras
(as at Glen Echo) made for a more intimate evening. Am
enjoying the CD, "Well Spoken," which has great
up-tempo jazzy swing , tho not really for very fast paced lindy,
with two rhythmic latino cuts as well to round it out. Plus, Tom
Principato's guitar guests on "I Got it Bad." My only
disappointment was that Leslie C disappeared early on and I could
have used her smooth lindy tips. Keep hoping that dance teachers
will focus more on styling rather than new steps/routines. I
appreciate if when you good leaders (and followers) give me
guidance. Feel free to keep it coming!
Sunday August 9, 1998
We have no Reviews for this Date
Monday August 10, 1998
From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney
Looks like Steve and I will be frequenting the Chevy Chase ballroom more often, now that Steve is modifying his schedule. His goal is to get more social dancing in. We had two kids in from out of town (Vermont...can't get much more out of town than that...) They were excited about trying their hand at swing...so we took them to the most logical place in town: CCB. Bernstein is spinning the disks, constantly, gradually increasing the tempo, then decreasing the tempo...perfect for beginners to practice their moves. Also, there are plenty of friendly folk around to help and inspire. Thanks to everyone, we soon had Heather and her brother, Greg doing six count swing and Charleston. That's about all they could absorb in 2 1/2 hours. I think we have two new Lindy converts. We'll be sending them Frankie's tapes so that they can teach all their friends and bring Lindy to the wilds of Vermont.
We got to show Iver our new aerial combination...but alas, we still can't execute it in 8 smooth beats. Iver wants me to learn "mop the floor." Just as he was about to show me, a couple tried it next to us and the woman landed hard on the floor. That's when my nerves got the best of me. Maybe some other time....when I bring some padding.
From: Ellen Werther
I have just been thru a week of computer/aol hell. And I have
survived. As the saying goes, "What doesn't kill us will
make us stronger." I am now strong like bull! Having
just now gotten the kinks worked out (I hope and pray) I missed
the deadline for dance reviews. I am hoping you can put this
message on for next week. First, my e-mail address is now
firstname.lastname@example.org. (My sign-on name is drumboogie!) I
can still get mail at aol, but that will not be for long. Please
let all my dance friends know. Second, I wanted to write a tell
you about Monday night (Aug. 2, I think) Joanne Garrison and I
went to the meeting re: Glen Echo. I was surprised to see so
few dancers there. I could not see everyone in the room, because
it was jammed with other folks--cooperators. We sat with Rob and
Janet. Bill and Trish were there, as were a couple of folks from
the committee. Leonard made some remarks. True, not much was
said, but I would think--even with all the crap going on with
getting into Glen Echo (and the horrible time they chose to hold
the meeting)--that more of us would have made an effort to be
there. I hate what is going on with the lines etc. as much as
anyone (remember, I was one of the smart ones who went to see J
Street at Twist and Shout) but still....are we willing to risk
losing the place (or having it be turned into a Hyatt Regency?
Even with all the problems we have been having, I do not want to
risk losing the place. Joanne, Rob and I went there after the
meeting....Janet had gone earlier for a lesson. On the way home,
Joanne and I compared notes and agreed: it was one of the best
nights we have had dancing in a long time. The crowd is smaller
on Monday nights than on Saturday I figure maybe 100 folks were
there, leaving --imagine this--room on the floor to dance!. The
average age appears to be 30/40 something ( I am did not take a
census, but I KNOW everyone there is of voting age!). A number
of good dancers, including but not only Lizzie and Misha, were
there. And everyone was friendly. But best of all, Psycho Boy
was in the room! It has been TOO long since I have seen him,
let alone danced with him...and on Monday I got to dance with him
at least three times. Our dear Cherri must be working wonders on
him: he seemed more relaxed than I have seen him in ages (or
maybe I am)
Tuesday August 11, 1998
We headed west to Pittsburgh by way of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. We availed ourselves of the Spa and enjoyed the hot mineral waters of the Roman Baths. After that, we hit the variety of thrift and vintage stores in the area. Carole found a spectacular pair of 1940s platform shoes in brown suede, embellished with fine copper trim.
We took the long road to Pittsburgh, stopping frequently along US Route 30 at small stores. I managed to find a cup from the White Castle chain, several tie bars, and the appropriate dress sword for my Knight Commander uniform (Belmont Ball, watch out!) All our dilly-dallying put us into Pittsburgh fairly late. I made a wrong turn and we wound up in a traffic jam. Carole looked out the window and noticed a Goodwill store. We pulled out of the jam. It must have been destiny! I found two very nice 1930s suitcoats and a pair of pants! Carole found a couple of nice dresses that she will be showing at dances in the near future.
We checked into the hotel, had a great dinner at Tessaro's and went to see Spider Rondinelli at Sweet Basil in Squirrel Hill. Spider's group is a lot like Swing Speak, and we were able to carve out a small dance area on the uptempo numbers.
Wednesday August 12, 1998
We began the day with the traditional breakfast at De Lucas' in the Strip. The sad news of the morning was that Nabisco will be closing its landmark factory in East Liberty. This really is a loss, because this plant --- resplendent in polychrome terra cotta tile with towers and flagpoles --- has been in continuous operation since 1914.
After breakfast, we went to Bloomfield where I had my hair cut at Dan Cercone's barber shop. (This is the place where Caesar Romero used to have his hair cut...) After that, we hit a small thrift store and miraculously found a late 1940s Hollywood jacket that fits like a glove --- $3.00. After that, we visited the established vintage stores in the city, Eons and Hey Betty , both in Shadyside on Ellsworth Avenue. They authenticated the Hollywood jacket and showed me items in their inventory that were similar at $165. I felt very good about this. But, the best was yet to come. I stopped into a shoe repair shop, because they had a placard advertising tickets for "Democrat Day" at Kennywood, the local amusement park. We picked up our tickets and looked around at the used shoes for sale. I spotted a pair of gray suede pointed toe oxfords at $5. The proprietor indicated that the former owner had a taste for suede -- he brought out two more pairs, wing tips, and spectators. I took the lot for $12. All three pairs fit like a glove!
We had lunch at The Forbes Room, the "ladies restaurant" at the Kaufmann's Department store. This is always an elegant experience, and we were fortunate to get a riverview table. At places like this, you always eat a large concoction of fruit and cottage cheese. Mine was served in half a pineapple.
After that, we headed for the South Side and the large collection of thrift and vintage stores. However, we also made a preliminary stop at the Pretzel Store for a great big bag of fresh-baked soft pretzels. After finding a few more vintage treasures, we headed for Homestaead an the last reamining Isaly's store. We had a scoop each of Maricopa (vanilla and butterscotch) and White House (vanilla and Maraschino cherries) ice cream as a nostalgic treat.
We headed back to the hotel to inventory our vast collection of treasure. After spending some time in the pool, we headed out to Lombardozzi's in Bloomfield for a first rate Italian dinner --- wedding soup, mussels, pasta with clam sauce, fried zuchhini, etc,etc.. This place is a fabulous slice of the 1950s -- family owned and immaculately maintained. Our vintage clothes were a hit with the owner and the cocktail pianist, who favored us with "Shiny Stockings".
After finishing our Banannas Foster, we paid the tab and headed out for Plutos in the Strip, the city's newest swing venue (there are five now!). There is a big floor and there was a nice intergenerational crowd. But, the main attraction was Dr. Zoot and the Suits, who are getting to be one of our very favorite swing bands. They play a mixture of classic swing, neo swing and original material. They are a genuine swing band --- all very proficient and very tight together. They have a lot of fun with the crowd and it is always a real pleasure to dance with them. We really hope that they can get to DC sometime, because we are sure that all of you will love them as well.
Thursday August 13, 1998
We finished our day in Pittsburgh by hitting a few more Thrift and Vintage stores and then joining the Democrats for a day of old-time politicking at Kennywood Park. Yes, it was "Democrat Day" and we got a very reduced admission, plus "Ride All Day" tickets that enabled us to get a chance to ride all four major roller coasters in the park. We stayed to listen to some old fashioned political speeches and enjoy some hot dogs.
Friday August 14, 1998
We headed up to Baltimore to see the Camaros. We had a great time, but were saddened to see that the Boumi Temple, a really nice gem of 1950s institutional architecture, is in the process of being demolished. Most of the detailing has been removed from the central domed hall, and the elegant furnishings have been removed. The upside is that the dance was held in the very large ballroom, which had been reserved for Masonic activities when the building was in active use. The Camaros put out high quality rapid-fire swing for three sets. They might have been a little bit fast for the crowd. They make very effective use of two female vocalists, and have a dynamite reed section. They are definitely a band to watch, although right now, they play songs that are a little too long for comfortable dancing.
We were really pleased to see that John "Psychoboy" McCalla and Bob Kleinpeter showed up as well as a large crowd of ladies including Sara and her friends.
After the dance, we got in the car and lead-footed it down to Zones to catch the last set of the J Street Jumpers. It looked like they had a larger than normal crowd. It also looked like the folks really appreciated the band --- after the dance, Charlie Hubel told me that they had sold quite a few CDs.
From: Michael L. Henry
We have many multi-talented people among the Lindy Hoppers. Last Friday, August 14, three of us displayed our acting talents at a meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club.Having access to thousands of radio plays at the Library of American Broadcasting, I chose a play entitled "For Richer-for Richer", which was originally broadcast on the Silver Theatre on December 10, 1939, the Sunday before the premiere of "Gone With the Wind". The play originally starred Clark Gable as Chris Morgan, an egotistical, insensitive jerk who attempts to elope with a wealthy young woman named Susan Turner, not for love, but for her money. That is, until he is thwarted in his plans by Susan's sister Peggy.
Knowing that they had the talent, I cast Chris Bamberger and Steve Devoney in the leading parts (Peggy Turner and Chris Morgan). Needless to say, they did a wonderful job, especially considering that they had not seen the script before that evening and had very little time to prepare. I played the part of the director, who introduced the story and had a brief interview with Gable(Steve) after the broadcast, at which time they(we) speculate on the prospects for the success of "Gone With the Wind". Our production was done complete with music,live soun effects, and the silverware commercials that were included in the original broadcast.
I think Chris (Bamberger, not Morgan) and Steve got a real education in how live radio drama was performed in the 1930's and 1940's.
The MWOTRC periodically puts on radio plays like this. Just
let me know if anyone would like to participate in one in the
future. If anyone in the dance community would like to put one
on yourselves, I can assist with that as well.
From: Sue Fedor
Rushing pell mell from the Treasury Department after work on Friday (why do faxes from OMB always come in at 5:54 pm???) Steve and I high tailed it out to Northern Virginia for the monthly meeting of the Washington Old Time Radio Club. Luckily, Radio Club business was lengthly and the planned activities got a late start. The activity for this evening was a group read of a radio play, complete with live sound effects, which always steal the show at a live radio play event. The play was "For Better...or For Better," written and performed for a silver company in 1939 on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). I'll let Chris Bamberger fill in the rest of the details. Mike Henry roped Steve into doing the lead part, originally played by Clark Gable. Chris B. did the lead female character.
The play featured some rather contrived commercials for silverplate, which led me to ponder how indicative this was of the de-classing of post-Depression/pre-War American society. No self-respecting family would put silverplate (silver covering some other metal, such as nickel) anything in their daughter's hope chest. For shame! If you were a southern belle, you had only certain silverware patterns that would be acceptable. Not too many fruits or roses on the handle to be tacky, but enough to show the fine detail work of the expert silversmith. Folks would turn them over discretely during dinner to note the telltale "Sterling" mark. When radio opened all of America up to advertisers, this silverplate company could to pitch their product to a new, nationwide audience, formerly not caught up in such pretentions. Just a few years ago, these good folks barely had a knife and fork. Now, with the prosperity bought and paid for by the FDR administration, they can afford silverplate on their table!
Thus began the rise of the American middle class, and hope chests everywhere, manufactured by Lane, of course, contained a full set of silverplate dinner utensils. Word to the wise: don't ever invite someone who took economics in grad school to an old time radio play. I can't even remember the plot...something about one sister trying to stop a cad for marrying her sister for money...come to think of it, a perfect plot for a silverplate company.
Afterward, we high tailed it up I-270 to the new community center in Gaithersburg (it still has the new building smell), for a swing dance in the gymnasium. The DJ was earnest, but still feeling around for what would be popular with the kids. About 50 showed up, at the height of the dance. When we got there, only about 15 were left, and practicing aerials like mad. The DJ was getting nervous, so he showed them some dips during a break. That held their attention for about 10 minutes, then it was back to a contest between three couples to see who could do a sidecar first. I was beginning to worry that somebody's disk was going to slip, so Steve and I mosied over to give the younguns some advice. Just a few helpful hints, and they were looking as good as the kids in the Gap commercial. Having learned the Charleston earlier in the evening, we suggested they learn some dance steps to go along with the aerials. We showed them a short Charleston routine, which involved side kicks, changing places, and travelling charleston. They ate it up like candy. We through in one more aerial...the A-frame, to go along with the charlestons.
We can post some information about the gym dances on the site. I'm not sure how frequent they will be, but they're a good alternative for suburban Maryland high schoolers too young to get into Zones. It might behoove you to invest in a pair of ballroom shoes (the kind with suede on the bottom) or bowling shoes for the gym floor, as it is one of those rubber coated, shock absorbing floors. You can't slide on it well. Thinking that Gay may have stopped ordering suede bottomed shoes, you can take a pair of Bleyers and have your shoemaker superglue dancer's suede on the bottom for a few bucks. Portable ballroom floors which are heavily varnished and these gym floors (and even filthy Forest Glen ballroom floors) can sometimes be too sticky for rubber bottomed shoes. I try to always have a pair of suede bottoms on hand, now that I have them.
From: Ellen Werther
My dear momma told me "if you haven' got anything nice to say, don't say anything!" Given that sage advice, I was going to keep my thoughts about Zones to myself....I went on Friday to see J-Street and to check out the place. The floor--fake parquet on top of concrete is scuffed up and unyielding. Well, it IS concrete....the room is stuffy and crowded. BUT J-Street was great, once they got started....AND I did get to dance with a couple of good dancers I have never met before. So, there it is. Not exactly what my dear mum would have liked....but I tried.
Saturday August 15, 1998
We headed over to Glen Echo at about 7:00 to get our orange bracelets early. We were surprised to see that a rather large crowd had gathered. After that, we headed home for dinner and returned at about 10:00 after the heat had died down. Peaches was in rare form, and by the time that we got our shoes on, the Jam was starting. Thus, our first dance was also our jam routine. This was a very good evening.
From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney
Peaches was hot! Glen Echo was hot! The jam was hot (even if we weren't)....
Here's the strategy, for those of you who didn't know...you get to Glen Echo about 7:20 pm, and mingle with the mob of people already there, waiting for the doors to open. Once a critical mass of, say, 200 people assemble, a line begins to form. The doors open and the eager dancers rush in to get their bracelets, then exit to either picnic, wander around for an hour and a half, or practice aerials in the grass. For those of you who frequently stand in line, this is the routine that you're missing out on.
Debra tells me that WSDC will begin featuring two dances on Saturday night, to meet some of the demand under the current restrictions. They have yet to solve the problem of where to put 1200 + cars, provided both dances are attended equally.
We discussed this new plan earlier in the day at Steve's parents' house, where we joined Debra, her HUSBAND, Bobby, and some of Bobby's co-workers for poolside refreshments and dinner. Bobby and Steve's dad work for the same construction firm. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Debra would marry someone in construction, even a goofball like Bobby.
Back to the dance... Peaches is always entertaining. She changes costume. She wears feathers and sequins. She conducts her band with a star-pointed wand, instead of a baton. I don't recall seeing bubbles, tho...of course, I was very busy dancing, so maybe I missed it.
Lots of new moves in the jam, including our new move, which we botched at the very end when I only grabbed on of Steve's hands, flipped over, and due to lack of contact, could not stay on my feet upon descent. I know we gripe and gripe about the length of time people hog the jam floor, but I think that this one was one of the better paced jams I've seen in a while. The band did a great job of improvising and extending "Sing, Sing, Sing" even to the point of being willing to play it another 3 minutes for Tom and Debra to finish up. Looking rather oxygen deprived, Tom waved them to wrap it up.
For those of you who were wondering, the next-to-nothing I had on was circa 1940's. Ellen W. tells me real women actually "romped" around in these things. No wonder there was a baby boom in the 1950's. I don't think I'm ever going to dance in it again, as I heard a few rips and saw folks placing bets as to whether my top would survive a flip. I do intend to have it copied using more sturdy material. This has led me on a quest for vintage patterns as (1) it is hard to find sturdy vintage summer wear and (2) it is next to impossible to find a flapper dress in danceable condition for under $200.
Sunday August 16, 1998
From: Cameron Sellers
Missing Peaches O'Dell because of Reserve Duty and missing a
week of dancing because of a virus, I decided I was going to go
to Americas Sunday night even I was still under the weather and
the only pair of dance shoes I had were combat boots. I thought
I would go and give Naomi her tape and watch others dance and
then leave after an hour. But once Bernstein started spinning
the music, I couldn't help myself. Plus, how could I say no to
Trista, Julie, Sara, Naomi, Peggy, Lara, Nina, and the other
lovely ladies who asked me to dance. I had fun and if I got
anyone accidentally sick, I will follow the lead of our President
and blame Bernstein for playing music that forced me to dance.
But I accept responsibility, even though I did not dance. My
partners danced but I didn't because I was passive.
From: Douglas Pierce
The DJ (Daddy'O) seems to have finally gotten the message
about the correct tempo for Lindy. He takes requests and plays a
pretty good mix....things the youthful crowd like (Cherry Poppin'
Daddy, BBVD, SNZ even some new Indigo Swing.) Personally I think
DJs that actually dance have a much better feel for the correct
music. The more I hear the greater my appreciation for Mr.
Personality (especially after the set he did two weeks ago at
Chevy Chase...every song was about booze....I loved it! He said
he could do an entire set with a chicken theme.)
Monday August 17, 1998
We spent Monday downtown in the middle of the Clinton Testimony media circus. We got off the Metro at Farragut North and walked by the White House and an army of curious tourists, nuts of all political persuasions, and what ssemed to be an equal number of camera crews. We got interviewed several times --- could it have been the vintage clothes? The reporters seemd to be a little disappointed because we really don't get into politics --- they weren't interested in hearing about Lindy Hop, although they were willing to film a couple of kips and lockups. We walked over to the US District Courthouse, stopping off at Reeves for lunch (all white chicken on homemade bread with sliced olives, followed by strawberry shortcake). At the courthouse, we found an equally crazy scene. We actually got to talk with Greta Van Susteren when she was on break. She seemed delighted to get off the President's troubles and talk about the 1946 Supreme Court decision that allowed recorded music to be played on the radio (that effectively killed the kind of radio drama that Mike Henry was doing and simultaneously created the Disc Jockey)
From: Cameron Sellers
Nothing new at Chevy Chase other than that there are more
people dancing. That place is as crowded as Glen Echo now.
Tuesday August 18, 1998
We spent the day in Frederick, ostensibly purchasing our tickets for the Hangar Dance. We got to meet Col. Bob Flint the organizer of the event and he thanked us for our website treatment of the event. We also got a look at the B17G "Texas Raider". I was amazed to see that the quarters in this plane were extremely cramped. This confirms my theory (based on the lack of vintage uniforms in reasonable sizes) that World War II must have been fought by midgets.
After scoping out a few thrift and vintage stores, we returned home for dinner and a trip to Vienna Grille. Hutch informed us that he was raising the price $1 in order to improve the air conditioning in the Grille. Hats off to Hutch for taking initiative to make swing dancing better!
From: Cameron Sellers
As things change, the more things remain the same. I arrived at Vienna Grille Tuesday night to some changes. The cover charge went up a dollar so Hutch could improve the place. This was a breath of fresh air of seeing what the Army and the National Park Service have done to Forest Glen and Glen Echo, a person willing to make improvements. Also, there were allot more new faces that I haven't seen. Lot of young faces. This summer they blended into the establishment better than last year. There seem to be no complaints. And finally, Gator's music selection is improving. Tricia R. and Sue F. must be working with him.
When I arrived, I arrived in time for the Jitterbug Stroll, so I knew some things remained the same. Beverly brought a cake for Diane for her birthday and all the guys lined up to dance with the lovely birthday girl. At the end of the night Hutch extended the evening for fifteen minutes which was different but as always, Gator put his hustle music on at the end of the evening, reminding some things just remain the same.
I suspect once the Summer ends and the high school and college
kids go back to school, Vienna grille will return back to its
normacy. And I will miss them.
Wednesday August 19, 1998
We made the trip to Westminster to see the Bill Eliot Trio once again. The group was in fine form. This week, Bill brought his saxophone and added yet another dimension to their already awesome repertoire. I had a chat with Jim the drummer. He is just back from a gig in the South with the Ink Spots and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. A great time.
From: Sue Fedor and Steve Devoney
It's that time of year again. COMPETITION TIME. Steve and I stayed home to begin constructing our routine for the one competition we will be in. We purchased Opus One by the Mills Brothers and it sounds faster than the one that Gator plays...I wonder why....hmmm.....I'm not acusing anyone of anything, but one hears rumors about tempo tampering....and one begins to wonder....
But more importantly than that, we've discovered that Sasha, the wonder cat, much like her New York namesake, loves to Lindy! Steve has been coming home after work and doing some dance warm ups to various songs. Sasha sashays in, walks up to the CD player and sits. She looks at Steve and meows. He began to pick her up in response and absentmindedly begain to dance with her. She loves it! Now it is a routine. Everyday he has to come home and dance with Sasha. Her favorite song is "'Taint Whatcha Do." She loves to spin and she sticks her tail straight out if you spin her. When you start doing footwork, she hangs her head over your arm so she can see what you're doing...just like a beginner, she can't take her eyes of her partner's feet. Steve is trying to figure out how to teach her the "Waterfall." I heard him mumbling about putting a trail of tuna down his back... I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for this one in a jam near you.
Thursday August 20, 1998
We travelled to Jessup to hear Mood Swings at their regular Third Thursday gig. We have adapted to their policy of a Waltz and a Cha Cha first set and a power Lindy second set. The food was very good (and cheap), the band was very good, especially in the second set. We had a lot of fun.
It was Doug Pierce's birthday. We have a photo of the event in our Random Snapshots page.
Friday August 21, 1998We attended the "Hangar Dance" in Frederick amidst all the vintage airplanes supplied by the Confederate Air Force. There was (literally) and "army" of Lindy Hoppers on hand, including Mark Shepanek and Ellen Engle, John "Psychoboy" McCalla and Cherri Harris, Thomas Iveson and Tricia Reneau, Steve Devoney and Sue Fedor, Mike and Chrissy Hall-Reis, Bill Lehman and Trish Mannetti, Carolyn Biczel, Jeff Booth, Larry MacDonald, Jim Kranyak, Lisa Waidner, Deborah Brooks, Jennifer Comar, "Dr. Daniel" Fierer, Dee Dee Meyers, Dan Steeples and "Big Ed" Burka. Of special note, Mara Levy's parents, Diane and Barry were on hand (Mara is off to college). We had a really great time. Swing Shift was the band and they did a very creditable job. We have a big 15-photo spread about this dance on the website at: 1998 Hangar Dance
From: Sue Fedor
This year's hangar dance was much better than last year's for a variety of reasons. First off, and most importantly, THE WEATHER WAS DECENT. We did not have to contend with record-setting heat waves (1996) or extremely muggy weather (1997). The second reason was that some smart cookie KEPT THE HANGAR DOORS OPEN the whole time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The third reason was that the band was much better than last year (more about Swing Shift later). And the fourth reason was that somebody in charge of the barbequeing made way too much food and started practically giving it away. We arrived without benefit of dinner and ate a lovely meal of barbequed chicken and baked beans.
This does not mean there weren't problems. The hangar has two bathrooms. Each has one stall. There is a perpetual bathroom line and midway through the dance, all pretense was lost as women lined up to use both the Men's and the Women's rooms. Do we need Porta-potties? Also, this year, some enterprising organizer invited a CIGAR STORE to the dance. Blessedly, most smokers kept their nasty habit outside, under the stars. Since there were no explosions, we can assume they kept far away from the aviation fuel as well.
This was the first time Steve and I heard Swing Shift. As a band, they're fine. As a show band, they're ok. This particular night, they featured Bud Forest's lead singer, who I only recall singing less than a handful of songs. The band itself was best when it played medium tempo tunes. I Got You Under My Skin was a particularly delightful replay of the arrangement Frank Sinatra made popular. The fast tunes were a bit inconsistent in tempo. And some of the numbers were performed in a jazzy/show band style, which made dancing a bit difficult. But overall, a band that could hold their own for three whole sets was a welcome improvement. On a sour note, the band really could do without using Sing Sing Sing as a segue to their break. Either play it, or don't. Playing just a part of it to signal a break is kind of trite and silly. Also, it confuses dancers, especially the young ones who don't know the music as well.
Now onto the part you all really want to know....Who was there, what did they wear, and what was going on? Frank and Carole, of course, attended. Carole ripped half of her dress doing a diveshaft (if she did that sort of thing at Glen Echo, the jams would be much more interesting...) Carolyn was there, Psychoboy WITH Cherri ( I have photographic evidence of them dancing together) Bill, Trish and Trish's SON (I still can't believe she's old enough to have a son), After rolling his eyes at his mom's dancing all these years, he goes away to college and comes back amazed that his mom is actually a trendsetter for the hottest craze in decades! Thomas Iverson and Dr. Dan Fierer were looking simply smashing as usual. I spotted Larry out there. Deb Brooks was there. Tricia Reneau caused some exitement during American Patrol when she started dancing with one of the Nazis (oops! They're actually German soldiers, not official members of the most un-fun party in human history). She managed to spot the one soldier who really was German and began to dance with him. These guys were all dressed in wool from head to toe and were drinking lots of beer in an effort to keep cool.
Every once in a while, they would punctuate the evening's festivities with a chorus from some German beer tune, lifting their steins into the air. So it was wth one of these woolen-clothed, beer sodden, German soldiers that our little Tricia started dancing. First, it was a little 6-count, then, I swear she back led an underarm turn. His buddies are now hooting and hollering. Tricia gets a little overconfident and proceeds to straddle her new-found woolly friend. Tricia and Herr Woolly end up on the floor in a pile. Luckily for our German pal, his uniform is designed to cushion a fall in any direction. I think it is also thick enough to stop a bullet, but I'm glad we didnt' have to find that out. We did note, however, that he was wearing a knife strapped to his side. Had it not been firmly encased, Tricia could have been in danger of splitting open a major artery. I've learned the hard way that I cannot back lead a straddle, but if anybody could, I was almost certain that somebody would be Tricia. Ah, the international language of aerials.
Afterwards, many of us with modicum of energy left headed off to Joe's Diner on Route 40. At the Hop was playing as we entered, which put Frank in the mood to testify the Gospel of Lindy Hop. Carole was checking out the breakfast bar, leaving me to dance with Frank, shamelessly hamming, up and down the diner aisles, to the delight of the crowd. As the song ended, Frank ditched me like yesterday's news and began passing out website cards. Hey, he's got his priorities.
From: Mercedes Clemens
I have to say that Cunningham and crew were especially *hot*
this weekend. At America on Friday night I thought they would
spontaneously combust, they were just amazing. And with lots of
folks attending the Hangar Dance up in Frederick, there was room
on the floor to dance. Saturday was fantastic as well -- they
made it a wonderful dance weekend.
From: Cameron Sellers
After a disappointing concert called Footloose at the Kennedy Center, Rob, Christy, Laura and I headed for Americas. The only good aspect of Footloose was that it was free. When we arrived at Americas, there were lots of people but not many of them were dancing. Apparently these non dancers came for the lesson. The entourage of 60 people was from Cherrydale Baptist Church. After TCO finished with there first set, there were thousands of people lined up for the free lesson.
The hangar dance took its toll when the JAM started. Lack of
couples forced many people out for the first time like Brian and
Angela. A few people went out twice. Tom and Debra were great,
Nina and Naomi were awesome as always. By the end of the third
set, the floor had thinned out so there was plenty of space to
dance. Afterwards we headed to Silver Diner for food with the
college kids. However, Lara, Christy, Rob and I were banished to
the adult table and away from the college group. Bummer!
From: Catherine Andrews
Since Friday, i've spent four nights in a row swing dancing. I want to cram in as much as i can before i leave for UVA this weekend. I've had a blast! although I've spent a lot of money...Friday night, I went to America, where the fabulous Tom Cunningham Orchestra were playing. I got there a bit late, and was surprised to see that the crowd was not as huge as usual. Lately, America has been so crowded that it's like a war zone out on the dance floor, with the dancers avoiding being kicked, stepped on, or slammed into by someone doing the whip. Anyways, I guess a lot of people are on vacation or something, so there was actual space on the floor to dance..wow! There was a cameraman there from Fox 5, I think, filming everyone. he was sort of annoying cos he kind of got in the way of a lot of people. I saw him a couple of times sticking his camera about 2 inches away from band members' faces, which was probably kind of distracting. But, it's more coverage for swing dancing, which is good cos it will get more people interested..but that will lead to crowded floors once again. oh well. then afterwards we went to Silver Diner and had a great time.
Saturday August 22, 1998
We were at Glen Echo. We're just going to let our reviewers tell the story:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
It's become cliche to mention it, but MAN OH MAN was it H-O-T on Saturday! Yikes! I'm surprised we didn't lose some band members! Everyone was looking pretty sweaty by about, oh, say 9:05 pm, and it just got worse as the evening wore on. These humid evenings are just killers! Anybody else really looking forward to fall?
We had friends in town from Charlottesville who had done Carolina Shag and some swing years ago, and were quite anxious to dance. Despite the fact that it was very hot and some of the tunes were a bit fast for them (they are more comfortable at Carolina Shag pace), they had a wonderful time, and really enjoyed the band, the jam, and particularly the amateur dance contest.
My back is finally feeling pretty much normal - I'm able to get by day to day without Aleve, only needing a mega-dose before and after dancing to keep things quiet - so the Engels were back in the jam after a few weeks off. Yes, we were rusty and didn't do anything particularly interesting, but at least we got out of the rut of not going out. And I was actually able to dance with some people other than Jim this week again finally, which was nice. That's another rut it's good to stay out of. With the sore back and shoulders, I was avoiding dancing with other fellas so I wouldn't have to go into the whole explanation thing - besides if Jim led roughly while I was injured, I could feel free to tell him to cut it out!
Anyway, it was a wonderful evening despite the heat, and it was grand to be able to dance without pain for the first time in almost a month!
From: Cameron Sellers
The hot and humid temperatures did not keep people away from Glen Echo Saturday night. By 8:30pm, the door was closed with a line extending out to the Carousel. Before the doors opened, there were quite a few people having a picnic. The Swing group from Warrington celebrated Luke's birthday before the dance and as an extra bonus, Luke won the amateur dance contest.
TCO sounded as good as the night before, which was a testament
considering how hot the room was. The humidity did take a toll
on the dancers because the floor thinned out by the third set.
Afterwards, the group headed to Silver Diner, and I was once
again banished to the Adult table with Chris, Tom, and Carolyn by
the college kids.
Glen Echo was HOT on Saturday, baby! I finally brought my ole
mommy so she could see exactly why I rush out of the house every
Monday and Saturday night with little skirts and saddle shoes on.
Luke White turned eighteen, and was having a little birthday
gathering out on the picnic tables at 7, so we had something to
do for a few hours while waiting to get in (this crowding is
really getting out of hand!). Once we finally got in, Tom
Cunningham was groovin as usual, but showed some signs of heat
exhaustion (I wonder why). As my mom basked in the compliments
of some strange sweet-talkin men, I did my best not to pass out.
The jam was . . .shall we say . . .interesting . . . with some
good dancing by Teacher Steve and Laura, but some serious
struggling by birthday boy Luke, Rob, and that guy with the
bandana. It's ok though, it's all in fun . . . The dance contest
was definitely memorable for me and Luke because we won (I
couldn't believe it!!!) We screwed up some aerials BIGTIME, but
I guess the crowd doesn't really judge by technical proficiency
(amen) . .. . So anyway, the contest had perfect timing , in
that my mom was not going to let me do the VSO, but now, after
seeing a little preview, she's going to . . . YAY!! I'll see you
From: Sue Fedor
Another great night at Glen Echo with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. I particularly like those evenings when John is at the piano. Unfortunately, the weather was repulsive, and Steve and I had some pre-dance errands to run. We came after the jam and the wall of heat and humidity which hit us when we entered was stifling. We did come in time to hear TCO's unusual version of Bei Mir Bist du Schoen. The break fooled everyone who is much more used to hearing the arrangement off of the Swing Kids soundtrack. TCO's version [and the original by Benny Goodman...]does not change tempo.
It was another spectacular dance contest. Luke and Alex won the dance contest and Matt Smiley and Nina, the "Little Red Headed Girl" came in a very close second. Matt and Nina do not do aerials together. My theory on why she made it into the final round with him was that he is so tall that everyone could see him. The first song, Jump Jive and Wail, featured some great dancing, particularly from Teacher Steve and his partner who switched off with Adrian and his partner midway, Chris Cowles and his partner and Matt and Nina to name a few. Tom played Mack the Knife for the second song, and I can attest that Debra and I were too busy on stage hamming it up, singing the song (I was using Frank's hat as a cheap prop), that we did not notice the dancing at all. I love Mack the Knife and I'm very happy that I am old enough to remember Bobby Darrin singing it. [Editor's Note: Mack the Knife is from the Threepenny Opera by Berthold Brecht --- it's good to see contemporary youth interested in German Impressionist Drama]
The High point for me was dancing with Adrian (Mr. Backflip), the guy in the sleeveless referee shirt. He did this wonderful little forward/back sugar push. He's got a million smooth moves on the dance floor. If Steve and Chris Cowles don't hog him up all the time, maybe he can dance with the rest of us.
From: Mercedes Clemens
I'm sending you some Glen Echo pics from Saturday night -- I
brought my digital camera this time since my regular camera did
such a poor job at Forest Glen. I hadn't done any inside shots
with it before and found out it's got a great flash. My husband
is working on his dance photography -- right now he's cutting off
[Editor's Note: Mercedes' photos may be seen at: TCO at Glen Echo in August]
After Glen Echo, Mike Henry and I headed to the Vienna Grille
and had a great time (despite our exhaustion). The band was
great, and at that late hour there was room for dancing. The air
conditioning was a welcome relief, as was the opportunity to sit
down at a table like civilized human beings. We were hoping more
folks would show up from Glen Echo -- it was such a nice way to
end an evening.
From: Catherine Andrews
On Saturday, I went to Glen Echo. What I remember is walking into the ballroom and getting hit by a heat wave. It was so insanely hot in there. after about 3 dances, I was already sweaty and tired. I spent a lot of time in front of the huge fan they have. After the band took a break I went outside with Lian and hung out there for a while, hoping to cool off. after a bit we heard the sounds of applause so we ran back inside to see what was going on. It was the amateur dance contest! I was excited cos I've never seen one before. all the couples were great, but it came down to Matt and Nina against Luke and Alex. Eventually, Luke and Alex came out victorious! what a nice way to end his birthday, and he and Alex deserved it. But --- both couples looked awesome and held up really well, even though they couldn't have had much energy left. after Glen Echo, we *again* went to Silver dDner. i'm sure the waiters there can't like us much. but we had a blast as usual, much of it at the expense of the waiters
From: Ellen Werther
Glen Echo being what it is these days, I have taken to arriving for dances after 10 pm...This past Saturday nite it was Tom Cunningham and his orchestra at 10:30 ish. The only problem with this fashionably late arrival is that it occurred just as the band was striking up MY song: Drum Boogie. Still wearing my sandals, I literally grabbed Michael Henry and dragged him onto the dance floor. The sandals, although quite the fashion statement, were all too obviously unsuited for lindy hopping....so, I kicked them off and danced in my socks, always the 50s teenager at heart. I was grateful that I had gotten there in time for Drum Boogie, but after I came back down to earth I realized just how hot is was in there. Steve Devoney and I ended up sitting outside and talking about the problems of the world as they relate to saving Forest Glen, which--folks--at least has cross ventilation! Ah, but Autumn is on its way....and soon I will be complaining about how cold it is!
Finally, Dana gives us the scoop on a Swing club in Atlannta:
Last week when I was down south and on my way to Pensacola, I stopped by the Blue Moon Supper Club, which is open in Atlanta, Georgia. There was a big sign on the outside which read, "Live Swing Band on Wednesdays!" I checked it out on a Saturday night, which didn't have a band playing. There was music played though and a very few people dancing. The place was 21+, but they were extra friendly to dancers. It's a new club, so they want the best attractions of course.The staff there was dressed in black pin stripe suits (not zoots, but they looked nice). Most people just hung out at the bar on sipping on cocktails or whatever. It was a cute place, so if you're down south, check it out.
Sunday August 23, 1998
We travelled to Atlantic City to the Trump Marina. In the new swing room called The Wave, a New York band called The Jet Set Six were playing. They were very good, although they mixed in a whole lot of Latin stuff. We met a few couples who we had seen on our last visit and the staff was also very friendly. We also met a couple who teach ballroom dance in Wilmington. Carole, who is incredibly lucky, took a quarter out of the change and put it in a slot machine. We won $50 and promptly left, one of our most profitable evenings of dance. Thank you, Mr. Trump.
From: Cameron Sellers
Bernstein spun some great tunes at America Sunday night. Once
in a while he does a nice thing. He stopped the music around ten
and announced that it was Liann's birthday. She turned 18. He
then proceeded with music for the traditional birthday dance.
Once in a lonnnnng while Bernstein does nice things.
From: Catherine Andrews
On Sunday at America. there were actually a lot of people there, which was a nice surprise. I'm used to having to sit out a lot of songs for lack of a partner, but I danced a lot that night. Once again, it was quite hot, but fun nevertheless. And, guess where we went afterwards? Yep, the Silver Diner. I've spent more time at the Silver Diner this past weekend than I have this entire summer put together.
Monday August 24, 1998
From: Cameron Sellers"Lights, camera, Lindy Hop", or from a line from the movie Fields of Dreams, "Bring a camera and they will come." The Fox 5 camera man showed up at Chevy Chase Ballroom Monday night, and the word got out because I haven't seen some people there for months. The floor was crowded with people during crazy moves for the camera. Carla and I got wacked, smacked, and kicked by other dancers who were showing off in front of the camera. After we licked our wounds, we were able to find a corner of the dance room that was less lethal.
From: Catherine Andrews
I just got back from the Chevy Chase Ballroom. it was really
crowded at first! and, of course, hot. The camera was there
again, from Fox 5, filming all the couples. with all this
footage, I guess they might be doing a pretty big segment on
swing dancing. that would be cool. for the sake of the cameraman,
there was a jam...a looooong jam. it went on for 3 songs, or
about 15 minutes, which in my opinion was a little too long. but
it was still great. i never get tired of watching the jams,
they're just so much fun. afterwards, a crowd went to Cheesecake
Factory (listen as the waiters at Silver Diner breathe a sigh of
relief) but I did not go, cos I have to wake up early tomorrow to
go to King's Dominion (and get a break from swing dancing). But
--- I had a wonderful four nights of swing dancing!
Tuesday August 25, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Wednesday August 26, 1998
We travelled to G-MU to see the Rockin Bones play a special gig for the swing club run by Frank the Magician and Duke. As usual, the band was awesome, but the floor left a little bit to be desired. It was just a little bit sticky, having been re-varnished over the summer. We had a good time chatting with Duke about his trip to San Francisco when he hung out with Indigo swing for five days.
Check out our photoessay on Rockin' Bones at GMU.
Thursday August 27, 1998
We journed to Twist and Shout to see the legendary Big Sandy and the Flyrite Boys. These guys are among the very best of the contemporary Rockabilly genre and always put on a really great show. Tonight, the boys were spectacular and we urge you to go see them whenever they appear. The only problem was lack of dance space. Alas, the culture at the now defunct Twist and Shout was standing on the dance floor, waving a beer. I have no idea how or why this particular custom originated -- the room is very small and the band is amplified, so it can't be to hear the sound. I reall don't think that the crowd was watching the chord changes, either. Even Big Sandy, himself commented on the dancing and wanted to see more of it.
Fortunately, you can't keep Lindy Hoppers down and we made space wherever possible. Dance is an important component of the Rockabilly genre and we hope that new clubs recognize the importance of keeping a clear --- and dry --- dance floor.
Check out our photoessay on Big Sandy and the Flyrite Boys.From: Cameron Sellers
Sara, Greta, Julie, Helen, Tiffany, and I met at the Twist and Shout Thursday night to hear a Texas Rockabilly band called Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys. We joined Michael and Mercedes, Bernstein, Frank and Carole, and Frank and Nora who were already there dancing up a storm. The place was packed the rockabilly groupies who crowded towards the front of the band so no one could dance. So most of us headed towards the back and danced trying to miss the spilt beer. With respect to the scene at Twist and Shout, Deanna Bogart's groupies were a lot nicer and more accomodating to the dancers. I was surprised by how hostile this crowd was at times. [Editor's note: Especially since "Fast Dancing" was an integral part of the early development of Rockabilly]
The band was sounded great and they played really fast songs.
I got to practice my Flying Lindy with Sara and Greta. Bernstein
was there to check out the speakers and stayed with us the rest
of the night gawking at us as we danced. Afterwards, he
introduced us to a great Diner called Tasty Diner. The food was
geasy and cheap. It couldn't have been a better night.
Friday August 28, 1998We went to Zones where we were the judges in the first "Big Money" dance contest. There was a very nice crowd and we are pleased to report that the level of dancing has improved significantly since the club opened. Also of note: we wanted to get some water from the bar in the Swing Zone, but it was very busy. We walked down one flight to the "Techno" Zone and found the room to be completely empty. Swing is making real inroads on Alternative culture.
A total of fourteen couples entered the dance contest. The winners were:
The crowd seemed to agree with our choices, so our first foray into judging worked out. However, we believe that although competiotion can be fun, the important thing is to have a good time while you are dancing
Check out our photoessay on the Dance Contest at Zones.From: Cameron Sellers
Friday night was a farewell to the college kids leaving for UVA and Wellesley. Gretta, Helen, Matt, Catherine,and Julie left for UVA the next day as well as Lian who headed to Wellesley. But before the good byes, Rob, Bill, Sara, Catherine, and I met the UVA crowd at Vienna Grille to dance to the Sevilles. We arrived early because we had been told by a reliable source that the place would sell out early. We got there promptly at 7pm to share the vast empty room with two other couples. The place practically remained ours until about 8:45 when a few more people showed. Christy, Duke, Larry, Michael, Naomi, Nina, Mercedes, Chris, Steve, and Carla showed up later.
The place started to get crowded around 10pm, and we were starting to compete with West Coast Swing people for space on the floor. Towards midnight during the break, the group jammed to a fast rockabilly cd. It was one of the better jams that I have seen lately. By the end of the night, we fought for space with a couple of drunks and realized the down side of dancing in bars. At the end of the night, the band was impressed by our longevity.
After the dance, we said our good byes to the college kids at
Saturday August 29, 1998
We went to Glen Echo to see the Sevilles. We got there at 7:00 but there was a considerable crowd. It looked to us like the place sold out before 8:00. The Swing Dance Committee required 65 volunteers for this event, or 10% of the 650 "capacity"
The Sevilles were very very good, as always. We had a lot of fun showing the "Hand Jive" to newcomers. We were a little disappointed that we did not get to do "The Stroll". All in all the high quality of the music easily overcame the heat and humidity --- a very successful evening for the Sevilles. Our sympathies go out to the 150-200 people who had to stand in line for hours.
From: Cameron Sellers
The Sevilles played to a sell out crowd at Glen Echo Saturday
night. From a lindy hopper's perspective, it was hot, dam
I brought my good (non-Lindy) friends, Laura and Bill to Glen
Echo for the Sevilles, on Sat. We all thought that the Sevilles
were great, and we had a great time. My friends were quite
impressed by the size and energy of the swing group. We would
like to see more of the Sevilles and bands like them at Glen
Well that was an interesting Saturday. CNN is doing a piece on swing for their 'Newsstand" show, and they wanted to interview me after they found something I had written about it on the internet. I told them that you guys and/or Tom and Debra would be better, but this guy just didn't want it any other way. (I think they were taken witht he fact that I used to be a huge partier and was born again in swing - typical media, looking for the sensational.)
They pulled up to the house at 3:30 and stayed until 7, when they headed off to Glen Echo. They asked me a lot of questions and, truth be told, I was so nervous I don't remember what I said. They also shot me showing my 14 year-old neighbor how to lindy. They asked me to meet them at Glen Echo and when I got there they hooked me up to a wireless mic so you could hear everything I said (now I know why so many journalists think they're God.)
I kept telling them to hang out for the really great dancers
and that I didn't want to be the focus of this, and they were
actually very understanding. Mike and Jenny were there as were
Eric and a lady who's name I don't know but who's awesome, and I
kept pointing the cameraman towards them. I left early and
learned that they're going to interview Frankie next - if he ever
gets back from London. Oh yeah, and they interviewed Scotty
Morris from Voodoo Daddy. It might not air for weeks; he has to
find Frankie and get a time slot and all that other stuff. But at
least Glen Echo is on map - like it needs more attention.
Well, I went to my first dance in Philadelphia tonight. It was an free outdoor affair, so it probably wasn't a fair sample of the dancing there, but I wasn't impressed. I still managed to have some fun though, since I hadn't been to an actual dance in three weeks. The night began when about sixty kids from my college loaded into vans to go to Penn's Landing, which looks a little bit like the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Yes, that's right, at least sixty kids, which is a lot for a tiny school like mine. There might not be skill, but there's a lot of interest here. I was excited about actually getting to dance, so I was all dressed up in never-before-worn vintage dress, hat, and shoes, which unfortunately didn't make it through the night. With my first swingout, the strap on my shoes broke, leaving me no option but to dance in my beautiful Bleyer's on a brick floor. Those soles will never be the same.
The band was decent enough, I suppose. Not nearly the level of Tom Cunningham, of course, but I could hear a rhythm. The kids I was with were disappointed because they don't know how to dance to anything but Sing, Sing, Sing speed. I got a few decent medium-tempo songs in, but the lack of dancers bothered me more than the band.
I found one guy who knew lindy hop. Out of the whole crowd, one person knew lindy. I found a few other guys that could lead a pretty decent East Coast, including one who knew all the spots in Baltimore. I also found a lady who'd learned a swingout Eric and Sylvia style, so I had some fun leading her around. She had a nice style, and picked up on what I led pretty well. I spent a lot of time showing her partner the swingout and coaching him on his leads. The rest of the night I spent dancing with college swingers. You know, the type that infuriates everyone at America.
I know at least two girls whose shoulders hurt at the end of the night, giving me a lovely opportunity to lecture on frame. A few guys are fun to dance with, but I really miss the dancers back home. If anyone (specifically, a leader) comes to visit me, I'll love you forever and dance with you the whole night! I'm going to start to teach some of the people here to lindy pretty soon, so someday I'll be able to really dance. Until then, I can't wait for VSO!
Sunday August 30, 1998
We travelled to Baltimore for a function put on by the B&O Railroad Museum entitled "The Railroad Goes to War" We had a WONDERFUL time, and were joined by Trista Snowhill, Lesley Gold, Sara Fajkowski, Cameron Sellers, and Chris Cowles -- as well as Jim Kranyak's friend Svetlana (more about her in a minute...)
The Museum had scheduled a whole lot of activities for participants. First, the gang took a train ride for about two miles in a refurbished 1940s chair car. During the ride, World War II re-enactors staged a P.O.W. movement. All of the re- enactors explained their (American and German) uniforms and equipment. I made sure that the WW-II guys knew that Cameron was a paratrooper --- he made quite an impression as they compared today's jumping with that of the 1940s.
Of note, the German re-enactors were wearing uniforms of the Austrian army after it had been integrated into the Wehrmacht following the anschluss or annexation of Austria by Germany. Thus, we were spared the display of odious Nazi paraphernalia. The only jarring note was an "Anti- Partisan" badge worn by one of the re-enactors; only the Nazi government would award a decoration for making war against civilians.
I was very impressed with the quality and authenticity of equipment on display at the event. The re-enactors took their hobby very seriously. We were pleased to see Scott Halliday and his display of combat photography equipment.
Next, we were treated to a War Bond Rally which featured two fellows who do Abbott and Costello very well. They chose to do some of A&C's "Silly Math" routines as well as the legendary "Who's on First" routine. These guys are really funny!
Finally, thanks to the efforts of Mercedes Clemmons and Michael Henry on the preceeding day, the folks at the B&O Museum were ecstatic about having Lindy Hoppers. The organizers went out of their way to make sure that we had access to the sound system to play and dance to the very best Lindy Sounds. The "Turntable" of the roundhouse made an excellent dance floor, although it was really hot
We got to spend some time with Jim Kranyak's friend Svetlana, who has recently come to the U.S. from the Ukraine. In addition to being exceptionally beautiful (what a smile!) she is a very good dancer. She's only been doing Lindy for a short time, but she has an incredible swingout. Welcome to Lindy, Svetlana!
Check out our photoessay on the B & O Railroad Dance.
Monday August 31, 1998
We got up at 5:00 am to make our way to Dulles Airport for a trip to Deadrock Ranch, just outside Livingston, Montana. We were the guests of the Phillip Morris Company at the 1998 Marlboro Ranch Party.
Our flight took us first to Salt Lake City, with a sweeping view of the Great Salt Lake. From then, we moved on to Billings, Montana, where the ranch had dispatched a special bus to pick us up. Better yet, they had thought to provide a very tasty lunch for our consumption during the 130 mile drive from the airport to the ranch. We were also treated to a variety of cowboy snacks, including ranch-made beef jerky.
When we passed through the gates of the ranch, Elizabeth, our guide, put the Theme from the Magnificent Seven on the stereo. As we looked out the window, a group of Wranglers came riding at full gallop out of the sagebrush, whooping and hollering; one was even brandishing a bullwhip... What an introduction!
Our bus stopped in front of what appeared to be a throughly dead Ghost town. Most of the buildings lacked paint and the street was liberally overgrown with weeds. We were stunned to find out that this was almost all brand new construction --- very carefully done to give the feel of a Western town in the 1890s. The full details of this incredible feat may be found in the August, 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.
In fact, the ranch hides the very best of modern convenience inside a shell that evokes the all-persuasive Myth of the American Cowboy. All of the small buildings in the "Ghost Town" are, in fact, luxury suites. All of the furniture are Western antiques, and we were told that every chair, bed or table came from before 1908. We had a room in the "Stagecoach Hotel" --- it was very charming and well- laid out with lots of windows. The bath featured "Old- Time" fixtures (including a water closet with a pull- chain...). On our way to dinner, I closed the weathered pine door to the room --- when I noticed a metal plaque on the hinge edge that certified the fire-rating. It was a new metal door very cleverly designed to look like a very old interior door!
We attended a brief orientation session and were then treated to a sumptuous buffet of smoked salmon and barbecued shrimp. After a brief trip to the hot-tub to work out the kinks from travel, we dressed for dinner in some 1940s vintage Western wear that we were able to find in Frederick. The dinner was mountain trout and elk tenderloin with a spectacular array of roasted vegetables. Dessert was apple cobbler and home made cinnamon ice cream. Best of all, the ranch has a very large coffee machine that is always full. This is a big treat if you drink as much coffee as I do...
We took a stroll in the last moments of daylight and got a small glimpse of the majesty of the 18,000 acre ranch. We strolled over to the corral to pick out horses for our ride on the next day. Given the attention to detail for the West of the 1890s, I had some reservations about just where Lindy Hop was going to come in. When we walked back to the town, we heard some familiar sounds emanating from the "saloon", which also serves as the dining hall and the entertainment center. It was Zoot Suit Riot.
The entertainment for the evening was Heartbeat, an excellent trio from Belgrade, Montana (for booking information contact Rich or Chris Mayo at 406-388-2061). This group was very capable in all genres from classic country to our favorite, Jerry Lee Lewis. We waited for a few songs to let the crowd settle down, and then did our first demo to Great Balls of Fire. Unfortunately, we also discovered the Altitude -- the ranch is at 8,000 feet and we were both gasping for oxygen at the end of the dance. After recovering, we found that we could only do one dance every half hour. But, Lindy Hop seemed to be very well received at Deadrock. At 1:00 am (3:00 DC time), we finally called it quits, because we had to rise with the sun for our next day's adventure.
Check out our photoessay on the Day 1 at Deadrock.
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