|May, 1998 Reviews|
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Review of Dance Events During May, 1998
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Friday May 1, 1998
We went to America(s) for the Grand Finale. We were not disappointed -- it was a great turnout and the band played its heart out. This was truly a wonderful scene, which like all the old nostalgia places -- Dancers on Monday, Randy's on Thursday, etc -- must regrettably give way to change. The most touching part of the evening was when Cameron showed up in his paratroopers' fatigues -- apparently, he had only two hours off and decided to spend them with the gang. There's a real Lindy Hopper for you...
From: Sue Fedor <<Deevoo@aol.com
Friday was what could be Tom Cunningham's "swan song" at America. As per usual, Steve and I showed up for just the last set--as the jam was coming to an end. It was still extremely crowded and I purposely elbowed a guy who kept crashing into me (even despite our attempts to dance away from him--he actually kept following us!). If you think you may have been purposely elbowed, right between the shoulder blades, you've been forwarned. Be conscious of who you bump into and try to avoid it.
That's just one of the many things I will not miss about America. I will not miss the poor ventilation system, the rock hard floor, or the indifferent wait staff.
It has been nice, however, watching the TCO develop into one of the finest dance bands around. They have developed a real knack for cooking up an atmosphere for dancing and fun.
Afterward, we migrated over to the Amphora for dinner. The Cunninghams joined us and we had a visit from two of our lindy hopping prom goers (so nice of them to visit the "old folks" between prom events). Tom Koerner took an informal poll of who actually went to their prom. I didn't see a single hand go up. I purposely did not go to prom in order to save up enough money to go with my Spanish class to Mexico that summer. The guy I would have taken ended up vomiting in the back seat of my girlfriend's car. Since I did not have a single incident with vomiting on my Mexico trip, I think I got the better end of that deal.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel email@example.com
We hadn't made the trip out to America for about 6 weeks, but as this may have been the last TCO evening there, we wanted to get out. It was crowded and nearly tropical as usual, but the band was even hotter! I didn't realize how much I'd missed Robin's beautiful voice or the band's fine sound.
Evening highlights: MY BLEYERS CAME IN!!!! Cameron showed up in his fatigues, after being given a few hours off while he was on duty. I danced a few numbers with him and was amazed at how well he could dance in those combat boots! At one point, Cameron and I were dancing near Steve and Anna. Steve cut in first, then Anna cut in, continuing Lizzy's tradition of being both a fine leader and a fine follower. I would venture to say that Anna and I looked better than the boys, as I think Anna's probably a better leader than Cameron is a follower. My pinstripe baggies showed up, too. Gay traced my foot for the Bleyer Measurements Hall of Fame. The mall rent a cop yelled at us (wouldn't be an evening at America without it). The band circled the dancers for the final number, which I always think is just TOO COOL. Steve and Sue kindly got us underway on scissor kicks, and Dave corrected our A kick form (also wouldn't be an evening at America without staying way too late after the dance working on new moves).
We finished the evening at Amphora(s), with a bigger crowd than I ever remember seeing there. We were even honored by a few members of the band! We arrived home after 3:30 am, exhausted, full, and very happy. It was a really great evening - and we're looking forward to going to see the TCO at their (temporary) new digs - the Chevy Chase Ballroom.
[Editor's Note: Every Friday for the rest of May! Dancing until 12:30 and CDs afterwards!]
Saturday May 2, 1998
We spent the afternoon in Frederick because it was "dollar day" at all the thrift stores. There is some arcane formula for this, but Carole seems to have some sort of radar for it. We came back with a huge haul --- a full coffee set for six of Syracuse diner china, a couple of Hawaiian shirts, six really nice ties (including one in brown, copper and pink), a copy of Sophie Tucker's "After You've Gone", two pairs of those "zoot baggies", a Jane Froman album of 78s, and other miscellaneous items that are lost with all the other junk around the house. This set us back exactly $8.75. We also discovered a supermarket chain called "Weis Markets", which only exist in suburbia. They have EXCELLENT buttermilk.
In the evening, We were at Glen Echo to see the WSDC's "Two Band" show. We had a good time talking to Arthur and Jeff of the J Street Jumpers who were filling in as part of the first band, "BG and the Mojo Hands". It looked like the dance may have hit the capacity limit again.
From: Suanne Fedor <<Deevoo@aol.com
The key to life in the 90's is being able to put the right spin on things (yes, I've been in the Federal Government for 7 years now...) So let's put on our rose colored glasses and shine the flattering light on Saturday night.
And now...I'm taking off the glasses.
This is the Washington SWING Dance Committee, right? OK. Being a mediocre dancer, myself, I appreciate a good mix of tempos. Dabbling a bit in latin, I like a good cha-cha and mambo every now and then too. However....650 of us came to DANCE on Saturday night and I just didn't get very much motivation from the band. Maybe it's just me. I didn't feel it. Two weeks ago, when the Rockin' Bones were there, the house ROCKED from the rafters (even during the slow numbers!) Perhaps it's because the bands are new.
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel <<firstname.lastname@example.org
We were a bit apprehensive about dancing on Saturday night. Nobody seemed to know much about the bands, and the few reports we'd heard had not been encouraging. We pulled out our brand-new stylin' baggies and prepared ourselves for an evening of mostly West Coast numbers and a lot of sitting out.
We arrived a little early (you can never be too careful lately), and, when BJ and the Mojo Hands cranked into their first number, found ourselves very pleasantly surprised, actually by both bands. They both played a large number of fast songs and we ended up having a terrific time and a great evening of dancing.
I would say that Totally Confused had a more professional sound, but I think we actually enjoyed dancing to BJ and the Mojo Hands a bit more. They seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd a bit better, and they also played the jam for us. I think I've almost got Jim convinced to try jamming (maybe the promise of a Hell's Lindy Hoppers jacket would entice him??).
We spent a lot of time working on scissor kicks and Flying Lindy, to the (no doubt) great amusement of those around us - when you screw up Flying Lindy, you look REALLY funny! At least no one was injured...I don't think! Totally Confused even got to play one encore number without Stan the Park Ranger chasing them off the stage. It was a really fun night.
To Gay and Buck - you guys were right! Those baggies are SOOOO comfortable! I was loving them! To Gay - you were absolutely right: watching the crowd during the Death Spike is almost more fun than watching the move itself!
Sunday May 3, 1998
We spent the afternoon at the movies. We saw the new version of Les Miserables. The film stars Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. One interesting device is the focus on his hands -- rough stubby fingers with ragged, dirty nails that seem to be an omnipresent reminder of his convict past and stark contrast to the wardrobe of truly lush vintage clothes. Uma Thurman manages to look extremely sexy even though she is made up to be at death's door from tuberculosis. The film manages to get somewhat beyond the one dimensional characters of the story -- there are moments when Valjean might not be all saint and when Javert might not be all sinner. The producers have dressed up Prague to give the feel of nineteenth century France. Several anachronisms leap out (e.g. a modern cylinder lock on the door which separates Marius and Cosette) but this is a fine retelling of Victor Hugo's story and an excellent evocation of the atmosphere of the period. And, there are no cloying little children singing. This is a great way to spend an afternoon when there is no dancing, although there are some of us who will always wonder what Monty Python could have done with this budget and this material.
Monday May 4, 1998
We dropped in on Chevy Chase Ballroom for a moment to get the details on the TCO Friday gig. Bernstein was blazing away with some very high class music and the place was packed. We also made a short trip over to Glen Echo and watched Tricia, Carolyn, Jeff, and Thomas practicing their new routine. They are really serious --- they had set up a TV and a VCR!
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel <<email@example.com
Man, oh man, is the intermediate class crowded! We started off the night with some yoga moves led by Bob, which was really enjoyable and relaxing after a hectic day at work. Did you all know that he's a yoga therapist? I thought that was pretty cool.
Tom and Debra taught two things that I found really fun and useful: Ryan and Jenny's whip break, which looks so groovy and which I hope eventually to master (the kicking, the hopping, the weighting - yikes! So much to remember!), and a cute little Susie Q move, which, given my serious need for remedial Susie Q (why do I have so much trouble with this move?), was pretty helpful.
Dance practice was great - Bernstein always amazes me with his fabulous song choices. It was good to see Cameron back in one piece. And I even worked up my courage and asked Steve for a dance (these good dancers - it can be so nerve-racking to ask them to dance!). Iver and I (well, OK, mostly Iver) invented a new move right there on the dance floor. He calls it the Flying Cape, and it's a groovy little pattern. Ask him (or me) to show it to you sometime. We cut out a little early, as Jim's calf muscles were pretty tired - too much scissor kick practice over the weekend, I think.
Tuesday May 6, 1998
We joined the crowd at Vienna Grille for a fun session. For some reason, Doug was really into group dances. He played "Woodchopper's Ball" for Jitterbug Stroll and "Tuxedo Junction" for Shim Sham. Iver was on hand for coaching advice. There was a nice gang of folks. I wore a pair of those baggies that are becoming trendy, and they work very well as practice pants.
Wednesday May 7, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Thursday May 7, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Friday May 8, 1998
We went to CCB. We were not disappointed -- it was a great turnout and the band played its heart out. The acoustics were great and there was plenty of room to dance. We have a couple of good reviews.
From: Buck Smolow firstname.lastname@example.org P>
I am writing because this needs to be said and said loud and
over and over. Tom Cunningham, Robin and the Orchestra are
awesome - and I am not just talking about their acoustic
stylings. I wonder if many people in our dance crowd know the
kind of fee a group like that can command at a private gig on a
weekend nite. But they play for US. For just $10 each, we are
getting a heck of a treat. Tom and the crew get there early to
set up and stay way late to break down and in between they play
and play and we get to dance to some mighty sweet tunes. So if
you haven't said thanks lately, do it. And come out to Chevy
Chase and support them, even if you can only stay a short time
before going on to other plans, come and dance a song or two - do
it for them, because they are doing it for you.
P.S. Huge kudos to Tom and Debra too for coming through for all of us in a pinch. I wonder whether the Lindy Hoppers in other citys have apostles of swing as fervent and persistent as Tom and Debra. I think we're pretty damn lucky to have them too.
From: Cameron Sellers Cameron.Selle email@example.com
Ron and I headed for Chevy Chase to hear Tom Cunningham, and I have been told this is his new gig on Friday for the rest of May. Even with the band on the floor, there was plenty of dance space for those who came. You didn't have to fight for space or worry about being kicked by someone. Buck brought water and cookies for the dancers as he and Gay set up their One Stop Lindy Hop booth. They offered a wide array of Bleyer Dance Shoes and now I have heard that they can get 1940 style suits made for you.
After three hours of fine music from Tom C., Tom K. played CDs
for the next to hours. People hung around and practiced new
moves wee into the early morning. So if the crowded dance floor
at America kept you away, come check out Chevy Chase on Friday
nights. Also for all those dancers who have been complaining
about metro access, this is the place for you.
Saturday May 9, 1998
The dance news of the week is that Steve Cowles and Christy Etcher won the dance contest at the Sevilles' gig at the Moose Lodge in Lanham. Way to go, kids --- don't spnd the prize money all in one place! We also learned that Chris Cowles got an "A" on his paper on Lindy Hop. We look forward to making his work available to you all on the website.
We did something out of the ordinary --- we attended a Murder Mystery Party hosted by Deborah Brooks. This was a whole lot of fun -- Deborah put a lot of work into it and served a fantastic dinner as well. The "case" was set aboard a yacht in 1928, so everyone was required to come in period costume. Deb invited all her friends who were "vintage nuts" so we got to wear things that you can't dance in. Carole was an opera singer, Debra played a jewel thief, and we had a race car driver, a Russian emigre, an heiress, a crooked businessman and a society matron. I got to be the ship's captain. The game was played in four "rounds". In each, you are given talking points of incriminating evidence about the other characters that you are supposed to get into the conversation (as well as incriminating stuff about your character that you are supposed to hide...)
In each "round", the information got worse and worse. For example, I started off as a war hero captain with an infallible sense of direction. By the end of the evening, my character was an illiterate sham who had a history of cannibalism. Carole's character switched sexes. The group really got into the story. We didn't find out who the murderer was until 1:30 in the morning, but I don't think that anybody was paying attention to the time. Deb really outdid herself -- our warmest thanks for the invitation!
We have this report of a road trip to New York:
From: Ken Stastny firstname.lastname@example.org n.com
Frank and Carole:
The gang from Mood Swings Big Band took to the streets of New York on Saturday to visit New York's hottest spots including the Supper Club. We arrived around 9pm after a very wet but very fun afternoon of sightseeing. The cover charge to enjoy the live music was a lofty $15 but was expected and certainly well worth it. We decided to go just for the drinks and maybe try our shot at dancing - (this is a No!No! for musicians who are good for tapping two left feet). By 9:00 The dance floor was already packed with mid-level dancers trying to work off that last piece of New York Cheesecake.
The band on stage was a full-size big band namely The Tony Corbiscello Orchestra. They played a wide mix of tunes and tempos but generally had the most success with the medium swing. Our favorite up-tempo swing was being reserved for more exciting things to come later on that night.
This was Tony Corbiscello's last night there after a nice run of 14 months and so we were glad to catch their final night. At around 10pm they performed a "Tribute to the 1940's" and it was absolutely a terrific, energetic show from start to finish packed with nothing but great big band classics. It all started with "This Joint Is Jumpin' (Hep!Hep!)". When the band really got cookin' the dance floor was cleared and out came the "Supper Club Dancers" to perform along with the band. These cool cats donning the authentic 1940's attire were doing the Lindy and tapping their shoes off - literally. One of the guys lost the tap to his shoe right on the stage but didn't miss a beat.
They continued with a nice WWII tribute featuring "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and finally concluded with a little bit of Cab Calloway and some Hi De Ho! The audience participation on "Minnie The Moocher" was I'm sure a little stronger than what they expected - after all how could they have known that we would be there.
Being a Big Band from Baltimore - and home to Cab Calloway history - we just had to add our own little part to the show. When it came time to return the Hi De Hi De Ho's - we shouted and raised the roof (Which 'Aint no easy Thing). The Supper Club was now in its full glory. Two stories of screming big band fanatics playing tribute to the old Cotton Club - we were in big band heaven!
After the show ended 'round midnight- we figured the nice crowd of 500 or so would work their ways towards the exits. Much to our dismay, the exits were blocked! Blocked by hundreds of young swing kids standing in line waiting to pay a reduced cover (only $12 after 11pm) for the next show. The lines were out the door, and halfway down the street to Broadway. It was amazing. In the next half-hour another 500 people (and I bet not a single one old enough to remember Saturday Night Fever - thank God) jammed the place filling it to around 1,000 people - elbow to elbow.
We stayed only for a short while - long enough to catch the second band. It was a 4-piece swing band featuring drums, guitar, tenor sax, and of course the upright bass. They kicked into some steady swing and once again the joint was jumpin with the next generation of swing kids.
We talked the whole way home about how fun it was and how much we looked forward to recreating our own "supper club" atmoshpere. Fortunately, we don't have to wait long - just until Thursday, May 21st at Blob's Park. See everyone then!
We took some nice pictures on the trip and hope to have them
up on our website soon so be sure to visit us at
Steve Carlan gives us this report of an Indigo Swing gig in Santa Barbara:From: Steve Carlan email@example.com A>
Hi Frank and Carole --
Indigo Swing just came to the Santa Barbara area for the first time last Friday (5/8), for the UCSB Swing and Ballroom Dance Club, spring quarter dance. They were GREAT! We packed the place to the rafters with people from as far away as LA (2 hours) and San Francisco (6 hours)! The band knows how to "Swing" and all their songs had that swing quality, whether it was slow, medium, or fast tempo. The band members all got into the swing of things, and put on an incredible show for the dancers, who in turn picked it up a notch for the band. No one wanted to leave at the end, and the band came back to play an encore for us. All the dancers want to have them back again ASAP.
Indigo Swing just completed all the studio work for their second CD. They played a few of the upcoming numbers at our dance! The CD is scheduled for release on July 11th. You should all watch for it.
I'll be seeing all of you again in a week. I'll be in
Baltimore for Frankie Manning's 84th birthday party. I'm looking
forward to it.
Sunday May 10, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Monday May 11, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Tuesday May 12, 1998
We joined the crowd at Vienna Grille for a fun session. Doug played "Stompin at the Savoy" and Steve Mitchell's version of the "Jitterbug Stroll" back to back! The gang had a lot of fun --- but the crowd was rather small. If we want to keep this venue, more of us will have to get out there on Tuesday.
Wednesday May 13, 1998
We have no reviews for this date
Thursday May 14, 1998
We went to the Sunset Grille to see Bill Kirchen. If you haven't done this, it is a real "must". There is absolutely NO room to dance (well..) and the attraction is the Crowd of "GrillBillys" who come out to hear Bill. "Hear" isn't quite the word -- it is more like "sing along with Bill". They know all the words and really get into things. The crowd energy is jfantastic. They are a truly diverse lot, including bikers with gold cards, computer programmers, guys in "Lawn Doctor" hats and all other kinds from the very high to the very low. They share two things -- they are incredibly friendly and they LOVE Bill Kirchen.
Alas, someone actually cleaned the Sunset Grille -- a Herculean task that some (like the Health Department) might feel necessary. A portion of the place's character seems to have left, although free peanuts are still offered and the floor still has a delicious "crunch" midway through the second set. We got there early to grab the Sofa. Unfortunately, real furniture has been added, replacing the odd assortment of thrift store relics, including the prized mustard colored sofa that was next to the band. Even though the filth and the Sofa were missing, our evening was undiminished.
Another new development was that Mr. Kirchen has discovered Swing. We were so convinced that there would be no dancing that I was wearing boots and Carole had on heels. We were stunned when Bill announced that he was going to play "Swing Fever" and he asked us to dance. A small hole opened up and we got into it. Carole called for a Driveshaft; I led it and it worked -- so, you can do a driveshaft in heels on a ceramic tile floor. I didn't know that.
We stayed for all three sets. A great evening, perhaps once a year.
Friday May 15, 1998
We Got up early and headed for South Baltimore. Our target destination was the G&M Restaurant (804 Hammonds Ferry Road, 410-636-1777) in Linthicum, Maryland. This got the highest rating I have seen in the Post's "Crummy But Good" restaurant contest. To get there, you have to take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, get on I695 going West and get off at the Linthicum Exit. It seems that the B-W Parkway was totally blocked by an accident at Powder Mill Road, so we exited, hoping to take Route 1 past the accident. This small diversion proved to be very interesting because we wandered into the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center of the US Department of Agriculture, a very nice sylvan setting.
We stopped at the National Visitor Center which is housed in a The Log Lodge, which was built in the Adirondack style by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal agency that put the unemployed to work. This is a truly impressive structure in its own right, but the wonders were yet to come. We found a Ranger who gave us the grand tour --- he was a really nice guy.
I really liked the "Transparent Beehive". I was fascinated with the activity of the bees and was really amazed to learn that they have "air traffic controllers" who signal the workers when to land and take off. They also have an "Interceptor Squadron" that checks out the pheremones of incoming bees to make sure that they are at the right hive. The beehive was better managed than National Airport.
Carole was really taken by some of the "gee whiz" products that had been developed through Agricultural Science. They included cornstarch "peanuts" that can be used as packing material (they're edible, too...) and a truly lightweight concrete made with a wheat chaff byproduct.
We also learned that the lake behind the lodge was once an open pit iron ore mine, and that this was the principal source of dinosaur fossils on the East Coast. Perhaps Godzilla will visit to look up some old relatives.
This is really an interesting place to visit. It's all free and the atmosphere is really relaxing.
The Crab Cakes at the G&M were out of this world. The owner tells me that they move about 3,500 pounds of crabmeat a week. It is also worth a drive to the G&M, especially if you are going to be in Baltimore for Mobtown.
Later that evening, We went to Iver and Lee Cooper's 15th Wedding Anniversary, a very nice party. We will let Sue Fedor pick up the story here:
From: Sue Fedor
A few weeks ago, Iver Cooper slipped an invitation into my hand at Vienna Grille. It was an invitation to attend his 15th Wedding Anniversary Party. Of course, Steve and I were in the midst of planning a series of dances in Kennsington at the Armory there...so I didn't think we'd be able to attend. As many of you know, our attempts failed miserably (the City Council nixed our plans) and we were free after all.
It was a real treat to finally meet Iver's wife, Lee. She's friendly and full of spunk-- with almost enough energy to keep up with Iver (imagine trying to keep up with Iver AND two kids...) DJ Gator was there spinning the disks and amazingly enough, many of their old friends who had attended the wedding were there too! Iver and Lee took to the floor a couple of times. Typical Iver good timing--he asked her out everytime she had food in her mouth.
We had a mini jam to "Sing Sing Sing" and provided ample entertainment for everyone present (we're such hams). Iver also got to trot out many of his fancy moves and each of us worked a lot of moves that we owe to him in a mini tribute to him during the jam. Gator was his usual goofy self...dedicating song after song to Carole and playing "New York, New York" when Lee requested a special Sinatra song. I stormed the stage and asked him to play "I've Got You Under My Skin." Now that, my friends, really swings...let me tell you. Steve and I flirted with each other through that whole song. Tee hee!
You all are dying to know, I'm sure, how Iver and Lee met. It was at a Jewish Community Center dance. Iver was there to hear a concert that wasn't very good. Lee recalls that he was dressed rather inappropriately (not Iver!). He asked her friend to dance and when she refused him, he asked Lee. Lee thought he was only 18 and when she asked him what he did, he said he was a lawyer. Interest picked up from there. Later, upon hearing of Iver's profession, Lee's friend was rather regretful about refusing his dance offer. Fifteen years, two kids, and eight upcoming weeks of Lindy lessons later, they're going strong. Can't argue with those stats at all. Thanks for the invite and many happy years to the both of you.
From: Cameron Sellers
Tom Cunningham sounded good as always at Chevy Chase Ballroom.
The highlight of the night for me was when I fell on my butt
during the JAM, and Heather had to push me off out of the circle.
There were quite a few new people there for the first time, but
the dance floor was not over crowded. Buck and Gay had their
Lindy Store open for business with their usual free food and
water. Finally, the band quit around 12:30pm, but the dancers
continued well into the night.
Saturday May 16, 1998
We went to Armed Forces Day at Glen Echo, where Carole spent the first hour parading around in next to nothing as a "Cigarette Girl" The dance was really spectacular, although it hit the capacity limits quite early.
From: Sue Fedor
It's amazing how sometimes it's hard to tell a band from its past performance. Walt Wagner had disappointed many of us in the past, but this past Saturday, they had us swinging from the rafters. The lead singer (sort of a Rosemary Clooney type) was wonderful the drummer was on fire and the band was hot! The jam featured a seemless segue from Sing, Sing, Sing to Jumpin' at the Woodside.
The jam marked the return of Mike Duggan to the dance floor, after a long absence due to injury. The jam also featured the debut of Two-tone Elizabeth and Sailor Jim. Elizabeth's dress was NOT two-tone, that was real, live, human sweat. And yes, many women experienced the power of human sweat as it weakened delicate vintage fabric as it shreaded panels and ripped seams.
Oh the secrets people tell when you least expect...Carole showed us her "device" (a.k.a. bustier) and a modification she made with some strategically placed shoulder pads. This infrastructure made possible the cleavage that you all enjoyed while she was wearing her Cigarette Girl outfit. She changed into her mom's nurse's uniform later...and Debra remarked that she looked like an extra from a porno movie (I think Debra dated Koerner way too long...)
People I didn't recognize until I was up close: Duke (aka Cabana Boy) who slicked his pomp down under an army hat. Gay, who wore a wonderful vintage number that I was convinced would not withstand the rigors of out-and-back Charlestons...I was proven wrong.
The dance was attended by a wonderful cadre of folks who probably have vivid memories of WWII--having lived through the era. It was nice to see them there... one of the guys even hit on me! Hey...I guess I still got what it takes (if you're over 70)! And once again, Arnold was the hit of the dance with his vintage Speed Graphic camera as a press photographer. He kept threatening to set his mighty flash off...which sent folks scurring everywhere.
Randi Sue and Howie were there with Howie's mom and dad, who were very impressed and were having a lot of fun dancing. They're very proud to see their son dancing too. Christie had a new friend, Rob (Bob? The music was loud and I didn't really hear). He was very new to dancing, so we all took turns teaching him 6-count and taking him out for a spin.
Everyone looked fabulous and the band was outstanding. What a great night.
From: Elizabeth Engel
First, a note to those who didn't get in: I'm so sorry to hear it and, after Battle of the Bands, I can empathize. It bears repeating: when it comes to Glen Echo these days, come early or come late. We've certainly learned our lesson.
Mike and Buck - the decorations were fabulous! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all the work you'd done with the webbing, the parachutes, the bunting, the flags - the Spanish Ballroom never looked better. We really put on a brave show for all our soldiers back from the European and Pacific theaters.
Upon arriving in the Ballroom, I was greeted by two lovely cigarette girls with raffle tickets for a can of Spam - quite a valuable prize, with the rationing situation these days. Some folks were even able to locate enough gasoline to bring their cars, polished to a perfect shine, chrome gleaming.
All our boys in uniform turned out in their finest, medals gleaming, shoes brightly polished. The ladies looked just as dazzling in their finest dresses, hair carefully coiffed in the latest styles. Some even splurged on stockings for the evening! (I can't imagine where they were able to come by them.) Only the best for our boys!
The band played one killer-diller after another, to the delight of the dancers. They really seemed to enjoy us as well. The band and the dancers seemed to feed off each other's energy all night long, despite warm temperatures.
I danced with so many of the soldiers, but there was one fellow in particular, a sailor, who just stole my heart! We danced the night away, and he's asked me to write to him while he's in the Pacific. He even asked me to dance with him in the jam, assuring me that it was a first for him - of course, it was a first for me, too. For something so impromptu, it was really fun and not too nerve-wracking.
A young airborne soldier tried to steal me away, but my heart was taken by that sailor. Who knows? Maybe we'll meet up again after the war....
From: Bill Lehman
I thought that Saturday night's dance was quite good. Walt Wagner has certainly come a long way in the last 2 years. And I loved Carole's black dress (and the nurse outfit is not too bad, either). I cant believe how wet my clothes were. I was much happier after I changed into shorts. Another reason to do the jam after the first set.
I thought that the vintage cars out front was a nice touch, too. I had never seen some of the models before.
From: Christine Bamberger
Evenin' Chillun--How y'all?
And the crowd went wild!! I think the Lindy Hoppers were pleasantly surprised at how Walt Wagner and his Serenaders could swing. Although they quieted down a little toward the end (mostly, I think, because the elderly guests from the Retired Soldiers and Airmen's Home were requesting waltzes), they seemed to delight in departing from the wedding band tempo, and they even played Charlie Barnet's "Skyliner" for me (one of my all-time faves, because I'm clarinet-crazy). I got to dance that one with young ace reporter Arnold Taylor.
The WSDC and volunteers did their usual beautiful job of decorating the place, complete with Red Cross flag, parachute bunting, and USO banners to accompany Old Glory. Rounding out the time-machine feel were the many folks who showed up dressed in such perfect retro clothing that I imagine many of the veterans present were impressed. For those of you who don't know, I can tell you within about two years what year something was made just by looking at it (I can do the same thing with movies, even if they are period films), and I felt that people evoked 1941-45 pretty darn well.
If the band was hot, the dancers were hotter--literally, that is. The chief disadvantage of vintage clothing for dancers is 1) it is inflexible and 2) it is usually warm, especially if it is a uniform. Even summer G.I. was coming off not long after things got under way, but many folks were wearing wool. Like sensible dancers, most brought changes of clothing. I canned the idea of any of my vintage clothes before leaving home and wore a cotton blouse and skirt. I looked vaguely bobby-soxerish, but I didn't bother to enter the costume contest. One of the winning standouts was Anna's adorable cigarette girl outfit. Chris to Anna, noting that she offered only Camels: "No Luckies?!" Anna to Chris: "Sorry dear, but there's a war on!" (Let me add that I never touch the stuff, though "Now, Voyager" is probably my favorite non-musical picture.) Slim Jim Engel had on a fabulous sailor suit, and Elizabeth's red hair looked gorgeous all night long in a Janelle-inspired 'do with plenty of hairspray. Deb Brooks was one of the wool uniform wearers, and she fretted that when she removed the jacket, her neat white blouse, pinned-up braids, and suspenders made her look a little bit like one of the Hitler Youth! Betsy Thomassen wore an exquisite deep blue strapless ballgown that was very '40s and swirled in a very Rita Hayworth way when she twirled.
A new system of wrist bands was implemented so that leaving dancers could turn theirs in and enable those waiting outside to enter within the capacity limit. If you had any trouble with these getting caught in someone's fingers or sweating off, I noticed that some people solved the problem by fastening them around their ankles.
The jam was as near-perfect as you could wish. Walt and the band originated a policy of playing through "Sing, Sing, Sing," and the "One O' Clock Jump" without extensive improvisation--that is, they played one, then played the other, then repeated Sing, then repeated Jump. This kept the energy level tight and prevented me from worrying about the trumpeters getting sore lips or the sax soloist exhausting his lung power. In addition, much as I love jazz and swing jam sessions, I reckon dancers benefit from knowing what to expect from the tempo and melody of the music.
Thanks for all the lovely dances, fellas. All in all, it was
the kind of event I love the best. Lindy in a '40s setting:
That's for me!
From: Cameron Sellers
1940 vintage cars, vintage clothes and uniforms. What else could you ask for? Walt Wagner and 650 swing dancers at Glen Echo. If you showed up at 9:00, you were late. Days of coming after the lesson be ween 9:00 and 10:00 are gone. The doors closed ten minutes to nine becasue the place fills up.
If you got in, it was a grand time. Walt Wagner sounded great and the dancers looked awesome. Anna and Carole dressed up as cigarette girls and entertained the people waiting in line. Buck looked cool in his zoot suit, and a few guys wanted to know who the girl was that he brought.
The Washington Swing Dance Committee brought in vintage cars
for people to look at and brought a bus load of veterans from the
Army-Navy Home. One veteran walked up to me and showed me his
glider badge that he wore. He was a glider soldier from WWII.
The Committee did a great job setting this up.
In a prelude to Mobtown, Jane Akkerman gives us this report from Philadelphia:
From: Jane Akkerman
Hi, thanks for always sending me all the notices.
Frankie Manning was in Philadelphia last weekend and we had a
big turnout for the workshops and dance. we had a big cake for
his 84th and presented him with the Frankie Award! It was
wonderful talking with him. I had the pleasure of hosting him
during his stay. Sometime soon , I will get down to DC. So now my
goal is to keep Lindy alive in Philadelphia by trying to
establish a practice session on a regular basis. talk with you
soon, Have fun next weekend. Are you coming to our Swing on a
Sunday May 17, 1998
We went to the Georgetown Flea Market. We found a fellow who had a big box full of vintage ties priced at $5. The downside was that they had been owned by a guy who seemed to use them to strain soup. There were some nice ties there, but we only found two that were really wearable. Those of you who own dry cleaning plants may wish to check this out next Sunday.
We picked up some groceries at the "Singles Safeway" next door. I found domething that is worth a mention --- it is Stweart's Lemon Merengue Cream Soda. It tastes just like a nice Lemon Merengue pie. This is just the thing to bring along to Glen Echo for a sugar energy burst -- each bottle has 200 calories. If you are rationing calories, this is a place to splurge!
After dinner, we checked out the scene at Lewies (6845 Reed Street, Bethesda, 301-652-1600). We were very pleasantly surprised -- we arrived just after Marc Shepanek had finished a swing lesson and "DJ Daddy-O" took to the airwaves --- with a very nice collection of swing music. The floor was nice and there is space for 10-15 couples to dance. The vibes are very good here and there is no cover in May.
We have this from Sue Fedor
From: Sue Fedor
Steve and I called Mike Henry up on the phone and invited him to get to know his Silver Spring neighbors a little better by taking the first annual Old Silver Spring House Tour. The inaugural tour featured the Woodside and Woodside Park neighborhoods. Woodside is the oldest, dating back to the founding of Silver Spring, in the 1830's by Francis Preston Blair (he, of the Blair House and of Blair Mansion Inn). Tom Cunningham Orchestra pianist, John Hurd (and his lovely wife, Pam Wanveer) own the oldest house in what became Woodside, Washington, D.C.'s first railroad suburb. "Woodside", the house, was built in 1853 by Richard and Laura Wilson and served as the centerpiece of their 120 acre farm. When the B&O Railroad came through, it became the perfect location to develop homes for Washingtonians desiring to escape the swampy "miasma" that was Washington, DC in the summertime. John's wife, Pam, is a decorative painter and her ragging, stippling, and sponging techniques can be seen in the walls throughout the house. The house features a lot of antiques passed down from both of their families including the colonial rope bed that he slept in as a child. During the Civil War, the Confederate generals used "Woodside" as a headquarters during Gen. Jubal Early's raid on Washington. Several neighbors, including John, have dug up musket balls, belt buckles and old coins in their back yards.
While Woodside features Victorians and farm houses, across the street on Georgia Avenue lies Woodside Park, Washington, DC's first automobile suburb. The houses here were built during or after the 1920's. Many of the 1920's houses are variations on the Sears Craftsman Kit houses. One of those houses is owned by Steve's parents--it was not on the tour, but we did stop by, since we know the owners quite well... We saw several different examples of what can be done with Sears houses. Nobody owns a Sears house without modifying it. Additions are mandatory. This neighborhood also features several gorgeous Tudor and English Manor styled homes. One of the largest of these is owned by Robert Aubry Davis, of WETA-FM 90.1 and WETA-TV. This particular house was previously owned by the Freezer family and the steep front hill was known as "Freezer's Hill". It was a popular spot for neighborhood kids to sled down in the winter. Alas, it is no more, as Davis, and his wife, Patricia Brannan, are restoring the original terraced gardens and stone wall. Inside, the house looks like a castle, with Davis' extensive medieval religious art collection. The upstairs bathtub has pits in the enamel that testify to its notorious bootleg past. Now we know how the original owners financed the house!
On Crosby Road was a Georgian stone house [more like a huge mansion] built in 1939 (happy days back once again...) and currently owned, since 1969, by the Walker family. I didn't think to ask at the time if they were decendants of the Tuskeegee Walkers (Sarah Breedlove--Madame C.J. of pomade fame and Charles J., Newspaperman) but these Walkers are prominant in the African American community. Notable was a large art piece by George Washington Carver and several striking photographs of black, sharecropper families from the rural South around the turn of the century. This says it all about the house..."The three-car heated garage was part of the original house." I don't know about you, but some of us don't even have garages, let alone heated ones!
The three of us rated each house for danceability--and many of them would be perfect party houses with rugs rolled up and furniture moved to the side. I feel like I know my neighbors a little better now. They're threatening to do House Tour 2 in Forest Glen next year. If that happens, we'll have to take up a collection for a major house rennovation! And we'll hire John's wife to do the walls....
From: Cameron Sellers
Sunday May 17, 1998 will be known to me as the "Deb and
Duke Move" Day. At Americas on Sunday night, Deb and Duke
taught Greta and I how to dip from the Shag move. It must have
looked cool because I noticed Jeff, Caroline, Tricia, and Thomas
doing it later that night.
Monday May 18, 1998
We visited both Chevy Chase Ballroom for a minute to catch up on some work in progress and then headed on over to Glen Echo to hear Swing Shift play to a crowd of about 100. At $5 the band was a bargain, and their singer did a great job on Sinatra material. Toward the end of the evening, we met a group of about ten college kids who were visiting the dance after a birthday party. The Gap commercial had gotten them interested. We spent a nice half hour giving them some rudiments of Lindy (or the "Gap Dance" as they called it). We thought they looked pretty good after a brief amount of help --- they were doing more swing and less fling. It's sort of a duty for experienced dancers to help out (and welcome) newcomers. First, if you don't show them a good example and help out, some hustler is going to trade in on their naivete and second, you should all thing back on how scary it is to be a beginner. People who have a good experience bring their friends to the next dance.
Tuesday May 19, 1998
We joined the crowd at Vienna Grille for a fun session. Again, things were lightly attended. Gator's music is better than ever and the floor is great. We have to get more people there!
We got this nice note:
From: Royce White
Good Morning All! I hope your weekend was great.
First, thanks so much for doing this. My bride and I greatly appreciate it.
Second, I thought I saw someone at Vienna Grille on Tuesday that would look like Frank if he shaved and cut his hair - any idea who it was? Hmmmm?
Thanks again for all your efforts on behalf of us struggling
hoppers of Lindy.
(At Tom & Debra's Monday, Vienna Grille on Tuesday, Wednesday in our basement with some local high school kids, Thursday in our basement with some other friends, and still trying to raise five kids!)
From: Cameron Sellers
Tom and Deb taught a interesting routine to the intermediate class at George Mason University. The double kicks and turn arounds confused the guys but after a bit, we started to pick up the new movies. The Suzy Qs killed up though. We were all struggling by the end of the night.
The intermediate class varies in size week to week. One night the class will be short men, the new week the class will be short women. But it is a good group and the females tend to pick up on the moves faster.
The room shut down earlier so about 12 of us headed over to
University Mall and ate a late dinner at O'Briens. The eating
place was good and cheap.
Wednesday May 20, 1998
WE have no reviews for this date
Thursday May 21, 1998
We drove up to Blob's Park to hear the Mood Swings Big Band. We were ASTOUNDED. First, they drew a huge crowd, and second, they were RED HOT! Not only that, they packed a whole lot of energy into their show --- choreography, great arrangements and a non-stop format. These guys were very, very good, I mean they can Swing! They have a vibraphone and a very nice lady who plays it with style. This was an all swing program -- no waltz, no cha cha. The crowd seemed to be sort of looking for the oompah band, but the guys seem to have won them over. A VERY nice evening. We met several nice couples, including two folks in their seventies who did a collegiate shag that would interest Erik and Sylvia. There are a LOT more shag moves to learn, kids. After the dance, we went out to a local diner with the band, and I was very impressed with their keen interest in the music. We had a great time talking about New York, Kay Kyser, and Spike Jones. There is a whole lot of youthful energy here and we are DEFINITELY going back to their June show on the third Thursday of the month. This band bears watching.
Friday May 22, 1998
We started the weekend by visiting the open-air dances at the Bethesda Metro Plaza. Although there is no charge, the "floor" is a brick patio and is mighty hard on the shoes and the feet. We suggest old sneakers that you don't care much about... The band was the New Columbia Swing Orchestra, sadly without Brooks Tegler. The audience was primarily non-swing dancers, and Mr. Guldseth tailored his program to them. We were pleased to see a turnout of Lindy Hoppers, most notably Duke "Cabana Boy" and a gaggle of teenage admirers. We had a nice chat with some folks that we had met a Blob's Park the night before and it was a pleasant afternoon. Given the dancing surface, we were not particularly disappointed at the dearth of hot swing numbers.
We left Bethesda Metro Place for dinner and then proceeded to the Chevy Chase Ballroom for the third installment of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra's new summer gig. Alas, Brent Sessions was not present -- we always enjoy his work. However, Andy Mason and Tommy Greco did a great job of filling in with hot solos. We thought that the crowd was particularly energized. During the break, Chris the Bass player for TCO mentioned that she did not dance at all. We think that it is a real waste for someone with such great rhythmic sense not to be dancing. So, we urge all you guys to get Chris dancing (during the breaks, of course...) We can start with Chris and then move up to Brent. (See our review of Tuesday for more on dancing musicians...)
Saturday May 23, 1998
We, accompanied by Angela, Mike, and Chrissy started the day off with a visit to the Kennedy Center to see a preview of a new film about the Nicholas Brothers entitled "We Sing and We Dance". All of you who love Fayard and Harold or Tap Dance (or both) will have to place this on your "must own" list. The film includes clips from very hard-to get films featuring the Nicholas Brothers, plus interviews with Cab Calloway, Artie Shaw, Baryshnikov, and others. The big attraction is the Nicholas family's home movies, showing the "Nicholas Kids" at Yosemite, dancing with Fred Astaire, and generally clowning around in their own inimitable way. Those of you interested in vintage fashion will want to inspect this footage on a frame-by frame basis. The high point is a scene in which Harold and Fayard (circa 1992) dance along with a rear projection of themselves dancing in 1932.
Fayard Nicholas was on hand to answer questions and tell stories about his career. We wre pleased to see that he appears to be in very good health. (See a photo of Fayard and Angela in our Gallery on the Mobtown Weekend)
Later that evening, We attended the TCO gig at Glen Echo. We were not disappointed. The guys were still hot from the night before and I thought that the sax section had melded together wiith one night's experience for the subs replacing the regulars. We were pleased to hear the the band had achieved a full house, although we didn't see lines of any appreciable length. This is a very good sign for swing dancing in DC, since the Mobtown Weekend in Baltimore had also drawn a very big crowd. The jam was very eventful, even though many of the regulars had decamped for Baltimore. Naomi and Nina, two very lovely young ladies (friends of Duke's, naturally...) surprised everyone with a great Charleston routine.
Liz Hanby brought Metin Yazir, the Argentine Tango wizard and several of his dancers to illustrate the Milonga and classic Tango. They were simply fantastic. We are very big on Tango, not only because it is beautiful, but also because: (a) it is the "street dance" of Argentina and (b) Tango was popular in the US concurrent with Lindy Hop. Both Frankie Manning and the Nicholas Brothers were also tango dancers --- and are good at it. In addition to Frankie's "Tango Dip", there is plenty of opportunity for cross-fertilization between Lindy and Tango. We worked out a "Tango Aerial" (with Tina Connors' help) and we have been tossing ganchos (leg hooks) and ochos (figure-8 steps) into medium tempo Lindy. We urge those of you who were impressed with Metin's performance to look into lessons at Dancers. (See "Instruction" under the "Long Range Planner" of the "Upcoming Events" section of the website)
Here is Sue Fedor's review of the events:
From: Sue Fedor
Ok...ok...we got to Glen Echo late and we missed the jam, but we arrived right on time to dance to plenty of swell tunes. The band took a break and the floor cleared and who other than Liz Hanby appeared with two TANGO couples. The first couple did a dance called Milonga, which is like Tango on Prozac. It's a really cheery, upbeat dance. I talked to the dancer afterwards and he told me that it is the "swing of Tango." Of course, he, like everyone else on the planet is learning the real swing and demonstrated his repetoire with me during the one of the recorded break songs. Quite impressive. Impressive even still was the second couple, doing traditional Argentinian Tango--where the stillness is a dramatic as the movements. It is lead and follow--and the way I understand it is that the woman has a completely different set of moves than the man and she can choose which moves to use in the situation he presents for her. Of course, not every move can be done in every situation, so there is some leadership on the man's part--but it is a team dance. That's as much as I know. The only tango lesson I ever had was from a Korean guy (not Cameron!) who took me out on the floor and taught me how to slide my feet. The exhibition made me appreciate the treatment of breaks and stillness--something I need to concentrate on a whole lot more.
From: Cameron Sellers
Tom Cunningham played to about 650 dancers on Saturday night.
There was a long line at the beginning of the night but everyone
got in. Naomi and Nina stoled the JAM that night with their
short routine. The crowd went nuts and they were the subject of
conversation at Amphora that night.
Sunday May 24, 1998
We made the trip to Baltimore for the Grand Finale of the Mobtown Hop Weekend. We had a great time -- Frankie Manning was in rare form, Ryan and Jenny were dazzling, and the band was very good. For us, the evening was special because we got to meet Betty Wood, one of the original Big Apple Dancers. Thanks to Deb Brooks, we got to spend a whole hour with Betty and our interview will be on the website on Monday. As an added benefit (for us), some of our fellow web-masters were in attendance, so we got to talk internet shop.
And, speaking of the Internet, check out our Photos from Mobtown!
The dance floor was excellent, and we understand that it is the creation of Ted Elser. Those of you who want a first class portable dance surface should talk to Ted, because this was the best such floor that we have danced on. There is considerable need for innovation in this field, because most hotels have decided to carpet the floor of their ballrooms. Congratulations, Ted!
Brooks Tegler provided a fine program of music with an all-star cast featuring some the best musicians in the area. Tom Mitchell put in a great performance on guitar, and Don Lerman (alto sax) and Vince McCool (trumpet) of the J Street Jumpers added a lot. Brooks gave us his version of Krupa in spades, so it was a very good evening, musically.
On the Dance front, Frankie's Birthday took the cake, literally and figuratively. Frankie danced with 84+ women (Carole was number 80 this year) and then called for Brooks to play a jump song and hit the boards in a virtuoso display. This is really amazing and we all ought to be inspired by Frankie -- I want to be there when he dances with 100 women!
Ryan and Jenny did a fantastic routine that showed effortless grace in just "doing" Lindy Hop. Everything about this couple just crackles with electricity and all of their moves fit seamlessly into the music. They have wonderful crowd presence and it is no wonder that they have wone so many awards and so much acclaim.
Anna and Christer Isberg did a routine with Ryan and Jenny in which they mirrored each others' movements. We thought this was an excellent display and were even more impressed to find out that they had worked this out in about an hour.
The Flycats did a Big Apple routine that paid homage to Betty Wood and showed us how much fun this dance can be. We really ought to revive this dance at Vienna Grille.
The only downside to the event (for us) was that there was no Sunday night Shim-Sham or Jitterbug Stroll (those having taken place the night before).
Congratulations to Leslie Coombs, Swing Baltimore, and her legions of volunteers on a well-planned and executed event.
From: Cameron Sellers
My only observation of Mobtown weekend was Sunday night and if that was an indication of the weekend, Leslie Coombs did a great job. I had fun that night. Ron, Aunt Deb, Elizabeth, Laura, Helen, and I journeyed together to Mobtown to dance to Bruce Tegler, watch Ryan and Jenny, Anna and Christer, and the Fly Cats. The band was outstanding, the performances were amazing, and the DJ kept my feet dancing. I didn't expect to dance that much because I was a little tired, but the band and Bernstein kept playing music that I had to dance.
Thanks, Leslie for a great evening.
Monday May 25, 1998
We spent the day at the National Gallery checking out two newer exhibitions. The first was "A Collector's Cabinet". This illustrates a curious phenomenon of the Renaissance in Holland. Namely, armed with the belief that God had placed man at the center of the world and had provided him with the means to achieve unlimited knowledge, a small group of "encyclopedic collectors" or "Liefhebbers" felt that they could assemble in microcosm all that existed in the cosmos. Thus, their collections contained both unusual natural phenomena or "naturalia" such as shells or corals and remarkable human creations or "artificaialia" such as paintings, sculpture, graphic arts, scientific and musical instruments. This exhibit, crammed into three small rooms, much as it would have been in Holland of the period, recreates the "Kunstkamer" (literally "Art Chamber" or figuratively "collector's cabinet".) And it is truly remarkable that an unbelieveable amount of riches can be crammed into such a small space. Viewing this exhibit is like eating a very rich piece of chocolate. We suggest that you take some time from dancing to visit. Now I have some intellectual justification for filling my house to overflowing with artifacts from the 1930s.
The second exhibit was a major retrospective on the works aof Alexander Calder. This is a very exciting show because it brings his drawings, paintings, wire sculpture, mobiles, stabiles, and jewelry into one mass, organized chronologically. This man obviously had a lot of fun at his craft and we thoroughly enjoyed everything. There are special videotapes that show some of his very delicate pieces from the 1930s actually in motion. You will get a real treat here, and the wire masks are out of this world.
Tuesday May 26, 1998
We joined the crowd at Vienna Grille for a fun session. The dancing was great, but the evening was made much more exciting by the arrival of Chester Whitmore. For those of you who don't know, Chester is a master of American vernacular dance from tap to lindy and from jazz to hip-hop. He choreographed productions of Porgy and Bess, Guys and Dolls and the 22nd NAACP Image Awards in which Sammy Davis Jr. made his last TV appearance. He is an innovator in Lindy and is the leader/arranger of his own big band. He is a regular at Herrang. So, it was a big deal that Chester should show up. Thanks to Ellen Engle for bringing him along.
Chester obliged us by leading the Shim Sham and then taught We a great "skating" move done in closed position. We also spent some time talking with Chester about the Nicholas Brothers. Then Chester dopped a bombshell. He mentioned that Dizzy Gillespie was a Lindy Hopper --- and so was Miles Davis and (gasp!)--- even Charlie Parker had a good swingout. You could have knocked me over with a feather, because it was bebop that killed swing! Chester gave us several demonstrations that showed it is entirely possible to do Lindy to bebop -- it just takes a little hop and a bump here and there. This was a very informative evening. So, now you can get out your "Bird" and "Dizz" sides without guilt!
From: Steve Cowles
In Lancaster last night (Tuesday) Carla, Carisa, and a friend of ours (Courtney) went to see Cherry Poppin Daddies. When we all got there we ran into Ari. The first band was good and fun to dance to. The second band was pretty bad they were Ska and the kind of dancing they encouraged involved jumping up and down in place...we were not amused.
Needless to say, The Cherry Poppin Daddies are NOT all that
they are made up to be. They had MAYBE three songs that were
cool, but they lack any real musicianship. Dont get me wrong,
they play "Zoot Suit Riot" very well, but that is about
all. Also, the croud was a bit packed in tight and for a little
bit we had a jam circle big enough for a whip and a small throw
out. All in all, I would have rather paid ten bucks to go and
see this first band play at Chevy Chase Ballroom and dance to
them then to sit through the smoke clouded monotony of the CPD.
Unfortunatly I can not remember what the name of the first band
was, but ask one of the twins...they will probably remember.
Wednesday May 27, 1998
WE have no reviews for this date -- why doesn't someone start a Swing Night on Wednesday?
Thursday May 28, 1998
From: Daniel N. Daley
Final verdict? Not altogether bad, but not a band I would
seek out. If you are at a dance they are playing, be vocal about
the music you want to hear, they do play to the audience.
Friday May 29, 1998
A whole gang of us went down to the BET Studios for the second annnual "BET Taping", including Tricia and Thomas, Carolyn and Jeff, Arnold and Lil, Steve and Christy, Buck and Carla, Cameron and Heather, Jim and Elizabeth, Bill Lehman and Trish Manetti, Daniel and Julia, Greta Thorn, Trista and her cousin, Chris, Maura -- and several others, including some hand dancers. Once again, this was a big hit. The preparation was impressive --- we got to use a very big makeup room and they had arranged a buffet of fresh fruit and juices for us. We had a great time and it was interesting to watch the ladies helping each other get their 1940s style makeup just right --- it had the feel of a real dance troupe.
The J Street Jumpers played songs off their new CD. Well, during the first song, it seemed like they were going to play their songs over and over... An audio glitch, forced the director to call "cut" on a performance of "Onion" three times. This is a fairly fast song and everyone wanted to kick it off with a bang. We were instructed to come running out from the sidelines. Steve and Christy made an entrance with their "Sky-High-Fly", which they got to do four times. Finally, the audio problem was solved and the taping went on without incident.
The director decided that we would dance in two "shifts", so half of us got to rest while the other half danced under the lights. The BET staff was very good about keeping us supplied with large quantities of water. This year, however, they did not have the very nice cloth towels that they had last year.
When the band played "Gal With a Whole Lot of Money", the director called for a Mambo. We were the only ones who stepped forward, so we got to start out as a solo, but were quickly joined by almost everyone, once they figured out that you could also do Lindy to the song.
The session ended with "Jump, Jive, and Wail", the Louis Prima song from the now famous Gap commercial. We were finally free to do as many aerials as we could cram in. Steve and Christy did their "Wave" routine several times just to make sure it got on camera. One cameraman was down at floor level, so We did a driveshaft, where she came within inches of his camera. We hope that gets in...
When the session was over, a group of us went to the A-V Ristorante for dinner, and then to the Chevy Chase Ballroom to celebrate Brent, Tricia and Dave's birthday. As you all know, Tom Koerner proposed to Carolyn Biczel that evening.
Here are some of the reviews:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
What a grand time we had on Friday night! We dashed home from work to get all vintaged up, then Frank and Carole arrived to transport us to the B.E.T. studio right on the dot of 5:30. We were so excited, we were waiting for them in the lobby. We were among the first to arrive, and we were joined by many of the usual suspects: Arnold and Lil, Trisha, Carolyn, Cameron, Heather, Steve and Chrissy, Chris, Maura, Jeff, Bill, Buck, Sam...oh dear, I know I'm forgetting to mention a bunch of people!
The B.E.T. staff was just wonderful - we had food, we had water, we had a whole makeup room to ourselves. Bravo, B.E.T.!
The Jumpers were in fine form, and Marianna really gave it her all. If you've not heard the Jumpers yet, you owe it to yourself to check these cats out. They have a terrific jump blues sound and repetoire, and Marianna has a fine set of pipes! The dancers were dressed in all our vintage finery, and the ubiquitous studio audience was very supportive. We were joined by 3 DC Hand Dancing Couples who were just fabulous. I love to watch DC Hand Dance - it's so smooth! I'm always amazed at the way they spin. I just wish I could be that fast and steady!
They taped 6 segments, and Jim and I danced 4 of them. Although Jim and I were a little nervous when we started out, by the time the Jumpers ended the final set with "Jump, Jive, and Wail" everyone was dancing well and we all looked at each other as if to say, "That's the end? Already? We were just getting warmed up!"
Charlie Hebbel told us on the way out that the band will get copies of the full edited show once it's ready, and he has two VCRs. Jim and I have volunteered to help make copies for folks, and he told us he'll let us know as soon as he has a copy. So hopefully we'll all be able to see the final show withou having to scan the TV listings religiously for weeks on end just to watch 15 minutes of inane commericals in between thedance/music segments.
After the taping, Jim and I persuaded Frank and Carole to drop us at the Metro so we could get up to Chevy Chase Ballroom and...DANCE SOME MORE (no, two hours of dancing is NOT sufficient). --- it was pretty crowded on Friday - yay!). As for the rest of you: we find your lack of Lindy obsession disturbing.
ANYway, it was a fabulous night at Chevy Chase. The band was hot, it was Brent Sessions' birthday (complete with cake), Trisha Reneau and Dave Shepherdson also had birthdays (and birthday dances), my brother and his girlfriend came down from PA and met us at the dance, and, as you've no doubt already heard, Koerner asked Carolyn to marry him...and amazingly enough, she actually said YES (girlfriend, there's still time to change your mind!).
The jam was good fun, and featured some folks who don't usually get out. Jim and I braved it again - now that we can both get out there without just about dying of fear we'll have to start working on an actual routine of some sort. I think Tom may have inadvertently passed along his loathing of choreography to Jim - maybe it was osmosis?
I got to dance with both Dave and Dr. Dan for the first time, and I'm happy to report that I'm getting much better about dancing with better dancers. A few months ago, one of the experienced boys would ask me to dance, I'd say yes, and my brain and feet would go completely blank! Now I'm at least to the point where I don't immediately forget everything I know about dancing when an advanced leader asks me to dance. PS to Dr. Dan - thanks for the tip on my shoulders and for dancing with me again later on. It's a real confidence builder for less experienced dancers when a more experienced dancer is willing to dance with us again.
After the dance, Anna and Gay worked with me on my swivel - thanks, chickies! Knowing what you're doing wrong is half the battle. Gay also worked with Jim on the whip. Ah, the whip - so reassuring to so many Lindy Hoppers - no matter how long one dances or how good one gets at other moves, there's always something wrong with one's whip. Yes, one could consider that depressing, but I prefer to think of it as a comforting constant in my dance life. (I'm trying to look at this in a positive light here, people!)
We danced until about 2 am, with Duke and I polishing off the night to a nice fast Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tune. Yes, Tom, I know you were trying to make us all drop over dead from exhaustion so that we'd go home, but your diabolical plot failed, and you had to throw us all out anyway. Before being turned out into the street, we were all treated to a more risque engagement dance than we had seen earlier in the evening to Madonna's "Spank Me" from (I believe) the Dick Tracy soundtrack.
Congratulations to Tom and Carolyn, and many thanks to the Tom Cunningham Orchestra and to the fine folks at Chevy Chase Ballroom for making May such a fun dance month!
From: Debra Sternberg
Please post this under the heading, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR BECAUSE YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT.
There we were at the Chevy Chase Ballroom this past Friday night, grooving to the fabulous sounds of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, enjoying our biggest crowd there yet. Robin Cunningham had brought a big ole' cake to celebrate Brent Sessions' birthday. We rolled it out right after the jam ended. Then we began the third set of the night with the Shim-Sham, as usual. (One hint: don't EVER let Koerner count off the Shim-Sham!) We immediately followed that with the traditional birthday dance for fellow celebrite's Dave Sheppardson and Tricia Reneau.
And then, determined not to be upstaged, Tom Koerner asked Carolyn Biczell to join him at the microphone, whereupon he pulls a box out of his pocket, asks Carolyn to marry him, and slips a BIG HONKER ENGAGEMENT RING on her finger! Not a dry eye in the house. Screaming, cheering, clapping erupts. Anna Duncan makes Tom get back down on his knee so she can get a photo of it! The traditional We Just Got Engaged dance followed. Phew, what a night!!!
I suppose this means no one can ever miss another Friday night dance again because you never know what'll happen! (And the cake isn't bad either.)
Well, we're back at America with TCO this Friday night, June 5. (I don't think Tom and Carolyn are going to get engaged again, though.) We really need to pack the place to show management who our favorite swing band is, so make them reservations! Make your parents come! If you don't have parents, rent 'em! Show TC that you love 'em like you've never loved another band! I'm running out of exclamation points!!!!
Saturday May 30, 1998
We attended a Gala for the charitable organization "Hands on DC" that was held in the atrium of the beautifully restored Homer Building at the corner of 13th and F streets in downtown DC. This is a glorious art-deco space -- there is a very big dance area, and space to walk and sit on a mezzanine and second floor level. The space soars to the full seven stories of the building and is capped with a skylight. An intricate steel frame suggests arches, vaults and other classical stonework, so you get a feeling that you are in a monumental structure while enjoying plenty of space. This is a fantastic venue for a dance.
We were welcomed to the dance by Jenn Schneider, one of the organizers. "Hands on DC" is a volunteer organization that works with the DC Public Schools to assist in renovating older structures.
The band was Brooks Tegler's Dectet. We recognized many of the musicians from last Sunday at Mobtown and Brooks' regular Sunday gig at the Inn at Glen Echo. The band led off with a really swinging Basie number --- but the dance floor was empty. So, we got up. The dance floor largely remained ours until about 11:00 when folks had gotten up enough courage to venture onto the floor. During those two hours, we took turns dancing with some of the guests. I came within a safety pin of really embarassing our host --- Jenn was wearing a wraparound dress and while demonstrating a "Texas Tommy", I accidentally untied it. Those of you who know that Jenn is a real knockout may have some trouble believing that his was a mistake. Repeat, this was a mistake...
We were pleased to meet Szilvia Juhasz who was visiting from San Francisco --- Szilvia was more than familiar with the Lindy scene there and was surprised to learn that Indigo Swing is big here -- and that they would be appearing on Monday at CCB. Lindy is indeed a small world, thanks to the Internet. Later in the evening, Szilvia favored the audience with her version of "Fly Me to the Moon" --- this girl can really sell a song!
The setting, music and people were really grand. While that is sufficient for a good time, let me say that the FOOD was spectacular. There was lots of fresh fruit, particularly a whole tree made out of very big, ripe, and juicy strawberries. This was a really fine time, so you are encouraged to go to their gala next year. We considered it a bargain.
Other people were out dancing on Saturday as well:
From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Saturday night was rolling around, and Jim and I were kicking around for where to dance. We wanted to head out again because 6 hours of dancing on Friday night was just not enough for us (hey, we didn't dance at all Memorial Day weekend, all right?), but we weren't quite sure where to go. We didn't really want to pay the big bucks for the benefit dance with Brooks Tegler's group, but we were a little worried about Twist and Shout - nobody seemed to know very much about Webb Wilder.
Thank heavens I called Frank late Saturday afternoon to see if he had any more details about Webb Wilder! It turned out that the J Street Jumpers were doing a last minute gig at Bistro Bistro in Ballston. My brother and his girlfriend had their Lindy lesson with Debra and then they headed back to PA and we Metroed out to Ballston. Bistro Bistro is a nice little restaurant that's about 1 block from the Ballston station. We had a reasonably tasty and not too expensive dinner, and then chatted with the band (who recognized us from Friday night's taping) while waiting for them to start.
Shortly before the band started playing, who should pop in but our very own vintage diva, Ellen Werther? We hadn't seen her in a while, so it was great to catch up and to have another dancer there.
We had a tiny little spot for dancing, and Jim and I hopped right out on the first number, forgetting that the Jumpers usually do a killer-diller that includes a solo for everyone to lead off. Seemed like they played for 10 minutes at about 220 BPM. We were about ready to drop by the time they finished the first tune! But as Jim was the only boy in sight, there was no rest for the weary, and Ellen and I took turns dancing with him to just about every song in the first set. I think the high point was the last song in the set - "All of Me" - during which Marianna treated us to some very fine scat.
Sadly, we had to leave shortly after the first set to make the Metro back, but it was a really nice time - good food, good music, good dancing, chatting with the band, and doing the girl thing with Ellen and Marianna while Ellen touched up Marianna's makeup. And there's no cover! Bistro Bistro has live music every Saturday from 10 pm - 1 am, so some weekend when not much is happening on the dance scene, head over there and check it out (they also do a jazz brunch on Sunday that we're going to try to check out sometime).
Sunday May 31, 1998
We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon as the guests of Carole and Harrison Pledger, who are regular dancers at Glen Echo and America. They had an all-Scottish party. My Carole --- due to her Scottish background -- wore a kilt and was prepared to read Burns' "Salute to the Haggis", as the nefarious concoction was piped to the table. The Haggis -- lungs, kidneys and other organs of the sheep mixed with oatmeal and boiled in the stomach -- never materialized, thank goodness. Haggis is the best argument for vegetarianism that I can think of. I wore a Hawaiian shirt ("Clan Kahuna"). We were joined by David and Suzanne Josephs, also regular dancers at Glen Echo.
The Pledgers have a fantastic home in Great Falls -- the setting was truly beautiful. And --get this --- they have their own private lake! Carole Pledger asked us if we wanted to go for a row and we took her up on it. We had a very nice, leisurely row around the lake that was very romantic --- I really wish that I had a ukelele... Then, a group of children showed up at the dock and asked if they could be rowed around. Sure, we said... Then more kids. By the fifth time around the lake, I was certain that Harrison owned Lake Superior. Right now, I prefer Lindy Hop to rowing.
The Pledgers put on a spectacular show -- the food was very good, particularly the whole smoked salmon that someone very thoughtfully brought. Carole Pledger makes a very good Scottish Shortbread. The recipe is up on the website. Later on, Harrison put on some music and we actually got to dance. It was a really great time --- thanks so much, Carole and Harrison!
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