September, 1998 Reviews
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Review of Dance Events During September, 1998

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Tuesday September 1, 1998

We rose promptly at 6:45 and made our way over to the Saloon for a spectacular array of fruit, fresh-baked breads, infinite coffee and eggs cooked to order along with blueberry pancakes. I was especially impressed with the hash-brown Lyonnaise potatoes, made with the same skill and tender care as the very best art- deco diner in the East. The food, as you will see, was a real experience.

At 9:00, I had a rendezvous with destiny -- the first time that I have ever been on a horse. I would like to take a break here to thank Arnold Taylor for writing a very special prayer for me that was very comforting at that time of stress -- all I could think of was "Christopher Reeve". With apology for the diversion, here is Arnold's Prayer:

From: Arnold Taylor

Frank! FRANK! Has Carole arranged this Montana trip as a penance for you? I mean, a Cattle Drive, Whitewater Rafting, and Trap Shooting!!! Buck Benny Rides Again II ! Before you go, please write a codicil in your Last Will and Testament that bequeaths to me one of your zoot suits so I can keep your verve, your daring, your charm alive and kicking (only from the knee).

However, to obviate any loss of life or limb, I have prepared for you a paraphrase of at least a part of the 23rd Psalm for you to say religiously (there's another way?) especially before you go on your Cattle Drive/Whitewater Rafting/Trap Shooting adventures:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to safely traverse the green pastures
(and the dusty ones full of gopher holes and cow dung),
He leadeth me out of the churning waters.
He restoreth my fractured shooting arm shoulder.
He leadeth me in the path of the hot tub
for my body's sake.

Yea, 'though I walk, ride, or swim through the valley
of pain and torment
I will fear no lethal damage
for I am needed on the Lindy website
and lots of people are praying for my safe return.

Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days in Montana,
and I will dwell in good time with my friends
in the waiting line of the Glen Echo ballroom


Lil joins me in wishing for the both of you a happy HAPPY time. Montana is awesome!

And now comes the time to tell you about Nick the Horse. This old guy was tremendous -- he was just the greatest. I had an instant bonding moment the moment that I met Nick --- he was even more cynical than me. It was as if he said "I'll take you wherever you want to go, but don't try to be a cowboy. Just sit in the saddle and appreciate the scenery. I won't do Lindy Hop and you won't try to ride." So, Nick and I ventured off into Marlboro Country. I'll have to admit that riding through the tall grass and coming up onto a rise to survey the vastness of the plains is a real thrill. Nick enjoyed munching on the golden grass and I enjoyed the view from the Horse.

Carole had a much younger and more spirited horse named Junior and they rode rings around us while Nick told me about his cousin's grandson who is running at Pimlico... Nick even decided to have some fun with me. There are about 1000 cattle just roaming around the ranch and we (he) decided to chase a particularly frisky yearling. Nick could move when he wanted to.

We brought the horses back to the corral in time for lunch which consisted of buffalo burgers. Very tasty. We hit the hot tub again because riding is not relaxation no matter how beautiful the scenery is.

In the afternoon came another first --- shooting a shotgun. I have no experience with firearms of any sort. My great thanks to Andy who gave me a crash course in trap shooting. Actually, we participated in a thing called "Sporting Clays" which features all sorts of targets --- those that come at you, those that fly away, those that pop straight up, and some unusual disc- shaped things called "rabbits" that roll on the ground. They were offered in singles or doubles. I actually managed to hit one of each kind of target --- although I was at the bottom of the list in the competition. On the other hand, Carole did much better than me. Don't mess with deadeye Carole.

We had a tremendous dinner of barbecued ribs and chicken, followed by homemade peach ice cream.. We did some Lindy Hop in the saloon with CDs on and then it was time for the Hayride and Campfire. I left a bit early to watch the wranglers hitch up the hay wagon, since all my life, I have been doing crossword puzzles with "harness words" like "singletree" in them. The wranglers thought that I was nuts. The Belgian draft horses that pulled the wagon were truly beautiful animals.

We finished the evening at a large campfire a few miles from the ranch in the middle of a stark and empty plain. There was nothing but the hills and a full moon. The ranch thoughtfully provided a singer/story teller to entertain us while we sat around the fire. Alas, there was no coyote. After thoroughly evoking the myth of the Cowboy --- well, the site had comfortable adirondack chairs --- I was stunned when the wranglers brought out marshmallows, gram crackers and Hershey bars. We had a great time making 'Smores.

Check out our photoessay on the Day 2 at Deadrock.

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Wednesday September 2, 1998

We rose again at 6:45 for another outstanding breakfast and a day of white water rafting. Due to the drought, we had to travel about 75 miles into Yellowstone Park to find a spot with enough current to provide a reasonable experience

We spent the entire day on the river, accompanied by our colorful guide whos name was "Point". We got a liberal education about the river and its flora and fauna. I was impressed by the Osprey and the Merganser ducks.

We stopped at a hot spring which flows into the Yellowstone River, and we found out that the Earth's crust is very thin at this spot and that the molten magma is fairly close to the surface, and thus the hot underground springs

Due to the low volume of the river, we only had a few real "Roller Coaster" rides. Since I can't swim, this was not at all a problem for me.

After doing a little Lindy Hop in the Saloon, we joined Floyd and several of the wranglers in a trip to a high mountain work camp. Our transportation for the evening was a 1938 Yellowstone Tour Bus (manufactured by the White Truck Company). The ranch is really 18,000 acres and it took us 45 minutes to drive to the camp. Once we were there, I got a lesson in roping from Floyd and then we barbecued inch thick t-bone steaks in the crisp mountain air.

I got to help the cook make boiled coffee in a big spatterware pot that hung over the campfire. You mix the grounds and water and let it boil until a teaspoon stands traighht up in it... Eggshells are added to clear the grounds from the coffee and it is decanted very gently into spatterware cups. The best coffee in the world!

After listening to the wranglers tell stories about the rodeo, we piled back in the bus and made the journey home.

Check out our photoessay on the Day 3 at Deadrock.

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Thursday September 3, 1998

We spent our last full day at Deadrock Ranch on an all-day cattle drive. The ranch raises about 1,000 cows. Each cow requires 2 acres of grass every two weeks. The ranch has 18,000 acres, so every two weeks, the cows have to be rounded up and moved from pasture to pasture (about two miles...) This is wooded rough country, so you can't use motorized vehicles. Hence, everything is done on horseback.

Carole rode Junior, the spirited horse, and I went out on Nick --- "The Most Cynical Horse in the World". The wranglers and the border collies did most of the work. Carole got involved in the roundup while Nick and I did a stately walk behind the cows. I can say with good conscience that no cows got away from us, mainly because they were moving ahead of us at a MUCH faster rate. When one of the yearlings would stray, a border collie would run up and give him a good bite on the leg. The older cows have learned to listen to the dogs' barking.

We stopped for lunch at a real honest to goodness Chuck Wagon while another crew moved a herd of sheep into the pasture we had just vacated. The cows eat the grass and the sheep eat the weeds that the cows won't eat. Thus, the grass grows again and doesn't get choked out by weeds. The shepherds worked on foot with bigger dogs. One of the sheep dogs was a Great Pyrenees who would actually jump on the back of a reluctant animal to keep it going.

During lunch, the wranglers did rope tricks. (One of the lady wranglers is from Munich where she specialized in Dressage before she got into ranching...)

Then they asked us about "them fancy dance steps" that they had been hearing about. So, we did a couple of flips and a lockup for them. Every interest activity has its performance aspects. We switched and I made a fool of myself with a rope.

Most of us spent the afternoon rounding up more cows --- Nick spent a large part of the afternoon complaining. On the other hand, I got back to the corral in one piece although Nick prefers to leap over streams rather than get his feet wet. That part was a bit disorienting.

At the end of the day, We hit the hot tub again to ward off the effects of riding. It was a good thing because our finale party had a very hot band named Cold Smoke. I wore my zoot suit to the party. Strangely, with all the colorful Western dress wear, it didn't stand out that much. Having finally adapted to the altitude, we were able to dance well into the night. Of all things, the dance floor was nearly perfect.

Check out our photoessay on the Our Trip to Montana.

Steve and Sue Devoney spent labor Day in Cleveland:

Steve and I headed off to spend five days in Cleveland. Since I grew up down wind of the stock yards (in the days before reliable refrigerated trucks, kids), I thought it would be an appropriate accompaniment to Frank and Carole's dude ranch experience.

After gussying up in our best vintage duds, we went to the Spy Club (E. 6th St. / Warehouse District). The club is about the size of Twist and Shout, but with the entrance straight in the back. As you enter, you see a long bar to your right and informal seating in the front. There is a fireplace and bookcases (the place looks like an old speakeasy from the 20s). Around the other side of the book case is a dance floor about the size of T&S's with a band space to the front and the DJ booth off in the left hand corner. The floor is wood. To the immediate right of the floor is more informal seating and a huge wall screen, upon which they play old movies of bands and dancing (no sound).

Off to the right is an outdoor patio with a bar, tables and chairs. There is a wood plank floor in front of the bar, which becomes a practice space for aerials and new footwork.

We got there in time to hear a bit of the DJ, David M. Earle who keeps the songs a-comin'. He played an interesting combination of old and new and everything was FAST.

The floor was crowded and the onlookers encroached. Perhaps because of the crowd or because of the skill of the dancers, mostly six-count was being done. Another couple on the dance floor (he in a dark, pinstripe suit and she in a black cocktail dress) was doing Lindy. Unfortunately, they were also doing flips, which got pretty precarious for the dancers surrounding them.

The band came on at 10 pm (this was a Thursday, folks!). We immediately attracted attention...with our outfits and our dancing. Out of nowhere, this hand reached out for me. "I must dance with you," said the young man. His name is Joel Plys and he works in Cleveland for Andersen Consulting during the week. He frequents the Spy Club and has been longing to do a new tandem Charleston routine that he learned recently. Joel says that Chicago has a 7-day a week scene. If you're planning to visit Chicago sometime soon, e-mail Joel at

The band was the Swing Lizards. They played predominantly jump blues, only slowing things down once or twice. Steve pulled out that Dean Collins whip for "I've Got Everything I Need....Almost" and I narrowly missed the mike, the music stand, the lead singer.... The Swing Lizards had a trumpet player who looked no older than about 25 years old. He played way too good for his age. The rest of the band had the look of a veteran blues band. They were solid. They generally have local gigs during the week, but are available for weekends. They did not have a business card handy, so we got a copy of their new CD, which we will review. We'll post the information up on the website.

Round about 11:00 pm (Thursday, folks) the band took a break and the regulars (including a young woman named Stephanie, who we met at Ain't Misbehavin' dance camp last year) tried to clear the floor for the jam. The DJ played 2 versions of "Sing, Sing, Sing" back-to-back, while everybody came out with their best stuff. We were the only couple doing aerials. Stephanie and her partner and Joel and I joined Steve in doing the only Lindy moves. Everyone else was six count, including an old-timer couple out there doing some West Coast Swing. The crowd was appreciative.

Overall, the scene wasn't too bad. It was crowded, but not extremely rough--despite the inexperience of the dancers. It was smoky, but most of the hard core cigar afficciados kept to the back patio.

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Friday September 4, 1998

We rose at 6:45 for yet another spectacular ranch breakfast and said goodbye to our hosts and all our new found friends. Our great thanks to the Philip Morris Company for making this wonderful week possible. The rest of the day was spent travelling back to DC. Due to some delays, we arrived at Dulles at midnight, too late to make even a small appearance at America.

However, Iver Cooper was there:

From: Iver Cooper

I went to America on Friday, after a long absence. The first six dancers to show up were all male, which was not good for our morale. And the first lady to show up arrived with an escort, so that wasn't much of an improvement. But the gals did show up eventually.

Given how packed the floor was, you would never have guessed that we were competing with either Labor Day Weekend vacationing or Savoy Swings. There was a jam, but I was four rows behind the action, and I am not particularly tall, so all I could see was a fleeting glimpse of a flying head or foot.

I read some of your website comments on hunting for vintage clothing, and think it would be helpful if you would comment on the typical price range for the more commonly sought items. A neophyte is going to know a bargain from a ripoff.

Steve and Sue continue with their review of their trip to fabulous Cleveland:

We met up with some friends of ours who now live in Columbus. We went to

Fat Fish Blue

, located directly behind Tower City, downtown. The restaurant features cajun food and live blues. Although we did not stay to hear the singer (Poppa Chubby...a guy so big he could use his own zip code...) we did get some dancing in. We headed off to the Flats, along the Cuyahoga River, walk off our meal. We ended up at a beer tent that was set up on the board walk. We ordered some wheat beers and began to watch the boats cruise up and down the river. The bartenders were playing all sorts of weird tunes on the stereo system and all of a sudden, they played Brian Setzer's "Sexy and Seventeen." After a bit of coaxing, Steve and I hit the decks and started dancing. The foot traffic on the boardwalk came to a halt and everyone in the place began clapping and yelling. Nothing like a little ham to go with your beer.

Unfortunately, in Cleveland, unless someone is sponsoring a special dance or there's a dance friendly band at Wilberts, there is no regular swing dancing on Friday nights and about once a month on Saturdays.

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Saturday September 5, 1998

We recovered from jet lag enough to see Bill Kirchen at the finale of Twist and Shout. It looked like most of the regular dancers were at Savoy (or somewhere else...) although we did run ito Gideon Killion. Kirchen was great as usual, and did extended versions of "Rockabilly Funeral" and "Hot Rod Lincoln" as a tribute to the demise of the venue.

Steve and Sue continue with their review of their trip to fabulous Cleveland:

We went to Hale Farm and Village, in Bath, OH...midway between Cleveland and Akron. Bath has the unfortunate reputation of being the place where Jeffrey Dahmer grew up. But way before that, it was a frontier town along the Ohio Canal. In 1970, the granddaughter of Mr. Hale donated the family house and farm to the Western Reserve Historical Society. Through the years, they purchased and moved historic, frontier homes to this location to re-create a frontier town that they have called "Wheatfield". In 1820, when the canal first opened, Ohio was part of the Western Reserve of Connecticut. Many of the folks who settled northeastern Ohio were decendents of famous Connecticut families: the Mathers, the Wades, the Stones and the Hales to name just a few. This year, Hale Farm and Village began a role playing project, much like the folks who role play at Harper's Ferry and Williamsburg. But unlike those places, the year HF&V chose was 1840, a year when talk was not of war, but everyday life. It's a smaller size outdoor museum, with plenty of activities throughout the year, including sheep and wool days in the spring and a yule log ceremony at Christmas. They plan to have weddings and wakes in the future.

Saturday night, we headed off to Lakewood for the Ain't Misbehavin' dance. When we arrived, we were informed that the dance was closed to the public (something that was not said on the flier). Last year, the dances were open, so needless to say, we were a bit puzzled by the change in policy. We were puzzled even more when we saw that the hall was only half full. I asked Carl Knopp, the organizer, if, indeed he was closing the dance to the public. He confirmed the policy and informed us that he would not make an exception for us. We stayed long enough to say hi to the many people we met last year, teach someone who was at the Spy Club on Thursday our new aerial, and hug Donna Barker who was teaching there.

Apparently, over 220 people signed up for the weekend, so Carl declared it a rousing success. 220 people really crowded the hall during the lessons, so I guess he figured that he would not be able to let anyone in for the dances. He didn't realize that (as was the case last year) many people only came for one or two lessons and didn't attend the dances. There were about 30 people last year who came to the dances only. Anyway, we were there long enough to notice that the presence of Rusty Mason helped the band greatly. They were tighter and the songs were shorter. The drummer was swinging and not soloing. There were more couples attemping 8-count. I did not see either Frankie Manning, Paulette Brockington or Norma Miller at the dance. They were there for the lessons, however.

I don't want to raise a bunch of sour grapes, because we did not call Carl ahead of time to ask about the dances. It was disappointing that he could not accomodate additional dancers when it was clear that he had the capacity. I guess he felt that this year, he did not need to reach out to the community at large. Funny thing is, Carl holds a kick-off contra dance on Friday. I bet that wasn't restricted to those folks who signed up for the lessons...but maybe I'm wrong on that.

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Sunday September 6, 1998

From: Elizabeth Engel

I was off in Boston for APSA's annual meeting and was really looking forward to doing some dancing. I knew it was unrealistic to think that I'd get out during the week of the meeting, but I hoped anyway. It turned out that with pre-7 am required staff breakfasts, 14 hour plus days, and spending most of that time on my feet, I was accurate in that unfortunate assessment.

So I didn't manage to get out until Sunday evening, accompanied by Jim, Claire (a college friend), her brother Nick, and some of his friends. THE place to be on Sunday nights is the Upstairs Lounge by the new Fleet Center (yes, they really did tear down the Boston Garden, more's the pity). The dancers were there, the teachers were there...the club owner never showed. Which sucked, as we were all really looking forward to dancing. One of the Boston regulars whipped out a cell phone and began frantically calling every other club anyone could think of, to no avail. No one was doing a swing night, no one was willing to do a swing looked as if all might tbe lost.

So in true Lindy fashion, we took to the streets and danced in an alley for more than 2 hours! Despite the....mmmmm....interesting dance surface (talk about a high crown on the road!) and limited tune selection (most people only had tapes or CDs with music that was on the very bottom limit of the Lindy-able - probably 120-130 bpm on most songs), we had a great time.

I danced a lot and showed a few people a few steps, and Jim danced a little and spent a lot of time showing people steps. Of course everyone wanted to learn air steps, and we responded with: "We don't do air steps, but we can show you how to do a Charleston (swing out, throw out, double turn, etc.)."

This actually provided a nice atmosphere in which we could, in a non-lecturing way, point out that good dancing is defined by good dancing, not throwing your partner all over the place. We also got a low-key opportunity to point out to a few guys who were telling ladies "just stand there - I do all the work" that they really did have it quite backwards. I suspect we saved a few guys' backs and shoulders from serious injury.

Anyway, we danced and danced until the cops came and made us clear the street shortly before midnight. We told everyone about the Web site, Dancestore, and VSO, and I think we have a few takers on VSO. So if you hear some folks talking about where to "pahk the cah" during VSO, be sure to make them feel welcome!

From: Nancy Baird

My family was in Louisville, KY over the Labor Day weekend visiting family. Of course we decided to check out the local swing scene. Unfortunately we can't give much of a report since the only places where one might dance also serve liquor, and BY LAW no one under 21 may even enter the premises - even with a parent in tow! Since we had our two teenage daughters with us, we weren't able to enjoy the band or any dancing. In addition, at the one place with a swing band (at least, it was billed as a swing band), even though the newspaper advertised the band from 10 p.m. on, at the door we were told that the band wouldn't even start playing until almost 11 p.m.

The second night we ate at a restaurant which advertised a "jazz duo." They played/sang soft, "we don't want to disturb your dinner" type music, and most of the songs were of fairly recent vintage. Then we spotted a few oldies in their song list and requested a couple of good swing tunes. Their "dance floor" consisted of flagstones with about enough room for one couple to jitterbug/lindy at a time, but Cory and I got out there and did our lindy-best. We messed up lots of moves and even had to stop and restart a few times (I follow a LOT better than I lead, despite what John says), but we had fun. So you can imagine our surprise when everyone acted as if we danced like Tom and Debra!

Several people - both the singer and people eating dinner) asked us if we taught dance, and wanted to know what the dance we did was called. We were astounded, since we know our limitations all too well. It was nice for our egos, but the main conclusion we reached was ---- Louisville is ripe for someone who knows what they are doing to step in to teach lindy and hold dances (as opposed to playing music for those who are over 21 to drink to).

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Monday September 7, 1998

Carole and I drove down to Annapolis for the Mood swings First Monday dance at Club Hollywood. We had a great time and Mood swings continues to develop as a band. They are adding arrangements and their nutty comedy bits are a real hoot. We were very impressed with Billy Lipmann, the drummer. In addition to keeping the band ticking, it turns out that he is a really SERIOUS collector of vacuum cleaners, a subject near and dear to my heart. However, Billy is so far advanced that his collection makes mine look pitiful and small by comparison. These guys are a lot of fun and you should get out to see them if you can!

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Tuesday September 8, 1998

We made a trip to Vienna Grille after several absences due to travel. Attendance was down due to the exodus to college --- now we have to find all the swing dancers who came TO the local area colleges and get them out to Vienna! My thanks to all the folks who helped in celebrating my birthday and to all the lovely ladies who graciously joind in my dance lineup.

From: Ellen Engle

We have a new venue on Tuesdays just after work, starting this past Tuesday. Sorry for the late notice, but we wanted to check it out first, so we'd be able to answer questions and give details.

On Tuesdays from 6:00 - 9:00 pm, we are at Ozio's Martini & Cigar Lounge. Ozio's is located on K St. between 18th & 19th NW. Here's both the plusses & minuses:

The Plus:

The DJ has a pretty good selection of swing stuff, both from the big band era and the modern stuff like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. He will play whatever is requested. There's adequate room to dance and the owner has said he will move couches and chairs to create more room if we want/need. The decor is very classic "Rat Pack" swing era, with some GREAT portraits of Hollywood stars of the era drawn on the columns. Food is inexpensive and plentiful.

The Minus:

It's a cement floor with a VERY low ceiling. Aerials are DEFINITELY out in this place! It is a cigar bar -- it has a very good air system, so it's not as smoky as I feared, but that tell-tale cigar odor does remain (...and get in your clothes). If anyone works in the area and would like to drop by after work before heading out to the Vienna Grill, we'd love to see them.

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Wednesday September 9, 1998

We rushed downtown to get in on the Media Frenzy as the Starr report was delivered. Once again, we did a lot of clowning for the camera crews. The CNN guys think that we are part of any major news event. We hung out at the White House for a while then left for Sholl's for dinner. (Washington's unsung restaurant where two can dine in high style for less than $9 --- while studying the company picnic photos from the 1930s for vintage clothing ideas...) After that, we headed for Capitol Hill where we kept other news crews company. Of note: there are an enormous number of bats that fly over the capital riding on thermals --- created no doubt from the hot air emanating within. We watched a distinguished looking congressman give a solemn interview about the president's misdeeds. Then we watched as this sepuagenarian walked off in the company of not one but two comely twenty-something-and-very-female "aides" --- I yelled out "Hey, Congressman --- practice what you preach!" while I snapped off a few shots of the geezer with his arm around both ladies. He seemed to get very nervous and the trio beat a hasty retreat to a Lincoln Town Car. No doubt they were his neices... but still, he didn't appear to be FSC (i.e "First Stone Capable.") The news people had a good laugh.

It was a cold night for a change and we headed off to the Tune Inn, the last remaining working class bar in the city. (If you hear the word "policy" there, you can be sure that it has been prefaced with "insurance".) Amidst the stuffed animals, we did a little Lindy in the aisles.

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Thursday September 10, 1998

This was my birthday and We celebrated it by getting dressed up in our vintage finery and heading for Baltimore. We had a great lunch at Haussner's (3242 Eastern Avenue, 410-327-8365) which is located in the middle of Highlandtown, the setting for most of Barry Levinson's films on Baltimore. If you haven't been to Haussner's, you should go --- and dress in vintage. The place is not only a fantastic restaurant, but also an art gallery. Every square inch of the wall space is covered with paintings and sculpture. The room has a magical romantic quality --- and the food is just fantastic. Lunch with dessert and nonalcoholic beverages came to about $30, so it will not break your pocketbook. From there, we headed out to Pimlico where I had hoped to use my new found knowledge of horses to advantage. Alas, there is no live racing in September. However, we were able to find a few nice thrift stores and I came home with some treasures, including a beautiful 1932 Roto Blade Fan.

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Friday September 11, 1998

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

The J Street Jumpers were at Kemp Mill Music for another lunchtime sidewalk concert, only this time with FAR more pleasant weather! The Jumpers sounded great, and the downtown business crowd really seemed to enjoy them. Folks even came down from nearby office buildings when they heard the sweet tunes floating up. Unfortunately, I hadn't know about it ahead of time, so I was wearing a long straight skirt and Birkenstocks - not the greatest dance attire in the world - but it was a good time anyway, and I did do a little dancing.

Tom and Debra wowed the crowd with fancy footwork and death-defying aerials (really! you should see the slant on the sidewalk in front of Kemp Mill) and passed out tons of lesson fliers. And Tom, Debra, and I took a page from the DC Hand Dance book and danced together on one of the Jumpers' slower tunes to the amusement of everyone there.

Now we just have to get some more leaders to turn out for these things - despite the best efforts of Tom and Dan Daley, we were a bit short. All you in-town fellas need to come out to these lunch time sidewalk jams so all us ladies have someone to dance with!

We were at GMU for the George Gee/Flipped Fedoras dance. We had a great time, but we'll let Elizabeth tell you about it. If you have time, check out our George Gee Photoessay

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

This was my first time hearing either George Gee or Nick Palumbo, and they were SMOKIN'! This was a really well-done dance all around. The LDS student association did a great job getting both the bands, and the two band format kept us all hopping all night long. Everyone was decked in their finest, with Chris in his fabulous new Zoot Suit - even wearing the jacket! - and others, including fresh from San Fran Duke and Frank, showing off new stuff - or at least new vintage.

Both bands played a good mix of mid- and up-tempo numbers, and the canary for the George Gee band has one of the best voices I've ever heard. The floor, thankfully, was a dramatic improvement over the Lavay Smith dance. It was a bit sticky from recent varnishing, but comparatively, it was just grand. The A/C was pumping and the dance sponsors had copious water available, but it's amazing how a room that feels cold at first starts to feel awfully hot after about the second tune of the evening.

We were moving all night long, with very short breaks between the sets (just long enough for the bands to switch), and contests and give-aways during all the set breaks. The jam, which ended the evening, was one of the best I've ever seen. Both bands joined up to play together, and everyone kept it short and interesting, with lots of folks showing off new steps and new aerials. PsychoBoy did great routines with both Naomi and Nina, and Jeff and Tricia did that incredible flip where she comes forward over his shoulder and the illusion is that he's flipping her by her neck!!!

There was so much good stuff in the jam, I can't even describe it all, so I'll leave something for others to gush about. The crowd loved every minute of it, and Jim and I just sat there with our mouths hanging open thinking, "Yikes! We suck!" It was just amazing.

From: Cameron Sellers

George Gee and the Flipped Fedoras played to about 400 swing dancers at George Mason University. The room was big and the floor was excellent. It was like Glen Echo with air conditioning. Thank the Mormon University Club for footing the bill and sponsoring the event. It was a fun evening.

From: Ellen Werther

On Friday I went to George Mason U to see George Gee. They were great. Ok, not spaghetti dinner great, but damned good nonetheless. George Gee's singer is incredible. I could have listened to/danced to them all night. The floor is definitely NOT suspended...Thomas and I were commisserating on the poor condition of our knees. But George Gee made it all worth while. As did seeing Jennifer and Sasha who came down for the event. They stayed over night and then came down to my shop for a couple of hours of shmoozing and shopping --- all to the sounds of Indigo Swing etc.

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Saturday September 12, 1998

We checked out the Poli-Tiki Subterranean Bar (319 Penn Ave in SE [Capitol Hill] 202-546-1001). This is a very nice place --- someone has invested a whole lot of money to create a retro Tiki Bar, sort of like the old Trader Vic's --- the exception is that Politics is the theme. All those Tiki gods are cariacatures of presidents and the whole thing is good humored recreation of the Polynesian craze of the late 1940s. Walk in and you can almost hear Arthur Godfrey strumming on his ukelele. They offer exotic drinks in funny glasses with big straws --- they were even willing to serve us iced tea in such glasses. The dance floor is upstairs and it is pretty good. The place is very clean and well done -- there are nice leather chairs and the crowd seems to be into swing. We saw Jumpin' Jupiter and their rockabilly stylings suited us just fine. A really nice evening. Keep this place in mind.

From: Sue Fedor

With no thanks to C-SPAN...Steve and I only got one night of Lindy in this we made it a pretty good one at Avalon with the Brooks Tegler Quintet. We'd never been to Avalon for a dance...only for lessons, so we didn't know what to expect. When we arrived at 9:30 the place was jammed packed. Leslie Coombs convinced us to stay until after the first set, when the exhausted beginners would clear out. A few did, and she graciously opened the doors for the rest of us. Avalon was air conditioned, but even the most heavy duty unit would have failed against the sweaty, steamy multitude. I've always liked Avalon as a location--can't beat the small-town, mainstreet, storefront, Americana set up. It's like something out of Norman Rockwell. Unfortunately, the benefit of having a storefront at all is lost once the windows steam up.

I enjoyed dancing with Ray Keaney, who I never get to see anymore. It was nice seeing the new Fly Cat's routine (the Big Apple, choreographed for them by Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas). They've really improved on it since its debut at Mobtown. The local high school swing club was there in full force selling cookies to raise money for their lessons. It's wonderful how Leslie's supporting the local youth (because there can't be much in the way of teen-friendly activities in that greater Baltomore area). Keep 'em on the dance floor, keep 'em outta jail...that's what I always say.

A couple of low notes (it wouldn't be a review without them). Brooks' band was hot, but the songs are just too long. I clocked one at around 10 minutes. I know, I know...they danced to long songs in the old days... hey, but this was new and people didn't know any better. Another low note was a botched attempt at a dance version of "trading eights." Leslie's a big fan of getting dancers to pay attention to the music. Brooks and Leslie created what they thought could be a fun game for dancers to "trade eight [bars of music]" with the band. The band would play eight, the dancers would dance eight, then the band would play four, the dancers would dance four, then the band would play two, and the dancers would dance two (mayhem to ensue...) It didn't quite turn out that way. It was not clear whether the band would play one set of eight and then we'd have just one set of dancers dancing eight or whether the band would keep counting out eight bars until all of the dancers who wanted in would dance. It essentially disintegrated into a mini-jam. I'd actually like to see the band play eight, and then count out 2 sets of eight bars while two couples "trade eight". Then play 4 and then have two couples "trade four" and so on. You have to have someone on the sidelines counting bars and cuing couples. If you're confused by now, so were we.

The rumor of the night is that the Indian restaurant next store appears to have no visible means of support. They've been closed for months, leaving all observers to wonder about whether it may be a front for some sort of nefarious activity. Who knows...could expansion be in Avalon's future?

From: Ellen Werther

On Saturday evening, Steve, Sue and I went up to Avalon. We got there at about 9:30, thinking it's Avalon, what the hey. What the hey, indeed. We had to WAIT, albeit for a short while. Leslie, I think, was delighted AND overwhelmed by the crowd. Brooks Tegler was playing, sans Lynn McCune -- meaning just instrumentation, no great vocals. He mixed fast and moderate, throwing in a little slow here and there. During one of the breaks, the FlyCats performed their new routine--the one they did at the Kennedy Center! Choreagraphed bu Ryan and is fantastic. I am glad I got to see it there cuz I did not get to the Kennedy Center. The only down side of the whole evening was this experiment that Brooks and some of the FlyCats tried to do. Ray had to explain to Sue, Bob Kleinpeter and myself what the experiment was SUPPOSED to be, i.e, a take off on trading eights. For those who don't know, in the good old days, musicians would trade bars...the drummer would play eight (or 16 or 4 or whatever) and then the sax player would play eight. Or the clarinet. Sometimes the drummer would drum and then the dancers would dance. Unfortunately, if Ray hadn't explained it......well. Nice try, Brooks. We had a great time anyway. When we got back to Steve and Sue's we HAD to watch South Park, and that meant I did not get home til after 3:00, too late for this tired old body.

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Sunday September 13, 1998

From: Matt Smiley

Hello all,
Well, the newly organized UVA Swing Club had its very first dance. We were expecting a turnout of 100 people. However, the final count came to about 300 people! Gretta and I taught a rudimentary 6-count lesson. It was such a different atmosphere than Glen Echo or America, though! First of all the primary focus of Glen Echo is enhancing one's dancing abilities, whereas the primary focus of college is making straight A's...he he he...just 9out of 10 actual college students will tell you, the primary focus of college is hooking-up. So the group was large yet manageable, until we put the ladies and the gentlemen together. As soon as they got within two feet of each other, an overwhelming cacophony of banal small talk broke out and this was the way it was for the rest of the evening. While everybody tried to do the steps once we showed them everything, many of them struggled as a result of their short attention span. On the whole, though, I was pleased with the lesson. Of course, not everybody gets it right away but by the end of the night, the room was full of able East Coast dancers. It is a nice sensation to look out at the crowd and say "Look at that. I just taught three hundred people how to dance."

It really is intrinsically rewarding to see so many people take such a liking to the thing that you love to do more than anything. I can't wait for the course that we will be teaching to begin. It's going to be a lot of fun. Well, that's your weekly report from way down here in C-Ville. I'll be back this weekend so I hope to see everybody either at America or Forest Glen.
See you soon (Fri.!),
Matt Smiley

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Monday September 14, 1998

We have no reviews for this date

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Tuesday September 15, 1998

We joined Jim and Elizabeth Engel and Elizabeth's brother for a double-header -- we started at Ozio (a very nice place) and went on to Vienna Grille where we celebrated the birthdays of Wendy Dutcher and Larry MacDonald. We were glad to see Dan Dailey, Laura Stark and Scott Seymour at Ozio. We're going to let Elizabeth tell the story:

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

Ozio is a cigar and martini bar at 19th and K downtown that, thanks to the efforts of Ellen and Mark, is starting swing nights on Tuesdays from 6-9 pm. The down sides are a cement floor and a fairly low ceiling. However, the DJ was really good, playing a great mix of old and new, slow, medium, and fast, and well-known and more obscure tunes. Also, the A/C and ventilation systems are terrific. I didn't smell cigar smoke at all, even through several patrons were smoking them (and I tend to be pretty smoke-sensitive), and the temperature was all I could've hoped for.

Mark and Ellen don't offer a formal lesson - they are just there to dance and to answer any questions anyone who's there may have (free coaching, anyone?). The crowd seemed very appreciative of the few dancers who were there - Jim and I, my brother (who's in town for a few days), Frank and Carole, Dan Daley, and, in a rare appearance, Laura and Scott (where have you kids been lately?). Mark and Ellen spent a good portion of the evening teaching various steps to various people (including us, finally figuring out a Charleston transition that's been bugging Jim since the end of June), while Dan bravely and graciously asked all the interested-looking women in the crowd to dance - and got them up and dancing - and Frank and Carole and Jim and I did our best to keep all the lounge types entertained. We did a Shim Sham, we did a Jitterbug Stroll, we did a little jam, Ellen and Mark did a great Mambo - it was a really good time.

According to my sources, Mark and Ellen have a trial month to see if they increase traffic and revenue at Ozio. So we want to get people out - particularly tell all your lounge friends to come watch the dancing and drink martinis to up the bar revenues. It's a great place to drop by between work and Vienna Grill. It's early (6-9 pm), there's no cover, the food is cheap and not bad, and wait staff were very nice to us, bringing us pitcher after pitcher of water. And don't worry about the cement floor too much - it's very smooth, and there isn't a huge amount of dancing room, so you'll get plenty of breaks.

After Ozio, we all piled into Carole's Toyota and headed to the Grille for the Tuesday night birthday celebrations and dancing. MMMMM! Ice cream cake, in honor of Larry and Wendy. After the cement at Ozio, the floor felt like a dream. One thing I really love about the Grille is that, since everyone pretty much knows everyone else, everyone dances with pretty much everyone else. It's like spending an evening with your extended family, only you like everyone who's there. I wish we could get out to Vienna more often, but it's usually a pretty late night, particularly for Jim who has to get up at 6 am to get to work!

We did the Jitterbug Stroll again, which was a good thing from my perspective, since I'm still trying to learn it, and another Shim Sham, and the Gator played his usual fun mix of styles and tempos. Carole showed off her latest finds, including her truly hideous entry for the Ugly Dress/Ugly Suit dance, date still TBA. Start combing the 70's racks at your fave vintage store to be ready!

I got to dance with Charlie for the first - and second - time yesterday evening. Yep, he's so good that asking him to dance is definitely intimidating (fortunately, he asked me!), but I highly recommend to all the followers out there who, like me, were too scared to ask him to dance that you work up your courage and do it, and prepare yourself for a terrifically fun experience. And act soon, as he goes in for knee surgery in early November, after which he'll be out of commission for a while.

Speaking of out of commission dancers, be sure to keep Arnold in your thoughts. Missing in action lately, he showed up at the Grille last night in an arm brace! Tennis elbow of the shoulder was how he explained it to all of us, and he's recently had surgery! Best wishes for a quick recovery Arnold, and I know you'll be back out there dancing ASAP - actually, your doctor would probably not be terribly pleased to know that you were dancing some last night, but we just won't tell, will we?

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Wednesday September 16, 1998

We checked out Tom and Carolyn's new gig at LuLu's (the former Deja Vu, attached to Blackie's Restaurant on M Street in the West End). We had a great time. We'll let Cameron tell the story:

From: Cameron Sellers

Swing dancing came to Lulu's for a second week. Tom and Carolyn taught a beginner lesson at 8:00pm and then Tom spun the CDs until 1:00am. Sara and I showed up around 11:30 to compete in the Tom-run amateur dance contest at midnight. Frank and Carole were there as well as were three other couples. The winner got a certificate for a tour in some country south of the border. Sara and I did our tricks but it was not enough. Frank and Carole eeked out a few more claps and won the contest. Congratulation to the "Keepers of the Web."

Lulu's is a typical down town bar The floor is solid but the space is limited to about 7 couples, but plenty of tables and a good environment for a good lounge scene. So if you like to dress vintage but can't really dance, this is a good environment for you. Come vintage, drink a beer, and practice your cool moves to become better rugcutter.

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Thursday September 17, 1998

We visited Baltimore once more. We began with an early lunch at the Baltimore Women's Industrial Exchange (330 Cahrles Street, three blocks south from the Walters Art Gallery in Mount Vernon. This institution has been in business for more than 80 years and was originally founded as a place for women to sell hand made crafts. The dining room is decorated in classic 1940s style and the menu matches --- we had just about the best chicken salad that we have ever had accompanied by an amazing tomato aspic and home made mayonnaise. The coffee was great, too. (about $7 per person for lunch. It is not only that the food is excellent, but it LOOKS just like the illustrations in our 1940s cookbooks. This should be a must-do for your next visit to Baltimore.

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Friday September 18, 1998

We went to the Tom Cunningham Orchestra gig at America Restaurant. As usual, the place was packed to the gills and it was HOT. There were a whole lot of new people and a random, but unscientific sampling of the crowd indicated that the new arrivals at local colleges have begun to discover the Swing Scene here. The Jam was great -- Duke seems to be orchestrating some very complex "scenarios" with four or five participants. If this trend continues, there will be dialogue and special sets... We think that it's just great when people put their energy and creativity to work (overtime) in the Jam.

From: Marc A Shepanek

Hey Frank!
Had to send in a review . . . Friday night is blossoming! Ellen and I went to the debut of John McCalla's Friday night dances at the Dawn Crofton Dance Center in Gaithersburg and had a WONDERFUL time! John, Naomi and Nina taught a great class before the dance that gave everyone a real feel for swing. When the music started for open dancing, everyone was swinging out!

Chris Cowles did a fine job spinning the CDs and was even able to slip out on thefloor to do a little fancy footwork himself! Speaking of floors -- its a NICE one!! It's wood (of course), smooth, well sprung and great for dancing!! It's a good size and has mirrors to help anyone who wants to mimprove his/her look... In short, John has a good thing going here!! We'll definitely be back and recommend that you all check it out, too!

Variety is the spice of life and Fridays now has some wonderful choices! America (First and Third Friday with Tom Cunningham - Tom and Debra Second and Last Friday with Swing Shift - Marc and Ellen), Zones, and a new and a really wonderful addition thanks to John McCalla. Why not try some of each!!!

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Saturday September 19, 1998

We went to Forest Glen to see the Bill Eliot Trio. We were a little bit nervous about whether a trio could fill the big hall. Our fears were unfounded --- the band was a smashing success! The songs were all hot Moderate to fast swing from the heart of the Goodman book. The guys even extemporized at length during a very exhuberant Jam. I think that Lindy Hoppers of all ages and experience levels had a really great time. We really cant heap high enough praise on Bill and his distinguished colleages --- get up to see them in Westminster in a more intimate setting!

From: Sue Fedor

Where do I begin with my usual list of thank yous? To Frank, for recommending The Bill Eliot Trio, to the Trio for being so incredibly good, to Mercedes for providing the help of ten men, to Matthew for being our intrepid sound guy, and to Steve for being everything else but. Cameron and Ellen W. worked the Glen Echo line encouraging "waiters" to go dancing right away. Ken H. & Donna B. taught a wonderful and successful beginner lesson. Eugenia Spitovski and her band of tangueros and tangueras (Jim K. taught me the proper term) gave us a peek into upcoming tango events. Big Tall Steve Cowles and the lovely and talented Carla H. gave a great Charleston lesson. The volunteers were wonderful, as usual and clean-up took a lot less time than last time.

Yes, yes, the floor was sticky. When we walked in Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by a ballroom floor caked with mud and dried soda. I spent two hours mopping. I ran out of time to buff. Volunteers would have been extremely before you complain to my face (or behind my back) you better come up with a good excuse not to volunteer for the next dance. OK? Actually, Ken H. has offered his floor buffing services for the next time. We're going to try and develop a floor maintenance plan for our regular events...since they are becoming so regular.

I'll let everyone else review the band in detail...but I just want to say one thing. I love the music and the dancing and I've met some wonderful people doing this, but what gets me so excited is when I see young kids going crazy over musicians old enough to be their great grandparents. In our youth-oriented culture, it's so refreshing to see a genuine appreciation for the kind of talent that can only be forged through the years. The smoky voice of a female vocalist, the expert hand of the drummer, the reliable baseline of the pianist and the colorful tunesmithing from the clarinet and sax can only be created by seasoned professionals who ply the trade year in and out. That is why it is also important to support good local bands. We want them around years from now, even more talented than they are today.

One of the features of these Forest Glen Ballroom dances is the age range. Thanks to Bob Duckman at WWDC-AM 1260, the word has gotten out to the seniors of Silver Spring. When you see them at one of our dances, ask them for a spin. Thanks to those of you who did on Saturday. They also love to watch you show off. It pleases them to see young people enjoy this music too. One particular woman named Sarah, who hasn't been out dancing at night in years, was very pleased to have been asked three times in a row! She's in her eighties and used to dance Lindy when she was a kid.

And now onto some good news for you all. I just returned from our quarterly meeting with General Burger, the manager of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Bonnie Rosenthal, President of Save Our Seminary, mentioned that we've been raising quite a bit of money from these dances (avg. $1,200 a dance). It's starting to pile up and we were interested in doing some immediate clean up and spruce up of the ballroom: get rid of the ugly-ass curtains, fix the floor, fix the broken stained glass window, rip up the cruddy carpeting, get some decent chair storage caddies, replace the nasty tables...etc... HE IS INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH US. I will keep you posted on developments as they happen, including any opportunities to volunteer as they crop up! I think you will soon see tangible results of your efforts to support the ballroom!

We've also been told that the Army will begin stablization measures, roof and window repair and waterproofing, in the next few weeks. That, and we're making progress on the negotiations between the Army and GSA for a property transfer. Things are progressing. And, by the way, the phone calls to Representatives and Senators are working too. A member of Connie Morella's staff attended the General's meeting. So keep those phone calls coming. Every bit helps! We are building the groundwork for a general commitment to keeping the ballroom a place for public use as we move to restore the entire property. Thanks again.

The next dance is Friday, Oct. 30. Now if I can just find a band....

From: Ellen Werther

It was off to the ballroom (The FOREST GLEN ballroom) at about 9:30--look ma, no lines!

But first a stop at Glen Echo, where I was soon joined by Cameron, to hand out fliers about the Forest Glen gig to all those poor souls who have not yet learned that to get into Glen Echo you need to get there sometime before lunch. Cameron and I quickly ran out of fliers. A number of folks had never heard of Forest Glen and decided to come by rather than wait on line for an hour or more. I know they were not disappointed. I was happy to do my part for the CAUSE, ie, saving Forest Glen--I am sure by now most folks know that I am hopelessly enamoured by the whole place. But still, I admit, I was anxious to get there: I had heard great things about the Bill Elliot Trio, and I wanted to hear them play . When I walked into the FG ballroom, I was NOT prepared.

Now, I KNOW what a trio is: I just couldn't believe I wasn't hearing more than three pieces... that's how good they were. They played a nice mix of fast and slow, all very danceable. I think that someone must of warned them away from any cha-cha's, etc. because they played none. I know I am in the minority, but I love an occassional cha-cha or waltz... to add a little flavor.

During the break we were treated to a demonstration by two couples doing a couple of tangos. The music isn't my favorite, but the dance is beautiful--especially the footwork. Good news: Forest Glen will be holding Tangos, with the requisite beginners' lesson. (Coincidentally, just got an e-mail from Claire Colbert who tells me the SHE is taking tango lessons!)

Dancing was followed by pancakes ala Frank (what IS his secret?) and what-were-supposed-to-be-omelets-but-looked-more-like-scrambled-e ggs ala yours truly. I hope more folks will start coming to Forest Glen events....the place is truly marvelous. And your pennies go to a very good cause: renovating the ballroom.
Love to all,

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Sunday September 20, 1998

We attended a rummage sale at a church in Chevy Chase. I found a tubular steel Art Deco chair sitting off in the corner --- it had a $1.00 price tag on it, but it was in unusually bad condition. Someone had re-upholstered it in very bad "nausea Green" Naugahyde. (NO Nauga should perish for this horrible color...) On the other hand, the chrome steel tubes of the chair form the outline of a perfect cube. I peered beneath the dust cover and noticed an oak frame with springs that had been attached by hand sewing. This detail and the aesthetics placed the piece in the late 1920s, early 1930s, so I took the fateful step and got out a dollar. (More about this later...)

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Monday September 21, 1998

The Engels were out dancing --- something that we should have done...

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

It's been weeks since we've made it to a Monday night at Chevy Chase, and boy, was it nice to get back there. For reasons unknown to me, it was slightly less crowded (and thus somewhat cooler) last night, which was terrific.

There've been some changes since we were last there, with a bunch of new (to us anyway) dancers in attendance. But some things remain reassuringly the same: Bernstein was there, cranky as ever, with his usual excellent song choices. And it was great to see some folks I've haven't seen in a while - we've all been going to different dances I think.

Jim and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and he asked a whole passel of women to dance (go Jim!). As excited (and nervous and scared) as I am for the marathon, I sure will be glad when it's over and we can get back to our normal dance schedule!

While the Engels were dancing, I found myself knee deep in problems with the Art Deco chair. It seems that someone had left the chair out in the rain a lot! On the positive side, the padding was real horsehair and cotton batting. On the negative side, only forensic pathologists can appreciate dealing with rotting horsehair and cotton batting. When I got the ugly naugahyde cover off and disposed of the padding, I found that the burlap had degenerated and there was considerable rot in the frame --- particularly in the sculptured back which seemed to be made out of a zillion pieces of laminated wood. So, I put away my upholsterer's tools and took up my carpenters tools. Alas, most of the rot was concentrated in the edges of the frame --- the same places that need to be very sound to accept the tacks and staples that hold the padding and fabric. It was fortunate that our pile of scraps from old furniture repair had enough wood to reconstruct the frame. The downside was that this took a whole bunch of time...

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Tuesday September 22, 1998

In the "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" category, Carole decided to help me out on Sunday by clearing out a small patch of weeds on the back side of my garage. Alas, the area was infested with industrial strength Poison Ivy. On Tuesday Morning, her face was puffed up like a baloon and a trip to the doctor was in order. So, between cortisone pills and baths in colloidial oatmeal, Carole recuperated while I worked on the Art Deco chair.

Working with a newly reconstructed frame, I had to re-set the springs, a process that is singularly difficult and about as exciting as watching paint dry. Not only is it physically arduous and boring but there is hardly any room for error. The springs have to be tied six ways and then burlap must be stiched over them. So far, I had invested only about eight hours of work in my dollar chair...

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Wednesday September 23, 1998

Carole was well enough for a trip to the Fabric Store. We spent about an hour peering through the remnants bin. At the bottom of the pile, we found the perfect fabric --- it looked great and it had a regular small pattern that would be easy to match. Fabric and thread came to $25. Next, we went to an Upholstery shop. I had decided to replace the horsehair with three inch high density non-dgradable foam; prices for this stuff are sky high --- enough foam and dacron batting for the job came to about $30.

The cushion requires welting between the seams, so that means sewing through four layers of cloth. My sewing machine would not handle the thickness, so we had to sew all the cushions by hand, something that kept us busy for another four hours. Pulling, tacking and stapling consumed another two hours.

By the time that we proudly placed the chair in the living room, we had invested about fourteen hours and about $60 in our dollar chair. Some things only look like bargains.

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Thursday September 24, 1998

We attended a party for Carolyn Biczel and Tom Koerner at Red Sage. Tricia Reneau did a great job of organizing the party. We will have a rather lengthy photoessay on this party up on the website soon.

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Friday September 25, 1998

We went to Forest Glen to see Indigo Swing. Much Kudos to Jeff Frederick for organizing the event --- and to Steve and Sue for working so hard to get the place in shape. Once again, the boys were just great! We're going to let Elizabeth Engel tell the story:

From: Elizabeth Engel

Having now heard Indigo Swing three times (Chevy Chase Ballroom, 9:30 Club, and Forest Glen), I think I can definitively say that these guys play best when they play to and for and with dancers. Some bands get distracted by dancers, and some feed off the energy, and Indigo Swing definitely falls into the second category. They sounded great, and were looking none the worse for the wear after their long stint on the road. A couple of times, I could've sworn smoke was coming out of the piano (yep, William's THAT hot a piano player).

And it's always great to dance in the lovely Forest Glen ballroom --- the beauty may be a little faded due to the Army's shameful neglect of the place, but shabby as it may be, it's still a grand ballroom and one of the most elegant and attractive dance spaces around. The jam was good fun, although it was a shame that a few couples were left waiting in the wings, most notably Peter and Misha (who I personally don't think I've seen since the J Street Jumpers' CD release party at Twist and Shout months ago) and Debra and Kenny Roesel. And of course, Jeff and Tricia were stranded in mid-air-step by the end of the jam, coming up with a really terrific ad-lib of Jeff carrying Tricia off the floor on his back (wish I'd had the camera out).

Yes, the boys in the band didn't seem to be used to playing swing jams, as they had a little trouble stretching their songs, and lots of folks are going out now, particularly as VSO draws ever closer. But it seems to me that we all need to be a little more careful to take turns and keep it short, particularly with all the would-be jammers we have now.

Indigo Swing is now traveling with some dancers. They taught us a new line dance called the Indigo Swing that plays on the train theme of their new album. It was a little goofy, but it was all in good fun and it was nice to get a big group doing it for the band. I don't think it's going to replace the Shim Sham around here, but if you're interested in learning it or you don't quite remember the order, Jim got the whole thing down on paper.

From: Ellen Werther heartsdesire@knight-hub .com

Oye. A joy every mother should experience: Jonathan, my 14 year old son, came with me to Forest Glen friday night, to help Steve and Sue set up....and--oye mein Gutt--to take his first dance lesson!!!! And he liked it! A number of women were nice enough to "dance" with him...can you imagine 3 MINUTES of rock step, with maybe one underarm turn?....and to tell me how cute he is. He watched the jam and was particularly impressed by Carla, whom he remembered came to the shop about a year ago....This all occurred, as I said, at Forest Glen, at the Indigo Swing concert.

The evening started early . Jonathan and I were there to do whatever needed to be done....(and as Sue and Steve can surely attest, a hell of a lot needs to be done--at any dance venue, but ESPECIALLY at Forest Glen) Jonathan worked. Turns out my big job was to make sure the boys got to Sue and Steve's for a great chili dinner. Yum. Sue can cook! I also worked the table, which means I sat out many of the dances, all worth it for the cause!. I did not catch the jam, although Jonathan did--and he was especially impressed by Carla Heiney (sp?). But when I did get out on the floor, I danced like crazy. I never enjoy myself more than when Indigo Swing is playing. Something about their presense, their connection with the dancers. I had the joy of dancing with Daks, one of the new Indigo Swing Dancers, who is a great lead...and LOTS OF FUN.. My only critism of the evening was the break in between sets. Daks and his partner spent 40 minutes...FORTY!...teaching a cute, but goofy dance. I spent the time talking to the boys. William was upset about his piano, which will need to be replaced soon.. And all of them were beat, dead tired. This tour is tres demanding--they needed to leave for Philadelphia at 5:0 0 am!!!! But none of this reflected in their playing. They were outstanding! As usual.

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Saturday September 26, 1998

We went to the Belmont Ball. Once again, this gets very, very high marks for elegance. Once again, I'd like to thank Jack Hilton for getting the information out to everyone. It takes a lot to drag Carole and me away from and evening with Tom Cunningham at Glen Echo, and this was it.

As usual, the ball was sponsored by the Masons (Federal Lodge No. 1, F.A.A.M. and Federal Chapter No. 38 of the Order of the Eastern Star). These are the York Rite Masons as distinguished from the Scottish Rite Masons who run the Boumi Temple in Baltimore. The ball was held at Belmont Mansion (1618 New Hampshire Ave), one of washington's most outstanding architectural landmarks. This wedge-shaped French Renaissance mansion was designed by Eugene Sanson and Horace Trumbauer, who later designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both architects studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and they collaborated to produce this fifty four (yes 54, folks) room Louis XIX chateau, meticulously crafted of limestone and ornamented with finely carved details including an elaborate porte cochere, festooned urns on a balustrade surrounding a prominent Mansard roof, two-story arched windows decorated with carved roses, and hand-wrought iron work. The interior features a staircase modeled on the Paris Opera House, a suite of rooms including a circular Baroque music salon, a gilded drawing room, and (most important) a 96 foot long scarlet silk and oak-paneled Grand Ballroom.

Believe me, it was just as grand as the description and even more. The place has been maintained immaculately and it is a dazzler. Best of all, our hosts were genuinely glad to see the dancers. We got first rate treatment. This year, I wore the full uniform of a Knight Commander of the Knights Templars (including dress sword and ostrich-plumed hat). The Masons have been very good-humored about my appropriation of their (antique) uniforms. We have some photos of this outfit on the website.

The music was provided by Music Creations, and they did a really great job. Let's see --- who was there: Marc and Ellen, Trish Mannetti and Bill Lehman, Larry MacDonald, Deborah Brooks, Dr. Daniel Fierer, Peter Gehring, Angela and Brian,Tricia and Thomas, and now my memory is starting to fade....

A great time was had by all!

From: Sue Fedor

While the rest of you hoity toity folks were strutting around in your sequins and feathers and sashes, the rest of the great unwashed were sweating it up at Glen Echo with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. As per usual, during these hot sweaty months, Steve and I came late, after the jam. But we didn't miss the most important part of the evening. The third set featured the premiere of the woodwind section choreography to "Moochin'", the premiere of that wonderful Krupa/O'Day tune: "Stop! The Red Light's On" and my favorite, the premiere of "Watch the Birdie." I'd like to think we played a little role in that when we sat Robin and Tom down to watch "Hellzapoppin'." Now we all have to work on our Dean Collins whip!

From: Elizabeth Showalter

Hey Frank and Carole,
Glen Echo was fun as usual. I spent much of my time dancing with guys from church. One guy was there for his first time. I tried to teach him some basic steps, but it was a bit difficult for me. For some strange reason, I've never bothered to learn the guy's leads. : ) I made sure that he saw the jam, hoping to inspire him to come back.

From: Doug Pierce: doug@thresholdmultimed

Based on your previous review, Danielle and I went to Poli-Tiki on Saturday. The Grandsons played a wide variety of music but no real swing. Still some was dancable and we had fun entertaining the twenty something crowd. The place does have some class. I like the big soft chairs. They even have Indigo Swing on the Jukebox along with lots of other swing hits. [Editor's Note: Swing night at Poli-Tiki is on Friday; Saturdays have been Rockabilly]

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Sunday September 27, 1998

From: Adam J LaVier laviera@Frb.GOV

I discovered something amazing last weekend.

After Lindy Hopping for a few months, I decided it was time to find out what West Coast Swing was about. About 11:45 p.m. at Glen Echo, I developed a real sense of urgency about this after I saw the schedule of VSO workshops. Not wanting to pass up on the WC classes (most of which were intermediate and advanced), I brainstormed with my partner about how we could possibly pick up the fundamentals of something I couldn't even properly recognize.

Not 10 feet from me I see Charlie (Wyler) in his pink zoot suit, and it hits me that I've seen him and his old partner, Jean, doing what I thought could be West Coast. I encouraged my partner to ask him if he would be willing to take one or two hours to teach us. His reply was "What about tomorrow?". Not 16 hours later, we were standing in his living room in Baltimore.

We went through LOADS of stuff in the two hours we were there. Given some very clear instructions, I got two shoefulls of a very stylish dance. Charlie simply could not have been more helpful.

While I'm by no means giving up on East Coast Lindy, I just wanted everybody to know how great this West Coast style is! Thank you Charlie.
---Adam LaVier

From: Doug Pierce: doug@thresholdmultimed

We went to Lewie's in Bethesda. More experienced dancers are showing up and they moved some tables to accomidate the crowd. Last night we even saw some vintage clothing. The DJ is improving and is now playing some moderate tempo music...

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Monday September 28, 1998

Monday at Chevy Chase Ballroom saw an unusual event: it was Mercedes Clemmons' birthday. Her "present" was three attractive young men tied up in red-ribbons. (they were dressed in abbreviated "Chippendale" costumes.) Mike Henry promises further details and pictures at a later time.

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Tuesday September 29, 1998

We were in Baltimore on Tuesday. We began our day VERY early and made our first stop at the Bargain Basement of Shepherd-Pratt Hospital (6501 N. Charles Street --- way out, near the intersection of Charles Street and I-695) They are only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 - 2:00, so make sure that you call (410-938-4856) before you go. And go you should. First, the store is located in the "Casino" a turn of the century arts and crafts building with absolutely amazing woodwork. Next, they keep all their vintage clothes on the third floor, not generally accessible to the public. So, you will have to convince the ladies that you are a connoisseur of vintage before they will let you upstairs. We found a whole bunch of treasures --- Carole found a couple of nice dresses and a WWII nurses uniform. I found a pair of high waisted pants and the meat-grinder attachment for my Sunbeam Mixer.

Next, we headed for Lexington Market and a great lunch of chicken livers at Parks Fried Chicken. From there, we walked three blocks towards Camden Yards and had the great fortune to check out:

Harry Guss, Inc
419 W. Baltimore St (near Paca)
Baltimore Maryland 21201
Phone: (410)-539-1993
FAX: 410-539-1994
This is three blocks TOWARD Camden yards from Lexington

This is a WONDERLAND of wool and cotton gabardine. FOUR BIG FLOORS of delightfully unorganized chaos --- treasures abound in the remnants bin on the 4th floor. NO ALL WOOL FABRIC more than $12.50 a yard --- many bolt ends were larger than three yards --- at $2 to $6 a yard. Good choces in blends, cottons, even voile shirting. Even stuff for linings.

I have brought back for your inspection some swatches of:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Wool

I've put them in the dance bag, so bug me about it.

Can someone produce and authentic 1940s gabardine garment so that we may judge the current stock against history?

Just across the street is a store that actually repairs old adding machines, cash registers, typewriters, and fans. It was a real treat to visit this place of sublime antiquity. I found a Victor adding machine from the mid 1930s --- this has a streamlined brown Bakelite case with number keys in lime green. I paid $20 for this treasure and it is a real piece of sculpture. They have a number of fans from the 30s at very good prices. Two doors down is a store that specializes in Stacy Adams shoes. So, we had a great day in Baltimore.

We made our way back to the city, changed and headed out to dinner at Sholl's and dancing at Ozio. Mark and Ellen had a nice crowd and we had a good time --- we even got to show the Jitterbug Stroll to he crowd. At 9:00 we were going to head out to Vienna when fatigue hit us big time.

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Wednesday September 30, 1998

The Flea Bops played a gig at G-MU:

From: Erik Newton

Hey guys,
The Flea Bops were great! and no, we couldn't get that same room (this one had a tile floor) but we will next time, so I'll be sure to let you know.

Thanks for putting our information up.

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