So I spent yesterday afternoon working in my yard. I had fun clearing out space for my kid's new sandbox, getting it filled with sand (hence the picture of the sandbox from which I will now preach)... fixed an erosion issue with some nice pond rock... ripped out a palm to make way for a bigger turtle "pond" I installed. Seriously, my idea of a great afternoon, but at the same time I know many people would say, "I don't get it, how is all that work fun?" Well, same goes for me when it comes to some common trends among the Lindy Hop crowd... and it just so happens that's what I was thinking about while enjoying my afternoon of yard work, and for once I thought I'd type them out...
Click ‘continue reading’ below to read on.
Not that all jazz is good music, but Leonard Bernstein offered an open-hearted paean to jazz: “People who do not consider jazz to be art music are missing something profound.” And, to the oft-heard dismissive canard “Jazz is just folk music”, a jazzman once replied, “Jazz is not folk music. It’s too hard to play."
Not to get preference parochial on you, but I believe not many rock musicians are much concerned about room acoustics, but jazz musicians and classical music musicians alike are often very acoustics sensitive. Rock music is loud by design; it’s part of the overpowering energetic gravitas of the music; the decibels produced, all too often overwhelm and negate a rooms’ innate acoustics—and sometimes, Rock and Blues music can be so loud that everything in the room including my abdominal viscera vibrate in sympathy with the decibel load. Anyway, each room or space has its own acoustic voice, and I have many times heard a jazz musician wax mellifluent about a room with clean and pleasing acoustics.
I believe that people who think Big Band music is not jazz are… well… misinformed. So much for charitable bias, but the Duke of E and the Count of B would spin in their graves if Big Band music was somehow cast out of the jazz tent. It’s my firm belief that most Lindy Hoppers have little recognition of how many of the recordings they dance to are recordings made by Big Bands. Some day—probably after my knees finally go completely kaput—I am going to sit through DJed Lindy Hop dances so I can count the number of Big Band tunes as a percentage of all the music played. Didja know there is an American Big Band Preservation Society? Well! Go to www.americanbigband.org. I remember hearing Big Band music as a kid, but when it didn’t resonate in my teenage peers, I dropped my big band fan membership. I remember well my big band re-awakening. It was at a Saturday night dance at a regional Squash tournament in Cleveland, circa 1977. A REALLY GOOD SWINGING big band was playing, and I almost went bonkers. When they were playing, all I wanted to do is listen and let the acoustic sound from those 18 musicians wash over me. I couldn’t abide talking, so I just walked back forth in front of that band with a crazy grin on my face. The band must have thought I was a poor soul who had completely lost “it”, was looking for “it”, and couldn’t find “it”.
In 1963, Duke Ellington was asked, “How have you managed to keep a big band so long when so many others have broken up? Hasn’t the rise of rock ‘an’ roll taken away your audience?” Duke replied, “There’s still a Dixieland audience, a Swing audience, a Bop audience. All the audiences are still there.” Well, the Dixieland audience is fading fast. So too is the big band audience. Perhaps it’s time for you, L’il Lindy Hoppers, to create a new young big band audience. Go witness a good swinging big band—to hear one in full cry is one of the singular thrills found in American music. We, in Minnesota, just lost Chuck Beasley, the notable leader of a fine eponymous big band, and I surely hope someone picks up Chuck’s fallen banner and carries it forth. Lindy Hop can ill afford to lose a good big band which plays for swing dancers—know this, the origins of Lindy Hop and swinging big band music are inexorably joined at the hip.
Thanks for reading.
As most of you know, I'm pretty much a nobody. I don't teach. I'm not a competitor. I'm not qualified in any way to tell people how to dance better, so that's why I'm going to do just that.
If Bart Bartolo can walk up to a random schmoe and grab him by the head and use his gravelly voice to tell him to "TAKE SMALLER STEPS, KID", surely I'm entitled too.
Oh, click that thing!
...people primarily just looking to have a good time. You may ask "but doesn't everyone go to dance events to have a good time?" Well, yeah, but these are for people who don't care about dance contests, don't care about lessons, don't care about being on the dance floor every living second it's available. Sure, these events have all that, if you want, but to me these events also offer that extra fun factor of having a great space to hang out in and/or are in a city that's interesting enough that you actually want to leave the main event to explore. Sorry I won't be going into the details of all the things you can do in each of the cities these events are in, but that's what Google's for. I did one of these late last year as well, but for this year's I'm realizing that these are actually the attributes I care about in a dance event, so I've adjusted my list accordingly. So here we go, the dance events I'd personally make a special effort to attend (even if I already know I'm not going to make it to most of them):
Click ‘continue reading’ below to read on to this year's list of recommendations.
From it's very beginning, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown was designed to be a different kind of event. Pure and simple. Birthed of Amy Johnson's mind, with the input of close friends, it has been that since year one, 2002. It has also consistently evolved, and I can't think of any other event that has changed so much over the years. This year's event marks the 10th anniversary, and having been at every last one I could write about any number of things related to my ULHS experiences, at least, the one's I remember. Instead I thought I'd focus on just one item in particular: venues.
Lots of dance events base themselves at a hotel. Everyone stays at that hotel, and all the goings on are in that hotel's ballroom. It's like going to an industry conference, but instead it's fun because you're partying and dancing in a singular space. It works, I dig it. Then there are events that scatter themselves a bit around a city, giving you an actual taste of the area, imparting some variety to your dance weekend. It's fun because it gets you out of the hotel, and you feel more like you're on vacation instead of at an industry conference. It works, I dig it.
Click ‘continue reading’ below to read on about this year's Showdown venues.
1. Thoughts on Jazz Quotes:
“Jazz attracted me because in it I found a formal perfection and instrumental precision that I admire in classical music, but which popular music doesn't have.” – Django Reinhardt
“The Grump” believes that no written music is perfect, and all can be improved upon or embellished by the talented improvisationalist. The trick is not to destroy the original with excursions into the entirely personal, self-serving avant garde. If you don’t like the damned tune that much, then, for crying out loud, don’t play it, and go ahead and write your own damned tune.
Click ‘continue reading’ below to read "The Grump" go on.
Just had a chance to go through all my pictures from ILHC 2011, held this past weekend, and pulled out what I thought were the best ones. I mostly shot from the back of the room, so I felt like being more "behind the scenes" in nature... getting shots of dancers getting ready to go on, judges reactions to things, the crowd, folks at the sound table, etc.
I was mostly using a telephoto lens that's not nearly fast enough to catch action in such low light, so I ended up with a lot on the cutting room floor, yet I still think I got some good stuff. I also used a nice fast prime lens for a few shots, but I was never really close enough to make much use of it.
Click "Continue reading" below for links to the photo album as well as to some videos of a few musical interludes of various types I caught.
I'm not going to bother re-hashing a bio. Instead I'm just going to steal some bits from his website. Andy Reid is one of the most well known and influential Lindy Hop dancers out there. Since he started dancing in the late nineties, Andy has left an indelible mark on the dance scene. He has performed and taught all over the world, is a founding member of the Silver Shadows, a member of the highly influential troupe Minnie's Moochers, and also a founding member of Mad Dog! Best of all, Andy is fun, and that's why he's one of the first people I wanted to sit down and chat with for our series of interviews with interesting people.
Click "Continue reading" below to read our interview with Andy...
In January of 1998 two landmark events occurred in my life. I closed on a house, and a few weeks later I started taking swing dance lessons at the Third Street Academy of Performing Arts near the Beverly Center. Shortly after that I had a laminate floor installed in a room of my house expressly for dancing, so you can see what my priorities were.
I'd been suckered into seeing Eddie Reed at the Rhino Room by a coworker. I distinctly remember Albert Alva, Chris Dawson, Paul Lines, and Eddie in the Quintet that night. I remember being shown Charleston, and I think in the rotation I got paired with Adrienne from Orange County, whom I know to this day. (There aren't that many vintage-wearing, super tall, super thin women in the dance scene so I'm pretty sure it was her.)
What blew my mind that night was seeing Denise Paulino and Jeff Beauregard doing Lindy Hop in all its flashy glory compared with everyone else doing East Coast swing. I'd been a fan of swing music for years though not well versed in it at all -- seeing people actually dance to this stuff was pure magic.
Click "Continue reading" below to read on...
Here's one I would have loved to have posted about back when it was happening, because a lot of people failed on this one. Thankfully someone recently reminded me of it and had a screenshot of a good example. This also reminded me of another example and sure enough that post was still there in their history. Before I continue though, let me Google something for you: click me
So, what did we learn? Frankie Manning's birthday is May 26th. He passed away on April 27th. I've never really understood why so many people are keen on acknowledging deathaversaries in the first place, but that seemed to be a popular thing to do this past April 27th. However, the fail comes in when half the people doing so are mistakenly "celebrating" his birthday instead.
Side note, as funny as the fail is, there is quite the worthy cause mentioned in one of the screenshots, The Lindy Hoppers Fund. If you have the means, I highly recommend dropping them some funds.
Click "Continue reading" below to view the full size screen grabs...