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New and Views '09/'10 # 5
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:53 pm    Post subject: New and Views '09/'10 # 5 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘09/’10 Installment # 5

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents:

1. Potpourri
2. Results of Poll about who is the Swingingest Jazz Pianist.
3. A Thing of Beauty
4. Lindy Hopping in Williamsburg VA
5. Lindy Hopping in Durham and Ashville NC
6. Lindy Hopping in Columbia and Charleston SC
7. Coming Attractions

POTPOURRI
1. Seeing out-east dance friends and acquaintances worked out almost as we had hoped; although concerns about for weather and 434 extra miles dictated that we not make a side trip to Boston to see friends there, we DID run into many dance friends in our trek down the eastern seaboard. Most were people we have not seen since last we were out east to dance, Oh! say, circa 2005.
2. How to describe one dance? Not to overanalyze this, but I do remember when I started in WCS and heard “A dance is like a three minute romance” which seemed apt in WCS with the sultry looks and sensuous styling common in the dance. I don’t think that describes a Lindy dance. To me, each Lindy dance is more like a three minute, crazy, fun, fling, one in which the dancers celebrate their dance, the moment and the music, and don’t have the time or interest in anything else. Put another way, it is difficult to think about your problems when you are sweating and having fun. I could draw an analogy here, but……..well, never mind.
DISAPPOINTING RESULTS OF A POLL TO DETERMINE WHO IS THE SWINGINGEST JAZZ PIANIST.

I received three replies (including one from myself):
1. Duke Ellington from Giancarlo, a professional musician
2. Count Basie from Julius, a jazz fan
3. Gene Harris from me.
While this hardly constitutes a proper poll, all three of these pianists swing, along with many many other jazz pianists, but it remains unclear who swings the mostest.

A THING OF BEAUTY

It’s not easy creating a good, much less perfect dance itinerary, but I created just such “a thing of beauty” for the 12 days between Washington D.C. and Florida. Itinerary constraints were as follows. 1. We do not like to dance the same day we drive. 2. We do not want to drive more than 300 miles a day. 3. Given the inherent instability in our collective aged undercarriages, we do not want to dance two days in a row. 4. If possible, we park the LindyJazzMobile at military RV parks because it is less expensive. All constraints were adhered to during the 12 day, 5 dance trip through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina EXCEPT, that bitch, Hurricane Ida, socked it to us in Ashville, and made us hunker-down an extra day, which resulted in needing to drive to Columbia SC and dance the same night. The result? My gorgeous, seldom ever accomplished, and much cherished “Thing of Beauty” grew a wart on its nose, and I am pissed.

LINDY HOPPING IN WILLAMSBURG VA

They dance on Thursday night in a fine facility, a public space with a large wall-to wall floating Maple floor with a great surface and a lofty well-lighted A-frame ceiling above. There was a generous sized lively crowd with a wide range of ages. The DJed music was good and so too were the tempos. However, open dance is only one hour from 9 to 10. Williamsburg LH teacher and impresario, Wendy Craighill, has injected both energy and discipline into a cadre of young people. Damn, it is wonderful to see that. We had a great time, and went home happy. FFI go to www.lindy101.com

LINDY HOPPING IN DURHAM (Actually the tri-city area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill)

We understand they dance (at least) 4 days a week, with an hour and a half of Lindy/Swing on Sun., venues on Tues., and Thurs, and a number of venues for a regular live music Sat. night dance. We attended the Sat dance, which was at the Durham Amory, a huge facility with a wall-to-wall, hard, herringbone pattern, Maple floor which had, contrary to the bad-mouthing we’d heard, about as good a surface as you would want. However, the weather has been cool and dry in Durham, and that may be the reason for a loose surface which looks like it has been dressed with the dancer-hated poly-urothane gym finish. The band was “Rebecca and the Hi Tones” an eclectic (blues, swing, jazz 50’s R&R and western swing) sextet of piano, tenor/blues harp, guitar/singer, guitar, bass and drums. The band was both energetic and good, even though some of the tempos were taxing, but they did not play any long numbers—Oh! thank you. The break DJ played some sweet recordings and didn’t fry us with tempos. There was a good-sized crowd of dancers with mixed experience, but there were quite a few truly gifted and gracious Lindy Hoppers in attendance. The room was too dark except near the bandstand where we were bathed in the warm glow of reflected lumens—guess where I danced? FFI on NC tri-city Lindy go to www.triangleswingdance.org

LINDY HOPPING IN ASHVILLE NC

They dance on Tuesday at 8PM at “Eleven on Grove” to live. The venue is a dimly lighted bar and restaurant with ultra-modern décor, and a damned good, narrow-board oak floor, with enough room for about 12 couples. It was a bad rainy night we were there, yet about 40 dancers showed up, including about 10 very experienced Lindy Hoppers. The great band was “Space Heaters” an all-strings quartet of violin, mandolin/violin, guitar/singer, and bass. Thus configured, they could be a Blue Grass or Gypsy Jazz band, and they did play both genre, plus swing standards and some western swing, and with good musicianship all around. A great evening with a fun crowd. FFI www.swingasheville.com

LINDY HOPPING IN COLUMBIA SC

I think they dance twice a week, but we made the Thurs. gig at the Gotham Bagel Club. It is a well- lighted, food and drink shop with, (by moving tables) has an expandable black terrazzo dance floor with a great dance surface because--are you ready for this—the management spreads a judicious quantity of moisture-absorbing cornmeal on the floor. They must love the dancers. This is a live music dance employing several bands, and we saw the jazz band “Sonny D and Friends” sans Sonny. It was a jazz quintet plus a woman jazz singer and a sit-in blues harpist. The instrumentation was unusual, electric piano/organ, matched hands funk/rock drummer, guitar, tenor saxophone, trumpet and no bass. The horns were better than very good, the pianist and guitarist were good, but the drummer was inappropriate for this gig. The length of tunes ran a little long, but almost all of their tempos were LH-reasonable. They played from a book of a wide variety of musical genre, but the Lindy/Swing dancers made do. I really liked this band on their jazz numbers. A crowd of about 35 people showed; about half were dancers and half of them did Lindy Hop very well. The dancers were warm and welcoming, and Rudy and I had a satisfying evening of music, dance and conversation. FFI go to www.palmettoswing.com

LINDY HOPPING IN CHARLESTON SC

Dancing is on Thursday at J. Pauls, Saturday at Hazel Parker Park and the first and third Tuesdays somewhere. The Tues. venue has a mix of swing and ballroom music at 8. We made the Sat. dance which is DJed and in a medium-sized room with a uneven painted softwood floor which danced very well until late in the evening when the humidity increased. That is a good news/bad news comment. If no one dances, the humidity does not increase, but this crowd, unlike some we have seen, doesn’t just stand around or sit. I liked the DJed selections and the range of tempos. The room was a bit short of adequate lighting, but the 40 or so dancers were not short on energy. That said, there was always room to dance. The dancers were friendly, and a few were very experienced Lindy Hoppers. The only knock on this venue is the acoustics resulting from a hard ceiling caused the loudest crowd talk I have heard for a while. This is feed-back problem; in this case caused by too many follows in attendance, and those who are not dancing tend to talk, which causes the DJ to crank up the volume, which makes the crowd talk all the louder in order to be heard, which causes the DJ……you get the picture. Rudy and I hung in for an extra half hour over our dance quota of two hours, and went home good and sweaty. FFI www.charlestonswing.com

For you LH tipplers, the Charleston Hazel Park facility is close-by the old-town Charleston Pub-Crawl area, and I do mean old-town. We parked on a street which was not paved with cobble-stones, but rather, with boulder-stones. You could break an ankle walking on that street.

Since I was not dancing the Charleston in Charleston—it’s not good for my ouchy knees—I still became curious about the connection between the city and the dance. What follows is a Charleston dance capsule gleaned from Wikipedia and other e-sources. The Charleston dance is named after the city because the dance most likely originated in an off-shore island colony of blacks near Charleston. The dance probably evolved from the “star” (challenge dances), known as “Juba”. The Charleston had been been popular with blacks since 1903. Charleston is primarily an 8-count dance originally done to “clave” rhythm, which was heard in Charleston dock-workers by jazz pianist, James P. Johnson. Johnson later composed a tune “Charleston” which was part of the score of a popular 1923 Broadway musical entitled “Runnin’ Wild”. That tune and the dance became very popular with white, speak-easy going, “Flappers” (as opposed to non-drinking prohibition Blue-noses) during the 1920’s. Charleston was a popular part of Lindy Hop in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and remained so on the east coast to this day, while the west coast form of Lindy Hop abandoned it. However, Charleston has undergone a recent popularity revival in LH social dance.

We really enjoyed dancing in Virginia and the Carolinas. The dancers were uniformly welcoming, and each of the 5 LH scenes we visited available instruction, lots of “up” energy, and a cadre of experienced LHers. We gotta come back, and soon.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

1. Lindy in Tampa and surrounds.
2. Sun Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival
3. Solomon Douglas at the Tampa Harvest Moon Ball

Allen Hall, ancient Lindy Hopper
November 17, 2009, in warm sunny Jacksonville FL, a notable American LH barrens.
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