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News and Views '09/'10 # 14
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject: News and Views '09/'10 # 14 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘09/’10 Installment # 14, and the last one until the autumn of 2010

DANCE, DRIVE, and not REPEAT….for a while.

Table of Contents
1. Short Stop in Chicago
2. Midwest Lindy Fest
3. Lindy in the Twin Cities
4. Lindy Hop Heroes
5. Music Aphorisms
6. Season Summary

SHORT STOP IN CHICAGO.

1. The (University of) Chicago Swing Dance Society* held their first weekend exchange event entitled “Ida’s** House of Lindy and Blues” with live bands playing Saturday and Sunday nights, workshops and J&J contests for both Blues and Lindy, and all this for the princely sum of $15 for students and $25 for others. Patently, the CSDS is well supported, but then, The university of Chicago is one of our prestigious Universities. Saturday was Blues Dance oriented, with Sunday reserved for Lindy Hop. Rudy and I attended the Sunday night dance with music by the Solomon Douglas Swingtet, this was an octet of 4 horns (two reeds, trumpet, trombone) and a standard four piece rhythm section. The music was both good and exciting, and, as always, Douglas cherry-picks tunes which represent the best of older big band jazz. Douglas arranges all the charts and plays piano. This is a band which plays for Lindy Hoppers, music arranged by a Lindy Hopper, and that can be, and does, with this band, make all the difference. Douglas records with a tentet, but this smaller group was playing BIG with rhythmic drive and enthusiasm—the rhythm guitarist’s face must hurt the next day as he was smiling all through the gig. The floor is un-floating mosaic parquet hardwood but the surface was very danceable. The lighting was marginal, as were the boomy acoustics. Rudy and I had a grand time in our two hours of steady dancing with a number of very experience dancers. About 50 dancers attended.
*Remarkably, the CSDS was formed in 1996. How come I didn’t know that? I hate it when people keep things from me. The CSDS hosts weekly free DJ dances and charges only for those featuring live music.
**”Ida” hearkens to Ida Noyes Hall at the UofC, which is the venue for this event. Specifically, the Cloisters Club on the main floor of Ida Noyes Hall. Rudy and I have many fond memories of the dances we have attended there, as it is commonly used as one venue for Chicago Lindy Exchanges.

2. We hit “the Fizz on Monday. The Fizz Bar and Grill is the venue of the current major weekly DJed Lindy gig in Chicago, with music about 9PM in the loft (second floor). Once was when the acoustics there was miserable, but now with the addition of another pair of speakers in this long thin room the sound balance and fidelity has been corrected. I have always enjoyed the musical selections played there, and this gig routinely attracts many of the best LHers in the Chicago area. That said, The Fizz has also served another function, that of being a hang-out for some people drawn to the social scene, but not particularly interested in dancing. Rudy and I have seen this elsewhere, and if a venue is not primarily reduced to that of a hang-out, the dual purpose suits me as both acceptable and unavoidable. The floating floor is softwood boards which dances well because the original painted surface has been worn to bare wood by dancer’s shoes.

3. Other regular weekly DJed LH gigs in Chicago include: Sunday night at the classy Willowbrook Ballroom, and in the suburb of Naperville, Esteban’s and Frankie’s Blue room, which has been reported back from near death as a swing dance venue, and both venues feature swing dance on Wednesday. Another new, again to me, Swing Club in Chicago, is at the Illinois Institute of Technology which holds regular dances . For info on the IIT club go to dance101iit@gmail.com FFI on Chicago LH go to www.windyhop.com

LINDY IN THE TWIN CITIES

We went to Hell’s Kitchen to dance to The Wolverines Trio with a guest vocalist. HK is at 80 9th St in downtown Mpls, with $5 garage parking in the same building, and no cover, with delicious Sweet Potato Fries, with a top-notch jazz combo playing swing music from 7 to 10PM. Sadly, tables covered most of the dance floor and no other Lindy dancers showed up, despite the fact that it was advertised as a pre-Midwest Lindy Fest venue. Well, we got in 6 dances after moving tables aside., and the floor surface is a lot more danceable than it was last summer, hint…hint, more dancers means less tables.
We went to the regular weekly Lindy dance “Late Night Swing” at the Tapestry Folk Dance Center on Minnehaha Ave, with DJed music from 10P to 2A, or when the last pair of dancers go home, or….wherever. Big crowd on April 29th, approaching 300 dancers. One hour in, the usual excellent floor surface gummed up bad with the humidity from dancer sweat (Personally, I doubt the A/C was left on.). This too was advertised as a pre-Midwest Lindy Fest venue, and, Voila! several of the instructors showed up as did some out-of-town dancers.
There are several new LH venues in town, and the Minneapolis/St.Paul scene is undergoing some flux right now, but FFI on Twin Cities LH go to www.minnesotalindy.com and/or www.tcswing.com

MIDWEST LINDY FEST

If we can divide weekend LH events into local events (attended primarily by local dancers) regional events (attended primarily by dancers from the local scene and surrounding States) and destination events (predominantly attended by dancers drawn from all over the country), I am pleased to now see destination LH events in the middle of the country, and Midwest Lindy Fest has joined them. Back in the day (late in the last century), almost all of the “destination” LH events were in the NEUS and SWUS. Then “Lindy Fest” (nee Great Southwest Lindy Fest) matured from a local and regional event to “destination” status. Then, The “Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown” arrived and matured to draw widely from across the US. This year “The Lone Star Championships” burst onto “destination” status. And now, “Midwest Lindy Fest” completes a quartet of LH events in the center of the country, each with wide national appeal. Seventy-five percent of the approximate 200 weekend wristband holders attending this year’s MWLF came from outside Minnesota. Dancers came from 18 States and the cities included Sacramento, Madison, Chicago, Houston, Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Rockford, IL, Washington D.C., Omaha, Austin, Denver, Iowa City, Columbia SC., Santa Barbara, Appleton WI, Baltimore, Winnipeg and the District of Columbia….and those are the only ones I know about. Doubtless there were others.

This three day (Apr 30 to May 2) event offered workshops from nationally-known teachers, Mike F, and Caitlin, Max and Annie, Todd and Nina, and Mike R. Three contests were held: Open J&J; “Throw Down before the Showdown for couples (with winners getting tix to The Ultimate Lindy Showdown in New Orleans); and an invitational J&J in which the level of dancing was close to “showdown quality”. As well they held a Friday night secret show with limited tickets—it was secret to Rudy and I cuz we were too late to get tix. Jawahir Studios was the venue for all activities except the Sunday night dance which was held at the 4 Seasons Dance Studios. Incidentally, there was enough light in the rooms for social dance to please even me, and the floors remained delightfully danceable throughout, and this despite warm humid weather.
There was live local music for all three evening dances; Friday—“The Mouldy Figs” (a traditional New Orleans Jazz octet). Sat—“Patty and the Buttons” (a Swing quintet).Sun- The Twin Cities Hot Club, (Gypsy Jazz quartet). All three bands were chosen because they have good musicianship and they all routinely play for LH dancers. How delightful is that when bands understand that tempos, tune duration and rhythmic musical drive are all important to LHers?



LINDY HOP HEROES

Who be they? For my money, some are DJs. Few indeed are Lindy Hop DJs who don’t also dance, and I hope those many who do sacrifice dance time by playing music for us are well paid, because what would we do if they went on strike? I have been reticent about singling out individual DJs for praise, it is because I worry that the other praiseworthy DJs might feel slighted. But, Hey, reticence may be a synonym for cowardice. And so…..
James Pustejovsky is a regular DJ for Lindy dances at The Fizz in Chicago. I have always been favorably impressed by his selections, and how he structures his set lists. I also love the epigram on his business card, “Jazz, swing and tunes your grandpa thought were hip.” James has a good ear for good music which enervates Lindy Hoppers. He plays a few slow tempos for Blues dancers but, otherwise, stays within a range of tempos which tends to fill a floor. He tends to play music in sets, a set of 2-feel older recordings, a set of swing era hits, and so on. When James plays, I often have to approach him to ask the name of a tune or to identify the band, soloist or singer for an especially attractive recording he has played. And, unlike some DJ who escape tune boredom by becoming adventurous in playing new or unusual recordings, James does not abandon the time-honored canon of recordings for Lindy Hopping. Further, James knows his music, and he knows and honors the LH culture. When we were in Chicago dancing at The Fizz he reminded the dancers that we were one day away from the one year anniversary of the death of Frankie Manning. He then announced a Shim Sham in Frankie’s honor, and following that, he then, without comment, played Frankie’s favorite tune, “Shiny Stockings”. Nice touch, James.

MUSICAL APHORISMS

“How good bad music and bad reasons sound when marching against an enemy.” grumpy philosopher, Fredericke Nietzsche (Ah yes, the thrill of martial music; the musket-like rattle of drum-sticks on tight snare-drum heads, and the frightening skirl of the bagpipes.)

“You ear will always lead you right, but you must know why.” composer and conductor, Anton Von Webern (Unexamined music appreciation is much like puppy-love. It seldom lasts, and is never convincing.)

“Music is the brandy of the damned.” George Bernard Shaw (Wow, Georgie, that’s a bit heavy, but I’ll be damned if I don’t like both music and brandy.)

SEASON SUMMARY

We left home on 9/16/2009 and returned on 5/4/2010. So we were out on the LindyJazzMobile trail for 230 days, and danced on 91 of them (39%, which is slightly down from the 45% total for all of 2009).This is, no doubt, due to extended stays in Dayton Ohio and Houston TX; both cities suffer from a paucity of regular weekly LHing. The dance trail led us from home to Minneapolis, Des Moines, Omaha, St. Louis, Dayton OH, Cincinnati, Columbus OH, Stamford CN, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Williamsburg VA, Durham and Ashville NC, Columbia and Charleston SC, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, and St. Petersburg FL, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Ft Worth, and Denton TX, then back to Austin and Houston, then Louisville, Cincinnati, Dayton, Chicago and Minneapolis before heading home to our cottage by the lake. Mileage totaled 9,190 for the LindyJazzMobile, and 8,226 for the wee Saturn drag-along dinghy, for a grand driving total of 17,416 miles covered and, thus, averaging 76 miles a day. Do you suspect I might be anal-retentive?

We visited new venues in a bunch of cities, heard a lot of new good music, and attended nine weekend LH events: “Cowtown Jamborama” in Omaha, “Rocktober” in Columbus OH, “The American Lindy Hop Championships” in Stamford CN. “The New Orleans New Year’s Dance Renaissance”, “Fort Worth Jitterbug Jam”, “Lone Star Championships” in Austin, “Lindy Fest” in Houston, “Ida’s House of Lindy and Blues” in Chicago, and “Midwest Lindy Fest” in Minneapolis.

Bye bye, I’ll check back in this fall.

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper covered with road dust.
May 8, 2010, under sunny skies, and back on Lake Sylvia
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mtlaneyb
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 3:34 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Allen,

I just want to express my appreciation for your News & Views. I always enjoy reading them--I love hearing about the scenes I haven't been to and reading your opinions on jazz and various other topics. I'm so glad you two are back in town once again, and I look forward to the big shindig in July!

Laney
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