Monthly Archives: July 2009

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I was supposed to post today but due to inexplicable problems with our modem I am unable to fufill my duty. ( Haha! Doody!) So I will post as soon as all that is fixed, which will hopfully be sometime between tomorrow eveening and Thursday. This weekend I will be at Camp Hollywood so I’ll hooefully make some posts from the hotel, even though the internet is expensive. I’ll see you this weekend if you are going to be there. Ask me to dance!

Frankie 95 and Camp Jitterbug Double Whammy Pt. 2

Part 2 (Here’s where you can find Part 1)

Funny, I remember when I first started dancing I lurked around different blogs and probably the first one I encountered was Carl Nelson’s blog (which doesn’t exist anymore, at least not where I found it. He is now writing about his lonesome travels across North America, and beyond?, here) The first blog I read was a review of that year’s Camp Jitterbug. So of course I was totally dazzled by all the videos and descriptions of classes and such and such. Now I actually got to go to Camp Jitterbug! And I got to dance with Carl (at Frankie 95, though…)! Haha! Just goes to show that all you need is the Internet to inspire dreams… no matter how small/lame. 😀

Seattle

Well I have to say, I throughly enjoyed Seattle. I’m completely in love with the city. Even though to walk to any of the venues you had to walk uphill, I enjoyed walking in Seattle more than I did in NYC. We walked in Seattle more thank NYC! I think it’s because it’s just physically tiring to walk in NYC because there is always so much going on, too many sounds, too many people, too many signs and traffic signals to pay attention to. Too much sensory input all at once. Seattle was very relaxed and cool city. Also, Seattle had lots of trees and green things called plants… incredible! So much good food and shopping! Ahhh!

Also, If you are ever in Seattle, make time to take the Underground Tour. It’s insane. I’ll post some picture up later, even though they aren’t that good.

Camp Jitterbug – May 28-31 2009

The Jump Session Show

So clearly the highlight of this year’s Camp Jitterbug (and probably any Camp Jitterbug) was the Jump Session show. There were some amazing, AMAZING pieces shown. Sharon Davis’ banana dance, Karen Thurman and Andrew Thigpen’s routine,  and a fantastic rendition of the Al and Leon shim sham. The Harlem Hot Shots had some nice numbers too, you can find videos of their performances from Frankie 95.

The Dances

Everything at the event seemed very organized, unlike a lot of other events. The first night welcome dance at the Knights of Columbus Ballroom was VERY HOT, unbearably hot. But they did give out free vitamin water and it was video DJed which was awesome because I’m VERY into video clips so I liked that a lot, and found a few new treasures. A couple people mentioned that they didn’t enjoy it as much because the music was bad quality and it sometimes would cut off a few notes before the end of the song (due to the nature of vintage film clips). I didn’t really mind that, I say give me music and I will dance. I don’t mind if it’s a bit raspy or tinny sounding, it just adds to the allure and atmosphere.

The second night we were at a much larger venue which was not nice. Except the floor was like concrete and a thin layer of this wooden covering I think? It was ouchy. To add to the pain, they had a Charleston-y band playing the whole night. I mean, don’t get me wrong I love that Charleston-y stuff and I think people don’t break it out often enough (well at least in LA, groove city), but the whole night? On a concrete floor? Ugh..

The other venues were awesome, and the late night dances were SO much fun. Too much fun? Maybe.

The Classes

The class were all fine but one thing that annoyed me that’s been starting to bug me a lot in a lot of events is the class levels and their descriptions. The different tracks or levels are described very lightly and generally having no real lines of distinction between them. Therefore things get very muddled up. You end up taking an "advanced" class where the level of dancers is beginning intermediate at most. All beginner intermediate dancers think they are advanced. I sure as heck did. Then I took the advanced track at Camp Hollywood last year which made me believe that I was actually advanced because all the dancers were at my level (or below, which is scary.). Therefore the teachers have to dumb down their material and it all becomes pointless.

Even though they had "auditions" for the advanced plus and master track at Camp Jitterbug it still sucked. The master track auditions were real since I guess they decided to only put through a certain amount of people. The people who didn’t make it were told to audition for advanced plus, which was a joke. We danced 3 partial songs and the tapped out like 4 people and said the rest of you are in. What the heck kind of an audition is that? I was excited because I was maybe going to learn something from these classes but I was wrong yet again. I talked to a few people after a class that used the tango bit from the California routine, and they were like "What is that?" I mean the track is called advanced plus, for pete’s sake! You should at least KNOW what the California routine is, if not knowing how to do it minus aerials! Yeeeeesh.

I think organizers of all events should come together and devise a certain standard for what an advanced class is, like you have to know the shim sham and at least have heard of the California routine and you should be able to do all the steps in it, not necessarily the entire routine as a whole. As simple as that! It’s not hard…

I have to say, though, that the solo track was awesome! (Probably because the teachers could teach what they wanted to and people who picked it up picked it up, not having to depend on the level of their partner.) Makes me REALLY want to got to Stompology next year but I have no money (donate at the top left!).

There were also a lot of really inspirational and mind blowing classes taught by Ramona Staffeld and Mikey Pedroza, Laura Keat and Jeremy Otth, Laura Keat and Nick Williams, and Ria DeBasie and Mikey Pedroza, Casey Schneider and Mike Faltesek, and Skye Humphries (in the solo track). These classes influenced my dancing the most because they taught concepts and not moves or steps. Especially for follows, at a certain point classes that just teach different moves become pointless because when you’re dancing, you’re not really going through moves, you are just moving your body to the music. But when someone teaches you something that influences your philosophy of dancing or your technique it really makes a difference and makes it worth your time and money. Camp Jitterbug was in abundance of classes like this, I loved it. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Food

The provided food awe delicious Thai food from a local eatery, even though it was awesome. Another delicious tidbit was the awesome lunchtime lectures by Lennart Westurland about the old school Savoy dancers and Peter Loggins’ hilarious rememberings of the old school dancers in LA.

Thanks to Sheri Kang and Ben Yau for making Camp Jitterbug even more awesome than my highest expectations!

Here’s something for the road home. Surprise performance at one of the late nights:

Also if you’re dying to find out, I’ll be at Camp Hollywood in a week and a half. I’m also trying desperately to gather up monies to get to ILHC and ULHS. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! Click DONATE at the TOP RIGHT!

Frankie 95 and Camp Jitterbug Double Whammy Pt. 1

Part 1

On May 21 I started my incredible adventure. It would be impossible to capture the inspiration, feeling, heart, craziness, addiction, and overwhelming community spirit this experience has brought to life, not only with me, but with anyone who attended these events. So I will just review some of the highlights, with maybe a few video clips…

Frankie 95 – May 21-25 2009

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Incredible, incredible experience. I cannot believe people who chose to do anything else with the spare 200 (plus travel, hotel, and food monies)  they had. I didn’t even have the money and I somehow found a way to be there. Shame on you.  More on that later.

Single handedly the most memorable, in all aspects, event at Frankie 95 was the Memorial on Friday (May 22). The memorial began with a service at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. When we came into the church we saw (and heard) Benny Powell, Frank Wess, and Yvette Glover (and more) playing the most swinging rendition of ‘Shiny Stockings’. These people are the giants of jazz.

The jam continued until the service started with a wonderful and delightful welcome and prayer.

[Video coming soon…]

The service continued with remembrances and tributes from Mercedes Ellington (Duke Ellington’s grand-daughter), Cynthia Millman (who helped Frankie Write his book), Ryan François, Judy Pritchett, Debrah Manning (Frankie’s daughter-in-law), Lennart Westerlund, Larry Schulz (co-owner, I think, of the Sandra Cameron Dance Studio in New York where Frankie taught weekly classes), George Avakian (incredible music producer, the first jazz music producer actually, and all around funnyman!), Dawn Hampton, Manu Smith, Chazz Young, Norma Miller, etc.

The entire service was so amazing it even made both the reverends get up and dance in the pulpit! Heck yes!

I have to say, I am not religious AT ALL, and I’ve never felt comfortable inside a church until that fateful Friday morning.

Then the second line processional to Central Park:

The rest of Frankie 95 was just a crazy amount of dancing and performances which I’m sure you can find on You Tube. The Silver Shadows preformed ‘Shiny Stockings’ but finished it off with ‘Jumping at the Woodside’. I almost wish they just danced to ‘Shiny Stockings’ the whole time and actually finished the song.

Bethany and Stefan’s performance blew me away, as always:

I think there are a lot of people who forget how rich the history of Lindy Hop is. I think most of the new generation is not concerned about Frankie Manning or the Savoy ballroom. Those are the people that chose to spend money to go to Camp Jitterbug instead of Frankie 95. That really upsets me. I think we all need to bring back the history into Lindy Hop. We need to remember Frankie Manning. We need to honor it before pursuing our own interests in this community (such as going to Camp Jitterbug in order to compete and gain status). Because without Frankie we would not have this amazing community to be part of.

What are your thoughts?

Part 2 will be Camp Jitterbug highlights and future plans. And for you not to get too excited I’ll be posting that on Wednesday.

Catch Up

This week it’s time to catch up on what I’ve been up to the past year, but very fast and as short as I can make it, which will be fairly long.

So since almost a year ago, a few things have happened with me. And now I actually know what I’m talking about. At least slightly more. In the moment you always feel like you know a lot but after sometime you look back and you think to yourself  "What the heck was I thinking?!" But it’s also a good feeling because you know you are learning and improving. I wonder if you ever look back and realize that you haven’t learned or changed?

What I’m up to at the moment is quite a few things. I’ve started helping out with Neil’s Technique Class at LindyGroove. I’m so thankful that this opportunity came my way because I’ve been trying to start teaching for a little bit. Thanks to Neil I’m getting so much experience form this! You have to start somewhere, this is more than perfect for me. Does anyone remember their first time teaching?

Camp Hollywood is at the end of the month and I’m competing not only in the Jack & Jill but also in the Strictly (with Alan). Watch out! Naw, not to really… But maybe I’ll pull a surprise attack! The judges will be so mesmerized by our matching outfits what they will automatically give us the highest scores! Any tips for competitions, Strictly’s or J&J’s? When was the first time you competed? How did it go?

People to dance with in LA:
Patrick Fredrickson and Debbie Gitt. There are no words good enough to describe them. But if you should ever meet Patrick (who teaches at Camp Swing) ask him to show you the infamous ‘Penguin’ move. Ouch!

Thanks for bearing with me through this! Next week I’ll post memories from my Frankie 95Camp Jitterbug coast to coast adventure and some plans for the future.

Bethany and Stefan

I want to start off kind of slow. Recently I’ve been looking back at Lindy Hop and other dance clips I’ve saved on YouTube and my playlist is ridiculously long and unorganized. So my plan right now is to organize these videos by dancer. So each month I’ll post an awesome video I have found for your discovery and entertainment.

Let’s start off with a classic Bethany Powell and Stefan Durham routine from 2003 (I think?) at the US Open. The song is "Old Joe’s Hittin’ the Jug" by Stuff Smith.

Enjoy!

Feel free to send me Bethany and/or Stefan videos that you like!

Risen from the Dead…

ZOMBIES? No.

So just when you thought it was over it wasn’t. I have risen from the ashes like a phoenix. But less gracefully. Okay things got a bit crazy with school but now that it’s summer (once more) I have time to catch up on the many things I started and never followed through with. But more about school later…

I devised a schedule to keep up with so every week of the month is going to be something a bit different. Here it goes!

For now it looks like this:

First week of the month: Video Clip Roundup!
A taste of under appreciated Lindy Hop videos and maybe some over appreciated goodies. Simply some videos that I have collected over time. I’ll try to come up with videos that influence me in the moment, so it will be an exercise for me too, to try and find a new inspiration every month. Let’s just say I won’t be posting Frida and Skye videos for a long time, according to Nick Williams. I’ll be posting a video later today!

Second week of the month: LA Happenings 
What the LA scene is like, how it’s doing, where it’s going, dancers to dance with if you’re ever here, and my personal accomplishments. Anything that falls into the boxes of ‘Lindy Hop’ and ‘Los Angeles’ at the same time can be found here.

Third week of the month: Camp Craziness!
Reviews of camps or events I’ve been to or thoughts on what camps I’m planning on going. Simple.

Fourth week of each month: eBay Scavenger
This will be the equivalent of casual Friday. Not necessarily related to dancing but it could and might be more often than not. Here I’ll brag about recent eBay (or other) purchases and finds.

Anything else that I post will be purely nonsense that you can ignore or read and then save on your hard drive for blackmailing purposes in the future.

Stay tuned as I will post this month’s video clip shortly!