I had a conversation with my friend Ann earlier this year where we discussed what our greatest moments in our lives were up until that point. She then told me that she expected Frankie95 to be one of those moments. She brought this up since I was one of the people working on the event. No pressure at all.
It was during this conversation that we realized that “greatest” doesn’t necessarily have to have a positive conotation. Hitler had the greatest impact on the course of the 20th century, but I’m pretty sure we’re not going to build him a monument anytime soon.
With that in mind, “greatest” is probably a better word to describe the ultimate point of this post than “favorite.” Although, I do have more than a couple favorite moments from this year.
One of them would be stumbling upon a jazz quartet playing in a hole-in-the-wall café in Harlem. I had been awake for 36 hours straight on a whirlwind trip into New York City to work on Frankie95. I was exhausted, and was looking forward to crashing at my friend Joy’s place, but the sound of jazz gave us pause as we walked from dinner. The person running the place beckoned us in. It was early, so we were the only people there, but those musicians had the spirit in them, like they were playing to a packed house at the Savoy Ballroom. I hadn’t slept in almost two days but I didn’t want to leave.
Two weeks later I sat on the top balcony of the Manhattan Center watching everyone do the Shim Sham on Saturday night of Frankie95. I’m not sure how Ann was feeling at that point, but this qualified as one of my greatest moments. 50 musicians on stage playing for over 1600 dancers from over 40 US states and 30 countries.
On one hand, I was in awe of what we had done to get to that point. “Did we really do this?” was all I could ask myself as I watched that sea of dancers pulsing together as one.
On the other hand, I had the strong urge to punch someone . . . anyone in the face.
A noted Lindy Hop historian, who almost did punch someone in the face that weekend, told us later that almost everyone involved with Frankie’s 80th birthday had completely dropped out of the dance scene more than a decade ago. After what we went through for Frankie95, I completely understand why.
I’m not sure what the attrition rate will be, but even before the weekend was over, I had a number of people say to me that even though that was one of the most moving experiences of their lives, they were probably never going to help out another Lindy event ever again.
I can’t blame them. You put that much heart into something, you’re practically dooming yourself to unreasonable expectations.
I was so scarred that I spewed out almost 40 pages of thoughts and frustrations just to work things out. It was therapeutic, and helpful in motivating me to start this very blog. It also helped me organize my people-I’m-going-to-punch-in-the-face list so I won’t do it at random at some unexpected moment.
I could have sworn off working events, but I obviously didn’t thanks to some very good friends.
If it wasn’t for them, then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to dance with Ramona during Peter’s soul set on the last night of ILHC. Like most events that I work, I didn’t dance very much that weekend until then. When I finally got to dance, I made . . . *ahem* . . . creative use of Ramona in an inspired moment. I’m tempted to use both of the words “favorite” and “greatest” to describe those dances. I have a feeling that she would agree since a few days later she opened a gchat session to me with the line: “That slap on the a$$ is going down in history!”
Thank you Ramona.
I guess I should thank Tena, David, and Elliot for dragging me into Frankie95.
I’ll definitely thank Tena for talking me off the ledge right after that and also Nina and Sylvia for keeping me around for ILHC.
Thank you to Skye, Ann, Naomi, Abigail, Crista, Mike, Peter, Diane, Luke, Kristin, Sarah, Shannon and all my friends for your support this year.
Thanks to Gretta, Jeff, Bobby, Kate, Andy and everyone who comes every week to the Jam Cellar.
Thanks to everyone who comes to hear me DJ.
Thanks to all my compatriots in the trenches at Frankie95 and ILHC.
Thanks to everyone who has visited and even read my blog since I started it six months ago.
Special thanks to Judy, Chazz, and especially Frankie.
Finally, thank you Mom and Dad.
I wish many of you a Merry Christmas, the rest of you good holidays, and everyone a Happy New Year!