Happy Birthday, Frankie!

What else is there to say?  This is from Frankie’s 88th Birthday Celebration in 2002.

My favorite DC memory of him where he took us to school.  In the midst of an improvised Big Apple during a jam, he jumps up out of his chair from the sidelines, stops the presses and shows the kids how its done.

And my favorite “new” video of him with his son Chazz Young.  I don’t get tired of watching this.

Learn more about him at his official website: www.FrankieManning.com

Frankie95 Thanks

It’s a shame a more formal Thank You didn’t go out after the Frankie Manning 95th Birthday Festival, so I’ll repost the one I did on my own on June 3, 2009.

The following list is by no means complete, and it’s not the official list. I only had a small part in this event, so I’m sure there are quite a few other unsung heroes of Frankie95 out there. However, I wanted to thank everyone that I came in contact with over the weekend or otherwise helped out that I can remember.

First off, even as a big fan of live music I can say that 14 bands in 5 days is probably too much. Figuring out a plan for getting then on and off the stage and transitioning the sound equipment in a prime time venue like the Manhattan Center is no easy task especially when you have to juggle the MC, contests, videos, and performances. If you think that sounds hard then multiply the difficulty level when you’re handling 4 bands in one night or three big bands sharing the stage all at once. Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Propilogue

Next to last stop on my Frankie Manning 95th Birthday Festival Retrospective.  I actually wrote this note first before the others and went back and forth between re-posting it or not, and whether it should go at the beginning or the end.  A few weeks ago I thought it was appropriate to end, but reading it now makes me think it should have gone first.  Oh well.  This note was originally posted on May 31, 2009.

I have a hard time explaining why I left last weekend with such strong feelings of despair, anger and betrayal. I spent my train ride home formulating a plan to go after a person even if it meant burning down the entire Lindy Hop community around me. To be clear, I got set off over a misunderstanding which has been since cleared up. Still, as much as I thought I wasn’t invested in the event, I was ready to start a war. Read the rest of this entry »

Video Highlights: Stockholm Tap Festival 2010

building on last week’s Manzari Brothers videos, here are some nice videos from the 2010 Stockholm Tap Festival.

Videos courtesy of  lindyhopporto.

First up is tap bad ass, Jason Samuels Smith.

Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Highlights and Observations Pt. IX

Almost there.  Part nine of my Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival recap.  Technically the end, but I’m going to add a couple other notes after this, including one that should have been at the beginning.  You can see a compilation of all videos from the weekend here on my site.    This note was originally posted on July 8, 2009.

I’d like to say I decompressed on the ride back, but I just sat on the train and stewed, making myself angrier. I started writing a summary of my weekend experiences, but that turned into a litany of threats, culminating in a step by step plan to take on everyone I held responsible for pissing me off. I was pretty much prepared never to step into another Lindy Hop dance again, but fortunately a few people stepped in to pull me from the edge.

Skye gave me a call while I was on the train. We only had a chance to chat very briefly at the event, but he knew I was upset. He had an interesting take on things. Among his observations was his thought it was a good thing that the event was big enough to absorb individual people’s bulls#!t without messing it up for everyone else too much. Read the rest of this entry »

The Important Things

Nina Gilkenson is an incredible storyteller.  One of the things I marvel at, no matter where we are, is how she’s able to captivate friends and strangers alike by talking about anything, up to and including paint dry.  I was reminded of this even as she told stories about a week I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The waiting room of an Intensive Care Unit is not normally a very festive place, but it felt that way last Friday.  I brought dinner from my favorite place to eat in the city.  No one was in the mood to make a decision about food when I called earlier, so I used that as an excuse to get everything on the menu that looked good to me.  We were all pretty hungry anyway by the time I got to the hospital.

The Asian family that was already there politely cleared their own finished meal from the only table in the waiting area to allow me to set up dinner.  Nina’s boyfriend, Michael, went to get her from the  the room where her mother was recuperating from surgery.   Laurie was doing better relative to the week before, but the staff was only letting in members of the immediate family to see her, and only one at a time.  When Nina came out I thought that hug would never end.

About the time we started to eat, a huge family stepped out of the elevator.  They were in a pretty good mood because their family member had undergone a successful surgery.  They lifted the spirits of the whole floor.  The cute  blond three year old girl they brought with them had a lot to do with it.  She ran around joyfully oblivious to the purpose of of the ward.

Nina mentioned that the staff tries to remind anyone in the waiting area to not  have too much of a good time.  This is in consideration for the other people there straddling the line between hope and mourning.

Despite my attempts to steer conversation in other directions, she told many stories about that week.  The most telling of them concerned an earlier conversation about her father that she had with another woman waiting in the ICU .

He’s always been an enigmatic figure to me.  For awhile I thought she just didn’t have a father even after seeing him in the distance a couple of times.  I thought he was just some homeless guy they hired to drive the car every once in awhile.  Unlike his incredibly social wife, I don’t think he’s ever been to a dance event. It’s not that he’s unsupportive of his daughter; rather, I think he’s not that much of a people person.  I mean he’s really not a people person.

Nina noted that he keeps a lot to himself and is not terribly demonstrative of anything.  Very much the opposite of Laurie who’s more in the mold of that crazysupercoolhippie aunt that should have gotten her own 70’s sit com complete with jazz funk inspired theme song.

The thing that they all have in common is a phrase Nina often uses when she talks about the way she was raised:  They just make it work.

I finally met the man in person, shook his hand, and even talked to him this weekend.   He did a lot of things last week that surprised even Nina, including spending 120 hours straight by his wife’s bedside after they brought her to the hospital.

This didn’t surprise the woman Nina was talking to earlier.  That woman had already lost her husband during a previous experience at the ICU.  She simply explained that half of your heart is lying in that bed.  How could he leave her?

Laurie Gilkenson had a brain aneurysm and several strokes last week. The family has no health insurance, so if you can, please consider donating to help them out through Nina’s paypal account at botsandbeans at gmail dot com.  Also keep an eye out for a benefit event that we’ll be having in the near future.  Thank you.

Frankie95 Highlights and Observations Pt. VIII

Part eight of my Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival recap. In addition to a few grammatical edits, I’ve added a video of the last jam that was uploaded after my video recaps were done last year.  You can see a compilation of videos from Monday here on my site.    This note was originally posted on July 8, 2009.

I think I got the most sleep all weekend on Monday morning; about 4 hours worth. Then it was back to 424 W 34th street. We cleared that space of regular workshops and decided to schedule the rest of our presentations there.

Sakarias Larsson and Peter Loggins trade tap steps on Monday morning in front of the Manhattan Center while waiting for rides to their respective classes.

We started off with a showing of a short documentary that dancers Tim Collins and Malou Meyenhofer put together to go with their Shim Sham submission. They both currently live in India where they teach dance. Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Highlights and Observations Pt VII

Part seven of my Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival recap with a few grammatical edits from the original.  You can see a compilation of videos from Sunday here on my site.    This note was originally posted on June 24, 2009.

The rest of Sunday evening went pretty smoothly.

Sitting through the Jack & Jill semi-finals reminded me why these things are usually scheduled in the afternoon of most events. We were originally supposed to do it right after the show and before the bands took the stage to give people time to go eat dinner or otherwise freshen up. Unless you’re in it, prelims and semi-final dance contest rounds aren’t the most riveting things to watch. Thanks to Joel Domoe, Aurelie & Tony Tye and our DJ, Ryan Swift for moving things along as quickly as possible.

We were incredibly fortunate to be working with Jonathan Stout and Paul Cosentino that night. I usually get the impression from most bands that they feel like they’re slumming when they play a swing dance. However, Jonathan and Paul genuinely love playing for dancers, and they were incredibly accommodating for all the delays and changes that happened that evening. They were super generous by giving up playing time so everything could be done in a reasonable time. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Video Highlights: The Manzari Brothers

A little something different this week as I’m trying to find time to sort all the awesome Lindy videos from the past couple of months.

The Washington Post recently did a wonderful spotlight on up and coming DC tap talent, John and Leo Manzari.

The two brothers are both in high school but are currently in a local production of Sophisticated Ladies, a musical based on the music of another DC native, Duke Ellington.  The show is headlined by Maurice Hines, the brother of the late great tapper Gregory Hines.  Here is is talking about discovering the two brothers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Highlights and Observations Pt. VI

Part six of my Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival recap with BONUS found footage of the Hellzapoppin recreation from the Sunday Show in addition to the regular grammatical edits from the original post.  You can see a compilation of the rest of the videos from Sunday here on my site.    This note was originally posted on June 23, 2009.

I grabbed a radio and headed upstairs to check out how everything was progressing. That’s when I found out that we were in more trouble than at any other time in the festival.

It was a little before 6:00 pm, our scheduled time to open the house for everyone to get their seats, and the Frankie Show crew had not made much more progress from where I had left them a couple hours earlier on my printer quest. I figured that the house doors would be delayed in opening, but no one knew for how long. 20 minutes? Half an hour? Longer? They were still figuring it out. Read the rest of this entry »

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