Part five 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 Saturday and on Sunday here on my site. This note was originally posted on June 23, 2009.
George Henik reminded me that the Saturday night didn’t end with the live music. Anyone paying attention will note that the Saturday late night was the only time when we featured an extended DJ set. The reason was simply because we didn’t want to put the pressure on musicians to try to follow the show that preceded it that night. However, I think we left the night in the good hands of Jesse Miner and Rayned Wiles.
They kept the crowd going so well that they didn’t want to stop dancing even after they left the ballroom after 4:00 am. This was obviously not late enough for the 100+ dancers who loitered in front of the Manhattan Center until someone got the bright idea to just start clapping hands and get everyone dancing again.
It was amusing to see the security guards huddle around the doors peaking out the window while Elliot and I met in the lobby discussing plans for Sunday. They were just befuddled as to why no one would go home as Peter Vawter whipped out his violin and joined in the impromptu dance. They were still going when I left for the night/morning.
Sunday started out as a pretty mellow day. We were finally completely set up in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and already had a day’s worth of workshops behind us with no major disasters. From my perspective the hard part was behind us.
Sunday brunch for me consisted of a frostee from Wendy’s which I had been craving since a conversation I had with Tena not long after I got into New York. It was just a few days previous, but it seemed like a year ago.
I was able to leave the workshops at St. Micheal’s in Akemi’s capable hands after I got them started. I went back over to the Manhattan Center to work on the evening’s production schedule while they made the final preparations for the Frankie Show.
I thought I’d be able to get to see the final dress rehearsal because I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t have time to see the show in the evening while we got ready for the main dance.
Never got to see that dress rehearsal. In fact, no one did. I sat in the darkened ballroom for the better part of the afternoon as acts were brought onto stage and various technical issues were addressed. I thought that was unusual, but everyone running the show was pretty busy and I had to deal with my own problems.
I’ve mentioned the production/logistics schedule (a.k.a. the rundown) a few times. It is what it sounds like, a step by step guide to how the whole evening is supposed to go from the time the doors open, until the doors close early the next morning. This includes the MC’s cues and notes, when the bands come down, what order the performances go on, and the various videos and presentations that occur throughout the evening
When I do this for an event, very few people see it if only because most dance events are pretty straight forward. For Frankie95, it had to be distributed to a large number of different people because there were so many moving parts in play that couldn’t be managed by any one person.
This is why something as simple as printing multiple copies of the schedule each day became very important, and in typical New York City fashion, harder and harder to do as the festival went on. Sunday turned out to be the most difficult day as the city sent me on a chase to several locations through 10 blocks because finding just one working printer is apparently harder than getting crack cocaine from a disease free transsexual Lithuanian prostitute.
That little ordeal took me on a side quest that didn’t get me back to the Manhattan Center until just before opening of the doors for the Show. As I got back, I noticed that there was already a short line of people waiting to get in. In retrospect that was very reasonable since we had been warning people to get there early all weekend.
You see, the Manhattan Center people had told us that it takes about one hour to move 1000 people up and down the only two elevators in that 100 year old building. Knowing that and knowing how people run on Lindy Hopper time, it would have been a bad idea just to tell people that the show started at 7 pm, because everyone would show up at 7:15 pm, and not get in until 8 pm. Hindsight being what it is, makes it seem like that would have been the best case scenario.
The thing that struck me about getting into the Hammerstein Ballroom was how calm everything was compared to the usual state of chaos we found ourselves in during the past three evenings. I found Lori, our stage manager, and even she seemed pleasantly surprised. Although she was able to surmise that there was quite a bit of activity upstairs in the Grand Ballroom where the Frankie Show was going to take place. She asked me how I thought it was going to go, and I made a crack about how they were still figuring out how the show was going to end.
I had no idea that I was more right than I could possibly imagine.