ILHC 2010 Preview

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write, so I might as well talk about what’s been keeping me busy.

The last few weeks before an event are usually the busiest times for event organizers and now there are just three weeks before this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships.  So instead of nitpicking another dance video, I’ve been spending my spare time trading hundreds of emails doing the bidding of my ILHC overlords: Tena Morales, Nina Gilkenson, and Sylvia Sykes.

My role in this whole thing is to make their dreams come true by acting as middle management.  They tell me what needs to be done, and then I get someone else to take care of it.

For example, this year we’re taking advantage of The Boilermaker Jazz Band playing on Friday night by having them play live music for the Solo Charleston finals.

The Boilermakers last time they were in DC playing for the Big Big Benefit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Retro Re-Post: Focus on the Follows

ILHC is rolling up pretty quick, so I haven’t had too much time to develop any of the essays I’ve started in the past month as you can tell from my single post last week.  So I’m going to bust something out of the archives for your amusement.

This article is based off of my response to a question posted on Yehoodi back in early 2006 asking “What are the best follows good at?”  It was one of my first attempts at some major dance geekery.  Online at least.  I think it also was one of the first times where people dissected footage available on the internet.  This was just as YouTube was taking off, but the original clips discussed were off of the old servers.   If you find this post interesting you may want to go check out the old thread since that had some good commentary from a bunch of different people back in the days when they actually talked about dancing on Yehoodi.  Yes, such days existed once.

Anyway, everything that follows is based off of my edit to my re-posting on old MySpace blog.  Yep, this is a re-post of a re-post.  A summer re-run if you will.  It starts in . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Video Highlights: The Herrang Blues

It’s the middle of July when most of the Lindy world comes to a grinding halt unless you happen to be in a very small and secluded town in the Swedish countryside.

If Camp Jitterbug is the most important event in the Western Hemisphere, then Herrang Dance Camp is the epicenter of the Lindy-verse.  But despite having the largest concentration of Lindy Hoppers for the longest period of time all year, the event doesn’t generate much in the way of videos unless you count the numerous class recaps by students or yet another one of Chester Whitmore’s adventures .  However, a good number of blues inspired performances have come out of the camp over the years.

2006-Naomi Uyama sings “I’ve Got it Bad” with dancing by Frida Segerdahl & Skye Humphries

2007-Ramona Staffeld & Peter Strom perform before The Carling Family Band

Read the rest of this entry »

WCS Futureshock

Tatiana Mollman and Jordan Frisbee unveiled their new routine at the USA Grand Nationals over Memorial Day weekend, and now their performance from the Liberty Swing Dance Championships a few weeks ago has been circulating the webs.  I swear, given their popularity, I think they could build a whole dance event just around that and make a killing.  It would be like Lebron’s “Decision” except with more integrity.

Interestingly enough, when I saw this the first time, I thought there was something odd, which I could only put my finger on when I saw it again.

This is a good piece except for the parts where they’re swing dancing. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback with Ramona Staffeld: Partnering with Finian Makepeace at ALHC 2000

This is the third installment of a special feature that I’m doing with Ramona Staffeld. We’re looking at some very old school clips of her past performances and getting her reactions.   The first one was from the 1998 American Lindy Hop Championships and the last was of Ramona dancing with Frankie Manning at Midsummer’s Night Swing at Lincoln Center in 1999.  This one is of her competing in the Junior division at ALHC 2000.  Everything after the video below is written by her with a few hopefully helpful edits from me.   Have fun!

Well I’ll be darned, I had totally forgot about that piece. Once again I am humbled by prospective. We so easily forget what we have accomplished in the past, the accumulative body of our work. It’s so easy to focus solely on the future, what we think we should be doing, what we want and dream, loosing sight of the gratitude for what has come before. It is from this place that I am moved by this clip. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Big Benefit Thanks

On behalf of Laurie and Nina I’d like to thank everyone who came out for the Big Big Benefit this weekend.  It was great to so many people out along with so many different groups working together to help one of their own.  In particular I’d like to thank the following people:

At the top of the list is the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture for all their support.  People who work for the park were some of the first to come to Laurie’s side when she was first admitted into the hospital, and they were super helpful all weekend.  Donna Barker especially worked very hard to facilitate everything and even poured in a lot of time to put together the the puppetry performance CD’s.

The Tom Cunningham Orchestra for volunteering to play for free for a benefit before anyone else got the idea.  More than anyone else, Tom and his band have had a huge impact on the DC lindy scene, playing dance music for dancers for almost 35 years.  It was especially good to see Tom in good spirits after his own surgery.

Blue Sky 5 led by Craig Gildner performed with TCO so we danced to continuous live music all night on Friday.  Craig is a staple in our scene, and is the only musician to have played every DCLX.

My compatriots at The Jam Cellar who helped out wherever they could for the main benefit dance on Friday.  In particular, Al Mattei coordinated all the volunteers for all the dances and workshops and Andy Reid got the website up and running and designed the fliers, posters, and pins from an undisclosed location.

Quite a few of them also provided the entertainment for the evening

In order of appearance

  1. Bobby White
  2. Kate Hedin & Bobby White
  3. The Cherry Blossons: Kate Hedin, Crista Seipp, Meg Taylor

  1. Crista Seipp & Lee Tucker
  2. The Jam Cellar’s performance team: The 15th St. Stompers

Kate and Bobby also taught all three dance workshops on Saturday.  In addition to their own classes, they filled in at the last minute for Nina who got very sick on Friday night.

Ellen Engle & MArc Shepanek of Flying Feet Enterprises were already hosting a Saturday night dance, but graciously contributed a portion of the proceeds to the cause.  They were also super accommodating with all the other activities we piled onto their dance.

The Boilermaker Jazz Band not only played on Saturday, but contributed a musicality workshop.  They’re a highly entertaining and knowledgeable group of guys, including Jennie Luv, and I probably would pay money just to hear them talk about anything.

Our scene has so many parts and we’re thankful to Gottaswing (who also contributed proceeds from their own Friday night dance) and the Washington Swing Dance Committee for spreading the word.  We even got help from far off Baltimore from the kind folks at Charm City Swing.

Finally, I’d like to thank Gretta Thorn who did most of the work wrangling this group, including me, to get this benefit done.  Like Laurie, Gretta is a person you don’t hear about too often, but has been an integral part of Lindy Hop in DC performing, competing, teaching, and promoting this dance for 10 years.  She doesn’t get much credit because she doesn’t do it for that, and is often overlooked by her more well known friends.  However, Jam Cellar, this benefit and Lindy Hop in DC in general would be a lot different without her.  I know lots of people who have a passion for the dance itself, but Gretta is one of those few who has contributed a lot of time and effort to help other people realize their passion.

If you’re still interested in helping out Laurie please visit the Big Big Benefit website at

Also note that The Puppet Co will be doing their own benefit for Laurie this weekend on July 16th.   Check out their website for ticket information at

Thanks again!

The Line

I was at an event a few years ago chatting with another dancer during the last dance of the weekend.  We were watching a particular follow, and I’ll admit we were not paying attention to her connection or style; we were just straight up checking her out, and her considerable . . .  talents.  But oddly enough, the more we watched her, the less attractive she became.  It just came down to the fact that we just didn’t like her dancing.

This was a significant moment to me because up until that point it was fairly easy to identify what I didn’t like in a person’s dancing based mostly on their technical deficiencies.  We were (an still are to a certain extent) collectively learning how to connect and how the dance generally worked.  I’m talking about a time when people thought that Hollywood and Savoy were two entirely different dances and stopped dancing when they couldn’t find enough people to agree with them.  But here was an advanced dancer with no such issues.  I just couldn’t get into any of the creative or stylistic choices she was making.

A recent discussion in the comments section on a previous post makes it sound like I’m being overly hard on a person who is otherwise considered an excellent dancer.  For the purposes of that discussion, I will admit that I am.  But that’s only because I’m comparing that person to his dance peers, of which I (me personally) think only includes maybe 40 people in the whole world. Read the rest of this entry »

Album Review: Sam Cooke Live at The Harlem Square Club

I’ve been on a live soul music kick lately and I finally picked up “Sam Cooke Live at The Harlem Square Club” after I heard Peter Strom spin “Having a Party” from this it at ILHC last year.  I had such a great dance to that song that it’s part of my personal Lindy highlights from last year.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get it since it’s honestly one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.  From any music genre. It’s that good.

From start to finish, Sam Cooke bleeds out energy and passion into the microphone. If you didn’t already believe that this smooth crooner was the man who created Soul music, then there’s no way to deny it after hearing these recordings. Read the rest of this entry »

Camp Jitterbug 2010 Roundup

Camp Jitterbug is THE most important Lindy Hop event in the Western Hemisphere right now.  The killer instructor line up; great live and DJ’d music, uber high level contests, and the one of a kind Jump Session Show. I’ve never been actually, but it’s significance is such that it cannot and should not be ignored.   Read the rest of this entry »