Karen keeps writing, so I keep posting. Oh, and Happy Birthday Thigpen. More or less on time. Read the previous posts in this series here.
Back in 1999, every Sunday we would all go to Lindy by the Lake in the Lake Harriet Bandshell, DJ’d by Jesse Miner, now of San Francisco. We would all do the Shim Sham to that really cheesy song, not “T’ain’t what you do,” but “Wanna learn the shim sham?” I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was like a show, we’d just all line up and do it on the bandshell stage to all the people passing by. I’d actually already learned the tap version of the shim sham because I’d been a tap dancer for years before I started swing. Andrew and I also definitely wanted to include the shim sham as a more modern and community-oriented Frankie reference. To be fair, Frankie would have used “T’ain’t what you do,” which is a way cooler song, but we were going for silliness here.
Of course, after mastering the Shim Sham, all of us back in Minnesota wanted to branch out. We soon got wind of Steven Mitchell’s “Jitterbug Stroll,” choreographed by Ryan Francois. This routine was busted out at every dance back in the day and the coolest people were always right up in front, rocking the “ayodi yodi’s” (although it sounds like he’s saying “be-o-di-o-di” to me). Side note: this was my favorite part of performing our Evolution choreography—typically I don’t look at individuals while I’m performing but I did manage to look straight into Steven’s eyes while he was judging and witness him cover his face with his hand and fall out of his chair.
A couple years later I remember hanging out with Peter in his basement and he said “You gotta check out this video.” It was the Minnie’s Moochers “Love me or leave me” routine. It totally blew my mind, the formations, the creativity, the flow, that killer Nina Simone track with all of the beautiful piano interludes… and the fact that these kids were way younger than me; I had never seen anything like it.
Andrew and I were really excited that they redid this routine 10 years later at the Frankie 95 festival.
ALHC 2000 was my first real competition event. I had been to some events in France during my junior year abroad, and spent 2 weeks in the mythical Herrang dance camp, and the Chicago Exchange in 2000 was my first event in the States until ALHC.
The big moment in my mind from this event was Jen Salvadori and Justin Zillman in the Classic division. They had such a cool, yet powerful and musical style from Orange County—but they got disqualified because Justin touched the floor at some point during the dance. These guys were way ahead of the game and rocked that event. I really wanted to include them in the choreography, but we were shooting for more iconographic clips and we couldn’t pinpoint any specific quotable moment that sticks out from the dance, it’s just a beautiful dance as a whole.
Bonus Minnie’s Moochers at ALHC 2007.