Lessons in Jazz Appreciation from Lindy Focus

This is the promised follow up to the A Word on Swing episode about the most recent Lindy Focus. It’s very late and I only completed it recently because I was reminded of it after writing a bit about current music in my last post suggesting bands for Frankie100. What follows is probably the least technical illustration of what makes classic jazz great for dancing as well a behind the scenes look at the behind the scenes video about Lindy Focus and A Word on Swing.

Check out the show notes for this episode on “A Word on Swing.”

Lindy Focus was by far the most fun I’ve had listening and dancing to live music. For comparison, I think that in terms of sheer numbers and talent, Frankie95 was a beast I don’t think any event should dare try to emulate ever again. 15 bands in five days including a number of featured musicians was an over the top spectacle that was harder to juggle logistically than necessary. Plus the conflicting styles of some of the bands didn’t always create a happy balance for many of the attendees.

In contrast I think that the approach to the live music at Lindy Focus presented a diversity of sounds and genres that still maintained a unity of vision that made for a more cohesively fun week of music. But you can see and hear more about that in the latest Episode of “A Word on Swing” above.

I listened to all the music I recorded at Lindy Focus on virtual repeat the entire time I edited together the show. I sort of wish I had recorded more, but it was a dance event after all . . .

Lindy Focus 64 025

There is no spoon.

I did spend a lot of time analyzing almost every frame of every second of these videos. Combined with all the interviews I’ve been doing with musicians, I’ve learned quite a bit. It’s like auditing a graduate level class on music appreciation. I thought that I would share some of the interesting/awesome things I noticed. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Musicians We Should Hear at Frankie100

Frankie100 is a year away and so goes the wild speculation about what it will be like. A recent comment on Facebook got me to thinking about the possible live music for this thing. Music is  the main ingredient for any dance event, but at something like Frankie100 where you’re expecting the bulk of the existing Lindy Hop population to attend, there are a lot of “considerations,” to put it politely, that you have to keep in mind.

I should note that even though I worked for Frankie95, I don’t have any intention of working for Frankie100, so I’m not working from any insider knowledge of that particular event. This is just blatant fan speculation on my part. Read the rest of this entry »

Video Dance Highs of 2012

This is the big list. You’ve already seen highlights in music, blogs, and news. I broke off a separate post for two over achievers last week, and I’ll do two more for my personal favorites before the holidays end. I tried to cull this list down to a reasonable level. It’s still almost 100 videos, but I decided that that would be a shame to cut it down any more since there was a lot of good stuff this year. It’s already hard to choose highlights from the 64 routines, 63 separate couple spotlights, and five jam style contests at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, and I already mentioned how I favorited about 1000 Lindy Hop related videos on YouTube this year alone. Not making matters easier is how Facebook and YouTube both conspired to make the way I organized last year’s highlights impossible this time around.

This post is a combination of popular videos on YouTube, videos that generated a lot of chatter or “likes” on Facebook, or some other performances I enjoyed and thought were overlooked. As much as I’d like to say something about all of them, there is a lot of them. Besides, I think most of them can speak for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Can’t Stop The Signal: Notes on Swing Dance Video Developments in 2012

ILHC 3656

This was originally going to be part of my wrap up of 2012 noteworthy news, but there are so many video related developments that I decided to break this section out into its own post.

A columnist for at the Washington Post recently made the case for forgetfulness in an age where technology doesn’t allow us to forget. The gist of his thesis is that we naturally forget things so we only remember enough to distill important lessons from life experiences. That way you don’t stab your cousin during the holidays every time you flashback to that wedgie they gave you at the prom. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, theoretically you’ll be able to remember every tiny detail of your life that you commit to the ether. He argues that this isn’t necessarily a good thing because it could hinder our ability to not dwell on the past and move on with our lives. We would be better off if sites created some sort of algorithm that automatically deleted status updates and tweets and such over time.

I was with him until he brought up that last suggestion. As someone loves reading about history, the idea of purposefully throwing away visceral reactions to events great and small sounds criminal. Maybe the vast majority of these posts are too self absorbed, tedious, or ironic to be of any academic use, but they are all valuable in their own way.

I just found out about Darlene Gist earlier this year when she posted a video of herself performing a Lindy Hop routine on Dance Fever in 1986. Dance Fever was the “So You Think You Can Dance?” of the 80’s.  This was before the internet and cable TV was still in its early stages. Millions upon millions of people probably saw this performance. Yet hardly anyone in the current Lindy Hop scene knows about Darlene. Compare that to now when you only need a few thousand views on a YouTube video to be considered “Lindy Famous.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Lindy Hop News and Noteworthy 2012 Edition

Stuff happens a lot in the Lindy scene these days. As much as I post on the FB page for this blog, I still miss quite a few things. Thankfully there’s a multi-headed beast trying to keep on top of it all. Even if you can’t follow 100 blogs or so, then at least Dance World Takeover has been posting things to get your learn on while Yehoodi has been staying on top of the more “mainstream” swing news.

Despite that, there’s still quite a few things that don’t get as much publicity as it should. I know simply because a lot of it is just sitting in my queue right now. I don’t get to them mostly because of time. Having a full time job can be a pain in terms of keeping up with vernacular jazz dance. During Hurricane Sandy, while the whole East Coast of the US was locked down, I tried to post links every 30 minutes just to break the monotony of being stuck in my apartment. Even with all the time in the day, I found myself barely keeping pace with the volume of links to sort through, review, write short copy for and post.

I’ve had dreams of a full scale swing news site, but now more than ever, I’m certain such a thing would require full time involvement of at least one person, maybe more. Even an army of volunteers would require someone to keep on top of them all. Anyone interested in stepping up?

So with all that in mind, here are a few selected highlights from this past year. Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Swing Music Mix Tape

BMJB Mobtown 061

I’ve assembled some of my favorite musical moments into this handy dandy playlist that you can use as a soundtrack for your life. Consider this an alternative to all the holiday music you will be (or already are being) bombarded with in the next few weeks.

We have come to that season where I compile my favorite videos from the past year. I already got the blogs out of the way with the last post.  I’m discovering that the dance videos is going to be a bit more problematic since there were so many great highlights in the past year, and it’s not even over yet. Anyone who tells you that Lindy Hop is in any sort of decline, isn’t paying attention.

Since the dance videos will take awhile, I’ll start off by giving you a little mix tape for 2012. In picking out these performances I realized that I am heavily biased towards those I experienced in person. Video isn’t a completely fair representation of a performance, especially since live audio recording has yet to catch up with the leaps and bounds that video recording has made in the last few years. However, it’s still good enough to relive moments, or at least get a taste for those that you missed.

It’s interesting to hear how some musicians have a love/hate relationship with YouTube videos. Aside from the never ending entanglement of intellectual property issues, it’s surprising to hear their criticisms or even outright embarrassment about some performances, particularly ones that people rave about. Read the rest of this entry »

On Lindy YouTube Statistics

(Updated Note: I forgot to mention that all these numbers were taken from the YouTube videos the week of July 9-13, 2012.)

First bit of business: check out my new blog, New Old School Swing which will feature old videos of familiar dancers. Now on to the show!

In my last post, I compiled this list of most viewed Lindy related videos. It was a relatively straight forward process of figuring out what videos uploaded since the start of the year had garnered the most views. Tena Morales then asked me in the comment section if my 2011 list accounted for events that happened earlier in the year, and if they had an advantage of getting on the list since they’ve been online longer.

It makes sense. In fact, if you look at the most viewed modern videos of Lindy Hop, Blues Dance and Balboa, you’ll notice that they’re all from 3-6 years ago.

4,991,700views Fast Swing Dancing – ULHS 2006, Oct 3, 2006
2,146,200 views Lindy Hop Showdown, Nov 9, 2006
1,612,700 views Koop – Come to me (OFFICIAL VIDEO) HQ, Jan 28, 2009
1,597,100 views Denver Airport Holiday Flash Mob, Nov 22, 2011
1,017,900 views Lindy Hop Dance, Nov 14, 2007
64,600 views Balboa Rendezvous 2006 Bernard and AnneHelene, Mar 13, 2007
38,900 views ABW 2008 – 1st Place ACBC – Mickey & Kelly, Jun 17, 2008
34,500 views ACBC 2007, Jun 18, 2007
34,200 views ILHC 2008 :: 1st Place Balboa, Oct 12, 2008
32,200 views Marcus & Barbl – Swing balboa, Sep 1, 2007
137,500 views Blues dancing demo at Cellspace, Aug 2, 2007
84,100 views Damon & Heidi Blues Dance, Mar 25, 2007
80,100 views Blues Dance Lesson: Ways to Connect, Aug 18, 2008
75,100 views Portland Blues Dance Competition 2009 v1, Aug 25, 2009
63,500 views Karen R. Smith & Mihai blues dance, Jan 10, 2007

Note: All numbers were rounded off.

However, I noticed something interesting when I tallied up the numbers for the Champions Strictly Lindy Hop division for the International Lindy Hop Championships. Read the rest of this entry »

Most Popular Lindy Videos of 2012: Halftime Report

Major edit: Thanks to Jim Thorp who caught a major error and noted that I missed The Black Swamp Village video. In the process of verifying that, I noticed that I also missed the Carsie Blanton as well as the I Charleston Tel Aviv and Montpellier Swingjammerz videos. Much apologies from me for my lazy journalistic standards. At least, this still supports my conclusion that you need to make friends with an indy musician or better yet, be one.

While procrastinating on so many other things, I wondered what were the most popular Lindy Hop related videos so far in 2012 since we’re just past the half way point of the year. I thought you may be curious too, so I thought I’d share. That’s the kind of guy I am.

The most viewed Lindy Hop video so far this year with 64,500 views is . . .

Carsie Blanton’s Baby Can Dance – OFFICIAL VIDEO

And the rest as of Monday, July 9, 2012: Read the rest of this entry »

Size Matters and other Annual Ruminations

I started this blog three years ago because there wasn’t much Lindy related to read online. I thought I might as well start my own site. Much has changed since then, and now everyone has something to say.

I think that’s great. Some people don’t think so. I’m discovering how little faith my friends have in free speech for the masses. I’ve been accused of being a bit of a populist though. One thing I’m realizing is that what I’m looking for in online discussions is probably not going to materialize because it comes down to the fact that our scene isn’t that big.

Of course you have to ask, who are we including in this definition of “scene?” If we counted everyone who has ever taken a Lindy Hop lesson, then you could say tens maybe even hundreds of thousands of people. But you know most of those people never stick around. Do we count those people who just call themselves swing dancers? Those people that do a lot of side by side Charleston, but view any other moves using more than 6 counts as a foreign concept? Do we count the Blues and Balboa communities? I’m sure some people would object to including anyone that can’t swingout, but if that were the main criteria for being a member of this community, then we’d have to kick out most of the people who call themselves Lindy Hoppers.

Do you count all those local dancers that come out every week, but never travel or are not even interested in the latest YouTube clips of Skye & Frida? Do you count those dancers that made the finals of every competition they entered six years ago, but now only come out to the local dance once in a blue moon?

I think about these things because I get the impression that many people, especially those newer to Lindy Hop and its associated dances treat it like it’s much bigger than it is. And out of those people, a few of them seem to think that they can get away with things as if no one would notice or call them on their bullshit. Read the rest of this entry »

DCLX+BMJB=TCB

This is a little project I did because I recently bought a new camera, and now I am basically teaching myself how to use it in addition to learning photography and videography from scratch. It’s been something that I’ve been wanting to get into for awhile now, and just decided to jump to it.

Other than being an unabashed fan of the Boilermaker Jazz Band, I did this mostly as an exercise in learning how to cut between multiple video angles. Btw, thanks to David Soltysik for letting me play with the original files of his recordings from that night. You can see his footage on his site.

I know it’s not close to perfect, but it was a good learning experience. Looking back, I may have been too much of a slave to include certain shots simply because I like looking at them. It was a great opportunity to catch the Boilermakers in rare form as they were on fire for most of that night as evidenced by your best set in the house shot of Rich tearing apart his drum set.  Plus there was the energy of the DCLX crowd and the dancers in the circle.

Everything is in chronological order, other than two short shots, and starts with the end of the second encore song: the theme from Sanford & Son. This was a compromise from showing the whole thing, and I wanted some time to acknowledge the band and show off the fun little bits that happened in between the two songs. David cut out at the end of the song, and I was about to pack it in myself, but I kept rolling on a hunch—really a hope that they would play again and they did not disappoint.

In case you’re wondering, the camera next to the drummer, Rich is the new camera: a Panasonic Lumix GH2. I was on the opposite side of the stage recording with an old point and shoot camera, a Sony Cybershot W350. That one was an impromptu decision earlier in the evening when I realized that I had it with me and decided that if I’m going to do this, then I’m just going over the top with it. David is recording with his hand held video camera in the middle of the crowd.

For those of you trying to decide on your next camera purchase, this is actually a good opportunity to compare video between a point & shoot, a dedicated video cam, and an almost DSLR. Although, it should be noted that despite the fact that the Cybershot shoots in HD widescreen, the rendering settings I used to create the final video was not kind to that camera’s footage and made it worse than it was.

Enjoy this little love letter from me to the Boilermakers and everyone at DCLX. Comments and critiques would be appreciated.

« Older entries