“Morning Blues” with Julie Brown, a new “A Word on Swing,” and learning how to do them

This is the final version of a quick project that wasn’t.

I’ve mentioned before, that I got a fancy new camera last Spring; partly to take pictures, and partly to do video projects like “A Word on Swing.” I’ll probably end up doing more vlog/talk show/documentary type stuff, but I have been itching to do something more creative. Learning my way around a DSLR camera has been a bit of a process. Plus the more I learn about what goes into making really good videos with decent production values is pretty intimidating. Rather than let that keep me from doing anything, I just decided to eff’ it, and do something just to do something; hoping it’ll turn out well, but mostly to use it as a learning experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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Favorite Videos and Parting Thoughts on 2012

I had so many favorites this year that I had to spread them out over several posts, (music, news, blogs, video notes, videos, videos and one more) but this last one is reserved my personal favorites and some random musings.

In putting these year-end lists together, I am reminded why I don’t bother to claim anything resembling journalistic objectivity on this blog. A lot of things I post about here and on the Facebook page involve people I know personally, and in some cases, very much so. Fortunately, I know some very talented people.

I met quite a them a few years ago when DC was a freakish nexus of Lindy Hop. It never ceases to amuse me to see the lineup of instructors at an event in some random part of the world and remember when that was just a Tuesday night. The funny thing is that no one really had being a fancy pants dance instructor on their radar. Andy still works the full time job that got him to DC. Nina had plans on being a fashion designer, and Skye was planning on getting his Ph. D  and becoming an educator. Some people kept their eyes on the prize. The Dreyer twins, Alex and Austin, came to DC to cook, and both worked in a French restaurant just a few doors down from my place. I used to imagine them busting out a random tap routine on the bar. Sometimes I would walk by and slow down, peering through the front window of that place, hoping that would be the night it finally happened. Eventually, Alex made the next logical leap to actually cooking in France. Skye still got to be educator, just not the kind he envisioned a few years ago.

Jazz Roots Dance Festival Paris 2012 – Skye Humphries & Alexander Dreyer

That’s my long way of explaining why I have I stupid grin on my face when I watch this video. Most people are see a jazz performance in Paris, while I’m thinking of late nights in a living room on 5th Street. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback with Ramona Staffeld “Rockin in Rhythm” with Todd Yannanacone

(Note: Ramona Staffeld & Todd Yannacone’s 1st Place Pro Classic performance at The International Lindy Hop Championships was the most shared video off of the Wandering & Pondering FB page. It also happens to be one of my favorites of this year. Not long after that, Ramona contacted me to continue with her series here on this blog, but rather than go back, I convinced her to write about her most recent performance. She enthusiastically agreed, but I failed at life by losing track of the post she sent to me. I remembered it while prepping this year’s round up and rather than blathering on about it myself, I present to you Ramona Staffeld in her own words.)

Well, that’s just it right there. Who it is you are dancing with is one of the key ingredients when making and performing a piece. Off and on the dance floor, Todd and I have respect, friendship, and a sense of humor towards each other. It is the people parts that give a good foundation to work and learn. Fun and silly are priorities, and most of all, being authentic.

Our creative process was a shared dialogue of ideas and excitement. Nothing was too outrageous or unworthy of the time it took to give it a try and then make a decision. Open mind, open heart. Having a shared aesthetic and general taste made for a smooth flow, too. 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 »

2012 Lindy Hop Video MVP’s

In reviewing dance highlights for the year, I noticed that two dancers kept popping up repeatedly. Rather than have them clog up the other lists, I thought I’d break them out into a separate post.

A Leaf on the Wind That Will Blow You Away

Out of all these performances, there’s one story that stands out about Laura Glaess for me this year. Too early on Friday morning at ILHC in August  I had to be up to take care of some issues in the ballroom. Floor trials started shortly after and a few brave and sleep deprived came in to rehearse their routines for the weekend. Laura ran through her Pro Classic routine with Mike Roberts and her Pro-Am with Dominique Pomeroy. In between, she and Mike also gave pointers to the Cleveland juniors. We got to a point where no one else wanted to do a run through, but Laura was still ready to go. She bounced up and down like a puppy and asked us who wanted to dance next, at which point Mike, Dominique, Mike Marcotte, and I collectively looked at the ground and shuffled our feet. Normally I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to dance with Laura, but it was that damn early. Man was not meant to get up that early to dance, but that woman is.

This video is something I edited together from footage I took that morning and evening.  This video starts off with footage from Patrick & Natasha’s video because I was never ready whenever they started to dance, but you’ll see them go to town from a bunch of angles as the video progresses. One of the things that I learned to appreciate about this performance after watching it several hundred times is how well the choreography flows and compliments the music.  They don’t do anything too obvious, but it all still makes sense. They also do a great job of matching the very gradual increase in intensity of the song without outpacing it. 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 »

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 »

A Word on Swing #3: On The Porch With Nina Gilkenson Part 2

And the next part of our interview with Nina Gilkenson. We have an interesting talk juxtaposing her fear of competing with her role as co-director of the biggest Lindy Hop competition in the world. Then we move on to what makes her tick creatively and why Baltimore is the perfect place for such a person.

Thanks to Andrew Fritz for letting us use some of his great shots from last year’s International Lindy Hop Championships. Check out ore of his work at http://www.fritztech.com/

Thanks again for sticking with us through the Baltimore atmosphere in the background. You’ll be rewarded in the next part when that noise will be almost completely gone. Until then, check out part one here.

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 »

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