Table of Contents
Saint Croix Steel - Personal Vignettes - Do You Love Jesus? - My Kinda Woman
Pssst . . .Wanna see my dance scars?
I've been pusht, bumpt and bopt, hit and smashed. I've been coughed and sneezed and wheez'd and stept and sweat upon. I've been spiked and kickt, even 'tween the legs (she coulda died of embarrassment). I've been goosed and ground and whoosh'd and knee'd and elbow'd and finger'd. I've been mangled and bangled and twisted and tangled; jerkt, twirkt, tweak'd, and wrench'd. I've been bruised, skew'd and (would you believe?) shrew'd. My eyes've been slashed by flying hair, cheeks whipt by pony tails, and ears bashed by braids. I've also been cut by jewellery and stab'd by accessories. I've even had to have post-dance dental hair cuts. And they think basketball's rough? Hah! ©June 1997
SAINT CROIX STEEL
Some time in the '70s, I stept out of my Saint Croix hotel to take a walk. One way was busy with shops and restaurants and bars catering to my fellow tourists. I went the other way.
NNNNA few blocks up a gentle grade I came across a plaza lined with food vendors and filled with people. I saw no face that wasn't black but they could have seen one.
NNNNEnjoying the milieu, I soon learned the reason for the crowd:
NNNNAt one end of the plaza was an 80-piece pan band that gave a thrilling concert that included works by Beethoven, Chopin, Gersh- win, Ellington, Tchaikovsky, and included numbers from the US Pop and Broadway song books.
NNNNThe musicians included children as well as a few who could have been their great-great grandparents. Some were in normal busi- ness wear, others dressed as workmen, and others obviously very poor. There were pans of every conceivable description playing the parts written for other instruments.
NNNNThere was neither amplification nor sheet music but there was a highly animated and very enthusiastic conductor. The musicians might have been amateurs in the strictest sense of the word but their performance could have proudly shared a concert stage with any orchestra on the planet.
NNNNNIt was a joyous and musically thrilling evening. I was a bit saddened by the apparent absence of my fellow tourists but the thrill of that lovely evening's full and swinging sounds lingers and will no doubt stay with me 'til I die.
LAS VEGAS: July, 2004
We dropped in to the Bellagio's Fontana Bar because our interest was piqued by a blurb about the band. Although physically as described, we didn't care for it. Nevertheless, we joined the crowd of dancers on the very fast floor.
NNNNNWe hadn't noticed that the floor had emptied until we realized that we had it to ourselves. Almost instantly after we returned to our table, a lovely young woman from London came to compliment us (I referred her to teachers there) and the moment she left, a gorgeous blond knelt before me to compliment us saying “My husband and I would like to buy you a drink” and left a $20 bill. Of course I referred her to her local dance club.
LAS VEGAS: July, 2003
We were Swingin' away on the Bellagio's Fontana Bar floor when a large man squeezed in. I intentionally made contact with him in order to keep him out of our dance space. He, with both hands, shoved me offa the floor and grabbed her.
NNNNNThen I recognized him as a dancer from the SouthLand and scanned the room for his lovely wife. She was at the bar just outside the room, a place I didn't look.
We stopped to have one dance in a bar at the Sahara. As we were collecting our things, the band leader was thanking “the dancers”, us and another couple who was on the floor. As we were leaving, he called to us asking “If we play a swing tune, will you dance again?” I nodded assent. So what did they play? Strayhorn's Take The A Train at about 160 Beats Per Minute. We not only are old, we look old. But we got through it thanks to a mid-dance pause.
NNNNNIt seems some musicians are under the impression that Swing Music and Swing Dance Music are the same.NNNNN
CHICAGO: September, 2002 Excerpted from Chicago
. . .We came across a barber-shop attired Chicago Jazz quartette playing on [Michigan Avenue's] wide sidewalk. When we stopped to listen, the leader announced “courtesy of the City of Chicago”, took a step toward us and broadly gestured as he said “Dancing's allowed”. “HehHeh” chuckled I into her ear. “He knoweth not to whom he spake.” As they concluded the number they were playing, I dramatically removed the light jacket I was wearing and threw it aside a plant and equally dramatically directed her to remove her jacket and purse. The timing was good. I requested “a shuffle beat around 120” that did not cause a blink. They chose the Louis Prima chart of Just a Gigolo and, when they saw we could hit the breaks, threw in a few extras. It was as good a dance as the circumstances allowed. We didn't draw an audience but the quartette was very appreciative of us as were we of them.NNNNN
SYLMAR: June, 2002
[having an hour to kill] we went for a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant. The juke box played a number that she said was a Polka but I said was not so she got up to show me. A man across the room motioned “Wait!” to her as he got up to dance ending with a big hug from him and applause from the other diners. No, it wasn't a Polka.ROME: May, 2001 Excerpted from Italy
It was close to a warm Midnight when we finally got to the Spanish Steps that were obscured by the hundreds of people sitting on them. Near the bottom were four men with guitars. We positioned ourselves next to one of the two flanking singers who were leading the crowd in English-language song. When the correct beat and tempo were swung, we were surrendered the little space we needed to dance. The crowd roar'd its approval of each of the simple basic steps we did. At the end of the number there was a roar that can only be described as an ovation.NNNNN
PARIS: May, 2000 Excerpts from What We Did in Paris
. . . we went to the SLOW-CLUB (130 rue Rivoli) to dance. We descended a flight of stone steps to get to the ticket booth and then down another flight of stone steps to arrive at a large, low-ceiling'd, cellar. The several rooms are separated by stone arches. One room has a bar, a few small tables, and some dance space; another a small platform for musicians and, of course, dance space; yet another with some tables and dance space and perhaps more. The playlist was the familiar classics of US Blues, Rock 'n' Roll, jazz, and pop. They were fine but not exceptional in that famous club where the greats of the post-war jazz world have performed.
NNNNNEach of us danced with several others but they were doing their own dance, Rock and Roll, that, although similar to, is different from any of the dances that we do.
NNNNNNear the end of the evening we danced to a song with several breaks. We had the good luck to hit them all, each differently. The French dance through the breaks; their wide eyes and dropt jaws indicated that they'd never seen a dance such as they were witnessing. It was perhaps the best dance my girlfriend and I had ever done in spite of my fever and pneumonia and her being so tired from the day's activities . . .
Our last Saturday evening we went to a special dance at the EQUINOXE, a huge and apparent entertainment complex near the end of the Balard line . . . The fascinating part was the intermission music that was the same at each break: It was always in the same sequence and included a Waltz, Rumba, ChaCha, Swing, Bolero, Tango, another or two, and a Paso Doble. I had never before seen Paso Doble danced socially and was greatly impressed by the loveliness of the dance as well as the quality of the dancing and the great fun they were having doing it.NNNNN
LAS VEGAS: December, 1998
It was well after Midnight when we were drawn to the sound of music coming from the Bellagio's Fontana Bar. The small floor was filled with Lindy Hoppers. We stood at the entrance to watch.
NNNNNWhen the number ended, the floor emptied. The band played the Fever riff as the woman drummer was introduced as the singer. She went to the front of the band, took a microphone, and started talking to the audience.
NNNNNThen she looked our way to see her dressed in black accessoried with many rhinestones and sequins and I wearing black shirt and pants with a white dinner jacket, white tie and belt with sparkling accessories. “What are you doing there?” she asked, pointing and gesturing. “C'mon in!” We shook our heads in protest as she weaved through the tables to grab my hand to escort us to sit on the steps in front of the band.
NNNNNShe asked our names and stuff, the Fever riff behind it all, and then began to sing . . . to me! She embraced me, she kissed me, and she mussed my hair. Well, you can't do dat! My hair, once done, must not be touched. But it was and, when the audience saw the resulting Einstein doo, crakt up. My girlfriend tried to undo the damage but I knew it wasn't possible. The singer could hardly restrain a giggle at what she'd wrought. The audience's laughter seemed nervous.
NNNNNAbout two/thirds of the way through the number, when I realized there'd be no bridge, we got up to dance having that small, but very good, floor to ourselves. Well! The audience went crazy! We did a bit of FoxTrot decorated with an Ocho then broke to do a Push (roars of approval and applause), a Whip (roars of approval and applause), a Spin (roars of approval and applause), a Swivel (roars of approval and applause), and whatever else we did, which wasn't much, the audience went crazy with roars of approval and applause. It was all we could do to keep from laughing. Of course, we sat down before the end of the number. It was quite something!
NNNNNMy girlfriend said that had the point-source lights not prevented us from seeing the audience she would have froze.NNNNN
From: Icono Clast (email@example.com)
Subject: Vignette -- Phoenix 1997/07/26
Seeing the comment “His Love Amazes Me” (Sixty Minute Man?) appended to a post reminded me about two things in Phoenix, one I actually heard and the other I was told.
NNNNNIt was announced that there was to be a meeting of the “Swing Dancing God Freaks” (or something like that). I hadn't known they'd go to Phoenix in stead of DisneyLand/World but, then:
NNNNNAt the end of a dance a woman who appears to be, and is, a Jew was thanked, complimented, and asked “Do you love Jesus?”
MMMMn“Of course, . .” she replied brightly, “. . . he's one of us!”
Thank God I'm an atheistN
From: Icono Clast (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Side-topic Vignette 1995/12/26
At the USOpen, I came across a woman who is quite attractive to me. She was leaning against a wall. In one of her hands was a cigarette; in the other a bottle of beer. I approached, affecting a muy macho gutteral voice to say:
“My kinda woman. Drinkin' and smokin'. What else d'y'do?”
Without even the briefest pause, she said “Read my lips” that she solicitously puckered. I promptly planted a peck.