Picnic with Gatsby

What a delightful afternoon I had prancing around the Historic Dunsmuir Helman Estate at the The 27th Annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon! There was hardly enough time to take everything in. All the guests were dressed to the nines in their best 1920-1940s daywear and they even brought red wagons filled with picnic baskets, lemonade, all the fixing for Mint Juleps, pie, scones, and scotch. And to make sure they were comfortable while dining, many people brought their picnic blankets and chairs. One group even brought a rug, six wicker chairs, a tea set, punch bowl, a well stocked bar, and an enormous umbrella. Needless to say, they were the picnic champs of the afternoon.

Pictures from my phone, Kevin St. Laurent, Walter Nelson, and Kim Yasuda

I had not attended this party before so I prepared for the live music to be mediocre, but instead it was marvelous! The Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra was killin’ it all afternoon, and so much so that within moments of arriving, Kevin and I hit the dance floor to bal. Yup, that’s right, we did Balboa and we were cutting sick (for us)! Hehe, ok, perhaps not the ideal choice of words when describing one’s (1) balboa dance at (2) a vintage garden party, but eh….it’s my post. DISCLAIMER: Kevin and I do not claim to be balboa dancers. We can do it to some degree, but we are no means as skilled as someone like Mickey and Kelly, nor do we claim to be.

So anyways…had a sweet dance with Kevin and then my hair managed to undo itself. I redid my hair, introduced myself to a number of people, and saw some familiar faces from the past like Michael (of Michael and Persephone), Jane Barnes, Jason Hesse, Chris Lee, and Rusty Frank. I ate, I drank, I chased Kevin around with a camera and took various photos of him, and I danced twice more. The shim sham came on and I think every lindy hopper there hit the floor. Shortly after that, there was a partnered Charleston Contest which Kevin and I won. We are now the 2011, Art Deco Society, Great Gatsby Picnic, Partnered Charleston Champions! What a mouthful. *smile To be perfectly honest, our Balboa dance at the beginning of the afternoon was MUCH more spectacular than what we did on the competition floor, but regardless, we graciously accepted first…..and then I had to redo my hair again.

There was more drinking and mingling….and then the party was done. As the sun sat lower in the sky, people packed up their picnic baskets, folded up their blankets, loaded up their wagons, and the vintage cars rumbled away. The afternoon was reminiscent of a dream. It all happened so quickly and then it was done. As I type about it now, sitting in front of my trusty Mac in my modern pajamas, it doesn’t quite feel real. Thank goodness for photos….and a first place ribbon.

Glenn Crytzer – It Don’t Mean a Thing IF….

I ran into Glenn a few months ago while hanging out in Seattle and he’s a super interesting guy. He knows his music backwards, forwards, and upside down and he speaks passionately and eloquently about it.
When I first started dancing, I could dance long enough or hard enough. I would dance to anything just so I could keep moving and practice this new “thing” I found and needed. It was like I was starving constantly and it didn’t matter what nourished me. Now years later, I have been well feed and have developed a better palate for music. I’ve become more of a music snob and will no longer dance lindy hop to just anything. In fact, I really only want to lindy hop to swing music, not rock & roll, boogie woogie, soul, r&b, bluegrass, hip hop, etc. I will dance other forms of movement to them, but I won’t lindy hop to them.
Thank you Glenn for writing about why music swings! Click here to read it on his blog
Hi Jazz Fans,

When I wanted to progress past being an intermediate level dancer, I realized that the next step in dancing was to understand the music, and through this process I started to discover why it was that the really good dancers didn’t dance to certain songs or go out to hear certain bands. There’s a certain feeling in swing music that doesn’t exist in bop or jump blues or 50’s Basie or groovy jazz. It’s really hard to describe in a sentence, but when you discover it, you’ve got it forever and it’s one of the most exciting revelations that life has to offer (IMHO anyway).

Whenever I dance to or listen to a live band, I judge it with a critical ear – I pick apart what I’m hearing and judge what each player’s style is doing to add to or take away from the swing of the band. Over the next several days, I’m going to write about some of the things that I listen for in dance music. If you’re just learning to dance or are looking to step up to the next level, I hope this will help you in your quest as you search for the holy grail of “swing;” if you’re reading this and you’ve already discovered swing, I hope this will help you understand more about what you’re hearing so that when you do or don’t like a band, you’ll have a better idea of why.

#1 Rhythm of the Train

It’s really hard to find good rhythm players and I’ve been blessed to play with guys who really get the style. The goal of the rhythm section should be to form a really tight unit that, in a way, emulates the rhythm of a train. Here are a couple great examples. The first is Duke Ellington’s Orchestra from 1930 playing Old Man Blues:

Now THAT sounds like a train! Here’s a another example, this time from Count Basie’s Orchestra in 1938. Listen to how the Rhythm Section creates the drive and energy of a locomotive, even though they are less expressly trying to copy the exact sound of a train in this one.

Now let’s listen to Count Basie from 1959 to hear how the music changed away from being dance music.

The drums in this tune focus on the back beats like one TWO three FOUR, instead of that nice even chug-chug-chug-chug from the 1930’s, and the extended drum solo at the end just doesn’t swing at all, and there are many other places where the whole band syncopates together, breaking the steady 4 rhythm. The focuses of this tune are the crazy ensemble riffs and Lockjaw Davis’s solo. The ensemble riffs now float overtop of the rhythm instead of being a PART of the rhythm like in the last Basie tune.

Now let’s try some more Ellington and we’ll hear that even the infamous “Take the A-Train” didn’t sound much like a train anymore by the 1960’s.

You can hear that the 1930’s music has that chugga chugga sound like a train, while the later music is more about the horns. This is, in my opinion, due to the fact that American culture changed from a railroad driven culture in the 1930’s to an automobile driven culture after WW2.

Let’s listen to a couple modern examples.

First, something that doesn’t swing!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling it bad music – I think Diana Krall and her musicians are fantastic players. I am however calling it indisputably NOT swing music.

Let’s close out with something that DOES swing. Here’s my buddy Jonathan Stout’s big band from LA. Note how Jon on guitar and Josh on drums create that locomotive rhythm. (check out Jonathan’s blog here: HERE)

I hope this gets you started thinking about what makes music swing!!

Next time: The Drum Set





The 2nd Annual Seattle Vintage Fashion Runway Show and Lecture

Friday evening December 4th, 2009. Featuring a beautiful and authentic collection of Men’s and Women’s Jazz Age Vintage Fashion of the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s on the Runway! Brought to you by your fashion hostess Lorraine O’Neal.

The Roaring 20’s, the somber 1930’s, the wartime 1940’s, times defined by dramatic change in American and European history. Times of revolution in every sphere of human activity, Politics and Cultural norms and values, from the new found freedom of the Women’s Liberation movement to changes in technology, mass media, music and dance.  Changes in fashion during this time were no exception, but a sign of the times. Come celebrate a runway view of vintage fashion, and live history through these fashions.

TICKETS Purchase tickets here at Brown Paper Tickets Event Vintage Fashion Show Event #79883


$12  Presale tickets, until Nov 13. After Nov 13th, tickets are $14. Seating is severely limited.

WHEN A luscious Friday, Evening Dec 4, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

WHERE The DAR Rainier Chapter House in Capital Hill, Seattle

800 East Roy St., Seattle WA      map

MORE INFO If you would like more information about this event please contact Lorraine O’Neal at e-mail address :  sweetlindylorraine@yahoo.com

FACEBOOK:  Join this Event on Facebook and get the latest info.

And here is a fun write-up in the Seattle Metropolitan.


(Rain date: Sunday, Oct. 4th)
11:00 AM to 6:00 PM

This year marks the 3rd year in a row that 1920’s-clad picnickers will spread blankets under the shade trees among the historic buildings of Governor’s Island for two solid afternoons of hot jazz starring Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra. On Saturday June 7th and Sunday June 8th from 11:30 am-6:30 pm both days, join in on the Gatsby-esque revelry. Activities include: Charleston and Peabody dance lessons, croquet games sponsored by the New York Croquet Club, tug of war games, a pie contest (Saturday only), 1920’s motorcars on exhibit, a Bathing Beauties and Gents Vintage Swimsuit Parade (Sunday only), and couture milliners pedaling their chic chapeaux.

Ferry Schedule:
Ferries to Governors Island are free and do not require tickets. Ferries leaving from Manhattan leave from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street. Ferries leaving from Brooklyn leave from Fulton Ferry Landing, at the end of Old Fulton Street. For directions please visit www.govisland.com

Widely anticipated by flappers, sporting gents and tiny tots alike, this event has been featured and reviewed consistently by The New York Times and the Sartorialist.

A wide array of music, food & drink, activities, games and contests are open for all ages to enjoy:

– A delightful variety of refreshing cocktails will be served by St. Germain.
– Picnickers are welcomed and encouraged.
– Tasty sandwiches and BBQ provided by Cercle Rouge.
– Authentic ’78 records from the 1920s played on a phonograph provided by Michael Cumella of WFMU’s Antique Phonograph Music Program.
– Charleston lessons given by dance legend Roddy Caravella of Sandra Cameron Dance Studio.
– 1920s Motorcar Exhibition – take a spin around the island in a genuine rumbleseat; hold on to your hat!
– Vintage clothing dealers and boutique milliners – They will all be peddling wares, so be sure to tuck some cash into your garter.
– Special literature/ephemera booths and readings by the Dorothy Parker Society & F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.
– Bathing Beauties & Beaus Promenade
– Live dance performances
– Vintage portraits by R.A. Friedman.
– Tug O’ War
– Parade Of Hats
– Bake Sale!
– Pie Recipe Contest – Categories: “Mom’s Best,” “Best Savory,” “Most Deliciously Unusual,” and “Hobo’s Choice”. Special Prizes and coveted gift certificates to be awarded.

Boo. I am not going to be in New York this weekend, but Kevin will be!! Nevertheless, you should go if you’re in the area, have fun, take pictures, post them on Facebook or Flicker, send me or Sharon Davis a link, and then we’ll post them on Swingfashionista. Think about it!!! Tony and Voon, have fun and send me pictures!!!

Fashion of the 1920’s

1920’s makeup was known for a simple approach and high drama result. Lines were solid and the makeup was meant to look anything but natural. The natural look had been so important during the Victorian and Edwardian ages that, by the 1920’s, women wanted something different.

It’s important to remember that the 1920’s had a different kind of makeup than what we use now. Beauty inventions, such as mascara in a tube with a brush, had not been created yet. So try to substitute the best you can with what you can get.

Women went with a pale face in the 1920’s, often using a white or cream base. The base could be a cream or a powder, depending on the exact woman. They created a plain, light palette to apply further makeup on.

1920’s makeup for the eyes was dark and smoky. Women often wore charcoal or grey eye shadow, and only wore the shadow on the lower lid. A thin line of black eyeliner was traced around the eyes, then often smudged at the ends. Mascara, not yet available in its easy present form, existed as a wax that you applied with a stick. So lashes were dark, but not heavily made up.

Eyebrows in the 1920’s were worn high, thin and sloping. They didn’t arch, but looked more like a half circle. Eyebrows were worn long, often ending at the edge of the eye. The brow was colored dark with a pencil or wax to really stand out.

Women preferred a rosy blush for their cheeks in the 1920’s. Rose, dusty rose, raspberry and even orange were common blush hues. The blush was applied lightly to the apple of the cheeks and then blended in. Women in the 1920’s did not tend to wear blush outside the apple of the cheek.

Women’s lips in the 1920’s were made up to represent a Cupid’s bow. Lip liner was used to create a bow shaped top lip and a full, but short lower lip. It was really all about the lips when in came to 1920’s makeup—the darker the color the better. Women wore a lot of red, burgundy and other bold lip colors.

Article from the Life123. For more information, check out my post on Swingfashionista.com.