Swing, Brother Swing 2010

I must applaud Silvia for putting on such a wonderful event this year. Swing, Brother Swing was originally a boogie woogie event, yet billed as a lindy event, and has finally turned the corner and has become a proper lindy event (thank goodness). I’d say the biggest change has come from the clientele; three years ago there were very few, if any, Italian lindy hoppers, and now they number in the low hundreds. The ex-boogie dancers can’t escape their roots, but the new slue of beginning and intermediate dancers are truly lindy hoppers (in the sense they have no other dance background).

Silvia and Bruno are the organizers of Swing, Brother Swing and put countless hours into turning their boogie event into a proper lindy hop extravaganza. This year had a lindy-only line-up of instructors: Steven & Virginie, Dax & Alice, Mike & Nina, Joseph & Trisha, Joel & Valerie, and all the Killer Dillers: Kevin & Jo, Sharon & Juan, and Nathan & Evita. What a great group! From my perspective, it was fantastic to have my entire team there as well as some great friends. One of the highlights of the weekend was on Sunday night after our late dinner. Mike, Nathan, and Kevin had their instruments out and Nathan and Evita sang along (yup, Nathan does both). Sharon kept rhythm with some brushes; Dax and Sarah social danced; Mindaugas, Alice, and I worked on moves; Juan went back and forth between dancing and watching videos; and some Italians watched the spectacle in awe. The group just clicked and we had a blast! Definitely one of the best late nights I’ve had this year.

So the teaching line-up was solid, and so were the DJs. Silvia brought in Swingin’ Swannee (from Berlin) and Mindaugas (from Lithuania) to DJ when we didn’t have live music. They played some great stuff….stuff I think most of the Italian scene hadn’t heard before. To top that off, we had The Nine Pennies and The Nine Pennies Big Band, with whom the Killer Dillers performed live. They’ve come a long way since Kevin and I first danced to them in 2008. Roberto, the director and composer for the NPBB, did an outstanding job of writing out 9 songs for the show we did on Saturday. Given, he’d written out the score for The Big Apple the year prior, but still….that’s a ton of work!

So here’s the run down of the show. On Saturday, each Killer Diller taught 2 classes, did a double rehearsal, and put on a live 30 minute show to the Nine Pennies Big Band. For us as performers, this was a huge opportunity. This was our first show to a live band in Italy! EEEEKKK!

Some challenges that made the show all the more exciting:
1) We all live in various places and subsequently have very different travel schedules
2) Because of that, our rehearsal time as a group of 6 is extremely limited (6 hours total this weekend. Last group rehearsal was in December for Lindy Focus)
3) To top it off, we have to do choreo via video (eek….what if we weren’t perfect on video? What if we weren’t specific enough? etc.)
4) We were not able to get the music before the show, so we had to assume what we’d be performing to was going to be similar to our recordings
5) When we did our run throughs with the band, not all the members were there, so we weren’t quite sure what the final sound would be like
6) Due to an Icelandic volcano erupting, I couldn’t get back home and get our costumes together. Evita and Nathan had to scramble around NY and find something suitable. Needless to say, they found better costumes that I originally did.
7) During a live show, anything can happen: the band might play at a different tempo than in rehearsal, the solos sound different, costume pieces don’t do what they’re supposed to, lighting might be in the wrong spot, etc.

Knowing that, here’s the show:

Killer Diller Show at Swing Brother Swing, Bologna Italy, May 2010 from Killer Dillers

Yeah yeah yeah!!!

In regards to the rest of the weekend, the food was great, the company was fantastic, the rooms were nice, we had water, the sounds systems worked, the students were great and our translators were awesome. As an organizer, Silvia and Bruno took great care of us, threw a great event, and were all around awesome. Oh yeah, and the Showcase and Team competition were tons of fun! This year we saw significantly more lindy hop!!

xoxo

Camp Jitterbug 2010

Camp Jitterbug Flyer

Doesn’t Sharon look amazing?! I am so thrilled that The Killer Diller’s very own Sharon Davis on this year’s Camp Jitterbug flyer and on the website header: www.campjitterbug.com

The photo on the flyer was taken during her tribute act to Josephine Baker in last year’s Jump Session show. Josephine, being one of her all-time greatest inspirations, has inspired numerous costumes that take up a great amount of space in Sharon’s luggage.

Josephine Baker Banana Skirt Josephine Baker

The 2010 Camp Jitterbug details are:

Camp Jitterbug & the Jump Session Show 2010

Memorial Day weekend

May 28-31st 2010

Seattle, USA

And this year the Jump Session show will feature all six Killer Dillers! Myself and Kevin, Juan Villafane & Sharon Davis, and Evita Arce & Nathan Bugh will all be attending Camp Jitterbug, performing in the Jump Session Show, competing, and teaching some classes! Without a doubt, Camp Jitterbug is one of the greatest events of the year. Don’t miss out!

Here is the trailer from last year’s Jump Session show. If this doesn’t make you want to be there, I don’t know what would:

Monday workshop in Quebec

Yesterday I taught a lindy hop, blues, and burlesque workshop and it went rather well. I wasn’t as funny as I normally am while teaching, but I taught a lot of new material. I thought the first class was the blues class so I did a slow warm up with them. Needless to say, everyone looked horrified. I then introduced myself and then said “Welcome to this workshop. We’ll begin with a solo blues routine.” Shriek, gasp, OMG! Wait! It’s a lindy hop class!! Hahah, I looked a tad sheepish, but I changed gears just as quickly. Lunou was my follow and we did basics. I tried to make sure everyone could do weight changes through their center, rock steps with their heels up, and then triple steps. I did some figures, but focused on improve. All in all, I think the class went well AND my lead is getting better. Nice.

In the blues class I worked on hip bumps (using the bum to help accentuate the movement), walking through the hips, and really using the legs to make shapes. Lunou has a group of girls she’s working with and all of them attended. I worked on stuff with the entire class that those girls specifically needed to work on, so I hope they can apply that knowledge to their routine they did (this weekend and at CSC). I made up the routine as I went and then had to remember it (eeek!). It changed along the way, but again I think the class went well.

The burlesque class was a riot. I made the assumption that since winter was coming, every girl would have a jacket and a pair of gloves. In fact, most of them did. So I showed them an act of striptease….not the “art of…” but an act. I didn’t claim to be a master, but I did give a general explanation of the burlesque scene as I understand it and told the girls if they wanted to know more, they could look up the ever-so-talented Sharon Davis and would be able to find heaps of info. I felt like I wasn’t discounting myself by saying that, but was also redirecting them to a master of sort by referencing Shaz. So…… I showed them how to unzip their jackets, how to use their shoulders, and how to make similar shapes that sent different messages. After we did that to music a few times, we moved on to glove removal. I showed the ladies six different ways to remove gloves (and having them remove winter gloves was hilarious because of how big they all were) and then put on the music. At the end, the girls dance around, removed a glove, removed their jackets and then posed. Even though the girls didn’t end up removing clothing, some of them had a hard time with it at the beginning, but by the end of class, most of them were sassy with their gloves and jackets!

Thank you Lunou and Port-O-Swing for having me!!

Jitterbug accepted as a Ballroom Dance

Here is an article from the 20th September 1943 edition of the New York Times (page 23):

Jitterbug Accepted as Ballroom Dance

Jitterbug Accepted as Ballroom Dance

New York Teachers Combine It with Lindy for Classes

History was made in ballroom dancing yesterday when the New York Society of Teachers of Dancing Inc, at its September meeting in the Hotel Astor, officially recognized and decided to teach the jitterbug as a pastime fitted to accompany waltz, tango and rumba on dance programs.

However, the jitterbug to be taught this fall and winter to the city’s ballroom classes will not be the jitterbug of the hepcats, Harlem sidewalks or high school fiestas. Brought under professional control and ballroom decorum, the refined movements are joined with the forerunner of the jitterbug, the Lindy, to form the Lindy-Jitterbug, which was demonstrated at yesterday’s meeting by Mrs. Oscar Duryea and Patrick J. Mastrolia.

A committee appointed to study the jitterbug and advise on its adaptability to the ballroom reported that youth was dancing the jitterbug and would continue to dance it, and the fact must be recognized. The teachers were reminded that youth, not dancing masters, decreed what should be danced and since the jitterbug in its essence was an expression of youth, the thing to do was to adapt it to the classroom and a ballroom routine. Therefore the committee put together what seemed to be the general basic steps of the jitterbug as danced by the youth of the metropolitan area.

In 1941 the US entered WWII and brought lindy hop to the world. Two years later this article was written. Once jitterbug was adapted for the ballroom world, it became more mainstream and therefore was more accessible to the white crowd.
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For more amazing articles like this, and tons a fabulous tidbits from history, please visit Sharon Davis’ blog. She spent many hours scouring microfilm archives while she was in university to dig them up, so go check them out!! She’s not only a rad chick, but she knows her history and her music and she has a keen eye for fashion!

Happy Birthday Sharon!

What a fun Birthday Day Ms. Sharon Davis just had. Well (smirk), at least according to my standards.

Last night around 3am we celebrated Shaz by indulging in brownies and ice cream. Kev bought a round of treats for us all and then we sang Happy Birthday. As we continued to eat, in good ol’ Herrang fashion, foreigners continued to walk by the Blue Moon Cafe and then it dawned on the group of us to get them to sing. Slowly but surely, Sharon was serenaded multiple times, by multiple people, in multiple languages. Here’s the list of what came by:

Catalan
Castillian
PortugueseParabéns a você,
Italian – buon compleanno
French – Joyeux anniversaire !
German – Alles gute zum Geburtstag!
Finnish – Hyvää syntymäpäivää
Norwegian – Gratulerer med dagen!
DanishTillykke med fødselsdagen
Swedish – Grattis på födelsdagen !
Hebrew – ום הולדת שמח “Yom Huledet Sameakh”
Ukrainian – Многая Літа Олек! (Mno-haja Leeta Oh-lek)
Russian – С днём рождения! S dnyem rojdeniya!
Lithuanian – su gimtadieniu Su gimimo diena
Hungarian -boldog születésnapot
Irish – Breithlá shona duit
Pig Lain
Mime – this was acted out silently, but with much enthusiasm

Hopefully I’ve have found the correct translations and have linked to to appropriate songs. If you know of a better video clip of someone singing “happy birthday” in whatever language, please send it to me.

Happy Birthday Shaz!! Enjoy your mustache, your jewels, the cake and banana bread!!! xoxoxo