When my wife and I first got married almost twenty years ago, she wanted to take ballroom dancing. Well you can just imagine my reaction as most of you know me anyway. In fact, I think I camp with most guys when I say I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a flat head screwdriver than take ballroom dance lessons. I'm more of a free style kind of dancer with his own skilled moves that show up after a couple of stiff drinks. A real Nepolean Dynamite with cat-like reflexes and abilities.
But like most insistent wives when they really want to do something, this idea of hers wouldn't go away. And like most good husbands who just want their wives to be happy, I agreed to her wishes and prepared myself for action.
The nightmares would begin with two uncoordinated people trying their best to remember the moves that were set by the instructor. While the music played on, our feet would never fall within their assigned steps. Mine especially.
I'm not sure what my problem is but I can't remember things when it comes to set actions. I would get all flustered and then this would be followed by anger which would lead to, "What in the Sam Hill are you making me do this for?"
Or...Something like that.
Our dance lessons would last about two months at which time both of us could see that it was going no where. Like a failed marriage, her dreams of showing out on the dance floor would diminish due to the inabilities of my uncoordinated feet.
I suppose I never really appreciated the whole ballroom dancing thing. And I don't think I ever would have if not for the new reality show, Dancing With the Stars.
My wife started watching it and I kind of got into it a little. I can really respect the talent of someone being able to have an entire dance routine all figured out in their head before they ever hit the floor. Not to mention actually being able to carry out the moves gracefully and look good while doing them.
Not too long ago, I received a Youtube video from my favorite guitar player, David Brashier, featuring a movie clip from "Hellzapoppin'" filmed in 1941. It started the wheels turning on swing dancing and where it came from as I had never seen anything like this before. Oh sure, I've seen swing dancing and jitterbugging by white people in the 50's but this was like swing dancing on steroids.
Digging a little deeper, I was surprised to learn that swing dancing was invented by the black community in the 1920's. On March 26th, 1926, the Savoy Ballroom opened in New York and was an enormous success. This dance club attracted the best dancers in the New York area as well as the best black swinging jazz bands around.
As the story goes, one evening in 1927 following Lindbergh's flight to Paris, a local dance
enthusiast by the name of "Shorty George" Snowden was hanging around watching some of the couples dance. A reporter from the news inquired as to what kind of dance they were doing out there and glancing at a headline on a newspaper that featured Lindbergh's flight, Shorty replied, the "Lindy Hop."
The "Lindy Hop" along with the "Jitterbug" which came from a song written by Cab Calloway in 1934 would become the two backbone names for swing.
As mentioned, I've been pretty impressed with the whole Dancing With the Stars show and I like watching it from time to time but this is like nothing you've ever seen before. Prepare yourself for some real heat on the dance floor.
Swing it up.