Every August, belongs to Harlem. It used to be a week, now they extended it to take in the whole month, there’s been a lot of changes since my days in HARLEM, it’s where I was born, Harlem Hospital. It’s where I stepped on the Apollo stage for the first time, as an amateur, I won my first Lindy-hop contest at the Apollo, and the winner was given a week at the Apollo, I was in show business. I played hooky from school to appear at the Apollo, I was walking on air.And so my beginnings in Harlem started me on the path of dancing, and It was all I ever wanted, my dreams had come true It was a happy time, I was Fourteen, going on thirty ,little did I know where this journey would take me.
It was 1934, and the lindy –hop had become the dance of the day, as kids we would go to the Rennasance Ballroom on Sunday afternoon, from 3p.m. to 9p.m. young people would put on their dancing shoes and dance at the Renny, [that’s what we called it] In the meantime we heard there was going to be a lindy-hop contest at the Apollo In those days I was dancing with my high school partner, Sonny Ashby ,we were considered the best dancers around, So Billy Leach.who was a class mate of me and Sonny, suggested that Sonny and I should sign up to dance at the Apollo theatre’s first lindy-hop contest to be held at the theater. Little did we know what that would mean. The top dancers at the Savoy would be the other contestants, you know we were dumb kids,We didn’t know anything, we just was excited about dancing at the Apollo. And so we got ready to go to the contest at the Apollo, The contest was held on Thursday that was the closing night of the show that was appearing there. So Sonny and I got ready to go to the theater, When we got to the theater, wow, there was the dancers from the Savoy Ballrom, the dancers who created the Lindy=hop and looking down at Sonny and me, wondering what are we doing here.I guess being young had it’s asdvantages, we were to dumb to be scared The contest was on, and Sonny and were ready, We were good and we were good that night, Ralph Cooper was the emcee and his famous words were, Nagasaki which meant the show was on,We won the contest, that night,which meant we would be book to appear for a week at the Apollo Theater. We were elated we were the best, The next morning while preparing to go to school, a knock was at the door, When I opened the door, there stood a man with two men behind him,When he spoke he was very polite, He said’Good morning, My name is Whitey, and I saw you dance last night, I would like to invite come to the Savoy. I would rather you dance with us, than that against us,’, And that was how I met Whitey.
Many years have passed since those days at the beginning of the Savoy, So I decided it would be good to get back to my roots where it started,So I decided to go back to the Apollo, as I said, times have changed in Harlem, which I hadn’t taken in consideration,, and so we decided we would return to HARLEM, but Harlem didn’t remember me.We booked the Theater,had the date all set,Larry Shultz put up part of the deposit, and so I signed my first contract, to appear at the Apollo,Darlene design the Plastic screen, it was beautiful,I was elated, I was coming back to Harlem,I attended the Mayors dinner, which is invitational, and prestiges, I had my workshop, at the Dwyer Center, and everything was ready, but no one remembered me, The tickets didn’t sell, enough , for the theater to carry me, and so we decided it was best to cancel, So we rebooked another venue in Harlem, The Shoenburg and showed the Queen of Swing in the Langston Hughes, Theatre, thanks to the wonderful Phoebe Jacobs who rearranged everything for us, and so The Queen of Swing was saved and we had a great time coming back to Harlem.
Herrang Dance Camp 2012
Arrived at Herrang on Thursday, sorry, missed my flight, thanks to Elliot, he rebooked me and I caught the next available flight to get here. It’s always great to get back to Herrang it is growing, it’s getting bigger and better. Frankie would be proud. He’s still missed at the camp. They’ve named a new street after him, I was fortunate to stay at the house that’s just across the street from his marker, so every time I come out of the house I greet him, with Good Morning Frankie,
Ryan and Jennie was here the last day before I came. They did their final performance, on Friday, a beautiful number to Nat Cole’s, Love. The camp meeting was the first for me this year. The usual crowd. Lennart was in his best Johnny Carson impersonation, the wonder of Herrang. People of all differences get along. The world can take a lesson from Herrang: Swing is the common denominator, it’s the glue. It’s the tried and true. It Don’t Mean A Thing. If It Ain’t Got That Swing
The teachers this year are some of the most dedicated and committed I have ever met. Simon is here with his partner Nikki, there is Katrine with Elliot, there is Dax and Sarah, Chester is also here. Sakarias and Frida are here. They are what’s needed in Herrang because Herrang is special. In the Library is where the students get a chance to meet up with the artists in residence and get to know them on a personal level. Before Ryan and Jenny left they appeared in the Library. Monday night Chazz and I were in the Library. I think I shocked them when I associated dancing with being very sexual. Of course it is. Tuesday we got a chance to see Dawn’s family documentary. It is inspiring. Wednesday, we had Swedish meat balls at the house where I’m staying. Linda is our Swedish cook. And she did a bang up job on the cooking and cleaning. We’re in the last two days of Herrang. It’s been one of the best times for Herrang. The world can take a lesson from Herrang. Here people from all over the world come together to dance. They come for the camaraderie. Thursday, was our last meeting. Chester was in the library. He did a great blues number and his workshop was beyond belief. He produced a production with the young dancers here in Herrang. It was phenomenal. I’ve just hired him to be my producer for my first movie, Murder at the Hop.
Herrang has just celebrated 30 years of the greatest swing camp in history. Everyone is getting ready to depart. Saw Elliot, he’ll be leaving on Saturday. Simon is leaving today. I’ll be leaving for Stockholm. My flight isn’t till Monday, so I get a chance to see Chicago, Lennart’s new club in Stockholm. And of course there’ll be a lot of dancing. Tonight will be the closing party in Herrang. See you later, Goodbye Herrang, ‘till next year.
I arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and was met by Jackie and Mickey. It was great to be back in the big easy. Jackie took me to dinner at the Bombay Club where you know you’re in New Orleans when you taste the food. We had the rest of the night off. Sunday we went to the Jazz Club to hear Germaine Bazzle, the last of the jazz singers. It was a treat! She had a swinging trio backing her. Mickey and I went with her old dance partner Kevin who was assisting her with the dancers on Tuesday. We had a great night, as usual in N.O.
Monday was my first day at the camp which is at the Loyoyal College, and it was seeing the ole gang again. It was like old times. It was also a sad time because Miss Phoebe was not here with us. She’s sadly missed, but her favorite song will be played in her honor, Pops’ favorite song, “It’s a Wonderful World.” The band is also doing my song, “They Call Him Louis”, Germaine Bazzle. have rehearsed the singers very good and I’m very happy with the results. Our Artist In Residence this year is the wonderful David Murray, saxophonist extroadinaire, all the way from France and he brought his family with him. The whole gang is back.
Edward [the kid] Jordan, Jazz Camp Artist Director, Kent Jordan, Maynard Chatters, Jonathan Bloom, Brian Quezerque, Alonzo Bowen, Calvin Johnson, Gregory Agid, Darrel Lavigne, Peter Cho, Marlen Jordan, This year we have guest artist from Cuba, Enrique Rodriguez, and four exchange
We did our first fund raiser Wednesday night at the Istanbul Club this is when the faculty performs It’s really a jam session for the pros and it allows them a relief from the class room.
Thursday is our final rehearsal and it looks like it’s coming together. The kids are getting it together. My number “They call him Louie” is a gas. I love it. The sound is up there.
Friday, will be our final rehearsal, nerves are on edge, then the rains came. This was a torrent. In New Orleans when it rains, you can bet there wil be flooding. We had a pick up call at six. The rains stop but there was flooding in the side streets and it did affect our audience. Many people couldn’t get there, but we did a good show. I had lots of fun with the audience. These were some of our best kids. They are the young musicans of the future. They know their job. I always tell the parents about their children, they are in good hands these are the best teachers in the world. My philosophy is, “Put a instrument in a childs hand, and they won’t be breaking into your home.” This is the best start in life these youngster will have, and I’m proud to be part of that happening. It was a great concert. Scott got some great footage of the event, We said our goodbyes and prepared to get back to Fort Myers.
Arriving at Beantime on Thursday, I was met at the Airport by Jaime and Alex, Richard had already checked on , he’smy roomie in the suite at Manchester. It was late but we hadn’t seen each other since the show at the Shoenberg , and we gabbed till 3 a,m. we finally said our goodnites ,he had an early class on Friday. I couldn’t make the late night dance. But Beantown was off and running. Tony and Aurilie and I go way back, When we started we were at Wheaton College then next we were at Bryant, and now finally we.re at Endicott, It’s been eight years, here, and the camp is better than ever the students still have the same enthusiasm and I;m happy to say ,Swing is here to stay.Sadly Ryan and Jennie couldn’t come this year because Mikie had test, they are sadly missed. His classes are always the best. But Beantime still swing, at this time in my life, I do more watching and working on my new screen play, Because being around dancers help me to keep up with the generations that keep comimg, , To hear the rhythms of the dancing feet is a joy to my ears.it’s swing, this wonderful thing call swing, it’s the dance of freedom, it’s the release of structured’ it’ allows a dancer to feel the beat , you gotta have a beat,
Today there are a variety of classes, Every style of swing is presented in the classes Some of the interesting teachers are here in Beantown One of the outstanding teachers is the Balboa expert, Sylvia Sims I use to see her when she danced with Jonathan and she had hair down her back, they were the exponets of the Balboa. Then there is Eric Epps who has taken martial arts to another level he combines it with Hip-hop and he calls it
Urban Contemperary’ laden with Hip-Hop. There is every style a dancer would need in their pursuit of a dancing career. The Shim-Sham class is taught by JoeL Damoe . Every kind of swing class is taught here
Dancing,and comraderie is also an added asset to coming to a dance camp,Nothing compares to the warm feeling you get when you see a face you recognized.The evening brought us the Jack and Jill contest that’s the best intro where dancers can meet. You don’t know who you will be partner with and it allows a single girl or a single guy to meet. I found the strictly lindy to top draw, The dancers are getting better every year.the band was Gorden Webster and friends with Naomi Uyama was the vocalist,and they were swinging.
Saturday was a day of classes and a typical dance day The winners of the Jack and Jill was announced by Edgar Herick 3rd A very personable gentleman.
Sunday was a round of classes . but the big event is the performance by the teachers in the beautiful Rose Theatre. It was outstanding and it was directed by the very talentd Evita Arce and her very talented dance partner Micheal Jagger and they did a wonderful comedic duet
Today at 4 oclock I will be doing a talk and a question and answer program for the students
Tony set the stage for me , very impressive, there were two Queen Anne chairs with a table Chippindale, it had a setting fit for a Queen, The students came into the theatre after their classes,everyoneW was intheir places and Aurlie gave the nod,the sound man was ready, my wonderful Jaime,assisted by Alex he calls him Xander, Jaime hit the button and Louis Armstrong began Hello Dolly, then I make my entrance from the rear of the house as the great sings,How cool is that,It was wonderful presentation, I exited with my song ,Swing Baby Swing.it was a gas,
Tuesday was another day of classes,we had a lot checkouts on Mon, So at breakfast it was a little quiet; So I decided to take Richard;s Tai –chi class to help with a little stretch.ouch,but it was good. The evening brought on the Talent Performance ,called Beantown Got Talent, Dave Lasagna. Our in house announcer,began the program introducing Richard Bardu, playing his autoharp The rest of the program was a from students and it’s a rest from classes and it’s fun,
The Beantown competition 2012 Soul Division 1 Jennifer Stout and Jovier Johnson 2 Gabriella Cook and Jon Tigert 3 Nicole Zuckerman andb Carl Nelson. The novice Jack and Jill leads 1 Ryan Lemor ;Wayne Lambert,Dave Tahsea Novice Jack and Jill follows Erica Vess,Moirim,Tara Hughes, Intermediate Jack and Jill, Samuel Coleman, Abby Cohen, Michael Duke,and Natalie Eringros,Matt Gorden, and Tara Dentry Advance Jack and JILL 1 Javier Johnson and Genevieve St.Laurent 2 Daryl Begin and Nicole Zuckerman 3 Shawn Hershey Jennifer Stout Strickly Lindy 1 Daryl Begin and Jennifer Stout 2 Andrew Thigpin and Karen Turman Jon Tigert and Heather Ballew.The Wednesday was our closing, we had a BBQ and open bar ,fireworks by the beach and dance the rest of the night to Glen Cytzer and his syncopators featuring Meschyia Lake. It was great holiday week-end Goodbye till next year, I had a great time and all who came had a ball too’ New announcement i I’ll be working with Linda and I will begin working on my new book, When You Ain;t Got a Horse You Ride Cow.
Arriving at Beantime on THURSDAY, Was met at the Airport by Jaime and Alex . It was late . Richard my roomie had already checked in . Grear