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Astounding Vintage Dance: Over the Top

December 08, 2007

While netsurfing yesterday I bumped into a YouTube dance vid. One thing led to another and I ended up blown away. Check out this little look into the past of social dancing.

I related to these vids for obvious reasons but also because on the desolate lake near our house there used to be a dance hall that all the great swing bands came to---Benny Goodman, the whole gang. It might've been the biggest dance floor in the country---I think a thousand would pack in to dance ALL NIGHT back in the 40's, 50's and such. Of course that's all gone (it was still there when I was a teen, along with the amusement park).

No, there's still dance. The old moves thru the new. Dance lives on.

It's right in our own scene. We went to a wedding this summer and watched some friends bust loose like you wouldn't believe. They could dance the way you're going to see in these vids. One guy had a 5-year-old boy who kept right up. ...Whenever our crew has a party and a DJ kicks in you'll always see some topnotch action. Heck, we have a chairman of a dance department among us and a swing dance instructor who can go ballistic.

That's another thing that these vids reveal: the athleticism. Of a harmonious sort. It goes WITH the human body. It's over the top yet stylish and doesn't really seem to be causing injury despite its exuberance.

So, that wedding we went to was Persian. We roasted a couple lambs. The DJ threw on some Persian hiphop and the whole family, grandparents and all, busted out for hours. Old folkstyle can indeed be brought right up to today. It all doesn't HAVE to be lost, does it. Dance is an all-ages sport. Sport? It's a language.

It really is something to see good dancers. And of course it's rewarding to try to dance yourself, to go as far as you can and to keep trying. Go big, go small. Keep it smooth, go large. It's all good. Take lessons!

So... here's some action that's REAL good...

This was the old Savoy style. These were *social* dancers who played and competed in their Harlem neighborhood club---bringing dance to a level never seen before. Or since?

Here's more: www.savoystyle.com/frankie_manning.html. Frankie Manning was a dancer in that video. He's still dancing---at age 93. Here's his website. Check out the video in it of what he's up to these days. www.frankiemanning.com/book.php

Now put the best of the old with the sound of the new...

Then bring it all up to date...

No, seriously....

You might call it just breakdancing, but it's made up of several elements. Older folks might better appreciate the parts called Uprock and Toprock---these are done when you're NOT on the floor. (That's the downrock.) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uprock en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toprock

This was inspiring to me. It didn't all seem beyond me or injurious. I could see adding a bit more smooth rhythm to my life.

It's good for you. Feel free to tone it all down, though, if you like. Make it just a waltz. A waltz is always good. So is a community contradance, where you get to dance with everyone and there's a lesson beforehand.

Which reminds me, I just got an invite to a Xmas party at a little house that's going to be full of music. The last time I went there was a different style being played in each room. These are players to go to the folk fests around the state and who play for the local contra dances. Early on, bring the kids. Later on, take em home. It's live music, all day then til the wee hours. It should be good!


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