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The Decade In Swing

December 21, 2009

For the final jam Cellar email of the decade, I jogged down a quick selection of humorous happenings from the last ten years in swing. Often written for my own amusement or catharsis (or simply out of an attempt to quickly full fill a Jam Cellar deadline), I often worry these appear too cynical. I want the readers to know that (1) I am often the subject of my own jokes, more than any other person or type of person, and (2) I am the sole writer of the Jam Cellar email, so if you have any issues with the material that appears there, take it up with me first, not the Jam Cellar.

The Decade in Swing

2000 – Guy in letter sweater looks condescendingly upon guy in Zoot suit. At a dance event weekend in Boston, Gary Swooner, dressed in a moth-eaten 1930s red letter sweater, pleaded plaid golf pants, and yellow striped socks chuckled condescendingly at Morris Bigler’s purple zoot suit and two-toned shoes. “That thing hurts the eyes.”

2001 – Divorcing teaching couple makes entire camp of students feel awkward. In the middle of rocky divorce, teachers Jeff and Pam made an entire camp feel awkward when repeatedly using teaching as a chance to attack one another personally. “In this move, guys, you really have to commit. But Jeff can’t really talk about that, can you Jeff?” Pam said in once class. They were even able to make the entire dance awkward by selling all their furniture at one of the event’s booth.

2002 – Collegiate Shag finally practiced, for, like, for 20 minutes. After working on his Dean Collins whips and Balboa moves, Donna and Mike of Decatur, Atlanta, finally had a few minutes leftover in practice to work on their collegiate shag.

2003 – Guy does first Tandem Charleston in four years. On a dance floor in Washington DC, Bill Jackson suddenly had the urge to do a Tandem Charleston, which hadn’t been done in America in four years. Upon entering it, he had to stop however, as the DJ had turned off the music upon seeing it.

2004 – Balboa starts to realize, “Oh wait, I can do something with this.” On this date, the Balboa scene as a whole, after practicing the basic for four years, suddenly realized it could actually do something with this, perhaps even dance.

2005 – Chaz Erickson creates a personal Lindy Hop style involving jumps and twists that allow him to express his artistic individuality; other leaders immediately feel inspired to copy him.

2006 – Person who snarkily says “Balboa is for people who can’t dance Lindy fast,” can’t dance lindy fast. Emily Shoowalter, a follower of New York, was overheard saying that Balboa was for people who can’t dance fast. Her own fast Lindy technique, however, was best described as “an orangutan in keds trying to sprint in circles” and several Lindy professionals confirmed they would prefer root canals to dancing with her.

2007 – Bronzen Banshee’s team choreography looks awful lot like “Golden Ghosts” choreography. The “Bronzen Banshees,” a choreography team comprised of up-and-coming dancers, performed a routine that looked strikingly similar to the Golden Ghosts’ winning routine from the year previous. Out of eight teams, they came in fifth. The Golden Ghosts took first.

2008 – Couple daringly does Lindy Hop for majority of Lindy Hop competition.
In a sea of Charleston moves and bouncing, butt-wiggling musicality, a couple at the North-By-Norwest Lindy Fest was seen doing only Lindy Hop for most of the Strictly Lindy competition. When explaining why they did not put them through to finals, one judge said “Something was weird about their pulse.” Steven Mitchell, however, put them in first place.

2009 – Collegiate Shag finally practiced again, for, like, for 20 minutes. After working on his speed Whitey swing-outs and complex Charleston variations, Donna and Mike of Decatur, Atlanta, finally had a few minutes leftover in practice to work on their collegiate shag.

For this mailer, the original text contained some stories that involved real people; For the sake of continuity, Kate suggested I make them all real or all fiction, and I agreed with her. So I took out all the ones involving real people (except for Steven Mitchell, whom a reliable source overheard him say one time, while judging a recent Lindy Hop competition, “How am I supposed to judge this? They’re all doing Charleston.”) Also, I should note that I did one time meet a girl who said, in an incredibly arrogant tone, that Balboa was only for people who couldn’t dance fast lindy (It was a pretty wide sentiment at one time), and if I was offended by that, I was a lot more offended by her fast Lindy. ANYWAY–

Cutting out the factual ones meant I had to cut out two of my favorites, so I thought I’d post them here:

2003- Team Mad Dog changes the modern Lindy Hop scene in one instant by simply dancing faster than 150 BPM. “I’m sure they were also revolutionizing our technique, the enthusiasm with which we will dance, and the music we will listen to,“ said onlooker Terrance Brown. “But I didn’t have a chance to think about it because they were just going so damn fast.”

2007 – Naomi Uyama takes 1st through 3rd in the ULHS Blues Competition. After seeing the fourth girl in a black dress doing old-style vernacular blues and African moves barefoot, the judging panel of ULHS Blues finals decided to go ahead and award Naomi Uyama first through third place, and figured that was fine since she held all five spots in the finals anyway.

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