Three or four years ago, there was no East Coast Swing or Lindy in the bay area. I had gone to the Starlite Ballroom Studios in Sunnyvale and asked for a big band song such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, or Count Basie. The dj had no clue as to what I was talking about since he gave me Madonna's Hanky Panky. aughhhh!
That was then....
I had the great pleasure of spending my Sunday in northern California at one of the most fun amateur-run dance events ever, Lindy In The Park, organized by Ken Watanabe. This event takes place on some Sundays on the bandstand in the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (between the Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum). Today was an especially good day; a band normally plays at noon, but they were not performing today so we had the bandstand for dancing from 10 am to at least 2 pm when I left. By noon time there were around 60 or 70 people, including local teachers such as Paul Overton and Johnny Swing, doing their Lindy thing on the bandstand while spectators watched and applauded. When I left, there were at least 30 people dancing when I left. Many people were taking pictures with still and video cameras of the dancers having a blast on-stage.
A surprise for the day was the appearance of Steven Mitchell from Germany. Does he actually spend any time in Germany? :-) Steven was at Lindy In The Park last week and will probably be in the area for a while. He led all the dancers in a round of Shim Sham and The Stroll which impressed the spectators. I also ran into fellow Bostonian, Dave Smaldone, at this event; I feel sorry for him because he's going to miss the first IC dance and Indigo Swing back in Boston and the next Lindy In The Park isn't until the end of September.
The dancers were extremely friendly and willing to dance with anyone who asked. Many people helping others out with figuring out moves and we could tell what was the Cool Move of the Week by watching what everyone was working on. One popular dance figure was the tandem Charleston dance position. Many spectators came up to ask what we were doing and asked for information on where they could learn to dance. I finally got to meet Eric Mittler who is my counterpart in the Bay area. There were beginners and advanced dancers so I got to dance with different levels of ability. Hello to Amy Berlin (who kept me from leaving), Susie (who kept asking me to dance), Jennifer (formerly of the East Coast), and all the other nice people out there.
One thing funny about these Lindy people. In Boston, we laugh at the West Coast Swing people who will dance WCS regardless of the music. At this event, they were dancing Lindy to a wide variety of music. They cut off the Cha Cha music before I could see if someone was going to try Lindy to that! And these people are definitely committed to Lindy (I can see Roger Weiss smiling now). At one person said that West Coast Swing is dying out there/here.
Conclusion? This event might be worth delaying my return trips back to Boston. I'll let you know what happens next time I'm out there. I had a ton of fun today.
Lindy In The Park starts at 10 am, but that's still a little on the early side. The people start piling in a while later. I parked for free on the street just at the bottom of the hill from the bandstand and I got there at 10. There is also parking spots even closer that go for $1 an hour. There are restrooms on both sides of the bandstand (no soap, tho...). Bring your own drinkables. CD's and tapes are welcome if you have cool music. Next time I'm going to bring my Eight To The Bar, The Movers, Deanna Bogart and Big Nite Out CD's with me.
For more information or just to get email notices about this event, contact Ken Watanabe or Eric Mittler. Eric publishes a weekly email newsletter just like DanceNet and runs the Northern California Lindy Society's website.
Saturday, September 7, 1997
Things to remember: