As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
My friend Laura had gotten the wild and crazy idea of going to New York City for the New Year's Eve Swing Dance at Webster Hall on Thursday, December 30 and asked me to come along. This event was going to be a 7-hour swing dance featuring music by Nick Palumbo and the Flipped Fedoras, Ron Sunshine, and New York's George Gee's Jump, Jive & Wailers. I was too nice to say no so off we went.
We ended up taking one of the "Chinese" buses at 9:00 am from the South Station terminal and it dropped us off in New York's Chinatown at 1:30 pm (I thought we had made reservations on Lucky Star, but somehow ended up on the Travel Pack bus). After getting food and accidentally ending up on the wrong side of the East River and even ending up in the wrong line for getting into the hall, we managed to get into a hoppin' swing dance that filled up quickly. While the floor filled up with both experienced and newbie dancers, the balcony dance area was the exclusive hangout of some of the more serious dancers.
When the building started filling up with people attending the other "clubs" in the building (salsa & disco), we decided to get our stuff at 1 am before the band finished. Barely getting out alive with our stuff at the coat check, we got down to Penn Station for our 3:15 am train back to Boston. A peaceful napping ride (I brought ear plugs) later and I was walking into my house a mere 25 hours after I had left the day before. A short dancing adventure had come to a satisfying conclusion.
Interesting note: The coat check-in at Webster Hall was charging $3.00 for every *item* checked. I ended up paying $6 to check both my coat and carryon. One woman got annoyed because they wanted *another* $3 to check her sweater in (besides her coat). They should also have put up a sign that indicated "checkout" was at a different window so we wouldn't have had to fight the crowds coming in.
I can't believe that the bar(s) at Webster Hall was charging $5 for a glass of juice and $10 for mixed drinks. I suppose that goes with the fact that swing dancers really don't drink and this was a commercial venue that had to pay real rent, but for some reason it seemed obscene. I wonder how much more sales they would have made if they had charged lower prices.
The clubbers coming into the building at 1:00 am were certainly of a different crowd. As we were leaving, we noticed all the new people (non-swing dancers) were getting patted down at the door by the venue's security.
Nick Palumbo and the Flipper Fedoras started off the dancing at Webster Hall and every song was absolutely swingable. I was sweating by the time the first song was over. Of course, that was because the first song was 10 minutes long; in fact, all of their songs were *at least* seven minutes long. While their entire set could have been made into a great live CD, it was a fairly mean thing to do to the dancers. It's amazing that they would play extremely long songs for the dancers. I wish for two things:
Ron Sunshine played the second set, but I didn't like them at all. Their first song was good, but then the band started playing a lot of charts that *weren't* swing songs, no matter what the dancers were doing. One dancer told me that this wasn't Ron Sunshine's regular band but the problem was beyond that: the songs weren't swingable. There's no question that they were talented musicians, but I would never hire them if that's the basis of the music they play at swing dances.
George Gee's Jump, Jive & Wailers was the main act, playing two sets versus the other bands' single set. The music was alive and exciting with familiar favorite big band charts. Towards the end of their second set, they tended to motivate us less so we didn't feel bad about retrieving our belongings from the coat check before the band finished for the evening. By the time we got our stuff, we realized that we were all danced out and headed for Penn Station to catch our train.
All-in-all, it was a fun and different dance adventure. It wasn't that expensive or troublesome to get down there and it was worth the effort. We even got to see Dawn Hampton at this event. However, I really wished that the people running Penn Station didn't have to have Christmas music *blasting* through the station at 2:00 am...
We had lunch at a decent Chinese restaurant, the Golden Bridge Restaurant on Bowery at Canal. We knew it was a class joint because it had a Popeye Chicken franchise on the first floor. Actually, it was a really nice restaurant and the food was excellent.
One potential good sign of a restaurant where I'd like to eat is the cleanliness of the bathroom and this place had one that I would have liked to copy for my house. While in there, I got this idea for a sign I'd like to see posted in the men's room at every dance venue. I don't dance (much) with guys but if I did, I'm sure it'd bug me alot.
With many hours to wait around before the dance, we went to the World Trade Center to see the current status of Ground Zero. One thing nice about New York City is that the city blocks are fairly small and it's not that big a deal to get to your destination by walking. There was fencing up to the excavation site so we could see into the hole in the ground (We couldn't get close the last time I went). This time, there was no covering on the fences so we could get a good view of the site. One interesting sight was the remains of part of the building's support. It was interesting that it ended up in the shape of a cross. There's something hanging on it; it looks like a piece of plastic sheeting. No, it's really a piece of melted *steel*. There were now signs on the fences talking about the creation of the World Trade Center site, both past and future, and there was a large board that listed the names of all the people who were killed in the terrorist attack.
At the Skyscraper Museum south of Ground Zero, there is a excellent detailed scale model of the WTC site where they showed the amount of work that went into building the twin towers.
In the past, some of my local friends have complained about a certain local dance venue where they *wouldn't* get asked to dance. They assumed it was because they weren't the "pretty young things" in room (they were, however, very good dancers).
At this event, at some point, I asked this one young attractive woman to dance. She had the shoes, the clothes, the hair, the right dancer's stance, and even the right dancer's "eyes". And I spent the entire song trying to give her a good dance because she was a rank beginner swing dancer (more of a Hustle dancer, really).
Sometime after that, I asked this older woman (older than me, I think) to dance. She didn't have her hair made up, she wore fairly non-descript clothes, and I'm not sure what shoes she was wearing, but dancing with her was....sweet. It was the best dance I had with someone whom I didn't know that night (nice save, eh, Laura?)
Laura and I kept pointing out dance partners for each other whom we thought might be good dancers. Of course, she was prettier than I was so she got asked to dance more than I did. Yes, I know, life isn't fair.
The subway system in NYC could use some suggestions that we have. We managed to end up on the wrong side of the East River once and nearly got lost a couple of other times.
At the Essex (Brown Line) station, we saw signs for Broad Street on the tracks where we were standing and that was where we wanted to go. It turns out that Broad Street was *behind* us (the trains on our side was going *away* from that direction so we ended up in Queens by accident.
In Boston, the signs at the station show which stations you can get to from that side of the tracks so if you don't see your station, you know you're on the wrong side. Also, the subway maps on the trains (in New York) show the entire system so you're leaning over someone's face as you try to figure out where you are on the map. The MBTA in Boston will have large simple maps over the doors which show you only those stations that can be reached by that train only so the map isn't cluttered with other information you don't need.
It would seem that some of the serious partying done at the New Year's Dance Extravaganza did not take place in the ballrooms. There was a serious karaoke party being held in Room 450. There was visible evidence of a whole case of champagne in the bathroom with the bathroom sink acting as a ice chest cooling down the bottles. Rumor has it that a couple of ladies, whose first initials are "J" ("J" as in "Jennifer") and "L" (as in "Leanne") were leading a chorus of wild and crazy party animals through a list of songs that was several pages long. People down the other end of the hallway came roaming down to see where the action was. The ladies gave Eric Novoa a loud cheer as he popped in for a few seconds to show some butt action to the music.
I'd provide pictures, but the person who's name starts with "L" ("L" as in "Leanne") threatened some serious bodily harm (upon my body, that is) to me if anyone saw them. Hmm...the lady whose initial is "M" ("M" as in "Mindy") didn't say anything about her pictures...neither did the guy whose initial is "J" ("J" as in "Jarod").
Oh yeah. Welcome back to dancing, Leanne.
As I went to put the CD into the computer to install it, I marvelled at how they could possibly put everything onto one CD. When I closed the tray to the CD Reader and tried to install the game, the computer kept asking me to put a CD into the CD Reader.
What's that on the "CD" case? The letters "D", "V", "D"?
Since when did they start releasing games on DVD? Are they assuming everyone has a DVD reader in their computers now?
My DVD-Reader broke a couple of months ago and I replaced it with a CD-RW instead (watching DVD's on that computer wasn't that great an experience). So after waiting for this great game and getting it home, I couldn't play the game. I had to borrow an external DVD Reader from someone so I could play the game until I got my own player.
I didn't know if I needed to have the DVD in the computer while I was playing the game and I didn't want to have to buy the DVD Reader right away so I used a program called "Game Drive" to store a copy of the DVD/CD on the computer and have the program mimic a separate CD/DVD drive on the computer without actually having the drive permanently attached to the computer. This works for a variety of programs that need the CD in the computer.
If you have a ton of disk space (as most newer computers do), this is a convenient way to play the game without putting a lot of wear and tear on the CD containing your favorite games. I was able to install the game on my computer and return the DVD Reader to its owner. (FYI, I don't think you need the Half-Life 2 dvd in the computer to play it).
The game I bought? Was it any good? The graphics are so good that I got motion sickness. :-P
I can remember the Great Blizzard of '78. I was outside while the snow was coming down, with no idea what the next three weeks were going to be like. We had the first storm during the week before the February school vacation and we got that entire week off. Then the week that we were suppose go back to school after vacation, we got hit by a second snow storm and go that week off from school too. It was brutal. Not only did they extend the school day by 10 minutes for the rest of the year, we were in school well into June.
The snowplow drivers were equally brutal.
A 4-inch rock jammed my snowblower and stalled it for a while so I shovelled out my personal driveway by hand (it's good for you). Since I didn't have the snowblower running, I could hear the noises in the neighborhood.
At one point, I heard a loud blood-curdling scream followed by a long series of not-to-be-mentioned-in-public cursing around the corner on the next block. I went over to see what was wrong.
A woman had pulled her car out of the driveway and parked it across the street. She then went back and started digging out her driveway. One of Belmont's finest snowplows came by and plowed three feet of snow onto 3 sides and then continued off down the street. The owner of the car was so upset that she started chasing the snowplow.
The snowplow actually went around that block at least four times while I was out there. I was amazed that the driver didn't have the consideration to give the person a pass and lift the plow up for that one pass. He would have come by again soon enough to get the snow he missed.
I got hit myself in the same way as I cleared out 6 driveway openings, including two of my own. A few hours later, my neighbor had to clear out our common driveway because some snowplow came by and left a wall two feet high across the driveway. All the other driveways that I had cleared were left untouched. It's kind of hard not to take it personally when that happens.