I’m a big fan of swing dancing in New York during the summer. There’s usually so much great, free, outdoor dance opportunities, from free concerts by the water, DJed music in Central Park, and jazz groups playing for festivals all summer long. Typically, the highlight of swing dancing during the summer is Midsummer Nights Swing, Lincoln Center’s music festival that takes place in the plaza in front of the various performance spaces in the Upper Westside.
That said, I gotta admit I am not really feeling Midsummer Nights Swing this year.
First off, Lincoln Center has scheduled the shortest Midsummer Nights Swing festival ever, lasting barely three weeks. Only five of the 14 events are actually swing music concerts: Michael Aranella tonight, Nellie McCay on opening night, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, Lavay Smith and the Alan Gresik Orchestra. The rest are salsa, disco, funk and family-oriented kid’s days.
The venue itself is kind of a disaster. Because of all the construction, the usual performance area has been
moved to Damrosch Park, toward the back of Lincoln Center away from
Broadway. It feels much more cramped back there, with a maze-like set
of pathways leading you there from the main entrance to Lincoln
Center. The view from the non-paying public side is even more
obstructed than normal, and the dance space is confined to a few smooth
The attendance for the two nights that I’ve been there seems much
smaller than in past years. Hardly anyone was there for Chuck Brown on
Wednesday. And the fabulous Michael Aranella Orchestra played for a
fairly sparse crowd tonight. In past years, you could barely get on
the dance floor it was so packed. Tonight and last night, you could have driven a car through the dance floor and not hit anyone.
Perhaps Midsummer Nights Swing is just getting warmed up. But there aren’t that many concerts left. Here’s hoping for better turnout for Lavay and HRO later in the month.