Thursday was one of those days that make me so happy to live in Gotham. It sometimes seems like everywhere you go, there is great music, and people grooving to it.
I started the evening of all places in the Union Square subway station, where the Tin Pan Blues band was playing their unique mix of trad jazz and blues. Alerted on Yehoodi that Tin Pan would be there, I arrived at around 7pm to find a crowd of onlookers and dancers surrounding the band near the Q/N/R lines.
Here's Tin Plan tearing up "the Georgia Rag":
It's hard to beat live rolicking jazz and blues for free in the subway. There's a fun energy you get from the excited onlookers as was as the live band. I even ran into a group of students that are part of Global Kids, who all immediately took out there cell phones to take my picture!
Good times, but the evening was just beginning….
I jumped on an uptown train to catch Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra playing a free concert in the new David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. The place was packed with 300 or so jazz fans of all ages. It was mostly a sitting kind of event, but several lindy hoppers showed up anyway with their dance shoes looking to get their charleston on.
Lincoln Center had considerately blocked out a small dance floor area in front of the band, as well as a little space in the back for the dancers. It's awesome that an august cultural institution like Lincoln Center is interested in supporting dancing at their concerts! Still it was quite a tiny space with barely room for 4-5 couples.
Here's Michael Arenella's first number "The Day that I Met You," which he dedicated to the venue where he said was "the home of the Charleston" (not sure what that means?):
I had a great time dancing with friends and enjoying the 20s and 30s music that the Dreamland Orchestra specializes in. It's not the easiest music to dance to honestly, but it's performed with great gusto and panache by the band.
By this time, my knees and feet were starting to feel the strain of a couple of hours of dancing on hard tile and concrete. But the evening was far from over and I had one more stop to make.
Jumping on the A train a couple of stops downtown, I headed over to the Frim Fram Jam, my website Yehoodi.com's weekly swing dance party at Club 412. It's a fairly obscure location, on the fourth floor of an office building on Eighth Avenue and 31st Street. There's no sign on the street or any real advertising, so the people who show up are usually pretty serious about lindy hop.
It was a good night, with DJs Keith Hazelton and Ryan Mascaro playing a fun variety of dance music for the nearly 200 swingers there. Once I heard the music and saw the room jumping, my tiredness just faded away and I hit the floor with my friend Doris.
Here's what Frim Fram looks like from the DJ booth:
Dances like Frim Fram have a very different vibe than live concerts. Dancers partner up and try as best as possible to get their swing on without crashing into the other swingers in our always crowded venue. There's an informal pecking order, with the more advanced dancers hanging out near the DJ booth and the absolute beginners tending to dance in the back of the room.
You can feel the entire room bouncing to the rhythm and it usually gets extremely hot and humid in there, despite the cold weather and the air conditioning. People tend to dress casually, knowing that whatever they have on will be covered in sweat soon. Lindy hop is an energetic dance, so we all have that "dancer glow" after a couple of songs. Or as Doris says, "My goal is to be the sweatiest girl in the room."
Frim Fram is like my home. It's where I come to dance and reconnect with people I've known for a decade or more. It's the highlight of my week.