View from Section 126

Had a blast at the Toronto FC game last night with my co-workers and Kevin “Fats” Temple. I got hassled a bit by the security in regards to bringing my camera to BMO field – had to explain that the lens I brought did not exceed the limit of 85mm. Yes, my camera looks like a model tank replica with molded refined rubber but no where on the field guidelines does it say that the camera must fit your pocket (or even a large bowling bag). Tried not to spill beer on my camera, or at the very least, not get face paint on the view finder.

Chad Barrett scores the game winner.

The Pleasure of Not Organizing

I have this need to constantly compartmentalize my life into blocks of time and ideally blocks of productive time. It’s sick, I know, but it helps me get shit done. Every once in a while though, I’ll accept gigs/events and know absolute nothing about the actual event and trust my handsome friends to take care of everything. Let someone else worry about the ‘deets and, “just point me in the dance direction.”

Some benefits of not having to plan everything is that I can actually spend time taking photos and dance geeking out with my friends at these events. Usually at the end of these events, I always promise myself to come back to the basics – dance more, meet more people, have more fun. This summer, with my travel schedule being erratic and the classes/events that I am running actually being semi successful (no way I know!), I find that I am not doing as much “hands-on” dance related activities as I should be doing. So that is what I’ll be doing again for the rest of this summer – training, practicing, learning, sharing. Time to get my hands dirty again. ;-)

THE SAVOY WAS THE PLACE TO GO

If you loved music and you loved dancing, the Savoy was the place to go. At the Renaissance, going to the Savoy was our one ambition because they had the best bands and the best dancers. It had been on our minds for a year or two, but we were afraid to venture there because we put the Savoy on a pedestal. Nobody but the greatest dancers went, or at least those who thought they were.

The entrance of the Savoy was at street level. You went down one flight to check your coat, then you walked back up two flights to the ballroom, which was on the second floor. As I was climbing the steps that led to the ballroom, I could hear this swinging music coming down the stairwell, and it started seeping right into my body….

The Savoy was the ballroom because it had the best orchestras, and from that they got the best dancers. Even though a lot of people went to ballrooms just to listen to the music, back then bands played for dancers. After all, they were called dance bands.

These were the depression years (which didn’t make that much difference to my family since we were poor anyway) and dancing was an outlet for people because there wasn’t much else they could do. We all stayed in Harlem, but you could find someplace to step out every night of the week. Going to a ballroom became our social life.

Even though we were poor, we always dressed up. People in Harlem felt that they’d get more respect if they dressed well. Guys felt that the better they looked, the more likely a young lady would be to dance with them. I only owned two suits, but I always wore them with a shirt and tie and nice shoes, not two-tones, just black or brown ones. This was the fashion, and everybody dressed that way.

- Frankie Manning

How do you encourage solo dancing in your scene?

A genuine question. I’m always being introduced to really great dancers in my various dance worlds here in Toronto – from lindy to mambo to hip hop. However, in the actual social dance scenes (not including hip hop), rarely do I see much solo dancing or even group solo dancing (does that make sense?). We started having “solo dance jams” as part of our events but right now it’s a bit of novelty than an actual part of the dance. I want to advocate solo dancing because as the old saying goes, “you have to dance by yourself before you can dance with another person”. Suggestions or ideas?