Sunday, December 8, 2013

A story about Leather Shoes

        I'm always thinking about things to write, sometimes i just want to focus historic topics, sometimes i want to speak my mind. I just wanted to write something quickly to let everyone know, i actually didn't know that many people were actually reading this blog.
         I hear all kinds of topics people bring up in the dance world which always create interesting topics, and what a great day we live in, when anyone start a blog like this and share something with the world.
      One topic that came up recently was a vegan dancer wanting to get a better shoe for a dance called the Balboa shuffle. Ideally, hard leather sole are the fastest but she wanted a shoe that was not animal products.          I honestly didn't know what to say, hell, why would i know? I wear regular old leather shoes, and love eating meat.
          This topic reminded me of story of one of the greatest modern day Tap dancers to have ever lived. Chance Taylor, who unfortunately passed away far to young and spent some time in San Pedro and that's where i would come to know him.
        Chance, was a deep guy that i loved hanging around. We would jam at Sacred Grounds Coffee House, and the spend hours sitting out front on the corner talking about philosophy, animals and life.
         He was very spiritual, living a vegan life. He didn't wear leather, eat meat and sitting before me was one of 3 (Savion Glover, Jason Samuels Smith) who held the future of Tap in their hands, according to Gregory Hines.

        I was impressived, shocked and humbled to have someone like him spending this time together.
 The biggest problem was that Chance could never find a quality tap shoe, that was man made. Apparently, he tried.....Chance, made an exception and would wear used taps, handed down to him from Savion.
        He was not purchasing any animal product, He was using what would be waste and it wasn't not for fashion....and that too me was one of the most common sense things I've heard from a vegan.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Big Apple calls everyone should know!

The Dance that took the Nation by storm in 1937, starting in South Carolina and named after the Club in which the kids watched the young African American dancers, from the balcony.

As the dance spread, steps were added from one city, town to the next. I think I've documented well over a hundred....but these steps would be the essentials to get started and have hours of fun.

1. Lets Big Apple!
2. Get set---everyone circles up and hold hands
3. Right Foot in----tap 1..2...3...
4. Swing out!--- stepping right foot on 1 do the Charleston
5. Stomp ----right foot on 7
6. Double stomp----right foot 7 & 8
7. Pump Handle---right foot kicks on 7 & 8, hands in air Waa--Hoo!
8. double time -----add triple steps
9. Swing It High & Swing it Low---hands in air High and touch the ground Low
10. Truckin! Truck right, reverse etc..
11. Swingeroo--truck with Partner arm in arm
12. Face and Peck---right, left ,right, right - left, right ,left, left-right, left ,right, right
13. Scratch Flea's---itch 1,2,3,4
14. Big apple Snap---snap fingers in air on 3
15. cut the apple---double kick left,double kick right cross and turn...return
16. Boogie Back---clap on 2 back on 3
17. Boogie Forward
18. Greet the President---shake hands with Big smile truck around each other
19. Double (apple) ring---girls go in center and truck counter clockwise, Leads truck opposite
20. Frankenstein---guys truck into the middle for 8, then turn around and frankenstein towards follow.
21. sissy britches(rusty dusty)-first to partner then to corner..
22. spank your horsey (same as "spank the baby" but in place instead of a circle)
23. Posin! everyone pose!
24. organ grinder swing (lead drops to knee...follow circles lead)
25. birdie in a cage (same as organ grinder but standing)
26. bringing up the rear (truck in circle)
27. wipe the windshield ("tick-tocks" with arms mimicking windshield wipers up by your shoulders)
28. little sister (fall off the log variation)
29. joe louis (boxer nose spar thing and go to center and give an upper cut!)
30. Elephant Trail!(right arm through legs and behind, left goes forward)
31. London bridges

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Maharaja, Finding it for Hal...

        It started in the middle 1990's while i was interviewing old time dancers who had been in films during the 1930's and 40's. Always talking about the movies they were in, and trying to collect them all.

        During one of these interviews the legendary Hal Takier described film clips he had not seen of, or heard of since the time of filming. One of these movies i discovered at the UCLA archive titled "Boogie Woogie" from 1945. However there was still a Film he simply described to me as being "Arabian" or "Middle eastern" themed, he said "a short film", and it was "during the war". 

    I searched endlessly as i went through all my resources, nothing ever came up. As the months rolled along I would see Hal and Marge and try and get more information hoping he'd recall more information.

         I remember that i finally discovered the title, Maharaja from a book i got from Dwight Lapardis, on the Soundies Dist. of America (Short Films). that like others didn't mention any dancers at all, it just mentioned a band and a date filmed, So I added it my list of possibilities.

        My Collection of shorts and specifically soundies at this point was already pretty large, and i religiously scanned my 16mm Film collectors subscriptions. Some dealers only sold shorts and sometimes "lots of unknown" soundies, which is how i discovered Chool Song with Dean Collins. But still no Maharaja...

     I finally came in to contact with the film collector Mark Cantor and in our first exchange, i asked him about these titles, and he quickly remarked that "Maharaja" from 1943 had dancers in it, he knew this right away because it was one of his favorite soundies, and actually inside the Panaram Machine in his house. Mark was excited to hear Hal was still alive, and really looked forward to interviewing him. 

       It was such a great moment for Hal and Marge to show the film on the screen at Bobby Mcgees for the first time, For everyone to see it in front of Hal, sitting there with his classic smiling grin…

       Since then, we have seen Maharaja, Hal and Betty influence dancers and scenes around the world. Dancers have recreated it on stage, and Teachers have have taken steps, tricks, and the style. Everyone has their reasons, but the impact Hal and Betty have is undeniable today.

    Thanks to the generosity of Mark Cantor, who was willing to share Maharaja from his collection, reuniting it to its dancers…


Friday, April 19, 2013

A Great Day in Lindy Hop

The "Great Day in Lindy Hop" photo was taken almost 10 years ago, Oct 9th, 2004, It was of course a recreation of a "Great Day in Harlem" from 1958. The location was Columbia University steps which was also Count Basie's 100 birthday celebration to held this weekend along with legendary musicians of the Basie Alumi.

A Great Day in Harlem 1958

All I can really remember was the intense undertaking to get so many people together, the focus being all the Dancers,Musicians,hostesses, Staff, and people who had ever gone to the Savoy Ballroom which operation from March 12, 1926 to July 10, 1958.

The Organizers did an amazing job of helping to shuttle many of the legends or "Old timers" around for the event. I recall there being a couple different photo's of the different generations, and then everyone together. One by one, crowd got larger, with reunions galore as these Old timers appeared for the photo shoot, with another shouting out their names, not having seen each other since "the Savoy days"!

Truly magical gathering... 

A Great Day In Lindy Hop

This Photo by Mike Thibault shows many of the Legends taking front and center.

This Photo by the Lindy Chef

Here is a partial list of some of the dancers included:
Frankie Manning ,Norma Miller ,Dawn Hampton ,Eleanor Watson (Whitey's Lindy Hopper, In Radio City Revels) ,Ruthie Rhinegold (Whitey's Lindy Hopper) ,
James Brown (Whitey's Lindy Hopper) , Midge Vercelli (Harvest Moon Ball Champion-One of only Four Non-Savoy dancers to win from 1935 to 1958) , Sugar Sullivan (Harvest Moon Ball Champion, Jivadeer, Rocket) , George Sullivan (Harvest Moon Ball Champion, Trained 10 Harvest Moon Ball Champions) , Sonny Allen (Harvest Moon Ball Champion, Founder of the Rockets) ,Gigi Brown (Harvest Moon Ball Champion, Mama Lou Parks Dancer, State Department Africa Tour) , David Butts (Harvest Moon Ball Champion, Mama Lou Parks Dancer, State Department Africa Tour) ,Gloria Thompson (Mama Lou Parks Dancer, State Department Africa Tour, Harvest Moon Ball Finalist, Savoy Dancer) ,
Coley Wallace (Last Living Savoy Ballroom Bouncer, Heavyweight Contender, starred in the movie the Joe Louis Story) , Helen Banks (Savoy Ballroom Dancer, Appeared in Soundies, Member of the Harlem Ski Team).

Thanks to hard work of Terry Monaghan, dance historian and activist, born 13 August 1943; died 26 June 2011.

Unfortunately,  The website for this CountBasie100 does not seem to exist anymore, so i don't have all the information to include on this more memorial day. One of the fun things i remember was between Frankie and Norma is Kermit the frog, to represent Lennart Westerlund in Sweden, one of the founders of Herrang dance camp, because he could not make the trip.

This is a 11.7mb copy thanks to Mark Tabladillo
and if your interested in a downloading massive hight res


As i find out more, I will keep updating this information. I'll try and find a complete list of who took part Along with all the hard working people that made this who event happen.
I know for a fact and the crew were the backbone, awesome dedicated bunch to keeping the Lindy Hop alive. Elliot D, as we know him, is simply the most incredible person work with, his energy and passion helps bring so many people together. Without him, events like these simply can't happen.

So Please feel free to contact me, and help me update this page, into a proper thanks to all that made it happen. Thanks, Peter

PS. I was working that weekend, doing lectures and teaching so my mind was elsewhere, after the photo i ran off...but maybe you can find me?


Update: Took this from :

A Great Day in Lindy is a project of Springboard Productions, LLC and

About this Site
On Saturday, October 9, 2004 over 400 Lindy Hoppers from around the world gathered on the steps of Columbia University's Earl Hall for a historic photo shoot. The results of this effort is a truly historic "family portrait" of the Lindy Hip featuring some of its most influential and important figures.

This website has been created to collect, organize and verify historical data for each person who was in the photo. The information housed and collected on this site will be used in an accompanying booklet that will be released with the photo. The booklet will serve as a key that will identify each person in the photo and provide a short description of who they are.