Swing and Blues Corner Posts

Do people clapping on the One and Three drive you crazy? If so, hold on to your horses, because I might be about to ruin Hellzapoppin’ for you. Don’t worry though. I promise I’ll make things right again.

For the benefit of new dancers, if you aren’t familiar with Hellzapoppin’, it’s the most iconic of all the vintage Lindy Hop clips. Choreographed by Frankie Manning, performed by Whitey’s Lindy in the movie Hellzapoppin’ – it is an electrifying, high energy, lightning-fast routine that many of us can never tire of watching. There’s a lot been written about it – I’d recommend reading this article on Yehoodi if you want to know more. If you haven’t read Frankie’s autobiography – Ambassador for Lindy Hop, do read it – it’s a great book, and he gives a fascinating, in-depth account of how the routine came to be filmed.

Still with me? I think this all got started when I tried using Hellzapoppin’ in one of my music talks, to illustrate how dancers could use the musical phrasing to structure their dancing. I realised it didn’t quite seem to fit with the musical structure in the way I’d expected – all the solo sections were the right length, but didn’t seem to begin and end at the expected points in the music.

More recently, in my post-Big-Apple editing frenzy, I started looking again at Hellzapoppin’, debating whether to commit utter heresy try and change the phrasing, when I realised that after her epic between-the-legs slide, when Ann Johnson scoots back again towards Frankie…

She is clapping. On one, three and five. Let that sink in for a second. Ann Johnson. The Ann Johnson. Frankie’s dance partner, Ann Johnson. Clapping on the odd beats. This couldn’t possibly be right.

When I first saw that, something inside me died a little… and a new editing project was born.

General rambles Video Edits Videos

Well – I’d sworn I was done with the Big Apple edits.

However…

You know how it is – the more you look at something, the more you see the imperfections – and having done the original audio sync videos, I was starting to see some really strange things. To cut to the chase – they made me realise I’d not done a good enough job. So here’s two much better versions. I hesitate to call them the final ones, but I very much hope they are.

General rambles Music

After working for far too long on my last little editing project – Fixing the Apple – I thought it might be a fun idea to try another version of the same routine, but this time using Solomon Douglas‘ wonderful modern version of the Big Apple track. Since this is the track which is nearly always used these days for dancing Frankie’s Big Apple – with good reason, as it’s an excellent version – I thought it might be a fun project. As well as being a very useful thing to have as a teaching tool – to have the modern music accompanying the original routine would just make it that little bit easier to learn from.

General rambles Music

If you’ve been swing dancing for any length of time, you’ll have heard of the Big Apple. Most of you have probably learned the Big Apple, or at least part of it. You know – the less fiendish parts, up to London Bridge, before it all gets a bit crazy.

Well – crazier. Anyway – after a recent workshop, and watching various badly synced versions on YouTube, I got it into my head that the source material is in serious need of fixing.

General rambles Music

Following on from At The Chase 2018: Competition DJing Pt 2 (Strictly Lindy) – this is the final part of my Chase competition DJing… and far and away the most challenging to find music for – for two reasons.

First – it’s probably the highest-level competition I’ve yet to play music for. Even though this is just a qualifying round for the cup (the final will be in 2019) – qualifying for the qualifiers is far from easy… Secondly – unlike the other Chase competitions, I was providing the music for the final. So… no pressure.

Competitions DJing General rambles Music

I was thinking about a few of the stranger things that have happened in the time I’ve been DJing, and thought it would be amusing to make a list for your entertainment. So in no particular order:

DJing General rambles

DJing General rambles Music Set Lists

This post is a follow-on from At The Chase 2018: Competition DJing Pt 1 (Mix & Match) – where I started to chronicle my decisions behind choosing music for the Chase Festival competitions. The Strictly Lindy prelims had the same format as the Mix & Match – which is to say three heats, each with three songs, each song for 60 – 70 seconds, two medium and one fast. Nice and simple.

As before, my key criteria were to have songs that were fun, swung hard, and that maintained a good energy for the time I’d be playing them. If I were playing the whole song it’d be a different matter – but a one phrase section of quiet can eat a large chunk out of a sixty second running time, and I wanted people to really have a chance to go to town.

So here we go…

Competitions DJing General rambles Music