Category: <span>General rambles</span>

One of the classic Tranky Doo clips that we have is the Spirit Moves one, and most of the routine – as we dance it today – is derived from this version. Ironically, this version is almost certainly the reason it’s usually danced to Dipsy Doodle – I say ironically, because it’s pretty unlikely that Dipsy Doodle is what they were dancing to in the clip – and in true Spirit Moves fashion, then music was added as an afterthought, and in no way matches the dancing.

General rambles

Over the lockdown, we spent twenty two weeks teaching our superhumanly patient group what could well be the world’s longest Big Apple course. For the benefit of the group, and for anyone else who’s interested, it feels like a great time to share a bit more detail on the Apple – some of the history, who the dancers were, musical breakdowns, and a few fun details we’ve spotted along the way. After the fold – some of the history, and the dancers who we see in this classic piece of dance history.

General rambles

Blues General rambles Live

Many many years ago, I wrote a slightly post called Joshuaphile, based on the fact that I had quite a few versions of Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (by any number of names) – and how they were mostly quite wildly different from each other. I’ve often wondered about playing a set where I stuck to different versions of exactly same song… so I put together an 8track of eight different versions.

Anyway – 8track has long gone, and now I have a whole lot more versions of Joshua. So here’s Joshuaphile take 2 (or times 2) – with double the number of Joshuas, and using MixCloud, which doesn’t look like going anywhere any time soon. I’m sure everyone has long been harbouring a burning desire to listen to sixteen different versions of Joshua in one stretch – so finally, after the fold you can do exactly that!

Blues General rambles Music Swing

There’s a lot of great jump blues songs out there, and some fantastic ones for swing DJing. I’ve been listening to these two a lot recently, and felt inclined to dig into and share why I love them so much.

General rambles

Since I made the re-edited version of the Hellzapoppin’ dance scene – the greatest swing dance scene ever to grace the cinema screen, Atilio Menéndez has found, and generously made available, an incredible high definition version of the scene – and it looks absolutely beautiful. The frame rate is better too, which means it feels far smoother, as well as looking far more detailed.

Of course – it probably goes without saying that I had to repeat the rephrasing exercise. I quickly realised that there were places I could improve on what I’d done last time – and I hope I’ve done it better justice than before.

General rambles

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.


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