the Week of June 27th to July 3rd:
Notes from an Undergrounder
June 11, 1999
We took a deserted boat from San Pedro to the fantasy island of Catalina. I had no idea what to expect this year. The last three years we had taken classes until our feet blistered and our muscles screamed. This year however, we were going to play and be part of the "underground." What is the "underground" you ask? Well, in the past years, Swing Camp Catalina has always sold Dance Only tickets to the camp. With that assumption many of the Socal hoppers booked their rooms and boat knowing they could dance in the beautiful Casino Ballroom at night and skip classes that were not the style and variations they were looking for. As it turned out the camp was so full no Dance Only tickets were sold. Well, this left people with paid for rooms and boat reservations at a loss. It was decided that we should go anyway and dance on the platform or around the city, or where ever the mood to dance inspired us... vagabond, gypsy jitterbugs. It also happens, that many of the vagabonds happen to do the LA or Hollywood style Lindy. Some camp goers saw this as a threat or a challenge to THE CAMP. I saw it as a vacation with dancing, drinking and no set schedule on a beautiful island. And this is my story.
On the boat we met one tall gentleman sporting a Hawaiian shirt, saddle shoes, a straw hat with vintage luggage in tow. We knew he must be part of the underground. His name was Steve. He was very friendly and very talkative. He seemed to know everyone. He was staying at the same hotel we were. We shared a cab. If we were single it could have been a good opening scene of a movie. As it was I am happily married and he was meeting his charming girlfriend. We walked up trellis covered stairs dripping with sweet smelling flowers. Purple, fuscia, white, yellow, lilac, blue, green swirls dripped in vines and sprouts guiding our way to our humble abode. We opened the door only to find a shell of what once would have been a wonderful bungalow, but was misguided sometime in the 70's. Why is it that every place I've ever stayed on that island was "refurbished" in the 70's. Ack!
Later that evening we dressed for outside dancing and went to join the party at Steve and Denise's place, just three doors down. It was great to see familiar faces. I gave my congrats to Sylvia and Erik, said "hi" to Hilary and Adam and marveled at the wonderful array of vintage clothing. I don't remember seeing so many well-dressed people in one space. Flowers and fruit adorned women's hair with rolls, and twists. Men sported vintage trousers with gabardine patch pocket shirts, striped shirts and sweaters, hats and jackets. What a good looking crowd. I coined by line that I would use through the entire weekend, "Hi, I don't know you, my name's Tammy." It seemed to work fine. I was met with happy handshakes. The party escalated or shall I say regressed as the dancers downed wine coolers, beers and indescribable cocktails. Sylvia and Debbie had us doing tongue twisters and laughing at the transposition of words and letters to create dirty saying.
We soon were up on our feet making our way to the infamous platform. A smooth raised concrete stage with the town center on one side and the ocean on the other, flanked by pieces of beach and cobblestone walkway. Jeff brought the music and soon everyone was warming their bodies with jumping feet. Because of the darkness no once was playing too big a show off and a lot of fine social dancing was going on. I saw some dancer's that I hadn't seen before and was amazed at the variety of style, speed and agility that I saw and felt. Even though I was a relative outsider, I was met with friendliness of many, many dancers. I don't think I was turned down once! Oh except for Evan who kept whining about how cold he was, who I finally convinced would be much warmer if he would stop moving his mouth and start moving his feet. He came up with the free-spin fake-out move that my husband found hilarious and promptly stole with the Reverend's permission, of course. Before I knew it is was 2am and I decided to call it a night. There is nothing like dancing under the stars with the ocean as a background.
By noon the next day I had donned by two-piece halter outfit with my hair up and flowers galore. My Phoenix friend, Cindy, accompanied me with her home sewn tropical halter dress with matching shorts. We were in good company when we got the platform. Gals were in halter tops, shorts, sundresses and a wide array of vintage sporting apparel. The men were dressed in bright Hawaiian and striped T-shirts. My man sported his scenic 40's knit shirt with the sailboat and anchors, (so appropriate). We danced under the sunshine and only melted slightly. The glistening bodies sparkling in the afternoon sun as the beat played on.
We left early for some grub and missed the sign-ups for the impromptu contest, (I would have done the Jack & Jill, really). It was a hoot to say the least. We came in on the middle of the Jack and Jill. They had mismatched couples doing Shag, Balboa, Reverse Lindy, back to back Charleston, the hand jive, the swim, the Polka (which love and did not see anyone but one couple doing right--it's all triple steps people!), and finally Frankie's Shim Sham to an outrageously fast song. David Frutos MC'd with whit and charm keeping the audience interested in-between sets. Then came the couple contest. The first round the couple had to do a parody of the
infamous "Gap Ad." I can't remember when I laughed so hard. Who says Hollywooders don't smile, Ha! Then they got down to some serious kick-ass dancing. All of a sudden the group starts chanting TORNADO, TORNADO, TORNADO, and Tip breaks out into this wicked free spin that looks like he should be on a Cleaning Genie commercial, a real live whirling dervish. There was so much going on at one time it was hard to keep track. The men were on the ground doing slides and back bend flips and splits. The gals were flying through the air. Josh decided to take a skip around the dance floor sending the audience into another laughing fit. The judges must of liked it and put him and Theresa in first place. I can't remember what the other places were, but it was all in fun.
Before joining the gypsy street dancers we decided to take in a movie and explore the Casino's Movie Theater. Being a vintage enthusiast, I had to take a peak. It was magnificent. If all movie theaters were so gorgeous I wouldn't mind paying the inflated ticket price. The lobby had tall ceilings trimmed in elaborate molding. Plush seats and antique furniture adorned the lobby and held ghosts of a more romantic time. The inside of the theater was painted with wall after wall of elegant art deco designs, trees and birds, mountains and flowers, gods and goddesses graced the arched walls. The proscenium stage was framed by a magnificent arch with Venus in the middle. A gold gilded organ arose from the pit and played pre-movie music.
After the movie we roamed the streets and could not find the gang. They were hiding at the Landing. I should have known. The same place Bernard danced the first year I saw him and Vanessa do the Judo flip. No matter, we all ended up at the skating rink. I honestly would have preferred the hard-cemented platform at the beach. We had the run of the joint for a while... until the dance let out. Who would of thought everyone would still have energy to dance after all those classes. They came in droves until there was barely standing space let alone dance space. The music became harder and harder to hear over the jabbering Lindy hoppers. I finally called it quits when I couldn't even do Balboa without getting stepped on. It was well into the 2 O' Clock hour by then anyway.
Dancing moon and noon on the island in the open sea air was amazing, I wouldn't have traded it for the crowded Casino Ballroom. A little part of me missed the feeling of awe when I have stepped into the ballroom in years past, but this year I danced more than I ever have in the last three camps. I met wonderful people and had the most relaxing, fun time. I liked the intimacy of a small group of people. I liked that I could talk about fashion or music or movies without having to explain myself. I loved the freedom of being a vagabond jitterbug. So, are we on for next year?
Hot Rod's Hangout:
For the last two Friday nights in a row, Taryn and I have made the long trip out to Hot Rod's Hangout in Norco, CA. Why? For the great company and the need for something just a little different.
Don't get me wrong. You will still be able to Lindy all night, but the atmosphere and music is a nice change from the typical swing night. Hot Rod's Hangout is in the garage of Hot Rod's, which is, you guessed it, a Hot Rod shop. So every Friday night, the cars are pulled out of the garage, tables and chairs are set up, and a dance area cleared. Then in comes a great Jump/Swing or Late Swing/Early Rock and Roll band.
The Rhythm Rascals give lessons there every Friday night as well. So even if your new to the dance, a trip out to Hot Rod's will be well worth it. Be sure to keep an eye on the Monthly Calendar to see who playing when at Hot Rod's in the weeks to come.
The Lindy Hoppers Homepage Changes Its Look
So, to go right along with that, we have completely wiped out all the old news that used to be here. We've got new things to talk about, and as they come up, you will find the story right here.
For example, as far as The Lindy Hoppers Homepage is concerned, we are looking forward to the completion of a new, more powerful "Anti-PBDA Page" within the
next month. Also, a great new photo album is being put together right now that will include a few of photos from the old album, as well as a wealth of new ones.
We hope you enjoy the new look and feel to our homepage, and hope that you come back often. Things will always be changing around here, even more so then ever before.
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This Page Last Revised: June 28, 1999.