Friday, October 15, 2010

Greatest hits of lindy hop

Jerry Almonte just posted a nice piece about a recent "greatest hits of lindy hop" set he played at Jam Cellar, the regular Tuesday night dance in D.C. As he describes it:
Most DJ’s have a stash of overplayed hits they keep in reserve if a night isn’t going for them. I thought it would be fun just the wheel them out all at once especially since I haven’t heard a bunch of them in a long time. I’m not going to pretend like this was some great challenge or anything. In fact I’m pretty sure any tone deaf moron would have been able to keep any Lindy Hop floor full by putting the playlist below on shuffle. However, the last time I did something like this was a couple of years ago, but it was at a venue that has more beginner/intermediate level dancers. Most of them hadn’t heard any of the songs at all. The fun part was watching them react, and being reminded of why certain songs are just the jam. It was like re-watching the last 10 years of social dance compressed into 2 hours.
The post includes his setlist, which brought back a lot of memories, and reminded me of songs that I never really play. Here's some notes on a couple of the songs from his set:
  • Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me" never fails to put me in a sentimental mood, since I associate it so strongly with my college swing club where I first learned charleston and lindy hop.
  • It's perpetually interesting how different scenes can have such different perspectives on songs. A bunch of the tracks that Jerry lists as played out in D.C. have seldom if ever been played in Chicago. Muggy Spanier's "Sister Kate" I've played all of three times at dances, and not once in the past 2 years. I'd put money on it that none of the other regular DJs in Chicago have ever played it. It is a great track.
  • Same thing with Fats Waller's "Dark Eyes." I do love that tune and played Wingy Manone's version pretty often for a while.
  • Same thing with Eddie Condon's "Madame Dynamite." I used to play this all the time. Last year my dance partner won a jack & jill once to this song (see here starting at 6:43) and so lately I've avoided playing it because nothing will ever match that dance.
  • "I Didn't Like It the First Time," a.k.a. "The Spinach Song" by Julia Lee & her Boyfriends. Sure its cornball novelty. But it's sure fun to play when your audience is kids from the Moody Bible Institute.
  • "Jump Through the Window" by Roy Eldridge. Ever since Skye & Frida did their routine to this song, probably every DJ in the country plays this song now. I love dancing to it, but have tried to be a little bit cautious about playing it too much because I didn't want to ruin it. I've often substituted Eldridge's version of "Little Jazz" when I get the urge to play "Jump."
  • The only song off Jerry's list that I find really annoying is Ella doing "Smooth Sailing." It just grates on me. Please don't play it. Everything else I'm cool with and would actually love to hear given more air around town.

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