Thursday, June 21, 2012


Once upon a Monday in the early evening hours, I found myself with two hours notice, throwing on the most swingin' dress I could find covered in polka dots and pearls and all topped off with a fine purple felt hat.  I didn't think twice, as I matched up my makeup and pinned back my hair beneath the fun and funky felt creation and hopped in my car quick as can be to drive to the nearest PATH station.

So quickly I drove without normal traffic and made it to the train just in time to depart and cross under the river that has kept my true love (NYC) and I apart for oh so long.  I sat and debated my possible options for something to eat on the way or before, and settled quite happily on dropping by FoodSwings to snag up a MintChip "Milk"shake and some vegan NY-Style Disco Fries... which I'm always craving.

...and after maybe a half hour of wandering about until I'd finally found my way, I managed to follow the joyful tunes of the Baby Soda Jazz Band right down to the water at East River State Park.  Couples were dancing as I began to approach them, kicking and twirling, bopping along to the music while others just listened from nearby picnic tables.  The whole ordeal had an excellent feel.

This was an intimate gathering of quite lovely people who were in for a night of "old timey hot jazz" and a bit of swing dancing taught by Eve of Avalon Jazz.  Rather famished at this point from the long foodless walk, I found myself a little place to picnic beside some resting bicycles and simply took in the atmosphere of the event.

I took a bit of time to refuel as I listened to the big band sound produced by the small quartet and watched the sun begin to set over the horizon.  The weather was gorgeous, the company warm, and the view seemingly unreal in its beauty.  I delighted in conversations with newly made friends and before I knew it, the tunes came to a halt as the swing dance lesson began.

Eve began with the basic step that I've come to know and love over the years, replacing my previously learned "slow, slow, and-a-quick-quick" sequence with the word "rock-step" to prompt the ball-change.  My partner, who graciously humored her choreography and my need for someone to dance with, and I were quite entertained by her description of the way the leader holds the hand of the follower.  She called the leader's hand the "teacup" and the follower's hand the "paw" which offered us the most amusing of mental images.  Silliness aside, it was most effective.

She followed up the basic step by instructing the leader to turn his partner beneath his arm and back again, added a little "so-close-its-silly" partner hip gyration (that reminded me of a fat, laughing Santa doing the TimeWarp while we practiced it alone), and ended with "pecking" which I am pretty sure amused Eve and the bystanders to watch as we awkwardly attempted it.

When the lesson had ended and the daylight faded into night, several of the participants returned to their places... perched atop benches and tables to continue their conversations and watch the dancers as the band continued to play.  I was pulled onto the dance floor a few times by my friend Bill, usually unexpectedly, but always delightfully surprised and willing to dance and twirl around to the music before returning again to my own perch and conversations.

Once the sun was fully down and Manhattan was illuminated, the music stopped and the group packed up to move on to whatever other Monday night activities that were awaiting them.  Overall it was a lovely night spent with lovely people and enjoyable music and dancing to boot!

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