Swing Discussion Boards > "Original" music West Coast Swing was danced to

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This one actually feeds back to the dancing in "Rock Around the Clock."

    It all started with a cue sheet for Western Swing / West Coast Swing from Portland in 1953. Long story short is that I came across this RCA album, and I just can't not post some of this any longer.

    The track listing has all big bands from the swing era

    But, who the heck is Boots Brown & His Blockbusters?
    I found the answer here http://www.jazzwax.com/2013/06/dave-pell-on-boots-brown.html
    "I played the sax solos for the movie Rock Around the Clock [1956]. I’d blow in the same spirit as the guy playing sax on the screen."

    "But you have to remember, at the time it wasn’t cool to play that kind of music if you played jazz. That's why Shorty came up with a fake name. I don’t know why he chose Boots Brown or what it meant. I know we didn’t want our names on the records. We were too embarrassed."
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I very recently got my hands on a 1954 Arthur Murray show from Los Angeles. The dancers were doing "swing," according to the announcer.
    I'd call it Western/West Coast Swing, because I saw a lot of what is in the step sheets from the 50s and it is almost exclusively slotted.
    The band was Jerry Gray's Orchestra and the songs danced to were: Pennsylvania 65000, In the Mood, and A String of Pearls.

    Wikipedia articles on these are decent.
  3. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Hey Steve, have you ever listened to "Western Swing and Other Things". It is a radio show that might be right up your alley.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Kayak, looks like there is limited availability of that show. I can't find any "podcast" sort of link for it and I'm thinking it only streams live.

    Meanwhile, I picked up a cd with Bob Wills radio broadcasts. They mention the Harmony Ballroom in Anaheim, and also talk about Fresno, where Wills had his own ballroom. (((correction - Wills Point was in Sacramento, not Fresno))) One of the songs they do is "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Wills was a big fan of Bessie Smith, and did a fair amount of blues over the years.
    Also grabbed an inexpensive copy of Ballroom Echos, and they have a section on the Golden West Ballroom. The owner, Olin Thibedeau, apparently told the author about free admission to one hour dance lessons taught by Skippy Blair. And, yes, they mention that it started as of "country western" spot. Other than that, though, they leave out any mention of the Western Swing ballrooms in Southern California, which i spar for the course.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There is a Town Hall Party group on FaceBook. THP is the country western show and dance that ran in Compton, CA in the 1950s. Robert Charles Griggs, who appeared on the show as Bobby Charles, played at the Golden West Ballroom, and also got into jazz, just posted a photo of the Eddie Kirk band at THP in the early fifties. Fiddle, steel guitar... same deal musician wise as at the Pumpkin Center in Bakersfield.

    Well, take a peak https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203551105352378&set=gm.10152101332655964&type=1&theater
    I'm calling what the dancers are getting ready to do swing.
    That's two photos showing swing like dancing in a country western setting on the West Coast in the fifties.

    I also just got my hands on a 1953 Arthur Murray book that has been hiding in the Chino Valley.
    "There are literally hundreds of variations of Swing dancing. Each section of the country seems to have its own special steps. On the Pacific Coast, Western Swing and Balboa are popular. In the East, the Lindy is still the favorite basic step."
  6. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    One can almost trace the evolution if you think about it. Start in the northeast with triple-step swing and lindy. Move down the coast to the Carolinas, and see how the dance morphed into the Shag. Continuing around the Gulf, you encounter Push-Whip which looks a little like Shag, but with something different injected. As you keep trekking around the southern coast to Cali, you find out what that little oddity is... it's WC Swing... a laid-back version of Push-Whip. Though, perhaps, not historically correct, it shows how the dances are similar, and how they change as one crosses the country.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This just in from someone who played the Town Hall Party in Compton in the 50s...
    "There was swing dancing indeed at Town Hall Party and at the highest level played by Hollywood studio musicians, Big band, country, jazz, bluegrass,rock, the THP band had it all covered."

    You know, I haven't seen any actual documentation prior to the late 70s on the Texas forms of swing. And the stuff I have seen doesn't mention Whip or Push.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    i had my first exposure to Texas "Push " when I worked in Dallas in 1974. It looked like ( as I re-call ) a mixture of WCS and Shag .It was not being taught in the locally franchised studios( I worked in both FA and A/Murray ) .
  9. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Agrees exactly with my post above.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In '62 Astaire had "The Lindy Swing" in his book, along with a really inaccurate account of the history of the dance. (Has anyone EVER seen any evidence that it came from the South?)
    In '78 it was "The Swing."
    I thought I had seen "Astaire Swing" somewhere?

    In 1960 Astaire's national dance director, John Monte, wrote about Western Swing.

    Do you remember what flavor of swing you taught at those two franchise studios?
  11. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Not I.
    East, West, Huslte, and Shag. There was/is the step (pattern) called Lindy Rhythm in the ECS syllabus. It never pretended to be a Lindy, but was/is very accurately named to described how the extra 2 steps conforms to traditional Lindy.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, oh... Do either of you know anything about Ernie Buck Region 6 Dance Director?
    Looks like his stuff ended up in Monte's 1960 article on Western Swing.
    I found a picture of an Ernie Buck at the Arthur Murray in Long Beach in 195?, but that's all I know.
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    They both taught E and W coast swing, but, as I previously mentioned WCS was much rarer on the east coast .

    As to John Monte, he was in the same studio I worked at in NYC ( Park east ) his home base, which was the only studio Arthur M retained .

    Interesting fact about John, ( which he never mentioned ) was that, his brother was Hugo Montenegro, the famous Orch. leader, who was the only studio representative in the States, to receive the Carl Alan award. This was a UK award, given for outstanding service to the dance industry.

    As to FA and AM, altho they both taught and built their reputations on social dance, teaching the same dances, Freds came into existence much later than AM (1948 ) and they essentially used the same format as AM but used different step names ( where practical ) for the same variations.

    This at one point, became a nitemare for me !.. I had to learn both systems ( and i already had Intern, style drilled into me ) and when coaching/teaching in both, had to be careful not to "mix and match" .

    In addition, Freds made some musical dance step changes; for one e.g. they changed the social bronze Rumba, to a side QQ beginning .
    Sania likes this.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just noted that this tread has hit 40,000 views.
    Looking around at other sites, I find comfort in the fact that there are other (many?) people that have spent apparently great amounts of time investigating various aspects of swing dancing.
    I really enjoy the discovering things part of this. Getting it all into a readable form, as I've noted at least several times, is hard work.
    Little? mileposts like this help keep me motivated to continue with the task I've set for myself.
    Siggav and leee like this.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    We sure were in the U.K, Ted Heath was the big attraction, among several others, and it continued on for a few more yrs. Age wise ? early teens , thru to late 20s as I re- call. ( I was in the States by then )
    cornutt likes this.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    My Christmas present to myself this year will be 3 LA Times articles about swing dance in LA that I haven't seen yet: 1 from the 60s, and 2 from the 70s.
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "There was swing dancing indeed at Town Hall Party..." according to an eyewitness account.
    Someone recently posted a link to a November 6, 1954 kinescope of THP, and there is indeed swing dancing back there in the crowd where the dancers were.
    You can skip to around the 32 minute mark if you aren't into country western.
    Be sure to stay tuned for the Bunny Hop that Marilyn Tuttle told me about. That's Marilyn there on the right during Rock a Bye Boogie

  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I was not surprised to find this in a Texas newspaper dated 1992.

    "for those who wish to retain more cosmopolitan ties, Rose will also be instructing those attending in the West Coast Swing, a popular fast dance to Texas Blues music."

    WAY after "original"

    And, as a bonus...

    a chain studio in the Bay Area was using the names West Coast Swing and East Coast Swing in 1956.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  19. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Steve. a popular " fast " dance ?... how things get changed with time
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Or, just like the bit about "Texas Blues music," maybe it was a Texas thing.
    There is, though, clear documentation that the range of speed for WCS, or "Western Swing," was much broader than it is today.

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