Swing Discussion Boards > West Coast Swing 1960s

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I somehow ended up on the Steel Guitar Forum. There are musicians there who wrote that they were playing Western Swing at CW places in the Los Angeles area in the 60s and beyond. Yes, it seems that it was still popular at places like the Green Lantern, Elks clubs, etc. "We played a lot of Western Swing which was still popular." They list a whole bunch of places I've never heard of. If you've been to an Elks (Skippy Blair's first studio was right beside the one in Downey), or if you know someone who has, you might know that it is in general an older, pretty conservative crowd.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, speaking of conservative...

    I'm pretty sure that earlier in the thread I wrote about doing what was then still called Western Swing to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I now have a another? (I'll have to check and see if this is a different article.) written source.

    You might remember that Alma Heaton learned Western Swing while working for an Arthur Murray studio in LA, (There were many, and I now have a count from 1955.) and took it with him to Utah in 1953, including it in his dance books beginning in 1958.

    The article promotes dancing "so that good taste is exemplified", and asks young people to "avoid the current trend of what to many of us, appears to be vulgar dancing." Of particular concern were the then "new fad dances", "a free style of dancing in the solo position, and individual type of movement that had resulted in hip shaking contortions and shoulder movements."

    Western Swing (aka West Coast Swing) was, however, being taught. Guess back then it wasn't a sultry, sexy partner dance.

    The article is dated 1966.
  3. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Interesting history... :cheers:
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    When I checked in at the Santa Monica History Museum, hoping to find information about the Western Swing bands on the Santa Monica pier, they weren't very helpful. They did however suggest I could perhaps check in with Lawrence Welk's family about what went on at the Aragon Ballroom, which was on the Lick Pier in Santa Monica. Earlier in the thread, I posted a link to Bobby and Barbara dancing to Calcutta on the Laweence Welk Show.
    Here's more Western Swing / West Coast Swing (albeit mixed with a bunch of other stuff!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYhU0BvNdSE&feature=related 1962
    "String of Pearls" was one of the songs Laure Haile listed in her writings.

    Mack the Knife - 1961

    "Mack the Knife" or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife", originally "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. from wikipedia

    Here's one more (I suspect there are many!)

    "Temptation" is a popular song, published in 1933, with music written by Nacio Herb Brown and lyrics by Arthur Freed. The song was used in the film Singin' in the Rain (1952) and later in the 1983 musical based on the film, and is prominently featured in Valerio Zurlini's Violent Summer (1959). - wikipedia

    I guess it's safe to say the WS/WCS was a staple of this couple's repertiore.
  5. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    :cheers: to all of this. Marvelously done! :notworth:
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Danced there on a couple of occasions, but primarily to the B/room type bands .
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    March 30, 1946
    Spade Cooley, whose Western band has reigned at Riverside Rancho for three years, leaves this week end to state a stanza at the Western Palisades on Santa Monica Pier. (Note didn’t debut set up until Sept 8. See Billboard Sep 28, 1946)

    Cooley moved from Riverside Rancho because it only held 2,000 patrons. According to one source, the Santa Monica "terpery" held 10,000 patrons.

    June 1948 Cooley begins hosting Saturday night variety show Hoffman Hayride on Channel 5 KTLA-TV (broadcast initially from the Santa Monica Ballroom). The show became a mainstay of Southern California TV. Frank Sinatra, Bob Wills, Bob Hope and other major stars routinely from the area stopped by appearing along with acrobats, comics, singers, athletes, and actors.
    As a KTLA ad put it, "Spade Cooley's formula for a show with top musical entertainment, a dash of western flavor, and a good sprinkling of comedy has proven to be just what the viewers ordered."

    Oct 30, 1948 Cooley still doing terrific business at Santa Monica Pier Ballroom.

    Feb, 1952
    At present, three pop danceries, three h.b. and Western terpalaces and three independent bands are vying for interest of the dancers among the 1,250,000 TV set owners in the vicinity covered by seven local TV outlets.
    Newest rustic dancer to pitch a local TV-er is Marty Landau’s Riverside Rancho, from where KNBH will do a one-hour coverage Saturday nights, starting February 16 (9:30 p.m. PCT), featuring Spade Cooley’s band with a girl singer.
    Cooley’s Decca recording crew still remains the topper in the dancer-TV competition. Cooley, who pioneered the Saturday videocast from his own Santa Monica dancery, remains among the top five preferred rating shows in the area. Larwence Welk, from the near-by Aragon Ballroom, Lick Pier, Ocean Park, has. Like Cooley, a fully sponsored show Friday nights over KTLA-TV. Horace Heidt and his band on KLAC_TV from Heidt’s Tianon Ballroom, Southgate and Cliffie Stone and his Western entourage from El Monte dancery Saturday over KLAC-TV.

    La Monica (yet another name for the same place, far as I can tell) hosted many national radio and television broadcasts in the early days of networks before it was turned into a skating rink in 1958. The largest skating rink in Southern California, if not the entire state, it entertained thousands of skaters for the next five years. However, in 1963, the building was suffering from so much structural damage, it had to be torn down.

    Not sure when exactly Cooley left. I seem to remember he had a seven year lease?

  8. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    The music is so ridiculous, it's weird how the music has evolved that we dance WCS to.

    Our patterns are not nearly as naive or innocent, but they are very similar.

    I wouldn't mind women dressing like that. Instead we get blue jeans and pants. Oh well, this is 2011!
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The only WCS appears at 2.08.. Its primarily a " Show dance " piece based on ECS.

    A very good friend of mine was Bobbys' teacher, She was the D.Director at the Hollywood A/M.

    Remember, Welk was the number one show on TV , and catered to an adult audience ( most teachers NEVER used his music ) .
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    TT, I think you've shared that name before (if I go back through all of our exchanges, maybe!). Could you tell us again who the Hollywood DD that taught Bobby was?
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Sheila Webber/ Sloan . She was from the U.K. and a U.S. Champion in Intern. style Modern. She sadly passed on, 2 yrs ago . There is a dedication to her name somewhere on the net .

    She and her husband Ken, had a studio in Pasadena ( which I believe is still on going ) .
  12. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    What is it with those bloomers?

    As a guy, one of the main things I like to look at is when a lady is dancing is to watch her dress fly up when she spins. I know, call me a perv if you like, but it's one of the guilty pleasures of ballroom dancing.

    So, what's with those bloomers (or whatever they are called) Barbara is wearing? It ruins a lot of the fun because Barbara's dress flies up to waist level but we can't see anything!

    This got me wondering -- is this type of prudish dress typical of 1961 ballroom, or was the bloomers worn because it was the Lawrence Welk show? For the historians out there: when did us spectators get to see panties instead of bloomers?
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    It took me all of about 1 min to find a clip from "Among the Living" 1941 where you can see clearly that a woman isn't wearing "bloomers" or "dance pants".

    There's always been a "good girl" / "bad girl" dichotomy.

    Texts on dance nearly always included manners. Yeah, hard to believe. You think maybe something has been lost?

    Dick Clark didn't allow certain things on "American Bandstand" because it would be in bad taste and/or would result in complaints from local affiliates.
    His concerns were not unfounded.
    Rock n Roll poineer Alan Freed had a tv show canceled when a mixed race couple was seen on camera in 1957.

    Things were in many ways really different back then.

    More specifically, that style of dressing for women went out of fashion during the 60s, and twirling in a mini skirt was no more revealing than just standing there.

    Maybe in the 70s with disco?
    Quick, someone look at "Saturday Night Fever".
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    But then there is a dance scene in "Living It Up" 1954 (Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Dean Collins Jewel McGowan, etc) and there are short skirts flying up all over the place. But here its obvious that this is no accident! But it's on on television, either. (Wonder when it was first shown on tc and if this scene made the "censors".)

    See for yourself
  15. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    The women in that video had short skirts and they didn't seem to hesitate to letting them fly. How could dance change to be so puritanical from 1941 to 1961?
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    From war time to peace time,the public tends to draw in its "reins " .

    The changes in " dance " reflected that, in part, due to the changes in music.

    Comparing how we danced Bop, R and R, and eventually Jive, one can see how more restrained the interpretations became over time .
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Even "country western" bands sometimes had women in short skirts circa 1940s.
    Have you ever seen this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDTN1YdymP4 ?

    OK. Listen to the music.
    Get your head around this.
    This "Soundie" was filmed in 1942 (according to one Book), other sources list it as 1944. More about "Soundies" here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundies

    Ever see Devo's "Whip It"? Look familiar?

    (Liner notes with "Texas Strip" state that the "backup" musicians playing are from Spade Cooley's band.)

    You would probably be surprised at some of the songs that were often performed by "country western" performers back in the day. They just aren't part of the main stream history we usually read about.

    So, remember this...
    There are movies, and there is real life, and there is television.
    In real life there is more than one approach to fashion, even when there are trends.

    It might be a good idea to not draw too many conclusions based on what you see in one place, like the Arthur Murray Dance Party.
  18. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    That's a great video. It's totally hilarious!!!

    I sure like those cowgirls better than the ones we have today that wear torn up blue jeans.

    I'm not sure it counts however because there was almost no dancing.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Last few years when I visited Los Angeles a lot of the young women were wearing very short shorts in the country western places. Just thought I'd share that. Has nothing to do with the 60s.
    Oh, and one more thought on 50s fashion... poodle skirts.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    New Era in the Presentation of Country Music – In addition to the “name” bands, Thibedeau scouted the entire country for talent to form “The Golden Westerners,” certainly one of the best swing bands in the nation today.

    This is an excerpt from Los Angeles Times coverage of the 1963 opening of the Golden West Ballroom in Norwalk, Calif.. Happens to be about 2 milles from Skippy Blair's house, and she ended up teaching there for a bunch of years.

    This band had 3 fiddles, which were the lead instruments in Western Swing bands. One of the guys had played with Bob Wills, and another had been a regular on the Town Hall Party in Compton, which had closed down a couple of years before.

Share This Page