"Original" music West Coast Swing was danced to

No. Eye witness accounts are notoriously incorrect. Thus, when several eye witness accounts say the same thing, we tend to believe them, because it is unlikely that many people remembered the same thing in the same wrong way. When one is substantially different, we tend to ignore it.

And fyi, I wasn't the one questioning your statement that Helen was the best dancer. That was d nice. The point, however, was not so much about whether or not she was the best, but that telling us that part of the "quote" didn't really help your point.
I took a Graduate course at UCLA on the US Civil War in 1962. The weekly assignment was to read two different books on the subject and compare them at a round table discussion.
One book was written by a Civil War veteran in 1880's while the second book was written in 1958 by the professor's personal friend.
Out of a dozen students, I was the last to give my comparison, and I was able to find a dozen passages in my Professor's friend's book that were pure plagiaristic that I quoted directly from both books.
My reason for sharing my experiences of the Swinging 1950's is to set the record straight so that dancers who weren't even born in the 1950's succeed in trying to revise the Swing History of that period. I always restrict my observations to only to events where I was a personal participant, and if I mention information not in my personal experience I always state who was the sourse of that information as I did in Helen's case with Jean Veloz who is stil alive and very actively traveling around the world giving demonstration in the Frank Veloz version of WCs which I viewed only a few days ago. The surprising questioning reaction I received from you on my 'A Little Bit of Swing History was legitimate. I would expect you or anyone else seekng authenticity to go to Google and punch up some of the names I mentioned to corroborate my statements. I danced with Darleen Greminger at the Camp Hollywood event in 2006, and Jean Veloz gave a video performance just a few months ago.
Already I have seen Dance Forum contributers using my Six Count Lindy teaching methods in describing dance moves, posters who only in 2003 were critical of using my methods described in my Magic Pill only a few years ago in Dance Forum. As a writer of over 30 books, over 30 musical compositions, 332 Dance Forum commentaries and over 500 Essays, I along with you, am also concerned about Revisionist Swing History and flagrant plagiarism.
So I welcome you questioning.
My 332 commentaries under my aka Black Sheep, and they are mostly about my personal unadulterated history experience in Hollywood during the Swinging Golden 1950's.
Again, comparisons that don't work here.

And how would googling any of the names you've dropped corroborate your statements? Have they published similar comments elsewhere? I know who Jean Veloz is, but I also googled her name. Nothing came up that would in any way agree with the controversial things you say.

Of the over 30 books you've written, how many were self-published? How many were peer-reviewed? (A search for your name on Amazon reveals 4 books, all with "unknown" binding. IME, this usually means someone is churning it out on their home printer and taking it down to Kinkos for binding. Worldcat results are basically the same, possibly one other "book.")

Dance forum post # doesn't mean much. Anyone can post.

500 essays? Again, how many are published, by whom, and how many have been peer-reviewed, either before or after publication?
LindyKeya - Welcome to my world.

Joe - Which dance forum contributors are quoting from your "Six Count Lindy teaching methods in describing dance moves, posters who only in 2003 were critical of using my methods described in my Magic Pill only a few years ago in Dance Forum."

I'd love to know. I seem to recall pretty much being one of the only people who had any opinion on your posts, methods, and information that is still posting. I'd love to know who they are, and what of yours they are quoting. Please provide links to the threads and the post number.

As to who you are and what you have done, I try not to put my curricula vitae out there as a means of proving my point or silencing criticism. I don't normally go by my real name on forums, though I also don't hide it. I want my posts to speak for themselves. To me the weakest argument one can bring is well I'm well known and have been around a long time so I am right. That is the stick. I prefer carrots. Here is my position, here are all the pieces of verfiable information, some of my sources and others who you can ask about the given subject... Please don't take my word for it, look it up, try it out, demand to see me do it, explain it, prove it, demo it in public. Amazing what conviction and honesty all used to support multiple sources of verifiable information can accomplish. Mmm, carrots!

First, if you really know your stuff or you are really down on your history, you should have plenty of corraborating evidence or the stance you take and the reasoning behind it should have such sound logic that who you are and what you have done is not needed to back up what you are saying.

Second, using logic and facts to sway people generally usually works better than pulling out your, uh, resume and waving it at people. Rather than turning someone on to your way of thinking, it usually turns them off.

Lastly, if you have the rep/street-cred and ability to walk the walk as well as talk the talk... people will cite your expertise on a given subject for you.
Linykeya, My credentials for sharing the History in Ballroom dancing in HOLLYWOOD during the 1950's is on the internet; just punch in 'JOE LANZA' in Google.
My 332 posts in Dance Forum are all about swing in Hollywood in the 1950's.

"Dance forum post # doesn't mean much. Anyone can post." Lindykeya

But my 332 Historical Swing posts under my aka, 'BLACK SHEEP' happened to be verifiable.
My credentials for being an authentic on the scene Swing Historian of the 1950's in Hollywood are all over the internet, with inside stories of the films I danced in and choreographed. Many events have names and places that are authentically verifiable.

And statements like, "I was the only dancer who won FIRST and SECOND place against top dancers like Pat And Darleen and Jack and Lorain are not events that can be interpreted as otherwise, as one might interpret a street car accident..
Incidentally, there has been only one Poster who has ever question the integrity of my 332 commentaries on Dance Forum, and by his own admission.

Now may I know your Credentials for being a Judge of my Swing History in Hollywood in the 1950's?
Uh... Joe, you know you just contradicted yourself right?

As to using google to verify anything... oddly enough every search that says anything about you and well... anything else in a flattering light is written by you about you, or is quotes of you about you. Simply putting a lot of stuff online will result in a name search coming up with the same info.

I'm as inclined to believe word for word someones repeated stories about themselves as I am to believe a resume that comes across my desk of a potential new hire. I'm sure it is mostly grounded in the truth, but I would have to be willing to put my vast experience of the human animal on suspension to believe everything as it is written as gospel truth.

You are absolutely right though your winning first and second place at a local dance contest at a club 50 some odd years ago is not interpretable, if verified by others who were present it would be considered a fact.

That doesn't mean that it is overly impressive or should be afforded any particular weight. I won a Blues dance contest with who are normally thought of by the most experienced dancers to be the best dancers and instructors in this genre. It was by all reports a unanimous decision and even every spectator thought I had won, with a follower I had never danced that particular style with in my life...

Sounds all impressive. Eh, truth is there were partners I could have gotten that I would have danced better and worse with in that competition. There were other dancers I believe to be every bit as good as those who were competing who were not competing. I could go against those same people 50 times more with different songs, different partners and loose all 50 times.

Competitions are indicative of someone being able to give the judges what they are looking for, when they are looking for it, out of those present, nothing else. In some cases it is even less than that. I was djing a competition where the Doug Silton as head judge ignored all the other judges about who to put into the finals selected his particular favorites (who were noticably not all the best dancers, but were those he was friends with). Who won was based on the same. What was even more sad was that half the judges had no experience in the style of dance they were judging... I let you figure out how much saying you won this particular dance contest is at all relevant to dance ability.

This is why I think putting your CV out there as a means to some how bolster your position is near pointless, no matter what you have done, or said you have done, someone else can always bring out an exmaple that shows why it may have no bearing on the discussion at hand. Sucks, but it is the truth.

Let coherent, verifiable, and demonstrable arguments show the "truthiness" of your position. Do this and you won't have to bring up your CV. People will start to believe what you say simply because you are the one saying it.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I hope it's safe to go back in the water, and write about music!

Remember "Hot Rod Gang" and West Coast Swing to "Dance to the Bop"?
To me it seemed like a pretty obscure song in a pretty obscure movie. Well, back then it wasn't so obscure.

"Dance to the Bop" was released by Capitol records on October 28, 1957
On November 17, 1957 Vincent and His Blue Caps performed the song on the nationally broadcast Ed Sullivan Show.
The song spent 9 weeks on the charts and peaked at #23 on January 23, 1958, would be Vincent's last USA hit single.

The song was used in the movie "Hot Rod Gang" for a dance rehearsal scene featuring dancers doing [[West Coast Swing]]. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051741/ http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/v/vinc5000.htm

I just saw an interview with Martin Sheen, and he talked about how, as a youngster, the cheapie rock n roll movies of the 50s were so important to youngsters.

Gene and His Bluecaps also appeared several times on The "Town Hall Party" show, California's largest country music barndance held at the Town Hall which was at 400 Long Beach Boulevard in Compton, California. The Town Hall Party drew in excess of 2,800 paid admissions each Friday and Saturday with room for 1,200 dancers. The show was also on from 8:30pm to 9:30pm over the NBC network. In addition, it was shown over KTTV, channel 11 from 10:00pm to 1:00am on Saturday nights.
Appearances were on October 25, 1958, as well as July 25th and Nov. 7th, 1959. Songs performed were: Be-Bop-A-Lula, "High Blood Pressure," Rip It Up, "Dance To The Bop," "You Win Again," "For Your Precious Love," "Rocky Road Blues," "Pretty Pearly", "High School Confidential," Over The Rainbow, Roll Over Beethoven and "She She Little Sheila".

The show was more than just the artists on stage entertaining the audience. The theater sat about 1,000 folks in front of the stage, but at the same time about another 1,200 or so would be dancing in the rear of the huge ballroom.

Note the Town Hall Party was a country music show that was based in Compton, CA in the LA Basin. This is the same time that Skippy Blair started calling "Western Swing" "West Coast Swing" based on the fact that in Downey, CA, which is also in the LA Basin,
nothing Western was popular.
But, it looks like the new, popular thing was amped up "hillbilly" music which we now know as the Rockabilly branch of early Rock n Roll.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I visited Powell's Bookstore in Portland this past Monday after an unsucessful attempt to by a certain kind of donuts for my cousin's girls. I ran across a book published in 1981 and titled "The Complete Book of Country Swing & Western Dancing and a Bit about Cowboys" by Peter Livingston Livingston.

It has the following text.

Fred "Poppa" Calhoun, piano player for Milton Brown, vividly remembed how people in Texas and Oklahoma danced when Bob Wills played. "They were pretty simple copules dances, two steps and the Lindy Hop with a few western twirls added for good measure. By 1937 the Jitterbug hit big in the West and allowed much greater freedom of movement. But the Jitterbug was different in the West. It wasn't all out boogie woogie; it was 'swingier' - more smooth and subdued."

This doesn't prove that Lauré Haile saw people dancing to "Western Swing" when she wrote down the steps to what was then called "Western Swing" in Santa Monica in 1951, but it convinces me that people did do swing to Western Swing music; making it more likely that...

I got a chance to dance to a Western Swing tune last Saturday, something that doesn't happen much at coutnry western places. In spite of my partner's skepticism that it was the right kind of music, it worked quite well.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I was going through my notes, and found this item. Although it refers to dancing at the Venice Pier, which has already been mentioned, it adds numbers and the frequency of people dancing to this music.

"Phillips had opened a ballroom on Venice Pier in Los Angeles, catering to the transplanted southerners and Midwesterners who had flocked to California to work in the defense industry. By 1943, Phillips had five barn dances throughout the Los Angeles area playing music from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. seven days a week. The music of choice at these dances was western swing.

Cooley and his lead vocalist Williams were in the right place at the right time. Musicians who could combine country, pop, swing, and jazz were in demand. The Cooley Orchestra performed at Phillips' Venice Pier Ballroom to nearly 4,000 revelers every Saturday night. Workers coming on and off the swing shifts at munitions plants were hungry for music and companionship. The quick tempered and cocky Cooley ultimately ran into difficulties with Phillips and was replaced by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, who had left Oklahoma for the bright lights and easy money in Hollywood. Cooley challenged Wills to one last weekend competition at the Venice Pier Ballroom, and the audience voted Cooley the victor of this "battle of the bands." Cooley then named himself the "King of Western Swing," and the phrase stuck. The combination of country music with big band swing would dominate the country-music business in the 1940s. Steel guitarist Leon McCauliffe described the style succinctly: "It was dance music played by a fiddle band.""

Steve Pastor

Staff member
And, I was just informed/found out that the above can be confirmed in a "substantial booklet" that comes with the cd "Swinging the Devil's Dream" featuring Spade Cooley's music, which interesting enough is an import.
(Proper PVCD 127, 2003)
The booklet was written by Adam Komorowiski, who has written more that one book about western swing. The numbers are attributed to musician/band leader Jimmy Wakely.
According to the same source, Cooley then bought the Riverside Rancho Ballroom and began playing there.

Thanks, LowerCoach, whoever you are.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
"And when we get jitterbuggers in the joint we get 'em so happy they can't stay on the floor. We lay it on like they want it."

Bob Wills quoted in Smile When You Call Me a Hillbilly By Jeffrey J. Lange page 99

Steve Pastor

Staff member
We included Jump Blues in this discussion, so, here's a bit about Jump Blues...
Note the bit about Jump being to a large extent meant for dancers, according to Robert Dietsche. Bob Dietshce had a regular jazz show here in Portland, and he wrote about the Portland Jazz scene in his book "Jumptown - The golden years of Portland jazz, 1942-1957".

'''Jump blues''' is an [[up-tempo]] [[blues]] usually played by small groups and featuring horns. Jump blues was very popular in the 1940s and was called rock n roll in the 1950s.
Jump evolved from big bands such as those of [[Lionel Hampton]] and Lucky Millinder. These early 1940s bands produced musicians such as [[Louis Jordan]], Jack McVea, Earl Bostic, and [[Arnett Cobb]].<ref>Jumptown - The golden years of Portland jazz, 1942-1957. by Robert Dietsche. Oregon State University Press. 2005. pages 9, 10. ISBN 0-87071-114-8 </ref>
Blues and jazz were part of the same musical world, with many accomplished musicians straddling both genres.<ref>Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. Wald, Elijah (2004). HarperCollins, p. 198. ISBN 0060524235.</ref>
Jump blues, or simply "jump," was an extension of the boogie craze.<ref>Nothing but the blues : the music and the musicians.
by Lawrence Cohn, Mark A. Humphrey. Abbeville Press. page 176. ISBN 1-5589-271-7</ref> Jump bands such as the Tympany Five, which came into being at the same time as the boogie woogie revival, achieved maximum effect with an eight-to-the-bar boogie style.<ref>Jumptown - The golden years of Portland jazz, 1942-1957. by Robert Dietsche. Oregon State University Press. 2005. page 9. ISBN 0-87071-114-8 </ref>
Lionel Hampton recorded a stomping big band blues, "Flying Home," in 1942. Featuring a choked, screaming tenor sax performance, the song was a hit in the "race" category. Both Hampton and Jordon combined the popular boogie woogie rhythm, a grittier version of swing-era saxophone styles as exemplified by Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, and playful, humorous lyrics or verbal asides laced with jive talk.<ref>Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta. Palmer, Robert [1981-05-21]. Viking Adult. page 134. ISBN 978-0670495115.</ref>
As this urban, jazz-based music became more popular, both bluesmen and jazz musicians who wanted to "play for the people" began favoring a heavy, insistent beat. This music appealed to black listeners who no longer wished to be identified with "life down home."<ref>Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta. Palmer, Robert [1981-05-21]. Viking Adult. page 146ISBN 978-0670495115.</ref>
Jump accomplishes with three horns and a rhythm section what a big band does with an ensemble of sixteen. The tenor saxophone is the most prominent instrument in jump.<ref>Jumptown - The golden years of Portland jazz, 1942-1957. by Robert Dietsche. Oregon State University Press. 2005. page 11. ISBN 0-87071-114-8 </ref> Jump groups, employed to play for jitterbugs at a much lower cost than big bands, became very popular with agents and ballroom owners. Saxophonist Art Chaney said "[w]e were insulted" when an audience wouldn't dance.<ref>Jumptown - The golden years of Portland jazz, 1942-1957. by Robert Dietsche. Oregon State University Press. 2005. page 9. ISBN 0-87071-114-8 </ref>

Steve Pastor

Staff member
But, the real reason I'm back in this thread is to share with anyone who cares some actual song titles, and links to samples if I can find them, of songs that were listed by Lauré Haile in an Arthur Murray Silver Dance Notebook from the 1950s. This book has a section on Western Swing amongst about a dozen dances, and no other "kind" of swing.

Here's the first song she listed as "Good Swing or Fox Trot Records"
"A String of Pearls" by Glenn Miller.
You can listen to the entire song (at least as of today) at this url

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Other songs listed are:

"Let's Dance" by Ray Anthony

"Be-Bop's Spoken Here", Les Brown, Columbia 38499

Also Good Swing - but unusual Chorus "AABA": - a quote

"One Mint Julep", Buddy Morrow, Victor 20-4869
(Has 12 bar "A" phrases and 8 bar "B" bridge)

"Dry Bones", Tommy Dorsey, Victor 20-3523

A total of 5 songs listed as "Good Swing" in Lauré's 1950s Arthur Murray Silver Dance Notebook.

There is no date listed in the book, and no copyright on file with the US government, although there is a "copyright notice". Murray's other books are listed in the database. The latest date on the records she lists is 1953 (there are others besides swing), but that date is on London records that doesn't quite sqaure with her title.
But isn't this obvious?

Personally I would have said Frensi, and Adios were better for WCS. . . .and much better (because of their musical complexity) than most modern music.

If you want a list of 1940's tracks I think are suitable for WCS - I could give you dozens. . . .

The music simply FEELS right for WCS. . . .but you very rarely get to dance to it.





That old black magic


Artie Shaw, Deep Purple

How often is the song Frenesi spelled as Frensi? Is this a difference of spelling in different countries?

I never saw it spelled any other way other than Frenesi until last week on emusic and now here. Just curious....

Steve Pastor

Staff member
If the music WCS was originally danced to was obvious, this thread would be much shorter.
"Since then, West coast swing has remained a living dance, evolving with the music selections of the day while still maintaining loyalty to the blues from whcih it was born." Picture Yourself Dancing. Shawn and Joanna Trautman. 2006. page 221

I wonder if the Trautman's have seen Lauré's list, or the dance rehearsal scene to Gene Vincent's "Dance to the Bop"?

By the '50s Rhythm & Blues had become the standard WCS dance music.

I'd say Lauré's list isn't real big on R&B, and Gene Vincenet is usually known as a rockabilly.

It turns out that adults probably continued dancing to Big Bands, which were still popular into the 50s. What got all the attention, though, was what the teenagers were doing, dancing to rock n roll. But rock n roll isn't really blues, and not all 50s rock n roll was R&B.
Etc etc.

I have yet to see another list of songs from the mid 50s where WCS (still called Western Swing) was danced.
And I have yet to seen another film from the 50s where people actually danced WCS rather than doing slotted moves as part of a much larger repertoire.
Then, too, there's the photo from Bakersfield where people are dancing what looks a heck of a lot like WCS to me, to a "cowboy" band. (I really should post that photo here.) So maybe people danced to the music called Western Swing, too, in addition to Gene Vincent (at least in a movie).

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