Every year, older friends in the Hillsdale Hepcats scene would go to SparX, and come back and tell me that it was awesome and I should go. I somehow managed to put it off until this year, and I’m so glad I finally went. Although it involves being in Cleveland in February, something I don’t recommend unless you are prepared to dress up like the Abominable Snowman every time you go outside, SparX is a fun event with outstanding instructors. I got to take classes with both Bobby and Kate and Adrienne and Rafal, and they were a genuine delight. Adrienne is especially good at not letting me get away with fudging my way through things and making me lead clearly, and I really appreciate that.
I also DJed band breaks on Friday night! It’s hard to follow a band like Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five, but I did my darndest and people seemed to enjoy my music. Peter, one of the instructors, kept trying to guess which artists I was playing – he got Artie Shaw right at the end of the second break with “Love Walked In.” Good job, Peter!
Songs 1-8 here comprised the first band break. I tried to kick the tempo up, knowing there were balboa dancers in the room, but I chickened out at “Hop, Skip, and Jump” at 181 BPM and reverted to a safe song, “Things Are Looking Up” by Ella Fitzgerald.
In the next band break, songs 9-14, I resolved to get faster, reminding myself that it was okay to clear the floor a little bit (especially since it was so crowded!), and played “Let’s Get Together” by Van Alexander and His Orchestra at 188 BPM. It’s a tune I love and I have no regrets – and the balboa dancers seemed to appreciate it too!
Someone came up to ask me, “What was that song?” after I played “Frankie and Johnny” by Count Basie. It’s an instrumental Frank Sinatra tribute that contains snatches of familiar melodies, and definitely went over well with the Lindy Hoppers. “Frankie and Johnny” is new to my collection, so I’m glad it was so successful.
You’ll probably hear “Frankie and Johnny” at the Ann Arbor Valentine’s dance, coming up this Saturday on February 10! I’ll be taking care of band breaks and I hope to see you there!
Photo credit to Mike Will Art.