I decided to write a quick blog note for two reasons. 1) because I have recently connected with two old friends that were Chicago follows Evin Galang (now in Atlanta) and Julee Mertz (still in Chicago), and 2) because I've been teaching and coaching a lot of aerials this year and a good friend asked me to show them "the twiss." As aerialist coach and teacher, I would like to call attention to this video and the one aerial right in the beginning. We call it the Twiss (named after Andrew, the guy dancing, Evin is the girl.) I've taught it a few times, and done it with multiple partners over the years. It just amazes me that back during that time they were able to come up with something so difficult and so dangerous without all the safety techniques that we have now. And I love the aerial itself, always have. It totally sneaks on the audience -- total surprise. Nice f@%#$ job!.. Of course the routine is amazing too -- watch the whole thing!!
I think we should also recognize the importance of Chicago social dancing to the global lindy community, especially between the years of 99 and 2004 when regions were so independent.
I travelled a lot back then, like 40+ weeks a year, to most every major US city. And I spent a whole lot of time in Chicago. I'd say that I travelled and danced so much that I literally watched the post-gap dance develop right in the middle of the local clubs, before all the tier 1 dancers started joining forces and before the development of the monster weekends. Those weekends did exist, there just weren't that many, and they weren't as relevant.
Chicago was definitely one of my favorite places to visit. It was like Christmas every time I walked into a club and saw Julee Mertz, Margot McGraw Toppen or Evin Galang in there. If at all back then, they probably knew me as "that tourist guy" and I was definitely an outsider. But I damn sure knew them, and at the time I don't think they have a clue how awesome they were compared to the rest of the country.
What made Chicago so fascinating to me though (besides the relative skill) was the style they were all doing. To "the tourist" dancer like me, there was a straight up Chicago Style -- as unique in the world of Lindy Hop as Dean Collins style is. There were three people that seemed to have it nailed, Riley, Andrew, an this other dude that I have no clue about other than I remember him being about 170 pounds, maybe russian or polish, with dark hair, and not in the slightest bit interested in doing anything but being on the dance floor all night long.
Now that we're all older, I wish I would have taped more of that particular style. Eventually I am fairly certain it'll end up in the history books.
[Added Later : Thank you FB friends for telling me that third lead's name is Peter BetBasoo ]