Sunday, February 17, 2013

Southern Stardust Big Band

Greg came back from the lake to attend the Southern Stardust Big Band Valentine’s Dance last night. 

Dinner and Dance. 

Tim Oldham plays in the band – the same band that played at Tim’s wedding. 

Last night the food was good, but the band was the showcase for the evening.  They played 3 sets, 13 songs each.  Old tunes like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “Ain’t That  Kick in the Head”, “Call Me Irresponsible”, “The Way You Look Tonight”,  and “This Guy’s in Love with You”.  When they played “Jalousie” I couldn’t help leaning over and asking Lurene if she knew the alternate words for that tune.  They are like the alternate words for Jingle Bells ...  Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.  No.  Lurene didn’t know them, so I gave them to her.  “Leprosy, oh I’ve got leprosy.  There goes my eyeball, into your high ball.”  I have no idea what decade I was in when I learned those words. I don’t know why that little ditty is on my list of memories that I keep, instead of the ones that fade for me.

Tim’s Aunt Janet had flown in from Toronto and was at the dance.  She has done community musical theatre all of her life, so she and Lurene had lots to say to each other.  Lurene is the musical director for Legally Blonde which is being produced this spring.  The female roles of the show are highly competed for.  But Lurene is still out looking for male voices to play some of the secondary roles.  Lurene made me laugh.  She asked me if I knew anyone who was interested?  “Richard?”, she asked.  And then she would sing some clips of the singing parts she still needs to fill.  I have seen the show enough to remember the tune from just a few words.  She didn’t have to sing all of the songs.  I can see Lurene has the whole score running in her head.

The wives of band members only have the choice of listening to the music of the big band.  But it seems everyone else there had come to dance to big band music.  The floor was always full, and mostly of old couples though some might qualify as late middle-aged.  And could they dance!  Wyona and Greg were once such couple.  If they sat down for a rest, it was only for the first 8 bars of a song and then they were back on the floor again.  There was one young couple there who could keep up with the rest of the oldies – two lindy hoppers and could they every go!  I whispered to Wyona, “Those lindy-hoppers think every tune is a lindy hop. And they are so cute – even dressed in costume with a short skirt on her that will twirl to more than a full circle when she would twist.  He was a tall man, but when he begans to dance he was down low and those feet were doing all the right steps.”  I finally stood up to watch and got a little closer during the third set when some of the really older folks had gone home.  The floor had cleared out a bit.  That couple had more room to show their stuff.  If I were 50 years younger I would be out taking lessons every Friday night and then dancing the rest of the night away – lindy hopping.

It wasn’t long until I could see that the older couples, for the most part, had been serious dancers for all of their lives.  Their moves were smooth and some of the couples, when they tired of holding their arms up, could just dance along together, feet in time, no need to get any hand signals from one another. Long time valentines. I imagined that the talk between them was so much fun, for I could see one laugh and then the other – as though they didn’t even see the 40 other couples of the floor who were doing the same thing, talking and laughing together.  The dance was 3 ½ hours long.  I didn’t get bored watching.

When the last note had been played and people were packing up to go home, I noticed the lindy-hop couple had changed back into their regular clothes – t-shirts and a pair of jeans.  Older women were taking off their dancing shoes – the sensible high heel with a strap across the instep, made for ballroom dancing --  shoes that have the perfect sole for gliding across the floor.  The only woman who didn’t need to change much was the one who had worn a perfect black fascinator in her hair all evening – she still looked queenly, regal as they walked out of the door.

The evening sky was not quite black even though it was near midnight.  The view from the Austrian Canadian Club was perfect – across the valley, over the lights of the city, on to the foothills and then the mountains lit up by all of the city light.  Greg said, “Only in Calgary can you be in the industrial section of the city and have the most amazing view of the mountains, ever.”

A perfect end to a perfect evening.


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