The following list is by no means complete, and it’s not the official list. I only had a small part in this event, so I’m sure there are quite a few other unsung heroes of Frankie95 out there. However, I wanted to thank everyone that I came in contact with over the weekend or otherwise helped out that I can remember.
Next to last stop on my Frankie Manning 95th Birthday Festival Retrospective. I actually wrote this note first before the others and went back and forth between re-posting it or not, and whether it should go at the beginning or the end. A few weeks ago I thought it was appropriate to end, but reading it now makes me think it should have gone first. Oh well. This note was originally posted on May 31, 2009.
I’d like to say I decompressed on the ride back, but I just sat on the train and stewed, making myself angrier. I started writing a summary of my weekend experiences, but that turned into a litany of threats, culminating in a step by step plan to take on everyone I held responsible for pissing me off. I was pretty much prepared never to step into another Lindy Hop dance again, but fortunately a few people stepped in to pull me from the edge.
I think I got the most sleep all weekend on Monday morning; about 4 hours worth. Then it was back to 424 W 34th street. We cleared that space of regular workshops and decided to schedule the rest of our presentations there.
The rest of Sunday evening went pretty smoothly.
Sitting through the Jack & Jill semi-finals reminded me why these things are usually scheduled in the afternoon of most events. We were originally supposed to do it right after the show and before the bands took the stage to give people time to go eat dinner or otherwise freshen up. Unless you’re in it, prelims and semi-final dance contest rounds aren’t the most riveting things to watch. Thanks to Joel Domoe, Aurelie & Tony Tye and our DJ, Ryan Swift for moving things along as quickly as possible.
I grabbed a radio and headed upstairs to check out how everything was progressing. That’s when I found out that we were in more trouble than at any other time in the festival.
George Henik reminded me that the Saturday night didn’t end with the live music. Anyone paying attention will note that the Saturday late night was the only time when we featured an extended DJ set. The reason was simply because we didn’t want to put the pressure on musicians to try to follow the show that preceded it that night. However, I think we left the night in the good hands of Jesse Miner and Rayned Wiles.
They kept the crowd going so well that they didn’t want to stop dancing even after they left the ballroom after 4:00 am. This was obviously not late enough for the 100+ dancers who loitered in front of the Manhattan Center until someone got the bright idea to just start clapping hands and get everyone dancing again.
You would think everything would have gotten easier after we settled into the Hammerstein Ballroom, our home for the last half of the event, but not so much.
Saturday was the first day of workshops. Theoretically, over 1000 people were eligible to take workshops. According to a survey we took a month before, closer to 800 had plans on taking them.
On Friday we did it all over again because we had to move everything from the Grand Ballroom to the Hammerstein Ballroom downstairs. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to skip out on the memorial service and the dance at Central Park. It was a tough decision especially after David had detailed the line up to me earlier in the week. The speaker and musical guest list was loaded, a testament to Frankie's influence.
The week of the event, I pretty much hit the ground running when I got in on Wednesday. I arrived in NYC by bus a little after 1 pm, checked into my hotel and then got a text that some people were starting a meeting at 2 pm in the Manhattan Center. It was off to the races.
It kept going that day until about 3 am. I should have taken a cue from Chester Whitmore who I caught napping during our first and last all hands staff meeting that night. I was impressed by his ability to doze off, be awakened by a question directed at him, and then promptly fall back asleep when attention went on to something that didn't concern him. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury because everything concerned me.