March 28, 2014

#64: The Amazing Charlie and Jackie

Finding Swing in New Places
Weekly Note #64
"Luanne, that was our turnoff!"
"Oh dam.. Guess we just have to go to Myrtle Beach!" -Shag, The Movie

I don't have a super huge, devastatingly-big reveal this week. Nope. I just feel like sharing with you two of the dances and one of the songs that has kept me smiling for at least a third of my year so far.

There was a time when Shag and WCS shared the same values and had some of the same goals, and though that period didn't last very long, I'm glad we did have it. 

I still remember my very first Charlie and Jackie event (Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee). I caught myself, after having traveled all the way across the nation, dancing with the people in my section - the table I was at, and the tables around me.

But guess what? All those tables were from areas in my own state! "What the heck?" I thought. "If I'm in the Shag-lands, then I'd better at least DANCE with the Shaggers, right? I mean, why else am I here???" 

And so I set off. Alone. I wandered from section to section, scanning the dance floor for guys that 1) I didn't know, 2) were dancing Shag (as best I could guess with the little I knew) and 3) were on time (hey, on time is on time, peeps... it translates into any language!).

In each section I found a few, and in each section, I braved asking each one of them. Only once, you know, to be polite, but I did muster up the courage to ask. That plane ticket wasn't going to go to waste!

But you know what? I had some of the absolute best dances of my career right then and there. And then proceeded to blush with horror as every single one of them was called up for a first or second place position in Shag categories at awards. Oh snap! I was only extra, EXTRA grateful for their kindness towards this lonely foreigner from out of nowhere.

So Shag will always have a special place in my heart. Oh. Right. And so will Charlie and Jackie! Not just for that wonderful experience, but for the joy they still bring into my life, into Nick's life and into others.

Here's treasure #1 we just found:

Pro Shag Competition - 1989
Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee Exhibition Dance

Go ahead and turn up the volume a little bit, and lean in. Rarely do such equals in skill match up. Rarely do such equals in skill actually enjoy each other so much! And rarely does such brilliance touch our floors.

Because, let's face it. Who switches their full body weight in swing anymore? And I mean, in ANY swing dance? The flat motionless (this is NOT the 'smooth' Mr. Collins was talking about!) split weight and sweat-less calm of the current stuff, whether it be Lindy, WCS or, yeah, a lot of Shag I'm seein' today.... well. It's making me itch for the craze that is SWING again!

That heart-pumping, hip-tilting, knee-bending, core-crushing, weight-changing madness! Oh, yes! it's hard on the knees. Oh, yes! we need three shirts a night to do it. Oh yes! it makes a person sweat so much it messes with their hair and makeup. Oh. Please. We're dancers. We sweat. We rock it. And we rock it hard. I love, love, love, looooove this dance video memory. Daaaaaaang... Thank you SO much for the share!

Now. On to the other video that made my spring so cheerful. Ironically, it's one that I myself posted. But I don't actually get to watch the videos I post very often. I watch to see if the audio matches the video (because, why bother, if it's not? Grayson & Leslie 1999, anyone? Aargh! I need to dig in my video closet! We need one where the music and the dancing are actually together!!!!).

Anyhow, though the slow choreography is executed quite masterfully, it's the second song that's been blowing my mind lately. Listen in (starts at about 0:22):

1996 US Open Classic Champions
Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee - Shag

Alrighty. So my favorite DJ's out there know that their second song is actually the James Brown version of Good Good Lovin'. Which is now on my iPod - not for teaching, but for my everyday routine. I have to say, I rarely get through it without jumping out of my seat and, at the very least, dance the twist (please, do NOT tell my PT! ;)

(Btw, I have to say... Jackie gets it ON here! I mean, watch the first video, and then watch this video. As one who personally loves to just enjoy my man on the floor, it's another thing to give the crowd that, well, "look." The, "that's right. I got this." look. Those who know me from waaaay way back used to beg me to get it, and I finally did, but it sure as heck wasn't easy or natural. But Jackie? No sir. Jackie just rocks it in that perfect way that somehow manages to remain Shag-power on a outnumbered floor. Sweet. Ness. Good Lordy!)

Secondly, you might also note that Charlie and Jackie won the US Open with this routine. That's because the US Open has always been a SWING competition. Any form of swing is allowed. Oops. I mean,was, allowed. Zouk is not a swing dance. (Sorry, you hanging-on hopefuls!). And the poor Lindy division on Saturday night at the Open last year faced an empty ballroom.

Swing is for one... Swing is for all! We might have to find it in different places nowadays, but it can be found.

Have an awesome week everyone, and download some Good Good Lovin' for your own enjoyment. You'll be glad you did!

From Weekly WCS Note #64: Shag-a-licious! (Now The Amazing Charlie and Jackie). Released Monday, June 10th 2013.