Toronto Lindy Hop 2001-2002 Archive from Charles Levi

I don’t have as many notes for 2001-2002 to reveal for a variety of personal reasons, but I do have a few little pieces which should give a flavour of the time. It also is my first mention of Dovercourt House – but as you will see, it didn’t always show well. Plus Lula Lounge, and my first mention of Alleycatz on Yonge and of Mel Lastman Square (although I had danced there in previous years). And a few notes relating to the beginning of Toronto Lindy Hop.

You will detect in these entries a few sniffs of annoyance at a dance community that seemed to be very insular and un-welcoming. I am not sure what to make of this at a distance of fifteen years.

Click here for a visual archive: dance archive 2001

Saturday June 23, 2001
8:16 P.M.
Don Mills and McNicoll

I’m heading to Alleykatz (sp!), a club I have never been to, to see Swing Intensified, a band I have never heard of. Such are jazz festivals.

11:13 P.M.
Subway North of Eglinton.

Alleycatz had been open since Wednesday. The band was not “Swing Intensified” but the Don Hutchinson Quartet. They were good, but the Manhattan was better.

Thursday, July 5, 2001
11:08 on train north from Union Station.

I walked to Harbourfront, where the Swing Gang has taken up residence on Thursday nights. I arrived just as the lesson was ending and the second set beginning. The band was good, the moon nearly full moved through the clouds, and Maria, the little slip girl, was dancing, at least I think it was her, the moves and the dress were very familiar. I didn’t go to Harbourfront to dance, but neither did I expect to spend so much time watching her. She moved so slinkily. I thought about asking her to dance, but my motives were not pure so I refrained.

Monday, August 20, 2001

7:35 A.M.
Don Mills 25 at Finch

Last night the rain held off long enough for the entire Peter Appleyard concert at Mel Lastman Square. It was a lot of fun, even if only three or four songs were danceable.

August 31, 2001
9:17 P.M.
Revival, 783 College Street

I’m the only patron here, and there are seven staff members and a trio – the Terra Hazelton trio -in the place with me. Toots Shor this ain’t – but then who goes to a nightclub on time? Two other patrons came in as I was writing this – still not exactly life.

September 1, 2001
12:17 A.M.
Queen’s Park Station Platform

Revival picked up at the end of Terra’s set, and the dance floor was full for Jake and the Blue Midnights. I didn’t dance. I couldn’t bring up the energy to ask anyone. And of course no one asked me, this being Toronto.

8:47 P.M.
Island Club, Ontario Place

When the moon is full on a clear night, when the roulette wheel spins your cares away, and when the jazz band plays “Come Fly With Me” nice and hot, it’s a night that almost makes you forget that you are alone and in love – jazz, luck and the moon can almost deal with that.

September 15, 2001
1:30 P.M.
Subway Southbound at Wilson,

TSDS open house. MK, Kristine showed up late – got dances in with them and Amina, a nice night. Moira disappeared before I could dance with her. Too much talk of New York. I am sick of New York.

Thursday, September 20, 2001
8:06 A.M.
On 56 bus in Eglinton Station

[last night] I went to a sparsely attended Toronto Lindy Hop meeting at Barcode. For all their desire at unity, they act like a faction. Amina showed up for the 9:00 lesson, I went home and took a bath.

Friday September 21, 2001
8:02 A.M. Eglinton Bus Platform

A brief drop by the Hart House Open Stage, a trek to the loopy Joseph Patrick Books, and another weird trek, via Parkside Drive, to the Queen Street Railway at Healey’s, where Alex Pangman played the last jazz concert to be held there. I danced one, with Moira, who had left the TSDS because it seemed to couple-heavy.

Monday October 1, 2001
8:31 P.M.
Downsview Station platform

Much is going unrecorded these days, I fear. Tonight I had a serious headache after work, went down to the U.C. to sort some books, and then bailed out of a plan to go to a dance at 412 Richmond to kick off Toronto Lindy Hop’s new season. I will send Kathleen some thoughts by e-mail when I get home.

Saturday October 13, 2001
3:40 P.M.
Streetcar stop, Queen’s Quay and York Quay.

Took subway to Union, streetcar to Radisson, and walked from there via Waterfront café and Double-Double Pizza to Lindy on the Lake. Only two men, six women, when I left. Very sweaty but a lot of fun.

Monday October 15, 2001
7:57 A.M.
56 Bus Platform, Eglinton

Spent Sunday morning putting books on my newly assembled bookshelves – somewhat of a joy, actually. Also did some more work on my m.s. and checked my paper for Yale. Then, after dinner I went down to the “Waterfront”, which replaced the old “Purple Pepper”. Janice Hagan and her band are playing there for five weeks. I trained the bartender to make me a Blue Monday (which only cost me $5, with tip) and enjoyed some great music, and even danced three times. The floor can only hold ten couples at once, as the Lindy Hop crowd proved. A beautiful evening – why do I have to work today?

Monday December 10, 2001
8:05 A.M.
56 Platform, Eglinton Station

Sunday was better, if too late a night. The inaugural Constance Margaret Ball with Tori Cassis at the Capitol Event Theatre. An amazing night, the whole Lindy Hop community, many very well dressed, not to mention Charlie Foster and everyone else.

January 28, 2002 [Monday]
10:39 A.M.
On train, Downsview Station

Saturday was the Dovercourt Dance, my second good dance night in two days. But by the end I was in a state of war with my dance community. No-one asked Hope to dance, except me and one other guy – once. The rest of the time Hope sat there – and there is nothing she will let me do about it. Hope wants me to be realistic – she is the largest thing on the dance floor, she says. Are dancers that shallow? Am I committing the same basic sin? I don’t know, all I know is that it bothers me.

Saturday, February 16, 2002
11:50 P.M.
Subway North of St. George.

Weekend not shot after all. Anyone can debate whether it was a good idea or not, but I went to the Melies short films at the Cinematheque and also to the Dovercourt Dance with Alex and the Alleycats. Lesson at 8, dance at 9, stayed until 11:30 , got at least a dozen dances in, including Lisa Baxter and a petite girl in an orange top named Shira, who was a six-count ECS type but followed my Lindy. I think she was from out of town – very few people danced with her. At 11:30 the band’s second set ended. I already removed my Bleyers as my condition started to get the best of me. But I am glad I went.

Wednesday March 13, 2002
11:17 A.M.
Subway south of Downsview

Monday 11th I went to the Reservoir, which was packed to the gills with people. The dance floor was deadly by the end of the night. I left at midnight. Four dances, not bad.

Monday, March 25, 2002
11:19 P.M.
Southbound platform, King Station

I go to Reservoir Lounge, but I don’t stay long. I got there too early, as usual, despite not leaving until 8:30 I still arrive at 9:10 while the place Is deserted, slowly sipping a rye and ginger, and wondering if anyone will show. By the time I leave the place is pretty packed. I still got two dances in, with Ann and New York Laura. Laura is the reason I went – I had a hunch she had the photo of me at Reservoir with her, and my hunch was right. It’s a good photo of me. I also get to quiz Peter Renzland about the Palais dance with Dr. Jerry Green which I missed on the 22nd. Peter says the band was as expected, 200 people showed up who will never pay to see Dr. Green play again. Apparently, Dr. Green even sang, which was something to hear, apparently. I don’t mind being a one-set wonder. For a chance, I actually sat where I could see the band play.

Saturday, March 30, 2002
10:59 P.M.
St. George Station

Went to Dovercourt dance. I got to Dovercourt at 7:00 P.M. – early – and the lesson started at 7:40 – late. It was good. Mandi Gould and Brien Brown from Seattle. The only problem was a hypercritical follower named Alicia. Then, oddly enough, I danced with another hyper-critical follower also named Alicia or Alysia or something – weird. They were also both dark-haired. I got a fair bit of dancing in from 9:00 to 10:20, then I just stopped – I was a bit tired, my right foot started to hurt and there was no-one who I really wanted to ask left on the floor – although the floor was very crowded. Something told me I wanted to be home before midnight.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002
10:01 A.M.
On train, Downsview

Monday at Rez was pretty bad – except for the band, which was great – too crowded, too smoky, and too many people snubbing me for no good reason. I may finally get to 201 Niagara tonight. I really feel the need to dance.

Monday May 27, 2002
11:20 P.M.
Subway North from Union

Tonight Alana ran a review session of the Frankie Manning workshop at the Naval Club. It was pretty exhausting and I had to sit out the last 10 minutes because I had nothing left. That old empty-head syndrome again. I’m still feeling some of it now. I did go to the Reservoir Lounge after, but I sat in the alley hidden behind a pillar, sort of. Many people saw me, nearly no-one said hello. I was gone in less than an hour. Just as well. I was too dead to dance.

Thursday June 6, 2002
10:18 P.M.
North from Osgoode

I proceed to 412 Richmond East for the first of four lessons.

Thursday June 13, 2002
7:24 P.M.
Subway South from Downsview

On my way to Lindy Lesson at 412 Richmond. I have sort of been sick since Saturday, but I’m managing. I’m actually sweating while I am writing this! Not a good sign for the lesson tonight.

Thursday June 27, 2002
12:54 P.M.
Subway South of Downsview

Lula Lounge was good. The last few days Bec Handcock has been in town. Wednesday Bec and I went to 201 Niagara so she could show me she had learned some Lindy. We danced a fair bit. I was quite annoyed, however, that no-one asked her to dance. What is it with these people?

10:16 P.M.
Subway North of Osgoode

Saw “Sweet Smell of Success” at Cinematheque. For some reason, I left feeling self-destructive. I hustled to my Lindy lesson. I thought I would be late but I was on time. The lesson stressed me out so that 40 minutes in I was on the sidelines thinking yet again how it’s been four years of dancing and I am still such a beginner, and how I can’t relax at all and how my life is so maddening that relaxation is impossible and that same old nonsense. I’m going home to drink – alone – and try not to self-destruct.

June 30, 2002
5:53 P.M.
Subway South of Wilson

Still fighting a chronic cough, and heading down to Lula Lounge to hear the Swing Gang, and perhaps also to dance. We will see. It’s a holiday Monday tomorrow and there should be a good crowd.

10:38 P.M.
Subway Station – St. Patrick

Arrived Lula at 6:40 and ordered a Tropical Breeze. The Tropical Breeze was vodka, triple sec, apricot brandy and lime juice, and it tasted as hideous as that sounds. The lesson started late, was poorly attended, and was just some old six-count routine, so I gave it a pass. The band went on at 8:30. I got two dances in with Donna and Teresa. The second dance, with Donna, winded me. I had an orange juice to recover. During the break, I chatted briefly with Amina. At 10:15, after the band was 45 minutes into their break and showing no signs of returning, I gave up and left. In the streets, lots of useless noise over Brazil winning the World Cup. Now, home to cough. Perhaps it wasn’t worth going out tonight.

Wednesday July 10, 2002
11:48 P.M.
504 Car East of Bathurst

About 7:30 I decide to go down to 201 Niagara. No dice on the lesson – not enough followers, but the place really packs for the first set and the band plays to measure. Four dances, Ann, Moira, Rachel, and New York Laura back from New York and dancing beautifully. I stay for two songs in the second set but it really thins out and I can’t bring myself to ask anyone, so off I am home.

Sunday July 14, 2002
Subway South of York Mills
1:44 P.M.

Friday night TSDS very nice, good lesson, Sol Douglas Trio played (Sol tried to borrow my MIDI pedal – but I have never owned one!). I got about nine dances in, mostly usual suspects, including that girl Charlie brought to Jordan and Rachel’s wedding. I can’t remember her name but she’d been away from dancing for a while. A good night, left near midnight.

7:27 P.M.
Lula Lounge

Arrived here about 7:15, the place very deserted. Lesson in “Jitter Bug Stroll”, the only option with eight leaders and one follower. I may end up door this evening. No sign of the band yet, either.

Sunday July 21, 2002
11:54 A.M.
Subway North of Union.

Yesterday we went to Beaches Jazz. Hope complained about the heat but we were there for about three hours. Many Lindy Hoppers showed up for Alex Pangman.

Tuesday July 23, 2002
12:18 A.M.
King Southbound Platform

Monday being Monday, and unemployment being unemployment, I headed down to Reservoir. Band went on at 10:06, with no followers present. By the time I left, the place was packed. There must have been 25 couples at some point. Really something. Three dances first set, Ann, Rachel, and someone I rarely dance with, who I bored. Only one dance second set, with another woman I hardly knew. The music was very good, and so many happy dancers almost brought my spirits up.

Friday August 30, 2002.
1:26 P.M.
Subway South of Downsview

Wednesday I went to Sax on Yonge to see Alex and her Alleycats. It was a slow night and I had a nice chat with Alex after the first set.

September 1, 2002
Subway South of Wilson.

Yesterday I had trouble focusing, but I finally decided to go to Reservoir, got there at 9:30 and the place was already packed, so I took a table at the back of the “alley” and had one and a half cups of coffee. Tori Cassis was in great form, but none of the normal Lindy crowd was around, so no dancing. Women at a table next to me killed a liter of red wine, but didn’t dance. Three couples on the floor. I left after the second set, just before 1 A.M. walked along King Street to St. Andrew to burn off some energy, then went home. The coffee messed up my system so that I didn’t sleep well. MUST DANCE TONIGHT!

11:29 P.M.
Dundas Streetcar at Dufferin

Lula reasonably crowded. First set I get two dances, one with Amina and with Rachel (girlfriend of Charlie Foster of Shelburne). Also, I get rebuffed twice by a young thing in red – Ouch! Second set I only dance once, and after enough tunes go by where all the women I want to dance with are taken by the time I decide to dance, I make my exit, stealthily. I wanted more than three dances, but I just don’t have the hunter instinct like the rest of the dancing men.

Friday, September 13, 2002
12:35 A.M.
Subway North from Union

I went to Reservoir Lounge. It rapidly became packed with dancers, I stayed into the second set. Only danced twice, with Ann Mayer and with a Lisa I’d never danced with before. Jody appeared with two dance teachers in from England for eight days. Ann, with my borrowed pen and paper, made a sketch map of Kensington Market for them. Jody, in a rare moment, noted my growing hair and suggested I trim things a little more evenly, to avoid the “bush man” look. I told her I would take it under advisement. Janice Hagan, good as usual – floor was nightmarish, crowded. Turned down once, by Katie in from Montreal.

Tuesday September 24, 2002
12:13 A.M.
Subway North at Union.

Reservoir worked nicely. Four, maybe five dances, good crowd – floor thinned out a bit after first set, but on the whole O.K. I’m feeling good again.

Monday, September 30, 2002
12:13 A.M.
Subway North near Museum

Four dances at Reservoir, one with Rebecca, one with a Terry who I had never danced with before, and two others I can’t remember. A few times I get up a fraction too late, and all the followers are taken. But I was happy to be out and the floor wasn’t so bad.

Tuesday October 8, 2002
8:05 A.M.
Dr. Pollard’s Skymark Place

Saturday I went to Dovercourt to dance, after a beginner lesson by Mandi – there was a severe shortage of men so I danced a lot, mostly with beginners. Sunday we went to Lula for week two of the fast Lindy. We were late, but they started late – the bar was so noisy I could hardly hear the instructor. We did some fast Charleston which worked but the fast swingout is still a failure. I went home and had a Dubonnet and stayed up too late playing Orion on the computer, which made Monday a write-off. So naturally I had to explode at someone, in this case the Atomic TOE committee over their sexist Blues Night coming this Friday. We will see how they react.

5:56 P.M.
Sicilian Sidewalk Café

My e-mail today gives comfort that I am not the only person annoyed with the Atomic TOE committee, which is a relief.

Monday October 14, 2002
6:12 P.M.
Subway north of St. George

Hope and I survived Atomic TOE weekend. I have a few hours to decide whether I want to go to the post-TOE festivities tonight.

Sunday November 17, 2002
11:18 A.M.
Downsview Station

Last night at Dovercourt House was fantastic. After a skid into the TTC parking lot with my car, I made no other errors. 60 people were there for the lesson (in Charleston), a record for a Dovercourt lesson. The band, conducted by Josh Grossman, included the wonderful Melissa Stylianou on vocal. I danced with MK, Margaret, Moira, Amina, and a few others, including a beginner or two. Maybe a dozen dances. I left before midnight, deciding to forego the second set to sleep.

7:41 P.M.
Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West.

Slow night – four people show up for the lesson, and I am not among them. They have no cook tonight, but seem to be grudgingly allowing Simon to order off the tapas menu. Their payphone is out of order – and then things get weirder – an Asian gent with a electric glowing necktie and earrings comes in with an assortment of items he says were discontinued by Eatons – office equipment, German knives and the like – I decline, and try to sell him the candle off my table. He does not understand and leaves. I could not make this up!

8:49 P.M.
Dundas Streetcar East at Dufferin

Situation at Lula gets weirder. The bartender wasn’t even supposed to be on duty, she came in with a date and was shocked to find no-one there. I get one long and nice practice dance with Robin – who asks me – we’ve never danced before, and then I cut my losses and leave. On the way out, I knock over a candle with my coat – I don’t know how, perhaps I jostled the table – the glass holder broke very cleanly . All I really wasted was time – from 5 P.M. to 9 P.M. and I got some writing in and reading as well.

Friday December 13, 2002
5:30 P.M.
Subway South of Sheppard

Last night MK and I went to Constance Margaret Ball. We didn’t get to the Capitol Event Theatre until 11 P.M, but that left us 2 hours and I got a good share of dances in – Bonnie, Rachel, New York Laura (who had radically cut her hair), Ann Mayer, MK. Much fun. There were even dance cards, but they weren’t proper.

Saturday December 14, 2002
11:24 P.M.
Subway North of St. George

Dovercourt was nearly deserted. Maybe 20 people. Charlie was there with his Rachel, and Donna. A few people I didn’t know. I did get about seven dances in, which was good.

Monday, December 23, 2002
11:21 A.M.
Sheppard Station.

Last night, Lula Lounge. A fine lesson and then a slight rebirth of my rat pack. At my table were Mike, MK, Sarah and Andrew, and Fiona, MK’s friend from Oxford with a new D.Phil. Fiona pleased that the bar could make her a Cuba Libre. They dance quite differently at Oxford, and Fiona could not follow a Savoy Lindy lead. Sarah was neurotic about her dancing and had to be coaxed onto the floor. MK as much the dance-slut as always. The band was in full swing. Terry Wilkins was wearing shades, but I learned this was not affected – he was nursing an eye infection. Dances with Donna, New York Laura, and the women at my table. I ran into Kim at the streetcar stop when I left at 11:50 – she was cursing herself for leaving late and she had to work the next day. We rode together to University and Dundas. She told me she was angry at Simon Threlkeld for an incident at the Constance Margaret. Apparently Simon flipped her, and she flashed the band – and promptly stormed out. She is not speaking to Simon and may never go back to the Capitol. In short, a tremendous night. I miss my rat pack.

Toronto Lindy Hop 2000 Archive from Charles Levi + great scanned items from The Big T.O.E.!

Click these special scanned documents for some terrific archives:

Click here: The Big T.O.E. archives

Click here: Dance Archives 2000

Diary from Charles Levi:

We come into 2000. I spent that year alternating between East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop, and I am going to try to keep the references to Lindy Hop experiences. Warning, some of this stuff is really mean to some people – and I’ve left out some things that are still way too sensitive, even after 17 years.

Some of this stuff relates to an desperate attempt to save the Palais Royale from development, which sort of failed. And also the debut of the wood floor at the Reservoir, now 17 years old and still holding up! I fell ill in early 2001 for an extended period, so I have almost no notes for the first few months – and I am surprised I have so little about the first BIG TOE exchange in early 2001, even though I was on the committee for it.

Monday January 31 2000
11:10 Northbound Platform
[I think this is after the Reservoir Lounge]

Tonight makes up for the stellar fifth week of the Lindy class, and I manage to convince Sandy (or Sanji, can’t remember) to forego homework in her Theatre Arts Course and come for a set. She dances nervously but we get through. One dance with Lisa, who follows beautifully, then Bobby and Moira, at which point I’m tired and sweating myself blind. So I get a drink. I try to order a Blue Monday, which I describe as a Black Russian with Curacao instead of Kahlua, but she misunderstands and makes me a White Russian, making my Blue Monday a Sky-Blue Monday. It’s briefly the talk of the table. And so a tremendous January comes to a triumphal close. If I keep up the momentum and don’t fall in love, it could roll right into February.

12.24 A.M.Friday February 4, 2000
Pape Station

An O.K. night at the Courthouse, maybe 5 dances. Can’t remember them all. Notable, however, was one dance with Zu, who used to DJ and give lessons at Berlin and Palais Royale.
Then there was Joanna, that quasi-teacher. We have just been missing each other on the dance floor for months, and it seemed like we were destined never to dance again. Tonight I asked her if she wanted to dance with me and she said yes – but about a minute in it was clear she didn’t want to dance with me at all – not one of my leads caused her to follow. Abruptly I informed her she didn’t want to dance we me. I hurried back to my seat and she asked me what was wrong with me. I told her that there was nothing wrong with me at all – circumstances did not permit a fuller answer. She was my first dance of the evening and almost spoiled it all. Notably, she brought her diary with her to the Courthouse – I don’t know why. I will admit that I watched her dance intermittently with others, and it seemed to be the same – she danced, but not with anyone, and certainly never with me again.

11:27 P.M. Monday February 7, 2000
504 King Car East at Sherbourne

Messier night than expected. I slip into Lisa’s 7:00 class at 7:40 , have nice twenty-minute warm up, then the 8:00 is an excruciating yet useful review of the mechanics of the swing-out. It is the 9:00 that blows things up. Three things go wrong in quick succession. First, I don’t understand a move, cross-over charleston. Then, while I am trying to sort out in my mind, a gent next to me chips in with some unwanted advice, and instead of “shut up”, I say “I’m sorry, I don’t follow you” which of course encourages him to try to explain again. I still don’t know how to handle those persons – then, before I have a handle on the move, Lisa goes off on some counting tangent, which I can’t follow because I don’t have the move right to any count. It takes me the entire class to catch up, and then I run to the Reservoir, which is packed because of a birthday, so I only get once dance in with [another] Lisa, which I muff to a greater or lesser extent. There will be other weeks. My prime objective is to stop the process which leads to this happening before it happens next time.

Sunday, February 13, 2000
10:38 A.M.
East Common Room, Hart House

Friday all hell broke loose in the afternoon over the Palais Royale. Mike Filey, who I wrote, called the PNU [Polish National Union], who exploded at Peter Renzland. An odd turn of events that made me feel quite low.

Monday February 14, 2000
11:45 P.M.
504 Car at Sherbourne.

Saint Valentines Day. I slip into Lisa’s 7:00 class around 7:20. Walked to Dancing on King via the Cloud Gardens, a strange little park on Temperance Street, and also Union Station. The 7:00 class is in awe of me, I finish the 8:00 with pep talks to Jennifer, who is very frustrated, and stumble my way through the 9:00. At 10:20 I go to the Reservoir. It is packed for St. Valentines. I only get one more dance in and then talk to Anne re: Palais Royale. No room to ease into the conversation hubs this time, I stay on the fringe until I leave at 11:30, bumping into Peter Renzland on the way out. On Wellington Street a panhandler tells me a sad story. Better he should tell it to St. Valentine.

Monday February 28 2000
11:28 P.M.
King Subway Station

February, even though it has one more day in it, is going out well. A punishing 3-hours of Lisa Jacobs lessons. The 7:00 class never stopped moving for an hour, the 8:00 was worked like a dog, and by 9:45 my brain was giving me that light headed “stop now” signal. So, true to my code, I stopped. I got a good look at the Minnie Dip from my water-soaked perch (and there were extra men at 9:00 to I wasn’t missed). In retrospect, I should give up on the 7:00 but it is so much fun. After lessons off to Reservoir, which was empty again, just like January. Enough floor to get one good dance in with Lisa, then a sub-par one with Bobbi, then Lisa again. In between I drank a screwdriver – short, not tall – because I needed the sugar from the Citrus substitute they use. Talked briefly to Peter about the latest Palais news. Mayor is brimming with optimism, but bureaucrats aren’t talking. Peter is pessimistic. The “team” he expected to assemble never came together and he doesn’t know if the Palais is worth the effort. I try to stay upbeat. In all, a classically beautiful night – a little learning, a little dance, some politics, some idle chat, and a smile on my face which isn’t because of the vodka.

Tuesday, March 7, 2000
Don Mills 25 at Pape

Another fine Monday. A large group of beginners show up at 7:00, defying Lisa Jacobs predictions, so she teachers a split class and as a result I learn a new 6 count move. Reservoir packed but I manage to find Dan and give him Playdium passed for Mandi’s Birthday.

Sunday, March 12, 2000
6:40 P.M.
Cummer 42 Westbound

Thursday to Courthouse, where I get a few dances in, although the crowd was mighty thin for a while. Had a nice chat with Elaine, who has a slight English accent and is going to be wardrobe manager at the Drayton Festival. Friday was the nutty trip to Kleinburg. Saturday, in and around rescuing my juvenalia from the old Apple II, I went to see “Seven Sinners” at the Cinematheque and then to the Bees Knees Kensington Dance, where Dan and Mandi thanked me for the Paladium again, where I danced and talked with Elaine again, and also saw Nina for the first time since the Palais shut – a fine night.

Monday March 13 2000
11:20 P.M.
King and Church

It’s snowing. Monday classes as usual, 10:00 brain crash as usual. Unusual was 8:00 class. Jennifer, who I hadn’t seen in weeks, was back, but 10 minutes into the class she collapsed on the sidelines, and Lisa Jacobs and three others rushed to her aid. In the interim, the women tried to teach themselves the swing-out. Jennifer survived but she was wobbly and sat out the class. Penne assured me she was fine, which is good. Also interesting – the return of Melody after a month of travel. She accidentally bought me a drink at the Reservoir afterwards, by pointing in an ambiguous direction, while speaking to the waiter. Danced with her, Lisa, Eileen and another who I can’t remember the name of. Set ended, and after hearing a story about someone’s cat in the attic, I left. Pizza beckons.

10:49 Wednesday March 22 2000
Eastbound from Bathurst

Let’s not write 2000 off yet. Barcode tonight, 4 dances, I think, although I only remember three. A fast one with Moira, a bluesy one with Lisa, and a nice one with Ann. Ann complimented me on the fast one with Moira, which was good to hear, since I didn’t think Moira was following my (albeit weak) leads. Left after first set. Moira off to Montreal on weekend.

Monday March 27, 2000
11:34 P.M.
Northbound from King

Slept through my alarm this morning, but otherwise things were all right. Sent manuscript to McGill-Queen’s. Evening Lindy fine. Wowed the 7:00 by doing a swingout with Lisa Jacobs, and found I could lead her. In the 8:00, more levers fell into place – and Shannon yet again engaged me to talk and seemed interested in where I was working. I tried to convince her to Reservoir, but almost none of the 8:00 went. My intrigue about Shannon is more serious then usually healthy in Spring. 9:00 blew my brain as usual, and nothing stuck. Back to Reservoir at 10:00, which was empty, nearly. Four dances, with Lisa twice, Andrea once, and Moira, back from Montreal, once. Men outnumbered women significantly, Andrea and Lisa openly pleased by the odds. I have decided to take tomorrow off work to see whether I actually am sick. Odds say Shannon will pick that time to show up.

Saturday April 1 2000
8:44 A.M.
Don Mills and McNicoll

Bill Borgida workshop last night. Confusing. Bill talks about quad muscles as if everyone in the world knew instinctively what they were and how they felt. And, maddingly, everyone except me did know. They also knew how to move arms so that “you felt them in your back”, another concept that eluded me. How is it that everyone else understands their anatomy except me? Where was I supposed to learn that? In the end, Borgida’s strange linguistics meant that I wasn’t processing words by about 10 P.M., when the Ithaca Big Apple session began. So, characteristically, I walked out and sat down in the same antechamber where “Swing Shock” felled me in 1998. This time someone had the decency to notice and ask. I think I was just exhausted.

4:46 P.M.
Argonaut Club

Resolved – my last Lindy Hop weekend workshop ever! I seem unable to process anything Borgida has to say, just like Mitchell last October. It isn’t a blood sugar thing or a fatigue thing – it’s an absolute brain failure of the first order – inability to “see and do” combined with an inability to translate dance language into terms I can make my body understand. So, no more wasting money on workshops I get next to nothing out of. Next question, do I even bother to come to the dance tonight?

5:00 P.M.

The dilemma, as it appears, is how to work through frustration – right now my reaction when frustration sets in is to shut off completely – this may have been the cause of my “Swing Shock” moments. How do I convince myself to keep going when faced with situations, especially in dance, that I simply cannot comprehend – how do I convince myself that comprehension will in fact occur at some point if I keep going. This is the complex of ideas I must overcome before I consider a new workshop experience. Or so it seems.

7:45 P.M.
Argonaut Club

Went for dinner at the still-fine Amico’s Pizza in Parkdale. I had pizza. I couldn’t find anyone who looked interested, although Peter Renzland did ask me. Just as I was finishing, it looked as if a watercolour painting class was developing between a lady and a young child at another table, another small joy of Parkdale. Before I left for dinner, I told Zoey that this would be my last workshop. She suggested that European teachers are less intense, and insisted that my frustrations would go away as I became more experienced. It’s one theory, at least. Argo is almost blissfully silent now – I can hear the pen write. A saxophone has just started up – one of the band for tonight (Alex and her Alleycats). The doors open at 8:15. I hope this dance is worth it, because I turned down a pot-luck at Craig’s for it, just like I had to miss a dinner party on Friday night. The complications, I suppose, of a dancer’s life.

Tuesday April 4 2000 12:24 A.M.
504 Eastbound from Jarvis

Mark your calendars, folks, April 3 2000 has come and gone in a series of amazing events. A call from McGill-Queen’s offering to accept my book for the first stage of publication, the arrival of my tax refund, and a stellar lesson and Reservoir. At the lesson, I finally get another chance to actually talk to Shannon who I have mentioned before. She has a Tuesday morning meeting – and can’t dance with me at Reservoir. Undaunted, I go anyway, and dance with Valerie, who has continued onto the 8:00 P.M. Valerie looks 10, dances 3, but the right dress will excuse a lot. It’s about then I discover the girls from Minneapolis – Michelle and her friend, I get one crazy first Lindy with Michelle plus an east coast in the second set, and she’s fun. Of course I tell the others and Charlie especially takes them for a spin. I dance with Bobbi also, but not with Elaine. Still, a lot of good sweaty fun!!

12:35 A.M. Broadview

The day also brings out my charitable side – I give $2.30 in total to various beggars on the street, one who has stood in the rain for hours, hoping on the generosity of the Reservoir crowd. “They also serve who stand and soak” I tell him as I give him $2. I’m no closer to stability, but thank April 3 2000 all the same and let’s push on to May full throttle.

Monday April 17, 2000
11:52 P.M.
Don Mills 25 near Overlea Boulevard

It’s still damp out and I am still fighting a cold. I leave work early and come home, but go back for the 8:00 and 9:00 lesson. Valerie returns to 8:00 and Shannon is still at 9:00. Shannon has essays to write and begs off Reservoir again [2017 note – have a CLUE, Charles, have a CLUE!] Some of us go. I get at least four dances in with Ann, Lisa, Bobbi, and a girl whose name I forget. New hardwood floor at Reservoir is an absolute delight. Valerie turns up late in the first set, dancing by herself. Charlie tells me that he thinks Valerie is Bradley’s wife. Bradley is, of course, the lead singer of the band and a bouncer by trade. If this is true, then its so much for my Valerie desires, and well warned in advance!

Sunday April 21, 2000 12:21 A.M.
Spadina Station

Departed 8:30 to 299 Augusta for Lindy Hop dance and social. Learned that the place is to be sold to the city, who opened up a house for the homeless across the street. Sad shame. 299 Augusta is the site of a Jack and Jill dance, fun to watch, judged reasonably, a great community moment. Then “Corner Pocket” played, this being the name of Sol’s duo with Chris Arcand – I got four dances in with Ann, Moira, Bobbi, and Nina. Nina declared that my leads were really improving – good news. With my basic objectives met, I departed 299 to head to the Tranzac Club, where the Hurricanes Big Band was playing. Not many people there, but a few dancers – not that I expected to dance, and I didn’t. Band was O.K. Not really a swing band, but they played some swing. Much talk about Palais Royale, and what is to be done – Peter Renzland says there was an article in the Toronto Star about the ballroom a few days ago and I promised to check. The Tranzac apparently had a $10 cover, but no-one charged me so I didn’t pay – good news as I try to keep my budget down.

Monday, May 8, 2000
Dancing on King
8:13 P.M.

Too many men again. Lisa Jacobs drops a bombshell – she’s going to Vancouver in June! That’s it for Dancing on King here – so much for moving up in June, and just as I was improving – a true, true shame – nearly two years ago I went to my first lesson with her.

11:26 P.M. King Station

Donna in a dress at Reservoir, which she describes as a “sack” which makes her look a month pregnant. But not to me. She dances well in it, and I tell her so. It doesn’t get me anywhere. On leaving Reservoir, I run into Sol and Amanda [Alana?], tell them that Lisa is leaving. They muse about taking over at Dancing on King. More moose talk with Moira. Perhaps five dances, two with Donna Rae. It doesn’t get me anywhere.

Sunday May 14, 2000
Home 9:09 P.M.

The dance [Saturday] was the best and the worst of it all – they had dance cards to be filled out after you danced with the lady – if you got 10 you were eligible for a prize. This meant I got 10 dances in, but most of them seemed perfunctory, like I was boring most of my partners. And there was this loopy guy who kept stealing my dance partners away from me. He did in twice and made a third attempt in my eleventh dance – damn troublesome, so even though I danced a lot I had a miserable time – and he won a prize in the draw. Why do I dance? What am I achieving? Why do I continue to fool myself? Perhaps Montreal will provide the answer.

Tuesday May 16, 2000
12:47 A.M.
Bus Bay, Pape Station

Satisfying night. Lesson at Dancing on King saw the return of Shannon, then Reservoir for a few dances, with Shannon, Donna Rae, Jennifer, Bobbi and Valerie (who has forgotten everything). After first set I left for the Cameron House, got there 11:30, Janice Hagan started her next set at midnight, heard her sing three songs, then Tyler Yarema did one and I had to go. I need more nights like that.

Thursday May 25, 2000
7:12 P.M. Mr. Slate “Top Brass Lounge”

I notice here how great the sixteenth was, which helps – I was prepared, after my Montreal debacle, to write May off entirely as a disaster, but there was the sixteenth, and previously Lindy at the Argo, and Donna-in-a-dress, so it hasn’t been that bad.

May 29, 2000
11:59 P.M.
Subway South of Lawrence.

Lisa’s last lesson in Toronto. It went well. Jennifer was dour at 8:00 (which I didn’t take), Donna was angry at 9:00 (which I did take), both left Reservoir Lounge smiling. Danced with them and Moira, who received my cheque for Moose. Ended up sitting with Valerie, Donna, and Connie, this graphic designer acquaintance of Valerie. Connie was chatty, trying to match Donna and me, talking about the difficulty of relationships, the certainty of divorces, and the like. She wanted to see us dance, and the next tune was “Jump, Jive and Wail”. Against our better judgement we danced. Donna was tired after the first swingout, but we persevered, and even though we were terrible, we didn’t fall down and managed to impress the hell out of those at the bar, and Connie, and Valerie.

June 3, 2000
7:35 P.M.
In Front of Artists Garden #3, Harbourfront Centre

About 20 show up at the Gazebo to dance – Sol brought the music, we stole power from the city, and even at one point drew a substantial and enthusiastic audience – Sol at one point orchestrated a choreographed routine for some photographs – all in all, great fun, and some Lindy hoppers brought along their great dogs.
Sunday June 18, 2000
7:05 P.M. Subway north of Union

I’m still dazed and light-headed as I write this after leaving Sol and Alana’s 6:00 Lindy class early – I fell prey to a serious case of Swing Shock, the worst since the Montreal workshop. I will try to describe the symptoms which it twenty minutes (or less) into a Shim Sham lesson (there were no followers – what choice did they have) – my eyes stopped processing information, my feet stopped moving, I began to sweat profusely and had to rub my head – which feels light-headed but not headachy – I never experience these symptoms any other time than in a dance situation, and they last for some time. I will try to remember at what point my head recovers – it will help [about 9 P.M.]

Sunday, June 25, 2000
7:50 P.M.
Subway north at Dundas

Dance lessons went fine, except for the Shim-Sham sessions, which started to give me a headache. After I resolved that I would learn no Shim-Sham this year, I felt better and things went very well. Shim-Sham is one of the prime causes of Swing Shock, it seems.

Thursday June 29, 2000
10:56 P.M.
Don Mills 25 bus at Science Centre

Tonight I saw “I Confess” at Cinematheque, and then hauled myself to Riverdale Farm for a meeting on the Palais. This went well – I hijacked the meeting in mid-afternoon, hours before it started, by sending out a spurious “draft agenda” – which I was able to make stick. The magic of structure! We kept to the issues and finished in a little over an hour.

July 1, 2000
8:03 A.M.
Don Mills 25 at Van Horne, south

Stage two of David Dalmo this morning at 10:30 – enough time for me to get down and have a decent and relaxed breakfast and recover.

Sunday, July 2, 2000
8:51 A.M.
By car, Wellesley Street at St. Joe’s

I must be nuts to be here this early, but things moved smoothly. Yesterday worked reasonably well, I only panicked five times – but then I screwed up. I took a long break to skip the blues class and recover, went to Queen’s Park for Canada Day, O’Grady’s for brunch, Hart House Record Room. Came back for intermediate Lindy to discover that they had decided ot continue with the Blues routine – so I left. Dinner at home, then back to dance with Tyler Yarema trio – such fun – must have danced for an hour straight, sweated myself blind – which counts as a good evening.

1:35 P.M.
Top Brass Lounge, Mr. Slate

Morning a wipe-out. My legs start to hurt, and he only tries to show one move – which I don’t get from the sidelines. So I give the workshop’s afternoon a miss.

Tuesday, July 4, 2000
7:47 P.M.

Last Sunday night, and most of Monday I crashed, but I did force myself out Monday night to Reservoir Lounge – even with my left leg giving out pain signals, I get about six dances in, enough to drench me in sweat. A lot of discussion about the Dalmo workshop – most people said they liked it better than me, a tribute to the human ability to rationalize.

Saturday July 8, 2000
7:37 P.M.
St. Andrew, Southbound

Walked all the way to Lindy by the Lake via unremarkable street party sites at Bloor and King, and also through the Blues and BBQ at Harbourfront, where I had a dinner-esque snack. Lindy by the Lake was sparse but fun – and we were joined late by a serendipitous visit by Rachel, and Arthur Murray teacher from Montreal who I danced East Coast with.

Sunday July 16, 2000
1:31 P.M.
Subway South from Finch

Into the third day of my dancing weekend and starting to feel the strain. Friday night at Argo was West Coast night at TSDS, but also my two-year dance anniversary, so I went. Also, MK all but ordered me to go as she needed to recover from her Fringe play. Until she arrived at 11:00 I made do, and was helped tremendously when Laurie, in from Dallas, bounded across the floor to me and declared that Sol (who was Djing) told her I knew how to Lindy Hop. And so did she. This was fun. Her friend Katie from BC was having less fun. She finally escaped the routine of Friday night Scrabble with her roommate and got as far as the Argo in her quest to see Toronto, but she was a self-described “street swinger” who deprecated the “Ballroom” scene she was in. She was a great chat but hard to dance with. Then MK came and all was well.
Saturday, saw grandpa, then to Cinematheque for Bertolluci’s “The Conformist”, then to Harbourfront to see the Swing Gang with Maria Muldaur – who had an amazing, sensual, over the top stage presence. I also danced, running into Rachel, a nice girl who I had without meaning to snubbed at the Argo the previous night. So we danced twice. The fine people at Harbourfront had installed a dance floor, but it was packed tighter than the Courthouse used to be, so big flashy moves were out of the question – and I stayed close to Rachel. Hope I see her again.
The party moved to the Brigantine Room, where I danced twice and then left shortly after midnight. The plan today was a two-step lesson at 12:30, but I got up at 10:30 and couldn’t find the energy to hurry. So I took a calm morning and am now heading to see “Big Sandy and the Fly-rites” at 2:00, if I get there on time. Then, weekly Lindy lesson, new lessons Monday and Reservoir.

Monday July 17 2000
7:52 P.M.
Section 230, Row 10,

Yes, Skydome! I took my intermediate Lindy lesson from 6:00-7:15, which freaked me out. The lesson is so close to the Dome and I needed the escape, so I tracked down a gray-market operator and offered $10. For $15, I got these.

Tuesday, July 18, 2000
1:00 A.M. Pape Bus Platform

Left the game in the seventh when we were up 5-4, then walked to Reservoir. Had plenty of time and had a great evening. Laurie and Katie there. You never can tell. It turns out Laurie is escorting Katie to make sure she stays out of trouble – Katie’s guardian is Laurie’s landlord. Katie is also a kid – no more than 19, probably underage to be drinking, also a rave kid, has done ecstasy, the works – in short, trouble – after the first set, the 1 and a half drinks she has had on an empty stomach get to her and Charlie and I escort her, with Laurie’s cautious permission, to the Pizza Pizza, where Laurie eats and tells us of her seducing a free lunch of a 22-year old in accounting. The power of breasts, she says. I’ll say! She had the eyes of many men at Reservoir, and openly declared how loved she felt. The little minx! In any case, the pizza cleared her right up, and she stayed off alcohol and could dance again. So Katie’s trouble, but Laurie’s fun and there were many others to dance with. Now repeat 700 times, “It’s only dancing”.

8:40 A.M.
Cummer 42 Westbound

My July 18 2000 resolution – to not offer to be tour guide for ant mysterious out-of-town dancers – to stay clear of entanglements completely until I am ready.

Tuesday August 20, 2000
1:26 A.M.
Pape Station Bus Platform

Dan dances with 26 women in a birthday jam at Hooch. I don’t know how we will explain Hooch to our children. Moira-Moose matters for launch on twenty-fourth in A.M.

Monday September 11, 2000
7:33 P.M.
On bench near Tasting Room, West of Bay

Lisa Jacob’s mantra “think less, do more” was echoing through my brain at Lindy class tonight, as Alana tried to enforce a “don’t stop, don’t complain” ethic on my shoddy dancing. Feet, hands, brain – what else is there to this? How does it all work?

Monday September 25, 2000
9:11 P.M.
Reservoir Lounge

Customers = 1. Me

11:18 P.M.
Northbound platform, King Station

By the time I leave Reservoir, it has packed up nicely. Woman shortage, so only three dances, Moira, Ann, and Lisa – all good. Moira presents me with Moose-ic Mug and at 11:00 we scout for new home for Palais Moose – in park west of Flatiron building, in sight of Reservoir. Let’s hope it works.

Friday November 17, 2000
10:58 P.M.
Subway Northbound at Rosedale

Diners at Dynasty. Nice, efficient meal for me – sheer hell for others. Then to Naval Club for TSDS. Good lesson with Dan and Mandi, but at the dance itself, I shamefully only dance with two women – Diane and that woman who always looked so bored at the Palais – whose name I forget. The dance drew about eighty people, so there were enough sweet young things to dance with – but they were all desperate beginners and I just wasn’t inspired enough to ask them, Still, eight dances, I can’t complain.

Sunday, November 19, 2000
1:14 A.M.
Union Station, North on Yonge

Gloriously decadent night. Started at Cinematheque with Zarlini’s “Violent Summer” – which was a lot of fun. Then gave up a chance at “Fellini Satyricon” to go to Brigantine Room for major Toronto Lindy Hop event – got there at 8:40, too late to assimilate most of the lesson. The place was packed – nearly 200 people, I think. Janice Hagan with Tyler Yarema and Terry Wilkins and three others were the band – all in all a well-organized and promoted co-operative venture. I danced eight times – could have got in a dozen, but I have reached that magic point where I have the confidence not to dance. Dance wrapped up by midnight, but I didn’t feel done and I hadn’t eaten for eight hours, so I walked to the Harbour Castle Westin. I thought the piano played at the Western played until at least 1 A.M., but in fact it was only 12:30, but he did play “As Time Goes By” and “New York, New York.” In the short time I saw him, I ordered a Manhattan, my second drink of the night (I had a rye and ginger at Brigantine, plus a bottle of water) and just got my order of chicken fingers into the kitchen in time – around me, staff were setting up for breakfast. It was a damn fine Manhattan, too. Now, just trying to get home.

Thursday, February 1, 2001
9:32 A.M.
Subway South from Finch

No sane man would go out in my condition but I’ve never had a major hold on sanity. I am carrying the float for the Big TOE fundraiser and I have to be there. I am also holding half a thermos of chicken broth – but it isn’t a good thermos so I will have to drink it throughout the morning.

April 2, 2001 8:00 A.M. Subway South of Finch

I need a new book. Dance weekend was amazing – except for the five who got towed at the Palais Royale on Saturday night.

Toronto Lindy Hop 1998 Archive from Charles Levi

My dance career began in July, 1998, shortly after I began actively carrying around notebooks to make occasional jottings about my life and events in it (this began in December of 1997). As a result, I have almost 20 years on notes on my off-and-on again time as a swing dancer. I also have a lot of paper I have collected along the way, some of which was nicely filed away. I plan to make some regular releases of my jottings, with appropriate memorabilia.

As I read some of the journals, even at this distance, a lot of what’s written there is still a bit sensitive, and I especially don’t want to say much about the shenanigans of my “Berlin Rat Pack and Dessert Dessert Glee Club”, which existed about the same time as the excerpts here about venues, dancers and bands from July 1998 into early 1999. But this will give you a taste. Most of the posts below are about Berlin, the Lava Lounge, and the Fox and Fiddle in Richmond Hill.

I apologize in advance for some of the arcane language I use to describe followers. I feel no need to edit out my younger self.

July 12, 1998
9:02 A.M.
Don Mills/McNicoll

Suzanne and I went to the Navy Club on Friday to attend an introductory Lindy dance at the Toronto Swing Dance Society. It was excessively hard for me to co-ordinate an 8 count, my feet, my arms, and my partner, but everyone, especially Suzanne, was supportive and we’re going to try again next week. All I have to do is to learn to lead again, for the first time. Perhaps it will be easier in dancing.

September 7, 1998 2:17 A.M.

Well, the joint was jumping a Lava tonight. Three sets of Jake and the Blue Midnights, the last one with a surprise appearance by Jeff Healey, who plays trumpet. There were a lot of beautiful women, too, and music I understood, yet I still could not summon the nerve to ask anyone to dance.

October 25, 1998
11:46 A.M.
On Cummer Bus

To the Palais where no-one I knew was. Frank Evans Big Band played very nice. A reservation was late arriving at the table next to me. Four ladies, two men – one of the ladies was in her 40s, others much younger. Two of the younger ladies clearly wanted to move with the music, so we danced. They had no idea what they were doing, and I fear I was not leading well. One of the younger ladies had heard about the Palais through a seniors group she worked with. They left at 11:00 P.M. and I left shortly after.

November 18, 1998
7:17 P.M.
Cummer 42 Westbound

Off to Berlin tonight to dance with Rebecca. The last of the free passes for Wednesday swing nights.

9:10 A.M. December 9, 1998
Finch-Leslie Square

Last night I checked out the Fox and Fiddle in Richmond Hill. A nice place, if a bit smoky. The teachers there do East Coast and call it Jive, but that’s no surprise. Some of the Dancing on King crowd were there, but I ended up dancing with Tanya, a 30-something who had divorced for six years and was celebrating her birthday. She even asked me to slow dance to “It’s a Wonderful World”, which apparently is the same tune she danced to with her father on her wedding night. She was fun to dance with, but during the second break she chatted someone up at the bar and my job was apparently done. I did attempt to convince the D.O.K. people that they were obligated to dance with the birthday girl, but no-one did so.

Wednesday December 16, 1998
8:21 P.M.
Don Mills/McNicoll

I was lying down and consulting my Betty Cornell “All About Boys” when I decided that I should go to Berlin after all. I thought it would pass until the new year, but apparently not. The last time I went alone it proved to be a disaster. Let’s see if it is better this time.

8:24 On Cummer Bus

Fox and Fiddle last night was a washout – no divorcees, and of the two girls I asked, one said yes, with the admonition that there were other women in the room [2017 note – I have never asked her to dance since.] The one that said no said she was a terrible dancer, but proceeded to dance with two other boys. That hurts, of course.

11:45 P.M.

Yonge Subway Northbound.

Another milestone. It may have taken me until the second set, but I asked two girls to dance, and almost managed a third except she saw me looking and met me halfway. All three dances were ECS, and they were fine. Only caught the name of one of them, which I promptly forgot. But it’s another step down the road.

Wednesday December 23,1998 11:46 P.M.
Yonge Northbound.

The band at Berlin tonight – Alligator Pie – was good. A few ladies were willing. The D.J., however, was spinning unadulterated shit from the disco era at a next-to-deafening volume. I don’t understand how this happens at swing nights.

Wednesday December 30, 1998
Cummer 42 Westbound

At the Fox and Fiddle last night two women asked me to Lindy. One of them was a teacher, to be starting at Berlin tonight. The other as learning on the floor, and had been for months. Then Tanya showed up, the divorcee from a few weeks ago. She even remembered my name. She was there on a blind date, but her date showed up late and didn’t dance, so we were able to get some in.

12:09 A.M. Thursday December 31st

Had a good first set and a half at Berlin. A table of teenagers with energy got up and danced, and I explored four of them, one of them a Lisa Loeb lookalike. The Lindy teacher at Berlin also took me for a spin or two. Then the band got funky, the D.J. got weird and they didn’t have “Tuxedo Junction.” Wipeout.

January 5, 1999
Fox and Fiddle, Richmond Hill

Not my first gig of the year. After Lindy lesson last night (Finally the 1B class slows down after the frenetic pace of December) I lumbered over to Chick N’ Deli at Mount Pleasant/Eglinton, where Whitney Smith and his Big Steam Band were holding court. Some of the gang there. The floor at Chick N’ Deli was small enough, and the Big Steam Band spilled out onto it, making for an intimate gig, but meaning there was only room for two or three couples to dance. There were a clutch of cute young things dancing with each other, but I was too tired to ask anyone to dance. Around midnight Miss Kuzmich sang “Round Midnight” very well, and that was a wrap.

January 6, 1999
7:47 P.M.
Cummer 42

To Berlin tonight. Last night at Fox and Fiddle, Tanya showed up, without a date. She was later joined by Tasha, her sister, to whom I was introduced as “my dance partner here”. Tonight, Tanya was all criticism of my leading, saying it wasn’t aggressive enough. She never looks me in the eye when we dance. Her daughter is still looking for “a new daddy”. Her ex-husband goes to Berlin on Wednesdays. The joint was dead for the first set, then got a little livelier later. Tanya drinks and smokes a lot. But she’s willing to dance.

Monday, January 11, 1999
1:00 A.M.
25 Bus at Pape Station

Burning at both ends, but worth it. Lava busy, with more dancers there than I’ve seen in a long time. City T.V.shows up and Sol Douglas dances with the broadcasting broad (it doesn’t work – she tries to lead). Sol in good spirits. Jody also there, tells Sol she needs a “stern talking to”. Sol apparently obliges, and after the break the two of them dance to “Caravan”, which Jake and the Blue Midnights pull off admirably. But why must this happen on Sunday?

Thursday, January 21, 1999
8:39 A.M.

On the whole, the Rat Pack performed admirably in its return to Berlin. Today, CIBC shareholders meeting and Janice Hagan in the evening. I might even get some work in between done.

11:17 P.M.
Bathurst and Queen, Northbound

Janice Hagan is bang-on, but it takes me forever to decide to dance, so I only dance twice. A huge crowd is arriving as I am leaving. In the lobby, a fine lady is complaining to a chic 40s type that no-one ever asks her to dance, for what she thinks is her tattoos. I don’t butt in.

Thursday, February 18, 1999
6:02 P.M.
Central Tech

Indifferent night at Berlin yesterday. The smoke from the suits at the Network Network is too thick and the floor is crowded by dancers who don’t look where they are going.

Toronto Lindy Hop 1999 Archives from Charles Levi

Charles Levi did a little digging and found these wonderfully nostalgic notes from 1999:

“Thursday October 14, 1999 4:51 P.M. Coffee, Tea or Me – Bloor Street.  Workshop tonight, beginning of four days of Lindy Hop – first lesson of Lindy in months – just remain calm and loose, that’s all you need.  11:12 P.M. Subway Northbound at Queen – Solid workshop with Steven Mitchell, even if I had to sweep the gym floor for Lisa Jacobs.  Then, a group of us drifted, in a slow, un co-ordinated fashion, to the Courthouse for Alex Pangman.  I got once dance in with Dominica after she came in from sushi. ‘Danny Devito’ from Berlin was there too.”

“Friday October 15, 1999 11:42 504 King East from Roncesvalles. Fine workshop with Steven Mitchell, then complete attack of nerves at Palais Royale forces me to leave early.”

Tuesday November 16, 1999

“Skipped over to Reservoir Lounge to drink and enjoy a set of Tyler Yarema’s.  And I did, except for the distraction of the dancers.  One of these days I am going to write a sonnet, or an essay or something about watching Jody Glanzer dance.  She is just magical.  Neither her nor the other dance types came over to say hi, but I was off in a shadowy corner and perhaps they didn’t see me.”

Click here to see the excellent archives that Charles Levi has collected and scanned:

Archives from Charles Levi