Welcome to my life on the ballroom D - list

Friday, August 5, 2011

Swing Time, RKO 1936: Showing this Sunday August 7th

The 1936 RKO film starring:

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. - Swing Time

Shirlington Branch Public Library


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ginger Rogers Film Series at the Shirlington Branch Library

From the Shirlington Branch Public Library...

Shirlington Celebrates Ginger Rogers

Why do we love Ginger Rogers? She did everything Fred Astaire did backwards... and in high heels!

Rogers, born July 16,  1911, would have turned 100 this year. Help us to celebrate her Centennial with a film series at the Shirlington Branch Library highlighting her illustrious career in dance and film, and her partnership with Fred Astaire:

Tuesday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. - Top Hat
Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, Top Hat is one of the most memorable Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Films. It is an elegant romantic comedy with a fine film score by Irving Berlin. Highlights include: “Cheek to Cheek,” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.” Not Rated, 100 Min.

Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. - Swing Time
Considered by many to be Rogers and Astaire’s best film together. Astaire plays a young gambler (with a fiancĂ©) who falls for Rogers, a dance instructor. Many highlights include: the Academy Award winning “The Way You Look Tonight” and the tap tribute “Bojangles of Harlem.” Not Rated, 140 Min.

Tuesday, August 16 at 6:30 p.m. - The Barkley’s of Broadway

Rogers and Astaire reunite after 10 years at a new studio, MGM, for their final film together. They depict the dancing couple, Josh and Dinah Barkley. A warm, comfortable reunion that is their only film in color. Highlighting their performance to “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” Not Rated, 109 Min.

Sunday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m. - Story of Vernon & Irene Castle

Synopsis: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire lend their special panache to playing the renowned historical couple, Vernon and Irene Castle, trendsetters in dance and fashion for the years preceding World War I. The last RKO film by the Rogers and Astaire; the famous duo at their best! Not Rated, 93 Min.

The Fabulous Ann Southern and Lucille Ball

The Fabulous Ann Southern and Lucille Ball
I discovered this video clip of Ann Southern appearing on an old episode of Here's Lucy. It reminded me of Roxi Holloway on her now infamous Girl's Night out. Thank you Jemma for linking me to all of these hysterical clips. My dear friend, Jemma, has (for years), posted as the beloved Maisie on Yehoodi.com, and it's easy to see why she admire's Ann Southern's work so much, a gifted actress and comedian. These two funny ladies enage in similar situations to my better half, Ms. Roxi Hollway, who may at times, depict these clips with her girl friends as a true life Hollywood Story!

Lucy and Ann Southern get drunk. Video Clip

The Friendship Gardens

A Walk through the Friendship Gardens

My Recent trip home was a nice break from dancing, which offered me time for reflection:
Recently I had to take an unexpected trip home to Rhode Island. It was an sudden break from dancing, which came at a most inconvenient time. In light of delaing with the unexpected emergency, I found the some time at home for relaxation. Even the darkest cloud has it's silver lining. I had a restfull trip at home with family and friends, and even found time to visit one of my favorite places, the Friendship Gardens.

The Friendship Gardens were originally constructed as part of the Works Progress Adminstration during the 1930's under President Franklin Roosevelt. The gardens were designated on land in Slater Park, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The gardens were designed as a Shakespearean Garden, containg every variety of flower mentioned in Shakespeare's works. A marvel of it's time, the gardens were unique by design, and attracted visitors from around the world. It was an unusal place in it's day, and located in the most unlikely of places, sticking out like a diamond in the rough of an old mill town.

The garden's designer was Lawrence Corente. He envisioned a garden with moats and flowering water. Birtch Tree bridges connected a series of small islands, each unique with plantings and water fountains.

Time has past since the gardens heyday, and years of neglect have taken their toll on this once beutiful destination, but it's still a fun place to walk through during my time at home, and on this recent trip it was a nice quiet place for reflection. It was fun to walk through the crumbled ruins of what was once the most beutiful spot in New England. Long gone are the flowers and plantings of yesteryear, but the cobblestone walls and remains of the water fountains are still in clear view. Here's a look at how the gardens appear today. The gardens appear today as a sort of haunted labyrinth. A walk through the gardens today will lead you through  an intricate combination of weeded paths and muddy passages in which it is difficult to find one's way out. It's still fun though, a perfect place to ponder life's challenges, and the passage of time.


Update in June 2014

I recently discovered a 1936 newspaper clipping, which listed many ( If not all ) of the plants that were mentioned in Shakespeare's works.

They are:
Cuckoo flower
Diana's buds
Flower-de Luce 
(True laurel was not know in Shakespeare's time)
Lark's heels
Lark's spur
Long purples
Sweet hym
Sweet marjoram
Spear grass

This newspaper article was pieced together and is not complete:
The article is probably from the 1936 Pawtucket times, and is undated 

Update, in July 2014, I was fortunate enough to tour the Shakespeare Gardens in Central Park, NYC. It had a more natural format, compared to the manicured islands of the Friendship Gardens.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Farewell to Hollywood Ballroom?

A Fond Farwell to Hollywood?

Video Link to Bobbie's Farewell Party

On July 31st, Roxi and I attended the Farewell Party for Bobbie Fries, owner of Hollywood Ballroom. Bobbie has served as Champagne Lady to the Ballroom for decades, and now the future of the ballroom is uncertain. Dancers turned out in record numbers to celebrate Bobbie's farewell in style, with a Live Orchestra and an array of local dance celebrities and performers, most notably including Jazz Legend Toni Rae and musician Keith Hill.

Dance friends in attendance included Michael Simms, Terry Chasteen, Alice Williams, Anna Boyd, and Stephanie Courtney.

Roxi and I were lucky enough to spend time with Bobbie during the height of the evening. She told us that she plans to keep the ballroom open during the month of August, in the hopes that she can transition the legendary venue to a new owener. Bobbie asked us to teach during her closing weeks in the ballroom. SO we will return there on August 13th for yet another dance party, while the ballroom remains partially open on a limited schedule. Here's to hoping that she can find someone to continue her legacy of dancing! We all hope the dancing will go on with a new owner.

It was a great pleasure to see Toni Rae in the crowd at Bobbie's Farewell Party. The Ballroom is a favorite among singers, muscians, and dancers alike. We all agree that Bobbie will be missed.

The rumors have been circulating for months, but there has been no formal annoucment about a possible new owner. It will be interesting to see what the future will bring for this legendary dance venue.