The Saturday Night Party

All Off to The American Italian Club for one last fling

A quick rest after disembarking on Saturday afternoon and it was all aboard a bus from the Marriott Marina Hotel in Fort Lauderdale for a trip down the South Dixie Highway, It was a hot and balmy night, and we were en route for the Saturday night party at The Italian American Club of Hollywood, Florida. 

The event was organised by those nice people at Swing Affair. Cruisers were joined by many others from the local swing community, including 1955 Harvest Ball Lindy Hop winner Sugar Sullivan. It was a very informal gathering, with a top line in entertainment. 

The Duffy Jackson Orchestra was in the house, a 17-piece swing outfit Duffy's dad was bassist Chubby Jackson, so he certainly knew his chops. His drums had driven bands led by Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet and Count Basie. Credentials enough to guarantee a swinging night. And so it turned out. 

And if that wasn't enough, vocalist Barbara Morrison was there to deliver some marvellous songs. She too had a fantastic pedigree, performing with Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett and Count Basie. Read more about her at Her latest live CD was produced by swing dancers and is full of danceable tracks.

The evening started with dancing to DJ music before the band started, and then the 'official' part got underway. This involved a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday - and guess what happened then?

Frankie and another cake
Another party, another cake

The arrival of the cake sent gasps through the crowd as it took two able-bodied men to carry it into the hall on a long, swaying, plank-type thingy. Closer inspection showed that it was a magnificent effort, with pictures and words adorning the icing. 

 You can't help wondering that Frankie had pretty much spent the whole of May attending birthday parties and eating cake. Which is not such a bad way to spend one twelfth of the year really.

Saturday night's cake
Even the photos were edible on this one

Once the cake had been reduced to so many crumbs, it was on with the dancing, with a brief interruption for some teachers' turns. Catrine reproduced her enchanting Honeysuckle Rose tap routine, but not before mentioning that Lennart would have joined her, if only he'd remembered his tap shoes.

Catrine was followed by Ryan and Jenny with a nifty tap routine of their own. Then it was a free for all and the floor was invaded by eager dancers.

Barbara Morrison
Barbara Morrison belts out another classic

Chazz Young and Sugar Sullivan
Chazz swings out with Sugar

 There are very few certainties in life, but one of them is that at any given swing dance gathering, Frankie Manning will lead a Shim Sham. It would be a brave man who would bet against it, especially on his birthday, and tonight he would have lost big time.

Saturday night's Shim Sham
Frankie leads his birthday Shim Sham

 Come the witching hour it was time to board the bus and head back to the hotel. It was all over - apart from the outdoor dancing arranged for Sunday afternoon at Beach Place in Fort Lauderdale. It had been a wonderful night, with top class entertainment.

As far as Frankie XC was concerned, it was all over bar the laundry.

July 2004 Andrew Winton.

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