The Philippine String Musicians of Dave Apollon

Dave Apollon a notable musician who to quote Wikipedia, “one of the most innovative and influential mandolinists of the twentieth century.” unfortunately the Philippine string band who accompanied him in vaudville shows and recordings are often treated as an afterthought. For Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month in 2020 I would like to share their story.

This article is dedicated to my lolo (grandfather) Elizer “Ely” Jaen who would play the twelve string guitar for me as a child and is not far from my thoughts when I play music.

From the book “Filipinos in Washington” courtesy of Evangaline Pardes

The musicians in this inscribed in the back of this photo according to the book “Filipinos in Washington” are Loy Silagon, Carlos Quiambao, Peping Hernandez, Harold Aloma, Ben del Rosario, Gregory Davidoff, Ponce Espiritu, Manuel Enriquez, Silvestre Ramido, and Francisco Castro. I cannot confirm his band consisted of the same Filipino men for all of his soundies and recordings, however I can say from the ones I have watched it appeared to be the same lineup with the exception of a few additional musicians for different performances.

In the group of Philippine musicians that played with Dave Apollon was referred to as his “Manila Orchestra” or simply “His Orchestra” according to newspaper articles from the 1920s. Titles that referred to the group are also “Phillppine String Band”, “Royal Philippino Orchestra” and “Filipino Orchestra’. In 1911 Dave sailed to the Phillppines at the start of his music career before later immigrating to the United States by arriving at San Francisco.

From the liner notes of the 1941 Decca Dave Apollon album “The Man with the Mandolin”

The story of how Dave Apollon and the Filipino musicians is told below by David Grisman,

In 1926 he met a group of Phillipine string players who had just lost their job in another show. He immediately hired them to be his “orchestra” and began working up the routines and musical numbers that would be part of his show (with various other singers, dancers, jugglers, and comedians) until the late 1930’s. This group, which numbered from seven to ten players, used bandurias, mandolins, domras, guitars, bass and accordian. They all were talented musicians who knew hundreds of tunes, and together with Dave they evolved a rapport that was both musical and entertaining. “It cost me a lot to bring these boys from Russia. I hope you like them ’cause it’s going to cost me more to send them back!”

Russia to Vaudeville 1897-1940 by David Grisman from Mandolin World News, Vol. II, No. III, and Vol. V, No. III.
Dave Apollon & His Orchestra in the Vitaphone musical comedy “Hot from Petrograd” (1933)

The Philippine string band appeared in several soundies with Dave Apollon. One notable one is the Warner Brother and Vitaphone musical comedy “Hot from Petrograd” in 1933. While the band was accomplished playing stringed instruments in a rondalla setting adopted to jazz I was also impressed to see them in other recordings playing woodwind and brass instruments like the clarinet and trumpet beautifully as well.

“Sweet Sue” from the 1933 soundie “Hot in Petrograd”

I would be remiss to not mention though that something which was uncomfortable to me to viewing the Philippine band in these soundies is how the Filipino accent was used as a comedic device that served to fuel the popular orientalism sentiments at the time.

In addition, they were referred to by Dave in soundies and in newspapers as “boys” which combined with the fact that the Philippines was still a U.S. colony during many of these recordings provides an unpleasant reminder of the how Filipino men were seen during this time in U.S. history. You can hear Dave refer to the band as “boys” at the beginning of the recording of the band playing “Sweet Sue” in the video above as he calls the tune.

It is important to acknowledge that these were Filipino men who were professional musicians and deserve to be recognized as such.

THE NEWS of the Tonawandas, Thursday, April 13, 1944

With the onset of World War II and the decline of vaudeville it appears the number of Philippine musicians performing with Dave Apollon declined as they were drafted into the U.S. military. The last article could find mentioning his Filipino musicians was in 1946 where Dave wrote, “My two Filipinos have been with me for 20 years. They speak fine English, maybe with a bit of Russian accent, like me.”

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find more information about his former Phillppine band members after that time period. Dave Apollon in the 1960s moved to Vegas and had a career as mainly a solo performer until his passing.

If I find more information i’ll be sure to update this article, however if you’d like to see more performances of Dave Apollon and his Philippine band you can check out a few soundies at this youtube link. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite performances of the Philippine musicians who played with Dave Apollon, a performance of “Tiger Rag” in the 1935 musical short “The Wishing Stone”


  1. Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America
    By Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman, Donald McNeilly
  2. Filipinos in Washington, D.C. (Images of America) by Rita M. Cacas and Juanita Tamayo Lott

Patreon Options for Swing Dancers during COVID-19

Many of us are at our places of residence with “Stay-at-home” orders due to COVID-19. In result, since regular swing dance classes, events, or dances are not an option some are looking to get their swing dancing fix by trying online classes.

Patreon while used by a small number of swing dancers in the past has grown recently as a subscription based online learning platform for a decent number of swing dance instructors and organizations.

Photo by Simone Impei on Unsplash

For those of you who haven’t used Patreon before, here’s their description for Patreons a.k.a. subscribers.

For patrons, Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator’s community and pay them for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now pay a few bucks per month or per post that a creator makes.

Below are the current active Patreon accounts for swing dance instructors I have been able to find. Some instructors are under an organization they teach for and will be in a second table for organizations.

Patreon Accounts for swing dance instructors

Instructor(s) NameLinkPrice RangeTiers
Charlie and Rebecka Decavita (Dollars)3
Christian Frommelt (Dollars)3
Felipe Braga (Euros6
Jenna Applegarth (Dollars)8
Jon Tigert (Dollars)3
Jethro Hardinge (Dollars)3
Katie Cobalt (Euros)5
Laura Glaess (Dollars)5
Mickey Fortanasce & Kelly Arsenault (Dollars)4
Natalia Eristavi and Irina Amzashvil (Dollars)4
Nick Williams (Dollars)4
Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama (Dollars)6
Sarah Spoon (Euros)9
Sharon Davis (Euros)3
Shelby Johnson (Dollars)1

The benefits a patron (subscriber) can get usually include one or more of the following: class/workshop video recaps, social dance demos or performance videos, individual feedback on a video, video lessons, custom swag or discounts on existing swag, original choreography and a breakdown, blog posts, and an online or in person (when available) private lesson.

As you can imagine the benefits that require more individual time from an instructor are usually in a higher tier of monthly payment. In addition, some instructors limit the number of people who can be in their higher tiers. This is likely to prevent the situation that they bite off more they can chew in case 30 people randomly decide they want an hour private lesson in the month of June.

Patreon Account for Swing Dance Organizations

Organization NameLinkPrice RangeTiers

L.A. Jitterbug Swing Dance Academy (Los Angeles) 20-50 (USD) 6
Rhythm City Productions (Vancouver, BC) (USD) 1
Swing Nights (Denver) (USD) 1
The Syncopation Foundation (Seattle) (USD) 4
Vintage Arts Asylum (London) (USD) 3

As you can see early bird Vintage Arts Asylum caught the worm and won the landgrab competition by getting the coveted /lindyhop/ slug for their URL. Mickey Fortanasce & Kelly Arsenault similarly won out with the /balboa/ slug.

Regarding the organization Patreon accounts you have a mix of traveling instructors who also teach for a local organization like Karine Hermes, Stephen Sayer, and soon Chandrae Rottieg Gomez for L.A. Jitterbug Swing Dance Academy who probably have a mix of students they have met on the road and local students in Los Angeles.

You also have local swing dance organizations who have gone online during the COVID-19 pandemic where it is online dance education but also maintaining their existing community. I will say though some of the more successful instructors running a Patreon accounts attempt to create a community through various tools such as a private Facebook group, Discord where people can hang out on, or Zoom hangouts.

Swing dance related patreon accounts

Before the pandemic I do want to mention there were Patreon accounts for swing dancing that were not just online dance education.

One people are probably familiar with is “The Track“, a in-depth & candid conversation with swing dancers, musicians, DJs, competitors, and instructors from the world of Lindy Hop. Another is Yehoodi’s Patreon account, which supports them producing high quality media about lindy hop and swing dancing that has followed the trends, covered the news, and spread the joy of this dance to audiences around the world. On a side note, I do really wish Yehoodi had a way to access their old forums. While there are some posts that are better left to history, there were some informative posts that would be good to see for historical purposes and I would totally subscribe to their top tier if that was an option.

Not directly swing dance related, but one I wanted to add because it does mention swing dance at one point and it is financially doing well is Lindybeige’s Patreon, a channel of archaeology, ancient and medieval warfare, rants, swing dance, travelogues, evolution, and whatever else occurs the author to make. At the time of this post this Patreon account mmakes $1,647 per video posted.

If you are a veteran of Herräng Dance Camp, you’ll probably recognize the person who runs this is Lloyd. Many people have also stumbled upon his recaps of Herräng when doing research on their first trip to Sweden. I’ve included his Patreon because it has occasionally mentioned swing dancing and is quite successful, so there must be something to learn there.

Patreon Recommendations

I’m subscribed to Patreon for swing dancing and in the interest of fairness i’ll keep that information to yourself. I will say what has influenced my decision is the dancers running the Patreon account are people I already trust, there are clear expectations of what content will be provided and when, and they produce high quality videos and posts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts though! If you subscribe to any swing dance Patreon accounts please post below which ones and why in the comments.

Invitational Collegiate Shag Mix & Match Music at Hot Rhythm Holiday 2020

Are you looking for music to DJ for Collegiate Shag dancers? You aren’t the only one.

Common search terms that lead people to this blog are “Collegiate Shag songs”, “Collegiate Shag music”, or “What to DJ for Collegiate Shag?”. Since the last time I wrote about DJing music appropriate for Collegiate Shag for my blog was the post DJing for A Collegiate Shag Event. That was almost ten years ago in 2011, I figure it is time for a new post.


I asked Joanna Lucero, the DJ of the Invitational Collegiate Shag Mix & Match at Hot Rhythm Holiday (HRH) about her song selections for the contest and she was kind enough to provide them.

Below is a screen shot Joanna sent over with the song titles, artists, album, BPM, and what part of the contest they were for.



Below is a table I created that contains YouTube video links of the songs and the part of the contest that they were played in.

HRH 2020 – Invitational Collegiate Shag Contest Music

Song NameArtistPart of Contest
Bulgin’ EyesJack Mcvea and his OrchestraWarmup Song
Warmin’ UpTeddy WilsonSpotlight: Shannon Butler & Nial Bruce
Stompin’ At the SavoyElla Fitzgerald and Her Famous OrchestraSpotlight: Amanda Pincock & Jeremy Otth
Mason FlyerLucky Millinder Spotlight: Laura Keat & Joseph Robinson
Rock and RyeEarl HinesSpotlight: Jamie Shannon & Nick Williams
Harlem JumpJack TeagardenSpotlight: Tabitha Robinson & Ben Luhrman
When You’re Smiling Jimmy Dorsey and His OrchestraSpotlight: Annabelle Hale & Ryan Martin
Swingin’ In The Promised LandEdgar Hayes and His OrchestraSpotlight: Tise Chao & Zach Lockett-Streiff
Sugar Foot StompElla Fitzgerald and Her Famous OrchestraFinal All-Skate
Hot Rhythm Holiday 2020 – Invitational Collegiate Shag Mix & Max music

Fun Takeaways from this Collegiate Shag Contest

  • The lowest BPM was 197, the highest BPM was 250, and the average among the nine songs was 228 BPM
  • The Warmup was about 1m24s of dancing
  • The Final All-Skate was about 1m33s of dancing
  • The Spotlights were around 1m40s of dancing on average
  • If one wanted to train for a contest like this it would be a reasonable goal to be able to comfortably dance Collegiate Shag at 230bpm for about 1m30s, take a brief break and do it again, then take a longer break and dance 1m40 of a 250bpm song.

Final thoughts & Comments

Joanna made great song choices the DJ for this Collegiate Shag contest and it’s a great opportunity to share this knowledge with other DJs and dancers. Thanks again Joanna for being willing to share your behind the scenes DJing info.

If you’d like to hire Joanna Lucero as a DJ the best way to get a hold of her is to email her at joanna AT

I’m hoping to post more about music for Collegiate Shag in the future! If you have any thoughts about music played for Collegiate Shag dances or contests please feel free to add them in the comments below.

Lead Sheet – “Tabby the Cat”

A soundie that has always stuck with me is “Tabby the Cat”.  It probably helps that Tabby the Cat is my favorite jazz step which I wrote about it previously in a 2011 blog post here.


According to IMDB the two vocalists are Eppy Pearson and Diana Webster and the two dancers are Kathleen Regan and Dean Collins.

I recently had it transcribed by Danny Fratina for a jazz combo to play as a holiday gift for myself. I provided him a copy of the the sheet music for “Tabby the Cat” done for the 1945 musical “Eadie Was a Lady” and a youtube link to the soundie.

Tabby the Cat
Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures

Danny was kind enough to grant me permission to share his work for educational purposes. If you have any interest in playing the song or want to hire a band to play it for you please feel use the resources below.

My only request is if you do play it with a band please share a recording with me!

Tabby the Cat Leadsheets

With verse and vocals

Without verse and lyrics


Dance Gig Tip: Always send a confirmation email!

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

If you are a dancer or director who coordinates dance performances for events and gigs, below is one tip that can potentially save you many headaches in the future.

Always send a conformation email to a client & any dancers you hire a few days before the date of the event.

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve done for every event the last few years and it prevented a bad situation a week ago. I took coordinating a gig from another dancer a few months back and from the email chain with the client everything seemed set for their roaring 20’s themed event which was at the beautiful Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Boston which we were going to do a small Charleston performance and some atmosphere dancing.

I sent my standard conformation email to the client and they discovered that we were provided the wrong date. This meant if I didn’t send my confirmation email me and five other dancers would have shown up to the venue two days before the actual event. I would have had five dancers upset at me traveling to a venue and wasting an hour of the time. Imagine if the situation was reversed where the date was actually earlier than we thought. We would have accidentally been no-shows to the event! Luckily because of the confirmation email the error was caught and while we had to substitute out one dancer who couldn’t make the new date everything was okay in the end.

The confirmation email is insurance to prevent a miscommunication error causing you or any of your staff to show up on the wrong time and date.

In addition, if the client makes last minute changes to the event this is a good reminder for them to convey them to you. Also if you were guaranteed certain things such as a green room to remind the client.

Below is a sample conformation email template, feel free to take and edit it to suit your needs:

Sample Confirmation Email Template


Thank you again for having us your upcoming <INSERT_NAME_OF_EVENT>! This is a confirmation email to ensure we have all the correct information to make your event go as smoothly as possible. If anything is amiss please contact me as soon as possible at my email or phone number <INSERT_YOUR_PHONE_NUMBER_HERE>

Call Time/Time of Dancers Arrival: <INSERT_CALL_TIME_&_DATE_HERE>
Typically I list other contacts as necessary such as band leader, sound equipment contact, MC, etc.

Services to be Rendered:
4 dancers from <INSERT_TIMEFRAME_HERE> to do 5-7 minutes of performances at <INSERT_TIME_HERE> and background dancing with breaks from <INSERT_TIMEFRAME_HERE>

Client will provide:
Green Room
Four bottles of water



I hope that helps prevent future gig-tastrophes for you and any dancers you work with! If you have any tips for dancers coordinating gigs or just amusing gig stories please share them in the comments below.

This article is by Andrew Selzer, owner of the swing dance school Boston Lindy Hop and a veteran performer of the Roaring 20’s Lawn Party in Ipswich which draws hundreds of people each year.  If you are looking for swing dancers in Boston for your next Gatsby themed corporate party or Roaring 20’s event feel free to reach out to him on his website here or at his school’s website here.

5 Tips to Save Time as a Teacher in Your Dance Class

Photo by from Pexels

One of the most valuable resources in a dance class is time. You’ve probably felt the absence of it when you had a great class plan that you were about to embark on the next step of… only to discover you have less than 10 minutes left in class.

If you’ve been wondering about some ways to save time in class, this post has you covered. Here are 5 tips to save time in your dance class.

1. Simplify verbal explanations

Verbal explanations are often a place where time can be lost. This tip is from teaching discussion notes at Lindy Focus 2019, figure out where things are said twice, can be said once. The example they provide is using the term “outside foot” instead of having to address each role separately with “the leader’s left foot and follower’s right foot”.

Another way is to take a critical look at your explanations in and eliminate unnecessary parts where you don’t see students benefiting enough for the investment. For example, will a brand new student benefit more from hearing a detailed explanation of how the foot strikes the floor for each beat of a rock step or trying it a bunch to music?

2. Remove any unnecessary verbal explanations

Speaking of students trying things, there are many movements and concepts that students will get quicker trying themselves and getting feedback after instead of having it broken down in specific detail at first. One way to save time on a verbal explanation is avoid providing it at all if it isn’t necessary.

If you use a solo jazz warmup at the beginning of your classes a common way to tackle this is to add any movements and footwork you plan to use later in the class. This way students have several reps in before you get to the part of class you “officially” teach it.

3. Use a watch or remote to play music

Dance teachers often spend time running back and forth between a sound system to play music. There’s the even the comical situation where one teacher is closer to the laptop/phone but it is their partner’s device which they are unfamiliar with and they struggle to figure out how to stop or play the music.

One way to save time in class to have a watch or remote for sound system so you can control it wherever you are in the room. I picked this tip up during a rehearsal from a friend who is also a group fitness instructor.

I’d recommend the watch because you don’t have to worry about having pockets and often it gives you more control over song selection. Having a watch to control the sound system appears to be a common practice in the fitness class world and I hope to see it become more common in dance classes as well.

4. Plan your class music in advance

I cannot tell you how many times from international traveling instructors to local dance teachers I have seen lose time by debating with their partner in the middle of class which song to use. Sometimes the indecisiveness gets to the point  that it feels like a group of friends trying to pick which restaurant to go to. We all know how long that can take.

You and your teaching partner should pick songs in advance that you are both happy to be used in class. Often when I have seen this go awry is when one person is designated to take care of music in class and then the other teacher realizes that their partner’s musical choices weren’t exactly what was in their vision for class.

5. Avoid long meandering answers to questions

Particularly in lower level classes you will get a question as a teacher that you know doesn’t have a quick and simple answer and often will bring you on a long verbal tangent. A common example of this is, “How do you tell the difference between 6 count and 8 count moves?”

Two ways I would recommend tackling this are having a concise answer prepared for this type of question or saying something along the lines of “On a simplistic level it is X, but I can talk to you after class about a more detailed answer”. The nice thing about the second option you acknowledge the student’s question while still prioritizing the experience of the class as a whole. The second solution only works though if you have time after class. If possible it’s always good to have some time after a class so you can take questions from students and also debrief with your teaching partner.

I hope this guide helps, if you have any additional tips of how to save time in dance class room please feel free to share it in the comment section below.

Sites To Learn About Jazz in the United States by Heidi Hansen

One of the questions I have gotten from dancers visiting from abroad but also locals is locations they can visit in the United States such as museums to learn more about jazz history.  As the birthplace of jazz, there are a wide variety of sites you can visit in the United States to learn more about the music you enjoy and dance to.

Something to note in this guest blog post is some of the sites listed are museums that you can visit on a trip while others only have historical placards or are not open to the public. These have been separated into two categories to avoid confusion.

Today we have a guest blog post by Heidi Hansen, who will learn in her bio below is more than qualified to write about the subject.



Heidi Hansen earned a Master’s Degree in History at California State University, Fullerton (with a focus on women’s history, physical culture history, and public history). She worked at 5 different units for the National Park Service, including Fort Scott National Historic Site, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Boston National Historical Park, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, and Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

As Heidi developed as a Swing Dancer, she discovered a love for Jazz Music. As a Park Ranger and historian, Heidi works to uncover and share untold stories. She developed a program, for which she received a challenge coin, about New Orleans Women In Jazz.


The history of Jazz music is a long and complex topic dealing with Civil Rights Issues, Women’s Rights, white appropriation, and change over time. I have done my best to present a fair and balanced list of places to go to explore museums featuring Jazz museum or who have incorporated Jazz music into their theme. I’ve also added in some places I’ve discovered that are unknown places where Jazz heavily influenced the history of a neighborhood or area. This is by no means a comprehensive list of places to see that have associations with Jazz music and Jazz history in the United States and extensive research will undoubtedly reveal many more places.

Sites to Learn About Jazz (Museums & Open to Public)

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (Harlem, New York)

This Jazz museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate with much to offer. It’s mission statement “Our mission is to preserve, promote and present Jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation, and the celebration of Jazz locally, nationally, and internationally.” The museum has live performances, exhibits, and educational programs. Though the exhibits change often, however, interaction between the visitor and the exhibit remains and has been incorporated into the exhibits about Harlem musicians.


The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City (Kansas City, Missouri)

Kansas City became home to many of our favorite Jazz Musician. Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and many other musicians frequented the Jazz Clubs of Kansas City. The American Jazz Museum has an art and photograph gallery, Blue Room Jazz Club and Blue Room Performing Arts Center. They frequently host public programming as well. The streets of Kansas City heavily influenced the development of Jazz music throughout the United States and are worth learning.


Apollo Theatre (New York City, New York)

In 1934, the Apollo Theatre started hosting Amateur Night. The famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem still hosts these nights and a variety of other shows.

Note from the editor: Tours of the Apollo must be scheduled in advance. Please check here for more information.


Louis Armstrong House (New York City, New York)

In 1943, Louis Armstrong came to live in Corona Neighborhood in Queens. He remained in this home for the rest of his life. No one lived in the home after their deaths and as such, much of it remains the same as the time they lived there. The home is open to the public and is only shown through scheduled guided tours where one will learn about the Life and Music of Louis Armstrong. 

Current Exhibits include “Louis Armstrong’s Stuff,” which includes his trumpet, clothing, and a collage he made, and “That’s My Home: 75 Years of the Armstrongs in Corona”, which explores their time in Corona and includes rare photographs of the Armstrongs. 

The home works to keep the tradition of Jazz Music alive. During the Summer, the Louis Armstrong House hosts various jazz musicians in the museum’s garden. Be aware that all exhibits in the home are viewed only through guided tours.


Minton’s Playhouse (Harlem, New York)

Minton’s Playhouse in New York City is considered the birthplace of Bebop. It was founded in 1938 by Henry Minton. Musicians like Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holiday, and nearly every iconic Jazz Musician performed there. It was located in the Cecil Hotel. In 1974, it closed after a fire and was reopened as a National Historic Landmark and continues it’s tradition for innovative live Jazz Music.


New Orleans Jazz Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana)

The New Orleans Jazz Museum comprises of a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibits. In each of the museum spaces, one can learn about the development of Jazz music and a current exhibit detailing the Famous Louis Prima, a native of New Orleans. Over the years, Jazz music became an avenue for self expression, Civil Rights, celebration, and for Jazz Funerals. One can visit this museum to learn all about the continued evolution of Jazz Music in New Orleans. Like many other Jazz Museums, the New Orleans Jazz Museum also hold regular music programs on their third floor in partnership with the National Park Service. Sometimes, you can hear the Down on their Luck Orchestra (Park Ranger Jazz Musicians) team up with other locals.


The New Orleans National Historical Park Visitor Center (New Orleans, Louisiana)

This visitor center has only small panels detailing some of the most influential Jazz Musicians from New Orleans. For aspiring Junior Rangers, be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger book from the visitor center here, participate in some of the ranger led programs, Jazz yoga occasionally led by professional singer and swing dancer Giselle, and learn about how New Orleans became the birthplace for Jazz Music. 

As the Birthplace of Jazz Music, New Orleans has many historically significant sites for Jazz Music. National Park Rangers at the visitor center can assist you in finding these locations. 

In Louis Armstrong Park, one can visit the Louis Armstrong Statue, the Sidney Bechet Statue, and the original location of Congo Square. 

Along Basin St. between Canal Street and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1  is where the once famous Storyville existed from 1897 to 1917. Jelly Roll Morton, Mamie Desdunes, and many other musicians performed in the brothels of New Orleans famous red light district heavily influenced the development of Jazz Music in New Orleans.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band gave birth to the revival of Jazz Music in New Orleans. Currently, Preservation Hall holds musical performances every night. Be sure to visit and stand in the same location as musicians like Sweet Emma Barrett.


The Smithsonian National Museum of American History (Washington D.C.)

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History hosts a small space to feature influential Jazz Musicians. The musicians featured in the exhibit are rotated out frequently.  The Smithsonian frequently hosts Jazz Musicians to perform in its halls.


Ted Lews Museum (Circleville, Ohio)

Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville, Oh recognizes television star and Musician Ted Lewis. He started playing clarinet in the Circleville Jazz Band and was crowned King of Jazz. This exhibit showcases videos of Lewis’s musical performances and memorabilia.  The actual exhibit space is the only remaining edifice within the original circle of Circleville. Admission to the museum is free, however, the museum is only open Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm or through appointment.


Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame

Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame honors Cincinnati Jazz Musicians and provides educational programming to the community.


Texas Music Museum (Austin, Texas)

Though not entirely centered around Jazz Music, the Texas Music Museum often features Texan Jazz Musicians. 


Sites to Learn About Jazz (Only Historical Plaques, No Historical Signifiers, or Closed to the Public)

Savoy Ballroom Plaque (Harlem, New York)

One can stand in the same spot as the original Savoy Ballroom.


Ashbury Park, Springfield Avenue (Ashbury Park, New Jersey)

Ashbury Park in New Jersey has been making strong efforts to preserve and showcase the history of Jazz music, Doo Wop, soul, blues, R&B, and Gospel music that prevailed on Springfield Avenue from 1880- to 1980.  Their exhibits and collections contain sheet music and photographs of Duke Ellington, Ray Goodman, Count Basie, and Ray Goodman and Brown. They are currently working to make this a permanent exhibit.


The Dunbar Hotel (Los Angeles, California)

The Dunbar Hotel, named after the famous poet Paul Dunbar, became  the hub for the Jazz community in Los Angeles. Now it is a building that houses Senior Citizens. At the front entrance, the Emblem “Hotel Somerville” reveals the structures original name. 

 Across the street is Central Avenue Jazz Park.The building across the street, the Last Word alongside the building next door, Club Alabam, featured many of these Jazz musicians. 

 The founder, Dr. Jon Somerville arrived in Los Angeles in 1902 and was appalled at the lack of accommodations for people of color on the West Coast.  Somerville was the first black man to graduate USC Dental School and married the first black woman to also graduate from USC’s Dental School, Vada Watson. They were founders of the LA chapter of the NAACP, Dentists, and activists. They brought in more people to form a community around Central Ave. Using only African American craftsmen and workers, they built the hotel on the corner of 42nd and Central. 

It became the unofficial town hall and country club of the black community with people like W.E. B. Dubois visiting. During the depression, it was sold to a white man named Lucius Lomax who renamed it after the famous black poet, Paul Dunbar. During the 30’s and 40’s, it featured many forms of popular entertainment, including Jazz music and hosted some of the most famous Jazz musicians of the day who would also stay in the hotel, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday and so many more! At various points, there was a club inside the hotel as well.  It switched hands several times and went through a downturn. In 1968, Bernard Johnson bought it to revive it. It was officially recognized as an LA Historical Monument in 1974 and Johnson opened the “Dunbar Historical Black Museum, “ but by that point, it had turned into tenement housing. 

In 1990, the Dunbar Hotel was renovated and reopened for low-income elderly housing and remains that way today. 


Walker Theatre (Indianapolis, Indiana)

This theatre is a remnant of Indianapolis’s “Indiana Street.” 

Gunther Schuller wrote that Indianapolis “offered a caliber of Jazz quite superior to the often blasé’ big name Jazz of the Metropolitan centers.” Indianapolis gave us J.J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, Slide Hampton, and David Baker. Indiana Avenue was the center of activity for the black community in Indianapolis. Along that street, is the Madame Walker Theater, one of the few remaining buildings from that era. It is currently undergoing renovations but will reopen in 2020.

It was completed in 1927 and marks the height of Madam CJ Walker’s career. It served as a movie house and a showcase for live Jazz.


Classic and Palace Theaters (Dayton, Ohio)

The Classic and Palace Theaters in Dayton, Oh were an important part of the development of Jazz there. They were part of what was called “Walking the Nickel.” Due to discrimination, African American people could not go to theatres in Downtown Dayton. These African American owned theaters opened for the black community to visit. Famous Jazz Musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie performed in these Halls. Chick Carter Jazz Band  and Erskine Hawkins Jazz Combo performed in a battle of the Bands at the Palace Theater. Actor Ted Ross (Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of OZ) visited these theaters and developed his love for Jazz music there. In 1992, these theaters were torn down and a funeral was held in their honor. Today, though empty lots, one can still walk where these theaters were. Down the street, the Black YMCA (still there today) became the place where Lionel Hampton called Trumpet Player Snooky Young to join in his Jazz Band.  You can walk a short distance up the street to visit Snooky Young’s spot on the Dayton Walk of Fame.


Other Sites of Interest

3 Ways to Effectively Use Your Dance Class Recap Video

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

You have probably been guilty of taking a class at a workshop that you spent time and money to travel to, take the effort to film a recap video of the instructors at the end of the class, and… doing absolutely nothing with it.


Here is a guide for you with 3 steps you can take to ensure you are getting the most out of your class recap videos and they aren’t just taking space on your phone!

1. Schedule Practice Time

After you have filmed the class recap video get access to whatever system you use for scheduling and put some time on your calendar to work on the class material you just filmed. If you can schedule a rehearsal space even better because that cements your commitment more.

This is important because you are making a commitment to review the class material you just learned where the video you filmed will likely be an asset.

Be careful not to let excuses get in the way of you scheduling practice time. I’ve listed some common ones below with my responses of why it is still good for you to put that time in your schedule:

  • Excuse: I can’t practice until X time, I should wait until i’m done with Y before I schedule something.
    • Answer: It’s better to have something in your calendar so you don’t forget it even if it is far out. If your schedule is unpredictable and you end up having to move the practice it is always possible to reschedule it.
  • Excuse: This is partnered material and it’s pointless to schedule something until I find someone else in the other role who has availability.
    • Answer: Many things can be worked on without a partner. In addition, you will likely be more motivated to find someone to work on the material if you have a commitment.
  • Excuse:  I got the material pretty well and I just want to have the video as a reference point.
    • Answer: There have been many people who “had something” in a workshop then a few days later were unable to lead or follow it socially. In addition, you can get a deeper level of understanding of working on something multiple times. Just because something “works” doesn’t mean it looks good or if it is a partnered move feels comfortable for your partner.

Pro-tip: Make sure you have the appropriate recap videos available before you start your practice so you don’t waste time trying to find them.

2. Get Multiple Reference Videos

It is great to have teachers who demonstrate something from multiple angles for a re-cap video. Often, the reality of the situation is they are trying to do a recap video last minute for a class that is already over time and you may only get a view from the back or from the side.

If you have a friend who attends classes with you then you can coordinate and intentionally film class recaps from different angles. Otherwise, another method is to ask someone else you see in the room who is filming from a different angle if you can trade videos. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve had a video that has been from the back of an instructor and wished I had a view of the side to figure something out.

Another useful option is to film yourself doing the class material after a class is over. A major benefit is you can say during the video any information that was helpful for you to do the material well and use that as a reference point when you practice later. In addition, you get some extra reps of the class material while it is fresh.

3. Create An Effective System to Use Your Recap Videos

Your dance class recap videos are not useful if you arrive to practice and discover you can’t find them. I can speak from personal experience when I say it is frustrating to spend 10+ minutes in a rehearsal space you have paid for searching for a video clip so you can double check something. In addition, many people have made the mistake of getting ready to take a class recap video to discover that they are out of space on their phone.

You can avoid these potential frustrations by creating an effective system to store your recap videos.

An effective recap video storage system consists of these traits:

  • A centralized location where you know all your dance class recap videos will be located.
  • Consistent naming conventions to ensure it is easy to find the class recap you are looking for.
  • The discipline to regularly transfer and annotate dance recap videos from your phone/camera to ensure they are where you expect to find them when you practice and prevent your recording devices from running out of space.

What system that works best is different for each person and you’ll have to discover what is best for you.

My system is I use YouTube as my centralized location with Unlisted videos to ensure I can share them with friends/practice partners if need be but also so random people on the internet can’t stumble upon them as well.

I have created Playlists for each dance I do and specialized topics. I include in the name of the video the workshop it was taught at, class title, and date to make it easy to search. In the description, I usually include the names of the instructors and any notes I remember that I think will assist me in practicing the material later. Lastly, when I schedule a practice session in my Google Calendar I add links in the calendar event to the relevant Youtube URLs for my videos so it is easy to find when I start to practice.

I hope you found these 3 steps useful in preparing yourself to use your class recap videos to improve your dancing.  If you have any tips on how you effectively use class recap videos or questions please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Lead Sheet – “Dahil Sa Iyo”

Dahil Sa IyoWhile I enjoy playing jazz on the clarinet one of the things that I have been wanting to have is a lead sheet to play music from the Philippines. I’ve learned from my research on the Philippines that jazz and swing dancing did exist there during the swing era, but my search to find any sheet music or arrangements has mainly resulted in ragtime music.

In the mean time though I took the classic kundiman genre song, “Dahil Sa Iyo” written in 1938 by Mike Velarde, Jr. for the movie, Bituing Marikit and had it transcribed by Danny Fratina for a jazz combo to play as a birthday gift to myself. I provided him with the Nat King Cole version of the song shown above and a copy of the the sheet music to create the lead sheets.

Here’s a brief description of the Kundiman genre from Wikipedia if you are unfamiliar with it,

Kundiman is a genre of traditional Filipino love songs. The lyrics of the Kundiman are written in Tagalog. The melody is characterized by a smooth, flowing and gentle rhythm with dramatic intervals. Kundiman was the traditional means of serenade in the Philippines.

Danny was kind enough to grant me permission to share his work for educational purposes so if you have any interest in playing the song or want to hire a band to play it for you please feel use the resources below.

Dahil Sa Iyo Lead Sheets:

The Philippines, Swing Dance, and Jazz

Mabuhay! Originally for Filipino American History Month 2018 I wanted to write a well researched and edited post about the relationship between Filipinos, swing-era jazz, and swing dancing. Sadly I did not have the time to fully flesh out a well-written post but I did not want to put off sharing what I did find. This is by no means comprehensive, but I hope you learn something new.

My Vamping Sweet Guitar - Borromeo Lou

Bodabil a.k.a. Vaudeville

To quote Wikipedia,

Vaudeville/bodabil in the Philippines, more commonly referred to as bodabil, was a popular genre of entertainment in the Philippines from the 1910s until the mid-1960s.

In 1920, a Filipino entertainer named Luis Borromeo returned from North America, renamed himself “Borromeo Lou”, and organized what became the first Filipino bodabil company. The main showcase of Borromeo Lou’s company was an orchestral band, which played what he called “Classical-Jazz Music”, and variety acts in between. Borromeo’s band is credited as having popularized jazz in the Philippines. It was also Borromeo who dubbed the emerging form as “vod-a-vil”, which soon became popularly known by its Filipinized name, bodabil.

In 1923, there were three theaters in Manila that were exclusively devoted to bodabil. By 1941, there were 40 theaters in Manila featuring bodabil shows. The popularity of bodabil was not confined to Manila stages. Bodabil routines were also staged in town fiestas and carnivals. The typical bodabil shows would feature a mixture of performances of American ballads, torch songs and blues numbers; dance numbers featuring tap dancers and chorus girls and jitterbug showcases; and even the occasional kundiman.

General overview

Notable performers and musicians

  • Katy de la Cruz
    • Hailed as “The Queen of Filipino Jazz” and as “The Queen of Bodabil” her signature tune was her rendition of St. Louis Blues.
    • Article by Alex R. Castro that covers her background and her nomination for the 1924 Manila Carnivals. Held from 1908-1939, the 2-week fair was organized as a goodwill event to celebrate harmonious U.S.-Philippine relations and to showcase our commercial, industrial and agricultural progress.
    • Her Wikipedia page gives a good general overview of her life and accomplishments.
    • There was a musical based on her life named Katy! the Musical with music by Ryan Cayabyab and story and libretto by Jose Javier Reyes.

Katy de la Cruz performance of Some of These Days (Sadly it gets cut off early…)

  • Luis Borromeo a.k.a. Borromeo Lou
    • To quote this article from Alex’s R. Castro’s blog “Manila Carnivals”, “Luis Borromeo, originally from Cebu, was one of the first Filipino entertainers who made it big in the jazz music halls of America and Canada in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1920, Luis Borromeo returned to the Philippines, renamed himself Borromeo Lou, and put up a band that popularized classical-jazz music.”
    • Fritz Schenker writes about some of his compositions here. Sadly the .mp3 links no longer work.

Useful Books

  • “Creating Masculinity In Los Angeles Little Manila, Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culuture, 1920s-1950s” by Linda España-Maram
    • Written by a professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at California State Long Beach this book is relevant to fans of jazz and swing dancing because it talks about the taxi-dance hall culture in Los Angeles from the 1920s and onward in respect to Filipino men.
    • A good overview of the book can be read here.
  • “Pinoy Jazz Traditions” by Richie C. Quirino
    • To quote this amazon page, “Pinoy Jazz Traditions, is an abridged version of an original manuscript, The History of Jazz in the Philippines, covering the full spectrum of jazz in the Philippines, from its beginnings in 1898, all the way up to contemporary times”
    • There is a free documentary online named “Pinoy Jazz: The Story of Jazz in the Philippines” which is based on this book.



Little Lindy Hoppers, San Francisco, 1950s. Second-generation Filipino girls and boys participated in current American pop culture. Photo by Ricardo Alvarado.

Pinoy Band, San Jose, 1950s. Music was often a highlight of gatherings. Photo by Ricardo Alvarado.

Useful Articles

While this was short I plan to commit to writing a more polished article next year. For other Pinoys reading this article I hope this helps bridge together our background as Filipinos, swing dancing, and jazz. Salamat po for your time.