“May I have the next dance, Miss?”
“You sweet thing. Care for a twirl around the floor?”
The first artifact is something most of us have never seen in actuality — a magic-lantern slide, which I assume was slid in front of the projector in a Twenties movie theatre so that the image would fill the screen (much quieter than contemporary advertising in movie theatres). I find the homegrown calligraphy so very endearing.
Here’s the front:
and the reverse:
It’s also very cheering that the invitation includes listeners (me) as well as dancers (my dream self).
I know something, but not much, about Anderson Husk O’Hare. He didn’t play but he booked bands under his own name, ensembles that varied in interest. (I think of the great musicians who played for Lester Lanin in this century.)
Various hot Chicagoans played in his orchestras, but I can’t say for sure that the band at Toddle Grove had Tesch, Tough, Lanigan, Stacy, or any other heroes in it. Looking at a perpetual calendar, I think that Saturday, August 26, was either 1921 or 1927, and I am hoping it was the latter.
Tom Lord lists only Gennett sessions made in 1922, with no definite personnel. So you’re on your own as far as imagining how the band sounded that Saturday night. As far as Toddle Grove itself, it seems to have been a dance hall in Lemont, Illinois, and there is an ad in the 1924 Blue Island Sun for it. But the rest is up to you.
The second piece of terpsichorean eBay evidence is easier to decipher, although perhaps less tempting to some as a result: a paper flyer from 1947 for an upstate New York dance palace:
It’s summer at the lake. Hear the band, the sounds of the saxophone section drifting out over the water.
This reminds us, once again, that the bands travelled everywhere, not just to major cities, during the Swing Era. What is most interesting to me is the flexible pricing: I would expect that a local band would be a dollar ticket, but that Buddy Rich would not. Maybe they were less interested in drumming in Newburgh?
Neither of these two advertisements is sufficiently motivating for me to find the shelf where my Capezios are, or to go back to Robin (my former ballroom dance instructor) for more lessons, but they remind us of a time when hot music was very much part of popular entertainment.
Since this has been a purely visual post, how about some dance music — from 1937, in the middle of things. Fellow named Goodman. Don’t know about him, much:
May your happiness increase!