David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Prejudice, Problem-Solving

Prejudice

• The great black dancer Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bojangles, fought prejudice. One day, some members of Duke Ellington’s band ordered coffee and doughnuts but were refused service. They ran into Mr. Bojangles and told him what had happened. He told them to follow him, and they all went back to the restaurant. Mr. Bojangles sat down, pulled out his gold-plated gun with the pearl handles, laid the gun on the table, and ordered coffee and doughnuts for himself and his friends. This time, they were served.

• After turning age 13 in 1930, Wah Ming Chang took dancing lessons in a school in California. Unfortunately, soon he was told to leave and never come back. Later, he found out that some parents had complained after discovering that their daughters were dancing with a boy of Asian heritage. As an adult, Mr. Chang became a famous artist and award-winning creator of special effects for such television series as Star Trek and such movies as The Time Machine.

• In the Jim Crow days, black dance pioneer Katherine Dunham toured the South, where she often confronted race prejudice. In a segregated theater in Louisville, Kentucky, she was outraged because blacks were forced to sit in the balcony. After the performance, she stood on stage, looked at the white members of the audience, and stated, “This is the last time we shall play Louisville because the management refuses to let people like us sit by people like you.”

• During the Jim Crow days, Sir Rudolf Bing took the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Aida on tour to Washington, where he was informed that Janet Collins, the Met’s African-American ballerina, would not be welcome at a party at the Mayflower Club. Therefore, Sir Rudolf stayed away from that party and hosted his own, at which Ms. Collins was very welcome.

• In 1937, while traveling in the pre-civil rights south, Norma Miller and some other touring Lindy Hop dancers stopped at a White Castle hamburger joint to order food, only to be told, “We don’t serve Negroes here.” One of the dancers replied, “We don’t eat Negroes — just serve us a burger!”

Problem-Solving

• Comedian Fanny Brice always had a talent for singing, but she soon realized that her weakness was dancing — a weakness for which George M. Cohan once fired her from the chorus line of one of his shows. Being ambitious, Fanny began to work on her weakness. Before leaving on tour with a show, the young Fanny went through her family’s home and gathered up all the female undergarments she could find, using the excuse that as the star of the show she had to make many costume changes and couldn’t possibly wear the same bloomers during an entire show. (Actually, she had only one song in the show.) On the road, she began to ask girls in the chorus to teach her dance steps in return for the undergarments. As soon as one girl got tired of teaching her, Fanny would offer some bloomers to another girl. In time, she learned to dance.

• Fern Helsher, an attractive woman, worked as a press agent for Ted Shawn at his dance retreat, a former farm called Jacob’s Pillow. One day, a road crew was putting tar topping on the road by Jacob’s Pillow, but they were stopping about 100 feet from the driveway leading to Jacob’s Pillow. Mr. Shawn mentioned to Ms. Helsher that he had asked the town officials to extend the tar topping another 100 feet but they were unwilling to do so. Ms. Helsher said, “Let me handle this.” She then dressed very provocatively, mixed a pitcher of martinis, and went down to the road crew. She stood at the point to which Mr. Shawn wanted the tar topping poured and told the members of the road crew, “If you build the road to this line, you can have everything you see just beyond it.” The road crew raced to build the road, and when they had finished, Ms. Helsher put down the pitcher of martinis and ran to safety.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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Music Recommendation: Hustle Souls — “Just Want To Say Hello”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Just Want To Say Hello”

Album: JUST WANT TO SAY HELLO

Artist: Hustle Souls

Record Company: Aldora Britain Records

Record Company Location: Rothley, England, UK

Info:

“AB Records is an e-zine and record label that promotes the music and work of authentic independent or underground artists from all around the world. Originally established in 2013, they revamped themselves in 2018 with a brand new approach. Their first weekly compilation, aptly titled THE SECOND COMING, was released in late 2019. They now also release original singles, EPs and charity projects.”

Each week Aldora Britain Records releases a compilation album at a very low price.

“Here is this week’s collection of independent and underground music from all around the world. JUST WANT TO SAY HELLO is a compilation that knows no boundaries. We have soul, art rock, punk, garage rock, folk rock and everything in between. The tracks are not all taken from recent releases either, we delve a bit deeper this week. Original release dates range from 2000 to 2021, truly an album for the 21st century! Please download, listen loud, dig deeper with your discoveries, and support Aldora Britain Records and independent music.”

Price: £2 (GBP) for 22 songs by various artists

Genre: Various.

Links:

JUST WANT TO SAY HELLO

https://thealdorabritainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/just-want-to-say-hello

Aldora Britain Records

https://thealdorabritainrecords.bandcamp.com