Dance fever is about to hit the Crescenta Valley at the annual Jazz Night at the Café.
By Mary O’KEEFE
t was August 1935 at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles when Benny Goodman and his band played a live radio broadcast and America, and dance, would never be the same.
Goodman, both as a soloist and with his band, were known on the East Coast thanks to a weekly late night radio show, but it was the West Coast teens of the 1930s who related to the “new sound” and, of course, the dances that went with it.
When Goodman played that night at the Palomar he began the evening with his older arrangements, playing it safe, but the audience began to walk out. According to legend, Goodman’s drummer Gene Krupa said, “If we’re gonna die, Benny, let’s die playing our own thing.”
And that new sound was what the West Coast kids wanted.
There is something about Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” and Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” that makes it impossible to stand still and equally impossible not to smile. And although it has been about 80 years since west coast teenagers went crazy over the Big Band Swing sound, teens still can’t get enough of it … at least Crescenta Valley teens, thanks to the CV High School jazz band.
For one night every year for over 10 years the CVHS jazz band has turned the school’s cafeteria into a Big Band dance club. This year, Jazz Night at the Café will be held on Feb. 3 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The costs for the tickets are $8 for students with ASB (Associated Student Body) cards and $10 for students without the ASB card and adults. The funds go toward the CV Instrumental Music program. During the year the CVIM musicians play at a variety of events around the community including the CV Hometown Country Fair, the California Council of the Blind’s Mutt Strut and Relay for Life of the Foothills. They also travel throughout the United States and even internationally for competitions and as part of musical outreach. The award-winning band is one of the hardest working groups of kids on the CVHS campus. In addition to their academic responsibilities they attend rehearsals and are at-the-ready for special events.
Their jazz band rivals the musicians of those of the Big Band era and they, like their fellow musicians, love what they do.
At Jazz Night at the Café adults and kids of all ages come together for a night of good music and dance. For those who may feel they need a little guidance there are lessons included in the ticket price. This year CVHS student Katie Blood and her dad David will be teaching swing dance.
“We are going to be the two teachers. We will [start] with the basics at the beginning and then teach a few turns and kick steps [too],” Blood said.
Anyone who has been to any of the CVHS jazz band dances will recognize Blood and her family. They are the ones who really know how to dance.
Blood’s mom, Dena, and her dad David were on a BYU ballroom dance team.
“We would got to a bunch of weddings and we [Katie’s brothers and sisters] would take turns as they taught us to dance,” Blood said.
But it is not just the dancing of this family that grabs your attention; it’s the pure joy of the dance that you see on their faces as they twirl each other across the dance floor. It is this excitement and fun that Blood will be sharing with those at the Café.
Blood is in the CVHS marching band. She said she likes the Jazz Night at the Café event because it is a great way for everyone to come together and enjoy the music.
“I like [the event]. It is one time that a lot of my friends will be there to dance. Some [of them] don’t go to a lot of dances but at the CV Jazz Band [event] it is just a fun environment,” she said.
The event is a unifying one that bridges age gaps with grandmas and grandpas dancing alongside their grandkids.
“My grandparents always come,” Blood added.
There will be light refreshments at the event including a chocolate fountain, all included with the purchase of a ticket.
CVHS is located at 2900 Community Ave. The cafeteria entrance is located on the east side of the school at the corner of Glenwood and Prospect avenues. The event on Feb. 3 is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with dance instruction beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students with ASB cards and $10 for students and adults. This is a fundraiser for the band, so any extra donations are always appreciated.
For more information, email Dena.Blood@yahoo.com.