Sisterhood of Swing @ Lincoln Center

Sisterhood of Swing

Lincoln Center Outdoors

June 26, 2018

Life is a party! It's dancing under the stars on a Tuesday. It's 14 women on stage playing jazz riffs too compelling to turn away from. Enjoy the party before someone asks who invited you!

In 2004, I went to my first East Coast Swing class at the Mercury Cafe in Denver. It was two weeks before Prom, and my date and I wanted to master some steps before the big day.

Step, step, rock step! We thought we were so good. Age 16 with no curfew and a legitimate excuse to be out with friends on a Sunday night. Live music and physical touching and hormones raging with young love. The Hot Tomatos were playing (yes, they still play 14 years later) and we knew we'd knock everyone else at Prom off their feet.

Fast forward 2 months, and that date dumps me square on my ass, at the beginning of summer no less! He called me "judgmental," and that's the 2nd most memorable piece of criticism I've received from a boyfriend. Some day I'll tell you the first.

With nothing else to do for the summer, I kept dancing. I danced and danced and danced. East Coast Swing came and went to reveal my true love for Lindy Hop. The differences aren't important, but as soon as I fall into the familiar pattern of a swing out I know the next 3 minutes are going to be okay. Lindy Hop has been the consistent friend and occasional lover who fights for my attention when I'm dragged away by theater.

I've been dancing less and less in New York, pulled by the performing arts (and Corporate America) in new and novel dimensions. I know Lindy Hop will always be a soft place to land, so I feel okay telling her, "I'll be right back," and getting a ticket to the next thing at NY City Center.

But there she is, waiting patiently for me, with some new trick up her sleeve. This week it was the Sisterhood of Swing outdoors at the Lincoln Center. Every summer, Lincoln hosts summertime music for huge fans and dabblers alike. Pay for a ticket and you get access to the dance floor, but the concrete and surrounding parkway are just as nice for listening.

Usually, when I listen to live swing jazz, I split my time 90/10 dancing vs listening. I can barely hear swing music on the radio without jumping out of my chair and bursting into Charleston!

This week was different. For the final 30 minutes of their set I couldn't remove my eyes from the stage. Bria Skonberg effortlessly and powerfully led a band of exceptional women jazz musicians, while guest stars occasionally emerged to play violin, clarinet, and tap. More often than not I had to pick my jaw off the floor.

And I'm sorry, but Lakecia Benjamin stole the show. Hands down. Her saxophone melodies soared to high heaven and back, transporting the laughter of God to us mere mortals lucky enough to be in her presence.

If you told me at age 16 that my swing dancing journey would reach NYC, surrounded by friends, listening to powerful women crush it on sax and clarinet and trumpet...I'd have stopped studying and jumped right into the present.

Image courtesy Lincoln Center website

Ticket Price: $20.50 (with service fee)

My Price: $17 (no fee!)

Since I attended last year, I got an email for pre-sale tickets that would skip the service fee. Sign up to their newsletter now!

Sisterhood of Swing
Led by Bria Skonberg
featuring Regina Carter and Anat Cohen

Sax: Lakecia Benjamin, Sharel Cassity, Chloe Feoranzo, and Camille Thurman
Trombone: Emily Asher
Trumpet: Linda Briceño, Jami Dauber
Bass: Endea Owens
Drums: Savannah Harris
Tap dancer: Michela Lerman
Piano: Champian Fulton
Guitar: Molly Ryan

Commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *