Writing 101 – Day 3

Building a writing habit. Celebrate three songs that are significant to you, and then write for fifteen minutes without stopping. Commit to forming a habit.

Beatnik’s have it wrong. You don’t have to be dark and moody in a smoke filled room to appreciate jazz. Flapper’s have it wrong too, cause you don’t have to have a seizure in order to dance your ass off.

Jazz, swing and ska, basically anything with a bouncy 6/8 beat, a lot of horns, and some drumming that would give an octopus a severe case of arm envy. That’s the kind of music that gets the blood pumping.

Good music should be able to be enjoyed quietly in the background, or cranked to eleven and begging everyone to shake what their momma gave ’em.

Places like The Mercury Cafe or The D-Note are the kind of places that really embrace this ideal. A place where they’ll teach you how to swing, give you good beer, and let you wail away the night with your closest friends. (Some of whom you’ve met that night.)

The Merc was where I first learned to dance. and I’ve spent the last decade I’ve been refining and leaving, and coming back like a wandering friend/ninja. Someone who disappears for YEARS, and walks back in like nothing has changed.

It hasn’t Changed a bit.

Spinning and Twirling, Moving and Grooving, Shaking and Skanking(yes, it’s a dance) those are the things that these wandering souls express themselves and embrace the emotions of the moment.

It’s funny, the first time I went to The Mercury Cafe, I was going to learn so that I could pass on what I learned for our high school prom. We were having a 40’s theme and wanted to be authentic.  Walking into the restaurant downstairs, clad in suspenders and fedora, hoping not to seem out of place. The hostess took one look at us and said

“You look good… but the party’s upstairs.”

And boy was it.

Everyone was there, 6 year old’s learning to dance with grandma and grandpa while 20-somethings either practiced routines for competition or just tried to dance with the cool drink of water on the other side of the room. And there was Frank. You know Frank. Everyone knows Frank. He’s the resident F.B.I at the Merc. (Full Blooded Italian) He was dancing when Benny Goodman was still playing, and he lived to laugh and enjoy himself on the dance floor. Later on in my experience, it became a right of passage, every date I took to the Merc HAD to dance with Frankie and get his approval before I could take her back. I last saw him there nearly four years ago now, and he was pushing a hundred years old and wasn’t quite as limber as he used to be, but darn it if he didn’t sit next to the stage and keep time with the band, watching the flickering Christmas lights and disco ball while Minnie the Moocher kept dreaming about her King from Sweden. (I think Frankie and Minnie might’ve had a fling back in the day, but that’s just conjecture.)

Dance and Music go together, and over the years I’ve learned that even as a guy, I NEED to get out that loosen up as often as I can. You can tell a lot about a person by how they dance; How comfortable they are in their own skin, how aware they are of what’s happening around them, (I can’t tell you how many times my partners would get a surprise barrel turn a dip to avoid getting stepped on by another couple not paying attention), and how they move with the world around them. I don’t know if the old phrase ‘Dance like no one is watching’ is really appropriate, but at least you should dance like you don’t care who sees.


Tell me about a time you went dancing and cut loose. I love good stories.



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