What’s in a name? DCLX 2019: Syncopation Without Representation

(TL;DR: It’s a pun on DC’s license plates, and we took it as a challenge to be a better, more thoughtful dance event.)

People visiting DC for the first time are often surprised to see that the tagline on our licence plates reads “Taxation Without Representation.”

More people live in the city of Washington, DC than live in Vermont or Wyoming, and yet the District of Columbia has no voting representatives in Congress. In fact, it wasn’t until the 23rd Amendment was ratified in 1961 that our votes could count in presidential elections (DC now has three votes in the Electoral College).

When Aries, our stellar emcee, came up with the idea for Syncopation Without Representation, we knew we had our 2019 theme. But we also knew that couldn’t be the end of it.

We didn’t want to be the event that called ourselves Syncopation Without Representation without thinking too hard about the other definitions of representation, and what representation, especially of marginalized people, means in the context of the dance scene in 2019, and in the context of our city in all its marvelous complexity. What would it mean to use our power as a top dance event (to “vote,” if you will) to try and move the needle?

We took the theme as inspiration to think deeply about the event: what the event means to us, what it means in the broader context of DC and the DC dance community. To the best of our ability, we were thoughtful in the decisions we made.

We are not there yet, but we are proud of what we have done so far. Here are some of the results of this work we can share:

  1. We have a strong commitment to making sure that all dancers feel safe and welcome at this event. In recognition of this, we will have safe spaces representatives available at every event.
  2. We know that dances can be expensive, and can box out people who might not have a hundred or more dollars to drop on a dance weekend. To that end, this year we are compensating our volunteers $15/hour, meaning it will take seven or eight hours of working the event to pay back a full pass, rather than 10 or 13. #fightfor15
  3. We have begun a long-term project to make the bandstand more diverse and representative of the community and history of the dance. With this, we hope you can see this announcement for what it is: an effort in good faith and a promise to continue.
  4. We want to honor the African American roots of the dance, and we have hired Breai Mason-Campbell to lead a discussion about the black past, present, and future of the dance. (Come to Glen Echo at 8pm on Saturday night to take part.)
  5. We have begun to build relationships with local DC jazz organizations and groups that could lead to better inclusion of the larger jazz scene in DC, and not just the groups that regularly play for dancers.

We aren’t done doing the work to make our dance event as representative as possible, but we hope you can see that we have begun it.

But we want you to come to DC in April and feel comfortable, safe, and welcome, basking in the music and movement of the dance and the city we love so much. The history of DC and the history of Lindy hop and the history of America are the same history, painful and lovely and brutal and musical, and we want to celebrate and dance despite and because of it all. Won’t you join us?


DC Lindy Exchange April 20-22: We Love You Madly!

Hot Jazz, Fast Dancing, and a Celebration of D.C.’s Unique Jazz Scene

DCLX, the nation’s premier Lindy hop exchange, offers the nation’s best live traditional jazz music, drawing musicians and dancers from across the world, April 20-22, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

 The nation’s capital has been a destination for hot jazz and fast dancing for generations. On April 20-22, D.C. Lindy Exchange (DCLX) sends a love letter to the history of jazz dancing, featuring top swing musicians from around the world and right here in D.C.

This year’s event, “We Love You Madly,” will feature a variety of ensembles, from big bands to tight groups. The full-weekend event spans Friday evening into late Sunday night, so lace up your shoes and join us for a celebration of the District’s unique jazz scene!

Friday evening at Glen Echo: DCLX welcomes Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra to the historic Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo National Park in Glen Echo, Maryland. The Rhythm Serenaders are an aggressively faithful presentation of tightly-arranged, riff-dominated swinging small-group jazz created for a swing dancing public. You’ll hear careful transcriptions and subtle adaptations of Goodman/Christian Sextet, with thoughtful forays into the combo work of Ellington, Basie, as well as some of the later 40s material put down by Eldridge, especially his time with Artie Shaw. With Laura Windley featured on vocals, the band also explores the Billie Holiday songbook. Dance starts at 9pm, free beginner lesson at 8pm. Price: $25.

Saturday afternoon at Dupont Circle: Join us as we swing out under the Dupont Circle fountain to both live music and some great sets by our favorite DJs. From the City of Brotherly Love comes Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five, Philly’s finest jazz band specializing in playing for dancers. They have played renowned Philadelphia venues and travel the country year round to perform at both Lindy and Blues exchanges and workshops. Drawing upon the intensity of powerhouse vocalists, the ingenuity of 20th century composers, and the soul of the dance floor, Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five honor the heritage of jazz with fresh arrangements and original songs. They are silly, passionate people who love playing this music. Dance starts at 1pm, the band starts at 2:30pm. Price: Free!

Can’t get enough of Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five? The band will be doing heroic double-duty, playing the late night dance that begins at 1 a.m.!

Saturday night at Glen Echo: DCLX returns Saturday night to the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo National Park in Glen Echo, Maryland to welcome The Jonathan Stout Orchestra, featuring Hilary Alexander. The Jonathan Stout Orchestra is the nation’s premier swing dance big band. The 15-piece Orchestra showcases the big band sound of the late 1930s and early 1940s and captures the unmatched excitement and true rhythmic pulse of the Swing era. Following the templates of Benny Goodman and Count Basie the orchestra is aggressive and tight, and filled with all-star soloists that bring the fire on every song, regardless of tempo. Dance starts at 9pm, free beginner lesson at 8pm. Price: $25.

Sunday afternoon at the U Street/African American Civil War Memorial: Dance in the shadow of one of our greatest presidents while listening to some of the greatest jazz music of all time! Steeped in the tradition of the masters but forging ahead with a style all its own, Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes highlights the talents of DC’s jazz women. Laid back but hard swinging, the Bullettes bring all generations together to enjoy a dynamite performance. The Bullettes have released four albums and continue to wow audiences and perform both swing, originals, and straight ahead jazz charts for audiences young and old. Dance starts at 1pm, band starts at 2:30. Price: Free!

Sunday evening at Catholic University of America’s Caldwell Hall: To close out the weekend, DCLX welcomes a local favorite, Craig Gildner and the Ivy City Six. Craig Gildner have been playing traditional swing music since 1999. While other “neoswing” bands were donning outrageous zoot suits and playing jump blues, Craig was delving into the true classic repertoire of the swing era small bands from Basie, Ellington, Goodman and Shaw. They play both the classics as well as original songs and arrangements that stay true to the swing lexicon: you’d hardly know if it was written in 1944 or 2014! Dance starts at 8pm. Price: $20.

If that’s not enough, we’re also welcoming blues musicians and even more swing bands for late night dancing, from 1am to 5am both Friday and Saturday night. We hope you like dancing!

For more information, please visit DCLX.org. Tickets are available at the door, or you can register for the full weekend in advance.

DCLX’tra Halley’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet

UPDATE: The dance is still happening despite government shutdown. We’ll see you there!

Get started on your new year’s resolution by coming out to our first DCLX’tra of 2018 with Halley Shoenberg’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet on Saturday, January 20th! Whether your resolution is to try something new, dance more, meet some new people, or just to get out of the house, we’ve got the perfect thing to get you started.

A local from Silver Spring, MD, Halley Schoenberg is a musical chameleon who plays the clarinet, saxophone and the flute. Which one depends on the group she’s leading or playing alongside. Her groups have played at DC area festivals such as the Bethesda, MD Fine Arts Festival, Alexandria, VA Jazz Festival and the Silver Spring Swings concert series, and she has played at major venues including the Kennedy Center, National Parks, at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival and Blues Alley. Halley’s groups play everything from swinging originals to noted modern-era favorites, so you’ll be sure to find a tune that makes you want to tap your foot when Halley’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet is up on the Spanish Ballroom stage!

Band breaks by DJ Suzanne Ducker

Come early at 8pm for a beginner lesson with fabulous local instructors (included in your admission price). And remember, DCLX has Square! So cash, check, or plastic all work.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018
Beginner Lesson: 8 – 9 pm
Social Dancing: 9 pm – midnight
$18 regular admission, $14 for students with a valid ID
Price includes the FREE Beginner Lesson

The Spanish Ballroom
at Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD 20812

Presented in cooperation with Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, the National Park Service, and Montgomery County, MD.