[Dixielandjazz] Where have all the Dances Gone??

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Fri Jul 2 14:06:32 PDT 2004

Something I have noticed for a long time now but have not mentioned it on 
DJML I don't think is that almost NOBODY is promoting Dances anymore.

The whole country has brainwashed the market into a concert mode only, it 
seems, and the idiot club owners all think they are in the one nighter concert 
business as well.

Most of the modern bands today have a repertoire of about 1 hours worth of 
music which they play night after night in one hour concerts at clubs.  When the 
act plays out it's circuit of clubs.  After all the club patrons have seen 
them and gotten bored with the same old set list, they have nowhere else to go, 
and break up and form five more groups doing the same thing.

I grew up playing music when you had to play six sets a night and each set 
had to be different to keep your gig at a top nightclub (That was a Real Night 
Club) there are not many of them left, in this country anyway.

I also remember when in San Francisco/Oakland, California, my area, there 
were at least ten Big Bands playing in the Hotels five and six nights a week and 
all being attended well.

Not to mention Dances in several of the Ballrooms throughout the Hotels, on 
weekends I promoted as many as Five Dances every Friday and Saturday night, in 
Hotels from San Francisco to San Jose and expanded them up into Marin County 
and over to the East Bay and had a few on Wednesdays and Sundays as well.  In 
the late 60's and up to 1976 I booked over 300 bands and had them all working 
making a living.  I personally played music around the clock on weekends with 
my own band for many years when we still had after-hours clubs operating.

In North Beach I booked 14 clubs with top notch Show groups for good money as 
( Before they were bought up by a syndicate from Denver, Colorado and all 
went Topless).

At that point they brought in an Efficiency Expert who walked around all the 
clubs every night with a stop watch timing all the dancers and musicians and 
docked their pay if any of them left the bandstand 30 seconds early or got back 
up thirty seconds late,

They also insisted that every group have basically the same repertoire, and 
at 8:00 p.m. every night the expert and the syndicate Boss would stand out on 
the corner of Columbus and Broadway and wanted to hear every band playing Funky 
Broadway as the opening 8:00 number.

There were several excellent Large Dance clubs as well, which they converted 
to Topless as well.  Then there was the El Matador, and The Jazz Workshop, and 
Basin Street West, where we bought and presented top level Jazz Acts until 
the street got so sleazy that nobody wanted to go down there anymore.

The Jazz Workshop is a pool hall, and the El Matador went the same way, Basin 
St. West turned into a Phillipino/nightclub for a  while and last time I was 
there it was a Punk rock club.  They tried to open a class club across the 
street again called Mr. D's and brought in a few big name acts like Tony Bennett, 
etc., but it went broke as well and reverted back to rock bands and such.   
Earth Quake Magoon's is long gone, as is Clancey's over in Oakland, and the New 
Orleans Room at the Fairmont Hotel no longer has music.

  Oakland had the Leamington Hotel, then there was The Alameda Hotel both 
with Big Bands, The California Hotel in Oakland, the Continental Club was going 
strong along with Berkeley's Ruthie's Inn, offering top notch R&B & Blues 
recording Stars and groups.

There were several thriving Country and Western Dance clubs in Oakland and 
Alameda, not to mention a couple dozen smaller Blues and Jazz joints all doing 
pretty well.

Ah they were the good old days wern't they?

Musical content: "American Pie  ( Don McClean)   
Drove my Chevy to the Levy,  The day the Music Died"


Tom Wiggins

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