If you hiked to the top floor of the Eureka Municipal Auditorium last Saturday night, it might have made you dizzy. No, not the height - though it was plummetous - but the action down below on the dance floor. Nearly 2,000 people had unwittingly formed themselves into a pulsing neon arrow (sans the real neon) of two main moving parts, each oblivious to the other. The smaller part up front was the tip: a hopping-up-and-down mass of teenyboppers aimed in adulation at Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the headliners of the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, tootin' and hollerin' on the stage.
Back of the kids was an independently twirling cylinder of lindy hoppers - egged on by that Bobbysox Brigade from L.A. - packed 10 deep and jittering in place while neck-craning to see the action in the middle. There, pairs took turns dashing in and catting around, flipping, swiveling, dibbydabbing their nimble feet and, on occasion, upending themselves onto one arm and shaking their heels at - well, at us up in the balcony, I suppose. As if to say, get your shy lazy butt down here and dance. Come on, chicken, step step triple step, step step triple step, toss a flip, jive a hip, show us your flashy self.
Well, nothing's so flashy as sudden human neon in the Eureka Muni. And nothing's so illuminating as the notion that that many young people, in Eureka in 2007, can merge with a smiling (and, may I compliment, more sparklingly attired) crowd of yesterday's spunky youth and have so much fun to the tune of half a dozen fellas in porkpies and pinstripes. Come, denizens of doom metal and children of grunge, have you lost your traction in the Victorian seaport?
Some say the swing dance revival came and went mid-'80s to late '90s. But there's a lively underground of its devotees yet, and between them and all the good-vibe dance movies of late, maybe the flexible dance that lets you go all goofball with a touch of ballroom poise could become more than just cultishly cool once again. First order: Someone tap those teenyboppers at the front and tell them to turn around and spin some moves. And someone else drag the drags down from the balcony.