Last night's Asleep at the Wheel dance at the Century Ballrooom was just about perfect. Asleep at the Wheel is a band in the Texas Swing tradition, an aggregation of flashy sidemen (and one woman) with a repertoire polished to perfection. Ray Benson -- lead singer, lead guitarist, arranger and band leader -- is the constant that makes it all happen and keeps it rooted in the swing tradition. Benson's a big guy, with a big ego, and a big, big talent. It was just awesome to have him play and sing for dancing.
As expected, the dancers were diverse and enthusiastic. The Century's immense dance floor is perfect for roadhouse swing and two-stepping (and the balcony above is great for watching the dancers). Rae and I got a table up the balcony; John joined us a little later and we kept him busy on the dance floor all night long.
Asleep at the Wheel's set was a tasteful mix of hot classics with some lesser-known gems like "Sugar Moon." This got me thinking about the years back East when I went Western Swing dance two or three times a week -- often at the City Limits in Manhattan. Oddly, I ran into Tad, my old New Haven housemate from 1978-79, at the dance last night. And when I got home I found an from one of my old City Limits dance partners, Barry, inviting me to the annual Western Swing dance in September at his farm near Poughkeepsie.
I don't think I'll make it to Poughkeepsie, but Wayne Hancock will be playing in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern Sept. 1. I plan to be there; too bad their dance floor's about the size of a pool table.