While shooting the short documentary on the Lindy Hop legend Sonny Allen, we got a proper introduction to New York’s dance scene. Visiting the legendary Copacabana Club which is one of the hot spots of the city’s Latino dance lovers, or listening to live swing in the basement of St Joseph Church at 76th Street on father’s day were some of the memorable highlights. The 78-year-old Sonny is a party animal who knows so many people in several night clubs in midtown that we could just sneak in with the equipment and start filming with no questions asked.
Around the end of June New York is the location for Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, an open-air festival close to Columbus Circle where dance enthusiasts gather nearly every night during one month’s time. On the last night when also the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra took over the stage, Sonny performed a short number with the swing teacher Barbara Batiuchok. Afterwards we entered the VIP area with a friend who used to work for BB King. There we could jam to live jazz with an excellent view of the stage, the final shots for the piece securely saved onto the memory card.
It was a warm summer night with a palpably positive atmosphere, something that will stay with me as a pleasant memory. It was also my second last night before moving back to Europe after nearly 11 months in this wonderful city.
The short documentary about Sonny Allen was broadcast on YLE’s Ajankohtainen Kakkonen on the 28th of July 2015.