July 6TH 2005
Betty Wood, passes away, July 2, 2005
"The Big Apple dance was an instantaneous hit of gigantic proportions."
LEGENDARY SWING DANCER, BETTY WOOD, PASSES AWAY SATURDAY
Betty Wood & Kenneth Clark at the Roxy Theatre, New York, 1937
One of my dearest friends in the world passed away on Saturday, Betty Wood. I got to know her years ago, when I was living in England, and we both were teaching at the Swedish Lindy Hop camp, Herrang. It was love at first site. Betty was simply one of the warmest, loveliest, loving people I shall ever have the good fortune to know. She was, simply put, a bundle of love.
I would like to dedicate this newsletter to her.
Betty Wood was one of the original Big Apple Dancers who toured the country from 1936-1938 (see Link of the Week below). Betty retired in Florida, and loved reading this weekly newsletter. On a regular basis she would write a little note to me saying how envious she was of all our activities here and how she wished she could be here to join us. About two months ago, I put her number on my "speed dial" and began calling her frequently. We had such warm and loving conversations, and I got to tell her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her as "dancer hero" as "sister" as "friend". We had a mutual admiration love-fest.
When she saw that my Swing Shift Fliers were performing at the San Diego County Fair a week and a half ago, she sent this email; it's the last I ever got from her (note that her email address was SuziQSwinger1@aol.com):
Wish I could be there to see the performances!!!!!!SuziQSwinger1.............
One day, a few years ago, a package arrived in the mail from her to me. It was a bag filled with her old 1940s costume jewelry. She told me she wanted me to have it, as she knew I would love it and wear it with all my vintage clothes. Jeepers, was she right! (Tonight I'll wear her little pearl necklace which is my favorite.) I still haven't gotten over the surprise of that gift.
Rusty with the Big Apple Girls (Betty second from right)
Look at that radiant smile on Betty!
Betty Wood was suffering in the end with health problems, but each time I called her she sounded as chipper and upbeat as ever. She never offered complaint. It was only in answer to my questions about her health that I would hear anything.
Lance Benishek and Betty Wood
I would like to thank Lance Benishek who in 1992 was able to find Betty Wood and brought her out of retirement. He learned many different dance steps from her and they taught original 8 count collegiate shag and Big Apple together. Lance took Betty on trips to Sweden, England, and all over the United Sates to spread knowledge of these historic dances. Without Lance, we never would have had the great pleasure to meet the enchanting Betty Wood.
Betty, I shall so miss our conversations and just knowing you are there. You taught me so much about living with joy on the surface and deep inside. You will always be in my heart.
ANNOUNCING OUR SUMMER SCHEDULE!
*Monday Classes On Hiatus (NO Mondays for July & August)
* * * *
This Week's Celebrations
If it's your birthday this week, just let us know at the Rhythm Club so you can get your birthday dance!