“Snaders” and Times Past

Today, while editing a book on the dance and music of the 1950s, I came across a term I’d never heard before, “Snaders.” Snaders were 3-minute films made in the 1950s to be shown on television, documenting live musical performances by classical and popular artists.

As I usually do when I encounter something new, I immediately looked up “Snaders” on the internet and found several of the films (also known as “Soundies”) on YouTube, such as the one here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5DzXKXNauM&feature=related. And yes, I did have work to do, but I found myself browsing through the different films and looking up some of the performers. Finally, I knew I had to get back to editing, but I’d learned a great deal in the meantime.

That is one of the tremendous benefits of this job of book editing. I encounter so many people, events, ideas, and creations that I have never heard of before. When I take the time, I learn so much! even more than just what I’m reading and editing.

Do you know what The Madison is? It’s a dance from the 1950s, made popular again by the play “Hairspray.” But it was created in 1957 in Detroit and swept the nation. A completely new dance, providing a change from the Lindy-inspired Jitterbug. Or what about the Hand Jive. Do you know how to do it? It was revivified by the film “Grease,” but I could never learn it by watching alone. Found a website featuring instructions on how to do it today. Now I know how.

In the same book, I read a reference to Rosa Parks. While I know her story in broad strokes, I took the time today to do more in-depth reading about her. I think she was a lovely lady, well educated, soft spoken, and innately dignified. No wonder she was the poster child for Civil Rights. She hadn’t planned to make trouble, but at age 42, she’d had enough. So she held her legal ground. And opened up American society by that quiet, dignified action.

No matter what you are writing about, no matter what your job, I can’t encourage you enough to take the time and browse the internet. Any time you run across a term, event, person, or phrase you don’t recognize, look it up. You’ll be amazed by how vast and varied our world is. Here, I’ll start you off. Look up the word “quire” and read about how it came to be and what it means. Enjoy!

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