In the fall of 1993, I worked for a king-sized jerk in his commercial real estate office.  Dirksen used every opportunity to remind me that I was not as successful as he was.

I was the only female in an office of twelve better-suited men. My Chanel 5 was used sparingly and, I dressed in navy-blue two-piece suits, low-heeled pumps, a leather briefcase slung over my shoulder, and an HP calculator that I refused to master. I was a shrimp swimming with the sharks.  On hot blue sky days, I drove around San Diego searching for new listings, meeting prospects and showing office space. One eye was always drifting; scanning the museums, galleries, theaters, and artist hang-outs. The lyrics from EnVogue’s latest release became a sort of mantra to inhale each morning as I dressed for work. I had just turned forty, and Free your mind and the rest will follow,” spoke to me.  I bought the CD and played it continuously, a sort of morning prayer.  I tuned out the world I’d been accustomed to and insulated myself in my North Park San Diego bungalow.


I infused my senses with music and dance. During the hottest of summer days, I imploded myself with music videos, magazines, and dancing.  I was seated cross-legged on the worn carpeting, watching MTV and flipping through magazines. Hip-Hop was the most exhilarating dance choreography rising to the surface. I watched the music videos over and over. When I searched the yellow pages for dance classes; I found only one offering hip-Hop. Turning forty, without technical training since I was a teen in jazz class, was all against me, but with me was my passion for rearranging myself, and getting back to the art of dance. 

Now I needed to find some dancers.  The concept was to integrate jazz funk, hip-hop, and Afro-Cuban dance into a collage of classes and performances.  Piper Jo was the first dancer to join. He came at me with everything he had; talent, faith, intelligence, and belief in this crazy white chick who wanted to hip-hop.  Piper played Miles Davis, emulated jazz-funk, and moved like Michael Jackson.  He was twenty years old and this was his first teaching job. When I asked him who taught him to dance he answered; ‘Michael Jackson and James Brown. I danced in my living room every day. My mother couldn’t get me out of the house. God blessed me with this gift, and I want to share it. So, if you put me in your dance troupe I guarantee, you won’t be sorry, no you won’t.’  

The second dancer, “Master Jam,” was a former break-dancer and studied classical dance. Vince was the coolest; he sat back and waited for his chance, unhurried, and relaxed, but when the music came on, he flipped everyone out. He was thirty. Both of them belonged to the no smoking, no drinking, no drugs, group.  At our first audition, Piper said, ‘How do you expect to pick dancers if you don’t know what to look for? I swear Lue, you are crazy.  But don’t worry, I’ll show you, and don’t be picking every guy out there ’cause he can Hip-Hop, there’s nothing to that. We want dancers with classical training.’  He was right, I wanted to select half of the thirty-some dancers that auditioned. They came dressed in street clothes; wearing scarves and bandannas, and I watched them leap, kick, split, and turn inside out for the job. It was at that audition that I knew I was in the right spot. I added Monique, a startling beauty with Afro-Cuban dance training, and a roster of dancers that came for a while and then moved on.  For the first few months, the Jammers taught under a leaky roof, on a tiled floor, without any heat.  Piper rode a bus, from the other side of town to get to the building.  Vince drove an hour each way to teach one class at night. The first few months showed up for Vince’s Hip-Hop class.  But he kept coming back every week.  When I apologized, he said, ‘That’s okay Lue, we get it going on, don’t worry about it. They show up soon, I’m sure.’ Master Jam, Moniique, me,, and Piper…

 They did show up, and we moved into a suitable Health Club in downtown San Diego. The classes filled up with students, dancers, and working women looking for a new challenge. They came from all different races; Asian, White, Hispanic, and Black.  I danced with the classes and promoted our troupe. They laughed at my attempt to be a soul sister, and I laughed with them.  We were reviewed by KPBS magazine, and a photographer took pictures of us and featured us in the magazine. People began to think I knew what I was doing. The Jammers thought I could take them places.  I pictured them on the front page of Variety, the problem was I was too early.

 San Diego was still into rave and rock and roll. The people I was calling for gigs didn’t know Hip-Hop yet. That was too bad because we were having the greatest experience of our life.  When I ran out of money, I took a job managing a condominium project, where I lived rent-free and had weekends and evenings for Jammers.  After a time of observing their self-expression, I asked myself, where is mine? I still refused to get on stage, Masteer Jam used to bawl me out because I made Piper introduce the group.

After two years Piper moved to Los Angeles to launch his career, he had showmanship in the way he held his hands.  Vince took over the troupe and added twelve more dancers. Monique became a stage actress. These three were the sparklers in my life, like that star you think you’ll never hold.

 When I left the Jammers, I was a different woman. They put the rhythm back in my spirit, and faith into my soul. I mean there are things a business career will never offer; you have to go into the arts for this kind of awakening.


3 thoughts on “THE JAMMERS

  1. Fascinating! I didn’t know you had done that.

    By the way, I met you many years ago when I was at the Wurlitzer foundation and I’ve followed you for a long time.

    Best wishes, Penelope


    1. Yes, I do remember you. You are a poet, right? Thank you for following me! I submitted the story this week to a Literary Journal, and they rejected it so your comment meant a lot. Send me the link to your writings. I left Santa Fe in 2019 and I miss it. May move back one day. Best regards to you. Adventure on!


      1. You can find my books on Amazon under Penelope Scambly Schott.

        I am now living in a small town in central Oregon and still scribbling away.

        I always think of you as being in Taos even though I know you’ve moved a bunch.

        Be well.

        Fondly, Penelope


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