When I first started Foundation Ska over a year ago (my how time flies when you’re talking ska), I wrote about a magazine spread that appeared in the September, 1964 issue of Mademoiselle. Ronnie Nasralla himself told me about this photo shoot since he was directly involved (Ronnie & Jannette, the two dancers who showed the world how to do the ska at the World’s Fair in 1964, and Ronnie who was assigned by Edward Seaga to come up with a brochure of danceable steps for the ska).
At the time that I posted photos of this photo shoot, I only had access to page copies that I obtained from the Harold Washington Library in Chicago and they were less than desirable. First, the shelf copy had pages razored out, so only the first two pages of the shoot were left intact. Second, the microfiche copy was, well, a microfiche copy and the resolution was pretty awful. So, after about two years of searching, I have finally found and obtained an original copy for my collection, and here today I post these beautiful photos for you, to share it with the world in the spirit of Ronnie Nasralla and Eddie Seaga all those years ago.
But first, a little more info. After all, it’s a blog, not flickr.
The September, 1964 issue of Mademoiselle featured a six-page spread of models “doing the ska,” however in June, 1964 Mademoiselle made references to ska being the latest hottest dance craze, as seen below:
Ska was presented by Mademoiselle as hip, posh, “ye-ye,” whatever that is, and they carried this flavor over into the September, 1964 photo spread. The September photos were accompanied by some text that makes the dance, and hence the music, sound like the newest hippest thing. Here are a few excerpts from the text:
“What’s it like in the discotheques these nights? There’s a new dance, the Ska–like the Game, set to music.”
“The Ska-step, Riding the Horse.”
“Where the music goes round and round (on records), where the dance is the thing and the Ska’s the limit, what’s going on. Rowing the beat, one of the characteristic steps.”
“The step–pulling the rope–another subdivision of the Ska.”
“The basic ska and a far-from-basic dress.”
The article from Ronnie Nasralla and Eddie Seaga’s standpoint was a way to further promote Jamaican ska, and therefore Jamaican culture and tourism. The person standing behind the cameraman on all of these shots, teaching these models to skank, is none other than Ronnie Nasralla, he told me himself. Nasralla said they also performed with their troupe of Jamaican ska dancers, including Jannette Phillips when she wasn’t performing at the Peppermint Lounge, and Sheila Khouri Lee, before she became wife of Byron Lee, on American Bandstand and at hotels and clubs all up and down the east coast. Performing music for these stints was Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. The dance, “the Ska,” was nothing like the “skank” during the 2Tone years when the pogo and other forms came into the mix, but it was a dance with “steps” designed to capitalize on the success of similar dances, like the frug, the twist, the watusi and others. You can read an extensive account of these days from Ronnie and Sheila Khouri Lee themselves in my new book, Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music which is now available here, www.createspace.com/5008053 (shameless plug).
Without further ado, here are the pages of that iconic spread: