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Shoot Me While I'm Happy - Memories from the Tap Goddess of the Lower East Side Paperback – June 11, 2008
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Top customer reviews
It gave me the inspiration to keep up the hobby that I started in my later years just before I retired; tap dancing is a joy to watch, and apart from the exercise benefits, it lifts the spirits and I find myself smiling every time I dance. Loved it.
I thoroughly enjoyed her disarming, charming honesty about her own flaws and quirks, and her stories about her friendships with many of the hoofers. She and Gregory Hines, who was a very close friend, had a combative but caring relationship, which is highlighted in an interview with Greg toward the end of the book. The two end up YELLING (in caps) at each other, interspersed with Jane’s giggles, and by the end we readers feel as if we really know (and love) both of them.
Jane’s relationships with the hoofers were not only about the tap, but were deeply personal. I was touched by one passage in the book where she was visiting tapper John Bubbles in a nursing home. Bubbles asks her: "Would you still love me, even if I weren’t ‘John Bubbles’?” “Of course,” I told him as I helped him into his bed. This was a side of show business I didn’t know at all—the need to be loved as a human being, not just as a celebrity, or as an idol for an adoring and aspiring hoofer." Jane knew all about idolizing tap dancers. When she met Sammy Davis J. she confessed (somewhat tongue-in-cheekily, which made me chuckle): “I wanted to connect with him in some deep way, and to have him come to know me in my true incarnation—The Tap Goddess of the Lower East Side.”
This book was especially dear to me, since I was also a part of the tap scene during the 80s. I played piano for Brenda Bufalino, and for many of the shows at her venue in NYC, Woodpecker. I knew quite a few of the hoofers personally that Jane mentions, and played for several of them, too. I had studied tap with Leon Collins, and later became his musical director. Then I played matchmaker and got him together with my friend Joan Hill (whom Jane refers to as Leon’s “main squeeze” in the book), who also played piano for him and went on tour with him.
Jane and I crossed paths in the tap world, and my impression of her was always that she was like no one else—a true original. This most definitely comes across in this wonderful book, which every tap dancer or anyone interested in or connected to tap in any way, should read. Well done, Jane!
This is not simply history of tap, but a window into the life and times of tappers, hoofers, and the lively life of artistic New York, seen through the eyes of a sensitive, perceptive, and ever alert Jane Goldberg. The book is a romp through time, loves, work and characters that she met, learned from, lived with, loved and knew. She doesn't miss a thing, and is generous to share it with her readers, lucky us!
This book is recommended to anyone with an interest in tap (of course), hoofers, nightlife, the lives of artists, and the almost lost world of bohemian New York. It is a story of persistence and adventure. And lots of tapping. Lots and lots of tapping and tappers. One big plus - tons and tons of pictures!!
I don't know how she met all these amazing dancers and other artists, I don't know how she got them to share their stories, but boy, am I glad she did - what a great read, wonderful dishy entertainment, and good solid history of the revitalization of this all american dance form.