May is Asian/Pacific-American Heritage Month, and a great time to talk about two exciting, important and sometimes underappreciated Asian-American performers.

Their given names: Jew Wing Dong and Dorothy Takahashi, known professionally in their heyday as Paul Wing and Dorothy Toy, or Toy and Wing.

The National Archives office in Riverside, California, recently wrote about the two of them, who were billed as the Chinese Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, even though Takahaski is Japanese-American.

Take out the inaccuracies about heritage, and yes, it’s fair to compare Wing and Takahashi to the most famous dancing duo in screen history.

Toy and Wing drew crowds to nightclubs and theaters in California, Las Vegas and beyond.

They were the first Asian Americans to perform on Broadway, and they eventually made several electrifying appearances in movies.

Not bad, given that Takahashi almost missed out on learning to dance at all.

As she recalled years later, her family ran a restaurant in the same neighborhood as a dance school. Dorothy had the talent and the interest, but her parents didn’t have the money to send her for instruction.

Finally the teachers made a deal with her parents: for a few meals in your restaurant, we’ll give your daughter dance classes.

She and Wing took it from there.

There’s a show getting underway today in Maryland, but it’s very different from the ones those acclaimed dancers used to headline.

I mean, in vaudeville you might see a piano player, a magic act, ventriloquist, dancers, maybe a strongman… but heavy metal? Not likely.

The Maryland Deathfest is starting in Baltimore, featuring some of the loudest, most aggressive dark metal bands in the world.

Two wonderful things about this festival I want to point out.

One is, according to their website, this is an all-ages, family friendly event, quote “bring the kids!”

Second, hat’s off to the people who booked the bands with those unforgettable names in such a perfect order.

Day one’s sequence includes these acts, in this order: Enbludgeonment, Malignancy, Regurgitation, and, finally, Immolation.

The Chinese Fred Astaire (National Archives at Riverside)

The Story of a 99-Year Old Living and Dancing Chinatown Icon (AsAm News)

Maryland Deathfest

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