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Dancing Perfectly in Time

Rob Sanders

Busby Berkeley’s first job as a Hollywood musical choreographer was on the film Whoopee! released in 1930. The highly successful film that firmly established his unique reputation was then 42nd Street, released in 1933.

In 2017, my wife and I saw the stage musical version of 42nd Street in London and I then formed the intention of finding Berkeley’s original 1930s films to watch some time, but I left the task a lot longer than intended. In 2023 I finally received in the post a DVD collection of his original films. The postal delivery had been delayed six weeks with the result that it arrived exactly 1930 days after we saw that stage performance in London.

Shortly after watching the DVD of that original 1933 film, we were watching an episode of the TV series Warehouse 13 stored on an old video recorder and the highlight of it was an elaborate Berkeley-style dance routine to the title song of 42nd Street. That episode had also been recorded exactly 1930 days previously in 2017, shortly after we went to see the stage musical based on the same film.

Busby Berkeley was himself a master at exactly timing closely interconnected events, but why did the significant number 1930 occur in both of these incidents? I was age 73 and the video recorder was age 16 at that time near the end of 2017, so the probability of both of us and also the recorder’s essential disk drive containing the recording surviving for another 1930 days was not that high to start with. Also, how often does anyone leave a recorded programme over five years before watching it? Until we watched that episode, we knew of no connection between Berkeley’s films and Warehouse 13 so these two ludicrous coincidences were complete surprises.

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