rhe Lindy

by
Margaret Batiuchok

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts to the faculty ofthe Gallatin Division of New York University

May 16,1988

1

Table of Contents

Preface................ Proposal Thesis Statement Purpose Research Methods ~..

iii 1

~

,

;.

~.~

l ••••••••••••

1
3 3 4 7 8 12

Justification......................................................................................... Conclusion Introduction Chapter I: I...indy............... Characteristics as a Dance

·..·· 12 12 · 16 22 and Swing: What the Lindy · 22 · 39 Cultural Phenomenon...........
39

a) General Forms...... b) Technical Elements Origins and Evolution a) Lindy, Jitterbug,

Developed From and Into Social History: Black Culture a) The Lindy: African/American Additional Notes and Conclusions Chapter II: Artistic Aims........................................................................... Conclusions and Declication...............................................................

58 66

79

11

..

Table of Contents

Chapter III: Technical Essay....................................................................
References.

84
96

Bibliography ....................................................................•.•.... "

100·

Preface
That something appears in print does not make it true. I once had a student argue with me vehemently about something I knew to be false, but she felt that because she had read it in a dance book it had to be true. Many of the statements in this thesis are results of my research. They sounded plausible and thus I have included them. When I say "I believe X" to be true, I believed it at the time I wrote it. I mayor may not believe it in the future. I challenge you to read this thesis and come to your own conclusions about your beliefs, using what you know to be true along with the information and opinions I present to you. I hope you enjoy it, learn something, feel something, that it inspires you to dance better, and encourages you to think.

1

PROPOSAL "Lindy Dancers, 1988"

Thesis

Statement dance is an art form that is passed through individual on, pre-

Social served

and developed,

dancers dancing A single dance, such on the indiadded to

with one another

in social situations.

as the Lindy, appears in many forms, dependent vidual bodies it, dancing it, the personal in which ages

stylization

and the social environment

it is danced. and backgrounds us to define of the spenot

Watching

great dancers of different basic similarities

only reveals the elements

which

enable

which we deem essential

components

cific dance, 'but also reveals those other attribute dancers. to the personal styling

elements we of the

and creativity and

By sorting out those elements

finding out the

.backgrounds definition

of the dancers, we can come up with a clearer of the dance in its skeletal form and understand eras will

more about its history; the dancers dance it differently. ments

of different

We can see how 1) certain environ2) dance

(~ultural and time periods),

backgrounds

2 (whether the dancer does other dances such Country-Western, dance, Ballet or Modern),

as Latin,
they learned to

3) where

4) their reasons for dancing

(social or performance),
have in-

and 5) individual fluenced

body types and body limitations, of the dance.

the development

Dancers dancers

of today and tomorrow need to view great any steps or styling dancers that I of

for inspiration and to capture Viewing

they might choose to learn. know now is important

certain

to the authenticity

and development on. There is not for fu-

the Lindy that is currently being passed much visually-recorded ture generations enthusiasts

material of Lindy available Only a handful

to view.

of New York Lindy these

get the opportunity and an occasional

to view or dance with viewing

great dancers, afford
I

or dance doesn't

one the necessary

time for learning. these dancers who have to document the dance I as

want to present, on videotape, excellence in Lindy dancing,

achieved

and the personal will discuss exhibited discuss
by

style and grace only they can offer.

the dance's basic form and its differences the various dancers' interpretations.

I will

their personal backgrounds towards dancing.

and influ~nces and theit

attitudes

3

Purpose My main purpose the dancing in doing this videotape is to capture to be the best

of certain people who I believe

in the world. longer.

Some are elderly and will not be around much or they of

The younger ones' styles will be changing, to dance.

may not continue

There are no visual records I wish I had done this

many of these people at present.

years ago, as people disappear or change

from year to year. in general and

Each has been very influential in the field has personally contributed a great deal

to my own style and

dance development. In terms of contribution to society in general and provide

those who are interested in dance, this project will an historical resource documentation of the Lindy

which can be a It can be used as as a teaching tool.

for Lindy dancing done in 1988. to other dancers, as well

an inspiration

Research

Methods methods will be fourfold: written mateFirst I

My research rial, interviews,

and live viewing and videotaping.

will locate books and articles in newspapers that discuss Marshall

and periodicals

Lindy, its dancers and its social environments. Jazz Dan~~ and Norm~ Miller's The Home of the

Stearns's

Happy Feet are the two books which I have

found discuss

Lindy in most detail. with old Savoy Ballroom and those dancers reveal

I will conduct personal dancers, ballroom

interviews

dance teachers, What will really

whom I will be taping.

the most about the dance will be the viewing of the The Performing Arts Library at Lincoln center has (The Spirit Moves I

dancers.

a few films on Lindy dancing in the 1950's and The Savoy Ballroom will attend

of Harlem, both by Mura Dehr!).

dances at the Cat Club presented of which I am a founding from age eighteen The bands

by the New York member. Al-

Swing Dance Society,

most all Lindy dancers York now attend members

to eighty in New include former and Jimmie teachers,

these dances.

of the Duke Ellington, bands. The dancers

Count Basie,

Launceford

include ballroom

old Savoy dancers, ance groups movies'such videotape

and former members

of Lindy Hop perform(who danced attempt to in

such as Whitey's

Lindy Hoppers I will

as A Day at the Races).

as many of these dancers there view of dancing

as I can, to pro-

vide a general

today, in its many forms. for my focus on the few I will videotape these

This will also provide a context selected great dancers. Lastly,

great dancers

in a studio or at one of the dances.

Justification Written material on dance cannot compare to viewing

it.

5

There are very of. films

few films on Lindy dancing

-- two that I know from old

There are many one- or two-minute that present a performance Lindy,

excerpts

done by professionThe rela-

als, not social tively

dancers in a club atmosphere. that have been written

few things biased relating

give conflicting of the to read

stories, dancers about

by egos or personal the stories.
It

involvements

may be interesting

the personalities

and experiences

of certain key convey much about ar~ confusing,

dpncers, what

but the written material was like.

doesn't

their dancing

Dance manuals

and it is laborious with a partner. to convey through

to translate

them into dance movement difficult

Styling and feeling are extremely words without dance partners visual

accompaniment. the years from the available to me
I can

By choosing
Lindy's dancers provide ceeds origin

who span

to the present,

and by having

who are considered the best by many observers, a visual history and learning manual

that far exat

in scope and detail any material There is a need to capture

that is available

present. while slight

these dancers' styles in dancing.
A

they are still alive and interested problem

might be that since some of these dancers are their styles today may be different from

in their sixties,

the earlier

,

years, when they competed

and performed.
for me to be

Their

dancing

is now so beautiful that is

hard

too

6 concerned about the changes they underwent;
it seems

that

any change must have been for the better! accuracy's sake, I will discuss

For historical

with them how their dancing dancing in 1988, but in

has changed. will present obvious ages.

The video can only reveal a sense of history

which will be evident

differences Each dancer

in the dancing

of those of different dance, yet it is all

dances a different quality.

Lindy, and all of the highest

This is a point I especially There

want to make by doing this project, Lindy, encourages personal

that dancing,

expression

and creativity.

are few rules and lId like to explore what and look at the variety them. The videotape influence will also be a learning

those rules are

of forms that have been built upon

tool that will The way

all who see it now and in the future. studios teach Lindy produces

most ballroom

sterile danc~rs

who concentrate possibilities teachers Their

on the steps and fail to see the limitless in the dance. example Most of the of Lindy dancing. ingredient of

for creativity

do not provide a suitable

teaching methods

leave out the essential

improvisation.

Teaching videos
I will

that I have seen duplicate to provide an example

this bland approach. for spiritual opportunity

attempt

inspiration

a6 well as to give dancers an that appeal

to study the moves and stylizations

7

to them, which

they can translate and demonstrate

into their basic steps

own bodies. and elements

I

will also discuss which

they can experiment with and

use as tools for creating

their own dance.

Conclusion
I want

to make a visual record

of those dancers dancing

who I

think are the best in 'the world, ence can live on and continue inspiration the project possible

so their

and influand

to give

joy, excitement,

to all who see them. the spirit of social

I want

to convey through

Lindy dancing
I

and the many

forms of expression

it can take. influence

want these

great dancers

to have a greater the Lindy.

in the directions

and development of

B

Introduction

The purpose

of this thesis

is to show,

on tape, the and discuss-

best swing dancers ing the Lindy.

in New York in 1988,

dancing

This will reveal something

about the nature

of the dance; the Lindy is a dance with ties as there are dancers who dance social dance, a ballroom dance, Because it.

as many possibiliThe Lindy is a a jazz dance. Lindy

but primarily

rhythm is its most essential

characteristic,

is called a rhythm dance. a few basic moves, upon this.

It has two basic

rhythm patterns, structured but offers a

and all else is improvisation

It has to be danced with a partner within

lot of room for individual expression ship. Partnering, timing, lightness,

the partnerjazz

flexibility,

feeling,

and musicality

are all integral

parts of good

Lindy dancing. The thesis includes, aside a four-part written chapter, artistic section: from the videotape proposal, section,

thesis

research essay chapter. to define as a is

aims chapter, section,

and technical

In the research

I will

first attempt

the Lindy through a discussion dance.

of its characteristics

I will discuss the more gener&l

forms the Lindy

9

included dance."

in, "social dance," "ballroorn dance,"

and "jazz which

I will then discuss the technical
the Lindy from other dances good Lindy dancing

elements

distinguish

and the character is-

tics that distinguish then describe Lindy

from bad.

I will
of the

the technical origins and evolution of the dances

through a discussion

that led up to the a discussion of

Lindy Hop and descended

from it; and through

the terms "Lindbergh Hop," "swing,tI and
I

"Jitterbug.1I that the best dancers, not from
I

will reiterate

throughout my belief

dancing dancers

comes from the "street" or social trained in schools for ballroom

competitions.

don't feel most dance schools understand Lindy (there are, of course, exceptions,

the feeling of the such as John teachers). The

Lucchese

and Teddy Kern, who are independent in black dance halls and

Lindy originated authentic with

the more connection and a and joy

style uses African rooted movements,

the earth, vertical bounce, side hip movements, not rigidly-held torso.
A sense

relaxed,

of abandon

comes from immersing oneself in the music Students should be taught authentic

and its rhythm. and music and within the

movement

then be encouraged feeling
I

to create their own patterns structure

and rhythmic

of the dance and the music.
the history and

will then discuss in further detail
I

social

scene

surrounding

the Lindy and 'the dances immedi~

10

ately preceding American accepted pattern: banned

it.

I will show how the black influence

on

social dance has been great, but not readily by white society as a whole. Each dance follows criticized

a

it is introduced by black dancers,
and immodest, then forced public demand, possibly one which It

and

as shocking

into acceptance years later, in the general

by sheer popularity, a watered public

down or modified version,

can easily learn and perform. culture.

is then part of began being played dance halls, idea is still The American together together to

American

Jazz music and dancing

by segregated

bands and danced in segregated This latter

but ended up being integrated. not accepted melting create within

or commonly seen in some areas.

pot takes years to bring two cultures a third, and years more to participate it. section, I will dance the best in the world ages

In the videotape four dance partners, (1988). ties,

the Lindy with at t~is time

They are all of different

(one in his sevenand one in his I will

one in his sixties, one in his fifties,

thirties),

three of them are black, one 1s white.

show that great dancers allow their own styles even though same basics,
I

to develop; to the

they are dancing the same dance, they look different.

keeping

In the artistic aims section,

I will analyze my four

11

partners'

stylistic

differences

in relation

to their differ-

ent backgrounds, Finally, arranging

philosophies,

and personalities.

I will discuss how I technically went about

the specific detail~ of the video shoot. I know of to prewith an accompanyof the dance and elements of

The entire work is the first attempt sent these dancers, or any swing dancers,

ing discussion the dancers,

of the historical

background

plus a discussion

of the technical

s~yle and elements

basic to the dance.

It is meant to be

Jnformative,

educational,

entertaining,

and inspiring.

12

CHAPTER Lindy

I

Characteristics

as a Dance

The Lindy

is a specific dance which its musical

can be defined by feeling, and its

its step and rhythm patterns, context essors, terbug), forms. and function.

I will discuss

its roots and predec(Swing and Jitinto different

how it became known by other names and how it changed over the years

I will also discuss the confusion
about.

that these change~

have brought

General

Forms

The Lindy dance, dance. Social specific ritual. opposite

is a social dance, an official

ballroom
jazz

and more importantly,

a creative,

expressive

dances are done at social gatherings functions; one such function

and perform

social

may be a mating

Many people sex.

learn to dance to meet someone of the

Others who already have a mate may dance to

13

express ground to sex.

their sexuality.

Social

dancing

is a safe testing that need not lead

as well as an activity

in itself

It may even substitute

for sex ..

Social dancing dancing cially music competitions preferable and exercise

is a harmless

competitive street

sport.

Ereak

among adolescent

kids are so-

to gang wars.

Dancing

as a fun blend of re-

can 'serve as a physio-psychological an outlet or activity

lease of tension,

that keeps one fit It is to the

as well as keeps one occupied good exercise whole being.

and out of trouble. and centeredness

and brings balance If done well,

it may rise to the level of the participants and audi-

artistry ence.

and spiritually

uplift

Social dancing can be done in a group,

individually,

or in couples. All this being true, the reason the Lindy took so long to be accepted different ences. by white upper society is that it was new and

and predominantly

black in its origins and influthe black people and their

Society

was not yet ready to praise

aesthetic talents.

and welcome with open arms black

The Lindy was often attacked as dangerously Lindy d~ncer$ sexual.

by the older

generations

One writer defends against

enthusiastic and pralses

(Jitterbugs)

such attacks,

14

active

social dancing

as a healthy

activity.

I hear the frightened gasps of well-meaning, old ladies who are shocked by the jitterbugs. But I see no cause for worry there. The jitterbugs seem to me to be the true folk dancers of today. The folk spirit will not be repressed. And this folk spirit seems to me to be exuberantly breaking out in all these jitterbug dances. Athletic, spirited, joyous, they show a true and irrepressible folk spirit. And I wouldn't worry about their being sexy. I don't think they are. A good jitterbug is so active, so busy, so near the edge of exhaustion, I don't~elieve he has time to think of sex. It may shock grandmother to see the skirts fly out of place, when his partner slides under his legs or is . thrown over his head. But that's gymnastics. That isn't sex. I don't guarantee what he's doing when he is not dancing. But while he is dancing, I feel sure he is perfectly safe. If you want to worry about sex, you would better watch that quiet couple pressed close together back in the corner of the dance hall, hardly moving as they sway and bend together. Donlt worry about the jitterbugger. He is burning up steam in a very sate and entirely moral way. And once the grotesque posturing and the wiggling hips soften out of it a bit, he may make a real contribution to the history of the dance.1

The Lindy is also a ballroom is touch partner

dance. done

Ballroom dancing socially, requ1rcouple dances about

dancing, originally

ing leading and following. which dating

The earliest

much is known are the European back to 1350.2 and studios reasons, Unfortunately. have g1ven,

folk and peasant dances today's ballroom dance or ccm-

teachers mercial

tor self-elevating a more

ballroom dancing

rigid structure

15 requiring step the learning of rules, positions, and levels of of snobbery exuberance setting. Thus

lists.

This creates a social environment the antithesis of the joyful

and competition,

and relaxed atmosphere

that pervade a social between the social

I am making a distinction
ing and the ballroom teachings petitions. of ballroom

bal1rooln dancfrom the com-

dancing

that has evolved

studios and their professional

They have~eveloped

a style of their own which The Lindy was danced and many other it was accepted Its in b~

is void of authentic socially ballrooms

ethnic quality.

at the Savoy Ballroom around

in Harlem

the country long before

the ballroom

dance associations

as a ballroom

dance.

form and character order

were changed by teachers' and easily taught,-

associations

to be acceptable The Lindy

is a jazz dance.

This is probably

one of its

most

important

characteristics.

If it does not have that

• When the large dance halls closed down after the war, ballroom studios kept teaching the Lindy, without the exciting input from the street dancers at the clubs. Thus the dance that was taught became a watered down remnant, taught with ten or so other dances that students were to learn in eight classes, The use of improvisation and creativity. so important to the dance, almost disappeared, until new swing dance enthusiasts recently banded tcgether and organized new dancing clubs.

16

jazz feeling, American and white

the dance is not the Lindy. born of two cultures, Jazz is a blend

Jazz is an black (African)

phenomenon

(European).

of improvisation expresses his own

and structure. mood, speak

The individual

performer

cool or hot, and improvises.

He allows

his soul to This

through his body's own individual stylistic expression, involving Jazz

language.

honest, partner, artistry end.

the music and one's dance calls for rather than as an puts

is of utmost importance.

which uses technique as a vehicle judging of ballroom

The technical dancing

competitions

ballroom

on the level of an Olympic

sport, rather

than on the level of a social or artistic Technical cloning achievement outweighing

expression. promotes

creativity

and monotony.

Technical

Elements

The Lindy and endless

is a dance with many moods,

many expressions,

possibilities.

It may be cool and underplayed, Yet there are certain entitle elements one to justly

or joyful and exuberant. which are necessary

to the dance which

use the term "Lindy" when referring One definition
I

to it. "Jazz dancing in modTo de-

of "Swing" reads,

erate

tempo with a peculiar lilting

syncopation.1I3

17

fine Lindy or Swing not only as a jazz dance, a certain rhythmic feeling, is very important. the music

but as having To dance

Lindy well, one must understand

and the timing of Ball-

the basic steps, interpret these, and play with them. room studio Lindy and old jazz (authentic) different. One is refined and confined,

Lindy are totally the other is rein the the feel-

laxed, creative, and free. music.

One is 'totally involved to achieving

Good swing music is essential

~ng of the Lindy. swing.

It doesn't have to be super fast to Many con(The two from

It doesn't have to be wild to be alive. of the Lindy.

fuse wildness with a characteristic ideas, wildness· studio Swing.)

and aliveness, both seem

to be missing

• Where does the idea of wildness

come from?

1) Moves were exaggerated for performances and competitions, such as the Harvest Moon Ball, which began in 1935 .. Acrobatic air steps and fast dancing were included to thrill audiences, to win prize money, or to get jobs. These professionals or semi-professionals were skilled dancers and wildness was expressed from a base of expertise. 2) One would see the film A Day at the Races, or Hellzapoppin', and think Lindy has to include aerials. People got the erroneous idea that Lindy meant jump around and tug away. They might see a back step, misinterpret it as a tug, and in an unskIlled, uncoordinated way, imitate it by running, jumping, pulling and pushing at their partner, with no regard for others on the dance floor, thinking they ore jitterbugging. This kind of imitation· of the Lindy, from past visual recollections of untrained dancers, is common

18

and dangerous. It spread a false concept as well as endangering the participants and onlookers (bodies and eyes!). 3) The third source ot the idea of wildness is intentional misrepresentation for cultural and political reasons, to ban it from "nice" society. It was termed "wild" and a reversion back to primitivism. The Lindy was "condemned" by church groups as leading to the decay of the young. Sociologist Theodore Adorno, a German emigre who had fled Nazi persecution, warned about the "authoritarian impulses" .laterit ~n the strong swing beat.,,4 In Sweden, preachers preached'sermons against the dance, calling their dance halls "dens of iniquity.,,5 In the United States, the Lindy was a threat to society because it was mixing all races and different classes at the popular dance halls. The Lindy introduced freedom in the form of generous hip movements and in the form of improvisation, a response to the unfamiliar African polyrhythms and syncopated jazz feeling in the new swing music. Musicians improvised solos within a jazz structure and dancers created a dance in which they did th~ same. All this shocked the more traditional ballroom . formalists and much of society, who didn1t want this foreign' influence. They feared it would lead to anarchy and perversion. The Lindy threatened ballroom t@ach@rs, many of whom had trouble perfecting the movements themselves, and who thought the freedom of improvisation would cut their business. They had trained their clientele to think a set of structured steps and rules were necessary to proper dancing and grace. .Try as they did to exclude the dance as vulgar and unaccep~able, the vitality of swing music and dancing ~a§ impg§§1ble to control. The bali~oom studios eventually incorporated the Lindy into their syllabi.

19

The essential characteristics

of the Lindy include its

basic steps, an a-count and a 6-count one, plus a swinging feeling which relates to the music's syncopated accents off-beats instead of only the usual the phrase. Swinging is not a body upswing beat, which

first beats of as in an arc of

a circle, but refers to how the beat is felt and attacked, or dropped and picked up.
1, a2,

The beat is felt in an offset

the way a swing drummer plays it, rather than in an The body or drum stick is loose and picked up The

even 1 and 2, like a polka.

enough to drop into the beat with weight,

exactly afterwards so as to repeat the drop or attack.

drop does not end in a splat or finish, but is picked up so the rhythm is continuous, dependable, as a bouncing ball. makes it more fun. and smooth, as easy

This can be done at any tempo, which

The variety opens up the possibility

for

more different moves and moods. Partnering in the Lindy requires improvisation. The

man and woman can play within the phrase without having to mirror one another's

of the basic step

footwork, as long as

they come back on the same part of the phrase together.
These

improvisations are called syncopations.

Thus knowing

the baSic steps and phrasing, and how to le~d and follow.
are essential, but still not enough to execute the dance.

20

Musicality agility,

and freedom of the body and feet, control

and

are also needed so one can solo within the led
Constant attention

amount of time.

to the music and the an active, involved

partner

makes

it an alive and fun dance,

conversation. The basic a-count step for the man is:

s 1 o w
1 2 left

-

quick
3
I

quick
4

5

1 o w

quick
7

quick
8

right

left

5 right

6

left back

right front

diag ..fwd around a circle
1 a2

circling around clockwise

slow to

a stop

3

4
L

5 a6

7 L

a
R

R

R-L-R

~_------------------triple timee----------------~\

where a slow gets two counts and a quick gets one.

The

basic 6-count step is a 1 o
1 2
W
B

low
3 <4

quick
5

quick
6

left
1 a2 L-R-L

right
3 a4 R-L-R

left
5

right

(single time)

6

back

front

(triple time) could

The B-count
I

(slow, quick-quick: "quick-quick,
II

slow, quiCk-quick)

alGo be called the 6-count

slow: quick-quick,

slow," as.

could be called

quick-qui'ck, slow, slow."

The

21 slow beats, step on count 1, hold on count 2, may be danced by holding replaced on count 1 and stepping on count 2 or may be (triple time)

by three steps in the two counts

which would allow you the same foot free as if you stepped the one step. units, Thus the a-count may be written in two-count

as odd, even, odd, even; the 6-count

as odd, odd,

even for each two counts, telling you how many steps you can take in the two beats ?isco

of

music.

(See Skippy Blair's book, on this

to Tango and Back, for further elucidation unit system, which she calls

two-count System.)

the Universal Unit

The man rocks back/forward or on counts 5/6 of the six. foot when he's on the left. other ballroom

on counts

7/8 of the eight,

The woman The hold

steps on the right

is more relaxed than

dances. with his right hand on her back. his her hand as if he about 90

left hand near waist or hip level, holding were going to kiss it. degrees, side. between The position

is semi-open,

facing one another and standing side-byby playing with

All the moves stem from the basics, of:

the variables

steps and moves per tWo-count unit, to the partner, angle of the torso, direcdiagonal), level

facings relative

tion of the movement

(side, front, back,

(low, high, on the ground, off the ground), movement
I

direction

or

the

along

the floor. defining

th~ floor pattern

(circu-

22 lar. linear, front, back, diagonal, stationary), chooses and repetito vary and style.

tion of segments. combine This

The way each dancer gives him

these variables

his own personal

is the appealing

distinction without

of the Lindy -- each good departing from the basic

dancer

does it differently

structure the dance.

of the dance, without

destroying

the integrity of

Origins and Evolution

Lindy,

Jitterbug[

and Swing:

What the Lindy Developed

From

and Into

The terms "Lindy, "Jitterbug," ferent images and mean different of dance history.

and

"Swing" provoke difto different dancers

things

and writers definitions

I will discuss

these various

and present a history of when

and where the

terms originated to clarify

and to what they apply now, in an attempt and connotations.

their explicit meanings

"Lindy" referring different

is synonymous

with "Jitterbug"

and "Swing" when

to the Lindy, but Jitterbug dances as well.

and Swing may refer to

,

While Swing and Jitterbug are

generic

terms, the Lindy is a specific' dance.

23

The Lindy

includes both a-count It originated

and 6-count step and

rhythm patterns.

in the 1920's and was called

the Hop, and it was danced developed

to the new swing music being It became known as

by the newly formed big bands. Hop, or Lindy Hop

the Lindbergh Charles in 1927. Marshall tor naming

(now just Lindy), after solo airplane hop

Lindbergh

made his trans-Atlantic

Stearns gives credit hOn June

to Shorty

George Snowden

the Lindy.

17, 1928,

the Manhattan The One of the

Casino, a huge ballroom

in NYC was jammeu .... dance marathons."

occasion was a new craze:

dancers still on the floor July 4th, when the Board of Health, one of the short was George "Shorty"

it was closed by Snowden. During

contests among

the surviving

couples,

Snowden decided to do breakaway, that i~, fling his partner out and improvise a few solo steps of his own. In" the midst of the monotony of the marathon, the effect was electric. and even the musicians came to life. Shorty had started something. At one point Fox Mov1etone News arrived to cover the marathon and decided to take a close up of Shorty's feet. The general impression that Shorty was out of his mind and his dancing a kind of inspired confusion was gain1ng currency. "What are you doing with your feet," asked the interviewer, and Shorty. without stopping, replied, liThe Lindy. liS Dorothea Ohl. on the ballroom page of the 1956 Dance Magathusly:

zine, explains

the birth of the Lindy

Legend has it that way back in 1927 when Lindbergh made his historic solo flight to Paris, the people of New

24

York's Harlem were just as excited as the rest of the world. Would he make it? When the news that he had arrived was announced at the Savoy Ballroom, Harlem's best known dance spot, pandemonium broke loose. People jumped for joy; strangers pounded one another 1n glee. One young man, overcome by the thrill, took off over the floor, shouting, "Look! Look! I'm f lying just like Lindy!" He seized a partner in passing and away they went. The floor soon filled with dancers following his lead, improvising turns and twists on their own, all chanting, IILindy! Lindy! Lindy!" And so it was born.7 Whether Snowden flight.S it was named in 1927 or 1928, Shorty George the Hop was around long before Lindbergh's

claims

It is difficult

to find the exact year of the demarcation separating

origin of the Hop or to find a clear the new dance it. Many sources Gillie, (Marshall Stearns, Powers) claim (the Lindy)

from the dances

that went before

Ernie

Smith, Brian is supposed to

and Richard

the Lindy Tommy,

be a direct descendant

of the Texas

but no one seems "Tommy" is in the red and 1910.It

to know exactly what that dance slang for prostitute, light district

looked

like.

and the dance

appeared
1905

of San Francisco

between

was danced by black couples performing Cabaret,

at Lew Purcell's Coast (the

the only black club on the Barbary were black, the clientele brought

performers

white) ,9

Supposedly It app~a~~d

some black dancer on Broadway

it up from the South.
in 1912

in Darktown

Follies

and was a great hit. three times on each

The basic step,

"a kick and a hop about

25 foot followed basic. partners returning by a slide,ulO was different after from the Lindy the

But both have a breakaway

that, where

separated and could do what to one another. Both were

they wanted to, before thought to be acrobatic of

and both had couples creating couples dancers performing them.

their own steps and groups by black them.

Both were originated

and had black dance teams performing Tommy,

Never having seen the Texas

I believe

the Lindy

to be a direct blend of the Two-step Both have the same 8-count rhythm had, quick-quick, places

and the Charleston. that the Lindy Charleston re-

pattern slow.

slow; quick-quick,

the quick-quick

with a two-count

kick.

In the 1928

film After Seben,11 three couples Charleston. the Lindy,

do a closed position one of the creators of

Shorty George Snowden, is one of the dancers. and Lindy,

The dance looks like a point between the

blend of Charleston

a halfway

two in the development

of the Lindy.

The Lindy uses a rock

step (quick-quick or back/front which rocks away fro~ and
towards your partner), but sometimes sometimes uses a rock-step moves are used uses a kick instead. replacement tor the

Charleston kick.

Charleston

in the Lindy breakaway into a side-by-

section.

A common thing to do is to break

side or back Charleston where you're back wh~ch

facing your partner's that for a few ba~s

is nested in front of you ,do

25 of music, and then swing back into a Lindy. The Two-step, trot box step which now is really the same
dS

the Fox-

(quick-quick slow, quick-quick The Lindy also

slow), was done uses quick-quick and moving (or

at the turn of the century. slow, quick-quick the partners releasing as opposed ~wo-step

slow, only circling

clockwise

back into a rock step on one quick-quick

the partner out and in within
.

.

the eight counts), position of the

to staying

in the closed dance

for the entire eight counts. was introduced with in an all-black the James P. Johnson show, Rurining

The Charleston song "Charleston," Wild, in 192~. lier.

Broadway went

The dance supposedly

back years ear-

There's a questionable for crossing

story that says slaves were

punished

their knees so as soon as their work them, and that's how (1924) and the achieved the also

day was over, they'd cross and uncross the Charleston Collegiate was born.

The Black Bottom

were later introduced but never of the Charleston.

lasting popularity

The Collegiate,

thought to be like the Lindy, was something Charleston,

based on the

only new and flashier for the college kids.12 Drag of 1927

Brian Gillie, dance historian, said the Varsity was a combination trot.13 of the Charleston

and the original Fox-

It may be the Varsity Drag is the Collegiate.

In the video portion of

my

thesis,

I asked Frank

27

Manning,

chief choreographe~

of Whitey's

Lindy Hoppers

in

the 30's and 40's, what dances the Lindy came from. the Collegiate, and proceeded to demonstrate what

He said

I would

call a closed position Charleston. It is hard to trace the exact roots or birth of a dance. George Lloyd, Savoy Lindy Hopper with whom Moon Ball, said in the video I won the

1983 Harvest

tape that the into

Lindy came from the Two-step. the Lindy. lineage;

He then did a Two-step

To me this seems to me the most sensible of the quiCk-quick from (I did to the

just change the direction to back-f~ont,

side-together not discuss interview, hypothesis Charleston.)

and you have the Lindy.

this question with Frank or George prior and the two together supported

my own independent and the

that the Lindy came from the Two-step

The influence of the music on the Two-step then more swinging, could feeling

from being more syncopated, account for the changeover

to the new and different

of the Lindy. Musical new dances. changes had a lot to do with the creation Before 1900, European-based dances were of

the

ones found in the ballrooms, lar.

the Waltz being the most popufor a

At the turn of the century, people were ready something new and different

change,

for the new century.

Somet im'es, rather than looking for sirui lar i ties, it makes

28

more sense

to look at differences.14 a rebellion

People

get bored and to

want a change, call their own. their parents.) many rhythmic dancing do.

from the past,

or something

(Kids don't want to do the same dance as Ragtime music, a new march-like popular. music with

syncopations,

became

People started that anyone could

the One-step, a new and easy dance called the Four-step,

Originally

it was simply walking and was much

evenly, easier

one step on ev~ry beat of the measure, than the Two-step or the Waltz. It" (1910), "Alexander's

The songs "EveryRagtime Band"
(1911),

body's Doin'

as well as the official One-step
(1911),

dance,

the Turkey Trot and popularizaThe dance craze

came out and helped the acceptance

tion of the new ragtime music and dancing. peaked around
1912-1914.

W. C. Handy's and helped musical

"St. Louis Blues" the blues.

also

came out in 1911

popularize

(The Blues feeling and in the development

structure

were major influences

of the greatest Count Basie.) mal Dances, rage.

swing music, such as that of Benny Moten and Blues dances were close held one-steps. Grizzly Bear, were the imiAni-

such as the clutching one-steps

They were jtist

done

in silly postures

tating animals.

The Foxtrot appeared

in 1914, a combination
Foxtrot of today,

of slows and quicks, not like the smooth

,

but a dance

wi th hops,

similar

to

the 'European •.. based ISchot~

29

tische which was popular at the time. instrumentation, of the music, and improvisation

As syncopations,

new

increased

the complexity

new dances were called for.

The New Orleans-

style music changed which once. included

the solo piano rags to ensemble material improvisation, New Orleans all improvising at ~azz Band opened in

collective

In 1917, the Original

New York. There was not much dancing Roaring 20's made up for it. during World War I, but the

With the war over, a new sense loose, set the stage for the for the more is a development He took the

of freedom, flamboyant technically

a spirit of letting Charleston, challenging

which paved the way Lindy. Swing music

of a form of jazz created by Louis Armstrong. New Orleans play~rs style of group improvisation, simultaneously,

where all th~
He

improvised

one step further. group.

brought solo improvisation ensemble struments rather greater time.

to an ensemble

The swing

became tighter and more.organized, and calling for arrangements

adding more in-

of whole sections were allowed in turn. one at a out in their new feelings the bodies of

than single individual The dancers,

instruments.

Soloists

freedom to stretch out, following

suit, stretched in music created came through

solos too. and sources dancers.
I

All these Changes for expression

which

Walter Page, bassist

of the Count Basie band,

30 played a four-beat to swing music. excitement Music, walking bass, which added a new dimension to the

It traveled more,

and added

of the dancers. previous dances, social climate and reactions,

and the desire specific

to try something

new, to create something all add up to the magical

to one's own generation,

birth of a new dance.

The Lindy Hop became known as the Jitterbug 1930's.

in the said

George Wendler, an older man from Detroit, reached

that as early as 1929, the Lindy the Jitterbug.15 "Jitterbug" opinions

Detroit known as

Upon researching

it, I found the word I found different to. According to

to be an ambiguous

term. I spoke

among almost everyone

Frank .Werber, the late Al Minns, Lindy Hoppers, dancing atory

former

member of Whitey's in the 40's, was a derog-

a group which toured

the world

on stages and in films, said Jitterbug dancers

term used to describe white Another

who weren't very to dance at the
Cyn-

good.16

black Lindy Hopper

who used

Savoy said all Lindy dancers were thia Millman conducted a survey

called

jitterbugs.

for the 1987 July-September Newsletter Lindy, Footnotes, swing and

issue of the NY Swing Dance Society aSKing, "What's the difference

between

Jitterbug?"

Frank Manning. also a former

member of Whitey's

31 Lindy Hoppers, said,

Lindy and swing are the same. Jitterbug is from the 40's. It's bouncier and faste~. It was a white thing as rock'n'roll was a white version of rhythm and blues. It's also more what was done in the 50's than the lindy which was smoother. The jitterbug doesn't necessarily contain aerials.17 Rebecca Reitz, a young white dancer, said, "My mother say, who

was a dancer in her youth in the 40'S would was a Jitterbug.
I used to lindy

'Oh yea, I

all the time. ,"18 president Coast), of the

Let's Talk Jitterbug, US Swing Dance Council Jitterbug avoids.

by Ray Walker,

(based on the West

says

carried a stigma that using

the term "Swing"

The term Jitterbug was first used in the southern part of the country to describe people who displayed the symptoms of secondary syphilis, ·uncontrollable jerking and trembling and lack of muscular control. Such observers were apparently unable to perceive the precise and intricate coordination that is essential to our kind of dancing, even when performed by those early swingers. But the name took hold and we were stuck with it~ We became Jitterbugs and for the most part, we accepted the title with good grace and tolerant humor. The general pUblic, however, did not view us in turn with equal tolerance. Because our kind of dancing was so completely new to the public view, and so different tram anything that had ever been seen on the dance floor before, we were regarded as wild, undisciplined, vulgar, overly obsessed with sex (which is not necessarily bad in my opinion), crude, and totally lacking in manners and morals. That was the general opinion of swing dancers in the late 1930's, but big band music took the nation by storm just about that time, and since jitterbugging was the only kind of dance capable of doing justice to this new and exciting mu~ic, we were less and less maligned with the passing ot years. By the 1950's, we we~e referring to ourselves as swing dancers, and the term Jitterbug was

32 heard only occasionally. 19 Cab Calloway had a song called that came out in 1933. newsletter dancers, plainlng "The Call of the Jitterbug" Carefree Times, the

In the S.O.S.

of Shag (South Carolina

Lindy derivative) "Hey, Jitterbug" came from. ex-

there is an article called where the term "Jitterbug"

In the 30's, Cab Calloway had a hep cat trombone player in his band that nipped the sauce too much. Cab would tell him, "Bette~-quit drinking that bug juice, man, or you'll shake and jitter to death." Soon the guys in Cab's band were calling the 'bone player a "Jitterbug." The phrase stuck and spread around the black musical community to mean one that was super hip (or "hep" in those days. Later the meaning changed to the name of the dance. also kept its connotation of hep and cool, however, through the 50's. To the police of D.D. [Ocean Drive, strip in Myrtle Beach), "Jitterbug" with long hair and draped pants . for the pokey!20 Craig Hutchinson article of Alexandria, Virginia,
It

the nightclub/beach once meant all guys . prime candidates sections his

"Swing America"

into "Twenties "Fifties

Lindy

Hop," "Thirties
i "

Jitterbug,"

"Forties Swing,"

Ro ck t n t Ro Ll

"Sixties
he

Solo," and "Seventies Hustle." writes,

In "Thirties

Jitterbug,"

A bouncy six-beat variant was named Jitterbug by the band leader Cab Calloway. Music played by Calloway's orchestra in such hot spots as Harlem's Savoy Ballroom was popular among the blacks, and Calloway introduced a tune in 1934 titled "Jitterbug." The Jitterbug also cahtained a style at violent and .fren4ied athleticism that was ha%ardouB for performers and other dancers,

and a Jitterbugger with fast feet was dancer at the black dance clubs ...

called a flash

. . . kids hooked on Jitterbug were called "jive addicts.["l One faster version, called Shag, had a characteristic kick backwards and forward stomp. Movies which popularized Jitterbug were "A Day at the Races," "Swing Sister, Swing," "The Prisoner of swing," and a cartoon called "I'm Just a Jitterbug." And topping the 30's off was an electrifying exhibition of Jitterbugging couples at the 1939 world's fair.21

Frank Manning, one of ~itey's

Lindy Hoppers (Whitey's disagrees

who was one of group were also with this. He

those dancers at that World's Fair the dancers in A Day at the Races),

said that what he did then and does now Is Lindy Hop, not Jitterbug. He said,

The word "Jitterbug" came from a radio announcer covering the 1936 or 7 Harvest Moon ball. It was on Movietone news and he said, referring to the Lindy dancers, "They all look like Jitterbugs." And so it caught on after that.22 In the Dance Encyclopedia Jitterbug is defined of Chujoy and Manchester, term now almost obsolete and violent social dances

as "a generic often formless generally

for unconventional, to syncopated music,

in 4/4 time. Black

The best known Bottom, Shag,

forms of jitterbug were the Charleston, and Llndyhop, dances

of the 1920's and 1930'5."23 meaning for the

As you see, some have their own sp~cial term Jitterbug, distinguishing
it

from the Lindy in general. 50's, others 40's

(Some spy it's 30'S dancing, others dancing,

some say it's six-beat only, or only fast, some say

34 it's derogatory, refers others complimentary.} To me, Jitterbug, but I would "Lindy." not

to the Lindy, means the same thing,

use it unless someone did not know the word cause it means so many differing things

Bepeople,

to different

it lacks a clear definition,

whereas

Lindy

means one thing.

The same problem arises when The Lindy was originally danced

the word

"Swing" is used.

to swing music; the dancers But now, Swing

·were called swing dancers, the dance Swing. may refer to a myriad of descendants East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing,

of the Lindy, such as and Southern Shag. of the Lindy,

East Coast Swing is more like a remnant or what some uninformed the East Coast. westerner thinks

people are doing on patt~rns. I

It contains mainly

6-count

often call Lindy "East Coast Style"
West

to distinguish

it trom

Coast Swing, and also to give the East Coast a better Lindy, Shag, and West Coast Swing and include both 6- and 8-count are all smooth

name. dances

patterns as basics.

Shag and West Coast Swing are danced pattern, whereas

in a linear floor changing

the Lindy circles with

orientation.

The three vary in when, at which point in the the partners move away and towards one

rhythm pattern, another.

shag is the official dance of S~uth Carolina.

(Con-

35

gressman

John "Bubber" Snow is not only a Shag enthusiast, In Shag the torso is upright is done Shag is done

but a Shag dancer himself.}

and relaxed, and most of the fancy improvisation with the lower extremities (kn~es and ankles).

to what is called beach music, a slow rhythm

and blues.

West Coast Swing is danced to slow R&B, disco, rock, and swing-like music, all with a heavy beat. (There is a Swing

group in California, Dance Council, National

affiliated with the United States

that is lobbying to get Swing

passed as 'the

dance!)

In West .Coast Swing, the torso is held The styling is more like West

more upright modern

than in the Lindy.

television

jazz as opposed to old black jazz.

coasters ancestor

claim their style is more ~ophisticated dance, the Lindy. Many East coasters

than its don't know

there is a West Coast style. or don't care. Swing supposedly developed

West Coast

its slot floor pattern because in a slotted

the dance floors were too crowded and dancing arrangement accommodated more couples.

There are currently

many more small private swing clubs in the West, than in the East. On the East Coast there are New York: plus many Washington, small Shag clubs

D.C.; and Boston Swing societies: in the South.

Swing ~ay also refer to Country Western

,

Swing, which

has a different

basic rhythm pattern.

'Country Western Swing

36

has an even one-step handed open position.

pattern danced circling It developed

in a fourin the concur-

in the Southwest were developing

30's when bands such as Bob Wills's

rently with the eastern urban swing bands. tion differed,

The instrumenta-

mandolins and fiddles were used, but a simiCountry Western Swing

lar jazz swing feeling was achieved. dancing American west. ments,

includes rnany~more arm moves, an influence of Latin dances that came up through Mexico and the Southmove-

In Lindy, you see more of a focus on lower-body hip, knee, and fast foot movements

in more complex

rhythm patterns. Swing, which

To confuse things even more, Western Swing, is what there is a move

is short for Country Western Also,

West Coast Swing used to be called. in square dancing, which

called Swing, as in "swing your partner," in cir-

is the buzz step, one of the ba~ic variations Swing.

Country Western cling around, scooter. accented.

It is done in closed position, foot rooted with

with

the inside

like it is on a the downbeat

The beat is even one-step

Thus, ironically, various word

the major difference

between the

swing dances is the music

it is danced to, when the to the swing music it

"Swing" got its name referring to.

was danced
I

Different music gives the varlous swing stylings and feelings.

dances very different

37

Aside dances

from the regional differences

in the various there are also within the dances

which have evolved from the Lindy, differences considered in counts and feeling to be the Lindy.

regional currently

The "Lindy" danced Washington, mainly 8-count

in parts of the Northeast (Washington,

(Boston, is the

D.C.) and in the West

Colorado)

a 6-count,

and thus lacks the flow and smoothness

gives the danc~.

(I have recently

been asked to an interest in

teach for the DC society, who have expressed learning future.) the a-count, Without so this may change it is not

in the near the Lindy and does

the 8-count,

not have the Lindy feel. The English posed Tango International Ballroom dance "Jive" is sup-

to be a derivation is supposed

of the Lindy, a Tango.

the same way their Unfortunately,

to resemble

thi3

is not the case.

Jive is done only to fast music, always shoulders and swingJive is rules, and for ice

looks stiff and overdone, with rocking ing arms, and has absolutely danced danced skating explains from.
J

no swing feeling.
technical

in competitions in costumes or parade where

with specific

that would be more appropriate floats. The way Europeans term "white

do Swing comes

the derogatory

dancing"

French/English

Le Roc (already by the rock'n'rol1

in

38 its name, it is different), shoots of the Lindy. from watching and Swedish Lindy are also offlearn their dancing I who

Many Europeans

tapes or films and lack tactile learning. swing Society for

spoke to one of the members of the Swedish said he never does any social that. dancing,

he is too busy

He is a serious competition

dancer.

His dancing His lead was

lacked the smooth

finesse of a social dancer. leading

heavy and rough, and he had trouble .not already know his routines. their gymnastic

those who did for

The Swedes are known

ability and their agility

in doing aerials,

but their swing dancing lacks

the easy, soulful approach. lifted, ungrounded -- not only in

Their energy comes from an excited, place; there seems to be no black

influence

their dance environment, The way people

but in their street environment. in Europe is different than The

lounge and walk

the way people lounge and walk climate and thus the dancing here. lunges,

in the United States.

is physically

looser and freer

The Lindy is not always twists, and bounces. tempos.

done fast with frantic It can also be danced to slow

or moderate

39 Social History: Black Culture

African/American The Lindy It is a blend cal bouncing, ballroom

Cultural Phenomenon is an African/American cultural phenomenon. hip movements, verti-

of African-based and improvisation

rhythm,

combined

with European-based The pat-

dance position,

footwork, African

and structure.

tern of introduction-of jean culture,

culture

into "white" Ameris

through the stage and into the ballrooms,

one that was followed not only by the Lindy, but by many of the American social dances.

Throughout dances

the history of American

social dance,

new have --

that have been introduced

by the black community by white society sometimes

first shocked,

and then been accepted upon.

and then capitalized time this happens

Unfortunately,

by the

the dance is so changed

that only the name

reminds us that it is the same dance. ance of Cakewalk,
is the case. is gone.

From black pertormto Breaking, this

to Charleston,

to Lindy,

The structure may be present,

but the feeling

The Harvest Moon Ball sponsors

have now replaced

the Lindy competition competing
I

with young white kids from New Jersey ensembles at Roseland!
"M~d~rn

in Breakdance

Anne Barzel in the Danee ~neyclopedia writesl

40

ballroom funeral, times.n24 African States

dance has its roots in the religiou~ritual, the wooing, initiation and war was

the

dances of primitive combined with

European white formalism rhythm. Lynne Emery

in Black

Dance in the United

from 1916 to 1970 writes,

The heart and soul of Africa is, in effect, a gigantic drum, and the rhythms of its dance are basic to social cohesion, ritual observance, the maintenance of tradition, preparation for war, auto-hypnosis, the expression of grief and joy, and the satisfaction of play and sexual selection instincts.25 The African strong influence in American social dance is a

one, but one which,

for socio-cultural

reasons, met about the

with much opposition Cakewalk, Russella

on its way in.

In speaking

"the first jazz social Brandman writes,

dance,··26 dance historian

The pattern or diffusion exhibited by this first jazz dance -- black solo or group dance to black ballrooms to commercial theatre to white ballroom dance -- was followed by most of the popular dances of the early twentieth century.27

I will briefly discuss tieth century

the social

dances of the twen-

from the Cakewalk

to the Lindy, to show how had on social dancimprovisation. rather All

g~~at an influence ing.

the black population including

All were rhythm dances

were danced

for fun and spirited

enjoyment

than for

grace and proper etjquette.
r

All shocked

the public at first Americans

and then became part of the American

culture th&t

41 like to brag ab~ut. surrounding I will discuss the social environment detail.

the"birth of the Lindy in greater

The Cakewalk blacks imitating

first originated

on the plantations

with
and

and making fun of the formal manners

formal dances their upright

of their white masters.28

They exaggerated back prance and

body position into a leaning

then added what they wanted in terms of improvisation. (Cakewalk] combined AfrO-American rhythms, movements posture,

"It

improv-

isation and some mildly acrobatic cial dignity

with white soIn 1903

and some contact between

partners.,,29

films, Cakewalk, Cakewalk on the Beach, and comedy Cakewalk,
dancers used rubbery in-and-out knee movements, leaps and not the

jumps, and a great deal of individual type of movements ballroom dances.30

improvisation,

one would see done in white European-based (These same African-derived movements Segre-

show up later in social dances and black gated~ going

theater.)

back and forth, from imitation, by blacks for Whites,

to innovation,

to performance imitating

to dancing by whit~G

black performers,

by the 1900's, Blacks an~ whit."~ were dancing the same social dances; this trend began with the Cakewalk, the first social dance fad to cut across racial barriers. The two races remained worlds apart, however. White fad dances were toned-down, simplified variations of "the real thing,n and they usually filtered down to the ~hite world after they had gained and lost ascendan~y in Black circles.31

42 After the Civil War, there was a slow migration blacks to the North. Most stayed of as

in the South initially center was the church,

tenant farmers.

Their main social

and even though at that time the church banned dancing, dancing was their main activity ment. for enjoyment and entertainof

Not only did white society

fear the influence

black dancing, as well.

but Negro civic leaders spoke out against it from Alabama the that go to the said,

In the early 1900's, one leader

"In my area many are making the effort

to eliminate

dance by the skating rink and such other amusements will take up their time at times when they usually dance halls."32

Others at the time called dance halls the struggle," and "harm-

"curse of the day," "our greatest ful."33 But these adverse attitudes dancing. allover of

didn't

atop people

from

"Jook houses" and segregated the South.

dance halls sprang up pronunciation

"Jook is the anglicized

'dzugu,' a word from the Gullah dialect tribe meaning 'wicked. ,,,34

of the African

Bambara

(The wOl'."d "jukebox"

comes from this.) danced

It was in these jook houses that blacks

and cl'."eated steps that, when later brought up North, the whites and influenced later dances such as

spread among the Lindy.

The Black Bottom originated

in "Black Bottom,"

the jook

43

section

of Nashville,

Tennessee.35 into a black

The Big Apple began in a church converted dance hall in Columbia, South Carolina,

and includes many

African-based ing groups, version North,

moves which were used later by Lindy performand even by Arthur Murray in his watered-down When blacks mov~d the Black Bottom and Ballin' the Jack, from these dances They were

of the dance (the Big Apple) .36 they brought with them not only

the Big Apple, but afso the Charleston, the Shimmy, were used and the Mooche.37 Movements

influential

in the development

of the Lindy.

in the improvised breakaway section
momentarily did separate moves,

of the Lindy where or as set routine

dancers sections

during Lindy performances

and contests. with its plentiful of poor crops, and a of Negroes to in 1916, blacks Black

liThe combination jobs in the defense rise in lynchings the North,.u3B
350,000

of World War I,

indus~ry, and years

in the South,drew

thousands

During eighteen months,

beginning

blacks moved North; Harlem grew

from 50,000

in 1914 to 80,000 by 1920, to 200,000 music and dances

by 1930.39

from the South came up with the people.

This mass of black people and culture had to be integrated
into Northern society.

,From 1910 to 1920, "animal dances"

found their way into

white Turkey nated tions

fashionable Trot,

ballrooms,

"Animal fad dances such as the

the Buzzard Lope, and the Possom Trot origidances which themselves reflected reten-

in plantation

from African animal dances',,,40 Tin Pan Alley capitalized on this new public interest, of dance songs with inThe animal dances "were

or dance structions simple

mania, and made up hundreds on how to do the dance.

to a point of awkwardness, what was denounced

and for the first time, as 'lingering close con-

they permitted tact. 1,,41

A Paterson, New Jersey, court imposed a fifty~day sentence on a young woman for dancing the Turkey Trot. Fifteen young women were dismissed from a well known magazine after the editor caught them enjoying the abandoned dance at lunchtime. Turkey trotters incurred the condemnation of churches and respectable people, and in 1914 an official disapproval was issued by the Vatican.42 Thus, animal dances,
50

popular

in the dance craze of the

new century, Despite for a while. seen Turkey some native clubs helped white

met with much opposition. such criticism, these dances remained in vogue in the newspapers as "to learn

Anna Pavlova was reported Trotting in a dive

in San Francisco, Whites

American dances. "43

"slumming" at black

spread the popularity then and throughout

of certain dances within history. the Turkey

society,

In 1913 Vernon and Irene Castle performed Trot in the Broadway show Sunshine Girl.

Due to their huge

45 success in this and The Merry Widow studio, Castle in 1907, they decided House, in 1914. to

open an elite dance talize

To capi-

on the anti-animal society

dance

uproar,

they sided with dances as orgiasThe elite with such

"proper"

and denounced

the animal

tic, "ugly, ungraceful, upper-class society

and out of fashion."" want to be involved the masses.

wouldn't

lewd behavior offered

or to ~ingle

..

with

The Castles

them a dancing

alternative. with

They could still dance vulgar, fad dances.

and not be associated The grace, specific

the common,

steps and rules

they taught required had th~ money dance

lots of training to pay for them. etiquette,

and lessons, The Castles hopping,

and the wealthy printed shaking

a book of proper

excluding

of the hips, wriggling

of the shoulders, The Castles social dancing.

and twisting were highly

of the body.45 in popularizing in that

instrumental

They were a bit ahead of their time

they worked

with a black band

leader, James Reese Europe, had spent time in Paris, and jazz

and his black band. where black musicians fashionable drummer enjoyed watching

The Castles and artists

were more veneral~d Castle, rhythms

than in America. appreciated

Vernon African

an amateur

himself, doing

Gnd actually

the animal

dances,

which he would pick up from

black dancers.46

46

In the teen5 and twenties, ville, nightclubs and Broadway

black performers shows

in vdud~-

(still segregated),

would combine plantations, dances

steps long known at the jook houses and on th~ and with the help of new songs, to learn.47 create n~w

for the white public

A song was written or the name of a in

and the lyrics would be dance

instructions,

new song would also be the name of a new dance presented a show, which had specific steps. Everyone would want to

see the new dance and learn to do it, larize the song and the show.

thus helping

to popu-

In 1923, the Charleston though the black Broadway

was popularized Running

in this manner,

musical

Wild, accompanied written for

by James P. Johnson's the show. The Charleston'~ of the Black Bottom48 and unique character

hit song,

"Charleston,"

popularity (although

was soon superseded the Charleston's

by that

simplicity through-

made it lastingly

more populdr

out the years). White's song. Scandals

The Black Bottom

hit Broadway

in George

of 1926, to a DeSilva, "Black Bottom"

Brown and Henderson by The

The original

song was published song in 1919.

Perry Bradford dance was until

as a dance

instruction

"as old as the hills"

but didn't

gain popularity

the 1926 show with the new Black Bottom song with its rhythm.49 The songs since "Charleston" were

Charleston

47

moving

away from explicit directions

in their lyrics, as and the Lindy, after the Black

evidenced which were Bottom.

by the Varsity Drag, Truckin', the next big dances to appear

The Lindy first appeared popularity of the large public

around

1927.

The growth in

dance hall and swing music for its creation. People

were two developments

that allowed space

were going out, andooth were affordable. great b~nd. With

to dance

and large orchestras

It was inexpensive

to go out and hear a then.

Touch dancing was done by most people of the new swing music,

the excitement

the larger orand dancers

chestras,

and the energy of all the musicians of a new dance.

came the development

The Lindy used a position for

closed dance position as well as a breakaway soloing, as the music used ensemble the musicians would break

arrangements

as a base

from which

away and solo.

Of the ballrooms in New York, entire Harlem, city block on 141st Street

the Savoy, spanning an and Lenox Avenue important in

was the biggest, and the most of the Lindy.

to the

development supposedly

It was there where

that the Lindy was it was expanded

created, and definitely

and popularized. As stated previously, social dance is a vehicle for

48

social cohesion, initiation,

expression of grief and joy, courtship, through play. The social cli-

and satisfaction

mate in Harlem was changing as blacks 20's to the '0'5. The neighborhood,

moved in, from the being in transition,

needed a new center of equilibrium for the old world's influence,

for blacks, a replacement structure. within a positive and without

church to provide

and a vehicle for advancement, SO,cial dancing

the communi ty. 50

and dance halls 1ike the Street gangs were protection and more in

.
Savoy ended up providing this center. prevalent, serving the need for fellowship,

the streets, and providing structure alienating area. Banding together

in a crumbling

gave the individual

power in the outside world as well as a position wi thin the group. Herbert White,

and task that one

"Hhi tey.;' proved

could get ahead with such power by organizing tight control Jolly Fellows on his group. in 1923. Whitey

and imposing a

began a gang called the with their own

They had a clubhouse

pool table. a rather rough initiation "hanging an uppercut

for new members, proprietor that

on the jaw" of an astonished

"and stand there without running,"Sl

and a membership

grew from 100 to over 600 in the 1930's.52 lows became lithe" club for the great dancers

The Jolly Felof the Savoy. It

Whitey became

the bouncer and his club ruled the Savoy. of his gang. It

was a ,real status symbol to be a member

49

meant respect,

and survival in an area where one could get hWhitey de~Qnded unques-

beat up frequently on the streets.

tioning obedience fro~ the 30lly Fellows, and in return, gave them protection and a place in the sun."53 Times were tense in the 30's and a premium (was] placed upon force and recklessness. Harlem had become a fiercely competitive jungle, and the Savoy Ballroom syphoned off much of the nervous energy this constant pressure generated among the lucky few who became deeply interested in dancing. In turn, this emotional climate was reflected in the tireless vigor and daring invention of the Lindy, or Jitterbug.54 Whitey's Whitey's war became a dance war, which he won; his group, Lindy Hoppers, captured all the prizes for dancing for world-wide tours and

around New York, and was contracted Hollywood films. His dancers,

even if under his iron-clad

rule and underpaid, moved from a possible position of being "nobodies" world in a poor environment, to stardom in films and

touring shows.

It was the black dancers from this enthe

vironment,

from Whitey's group, who helped popularize the world in the late 30's and 40's.

Lindy around

It was at

the Savoy that this group all danced and practiced. The Savoy, owned by Charles Buchanan, became a social center for blacks as well as a showcase for ·their dancing.

It was open seven days a week, with regularly scheduled events. chanics Monday wa~ Ladies night: Thu~sday was Kitchen Menight (when maids and cooks had the night off);

50 Tuesdays were reserved for the 400 Club its members): on Saturdays, (only the best many white onSundays,

dancers were

lookers came and there were big dance everyone dressed

contests;-

in their Sunday best and many celebrities attracted the regulars

were there.

MondaY6 and Tuesdays

only; admission

was only thirty cents before six, sixty cents after eight.

cents from six to eight, and eighty-five Dancing became

a wa~ of life for many since it was cheap plus

entertainment, dancers.

a way

to make money

for the good

Contests

had cash prizes;

couples would meet there (all the ball-

and practice

for contests there and elsewhere or they would practice

rooms had contests), jobs at nightclubs

for performing

and theaters. White patrons would see

dancers and employ them for lessons or tip them there. Celebrities would attend, providing excitement, class, a~d

*

According

to Marshall Sterns, jazz Dance, dance contest~, five and ten dollar prizes, quotes "Shorty" Snowden took place on

which awarded Sundays;

Sterns

as saying Sundays

were a very big night at the Savoy to pic~ and contests (p. 322). According

up cash from tips
contests

to Frank Manning,

at the Savoy were on Saturdays,

the big nights being Tues-

days,1 Thursays,

and Saturdays.

51 possible commercial contacts. for the 400 Club tribal dances, all in the "the

There was a special area reserved called would the "Cat's Corner."

As in African

form a circle around the couple who danced one at a time.

center, Xing,"

The winner of the last contest,

would start it out: no one was allowed Among the best dancers,

to dance b~-

fore him.

there was an unwritten steps.55 The

law that forbade the~ to copy each other's aura around this area was exhilarating creativity and innovation

and competitive. The

Individual aspect

were valued ~ost.

of performing

free for an audience

at a dance hall, ecstasy to the

yet dancing rhythm where
of

full out in almost religious

the music, is similar and dancers

to African

tribal rituals,

musicians through

conversed

and reached new aided by the

heights excited

this competitive

conversation,

involvement

of all the spectators in America

(who coula partake that blurred the and created a in the exu-

as well).

:It was a new approach

distinctions group

between amateur and professional People could lose themselves

spirit.56

berance freedom

of the music and the group. for creativity

This enhanced

their

and improvisation. It was played Two bands played to the

The music at the Savoy was electrifying. by the very best big bands in all history. th~~elevery night. The Lindy developed

as a re&p~nse

52 polyrhythms musicians and innovations of the music. such as Louis Armstrong, improvisation, who Great black jazz the impo~tthe
by

furthered

ance of solo many different the drums,

Joe Jones,

who introduced

sound~ and textures

that could be produced

and Walter Page, who accentuated bass as opposed jazz --

the 4/4 feeling

of the walking and New Orleans Henderson concepts develop rhythms

to the 2/4 feeling of ragtime such as Fletcher these musical -- helped The

and arrangers

and Duke Ellington, to include~hole

who expanded

sections

of an orchestra

swing called

music, and thus the dancing for a more syncopated of time for musical

done to it.

basic dance step, and within the

the allowance musical

improvisation

structure within

inspired the dancers the dance structure. was not new to black tribes,

to "go out" and

improvise

Improvisation scendants danced

dancers.

Being de-

of members of African

of slaves who buck

on their porches, and of those who created new steps contest, it seems natural that black

to win a Cakewalk dancers white would

improvise doing the Lindy. dancers, who were used controlled fashion.

But it was new to steps in an

ballroom

to dancing

upright,

rigidly

At the Savoy, one saw a loosening ing of black bal1rpom and white distinctions.

of barriers,

a blend-

Blacks were dancing a within it,

pattern

and whites were improvising

53

copying one another and trading off ideas. black and white musicians playing

One would see

in the same orchestra. Benny

(Swing bands were the first to have this integration, Goodman's the very first.) was danced

The One-step marchl1ke

to the even beat of ragtime, Then

in its quality, at the turn of the century. dances and animal dances invaded white

song instruction ballrooms.

Ragtime ~usic became

more syncopated, to.

there were

songs that were too slow to do a One-step with a combination of slows and quicks,

The Foxtrot,

was invented.

Some

say it was Harry Fox in his vaudeville was Vernon Castle, upon hearing Europe, who invented it. Two-step.

show, others Bay it of James Reese

the music

In any event,

it was ~ore like" the
with set steps.

It was a closed-position

dance,

Swing dancing position,

was a big change because of th~ faster rhythmic

of the breakaway
music, and the more improvisations, and

the excitement

flashy body movements, foot syncopations. ballroom community

complex

It was difficult
to accept.

for the established

Underlying dance halls. Dance Society racial Story/"

this was the racial

problem
of

of the mixed

Bob Crease, a co-founder and dance archivist, the Lindy

the New York Swing the social and "Swing

addresses

issues surrounding published

in his article,

in the Atlantic.57

Blaeks danced in the

54 same clubs as whites. Whites admired black dancers, som~as

role models, white

and some blacks admired

some whites.

Black ana for

musicians

played in the same bands.

The criteria

prestige talent,

and respect were based on dance ability rather than on income, social denounced status,

and musical Es-

or color.

tablished ing public community

institutions

the dance

to the questionand dance

in hopes of stifling with its threatening

this new movement effects.

The lindy was a dangerous dance in the America of the thirties, and was all the more disturbing because it mixed races as well as classes. Whites and Blacks mingled in dance halls and nightclubs called "black and tan" clubs, where the lindy reigned. Guardians of public morality, such as Dr. John J. Lallio of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy, branded the lindy as a throwback to "the war and religious dances of primitive tribes." Anxious parents wrote to publications such as Hygea, a magazine of the American Medical Association, to ask whether Lindy Hopping led to poor posture, delinquency, or sexual perversion; Hygea replied that the dance indicated that some members of the younger generation were disintegrating under the stress of "unemployment, financial stringency, political confusion, and personal bewilderment. ,,58 Ballroom dance teachers were threatened in society not only behaving de-

cause of their position fined elegance themselves

as previously manner,

and poise in another

but because they the essence of

as dancers weren't able to capture

the dance, nor teach the improvisation They were serving a wealthier a ~enu of poise, good manners, for all prominent

that was part of it. clientele

or more conservative and etiquette,

a necessity and

members of society.

When churches

55

magazines structive,

were still denouncing

the dance as evil and defor it in

they feared there would be no market To change clientele

the elite circle.

to people who went knew the dance, in

out to clubs already and possibly was unrealistic. the Castles'

already

Also, the teachers

who had been trained restricted

image, by their book, which

certain

kinds of body movement be familiar

(hip and torso), probably or agile

would not to perEven if

enough with the dance,

enough

form its movements

in:the street style and spirit.

.they were able to let loose and improvise student

themselves,

if a

came to learn steps, the teacher had to have steps improvisation. This may could

to teach him, or a way of teaching not be in demand by the student. improvise

Also, once a student

creatively as an end, a teacher might fear he

would have nothing left to teach. In 1939, Irene Castle said, neither music.' graceful nor beautiful.
(By

"'3itterbug One should

dancing

is

float to the

"Jitterbug" does she mean bad Lindy or all The Dancing Teachers Association warned

Lindy dancing?]

that lindy dancing was 'a form of hysteria harmful to the poise of the present

that will prove This in

generation. ,"59

was after Benny Goodman played at the Paramount January aisles! 1937 to a sold-out house

Theater in the

that was dancing

This was also during the time when stars such as

56

Marlene Dietrich, the Savoy Ballroom

Greta Garbo, and Lana Turner "The Home of Happy Feet") This was after

(who ddubbed

were frequent

patrons of the Savoy.60

the first Harvest

Moon Ball of 1936, promoted by the Daily News, had to be postponed and relocated from Central Park to Madison with would-be get through tot~le Square

Garden because spectators

the park was so crowded

that the contestants couldn't

stage, or even near it!61 Lindy Hoppers the Races. around performed

This was the year that Whitey's film A Day at

in the Marx Brothers'

(Aerial Lindy had developed

by then, beginning the than

1936, as an organic outgrowth

of the music,

rhythm, and the desire to do something the next person

more spectacular

in competitions and performances. was actually

Socially, preferred

Floor Lindy was still being done.and by many.) Finally, Teachers

in the fall of 1943, the New York Chapter of Inc., became the first association of

of Dancing,

instructors Jitterbug"

to face up to reality and recognize as an official American dance.62

the "Lindy-

They began to

teach it, taming it down, simplifying of its energy, students. making it accessible

it, and stripping it to their

and acceptable

The Lindy remained popular through to recording

the 1940's, but due tax

bans and a twenty percent entertainment

57

passed

to support the war effo~t, to close.63 Ha~lem's

many Harlem nightclubs leaders, including Adam

were forced Clayton York,

Powell,

claimed that La Guardia,

the Mayor of New

closed

the Savoy to stop blacks The Lindy, with

from dancing with to the old of the and the

white women.64 African

its "resemblance

challenge dances in the solo improvisations ... the shuffling steps, hip movements,

breakaway, shimmy,"SS steps,

with its use of Charleston

and Black Bottom

finally had been accepted

by the white public but or political Maybe restricit was

.died out shortly after due to economic tions. Maybe it really hadn't

been accepted.

swallowed segregated. culture,

up in an attempt to have it transformed Although it was assimilated

and re-

into American like

at least in some areas, danced.

it is danced somewhat

it was originally was not merely the weekly dances

To those early dancers, the Lindy but a way of life. At

one of many dances,

Sunday New York Swing Dance Society big band

at the Cat Club, at the Swing Now Trio's Wednesday at the North River Bar, and at Al Cobbs's Monday you will find black and white together, re-creating

engagements

night gigs at Northern Lights,
I

old-timers

and newcomers, all dancing Lindy and spirit.

the Savoy-style

58

Additional Notes and Conclusions

In researching teaching, seeing

this thesis, through

reading books, around

tapes and films, and in traveling

the country,

!have reached some conclusions.

The best dancers are those who were most comfortable with their own bodies, their partners, comfort, balance, control, and the music. To

achieve

and grace

takes time and

lot of practice.

Musicality

is something

one is born with control of on~'s

and which can be expressed own body. dancing music

only one masters

In the 30's and. 40's dancers

used to go out to swing dancing a lot of then and

five and six nights a week, and listen Knowing the music weIland between the dancers

constantly.

are two major the dancers

differences

of today.

One class in Lindy or one class in Lindy, or dancing once a

the ten ballroom week provides Knowing

dances including

no basis for comparison

with dincing nightly.

the steps so well that one gets bored with repetiand thl creation of

tion sets the stage for improvisation new steps, and dances.

I
the Lindy.

I heard various stories about who created Twist Mouth George at the Savoy evidently twist or swivel her out.

was the first to

his partner at arm's length after he swung Californian say that Dean

I heard some misinformed

59

Cbllins bringing

invented

the Lindy

(he was the man responsible

for

the Lindy to, or popularizing someone

it in California).

Then I heard

else say that it came from Southern about where today.

Cajun dancing.

There are about as many stories

it came from as there are forms of the dance existing People

like to claim it came from their area or from som~an~ I believe it actually they knew! proQably did come I believe the country, from began

they knew.

their area or someone

the Lindy

in clubs like the Savoy, around springing ~led, up as a response traveled,

concurrently The bands trav-

to swing music.

people

and Southerners

influenced

North-

erners,

Easterners

influenced

Westerners. in the Lindy and its termi-

There are regional derivatives, nology which dance history

differences

and differences confuse dancers

in the use of the same and make teaching

and writing as

difficult.

Often the same word, such

"Shag," has three di f feren t meanings . Lindy derivative, the old-time

(South Carol i na 's

1930's dance, and a new Cali-

fornia dance are all called the Shag. different dances.) as a complete

All three are totally

The Lindy. patterns; rhythms. descendants

dance, contains

two rhythm 8-count

the dancer

alternates

between 6-count and

So do (S.C.) Shag and West Coast Swing, of the early Lindy.

both than

Any Lindy with less

60

these two is incomplete. The Lindy is a smooth dance. denced by the best Shaggers So is the Shag Beach, (as eviHarry in the and

I saw in Myrtle

Driver and 3030 Putnam) and West Coast swing great dancing of Jimmy Bonternple of Ontario,

(as seen

California, and

Phil Trau of San Francisco). fine-tuned enough,

When one is experienced the step,

one can play with

the music,

and one's partner, nuance, converse

and through improvisation

and subtle (and

with one's partner

and the musicians

the audience,

if one is performing). space, across the room, in

The Lindy can travel through whereas

the Shag and West Coast Swing usually This may be due to the more crowded in which those dances are danced.

are danced dance

one spot.

floors

in the areas

Swing dancing, Swing, is becoming

including Lindy, more popular,

Shag, and West

Coast

although

there is a lot

more -danCing done in the South and in the West than in the East. better In g~neral, West Coast Swing dancers dance, the Lindy, like their dance_ which they c~n-

than_ their ancestor Easterners

sider old.

tend to prefer

the Lindy and don't I find this situaare missing out on

seem too interested tion unfortunate great things

in West Coast Swing.

because

r

think people

from each. D.C. and Boston a~e following in the fODt~

washington,

61

steps of the New York swing Dance Society and organizing more activities dance it. non-profit to preserve the Lindy, to learn it and to function as single city-wide smaller

These three groups organizations,

as opposed to the numerous

clubs you find in the West and the South. What is interesting black-rooted dance, is that although the Lindy is a Dance of

in New York at th~ New York

Swing

Society dances,

there are many black dancers; Savoy dancers. the Lindy.

but most There

them are older, many'original many young black dancers doing

are not

On my travels at all doing

·West and South, I saw almost the Shag or West Coast Swing. couldn't swear to it.)

no black dancers

(I would say zero, but I

There are some on the West Coast, like Erin Pasadena, and Jonathan

Stevens

of

Bixby and Sylvia Sykes of Santa There are others,

Bar-

bara, who like the Lindy.

like Shirley who

Fietsam of Anaheim and Nick Lawrence are interested like myself, in all styles,

of San Francisco,

and some on the East

Coast,

Margaret

Batluchok,

and some of my students Jonathan and

like Susan Hoffman, who like, them all too.

Sylvia do a style of Lindy that was developed Coast by Dean Collins.

on the west white New

Dean Collins, an excellent

York Lindy Hopper brought

the Lindy out West in the 30's, Liftdy
fBUtifi@§

wh~re he tau~ht and ehoreographed

f~r ~how§

62

and movies.

His style 1s not a black style,

but it is very

smooth and c.ircular, using s·wing outs and swi tches (a swiveling movement George's partner's directly descending move). around the country The New York from Twist Mouth

You might say it is the white groups that are working to keep swing dancing

alive.*

Swing Dance Society was formed by a group swing dance enthusiasts, a place to dance. We~ad myself included,

of ten young white who wanted to have

danced at a club called City in 1983. where When

Limits, where I met my partner George Lloyd it closed we all would go up to Small's Cobbs's band used to play, in Harlem.

Paradise During

Al

that time s or.e New York and swing

members of the Swedish Swing Society visited got us thinking about the idea of starting society.

a New York

Soon after we began having meetings

and held our We have been in of about of the

first dance at the Cat Club on May 5, 1985. existence ever since. three hundred.

We have a steady membership

We are dedicated

to the preservation

Lindy and emulate
I

the older black dancers,

the best of whom We encourage

am privileged

enough to have as my partners.

participation

of all races, but especially

black dancers,

equal efforts by Frank Manningl Norma M~ller, Al Cobbs, and Mama La Parks. • This is not to say that there aren't

black indiViduals

around New York sueh as

63

out of respect for their contribution, good black dancers,

and

especially

the

of which there are many.

(This is not contribu-

say there are not excellent white dancers whose tions and dancing deserve respect.) When I was planning a trip to Greenville,

South Caroby a Southerner not be welthis. She

lina, for George and myself, I was cautioned currently

living in New York that George might

comed because he is black. said they had private races.

r didn't understand

clubs down there to exclude

certain

The club members were older, as opposed

to the We

younger members of the ~ew York Swing Dance ended up not going because of it. Phoenix, Los Angeles,

Society. I was in

Also, when

Las Vegas, and Myrtle

Beach,

I didn't I have

see any black dancers. many black partners.

To me this was unusual,

since

I can't come to any definite

statement

about this, except to say either black dancers wanted places, in these places, or they do not want

are not

to go to these Although

or they do not know about these places.

racial prejudice

may exist I think that if black dancers there would be sufficient welcome and X

went to these events, support

from the other dahcers to change the situatioh. has just never come up that black Maybe they feel too I showed

think the situation

dancers have gone to these events. uncomfortable

as the only black person.

a tape of

64

George and myself was very surprised

to a dancer teacher in California that my partner was black.

and she

She didn't

say why, but she didn't seem impressed with the dancing. Maybe it was that she didn't like the Lindy as well as West Coast Swing, maybe she didn't like ou~ dancing.

I am not one to say black culture is totally responsible for the Lindy; dancers. that black dancers are better than white I did, I got the idea that or crediting

In some of the research

the writers were advocating blacks for everything. Savoy,

black supremacy

There were white dancers at the

like John Lucchese, and dance~s like Dean Collins, as well, and who helped popularize the

who were excellent dance. American

popular culture,

black and white, embraced

swing music.

One might say it was not until Benny Goodman, (who happened to have been the first and hire 1a black band), came

a white band leader

band leader to cut across racial barriers musician, along

thus having the first interracial

that swing was accepted:

It may be true that black

bands who were as good as his were not noticed until Benny Goodman's success opened the door, but that doesn't say good. It just says that society was still is.

Benny Goodman wasn't still prejudiced

at that time, and it probably

Jazz music and swing dancing

are fun, soulful expresEasterne~s and·

sions that can be shared by black and white,

65

Westerners,

together.

I

see nothing wrong with wanting

to·

keep one's own style, spects the different

or liking it best, as long as one restyles of another good dancer. Person-

ally, I want to learn as many styles and as much as I can that appeals process. to me, and thus develop my own style in the 1s that I will take from each what it has

My dream

to offer me, fits me best, so ! can assimilate own style.
I want

it into my

to be able to dance well, communicating from any more types the

in an inspiring .area or style. versatility of music. same piece. Dancing tion.

mann~r, with any other good dancer Developing a larger vocabulary in interpreting

allows

and expression

different

It also allows for changes of mood within

is an artistic

and physical

means of communicaand the

How it feels is most important to the dancers and also comes through in how it looks.

partner,

Joy,

grief, anger, and playful wit, as well as visual moving design, can all be expressed and shared through dancing. unique

Each dancer's entity.

soul is a valuable and irreplaceable

It is a gift to one's life experience.

It would be
or racial

a shame to miss out on one because of regional differences. These kinds of limitations

create barriers.

Opening up and learning
jt's fun.

from others is not only enriching,

66

CHAPTER Artistic

II Aims

The artistic versions

aim of my thesis is to show different their similarities and

of the Lindy and discuss in relation

differences

to where and why they are danced, and personalities of the dancers that The who

and to the background~ dance them. lends itself great dancers

I want to present to individual don't

the Lindy as a dance and creativity.

styling

try to copy others exactly,

but stand for these

out as those who have used the Lindy form as a vehicle their own personal dancers dancing well .. If I had to give a few words the four dancers is charismatic, cally strong, aggressive. to characterize as artists, expression. I want to distinguish others

and thus encourage

to treat their

not only as a soclal

form, but as an art form as

each of

I taped, I would say first, Frank Manning intellectual, and full of wit. He is physialmo~t

solid, and definitive

in his movements,

His steps are large and clear.

He takes over

the space and takes charge of his partner! winning smile.

with ~ laughing,

67

George Lloyd dances on a slide. on ice. His steps

is graceful

and smooth,

like butter.

He

He moves across

the floor as if he were with He has

are small and he is ~ore concerned than the space around quality. him.

dancing with his partner a personal, underplayed

His feet and legs move gravity. He of

quickly and he has a lightness has a lilt and a light driving a perfected musical

that surpasses

bounce that are a product

sense of rhythm and timing. the center of his body

When. Charlie

Meade dances,

moves, and the earth moves. torso relates

His hips move side to side, his reach
in

to the space around him, and his arms His steps are large and placed his whole body and energy

out to his sides. the music. step. He puts

evenly

into every

Tom Lewis dances with his partner, working

closed in and intimate,

in a huddle and the floor, He concentrates leads

or in a huddle with himself with his feet.

out new syncopations

on his footwork his partner

and solo material interesting

while he comfortably

through

huddling,

cuddly moves and away thriving

then into long swing-outs, from him.

leading them energetically
smooth, or energetic, ifi

He can be slippery

on throwing, rhythms.

squattin~ .artdkiekin~

varying eompl!x

68

Frank Manning, Lindy Hoppers

now seventy-three,

was one of Whitey's as a conin in the man the

from 1936 to 1941.

Frank began dancing

child, and by the time he was sixteen he was winning tests and almost professional.

He came in third place

the first Harvest Moon Ball in 1936, and second place one the following yea~. He became Whitey's and with Whitey's right-hand

and chief choreographer world and appeared Brothers'

group toured

in the films Hellzapoppin'

and the Marx During the war the

A Day at the Races in the 1940's. shows to entertain

he put together

the troops.

After

war he toured the U.S. with his own group, with the bands of Cab Calloway, Basle. Frank originated many of the aerial

The Congaroos, and Count

Duke Ellington,

steps by taking "the stops," on,

floor steps one step further. fr~ezing

He originated

in the middle of a number and then continuing

to the" song "Posin'."

He also did the first Lindy routine doing the same

which was danced by more than one couple steps at the same time. changing He believes

in seeing a step and He doesn't When dancer be-

it and taking it one step further.

lieve in a right and a wrong way to do a step. graphing, he choreographed for each individual

choreoand

let each couple do thelr OWn speci~l st@ps ing everyone to be the same.

inst~ad ef fere~

69

Frank Manning has an incredible great love for dancing. open and generous

amount

of energy

and a He is

He is threatened

by no one.

and takes everyone

in without

criticism. everybody mind, to

Frank is a natural performer. watches. His early performing

When he dances

experience,

his active of material

and his years of dancing give him a wealth draw upon. He constantly

creates new routines

and uses them and

as little sections

in his social dancing.

Performing Helll

social dancing are one~and the same to him. ~points"

callout

or "tango dip," and he and his partner they have memorized.

will go into is

a 16-count sequence

His repertoire to watch.

full of such sequences Steady partners

and they are interesting

get to know more and more of these routines, at any point in the dance in phrases instead that he

which he may callout wishes.

It is like writing

at

woids.

~e

uses the basics as linking steps. Frank moves across the room -- forward, by side, circling, with a powerful posture Circling backwards, backwards, skipping room. His side --

hopping,

energy that conquers

the whole

is generally

low to the floor, his head bowed and torso is paralin the ver-

his left leg kicking away so that his whole lel to the !loor at times. tical plane. sidewards

His style is bouncy,

(None of the four 11m describing

here uses a

rocking of the torso.

Most hold their torsos

70

calm, isolating them from their hips and legs.

Charlie

does

a slight torso rock, but not like you see b~ginners rock'n'rollers do.) Frank uses a double

or 50'~ on

bounce, a bounce

every beat of the music.

He dances with a strong lead:

the

woman has no option but to follow, or be wrong.

He dances
His He witty,

to the beat of the music and to the mood of the music. posture changes with his interpretation of the mood. something

dances saying something with his movements,

some dance talk -- a v~riation on the rhythm, doing a number
pf

swing-outs with different syncopations

at the end of each He is

one, or a new posture, or facing or way of coming in. innovative and always thinking and playing around.

George Lloyd dances by feeling the music. intellectualize or think of steps.

He doesn't

He doesn't do routines. and his

He doesn't plan ahead; he stays right with the music feelings at the time. His mood doesn't

change much except to energetic. With George George

from serious to happy, or from relaxed

does not do a large variety of new steps.

it is

not his wit or the amount of moves, but it is the way he moves. George was not a professional dancer. He never rehearsed except dancer. Re was a social

to work out some aerials.
It

Dancing with George can be romantic.

is more intimate,

71 meant for just him and his partner, and if anyone watching off. it might give him a little more else is to show

inspiration

But he doesn't dance with an audience,

the way per-

formers include

their audience -- he dances with a partner. now, was born and grew up in Miami, (track champion) and good

George, sixty-six Florida.

He was a natural athlete in high school

in math while

(George now competes dancing

in tourna-

ment golf and bowling). seventeen.

George started

when he was George

His mother was a good ballroom

dancer.

came up to New York in the 40's and danced Ballroom. France. During

at the Savoy in

the war, he won two Lindy contests

He came back to the New York area and choreographed In 1957 and 1958 he entered Barbara Bates the Harvest Moon

USO shows.

Ball with his partner, pounds),

(she weighed

105

and they did 13 air steps in 3 minutes .. When they enter and six

didn't win the second year, George said held never again. But in 1983, he met me, Margaret Batiuchok,

months later we entered the Harvest Moon ball and won. didn't do any aerials. We did strictly floor work. his sliding

We

By this time George had developed
t

style. and

He had hurt his back in 1969 and had a disk operation, in the 1970'S he broke his arm. aerials. After that he gave up

His sliding style, he claims,

lets the floor do

the ~o~k for him.

The slide looks elegant,

graceful,

and

72 really cool, because it does look like he is not doing any else -- the floor? -- move balance 'and rhythm. This

work, and is letting something him around.

George has impeccable

allows him to keep his balance partner.

and not tug or pull on his the

His timing lets his leads occur at precisely These two things make him an incredibly partner to dance with.

right moment. smooth counts ing up. the Lindy

and wonderful

It also acor warm-

for how he can get by without

any practicing

We had jti~tmet and didn't practice at all and'won competition of the Harvest Moon Ball. couple (We were the

the first interracial first to enter; from the Harvest George His posture tilt towards

to win, and most likely

the next year the Lindy portion was dropped Moon Ball.)

works from a narrow base and takes small steps. is fairly upright the floor. with a slight 20-degree torso

He stays pretty much in one place,

and can dance well in a very small area if need be. Something else that adds to George's smoothness is the on the

way he uses his feet and knees.

His weight is mostly

balls of his feet and he uses his feet, ankles and knees
I

rocking back and forth from heel to toe and lifting dropping the knees slightly.

and from a

This controls his weight

falling heavily wonderful

into a flat foot, and helps him achieve lightness. This may be a Southe~n

rhythmic

1nflu-

73 ence. When I was in South Carolina the Shag dancers there

did a lot of ankle back and sideways, too moved very conserves

and knee rolling and rocking isolating movements conserving

forward and They

in those areas.

smoothly,

their energy.

George

his energy, but when he feels like it he can take His feet can move like lightning underwithout it

off into flight.

neath him as he does some fancy syncopation, affecting his torso. and

George holds his partner

close and

comfortably,

is serious when he dances

for fun.

Charlie ~amaica,

Meade,

now fifty-six,

was born in Kingston, The

in 1932, where he learned to dance as a boy.

music at the clubs he went to was mainly In the early land, where tive dancer
501s,

calypso and swing. he moved to Eng-

when he was eighteen,

he became a professional

jazz, tap, and primi-

in the shows of Buddy Bradley.

All of the

others in the show were trained dancers, preferred werenlt dancers who were naturally

but Buddy Bradley

good to those who

and had training

(or those who were good and were some of beina). Charlie

ruined by training,
I

as he accused

toured Europe

with Bradley's Cleopatra,

shows.

Later he was hired to filmed in Rome. He with

dance in the movie stayed in Italy

which was

and worked as a twist dancer performing

a pa~tner in nightclubs allover

Italy.

When he moved to

74 New York in the 1960's, he met with his friend, tap dancer Baby Lawrence, ing. But Baby Lawrence ... until in hopes of continuing Charlie stopped the famous his dancfor

died.

dancing

20 years

the early 1980's when he went

to see Gate.

Norma Miller's Norma Miller, original

Lindy Hop group perform still an active Linder

at the Village

dancer, was a member Charlie

of the

Whitey's

Hoppers.

had met Norma It was there

when they were both performing Norma introduced and that I should but I did anyway. me to Charlie,

in Europe.

saying he was a good dancer I w~s a bit skeptical, We won the Lindy contest later we ran into one and began

dance with him. And was I glad.

there on our first dance! another getting worked again at Small's together on some

Six months Paradise

in Harlem,

for weekly

rehearsals.

For about a ye~r we together. ex-

jazz, African,

and tap routines

Charlie perience

incorporates

routines from his performance

into his Lindy dancing.

He tends to do things in out their names, and

sets of fours and leads them not by calling but by just going leadable into them. They seem

to be simple

and within
J

the Lindy's basic counts. flat on faCing up the circular go of my hands, We improvise

They lend a or

nice unison

look when done

one another, Lindy.

side by side, which breaks also breaks move~ away, letting

Charlie

and we do separate use

facing one another.

and sometjmes

75 moves from our routines, but never do the whole routine or do them in order. original Lindy This breakaway section was done in the the Lindy as unas much these days. flat-footed man-

and is what distinguished It is not used

usual in its early days. Charlie

uses a lot of torso movement,

slides, and picking nero He otten

up of the feet in a high-stepping,

works his feet and ankles movement.

in a heel-toe-heelof African dancing, does

toe-sidewards movements,

These are reminiscent

many

of which he got from his primitive Charlie

many of which

he had from being Jamaican.

drops and low lunges to the floor, and then jumps up and away, reaching high above his head. He extends He kicks out diagonout to his side, also at a slight

ally, low and high. away from his body. 20-degree balance. tilt

his arms

His torso is upright,

towards the floor.

He uses his arms for moving side to side as he His Lindy

His hips are constantly

steps -- simil~r doesn't travel,

to calypso dancing,

I imagine.

but stays in one place.

He uses the his arms, which are He turns hi8 partner in between the steps He

lateral space held higher
I

and space above him with

than Frank's or George's. a lot of diagonal kicks

a lot and does ot the pattern doesn't do much patiqns.

or in place of the steps fast footwork, but does

in the pattern. steady,

even syncoas his

Charlie's

arms and legs reach

at diagonals

76

body tilts.

When

Charlie gets excited by the music, jumps, landing one foot and then and lets out audible

he does

little sidewards and pushes harder

the other,

grunts of pleasure. and

The people watching

love to see his total involvement They often applaud.

his use of low and high level.

Tom Lewis

is thirty-four studied

and began dancing

a little four

over a year ago.~e

with me for nine months,

hours a week privately,

and with hard work became

one of the He was

top dancers in the New York Swing Dance Society. born in Newark, grew up in Manhattan

and New Jersey,

attending PS 41, Stuyvesant University.

High School and New York done much three

It's hard to believe that he hadn't

dancing of any kind before. times with George

He has already performed "relief pitcher."

and me, as George's

Tom has a good sense of timing and a comfortable He dances a smooth style; his partner is not pulled

lead. at as he

steps into or off of a foot. cool and smooth.
I

Tom has a style

that looks

He hunches his shoulders

and looks at his and move-

feet, which are doing constant menta.

fancy variations

He can only afford to pay his feet so much attention and he does. his part-

if he leads his partner properly,

Tom uses a lot of intimate moves of circling
I

ner in and moving

her around his back, from one arm to the

77
other, or bring1ng movements outs. steps. her straight into his arms. He does

closely side by side, using hip bumps as sendside to side whenever he He

His hips move slightly His weight is
8

little back towards his heels. throw his

may do close, tiny, subtle I moves and suddenly partner out and continue

to move at a more energetic His movements

pace.

He lets the music change his mood. moods. He has little performing

have many

experience

so he tends

almost to shut out onlookers so he can concentrate
moves. Tom works in constant,

on hi~

fancy, lovely syncopations

which

he makes up or copies, and practices. out so both can improvise ~ants

He sends his partner loosely. When he

for a few bars,

to, he knows just how to signal again.

her so they can come and slides, and trying

in on time together legs moving

He uses stretches extending

apart and together,

himself

new things all the time. side and into the ground partner

He pushes out on his feet to the for a side slide. He leans on his him

if she is balanced move.

enough and lets her support Then he may support her. of body weight,

tor an off-balance
I

This

weight fun.

give-and-take,

transfer

is a lot of

Tom also follows his partner. his younger

This may have

to do with

age and men not used to leading

in everything

18

any more, or from his inexperience.

Or it may come

from my

teaching him and my own desire to move out on my own more and have a responsive man who can follow me sometimes. go into

(George does that a little when I accidentally something.

But I don't feel as free to go into something of my own choice with George.) Whatever It could be

intentionally

I'm looser with Tom. makes the conversation the dance tighter.~he

it is, this give-and-take in ef-

a more mutual one and the union expression is more of a mutual to

fort and one which gives the woman more opportunity express herself. showboat,

In old films it is the man who is the In South Carolina that is especially to do wilh

the peacock.

true today.

West Coast dancers give the woman more

than we Lindy dancers did (until now).

I like danclng

Torn becauie he lets me go into some of the moves would be nice, or just feel like doing.

I think
by

He responds

letting the dance go that way, and then taking it from there.

79

Conclusion

and Dedication

The doing of this thesis project how rich a dance present in dance.

has made me realize

the Lindy is and how much goes into and is It encompasses all of life. This work

has made me apprec~ate dancing

how much life has to offer, how much people him a and per-

has to offer life, and how much individual Each person has within unique characteristics,

have to offer one another. depth of inner knowledge, sonal experiences and valuable

that make him a special,

irreplaceable,

human being. aim of my pi~ce changeu a bit while I had planned to call the tape styles of I ~:aS

The artistic editing "Lindy,

the videotape. 198811

and objectively

show the different

each of the dancers, analyzing in relationship backgrounds viewing

steps and body parts moving

to one another and the space, and to the What I was filled with upon

of the dancers.

the final edited tape was not the degree of body of spirit within of

angle with the floor, but the magnificence each of the dancers. steps, movin~ and the dancing The interviews,

the explanation

together revealed a more emotionally

piece than th~ technical one I expected.

80

Frank Manning more energy olds.

is seventy-three

years old.

This man has

and enjoyment

of life than most twenty-year-

.

His personality

and sense or humor exude from him a~ through

he dances,

but also as he talks and laughs and goes antics.

his animated

He is a public, visible, and generous through a generous beams

man, and this comes out in his dancing, use of space and a generous for miles and miles.

use of his smile, which

Then there is George Lloyd, a more private man. goes about spotlight, manner his business unnoticed until he is given

He the his

He may feel unappreciated

at times because

does not invite attention.

His delicate personality of not

has not allowed being welcome fairly because group.

him to totally forget his experiences

because of his color, or not being judged of his lack of affiliation expression with a certain His

Flamboyant

of joy is not his thing. To see George smile

joy is more subtle and private. rare and wonderful tent on perfection occurrence.

is a in-

A more serious nature,

and subtle detail,

George's best performTo see George's achiev-

ance is given when it is dancing

not asked for.

with me, a white girl thirty years younger, delicate communication,

ing a beautiful, and complex pain.
I

brings to me rich

feelings.

!t§ b~auty @xi§tc in spite of worldly

81

Then there is Charlie Meade, who loves to danc~. doesn't have to be sophisticated or cool ~ovement.

It

He loves His

to move his body.

He grunts out of joy when he dances. approach, but mor~ a feeling one,

is not the intellectual

with the energy of the beat moving and pushing sonality, totally doesn't into the floor.

through his whole body per-

Frank dances as a thinking

smiling,

joking with his moves, moving or a movement but,expresses

his body George de-

into a posture create

or a routine.

routines,

subtle musical

tails, allowing skillfully music.

the music to lead and inspire him, as he to feel what he feels from the of the two with his elegant Charlie's movements are

leads his partner

There is a togetherness rhythmic feeling.

and gracefully more animalistic

and on a more basic inner level.

He lets

his whole body dance in the space, more ture. through again. alive He moves like a big African

free of the strucdipping and up

bird, hovering,

the air, or landing sideways A rather reserved person,

onto the ground

Charlie's

inner self comes

in his dancing.

His wide stance

and wide arm reach It's like dancing

express

his joy and his peace with it.

gives his inner self a place to be -- to live and move around in. It's like the real Charlie, free and happy,

comes alive and inhabits his body. Tom Lewis said on the tape that he entered the Cat Club
I

82

Swing Society land.

dance and it was like stepping that he immersed

into a fantasy in lessons on his

Tom was so struck listening

himself

and constant

to swing music. he could.

He practiced
To dance

own and with others

whenever

with someI

one who was so instantly taught, and who dances and warm inside. man achieved sometimes
50

in love with dancing,

whom

well, made me proud,' respectful, musicality, such as Benny Gooddancing

A delicate

on his ,clarinet, is what Tom's smooth A driving force of chaotic

achieves.

syncopations his

and fast swing-outs dancing may take on. ing just the right

and pull-ins Charming

is another

expression saying

and eloquent,

or dancjoy.

thing at times, make Tom a bright in his lead. He follows

He is not heavy-handed ner's movements

his partfreedom in

and accommodates his partners

them.

He enjoys

his step and allows At times

the same. fluid and smooth. He

immobile,

Tom is always

gets through his moves, plan. He always

intent on them, without with.

an overall exists a we chat Tom is a

feels good to dance then a freestyle

There where

comfort zone and

section,

with our feet, hips, and syncopated little shy, a little humorously his steps. With all four of these guys, and a ,personal shared expression.

punctuations.

flirtatious,

and mostly into

I feel a comfort, As! wat~hed

a love,

th~ t~p~ and

83 put the last song on, "You Brought Me," shivers ran down my spine, a New Kind of Love of how great to enable to each me to and medium.

thinking is

one of them is, and how great dancing know them in this way and experience enable us to create and express Dancing, because

these feelings, its embracing expression, resolution, -- dance

within

of all it provides passion,

union, and

challenge,

love, conflict,

analogy, is my love

more than that, its self, "the dance" and my life. And each of these

four partners

and all that their of

they are, brought dance with me. each of them. change

a new kind of love to me, by sharing to and appreciative

I am truly thankful I want to dedicate

my thesis to them, and a New you,

the title from "Lindy,

1988" to "You Brought

Kind of Love to Me."

Thank you, in order of my meeting

George, Charlie, Frank, and Tom.

You certainly did.

84

CHAPTER Technical

III Essay

In setting

up the performance

of great Lindy

Hopp~rs,

I

first had to decide whom to ask, and then see if they would be willing to perform. dancers I wanted the best dancers styles, ages, in New and backth~

York and wanted grounds.

of different

I thought of many of my partn~rs I chose the four dancers George Lloyd,

and limited

number to four. most: Lewis.

I dance with the Meade, and Tom was born is

Frank Manning, Frank,

Charlie

seventy-three

years old, is black, George,

in Florida,

and grew up in New York; Charlie is black,

sixty-six, from Ja-

black, from Miami; maica, moved

fifty-six,

to England when he was eighteen;

Torn, thirtyand

four, is white and from the New York area. Charlie were professional The most difficult dancers, thing about George

Frank,

and Tom were not. project was

the whole

dealing with each of their personalities. each to feel comfortable, well. honored,

I wanted

them

and inspired relatively

to dance comforta-

They all felt somewhat

honored,

ble, at least much more comfortable aboutrthe camera working,

than I felt, worrying up on time, and

people showing

85 getting what I wanted on tape trom each of them. My own wcrked
I

anxiety plus the time we had to schedule
against inspiration,

the shooting

but all in all, I got what I wanted. dance performance each of us styles

didn't get the most exciting ever gave, but I captured plus a description component parts.

four different

master's

of their view of the Lindy and its

I wanted

to have each dancer taped individually by each other's answers the other ones did.

so they

wouldn't

be influenced

to my quesI also

tions, or by the movements thought

it would make each dancer feel more special

if he
rather

were the only one there, as the center of attention, than having to share time with others.
I also thought

It was a better u~e for me to

of their time.

it would be easier
I feel more

focus on each one individually. one-an-one

comfortable with

and felt better able to set up a rapport separately.
I thought I ended up having

each partner together audience. hindsight shot,

George and Tom with an In

because

George might dance better

Tom admires
I should

George and they get along well.

have included a large audience the performance

for each

to increase

level and level of fun. if they would dance with
to.
I

I asked each one individually

me for the thesis project, and they all agreed
TOM

asked

September
I

17,

19S', Frank

September

22i

Charlie

Septem-

86

ber 30, and George months before the idea. None was overjoyed.

that when I originally When I reminded George I

had about

it he grumbled wanted

a little bit, but they all consented.

to get it done as soon as possible

after they contheir

sented, before anything got in the way or they changed minds, as George almost did at the last minute, he didn't something feel like it. It was difficult just on

'cause

working

that was v~ry important

to me, and getting of dedication.

others None of any.

to be involved with the same amount

them would take any money for it, as I wasn't getting I offered it, but they said they wanted to do it of mine.

for me. I appreof its

They are all friends and steady partners ciated not having

to pay them, but it put the strain

being a favor to me upon the whole situation. I didn't set up a rehearsal but danced with each of Society every

them at the Cat Club dances and at other Swing Dance functions~ I had been rehearsing with Charlie almost

week for about a year, was currently weekly practice sessions, had danced

dancing with Frank at with Tom four hours a

week for the nine months he studied with me~ and I dance with him socially. 1983 Harvest George would never practice. We won the We

Moon Ball together without though.

one practice.

dance socially ?ettihg

up the times to shoot was not too difficult

but

87

ended up having certain problews. studio

I decided

to rent the it was inbeen the same that I so my

in which I teach one of my classes because and everyone I wanted

expensive

knew where it was, all having to use the same studio with
l

there before. background

for each of them

so the only variation

would stand out would be each man's individual wanted dancing

dancing.

to shoot them all as close together as possible would be as similar to itself as possible.

I wanted

to be in the same frame of mind, and not have any new chdnge or influence appear appear in my dancing in one shoot that didn't factor, they

in the other.

I was to be a control

were to be the variables. The lighting videotaping. reasons, in the studio was a factor to consider to us~ natural lighting for

I wanted

for monetary and around time that noon.

so we needed

to shoot in the daytime,

the same time of day for each one.

Also, the only around

they all could make it was weekend mornings Unfortunately, dance, this is not the most inspired

time to social for rentor

but it was a time the studio was available

ing and it was a time that none of the guys was working out socializing. Donald Young, fore, agreed dance~ who had taped my dancing many

times be-

to do the taping. (he had danced

He was an ex-professional ballet, musical theater, and

himself

88

jazz with fessional industrial used

the American

Dance Machine),

and had done proI own

video work in Minnesota camera, portable

some years ago.

GE VCR, and a tripod, which he

to do the taping. each ti~~.

The camera was set up in the same

position

We found the best angle which provided of glare

the most amount

of lighting with the least amount We draped

from the sun or the mirrors. doorway to avoid

a curtain over the pass in December

seeing people who were not involved Donald taped Frank Manning

and out of the picture. 12, and George

Lloyd and Tom Lewis on December the studio, studio

20, 1987. (287 Broadway, for painting they Charlie My for

Unfortunately, one block the week painted later, sister, north

E.G.G.

of Chambers

Street),

was closed

I wanted the studio

to shoot Charlie Meade. the same color!

Luckily

I had to shoot

and at a time that Donald was not available. Susan Rummel, was visiting

New York from Montana

Christmas· vacation. and was a lighting had never worked shoot 1988. Charlie

She is an excellent technician

still photographer

in high school years ago, but before. She agreed to

with a videocamera

and me for me.

She taped us on January

3rd,

In the time between asking the studio the dFnces time, I planned
! wanted

the dancers

and setting up to ask and

the questions I wrote

I wanted

to do.

this down and gave e&ch

89 of the dancers scription a copy of this, along with a brief verbal deI wanted to accomplish lends itself by the performance, to individual I gave in-

of what

i.e., to show how the Lindy terpretation a day or two and styling

by great dancers. I wanted

them this

(or three) before.

them to be precould be some-

pared but not too prepared, what spontaneous. I decided vide the same see the men's it was visible unbroken line.

so their answers

to wear the same costume basis of comparison I decided

each time, to prowhich one could jumpsuit for an so

against

styles.

to wear a white

for the camera, It allowed

and all one color,

a view of leg and hip movements I thought ·street clothLs for social danc-

that would be hidden rather than leotards ing. I purposely

by a skirt.

were more appropriate

didn't

tell the men what to wear, come up with.

to see it and

what each would might express personal

individually

I thought

something

more about their personalities

approaches. able to compare the style of each dancer, I

To be better I decided to have

each one dance to the exact same songs. a medium-slow favorite swing number

chose "Shiny Stockings," Basie, Frank Manning's

by Count

song; a version

of "One

O'Clock .1ump," a faster swing song that Geo:r-ge Lloyd alwaY$ requests when we do demonstrations: liThe Peeper," by Hank

90 Crawford, one of Charlie M~ade's favorite artists, who does a New Kind

more of a rhythm and blues

jazz; and "You Brought Goodman number,

of Love to Me," a smooth Benny

my favorite,

one that Tom Lewis taped for me to use in his lessons as my student.
I wanted

to see how each dancer

interpreted

the

same music. To further analyze among the dancers, the differences and similarities to see how

I thought

it would be helpful technically.

each looked at the" dance itself,

I asked each

one what they thought the basic step was. older men had ever taken lessons. some teaching. a year ago. step. Then

None of the three had done about

Frank Manning

Tom Lewis began dancing

as my student

Each one danced

what he considered

the basic

I asked each one to show me a "swing-out,1! a

reverse and a tuck-in turn, a kick step, and a jig walk. Sometimes showing I had to explain the terminology I was using, by "How do you Then I which they to me. Big Apple,

them which move I meant.

I asked each,

count the rhythm -- or do you count the rhythm?" asked them if they knew or created added into their Lindy, and would Then I asked them to demonstrate any routine6 they show them any Charleston,

and Shim Sham moves they knew. Lastly, interviewed but possibly not presented to each lastly, I demonstration. Thus

them verbally only, without

91

I had a pure dance section, sectlon of showing and an interview in the interview:

an interview/dance-demonstration down steps without music, I asked

and breaking

section.

These were the questions

• Where did you begin dancing taught you?

-- how old were you,

who

• Tell me a bit about your personal

history.

• How often did you~go out -- do you go out now? • Did you practice • What qualities with a partner?

do you like in a partner?

• What do you like about the Lindy? • What is necessary important? • Do you do other dances? • Do you know who created the Lindy -- what dances it came to dance a good Lindy? What is

from -- how it developed? • Who were·your favorite dancers? and now? 40's? now?

• Did people dance differently

in the 20's? 30's; old styles? How?

• Do any dancers we know now resemble

• Did your style change over the years? • Can you compare your style How is it different? to others?

How is it the same?

• ~o you have any visual or other images while dancing? • How po you create steps?

92 • Do you think about dancing, times during the day? Since each dancer is different, I had to feel out and Being relaxed or new or old moves, at other

be aware of the needs of each individually.

and pleasant and putting them at ease, trying to keep them satisfied and doing their best, was the most difficult things task to run

while I was tense about the camera and getting the way I wanted. I was sensitive

to each one's mood whe~

he walked in and throughout events accordingly.

the time, and chose the order of In some I he

I saw how tired each one was.

cases, such as with George, who gets winded easily,

started with the fast song, to get it over with before tired out and would not want to do it. slightly tired after a dance, Or if one was

I would go into the question to the to build and

and movement section for a break, and then return next dance. Or I might do the interview and enthusiasm section,

up self-esteem enthusiasm: memories,

if I felt a lack of energy warm

The telling of their past experiences, was impressive,

and accomplishment

and made everyto do

one inspired to dance. the next dance.

At that point I would return

I wanted to move right along, without

breaks, to keep the energy going and to get each dancer finished

in

one sessIon.

The o~der of events

W~§

different

for eqch according

to what I felt would work best for the

93

energy of the piece. with each dancer.

I spent between

two and four hours

To edit the tape, I had to decide upon an interesting and effective dancer dancing an introduction order. I put an eight-minute section of each as for

two minutes of Basie's or overview,

"Shiny Stockings"

to serve as an appetizer introduced,

the rest of the tape.

Then I verbally

on tape, in

each dancer, with a brief description the same order they· appeared be seen in the first section,

of his background,

in the introduction eldest to youngest.

and would

Section I was the dance demonstration. the eldest, Frank Manning, who demonstrated believed the Lindy

I began with the dance he he conthe I did

evolved from, and also the steps steps in the Lindy. Then I danced

sidered the basic

entire "Two O'Clock this with George. Section

Jump" by Harry James with Frank.

Charlie, and Tom, n~xt. I spoke with

II was the interview section.

each dancer about his background, to dance, what qualities thought was important Hank Crawford's view.

where and how he learned and what he to

he liked in a partner.

to good Lindy dancing.

I danced

"The Peeper" with each one after his interthe order. speaking to Tom, the youngest,

I reversed

first, ending with Frank Manning, cally, influential background

who had the most histori-

of all four.

94

Section I began

III was the style and favorite dancers

section.

again with Tom, and asked about how he created were (which turned out to and to describe his

steps, who his favorite dancers include style.

Frank, George, and Charlie), Tom and I then danced

the last number to be danced I then

by all four, "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me." asked Charlie George the same questions

(his favorites included to the same last song

and Tom), and I then danced

with him. Then, as a break importance, secution, senting from the structure, to emphasize its

I chatted with George about his feelings

of per-

as an outsider

from the group of dancers repreMoon Ball, to his being restaurants and clubs.

the Savoy at the Harvest at certain

black and not welcomed

These all are part of his dance history, in general, included

and dance history included.

and not a part that is usually

(I.
in

his favorite dancers and his view of his style in Section II.)

his interview powerful emotional

George presented some pretty

information·and climax,

I put this near the end as an a noticeably song,

followed by us, suddenly

white-and-black "You Brought happier
I

couple, dancing

to the sweet, pretty

a New Kind of Love to Me."

To end it on a I

"up" note, I ended with joyful Frank Manning.

asked Frank about his favorite dancers and how he ereated

95

steps

(in his answers he mentioned his style.

George and Tom) and how mutual admiration

he would describe society added

The dancers'

a nice feeling to the film.

I ended with a

dance to "You Brought

Me a New Kind of Love to Me" with

Frank, after which we playfully reintroduced one anolher and
laughed.

96

REFERENCES

1 The Round Dance Book, 1950, cited by Ray Walker, Let's Talk Jitterbug, Information and Education Release the U.S. Swing Dance Council, 6839 North 14th Street, Phoenix, Ariz., 1987, p. 1.

from

2 Richard M. Stephenson and Joseph Iaccarino, The Complete Book of Ballroom Dancing (New York: Doubleday Co., 1980), p. 4.
3 Ray Walker, Let's Talk Jitterbug, Information Education Relea~e from the u.s. Swing Dance Council, North 14th Street, Phoenix, Ariz., 1987, p. 2. 4 Robert P. Crease, liThe Lindy Lives!", 28, No.3 (March 1988), p. 38.

&

and 6839

50 Plus, Vol. Vol. .

5 Robert P. Crease, "Swing Story,lI The Atlantic, 257, No.2 (February 1986), p. 80.

6 Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of the American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1964, pp. 315-316.

7 Dorothea Duryea Ohl, bance Magazine, (November 1956), pp. 90-92.
8
9

Vol. 30,

No. 11

Stearns, Ibid., p.

op. cit., p. 323. 128. 108. May 17, 1929. interview, New Haven, COhn.,

10 Ibid.,

p.

11 After Seben, Paramount, 12 Richard Powers, personal September 30, 1987. 13 Brian Gillie, personal Octobe~ 26, 1987.

interview,

Guilford,

97
14 Powers, 15 Stearns, 16 Cynthia

op. eit. op. cit., p. 329. Millman,

"The Roving Reporter Asks: Jitterbut, Lindy Hop, Swingl What's the Difference?", Footnotes, ed. Gabby Winkel, Vol. 2, No.3 (July-September 1987), p. 3. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. 19 Walker, Richmond, op. cit.

20 "Hey Jitterbug!",

S.O.s. Carefree Times, Box 8343, Va. 23226, Mid-Winter 1988, p. 4.

21 Craig R. Hutchinson, Swing America, 1520 Anderson Ct., Alexandria, Va., 22312, 13 August 1986.

January

22 Frank Manning, 27, 1988.

personal

interview,

New

York,

23 Anatole

clopedia

Chujoy and P. W. Manchester, The Dance Ency(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), p. 503.

24 Anne Barzel, "History of Social Dancing," in The Dance Encyclopedia, compo Anatole Chujoy and P. W. Manchester (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), p. 842.
1916

25 Lynne Emery, Black Dance 1n the Unitea States from to 1970 (New York: Dance Horizons, 1980), p. vii.

26 Russella Branaman, "The Evolution of of Jazz Dance from Folk Origins to Concert Stage" (Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University College of Education, June 1977),
p. 10.
27

Ibid. , p. 112 . op. c It. , p. 110. op. cit. , p. 110.

28 Stearns,
29

Brandman,

30 Ibid. , p. 112.

,31 Brenda Dixon-Stowell,

"Black Dance America:

Hlstor-

ieal Roots," paper presented at Dance Black Amerioa confer-

98 ence, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the State University New York, April 21-24, 1983, p. 13. 32 Emery, op. ei t. , p. 220. 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid. 35 Ibid. , p. 221. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid. op. ei t. , p. 13. of

40 Dixon-Stowell, 41 stearns,

op. eit. , p. 96. Lane

42 Sylvia Dannett .and Frank Rachel, Down Memory (New York: Greenberg Publishers, 1954), p. 75. 43 Brandman, op. eit., p. 115.

44 Vernon ahd Irene Castle, Modern Dancing (New
Harper and Bros., 45 Ibid. 46 Stearns, op. eit., p. 97. p. 13. 1914, p. 177.

York:

47 Dixon-Stowell, 48 Stearns, 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid. , p. 318. 51 Ibid.
52 Ibid.

op. eit., p. 110.

53

Ibid.

99
54 Ibid., p. 320. 55 Brandman, 56 Stearns, 57 Crease,
58

op. eit., p. 124. op. eit., p. 329. "Swing Story," p. 78.

Ibid.

59 Ibid. the Savoy Ballroom,·11unpublished
p. 2. 61 Ibid.
62

60 Norma Miller, "The Home of Happy Feet: A Salute to paper, New York, 1996,

Crease, "Swing Story," p. 78.

63 Ibid. 64 Ibid. 65 Emery,

op. ei t. , p. 235.

100

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barzel, Anne. "History of Social Dancing." In The Dance Encyclopedia, compo Anatole Chujoy and P. W. Manchester. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. Brandman, Russella. "The Evolution of of Jaiz Dance from Folk Origins to Concert Stage." Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University College of Education, June , 1977. Castle, Vernon and: Irene. Modern Dancing. Harper and Bros., 1914. New York:

Chujoy, Anatole, and P. W. Manchester. The Dance Encyclopedia. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. Crease, Robert P. "The Lindy Lives!" No. 3 (March 1988). -------"Swing Story. (February 1986).
II

50 Plus, Vol.

28,

The Atlantic,

Vol. 257, No.2

Dannett, Sylvia, and Frank Rachel. Down Memory York: Greenberg Publishers, 1954.

Lane.

New

Dixon-Stowell, Brenda. "Black Dance America: Historical Roots." Paper presented at Dance Black America conference, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the State University of New York, April 21-24, 1983. Emery, Lynne. Black Dance in the United States 1970. New York: Dance Horizons, 1980. Engelbrecht, Barbara. Research Journal, Spring 1983. from 1916 to

"Swinging at the Savoy." Dance 15/2, Congress on Research in Dance, interview. Guilford, Conn.,

Gillie, Brian. Personal October 26, 1987.

"Hey Jitterbug!" s.O.S. Carefree Times, Box 8343, Richmond, 'Va. 23226, Mid-Winter 1988, p. 4.

101 Hutchinson, Craig R. Swing America. 1520 Anderson Alexandria, Va., 22312, 13 August 1986. Lieberson, Richard. 1986~ Manning, Frank. Personal interview. Ct.,

New York, August

Personal

interview.

New York, January

27,

1988.

Hiller, Not'ma. "The Home of Happy Feet: A Salute to the Savoy Ballroom." Unpublished paper, New York, 1986. Millman, Cynthia. "The Roving Reporter Asks: Jltterbut, Lindy Hop, Swing: What's the Difference?1t Footnotes, ed. Gabby Winkel, Vol. 2, No.3 (July-September 1987), 3.

p.

Ohl, Dorothea Duryea. Dance Magazine, (November 1956), pp. 90-92.

Vol. 30,

No. 11

Schoenberg, Loren (formerly with Benny Goodman).· interview. New York, July 1986.

Personal

Stearns, Marshall and Jean. Jazz Dance: The Story of the American Vernacular Dance. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1954. Stephenson, Richard M., and Joseph Iaccarino. The Complete Book of Ballroom Dancing. New York: Doubleday« Co.,
1980.

Walker, Ray. Let's Talk Jitterbug, Information and Education Release from the U.S. Swing Dance Council, 6839 North 14th Street, Phoenix, Ariz., 1987.

Additional

Sources

Bennett, Richard. Viata Books,

A Picture 1961.

of the Twenties.

London:

Blair, Sk~ppy. Disco to Tango and Back. Downey, Calif.: Golden St8te Teachers' AssOCiation, 1978. Butler, Albert and Josephine. EncyclopeQia of Social Dance.

102 New York: Albert Butler Ballroom Dance, 1980.

Clarke, John Henrik. Harlem: A Community New York: Citadel Press, 1964. Dance, Stanley. Scribner's The World of Swing. Sons, 1974.

in Transition.

New York:

Charles

De Mille, Agnes. America Dances. Publishing Co., Inc., 1980. Finkelstein, Citadel Sidney. Jazz: Press, 1948.

New York: Mu~ic.

Macmillan New York!

A People's

Fonteyn, Margot. The Magic of Dance. Knopf, 1979. ~ Frank, A. H. Social nance. Paul, 1963. London:

New York:

Alfred A.

Routledge«

Kegan

Harris, Jane. Handbook ·of Folk, Square and Social Minnesota, Burgess Publishing Co., 1950.

Dance.

Heaton, Alma. Techniques of Teachinq Ballroom Dance. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University PRess, 1974. Holliday, William. "Shagging." Myrtle Beach, Spring, New 1986.

Hostetler, Lawrence A. The Art of Social York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1934. Humphrey, Doris. Grove Press, Levy, Steven. September

Dancing.

The Art of Making Dances. Inc., 1959.

New York: Rolling Stone,

"Shag Dancing 39, 1982.

& Top Popping."
New York:

McDonough, Don. Dance Fever. Inc., 1979.

Random

House, Green-

Nettl, Paul. The Storv of Dance Music. wood Press, 1947. Rust, Francis. Dance in Society. Kegan Paul, 1969.

New York: Routledge

London:

&

Will~ams, Martin. The Jazz Tradition. University Press, 1983.

New York:

Oxford

103

Visual Horks

A Day at the Races, Eye on Dance. Hellzapoppin'.
1950.

with the Marx Brothers. NYCTV.

MGM,

1937.

ARC Videodance, Universal, 1941.

New York 1985.

The Savoy Ballroom Shag.

of Harlem.

Dir. Mura Dehn .. New York, Educational Televi-

Dir. Rick Sebak. South Carolina sion Network, 1985.

The Spirit Moves.'· Dir. Mura Dehn. Various films from the collection

New York, 1950. of Ernie Smith.

Various films from the collection of the Schomberg L~brarYI
and the Performance Library at Lincoln Center.

Interviews Dancers Tom Lewis George Lloyd Joseph Maslin, teacher, Colorado

Harold Charles Meade Musicians and Musicologists of the Swing Now Trio

Bryant Dupree, Richard

Lieberson

Andre Lubart

,

Sevin Manson,

faculty, Berkeley Sehool ot Music, Boston

104

Tiny Moore,

formerly with Bob Wills

• • •
Special thanks to Margaret and William BatiuchoK, Margaret Cornehlsen, Donald Young, Susan Batiuchok, Ernie Smith, Shirley Fietsam, Carol Teten, Harry Driver, Marie Ged, Paul Berk, Carol Shookhoff, Bob Crease, Gabby Winkel, Ralph Gabriner, Deena Schutzer, Bruce Sager, and Meredith Stead.

And to my other dance partners: John Clifford Wise, Gary Kirmayer, Michael Chambers, Roger Weiss, Larry Michol, Dean Moss, Mark Hollis, "and Carl McGowan, all from City Limits; Gil Taro, Jerry Ooralnick, Frank Werber, Al Leagins, Calvin Johnson, Judy Pritchett, Susan Hoffman, Steve Oppenheim, and Bill Haasters, from the New York Swing Dance S6ciety.

And all my students, and all the members of the N~w York
Swing Dance Society.

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