In the late 20ies Lindy Hop, the Afro-American couple dance, emerged from a.o. tap dance, Charleston, Texas Tommy and Turkey Trot.
You may wonder how it was possible that in times of racial segregation a black dance form could make its way in a black and white dance community. Well, the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York, is the key word. There, as opposed to outside of New York, entrance was permitted to both, black and white dancers. So when black Jazz dancer Shorty George Snowdon together with George Ganaway and Big Bea enjoyed themselves dancing the “Hop”, they were observed by a journalist who curiously wanted to know the dance´s name. Shorty thought for a while, then having in mind Charles Lindbergh´s flight across the Atlantic answered, “Well, we´re doing the Lindy Hop!” That´s how Lindy Hop came into life and got its name.
It became the most popular dance till the late 40ies, in numerous ballrooms as the Cotton Club, the Roseland Ballroom etc. you could go dancing and listen to fab big bands such as Count Basie´s, Cab Calloway´s, Benny Goodman´s, Ella Fitzgerald…. Life went to a party these days and Frankie told us that in some ballrooms they even had signs with “no dancing”, “no breakaways”, or “no Lindy Hoppin´” on it. Born 1914, Frankie Manning is one of the first Lindy Hoppers and inventor of the air steps ( the acrobatic figures you may incorporate in your dancing). In spite of his age, Frankie is still travelling around the world and dances, teaches and as ambassador of ” Planet Savoy” keeps the myth of swing dancing alive. “There are no mistakes in Lindy Hop, but variations” is one of his sayings. Alas, in the late 40ies, the enthusiasm for Lindy Hopping decreased, Frankie earned his living at a post-office, until 1985. Then Steven Mitchell and Erin Stevens, two great American Swing dancers asked Frankie to show them what real authentic Lindy Hopping was like. Later on the Rhythm Hot Shots invited Frankie to Europe and that´s how swing dancing came to life for the 2nd time. Not only in the U.S.A., Africa, Asia, but also in Europe, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Aachen and Cologne you can find crazy swingsters who celebrate this unconventional lively dance and its culture.
(Author: Sabine Schroetter from it-must-schwing.de)