Do you sometimes feel like you were born in the wrong decade? Or, in some cases, the wrong century? Are you a person who can’t get enough of the Swing music that started in the 1920s? That snappy, upbeat, feel-good music deserves a dance that is happy, carefree, and fun. Undoubtedly, it was made for Lindy Hop dancing.
A little bit of Lindy Hop dance history.
The years between 1927 & 1935 are known as the “Classic Era” of Lindy Hop dancing. It started in the clubs in Harlem, NY. At that time, the largest and most popular dance club was the Savoy Ballroom. As the mid-thirties rolled around, interest in Lindy Hop declined and it was a little quiet until the Lindy Hop revival of the 1980s.
Learn more by checking out some of the many good blogs and websites that offer a detailed history of the Lindy Hop. One of the best is here, “The Lindy Circle”.
It’s said that there are 2 main types of Lindy Hop dancing – Savoy Style and Hollywood style.
The above clip is from the movie, Hellzapoppin (1941) and is a great example of the original Lindy Hop. This was the big band era and the music was loud, fast, and exciting. The original, Savoy style of Lindy Hop dancing was very athletic with big, heart-stopping aerials. Aerials are the tricks done by both the leaders and followers. The first aerials were done by one of the original Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, the great Frankie Manning. That’s Frankie dancing the last solo with Ann Johnson.
The Hollywood style was created by a gentleman named Dean Collins. After learning Lindy Hop dancing in New York in the 1930s, he moved to California. While there he smoothed it out to make it more chill. He also taught it with a more upward posture, as opposed to the Savoy style which used more angles, bending at the waist and knees. In addition, the music was slower and had a jazzier feel.
The linked video is an excellent example of the smoother Hollywood style. It’s a favorite…enjoy!
“Stop-Motion Lindy Hop” is the name of this ingenious video. As you will see, it’s a totally unique video that shows moves from the Neo-Swing revival. It’s based on the great Lindy Hop dance revivalists, Max Pitruzzella and Annie Trudeau.
The 1980s brought a renewed interest and excitement about the Lindy Hop. After a short time, people young and old were learning steps like Lindy Circle, Over the Head, Swango, Texas Tommy, Groucho, and every kind of Charleston move you can imagine. And, here’s the cool part, the new style Lindy Hop is a combination of Savoy style and Hollywood style. Accordingly, it works with all tempos of Swing music.
Lindy Hop clubs and performance groups began. In addition, all over the world, there were Lindy Hop dance competitions. Music was changing, too. As more and more young people were dancing, they looked for updated music. For this reason, new Swing bands like Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy enjoyed tremendous popularity.
A piece of history is found.
And, get a load of this. Young Lindy Hop dancers found Frankie Manning working in a post office after being out of the spotlight for decades. He was back! He started with workshops and soon was making tapes and videos for a new generation of Lindy Hoppers. After a short time, his class, style, and love of dance led him to become known as the Ambassador of Lindy Hop.
Be one of the cool cats, get hep to that jive. Becoming a Lindy Hopper will open up a whole new world for you. When you join the movement, you’ll need to learn the vernacular. To that end, here’s a copy of The Hepster’s Dictionary written by Cab Calloway in 1938. For more on Swing dancing, check out the Dance Safari post, “Swing Dancing – It Does a Body Good!“