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’s happy, carefree, and fun. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Lindy Hop.
A little bit of Lindy Hop dance history.
The dance craze known as Lindy Hop started in the clubs in Harlem, NY. At the time, the largest and most popular club was the Savoy Ballroom.
The years between 1927 and 1935 are known as the “Classic Era” of Lindy Hop dancing. However, as the mid-thirties rolled around, interest in Lindy Hop declined. Actually, it was very 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 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 wonderful example of the original Lindy Hop. Because this was the Big Band era, the music was loud, fast, and exciting. Subsequently, the original, Savoy style of Lindy Hop dancing was very athletic with big, heart-stopping aerials.
Aerials are the tricks performed by both the leaders and followers. As a matter of fact, the first aerials were done by one of the original Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, the great Frankie Manning. The group performed in Hellzapoppin and that’s Frankie dancing the last solo with Ann Johnson.
The video linked above is an excellent example of the smoother Hollywood style. By the way, it’s one of my favorite Swing performances…enjoy!
Dean Collins created the Hollywood style. 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.
“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 super Lindy Hop dance revivalists Max Pitruzzella and Annie Trudeau’s performance. Go ahead, click on it…it’s really neat.
The 1980s brought a renewed interest and excitement about the Lindy Hop. Before long, 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. Moreover, 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. Furthermore, all over the world, there were Lindy Hop dance competitions. Equally important, music was changing, too. Accordingly, 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. As a result of all their interest, young Lindy Hop dancers found Frankie Manning working in a Post Office after being out of the spotlight for decades. He was back!
Frankie started hosting 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.
Get hep to that Jive. Be one of the cool cats. 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 none other than Cab Calloway in 1938. For more on Swing dancing, check out the Dance Safari post, “Swing Dancing – It Does a Body Good!“