All about the Lindy Hop

Lindy Hop is an 8 count dance that originated from the partnered Charleston in Harlem in the 1920s.

It’s known for its high energy and flashy air steps and is usually performed to jazz and big band music from the 1930s – 1950s.

According to Shorty George, although they just used to call it ‘The Hop’, it’s name evolved into Lindy Hop after Charles Lindbergh’s ‘hop’ across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 .

This clip below shows you how lindy hop started to evolve from the Charleston swing out – where the couple breaks out into an open position during the basic.

 

Although lindy hop lost its popularity and almost died out, a revival began in New York in the 1980s when lindy hop greats Al Minns and Frankie Manning began to teach a new generation of dancers at the Cameron Dance Centre.

Today the lindy hop is alive and well and there are thriving communities all over the world including the biggest international lindy hop gathering that occurs annually at the Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden.

To give you a taste of the modern lindy hop, here’s a short clip for you of the Lindy Hop Harlem Hot Shots performing some incredible air steps at the Herrang Dance Camp in 2011.

Louis #1: Satchmo

There’s something so exuberant about the music of the great ‘Satchmo’ Louis Armstrong that it will get me through any dark day.

No matter how badly the day has turned belly up, when Mr Armstrong joins me for a few tunes it’s guaranteed to start looking a little rosier.

With his distinctive vocals, dexterous trumpet playing and charismatic personality Satchmo changed the fundamental face of jazz to become one of it’s first ‘rockstars’.

This is all the more amazing when you consider that he was one of the first African-Americans whose sheer talent allowed him to crossover and access highly restricted ‘white’ privileges at a time when America was severely racially divided.

And with such a prolific body of music to chose from, you can find everything from sweet slow ballads to wild raucous jazz frenzies.

Here’s a 1959 clip of the classic ‘Mack the Knife’ for you to enjoy –

Music I’m loving: Benny Goodman

In keeping with great music to dance to, you just can’t go past Benny Goodman.

An interesting contradiction in Goodman is that he was known as a task master and musical perfectionist and yet he broke with tradition in so many instances. Here’s three that really stand out:

Firstly by playing his own brand of jazz, and in doing so kickstarting the Swing movement.

Secondly in the racist 1930s, he was one of the first bandleaders to lead a racially-integrated musical group. He was able to avoid arrest in the deep south because his financial success enabled him to stay out of there.

And thirdly, he was the first jazz bandleader to play the ‘respectable venue’ of Carnegie Hall to raging success.

This clip is from a movie called ‘The Powers Girl’, and though there are better videos out there for sound, I just couldn’t resist the lindy hop in it.

Music I’m loving: Ella and Basie

In the pursuit of great music to dance to, I have recently fallen for the album “Ella and Basie”.

This 1963 jazz album delights the ears (and feet!) with the impeccable Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by the Count Basie Orchestra.

With arrangements by Quincy Jones, this album is full of fat big brass sounds with a smooth as honey voice.

The First Lady of Song had a three octave vocal range and you can surely hear it in her clear pure tones that ring out in every song.

And with lyrics such as these: “If I never had a cent, I’d be rich as Rockefeller”

You really just can’t go wrong.

There aren’t any early clips of these two, but here’s a lovely snippet for you to enjoy.

(at around 4 minutes listen for that 3 octave scat singing!!)

I challenge you not to wiggle or tap or bounce when you hear this.