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.

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.

Kick up your heels: the Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is one of those dances that almost didn’t make it.

Along with swing jazz, it developed hot on the heels of The Charleston, peaked in the 1930s but then fell into rapid decline after World War II.

It stayed dormant until the 1980s when it was revived by dancers in New York, California, Stockholm and the Untied Kingdom.

During this time, some of the great original Lindy Hop dancers such as Frankie Manning, Al Minns and Norma Miller came out of retirement and toured the world teaching Lindy Hop. This was to jump start a Lindy Hop resurgence that has since grown into a healthy international scene.

Today there’s Lindy Hop communities all over the world, including one right here in Calgary ( www.toetappinswing.com , www.swingdancecalgary.com )

And to give you a taste for this vibrant flashy dance, I’ve posted a clip for you from ‘Hellzapoppin’ which features a famous Lindy Hop sequence choreographed by the great Frankie Manning, who also dances part of it himself. (He’s in the overalls)

Kick up your heels: The Charleston

I recently spent the weekend in a series of dance workshops and I was reminded once again of how much I love the exuberance and wild abandon of the Charleston.

Whether you’re dancing this high-energy dance solo or partnered, you can’t help but give way to the sheer optimism and excitement of this 1920s dance craze.

It originally developed in African-American communities and was named after the city in which it began; Charleston, South Carolina.

By the 1920s it had swept out into the wider international community and had become a mainstream dance fad.

As the hot jazz of the 1920s gave way to a slower swinging jazz, so too The Charleston evolved into the 30s Charleston, and eventually the partnered Charleston evolved into the Lindy Hop.

Today The Charleston is a staple of the Lindy Hop scene and still alive and kicking!