My So You Think You Can Dance obsession in December guilt-tripped me into returning to lindy-hopping when I realized I was shaping up to be a future world champion of So You Think You Can Sit On Your Ass For Hours On End, plus we’re toying with the idea of doing a lindy-hop first dance at our wedding, so I resurfaced at Jitterbugs and signed up for SEA Jam 2007.
Now judging from the pattern of the last three years, my personal lindy-hop revivals never last more than a few months before the intensely cliquish Jitterbugs crowd puts me off and I disappear. But while I’m still on a high from last weekend, I thought I might as well share a couple of Youtube finds. Whenever it comes up in conversation that I lindy-hop/swing dance, the next question people always ask is whether I get thrown around a lot and it’s always tough to explain without a demonstration that there’s so much more to the dance than that.
But first, while we’re on the subject I do still have to show you some of the finest throwing around ever captured on film, Hellzapoppin’. (The dancing only starts at 2.45 minutes but the bit before that is pretty cute if you like old movies.)
Hellzapoppin’ also sets the stage for you to imagine how cool it is to be able to take classes from the choreographer of that dance scene, Frankie Manning. He was 26 when Hellzapoppin’ came out in 1941. He’s 93 this year, doesn’t look much older than 75, and is still swingin’ every time he comes to teach at SEA Jam. Here’s Frankie dancing on the eve of his 92nd birthday.
And here are last year’s US Open Showcase Swing champions Ben Morris and Carla Heiney doing their championship routine. They came to teach too and we got to see them do this again at the closing party.
As I mentioned in my Benji Schwimmer fangirl post, I love the improvisation of Jack and Jill competitions but it’s surprisingly hard to find examples on Youtube of the musicality and playfulness I love watching every week in Jitterbugs over here. The best example I could find is this choreographed Jack and Jack which might sound strange to someone who doesn’t do lindy but yeah, lindy-hop leads generally seem to love them a little homoeroticism and they’re often at their hilarious best when they dance with another guy. I long for the day Alec takes his first, uh, slash at it.
Lastly, for any of you who just don’t dig lindy-hop or swing dancing despite what you’ve seen through this post and the I Heart Benji one, I bet you didn’t know Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage are swing dancers too. Recognize.