The Harlem Hotshots are absolutely incredible, one of the premiere professional troupes out there. I’m sad that they don’t seem to perform as much in the U.S. as they do in Europe, but even when the individual members of the group are hanging around the States, expect amazing things.
the Harlem Hot Shots performing at Frankie 95 on May 25, 2009.
Monochrome Monday: Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, Hellzapoppin’ (1941)
By way of apology to anyone that sat through that long post about Fusion (jeez, what was that all about?!), here’s that classic Hellzapoppin’ clip that pretty much everyone’s seen by now but still loves to death. I’d almost promised myself not to post this because it’s already such a well-known video, but it’s appropriate to the occasion of my previous post and … well, damn it, it’s Frankie Manning and no one puts Frankie in the corner.
“I never taught people where to step on ‘2’, because when I learned how to dance there was no ‘2’. We just danced to the music.”
- Frankie Manning
Amen, brother. Amen.
Monochrome Monday: Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, A Day at the Races (1937)
I realize that I’ve never actually sat down and watched this clip from A Day at the Races with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. This is the entire 7-minute scene, with all the singing and dancing in all its glory. What’s incredible is seeing how much this scene (and Hellzapoppin’) get referenced in today’s top tier swing routines: the Harlem Hot Shots put a lot of Hellzapoppin’ in their 2004 Basie Centennial Ball video (posted a week or two ago), and the Silver Shadows referenced A Day at the Races during their Frankie95 performance.
It’s also interesting to see how much the dance has evolved since the Swing Era. I watch these vintage videos and wonder how the old greats led these moves on the dance floor. I honestly wish there was something akin to YouTube back in the 30s just so I could watch Frankie Manning social dancing at the Savoy. Hell, if there’s footage of that anywhere on the internet, I want it.
Today, the dance is much smoother with more connection theory behind it. But it still retains the energy and the passion that the original dancers had all the way back when the dance first became a craze.
NB: The Marx Brothers are indeed in blackface at the end of the clip. Oh, how the standards of comedy of changed since then.
Tips & Tricks Thursday: Do the Shim Sham!
One of Frankie Manning’s many legacies in Lindy hop is the Shim Sham routine. I learned this the first year of dancing and never forgot it. Oddly, it’s still one of those things I’m attempting to perfect—especially following Dax’s advice that the way to become better at dancing with a partner is to learn how to move your body while dancing solo. The Shim Sham routine is very simple, stuff that the most basic beginners could learn (like me!) But when properly done, and with a large group of people, it can look absolutely amazing.
For Frankie95, I did head over to Grand Central to join in the Global Shim Sham event, but security kicked us out of the main area before we could even perform the routine. Those bastards. We ended up doing it in a dinky, abandoned part of the station no one goes to. Our video didn’t even make it into the finished video (and only very small snippets of the Times Square Shim Sham from the same day were used).
I’m beginning to think the Lindy hop community at large hates us in New York o_o
Anyway. As for the “change of direction” post from earlier, I’ll still mainly be posting videos and dance-related stuff, but just expect the occasional off-topic, IRL-centric post. On that note, anyone doing NaNoWriMo? Find me! I’m wittyallusion.
Monochrome Monday: Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers do the Big Apple (1939)
I learned part of this routine about 3 or 4 years ago and for some reason never picked it up again. Today, it’s usually done to Lionel Hampton’s “Flying Home” (and I have no idea what song they use in this video is). It’s amazing to see this footage and knowing that the same steps are still going on over 70 years later. At the tombstone dedication for Frankie Manning earlier this year, a whole big group of New York dancers got up to do the Big Apple at the cemetery. One of the best things I’ve ever witnessed.
Interestingly, even though it’s called the Big Apple, the dance didn’t originate in New York City. It was the name of a small club in South Carolina from where the routine originated. It used to be that someone would stand in the middle and call out these solo moves. The order and list of moves are pretty much set in stone now.
Fast Lindy Friday: Silver Shadows at Frankie95
Yes. I had to stop posting Ninjammerz videos because there are other incredibly amazing Lindy hop troupes out there. I’d argue that the Silver Shadows are the American equivalent, given its all-star cast: Skye Humphries, Frida Segerdahl, Peter Strom, Nina Gilkenson, Todd Yannacone, Naomi Uyama (a New York regular now), Andy Reid, and Ramona Staffield. All of whom I hero worship on a regular basis due to their relative proximity and occasional trips to the New York City scene.
This one starts off slow to Frankie Manning’s favorite swing song, Shiny Stockings, but then picks up speed with a very familiar tune. The dancing is oh so very clean in both instances.
The slow motion section @2:15 creates such a Matrix-like segment that it’s mesmerizing, and then when they slap out of it! Chills! These are the kinds of dancers that I strive to be: completely in control of each movement and absolutely centered.