First it was the introverted Finns coming out of their shells and dancing close to the Tango. Then, the shy Japanese getting into latin music and swing. Now it’s the Swedes getting into the Lindy Hop.
Lindy Hop was a gymnastic, highly physical dance form from the Depression era, where it was popular in ballrooms and clubs of Harlem, particularly the Savoy Ballroom. There dancers jammed to the music of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Chick Webb.
When white dancers later took up the dance marathons, they renamed it “Jitterbug”. Although Lindy Hop’s greatest dancers were African American, the 1969 film starring Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, showed mostly whites on the floor.
The dance faded in the late 1950s, but was resurrected by one Frankie Manning, a legendary Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hopper, who died in 2009 at the age of 94. Manning became famous in films and film shorts called “Soundies”, popular in the 1930s and 1940s in theaters frequented by African-American patrons. He bounced from Harlem to Hollywood, starred in the 1941 comedy Hellzapoppin’ doing a marathon sequence. As a side note, if you watch the video clip, (which is totally amazing so you should), I think it’s Slim Gaillard on piano and then guitar, Slam Stewart on bass at the beginning. Anyway, Frankie Manning was invited to go to Sweden in 1987, and the rest is history.
The Herräng Dance Camp takes place June 28-August 2, 2014 and is the world’s largest Lindy Hop event. It started back in 1982. More than 2,000 dancers from 47 countries will go and Lindy their tails off.
Here is a video of Swedes getting down with the Lindy Hop at the Herräng Dance Camp.