Swing Discussion Boards > Savoy vs. Smooth Lindy

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by RenOrsino, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. RenOrsino

    RenOrsino Member

    Can anyone extrapolate on the specific differences between savoy lindy hop and smooth lindy hop? I've been dancing Lindy for quite a while and only recently heard it described this way for the first time.

  2. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    That's because we all stopped talking about it almost a decade ago (maybe longer). <shudder>

    Basically, "Savoy" was more bouncy (though not in the marchy-marchy-bounce-bounce way), but think Frankie Manning.

    Smooth was somewhere along the continuum towards "Hollywood" (see Eric & Sylvia), although not necessarily influenced by it.

    If you really want to get into it, see if you can search Yehoodi's archives for the late 90s or early 2000's.
  3. Apache

    Apache Member

    I thought this discussion died like 10 years ago?
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, did anyone come to any conclusions that were widely accepted, or did everyone just exhaust themselves?

    And, this is kind of in the same vein, anyone care to relate their understanding of where "jitterbug" came from? (Another "research project of mine).
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It first came into vogue in the UK in the very early 40s.. ( I ) we picked it up from Amer. servicemen. It apparently relates to the way in which they danced, which eventually became Be Bop/Jive/ and R and R.

    It also , so I was told, was indicative of a " bug " that displayed some of the actions present in the interpretation of the way that " they " danced ... also..like someone that had the " jitters ".. a nervous tick.
  6. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    If you'd like to be a jitter bug,
    First thing you must do is get a jug,
    Put whiskey, wine and gin within,
    And shake it all up and then begin.
    Grab a cup and start to toss,
    You are drinking jitter sauce!
    Don't you worry, you just mug,
    And then you'll be a jitter bug!

    Hear this fat boy blowing his horn;
    He's been a bug since the day he was born,
    His favorite jitter sauce is rye,
    I swear, he'll drink it 'til the day he die!
    Toot your whistle and ring your bell,
    Oh, butchie-wutchie, time will tell,
    Don't you worry, you just mug,
    You'll always be a jitter bug!

    These four boys playing saxophone,
    Order jitter sauce by phone,
    Central, give me Harlem 4-9-4,
    I think these bugs could drink some more,
    They drink sauce from morn to night
    And never stop until they're tight,
    Don't you worry, they just mug,
    They're poor little jitter bugs!

    Now, here's old Father, a wicked old man,
    Drinks more sauce than the other bugs can,
    He drinks jitter sauce every morn,
    That's why jitter sauce was born,
    See him shake with his trombone,
    He just can't leave that sauce alone,
    Get along, Father, you just mug,
    You'll always be a jitter bug!

    There's Rip Van with his eyes a-twinkle,
    We named him after Rip Van Winkle,
    Like Rip, he'd sleep for twenty years
    If he could get his fill of beer,
    Rip drinks his sauce, gets on the stand,
    Soon he forgets that he's in the band,
    Don't awaken him, just let him mug;
    He'll always be a jitter bug.

    -- Cab Calloway
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, Flat Shoes, I went to the library and got a dvd with "Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party" on it. There he sings the song. What was interesting to me was that the lyrics have nothing to say about dancing. After Cab sings the song, he says loudly "Swing!", and the musicians begin to play an upbeat tune. Couples form and begin dancing, but, I had to note, it looked nothing link "Lindy Hop" or "Jitterbug" or "Swing". Rather it was "jazz/ragtime" close couple dancing. Everyone forms a line and they do a routine. No jitterbug to be seen.
    Calloway's book "Minnie the Moocher & Me" has his 1944 version of Hepster's Dictionary, and his def of "jitterbug" is simply "a jazz fan".
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Almost posted this yesterday, forn the IthicaSwingSite since no one has ventured an opinion on how the great style debate ended

  9. Apache

    Apache Member

    Taken from Jojo Jackson's blog,

    Edit: This is done in satire, but it drives the point that the community moved on.

  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There used to be a good discussion of the topic on the Jazz Dance site. It's gone now (the entire site!). Too, bad. I'm kind of glad I wasn't interested in that whole subject at the time it was hot. The "Lindy Hop people" seemed too serious about it to me. Now I find myself working my way through the entire history of swing to get to development of West Coast Swing in LA.
  11. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    The latter. Kind of like the "are Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing the same dance?" debate. There are far more interesting dance theory/technique discussions to be had.
  12. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Vive la difference! It's all good...
  13. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I think the problem with savoy vs. smooth/hollywood style is that "even" back then, everybody had their own style. There was no one single style.

    Then if you want to define the style, you would have to talk about amount of bounce, amount of counter weight, posture and so on. But then again, this would wary from dancer to dancer, and with different music for the same dancer.

    So it becomes very difficult to define what is Hollywood style, and what is Savoy style.

    In my opinion, even though something is hard or impossible to define, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I am sure you could find dancers that "everyone" would agree is dancing Savoy style, and the same for Hollywood.

    But the debate died, and it doesn't matter. Lindy Hop has continued to evolve, and everybody is doing their own style, and that is fine as long as the connection is good and leading and following is following the basics of good technique.

    This is how I see it, so a grain of salt should be applied to the above. I was not part of the discussion. I was a beginner back then, and all I did was trying to make sense of what I heard and saw.
  14. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    And to continue offering my opinion on things I really don't know, I'll turn to Jitterbug:

    You've all seen Groovie movie, haven't you? If not, you've missed out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbaNYWkQYYA

    What I've heard about Jitterbug is several things:
    - Synonym for Lindy Hop
    - White man's Lindy Hop
    - Derogatory term for Lindy Hop

    And if you couple that with the lyrics from Cab Calloway above, my wild guess is that it might have started as a negative term: White drunk people trying to dance Lindy Hop, but looking like some kind of bugs (think bending over a lot, arms and legs pointing in all directions) having the jitters.

    I mean, among all the good dancers we know about from the era, it had to be a lot that was just plain horrible too.

    Then the term has probably been passed around, changing meaning as it was. Someone has not understood the negative connotations, and used it for the dance in general. And then that has spread.

    There was a lot of jive talk back then, and new expression was made by people trying to be cool, and a lot of them was bound to be misunderstood as they were passed along.

    Again, to the origin I'm just plain guessing based on the different stories and meanings of the word I've heard. And I would be surprised if anyone actually knows where the term really comes from. Today it seems to have lost its negative connotations, and is simply another word for Lindy Hop.
  15. RenOrsino

    RenOrsino Member

    Thank you all. I especially appreciate your answer Flat Shoes, it's certainly the most zen of answers. -laughs- I laugh, but mean the compliment seriously.

    Anyway, glad to hear that what I was missing was history rather than current debate.
  16. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I'm not into Lindy so I'm unable to answer this question, but I got in touch with an aquaintence who is a lindy dancer with this question and here is his answer...

    Savoy has a lot less connection and the girl is on her own power a lot more. Smooth is more what Ellie was doing where there is a lot more connection like in Westcoast swing.

    If you go to youtube and check out the old Frankie Manning video when he was young, that is Savoy. If you can find Jean Veloz that is smooth.
  17. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    I like it all. I also like to see the Charleston and Balboa mixed in, too.

    I just love the variety, even within a single genre or sub-genre of dance.

    Vive la difference!

  18. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Actually, this is why I HATE when people (now) talk about Jitterbug. It's usually people outside the dance scene, and I always feel like yelling "What the HECK are you talking about?!"
  19. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Yeah, I know a lot of people who would disagree. No one would disagree with Frankie=Savoy, but everything else there is up for debate. (And telling someone in the "Savoy" camp that they have less connection than the "Smooth" dancers might be a good way to to get decked. Them's fighting words, you know?)
  20. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Maybe less force/strength in the connection would be a better way of saying it?

    Although, I'm not sure that it would make the statement true anyway. :D

    When I teach, and I don't teach a particular style, just "Lindy", I emphasize ALWAYS having connection as long as the partners are touching each others. Even when the connection is not really used and the leader is not actively leading anything (as in not signaling any change of direction to the partner).

    The reason is that when something needs to happen, the connection is already there and leading can start immediately. If the leader first need to establish connection, then lead, time is lost and the leading/following becomes more stressed and jerky.

    When leading the follower from x to y on the floor, it can be done by controlling the whole movement. Or it can be done by initiating the move, and then stop it again, giving the follower more freedom to improvise in between. In the latter case, there should still be connection all the time. Both ways are good, and I consider them variations.

Share This Page