Swing Discussion Boards > Savoy vs. Smooth Lindy

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

  1. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Been jumped all over about this before, but, in short....

    1. Lindy Swing and Lindy Hop are 2 different dances. Find a vid on Frankie Manning (early dancing) and you have Lindy Hop. Watch Swing Kids, and you have Lindy Swing... not similar. Further, find a vid on Frankie's more recent workshops, and you have Savoy... a little smoother, bebop, style than the other 2.

    2. Jitterbug: a triple step swing danced to Lindy and/or Stomp music. Named for a US southern beetle that pops (jitters) up and down to flip itself over. The reference to one having the jitters, etc, all come from the same thing. The dance was popular in the several subcultures, and the lingo of same seeped into the dance halls, etc., hence the name jive (different name... same dance; not to be confused w/ the high knees jumpy thing that we see at comps, today).
  2. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I agree it's not similar. Lindy has evolved a lot the last couple of decades. Whether we should relabel the dance is a subjective opinion. I don't think we need to. Also that would leave "Lindy Hop" dead as a dance, because no one is dancing exclusively the original style. Except maybe as a performance.
  3. Apache

    Apache Member

    I looked around on the internet (yehoodi/google/youtube) and asked a few of my other Lindy Hoppers, either Lindy Swing is a term that was used back in the revival in the 90's, or its just not a term commonly used in the swing dance community, or its like the term "The Swing" which only non swing dancers use and the swing dance community uses mockingly to refer to bad swing dancing. Frankly I've saw the movie Swing Kids as just a lot of pre-choreographed flash and trash from Charleston and Lindy Hop.

    This is probably one of the most widely debated terminology terms among people who look into the history of swing dancing.

    In my personal opinion the best article written about the subject by dance historian Peter Loggins:
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    One of the reasons I always avoided discussions about Lindy Hop was that it seemed to me that there is as much elitism and fractiousness with it as there can be with Argentine Tango. Still, I've been doing my research, so here goes.

    Craig Hutchinson, and a whole buch of dancers on the West Coast, past and present, would disagree with you that this is true.
    This may be so among "Lindy Hoppers" who haven;t bothered to learn the entire history of the dance, but, whatever.

    Jitterbug started out as a term used by musicians to refer to any biosterous fan of what became known as swing music. They were generally young, eneregtic, and loud, and thought of as a nuisance by both musicians and more serious fans.

    As time went by the term was also applied to dancers.

    The Cab Calloway short "Call of the Jitterbug" has no Lindy Hop in it. Calloway did not mention dancing in his Hester's Dictionary in the definition of jitterbug as late as 1944. Neither did he claim to have started the term or have named a dance. I think giving Calloway credit is another invention of the 80s swing revival; just like blues and WCS is an invention of the 80s or maybe 70s when "single rhythm" was abandoned, making it damn difficult to dance to faster tunes. That is when slow blues came to the fore. (This shows up if you look at bpm lists, and songs in the few written or filmed souces.)

    The "dancing in the aisles" bit at the Paramount in New York in 1937? The first time it happened it was a setup by the theatre to generate publicity.

    Peter's article cited above makes it sound like there were no good dancers who were not African American. Peter knows, however, that this is not the case, although blacks were recognized as being the better dancers; Certainly when measured against the professionalism of Whitey's group(s).
    Did you know that there was at least one "white" member of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers? They always left her out of films and photographs. There is a clip on line where she and Frankie are interviewed.

    Check Stearns and Stearns, page 330. Lindy Hop was known as jitterbug in Pittsburgh's "Hill City", the black section of town in the late 30s. Same source as the earlier info I posted. The Streans also report that Lindy was known as Jitterbug in Detriot as early as 1929. (This one seems way too early to me. But there it is.)

    Harlem and the Savoy were pretty much in decline by the mid to late 40s. Dean Collins who referred to what he did as swing, argued that LA became the hot spot for swing thereafter. It was a different kind of swing dance, of course, but it was swing none the less.

    Lindy Hop as done AT the Savoy, which had lots of variation over the decades, was pretty much ignored by every one thereafter until the revival began in the early 80s. (Al Minns and Leon James made appearances various places during those years through the influence of the Stearns, including on one of Hugh Hefner's shows. Hefner was a big jazz fan.)

    Seems to me that Lindy Hoppers, until recently among some, focused on one aspect of the history of the dance, declaring anything else inauthentic.
    Shades of Argentine Tango!
  5. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Uhm, that's like saying that Waltz done in the 1950s isn't the same dance as Waltz in the 90s. Frankly false. Are there some stylistic differences? Sure. But I can find a range of stylistic differences to echo the Hellzapoppin vs. Swing Kids dichotomy (likely within one venue at any given moment), and both will tell you they're doing Lindy Hop. YMMV, but I've never heard any serious lindy hopper call anything "lindy swing." It's Lindy Hop, a Swing dance. (I have heard Westies call it "lindy swing" though.)

    Sure, that's one perfectly legitimate definition. But it is NOT the only definition, and that's why when someone (modern) says we'll be seeing "Jitterbug," it has virtually no meaning. We might see Lindy, we might see Charleston, we might see triple step/ECS, maybe single-step, we might see some of each.
  6. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Not sure what you mean by the waltz reference.

    My mention of those specific films, I realize does not illustrate the best of swing, they were just widely known, and easily accesible resources that would afford one to see the variances in styles.

    Re the jitterbug, I agree 100% I usually tell persons that swing is like doughnuts; you might have 20 different flavors, but they're all just doughnuts. :)

    Incidentally, nice post, Steve.
  7. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Good post. For a few years, I was heavily into Lindy Hop. Now I prefer to be eclectic--after branching out to experience many different styles of dance. Though I'll still pop into a Lindy place now and then...

    It's all good... :)
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    One correction - the music short that Calloway was in was named "Jitterbug Party". He sang the song "Call of the Jitterbug" in that short.
    Cab invites his friends to a "jitterbug party" after performing in a night club. When asked what a jitterbug party is, he replies,
    "That’s where you get the jitters, and then you go bug."

    Here's the lyrics to the song.
    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! One more factoid -
    According to the fourth edition of "Dance a While. Handbook of Folk, Square, and Social Dancing." published in 1950, 1955, 1964, and 1968,

    "the [[shag]] and single lindy represented the earlier popular basics" of jitterbug, which gave way to the double lindy when rock and roll became popular.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    We can maybe take this one with a grain of salt, but Cab Calloway wrote in his autobiographical "Of Minnie the Moocher & Me", (page 135)
    "You may have the impression that English royalty is stodgy. Well, you're wrong. Some of them can swing with the best, and the Prince of Wales and his party were damned good examples. They did the contemporary dances that we were doing in Harlem just as well as the hot set at the Cotton Club."
    The Prince had been to the Cotton Club, and the year of Calloway's trip to Europe was 1935.
  10. Apache

    Apache Member

    Steve, I apologize I should have been more specific. When I was casually typing up that statement I meant the phrase used in contemporary context. Personally I have occasionally seen the phrase "The Lindy" used in person and typed online by people who have been in the swing dance scene for a long time. But I have never personally encountered "The Swing" used in a non sarcastic manner by swing dancers (it is entirely possible that it was used by people in the scene before my time and I have just not encountered it online or via stories). This topic: http://yehoodi.com/comment/79938/videos-of-people-dancing-andamp-quot-the-swingandamp-quot/1 has been going on for the last two years talking about "The Swing".

    Steve, I am going to have to beg to respectfully disagree due to this quote from Peter's article below.

    Yes many of us Lindy Hoppers know about Ruthie Rheingold and Harry Rosenberg as well: http://www.savoystyle.com/ruthie_harry.html I believe Peter brought up "Keep Punchin'" is to show how some people may have inferred the one theory that Jitterbug was in reference to a discriminatory term because many of the white dancers at the time were censored from being shown in media and film with other African-American dancers.

    Steve, I really enjoy reading your posts because it comes off like myself you are a person who is enthusiastic about delving into the history of dances. However at least to me you are coming off with this condescending tone which I find disrespectful. The main reason I like Peter's article is he explores the several different "theories" behind the term "Jitterbug" but does not give one definitive answer.

    There are certain things like what date did Stan Kenton play at the Balboa Peninsula you can get definitive answers but a lot of questions in the history of swing dancing are still open ended questions that while you can make good cases for theories there is no "definitive" answer either due to conflicting stories from the older dancers who still are alive today or lack of concrete evidence to outweigh the evidence of other possible theories. Many of us who research the history of the dances we practice are very aware of that.
  11. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I do not find it condescending at all. It is stated as it "...seemed...", and is not putting anyone or any atyle down, but merely an observation of people's preferences. He even related it to how many dancers in AT (tango) have done the same thing.
  12. Apache

    Apache Member

    Angel, if I were to make that same observation that West Coast Swing or Ballroom seemed to have "fractiousness and elitism" as (insert dance X here). I would be willing to put down money I would get at least angry posts directed at me.

    However my main point of that is I would love to see discussion continue just without comments like those (which at least to me) seem not to add anything to the discussion. All in all though this could just be the case of myself misinterpreting intent on the internet.
  13. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    To Apache...

    Apache, hang in there. When we post, people will share their opinions. These may intentionally or unintentionally rub us the wrong way. But we can't control that. I'm not one to give unsolicited advice, but we can take the best and shrug off the rest. That is in our control. (For what it's worth, friend. And you can take it with a grain of salt...)

  14. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

  15. Apache

    Apache Member

    Hey here is a link that is relevant to the jitterbug discussion. (Still trying to dig up a letter written about the whole Hollywood/Savoy Style wars)

    At about 1:00, Norma Miller one of the surviving members of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers gives her view about the term 'Jitterbug'

  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In "Jazz a Film by Ken Burns Norma also says about the Goodman/Paramount story: "Now, from what the story that I get..."
    "And I heard that was how the phrase got started..."

    In 1937 the New Yorker had this text, "Paramount ushers had difficulty restraining patrons from doing the Suzi-Q in the balcony."

    From this I conclude that she didn't claim to have actually heard Goodman say this.
    I think it's very unlikely that Goodman said this during or even shortly after the first Paramount show. I think I wrote earlier that the musicians knew, or heard later, that the dancing in the aisles thing was provoked by the theater managment. Goodman wrote in 1939 that his was a dance band. Problem was, bands were often featured in theatres along with movies, which was not a good environment for dancers. Note, too, that even as the word "jitterbug" was gaining currency as a description of dancers, but not a specific dance, Goodman wrote that “a couple of youngsters got up and started to shag in the aisles”

    Here's a bit from American Speech “The Slang of Jazz” H. Brook Webb Vol. 12, No. 3 (Oct., 1937), pp. 179-184. 183

    Jitter Bugs The same as cats, only more so.

    Cats Those members of the audience who are receptive to jazz music or who understand it.”

    That said, Life reported on a "Jitterbug Jamboree" in LA in 1938. So the term was being used by then to describe dancers.
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just came across this in a 1942 Time magazine.

    the trade of socialites is fast being augmented by the trade of new-rich war workers, who have long listened to the juke-box hit "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry."
    Murray's business is up 50% to 100% (most in defense cities), has actually risen 300%...in Los Angeles. There 600 pupils pay $11,000 each month to learn the rumba, smooth swing, jitterbugging or "New Yorker" (West Coast name for the Lindy Hop).

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