Swing Discussion Boards > What would you like to ask a real 1930's-1940's Lindy Hopper

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by shopper-lisa, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. shopper-lisa

    shopper-lisa New Member

    hi Everyone. My Grandparents used to dance several nights a week in Bronx New York during the height of the swing era. I am going to interview them and find out more about what it was like.

    Does anyone have question suggestions... things you'd like to know about, etc.?
    I'll post the article on a webpage when I am done.
  2. jon

    jon Member

    Re: What would you like to ask a real 1930's-1940's Lindy Ho

    I'm curious about their take on what race relations in the dance world were like then (if they're willing to talk about it - obviously this could raise a bunch of unpleasant memories for some people). I heard Frankie Manning talk a bit about this a few years ago in response to a question.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Do they still dance? If so, I would like to know how they see the Lindy Hop scene now as compared to when they were younger. Also, has the dance itself evolved noticeably since then, or are people still doing the same basic dance? How do they feel about the resurgence of swing in the nineties?

    This sounds like such a cool research project. Good luck. I'm looking forward to reading your article. 8)
  4. blue

    blue New Member

    Great idea! Do that.

    I wonder about how people learned dancing at that time, and just how skilled everyone on the dance floors were. I know people who have take classes for two years and still feel "I should know a few more moves before I really can go out dancing more. Hey, in those days people learned without classes... so I guess there must have been some clumsy people in the corners who were trying to figure things out, hardly knowing any moves at all? Or did all the people at the Savoy really dance like Frankie Manning?

    I also wonder: today's lindy culture is very sober. Hardly anone drinks anything but water and soft drinks. What about alcohol and dancing back then?
  5. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The various threads on so many PhDs (or at least academic types) dancing and so few dancers drinking have gotten me thinking and I have formed an opinion on the matter. These things seem to be influenced by the nature of Lindy as it exists now, which is quite different from what it was back "in the day".

    Lindy is not living dance -- lively, yes; but living, no. It's a resurrected dance, a reconstruction, an academic exercise, a kind of intellectual pursuit. A living dance is one that is still growing and developing and adopting and adapting to outside influences; WCS is a living dance in this respect, but Lindy is not. While WCS will incorporate things from other dances and apply itself to new forms of music, Lindy does not. I have seen some religious wars fought over whether some move is Lindy or not and fervent arguing over and urging for maintaining the "purity" of Lindy. These are concerns for a reconstructed dance, but almost never for a living dance.

    All that said, I do love Lindy. Whether a dance is living or a reconstruction says nothing for how good it is nor how much fun it can be. Just look at the main "living dance" now, grinding, and that should be obvious.

    Now, a living dance is normally the reason for a gathering, but rather is a part of the social gathering as a whole. You mingle, you socialize, you drink a bit, you get in a few dances. With a reconstructed dance, the dance is the main reason for the gathering. There's much less socializing and a lot more dancing, often with as many partners as possible. In a living dance, performance is less important than simply participating; in a reconstructed dance, performance is far more important, so anything that would detract from your ability to perform, like alcohol, is avoided. We're much more studied about our moves, so we need to go to training to learn to dance, rather than picking it up from friends -- for one thing, we don't have the informal social gatherings to pick it up at like a living dance has. And we need to train (ie, go to classes) because we need to build up our ability to perform. And this kind of academic exercise of researching and reconstructing an era is just the thing to appeal to any academically inclined person, whether he/she be a PhD or merely a PhD-wannabe.

    Now, in its day, Lindy was a living dance and there was a lot more socializing and drinking and getting out there just to participate and learn by playing around with it and watching others. We take it a lot more seriously than they did. Too seriously, perhaps?

    The Lesson of the Steppenwolf: Man muß lachen lernen ("One must learn to laugh")

  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Interesting, DWise1, but I'm not qualified to comment. I'm sure you'll get some responses from others, though.

    Another question for the genuine article 30's/40's dancers: Why do they think Lindy lost popularity? Did the Lindy dancing crowd start listening to different music and therefore start doing different dances? Or did they just get married, get old, and "settle down?" (I want their perspectives, not necessarily historically verifiable facts. LOL. When you ask old folks wide open questions, sometimes they start talking about the most interesting things. :wink: )
  7. blue

    blue New Member

    My guess is you are right, and also right on the "too seriously" part... it would be nice to hear what they say who were there, though.
  8. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Yes, an interesting question would be whether they've gone to see what the new Lindy scene is like and how it compares to what it was like for them. If I'm right, then they should have a few things to say.

    For example, as I mentioned before, one girl's mother who used to dance Lindy back when it was new has gone out with her daughter a few times and her remark was: "You kids are crazy dancing every single song like that! You'll wear yourselves out! We would sit around and talk and every once in a while the boy I was talking with would ask for a dance." They would dance maybe one out of four or five songs. We wonder how they handled the sweat problem we keep having; the secret was that they would hardly dance enough to work up a sweat. At least according to that one source.
  9. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    I'm not the best person to answer the questions about why Lindy lost its popularity, but you will note that "big band" music really stopped in the 40's. Some of the current swing instructors who know its history relate this to musicians' strikes in which no one really could afford to organize a "big band" orchestra anymore. The rise or rock-and-roll soon followed, and swing changed accordingly.

    I'm sure the younger more recent swing crowd has asked these questions to people like Frankie Manning. I'd be surprised if it were not already covered on Yehoodi.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I bet you're right. It's probably already covered there. But I hate Yehoodi, sorry to say. There's so much great information there, but there's too much flaming and other nastiness for my taste. :(
  11. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    One on-line source I read (and cannot recall) also pointed out a big change in music listenership during the 50's , where the kids and the adults no longer listened to the same music as they had done before. The rise of rock-and-roll ushered in the trend of the youth listening to their own kind of music and rejecting their parents' music.

    The same source, I think, also "credited" American Bandstand and similar TV shows that practically created 50's style swing dancing, toning down and removing the wilder and sexier parts of Lindy to suit 50's TV mores, as well as to keep the situation controlled in a crowded TV studio dance floor.
  12. rails

    rails New Member

    I'd point out that during the swing craze (or whatever you want to call it) of the '90's much of the scene was kind of like that. People dressed up, drank martinis and had a night out with only a little, if any dancing. Of course there were always people for whom the dance was the thing. I'd assume that the situation was similar in the '30's when big band music and lindy hop were the craze for young people. Some were hard-core dancers, but most were just there for the night-life and social opportunity. Dancing was only part of it.

    Now that the swing craze is over, it's the serious dancers who remain. At least, that's my impression of recent social history. "Serious" is an interesting word to use since no group of people I've ever seen has such a goofy, happy time of it as lindy hoppers.
  13. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    I'd like to know how connection was established, because I don't understand it when watching old video clips.

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