Zoot Suit Riots

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by pygmalion, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh my goodness. I thought it was just a song. But apparently, in 1943, there were actual zoot suit riots -- American GI's versus zoot suit wearing swing dancers. Did anyone know about this? Looks like there was a real political component to the swing culture in the US in the 40's. Not just the innocent stuff we all know about, nor the "Swng Kids" stuff from Germany. Take a look. What do you think?

    http://www.just-the-swing.com/doc/his/zoot-suit-riots.htm
  2. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    Yes indeed, I've known about this for a long time, but the original Zoot Suiters were not Swing dancers...just people wearing suits and it was more of a race war than anything. I believe there was a movie called Zoot Suit, and another one that covers this is America Me...its a really intense movie and not for the faint of heart, but there is a part about the Zoot Suit Riots.

    Hmm, Cesar Chavez was a zoot suiter, I didn't know that...interesting, because his holiday is this coming Wednesday. ;)

    SG
  3. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Yeah, Louis Valdez wrote a play involving this as well-- that's when I learned about it.
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Wow! I had no idea...I just dance to the music...maybe I should listen more carefully to the lyrics.
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I vaguely know about this, as I do about so many things. Nice refresher. Thanks! :)
  6. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Not exactly true. A zoot suiter in general had nothing to do with swing dancing... but zoot suiters most certainly danced. Malcolm X specificlly mentions his first zoot suit purchase and dancing in ballrooms in his autobiography.

    Remember, swing dancing was the club dancing of its day... most of young America was doing in the early 40's, zoot suits was a fashion trend that started first among urban blacks (jazz musicians, pimps, gangsters etc.) and spread quickly through the lower economic stratus in the urban centers.

    It absolutely was. The zoot suit and its supposed anti-american statment was simply an excuse for attacking young males from minority groups, which was most evident among the latino community of L.A..
  7. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    Interesting DNice - - do you know of any books about the history of Zoot Suiters? I'd love to learn more about it.

    I haven't read Malcolm X's autobiography...maybe its a good place to start. ;)

    SG
  8. TemptressToo

    TemptressToo Member

    Here are the words to the song...

    Who's that whisperin' in the trees?
    It's two sailors and they're on leave
    Pipes and chains and swingin' hands
    Who's your daddy? Yes I am

    Fat cat came to play
    Now he can't run fast enough
    You'd best stay away
    When the pushers come to shove

    Zoot suit riot

    throw back a bottle of beer
    Zoot suit riot

    Pull a comb through your coal black hair

    Zoot suit riot

    throw back a bottle of beer
    Zoot suit riot

    Pull a comb through your coal black hair
    Blow Daddy!

    A whipped up jitterbuggin' brown eyed man
    A stray cat frontin' up an eight-piece band
    Cut me Sammy and you'll understand
    In my veins hot music ran

    You got me in a sway
    and I want to swing you done
    Now you sailors know
    Where your women come for love

    Zoot suit riot

    Throw back a bottle of beer
    Zoot suit riot

    Pull a comb through your coal black hair

    You're in a Zoot suit riot
    You're in a Zoot suit riot
    You're in a Zoot suit riot

    (random gibberish)

    Oh you got me in a sway
    and I want to swing you done
    Now you sailors know
    Where your women come for love

    Zoot suit riot

    Throw back a bottle of beer
    Zoot suit riot

    Pull a comb through your coal black hair

    Zoot suit riot

    Throw back a bottle of beer
    Zoot suit riot

    Pull a comb through your coal black hair

    You're in a Zoot suit riot
    You're in a Zoot suit riot
    You're in a Zoot suit riot
  9. GalacticDancer44M

    GalacticDancer44M New Member

    Was that by the Brian Setzer group or Squirrel Nut Zippers? Good song. I knew a little bit about the story behind this. Surprised they didn't make a movie about it. I've heard about the Swing Kids movie, but haven't seen it yet.

    My brother in law was in a Swing band called Big Bad Voodo Daddy. He finally got burned out being on the road virtually non-stop. I used to go watch them and marvel at the swing dancers that showed up and wondered where'd these people come from? :)

    Little did I know, that I'd become one of them! They also were in a movie called "Swingers" playing at the Derby in LA, which was one of the places they started out playing in. Not much about dancing in the movie, but a very fun movie none the less.
  10. HepcatBob

    HepcatBob New Member

    Neither. It was by The Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

    Would you believe I turned down an offer to play trombone with SNZ? Their drummer used to play in a punk band with some of my friends.
  11. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I mentioned before about Louis Valdez' play 'Zoot Suit'... highly theatrical but based on true events-- they made a movie of it-- check it out.
  12. GalacticDancer44M

    GalacticDancer44M New Member

    Thanks Swing Kitten, I'll have to check that out.

    Hepcat, sounds good re: the chance to play with SNZ. My brother in law was the trombone player for BBVD.

    As far as the song Zoot Suit Riot, yes I forgot that was the Cherry Poppin Daddies. Thanks. I know my brother in law said they were all friends with the other swing bands too. Wish I could have been in California when all of the swing movement started.

    Have to run, heading out to see The Pychadelic Furs and the Alarm tonight at the Emerald Ballroom. I always enjoy the Furs live.
  13. HepcatBob

    HepcatBob New Member

    LOL!! I haven't listened to the P-Furs in a long time. I saw 'em back in '85 in Cameron Gym at Duke. It was a fun show. Give us a report on it.
  14. DancePoet

    DancePoet New Member

    Wow! The Alarm is still together? I bought one of their albums, back in the early to mid 80's I believe. I should go back and listen to it. Liked it then, and wonder if I still will. (Probably worth googling to see what info is out there regarding these guys.)
  15. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    so do the environmentalists ;) sorry... I had to do it!
  16. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    :doh: :uplaugh:
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh! Bad jokes abound. :p :lol:
  18. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

  19. GalacticDancer44M

    GalacticDancer44M New Member

    :lol: Good one Kitten :lol:

    The show was pretty good, although the Furs are starting to show their age a little. (here's another chance for you Kitten :wink: ) Richard Butler (singer) is quite entertaining and also does a couple of different (key word here is different) dance moves. Works well with the show. His brother (one of the guitarists) was absent. If you're a Furs fan, just FYI, Richard went on to form his own band after he abandoned the Furs called Love Spit Love. They had a few cool songs on their 2 albums, but they never really made it comercially big. I was able to get right up to the stage which was cool and even shook his hand.

    The Alarm put on a good show too. The singer's voice was still outstanding, but I didn't know as many of their songs. He did mention at the end of the show you can find out more about them on alarm.com in case anyone's interested.

    I've always liked dancing to Alternative music (before I started taking dance lessons) and its kind of fun to incorporate some ballroom moves along to some of this music. I haven't had much opportunity though lately to really experiment. I sometimes throw in a little Rumba. Maybe Modern dance would work better. I don't know much about this though.

    I've wondered what it would be like to do a Ballroom dance routine to some music from the Cure or Echoe and the Bunneyman (Bring on the Dancing Horses). I more in tune to this kind of music and would feel it more than the stuff they play in the studios. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy old waltzes, swing, cha cha.... music, I just don't know it as well as popular music. Do any of you ever mix Ballroom dancing to Pop?
  20. Bob

    Bob New Member

    I read about the zoot suit riots a while ago.

    My take on it was that sailors who came back from fighting in the pacific saw the zoot suits as an excessive use of rationed material (the cloth, of course) and decided that they would take matters into their own hands.

    I am sure that there were a lot of issues (many of which have not been completely solved to this day) that went along with those attacks, but that was the reason put on the surface.

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