Which Lindy?

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#1
It seems that the Swing Out is the defacto basic step of Lindy Hop now a days.
In 1943 Life magazine wrote, "First element of Lindy Hop was the simple breakaway."

In 1936 Life carried this sequence, and the previous page identifies the couple as Lindy Hoppers.




Lindy Hop LIFE 1936 Dec 28.png

This was apparently the source for images and descriptions of "Swing Steps" first copyrighted in 1937. I thought it was something Louis Shomer made up, but I guess not.
Frankie Manning and others noted how Lindy Hop changed over the years.
So, the question is, which Lindy?
 

Siggav

Active Member
#2
I don't really understand the question. From what I understand lindy evolved out of a handful of dances including charleston where a big part that kicked off that evolution was the breakaway mentioned. Then once the swing-out was established the dance really took off as a separate thing and now the swing out is considered a fundamental and defining part of lindy hop.
 

Steve Pastor

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Staff member
#3
Chick Webb's band became the house band at the Savoy Ballroom in 1933.
What, and how, they played changed a lot from their "Sweet Sue" in "After Seben," (1929) (The band did play dates at the Savoy before 1933.) People came and went from the band, there were different arrangers, Webb himself became more assertive in his drumming, etc.

I found these samples of the Chick Webb band recordings
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VRNFYU/ref=dm_sp_alb

I'm curious about which of the songs would make you want to do Lindy Hop, especially the ones with the lower numbers (recorded earliest) although I appreciate that listening is time consuming.
 

bookish

Active Member
#4
In contemporary Lindy the breakaway is mentioned as a precursor to the swingout and Lindy Hop. Of course in real history things do not always proceed in a strict sequence and various dances and moves coexisted at once. Same with the music; there's a capsule history of how it developed but change is gradual, different bands have their own styles, etc.

Most of the songs on that Chick Webb album are fantastic for Lindy Hop. Some are faster than people generally social dance today. I would take exception to "Blues in my Heart," which sounds more like strolling around the floor, maybe a one- or two-step, than Lindy Hop.

As for the first two songs (the 1929 ones if I'm not mistaken), they do have a noticeably different sound, more like NOLA/Dixie jazz than big band, but that sound is popular for Lindy Hop today. "Dog Bottom" could be a problem for social dancing because of its 240bpm tempo, not necessarily the style. "Jungle Mama" would be an excellent slow Lindy song.
 

Steve Pastor

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Staff member
#5
And, well ...

The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance By Aberjhani., Sandra L. West tells us that Chick Webb began an extended enagement at the Savoy in 1933.

But, a book on Ella Fitzgerald, "Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz," which has the most thorough account of Chick Webb's activities that I can find, has Webb bouncing back and forth among the Lafayette Theatre, the Harlem Opera House, and one nighters in Philadelphia from June 33 through beginning of 34.

It also says that Ella joined Webb in 1934, while the book puts it as 1935.

Man, can't even trust an Encyclopdia - let alone web sites (no brainer there!)!

I'm noticing a lot of parallels with the search for original West Coast Swing music here.
 

bookish

Active Member
#6
I usually don't get more specific with people than "30s and early 40s" so your fact-checking is admirable :) Bouncing back and forth between different jobs wouldn't surprise me, but maybe being associated with what ended up being the most prestigious or long lasting job isn't surprising either? Most of these historical sources are probably based on cobbling together personal accounts and maybe some newspaper articles, right? I would probably go with the more specific, closer-to-primary source.

I think I'm the last post on 10 straight swing threads now :p
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#7
maybe being associated with what ended up being the most prestigious or long lasting job isn't surprising either?
I have to wait for the Fitzgerald book to get past Ella starting with Webb. While I don't mind the spirit of "being associated with" I want more accuracy.
Did Webb ever get a contract to be "the house band." So far, he is one of the bands that played there. Don't know if that makes his outfit "one of the house bands."

An other example Fletcher Henderson is credited by a promiment historian for having swing in his music in the 20s. Meanwhile, Gunther Schuller, who listened to records 30,000 times does not agree with that assessment. He also notes that Henderson used arrangements written by other people. The historian credits Hendersons arrangements with having swing, which doesn't seem right to me.

Most of these historical sources are probably based on cobbling together personal accounts and maybe some newspaper articles, right?
Yes. pretty much.
Or, people have just made stuff up.
Take Sophisticated Swing, supposedly a term used by Myrna Myron and adopted by Murray and another name for Western Swing. You would think that Myron would have advertised on that basis, when promoting her ballroom. Maybe she did, but I have yet to see the ads, while I HAVE seen ads for "Gay-O Swing" (named after the creator), and "Liberty Swing" (this was around the outbreak of WW II).
One web page states that she owned a "swing club," rather than a ballroom - not a minor detail.
And, I can't find anything about a slot in the step sheets for Sophisticated swing.

And so it goes.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#8
I think this is an interesting article by one of the people that did arrangements for Chick Webb. Norma Miller wrote that Lindy Hop was developed to Webb's music, so I'm looking into what he was doing before the official beginning of the Swing Era. This individual, Van Alexander, became involved with Webb "about 1936," his observations are pretty interesting.

http://www.bigbandlibrary.com/chickwebb.html

And it seems that while Webb's band is often referred to as THE house band of the Savoy, Van Alexander and others write things like "Chick was sort of the house band there."
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#9
Anyone familiar with labanation?

The Stearns "Jazz Dance..." book has a few interesting descriptions of some of the "jazz dances" that show Lindy Hop in a surprisingly (to me) simple fashion, it seems, compared to jitterbug.

I've got a couple of books coming that may help decipher what is presented, but, any help would be appreciated.
Anyone?
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#10
Have my book now. I knew this woulddn't be easy, but I'm really curious to see more specifically what Stearns thought the differently named species of swing dance looked like.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#11
Here's another example of what I'm going to call Lindy Hop that looks a bit different. It's around 3:30. Nearly all of it is in a closed position.
This was filmed in 1935 in Queens, s the dancers were very likely from New York.
And, today is Duke Ellington's birthday, too. This is worth a look.

 

bookish

Active Member
#13
Before the modern era of standardized social dances, there were TONS of different dances. Some were regional. Some were fads.

I did a bit of searching and Texas Hop appears to be a dance associated with swinging R&B/jump blues music of the 40s.

This interview with some steppers equates Texas Hop with the Bop, which is a post-Swing Era swing derivative.

On the song Honeydripper (a jump blues/R&B tune): "It was adopted by dancers performing a dance called the Texas Hop" Another source says the artist wrote it in 1942 specifically to suit the Texas Hop.

.
 

leee

Well-Known Member
#14
I like that interview! Especially interesting that Stepping has different 6- and 8-count styles -- I wonder if that has anything to do with Lindy.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I just got an article on Pepsi Bethel dated 1978.

"The Lindy Hop, he explained, was basically the same dance as the Jitterbug, except that "in Harlem, at the Savoy, nobody'd dare call it the Jitterbug." (That didn't keep the Savoy dancers from being billed as "Whitey's Jitterbugs" at one point. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/158329743123757702/ )

"The major differences were the frantic tempo and the astonishing "air steps" performed by the Lindy Hoppers.
"And doing the air steps in tempo..that's the only way to do air steps."

But, air steps were only done during performances, as stated by Manning. And, there were no air steps before 1935. But there was Lindy Hop.

Hey, never saw this 1961 Ebony article. http://books.google.com/books?id=oDe4dSJt_6YC&lpg=PA1&pg=PA32#v=onepage&q&f=false

Texas Hop? Still haven't figured it out.
 

bookish

Active Member
#16
At a recent workshop I learned a Bop basic in passing. It went step, step, step, tap, step, tap. Sort of like a double swing basic, except step-tap instead of tap-step. Also there was an "in and out" motion on the step taps, and IIRC the step step was in place, no rock.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#17
I suspect there have been many similar styles that went by the name "bop."
Benny Goodman hired two dancers who created a dance they called the "Bop Hop." That was in 1949 (I think.) Yes, Goodman tried playing Bop for a short while.

Art Silva wrote "How to Dance the Bop!" copyrighted in 1956. "Art Silva is a dancer, actor and instructor," and had a Hollywood address. Bop was big in LA BEFORE it made it onto American Bandstand. He also wrote "How to Dance the Rock n Roll."

He described the Bop like this...
Start by Marching softly in place, but only lifting your heels so that the tip of your toe remains on the floor.. Pick your heel up quite high and then put it down and lift the other."
There's more to it of course, knee bending and a "lean away from the foot that's up," and a turning in of the foot that's up.

"As you put your heels down say BOOM and as you pick the other heel up say CHICK and so on."

Sounds a lot like what you learned!
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#18
By the early 40s the authors of dance books were including descriptions of Lindy Hop. Arthur Murray wasn't the only one.
Here's the first four items from one description of Variation No 1.

1. Point or touch left toe.
2. Come down on left heel.
3. Point right toe.
4. Come down on left heel

Does that look like it makes sense?

5. Touch right toe.
6. Come down on right heel.
7. Step on left foot turning away from partner.
8. Step on right foot turning back toward partner.
 

Siggav

Active Member
#19
That doesn't really make sense to me just reading through those listed movements.

That LEFT heel in point 4 might very well be a typo or a printing mistake. That one really makes no sense
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#20
Yeah. Looks like (as I kept reading) they could have done a better job of editing before setting the type on this! Latter on they get it right, but somewhat mysteriously create an 6 count move for turning one way, and an 8 count move turning the other way.

Have another, 1940 book to look at that's in at the library. Excited!
 

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