Sometime in 1911, 106-years ago, the first film of a "breakaway"
dance move was recorded in San Francisco. Dancers were doing something called the "Texas Tommy" and would "breakaway"-- but still hold onto each other-- to strut their stuff. That dance made its East Coast debut in the 1913 premiere of Darktown Follies at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem and probably hit the Harlem dance floors within hours of the show's premiere.
But the world outside of Harlem would have to wait until June 17, 1928, 89-years ago, to see the "break" in a new dance called the Lindy. That's when George "Shorty" Snowden used it to show off his impressive foot-work. Shorty was dancing with his partner Mattie Purnell in a dance marathon at the Manhattan Casino ballroom. The breakaway brought the audience-- and the band-- to life. Before long, Shorty and Mattie were getting press and newsreel coverage. The cat was out of the bag. What had been a Harlem thing had now become a world thing.
Just like what happened in the Bronx, a NYC borough across the Hudson River just east of Harlem, 44-years ago today.
You can learn more here.