Black Inclusion in Lindy Hop
Manu Smith, founder of SwingNation, the go-to video podcast for the world Lindy dance community, brought together a panel of black Lindy dancers to address the topic of "black inclusion in the dance." It's amazing that such a question even comes up today but it's a legitimate question. So much has changed since its inception on the Savoy Ballroom floor when Harlemite George "Shorty" Snowden named it for a Fox Movietone newsreel-- and the world-- in 1928. It was at that time a black dance in the greatest black city in the world-- then and now. Unfortunately-- for me in particular, the playwright trying to find enough black Lindy and Jitterbug dancers to bring my "dancical's" 1931 dance scenes to life-- you have to look far and wide to find blacks on a swing dance floor today, an absence that has unfortunately taken on political overtones as in recent Broadway swing era musicals which had white choreographers-- including one from the UK who won a Tony for his work. Provided you can even find Lindy instructors outside of America's major cities, re the paucity of black Lindy dancers, the panel suggests one reason is economics, i.e., the lessons aren't all that cheap, especially if you're an African American still trying to make it in a post-Jim Crow but still racist America where your earning power is far lower than whites. But of course, it's more than that. For anyone interested in this question, please watch the video. Panelists are: Manu Smith, Sara Deckard, Andrea Gordon, and Remy Kuoakou Kouame. For those in Harlem, the birthplace of the dance, the Harlem Swing Dance Society is doing all it can to bring the dance back to Harlem by offering affordable dance classes at $7.00/person. Finally, the 2017 American Lindy Hop Championships will be held this October in Harlem. How cool is that? Or ironic?
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Multi-hyphenate with a penchant for writing.