A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 25, 2005
Lindy Hop
The "Lindy Hop" is said to have started at the Savoy Ballroom, on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. The term "Lindy Hop" came into almost immediate use after Charles Lindbergh's famous 1927 flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The dance contains parts of other existing dances, just as the "Big Apple" dance would ten years later, in 1937.

Several of the websites below have pre-1927 dates that seem in obvious error. The Wikipedia claims there were "lindy dances" at the turn of the 1900s, and once website claims the "Lindy Hop" existed in 1926 (the year the Savoy began).


(Oxford English Dictionary)
Lindy Hop
[f. Lindy, nickname of C. A. Lindbergh (1902-74), the American pilot who in 1927 was the first to make a solo non-stop transatlantic flight + HOP n.2 2.]
A Black American dance originating in Harlem (New York); also attrib. Also ellipt. Lindy. Hence Lindy v. intr., to dance the Lindy Hop; lindyhopper, one who dances the Lindy Hop.
1931 Zit's Theatrical Newspaper 2 May 11 The winners of the all-Harlem Lindy Hop contest..drew rounds of applause nightly.
1936 Life 14 Dec. 64 The Lindy Hop originated at the Savoy.
1946 MEZZROW & WOLFE Really Blues (1957) xvi. 286 We'd get five teams of lindyhoppers from the Savoy Ballroom.
1948 K. DAVIS Human Soc. 79 The late and unlamented dance step called the 'Lindy Hop' was a fad.

Wikipedia: Lindy Hop
Classic Era (1927 to 1935)
This era was inspired by Ragtime jazz. Lindy Hop evolved from the combination of Breakaway and Charleston. Dancers, like George Snowden (Shorty George), that opened up Breakaway and Charleston. The partners moved closer together and further apart while spinning, to make the moves more interesting, eventually creating the swing out.

George Snowden renamed the dance from Breakaway to Lindy Hop at dance contests at the Harvest Moon Ball in Central Park in September 1927 or at the Savoy Ballroom in 1928 (the story varies). Lindy Hop was named in honor of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic airplane flight in 1927. In slang of the late 1800s and early 1900s, a lindy was a young woman; it was also the popular nickname of aviator Lindbergh, often called "Lucky Lindy" (although he personally disliked the nickname).

Many dance events at the turn of the century were called lindy dances or lindy hops by (who?). So the trans-atlantic flight may not have been the origin of the name, but it sanctioned and popularized the name. It gave a white identity to a black dance, making it possible for the whole country to enjoy.

Lindy Hop dancers were originally banned from the Savoy Ballroom, because they took more space than other dancers and they often kicked other dancers. The cat's corner began when Lindy Hop dancers went to the [northeast?] corner of the Savoy ballroom to dance. As Lindy Hop became popular, the Savoy relented and welcomed Lindy Hop dancers. (According to Frankie Manning NCLSworkshop interview, January 2002)

The most notable dance troupe of the classic era was the Shorty George Trio, which inspired many other dancers and troupes to take up Lindy Hop.

Wikipedia: Savoy Ballroom
The Savoy Ballroom located in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, was a public place for music and dance shows from 1926 to 1958. It was located between 140th and 141st Streets on Lenox Avenue.

The Savoy was a popular dance club in the 1920s and 1930s and many famous dances such as the Lindy Hop were created here. It was known as the "Home of Happy Feet" or simply "the Turf".

Unlike the 'whites only' policy of the Cotton Club, the Savoy Ballroom was integrated and whites and blacks could dance together.

Savoy Style
It all started at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, 1926.

In the late 1920's in Harlem Lindy Hop was breaking out wherever people were partying... But it wasn't until the opening of the Savoy Ballroom that Lindy Hop got its name and a home. At the Savoy the Lindy Hop got hotter and hotter, as people danced to the top Big Bands in the land. And it got better and better, as the popular Saturday night competitions pushed good dancers to greatness. New steps were born every day. The styling got refined and was executed so well that the dance was a joy to watch as well as do. When it looked like it couldn't get any better, a young dancer named Frankie "Musclehead" Manning created the first airsteps in 1935, and the Lindy Hop soared.

The history of the Lindy Hop is told in the pages of this Archive, through the biographies of the dancers and information on old filmclips. (You might try starting with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. ) Lindy Hop became a dance craze worldwide, known as Jitterbug. It evolved into many forms, such as West Coast Swing, Rock'n'Roll, and Boogie Woogie. But the authentic style, the original style, will always be the Savoy style from Harlem, USA.

8 June 1927, San Mateo (CA) Times and Daily News Leader, "New York" by Gilbert Swain, pg. 12, col. 4:
Obviously the first dance to be named for the Lindbergh flight was the "Lindy Hop." Another will be called the "non-stop" and a third the "French jump."

12 September 1928, New York (NY) Amsterdam News, "Dance Revue Contest at Lincoln," pg. 6:
Dancers, private and otherwise, who have been priding themselves on their own ability, will have a chance not only to "show" the "world," but, if entered in the "Lindy Hop Dance Contest," starting at the New Lincoln Theatre next Monday, their reward will be a substantial prize, to say nothing of an engagement at the Lincoln.

29 September 1928, Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), pg. 8, col. 3:
"Lindy Hop" Hops At Lincoln
NEW YORK - "Lindy Hop Review" with a fast stepping cast are on the boards at the Lincoln theatre and are playing to packed houses.

22 February 1930. Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), pg. 8, col. 4:
If Lindy Knew
Of course, you've seen it so much in Baltimore that you've probably become sick of it by now, but with the ofay thrill-seekers in New York, it is a different matter.

Yes, sir, the dancing of the Lindy hop has caused some of the Nordics to write columns upon columns about it. One of the scribblers in the throes of ecstasy over the terpsichorean achievement said:

"'The Lindy hop' itself is sometimes comparable to the flight of an airplane. A couple will swing off into space and hop up and down the entire length of the gorgeous floor. Another couple will break into the exaggerated steps of the stage adagio team. He will lft her from the floor and swing her about just as high, and as long as his breath will allow. But these are merely astonishing stunts. The true 'Lindy hop' is, first of all, a fox trot. You start to fox trot and suddenly you lose your partner. You give her a little twirl and she is off - and so are you. You have four measures. That is the average: although some keep on 'lindying' until they are ready to drop. And 'lindying' is the trick of tricks.

"'Lindying' was to have been a few little steps, alone, after which you caught your partner about the waist and fox-trotted some more. Now, after months of refinement, and refinement, it has become an epic dance. Taps sprinkle on the smooth surface of the floor like huge rain drops at the beginning of a summer shower. Or spins and twirls send brown bodies catapulting into space. Or primitive rhythm surges up and at you until the drums knock you half a dozen feet from where you started. Or you just let yourself go and dance."

30 August 1930, Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), pg. 9, col. 3:
Notices have been sent out that the "Lindy Hop" will be presented on Broadway as the successor of "Diga Digo Doo." This is not the first time that the "Lindy Hop" will be seen on the great White Way, for it was presented in "Harlem".

23 September 1930, New York Times, pg. 27 ad:
SEE
THE LATEST SENSATIONAL
"LINDY HOP"
DANCE CRAZE THAT ALL
N. Y. IS TALKING ABOUT

(Times Sq. Theatre -- ed.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 25, 2005 • Permalink