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Introducing: The Air Swungover

April 16, 2021

At the very beginning of April I got a approached by Nike. (Technically, their helicopter stopped by. But I don’t have time to get into it, I’m trying to write shorter posts.)

“Bobby,” they said. “Sorry— Mr. White. You, You’re LEGENDARY. Your Balboa? Come on. Your role in NYC Lindy Hop performance groups? Incredible. Your blog? I mean, DAMN. Now then. We’re going to cut straight to the edge cause we know you’re a busy man, you don’t have time for bull. Especially these days. Here’s the slice — over the years, we at Nike have had the world’s greatest athlete design a shoe. Been there, done that. Blah blah blah Air Jordans, whatever, who cares. Then we went the artistic route and had Kanye do his — he owns a rhinoceros, by the way. Keeps it in a penthouse in the Upper East Side. But I’m telling you straight. He’s just a stop on the destination — the destination to YOU. Want another Macallan 95?”

I accept and he hands me the bottle.

“Just keep it. You see, we were thinking…” He leaned forward. “It’s time to do both. BAM. Artist, AND athlete. But not too much of an athlete — people can’t relate to the Salenas and the Lebrons, they spend too much time at the gym. And, sure, I know what you’re thinking, we could ask any number of incredible dancers — You’re too humble. Christine, isn’t this guy too humble? But get this. We don’t just want an athlete and an artist, but ALSO a history lover who writes really long blog posts about it.” He leaned forward. His glass was shaking. “We need Bobby White.”

Read more…

Relentless: 1939 & The Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers

April 6, 2021

 

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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is part of a series of essays that follows the rough time line of Savoy Lindy Hop from 1935 onwards. You may find the Harvest Moon Ball series interesting to go deeper into the grand time line of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers at this time:  1935, 1936, 1937,  1938. 

In 1939, things were going well for Herbert Whitey and his Lindy Hoppers. First off, their touring had perhaps reached its zenith — eight of his couples, lead by Frankie Manning, were on a grand, near-year-long tour of Australia and New Zealand. Then there was a group of all-men dancers he had on Broadway in Knickerbocker Holiday. On top of that, the highly-anticipated New York World’s Fair was going to feature his Lindy Hoppers — forty of them. Then there was another call from Broadway, a show called The Hot Mikado, asking him for dance teams. (What we’d call “couples” today.)

Whitey suddenly found that he had more gigs than he had qualified dancers for. But, we get the feeling Whitey rarely said “no” to a paycheck. Not only did he promise all of these gigs dancers, he even talked Hot Mikado from six couples to seven (one offstage as a backup). According to Frankie, it got to the point that if you could swing out a little bit, he’d put you into a group.  

The year looked like it was going to be relentless.

 

The World’s Fair 

The World’s Fair of 1939 was held in Flushing, Queens, just one bridge over from Harlem. Among the hundreds of exhibits from all over the world, there would be a Savoy Ballroom, showcasing Jazz Dance and the Lindy Hop. And, the Black American newspapers were very proud; even though the venture was owned by the Savoy’s White founder, Moe Gale, the Savoy’s Pavilion was the only large all-Black-run exhibit — all Black staff, band, and performers, and it even showcased a Black cultural art. Read more…

The 1938 Harvest Moon Ball

March 23, 2021

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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is the shorter, snack-sized version. For the longer, Geek-Out version of this article, which includes the most in-depth information and research, click here.  

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. Read more about the history of this defining event here: 1935, 1936, 1937

Banner Daily_News_Sun__Jul_17__1938_ (1)

The fourth Harvest Moon Ball began with an identity crisis. The “new” dance Collegiate Shag, apparently, wasn’t being what it was supposed to be. Read more…

The 1938 Harvest Moon Ball (GEEK OUT)

March 23, 2021
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6 Donate 2021

 

Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is the longer, Geek-Out version of this article, which includes the most in-depth information and research. For the shorter, Snack-Sized version, click here. 

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. Read more about the history of this defining event here: 1935, 1936, 1937

Banner Daily_News_Sun__Jul_17__1938_ (1)

The fourth Harvest Moon Ball began with an identity crisis. The “new” dance Collegiate Shag, apparently, wasn’t being what it was supposed to be. Read more…

Introducing: BAL PLAY

March 18, 2021
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I’m very excited and proud of this project, many years in the making: BAL-PLAY.

Goals:

1. Enjoy practicing alone as much as possible

2. Focus on true improvisation and solo self-expression in Bal.

How does it work?

6 lessons, each covering a major piece of dancing we can play with: Movement, Rhythm, Punctuation, Kicks, Turns, Slides. Each lesson has many sections, covering a crap ton of ideas to play with, encouraging dancers to grow their own style through their own play — for both Bal Leaders and Followers.

Think of it as a P-90X for individual Balboa improvisation. (Er, yeah, niche.)

When? The Movement and Rhythm lessons are available right now over at www.BALPLAY.com. Each additional lesson will come out once a week.

Where? Over at www.BalPlay.com (also known as www.OnlineBalboa.com)

Can I download them? Yes!

Do you have a trailer giving the low-down?