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Lindy: The First Generation

July 27, 2022

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We here at Swungover used to refer to the first generation of Lindy Hop as “The Dark Ages” due to the lack of footage we, and the mainstream Lindy Hop scene as a whole, had of their dancing. The best we could get was grainy copies of After Seben , the handful of stories in Norma and Frankie’s books, and the recollections of “Shorty” George Snowden, Al, and Leon in Marshall Stearns’ Jazz Dance. (All of which deserve a place on a Lindy Hoppers history book shelf, btw.) Over the last decade, however, passionate researchers and YouTube have unearthed some wonderful gems of first generation Lindy Hop. Here is a list of them, and we will continue to gather them here as more become available.

After Seben (1929)

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The 1950 Harvest Moon Ball

May 24, 2022
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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. To see all the Harvest Moon Ball essays, please visit Swungover’s HMB page.

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The 1949 Harvest Moon Ball

May 3, 2022
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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. To see all the Harvest Moon Ball essays, please visit Swungover’s HMB page.

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The 1948 Harvest Moon Ball

March 16, 2022
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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. To see all the Harvest Moon Ball essays, please visit Swungover’s HMB page.

Executive Orders & Dancing

In late July of 1948, little more than a month before the 1948 Harvest Moon Ball, President Truman signed executive order 9981 — it ordered the integration of the American Armed Services.

Before this, Black American soldiers could have a pretty different life than their counterparts. An obvious example, as described in our 1943 essay, was that they were often given the worst of the equipment, or, (as depicted in the historical film Glory), were often sent to be cannon-fodder. They were not expected to be good at complex jobs like flying airplanes (something the Tuskegee Airmen had to prove amazingly wrong), and the army had capped the number of Black Women nurses it could accept to 56 until near the end of WWII.

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The 1947 Harvest Moon Ball

December 8, 2021
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Venmo: @bobbyswungover

This is part of the Harvest Moon Ball essay series. To see all the Harvest Moon Ball essays, please visit Swungover’s HMB page.

NOTES:

As we go into the great Lindy Hoppers of the 1940s and 50s, a frustrating aspect to research has been the lack of information on the women dancers of this time. And the original dancers of this era we are interviewing — Sugar Sullivan, Gloria Thompson, Sonny Allen — seem to share in this frustration. They truly wish they could tell us more. There is simply much more information on the Harlem men of this era than the women. (This will change for the 60s and 70s, where there is quite a lot of information on the women of the time, many of whom are still with us.) We will keep working hard to uncover as much information as we can. Until more is learned about them, enjoy the artistry they brought to the dance floor in the clips, and seeing their names next to their dancing.

What happened to our 1946 essay? Like our 1941 essay, we are missing some key information to finish identifications in the footage. However, if we had the listing of the competitors from the Harvest Moon Ball program, it would make our lives a lot easier. So, if you happen to be in possession of a 1946 or 1941 program, we would love to have a picture of the Jitterbug listings!

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