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This is an index of the basic clips that include old-timers (prominent swing dancers before 1980s). It will be added to, as I compile info. Dates and names may in certain places be wrong; I promise to update information as I get it, though.
This will also be a starting point for a series I’ll be doing on individual classic clips and original dancers. It is also for any student who’s ever been in a class I have taught ever—almost all old clips I mention in class can be found here.
These are not all the swing clips in existence, so if you find dancers you like, there may be more clips of them out there. I recommend searching for them on YouTube or IMDB.
(1903 +) Cakewalk Archive Footage
Early Cakewalkers, both Black and White.
Modern-era dancer Sharon Davis put this clip of classic Charleston odds and ends together, a great introduction to classic Charleston (mainly solo) footage. One note: The Black dancers with a white back drop behind them many times throughout the clip are Savoy Ballroom dancers from the 1950s. These include Pepsi Bethel, Al Minns, Leon James, and others. Frankie Manning’s in the sweater vest at 7:00. There are also a few clips of Al and Leon dancing from their 1950s/60s tours. Josephine Baker dances at 2:44.
(1929) After Seben
Shorty George is the third leader in this partnered Charleston contest, and he does a few of his patented “Lindy Hop” swing-outs. So, this clip is roughly the birth of Lindy Hop on film. James Barton, the emcee, was a famous eccentric dancer. It is pronounced “After Seven” with a “b,” like a chewy American dialect (as far as we know.)
(1935) Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life, AKA “Snakehips”
Earl “Snakehips” Tucker showing his famous snake hips dancing — Earl was a major influence on Whitey’s dancers Al Minns and Leon James’s solo styling.
(1937) Ask Uncle Sol, AKA See Uncle Sol AKA Shorty George and Big Bea
Shorty George dances Lindy Hop with his famous partner Big Bea.
(1937) A Day at the Races
Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers first film appearance. First couple: Dorothy Miller (Norma’s older sister) and Johnny Innis; 2nd, Leon James and Norma Miller; 3rd, Snookie Beasley and Willamae Ricker; 4th, Ella Gibson and George Greenidge. (Norma Miller says the name “Long” George “Greenwich” which I believe to be the same.) (Day at the Racesis also notable for being one of the few movies on this list that is actually good.)
(1937) Manhattan Merry-Go-Round.
A Whitey’s Lindy Hop film performance. Not an incredibly important clip — it involves a bunch of quick cutaways.
(1938) Radio City Revels
A Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers performance for a film. Notable for being Frankie Manning’s first swing-outs that we have on film. He’s the first leader dancing in the background with Lucille Middleton, and when the camera get’s closer, it switches to Eddie “Shorty” Davis dancing with Mildred “Boogie” Pollard (she later took the stage name Sandra Gibson and became a notable female Blues dancer), followed by George Greenidge dancing with Eleanor “Stumpy” Watson, and then “Tiny” Bunch (the big one), and Dot Johnson. The full routine is not on this clip.
(1938?) Harvest Moon Ball Footage
[UPDATE: It IS Al Minns and Mildred Pollard, from their winning year in 1938 (couple #61). Thanks to Streetswing.com This will help us find the names of other dancers on that clip, if we can see their number.] There are a few clips of various Harvest Moon Ball footage, and if you’re interested, most can be found on YouTube. It’s possible the guy in the all-white suit at 0:56 is Al Minns, based on the way he moves through the stops routine, but also because in this other newsreel, he’s (#61) almost definitely at 1:45 doing his unique high-kicking continual swivel step, and it looks like the same couple . (And, don’t be fooled, there are two other guys in an all-white suits — so you have to keep an eye on their shoes and the partner’s clothes, too). The guy in the white suit at the end of the clip is possibly Thomas “Tops” Lee and his partner Wilda Craford, based on the signature wrap-around move they do. More on them below.) What’s also interesting is that Al’s follower looks and swivels like Sandra Gibson (AKA Mildred Pollard) in Radio City Revels, and she was his partner for the 1938 Harvest Moon Ball, the year they won. So, the footage of Al Minns and Sandra Gibson dancing, if it is them (I’d put good money on it), is perhaps from the 1938 Harvest Moon Ball. (Though the clip is almost certainly a collection of different contest finals.) It’s also probable that the last leader seen in the clip is George Greenidge, doing the same move combo he did in Keep Punching, minus a turn under the arm—so, a slightly more basic version of their jam, which would also pin this date close to 1938. (Classic Swing Dance Clip Theory= a whole lot of possibles.)
(1939) Keep Punching, AKA Jittering Jitterbugs, AKA The Big Apple Contest
Noteworthy for the Whitey’s version of the Big Apple, choreographed by Frankie Manning, as well as a jitterbug contest where Whitey’s show off in front while other dancers dance in the background half-time. Big Apple dancers are the same as below, minus Billy, Ann, Eleanor and Sonny, but plus William Downes and Mickey Jones.
Jam couples: 1st, Billy Williams and Ann Johnson; 2nd, Joyce James and Joe Daniels; 3rd, Eleanor “Stumpy” Watson and Sonny Jenkins; 4th, Lucille Middleton and Frankie Manning; 5th, Thomas “Tops” Lee and Wilda Crawford; 6th, Norma Miller and George Greenidge. (Thanks, Frankie’s biography!)
(1939) Hot Mikado AKA Worlds Fair 1939
The Whitey’s performed at the 1939 World’s Fair. Extensive comments about how crappy it was doing these shows can be read in Norma Miller’s book, Swingin’ at the Savoy. Also, random social dancing from the fair here.
Hot Mikado (the show the Whitey’s did at the fair with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson) footage here.
[UPDATED: Better quality copy, though it looses the great musical introduction. Check that out, here.] Considered by many to be the peak of Lindy Hop performance on film. It is, without a doubt, the greatest choreography and execution the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers ever put on film. First couple: William Downes and Francis “Mickey” Jones; 2nd, Norma Miller and Billy Ricker; 3rd, Al Minns and Willamae Ricker; 4th, Frankie Manning and Ann Johnson. Dean Collins also does a dance in this film to the song “Watch the Birdie,” but it’s not currently on YouTube. (Despite having been in the same film, the sequences were shot on different days, and arguably the two most significant figures in Lindy Hop Leading, Frankie Manning and Dean Collins, never met.)
(1941) Hot Chocolate AKA “Cottontail”
The same group as Hellzapoppin’ doing snippets of the same choreography with minor changes to (various) slower speeds. Originally the film was edited on the wrong side, and the dancing in some clips is backward. (Not in this one, though).
(19??) Lindy Hop by Tops and Wilda
Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers Thomas “Tops” Lee and Wilda Crawford (the emcee earlier in this short either says “Tops and Wilder,” or pronounces Wilda as “While-dah.”) They had won the Harvest Moon Ball in 1940, were therefore picked by Whitey to be in Hellzapoppin’, and, according to Frankie’s book, missed an un-missable dress rehearsal without an excuse, which meant Frankie asked Al Minns and Willa Mae Ricker to do it instead. However, it should be noted we don’t have “Tops’s” and Wilda’s side to this story. And, by all accounts, they were one of the best Lindy Hop couples of the Whitey’s and winning the Harvest Moon Ball in a year when most of the Hellzapoppin Whitey’s were also in it is a sign of how high their dancing was regarded. We’re lucky to have this footage of them.
(19??) The Tranky Doo
The Whitey’s solo routine done by Thomas “Tops” Lee and Wilda Crawford of the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. See above.
*** This marks an important moment where Lindy Hop in film (coincidentally, as far as I know) shifts from being primarily of Savoy dancers to primarily Southern California Lindy Hoppers. This is partially because Frankie Manning and other Whitey’s go to war, and Herbert Whitey himself soon disbands the troupe. (And the Whitey’s was the prominent source of Harlem Lindy hop on film.) Meanwhile, Dean Collins has introduced Lindy Hop (which he learned in New Jersey and New York’s many dance clubs, including the Savoy) to Southern California and started to finally get film gigs himself. ***
(1941) Let’s Make Music
Dean Collins and a random follower.
[Updated: NOT Jewel McGowan, as the clip suggests. See Comments for update details.]
(1941) Buck Privates
This Abbot and Costello movie is probably the most famous clip of Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan’s dancing. They have the main jam in the clip. Jewel is often labeled “the greatest” by Southern California old-timer followers.
(1942) The Outline of Jitterbug History
[UPDATED (March 12, 2011)] At first myself and others believed this was not Whitey’s top group. Also, considering Frankie was at war in 1942, it made sense that it wasn’t him but dancers he had trained. Well, a chance glance at Frankie’s Autobiography told me how wrong we were: Frankie said this was filmed in 40 (though not released till 42) and it’s the same group as Hellzapoppin’, and from looking at it, it appears to be in the same order of couples. That means William Downes and Mickey Jones first, Norma Miller and Billy Ricker second, Willamae Ricker and Al Minns third, and Frankie Manning and Ann Johnson forth. They are dancing at speeds around 230 BPMs, which looks different than their other performances, all of which are faster. You have to get through two minutes of other dancing before you get to the Whitey’s.
(1942) Sugar Hill Masquerade
[Updated 2022] This is a clip of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers filmed in 1942, after many of the men went off to war and other top Whitey’s of the 2nd generation moved on from the group. There are still great performances to enjoy, however. We don’t yet know the names of all of these dancers, but we think the first follower is Dorothy “Dot” Johnson/Moses(?), the second couple is Jerome Williams with, we believe, Eunice Callen, and the very tall dancer is Raymond Ray Harris.
(1942) Hi, Neighbor
This clip showcases some incredible Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan dancing, as well as tons of other SoCal jitterbugs. (Film is slightly sped up.)
(1941) Jazzy Joe
More Dean and Jewel. Gil Fernandez and unknown partner on right.
(1942) Rings on Her Fingers
Dean and Jewel, and the line “Hey buddy, you’re in low gear.”
(1942) Chool Song
Dean and Jewel, and one damn obnoxious song.
(1942) Glen Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra
Dean and Jewel, showing off a lot of their different moves. Notable also for a brief section of Dean Collins doing a few steps of his Shim Sham. This clip only has the Lindy bits, so you don’t have to sit through the whole thing. If you do want it, it’s here.
(1942) Ride ‘Em Cowboy
Dean and Jewel as well as some (not so good) Harlem-style dancers, with Ella Fitzgerald on vocals. Also Ray Hirsch does a jam of some of his unique Collegiate Shag flash and crash moves.
(1943) The Powers Girl
Dean and Jewel dance in the rain to Benny Goodman. And, the longest through-the-legs I’ve ever seen done by Irene Thomas (she had padding on her butt).
Hal and Betty Takier show off their unique mix of Southern California Lindy and Bal-Swing. This clip apparently took the current SoCal Lindy world by storm when it was unearthed again in the late 90s.
(1943) Jive Junction
Dancers include Bob Ashley dancing with Jean Veloz (they mess up the aerial), Don Gallagher, Johnny Archer, Irene Thomas (sassy brunette with the big bow in her hair), and many more.
(1944) Swing Fever
A famous clip highlighting the style of Jean Veloz. The leaders are Don Gallagher (army) and Lenny Smith (sailor).
(1944) Ghost Catchers
A lot of great SoCal dancers: Check out the IMDB page for all their names. Note: It was long suspected/insisted that Dean Collins was in this clip, but (1) the Dean scholars I know could never find him, and (2) he’s not listed in the cast list on IMDB. A ton of his students are, however.
(1944) Groovie Movie
A humorous how-to-jitterbug film that happens to have several notable So-Cal dancers in it. Jean Veloz and Arthur Walsh are the main demonstration couple. Later, there’s Lenny and Kay Smith (Lenny’s in the army uniform), and Irene Thomas (the sassy brunette), to name just a few.
(1945) Twice Blessed
One of the most well-rounded SoCal dance clips: Hal Takier (striped shirt in the jitterbug contest) and Alice Scott; Lenny (dark suit in the jitterbug contest) and Kay Smith; and Wally (sweater and slacks in the jitterbug contest) and Mousie Albright. Three distinct styles of SoCal Lindy from the main jam couples, good background dancers (some of which do Bal-swing) and actors who say awesome teenage 1930s lines such as “Cut the floy-floy” and “Leave us have at ya!”
(1945) Let’s Go Steady
Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan on the left, Bob Ashley and partner (Rosemary Wilson, according to IMDB, Elsie Parish, according to the clip). The Velvet Fog himself Mel Tormei on vocals. Notable for not being inspiring Dean and Jewel.
(1946) Junior Prom
Dean Collins and fifty women. One of whom is a tumbler.
(1947) Boy, What a Girl!
Notable for Leon James and a few other Savoy dancers of the period. Leon James is the one in the two-tone coat in the background looking bored during the first two jams. He jams third. A higher quality version, without the original sound, is here. (The Ernie Smith collection, I believe, has this labeled as 1943. I went with IMDB date.)
(1948) Killer Diller
Frankie Manning’s own group of Lindy Hoppers (The Four Congaroos) perform a song much faster than they anticipated (according to his autobiography). Frankie Manning with Ann Johnson (on the left side for most of the clip) and Russell Williams with Willamae Ricker. The entire movie is here! It’s great quality and the Whitey’s are at 50 min.
(1950) Summer Stock
Noteworthy mainly just because it’s a stepping stone: It’s a clip of Southern California dancers that are apparently a dance-generation younger than the great pre-war and World War II dancers. There’s also a few dancers who hung around, like Lenny Smith. Already, you can see the dance changing towards what it would become in Don’t Knock the Rock.
(1950) The Spirit Moves Part 1
A film cataloging African American street dance. Our favorite Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and other jazz dancers are all over the place, including Sandra Gibson, Esther Washington, Norma Miller, Willamae Ricker, Frankie Manning, Al Minns, Leon James, Pepsi Bethel, and the occasional Berry brother. The two clips listed on this list are some of the highlights of the multi-hour film.
This first clip has, in order of appearance, “The Tranky Doo” (Al, left; Pepsi, middle; Leon, right); The California Routine (Leon James and Esther Washington); Frankie and Willamae Ricker doing an aerials demo; the Big Apple (first half); and practice/social dance footage inside the Savoy Ballroom.
(1950) The Spirit Moves Part 2.
The Al and Leon Shim Sham; solo Charleston jam (Reportedly “Big Nick” first, Al Minns second); Jam with Leon James/partner first, unknown couple second, and Al Minns/partner third (Sugar Sullivan?); and random Savoy dancers showing off.
(1954) Living It Up!
Mainly notable because it’s a lot of original SoCal jitterbugs dancing Lindy Hop in 1954, 10-to-15 years after the golden era. Dean Collins’s final film with Jewel McGowan, who passed away in ‘[UPDATED] 1962. Dean and Jewel are the couple in green.
(1956) Don’t Knock the Rock
A post-war generation of Lindy Hoppers began dancing Lindy to rock and roll music, including, most famously, Gil Brady (the cat with the glasses). There are probably a dozen clips of this generation’s dancing if you’re interested in more. Check out the movies Jukebox Rhythm and Untamed Youth for starters.
(1982) Bobby McGee’s Dance Party
A great example of the sorts of dancers you can find in the Bobby McGee’s footage. Many of them are original-era Lindy Hoppers.
(1983) Dean Collins’s Lindy Hoppers
The early 80s were the comeback years for original jitterbugs across the country, apparently. Dean is the most balding of the men, in a gray suit, and usually in the middle. Another version here.
(1984) Al Minns in Sweden
Al Minns returns to Lindy Hop, dances in Sweden. Lennart Westerlund from the Rhythm Hot Shots and Herrang fame is reportedly on the right in short shorts.
(1980s?) George Lloyd
Savoy Ballroom dancer George Lloyd dancing with Margaret Batiuchok, who, yes, has to spell her name for everyone she meets.
(1980s) Frankie Manning
Updated: Since there wasn’t hardly any modern Frankie on here, I decided to put this up: a collection of footage and interviews from dancer Margaret Batiuchok.
(1989) Call of the jitterbug
A Documentary about the 1980s resurrection of the Savoy Lindy Hop, involving interviews with many Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and jazz musicians.
(1992) Malcolm X
The Civil Rights leader loved Lindy Hop and often did it at the Savoy. In his Autobiography, he takes a few pages to mention what the dance meant to him. In the film, it’s highlighted with a dance scene. A random Hollywood choreographer named Otis Sallid headed up the choreography with Frankie Manning and Norma Miller on hand to consult. This clip has a lot of split-second appearances from a lot of great old timers: Norma Miller, Dawn Hampton, Sonny Allen, Charles Young (Frankie’s son–the one who looks a lot like Frankie) and the incredible modern Lindy Hopper Ryan Francoise. (Note: Neither Frankie nor Norma seemed extremely pleased with the end result, according to their biographies, mainly because social aerials, colorful zoot suits, and choreographed performances were not what a regular Saturday night dance was like at the Savoy.)
(1994) Can’t Top The Lindy Hop: Frankie Manning Class Demo
Frankie manning social dancing with Erin Stevens in his second prime for a class demonstration. Not currently on YouTube.
(2001) Sonny Allen
Post-war-Era Savoy dancer Sonny Allen dancing with Margaret Batiuchok. There are some great Sonny Allen clips, but the producers of the songs he uses in his routines took the clips off. (Basically, there are some clips where his dancing is phenominal—but those seem to have been taken off.)
(2004) Mama Lou Parks Dancers at the Basie Ball
Mama Lou Parks, a hostess from the Savoy, helped keep the Lindy hop alive following the ballroom’s close. She formed a dance troop and helped teach Lindy Hop to a new generation. These are members of her dance troop, often doing choreography and steps passed down from the Whitey’s and other Savoy dancers. A clip of their early dancing is here. (Thanks, Mikey!)
(2009) Frankie Manning – In Memoriam
Frankie Manning passed away April 27, 2009. He was not only a great innovator of swing dance, he was also a great man, and a benign grandfather figure to many of us. There are many tribute videos to him, I asked around, and we agree this is a great one to start with. Compiled by modern-era dancers Ann Mony and Stephen Grimes.This is another good one. But again, just YouTube for more.
Balboa and Bal-Swing.
We’d call most of the “Bal-swing” in these early clips “LA Swing,” the early stages of Bal-Swing development. For more info, please check out A Way-Too Brief History of Balboa (soon to be updated) or New Balboa Geek Discoveries: The Venice Beach Clip
(1938) Start Cheering
A very important clip for many in the Bal-Swing scene, despite its short length. On the left, Lolly Wise is dancing with Lil Arnold, and on the right, Maxie Dorf is dancing with Mary McCasslin. This clip is why the rotated kicks are called “Lolly (or Lollie) kicks.”
(1930s?) Roy Damron and Snookie Bishop
Home film footage of Roy Damron (who is, by the way, one of the coolest guys in the world) and his partner Snookie Bishop in a contest, or possibly preparing for one. This clip is where “the Damron” move most Bal teachers teach came from. This clip also makes one wonder, why isn’t anyone called “Snookie” anymore? (Who isn’t on Jersey Shore?) (Roy Damron can also be seen doing some “act like a crazy jitterbug” LA Swing in the movie Blondie Meets the Boss)
(1938) Venice Beach AKA “The Beach Clip”
Probably the most famous original Bal-Swing clip. A group of three LA Swing dancers and a Collegiate Shag couple. Bal-Swingers we know are Dick Landry (striped sweater), Jack Helwig (all white) dancing with Genevieve Grazis, and Hal (black pants, white shirt) and Betty Takier. The Shag couple is Connie Wydell and a woman possibly named Barbara Plum. (I will try to put up a new version soon.) For more info visit this Swungover article.
(1939) Naughty But Nice
Notable for Maxie Dorf and partner (the first couple down the stairs) acting crazy and wearing an awesome blazer. Jack Arkin, an LA Swing (Bal-Swing) dancer, is at the very back of the line. Also, Jack Helwig of the Venice Beach Clip, among several other flashes of him, does a Venice Beach-style toss-out at the very end of the scene. I’d bet good money his partner is his Beach Clip partner, Genevieve Grazis. These dancers have obviously been directed to “act like crazy jitterbugs” and not dance the way they normally did.
(1941) Melody Masters: Skinnay Ennis and His OrchestraAKA “Three Little Words”
Jack Arkin and Marion Goldy dance LA Swing (Bal-Swing) as well as a Lindy Hop/Shag. A clip notable for some general bal-swing, as well as the patented touch-the-floor Bal-Swing move we now call “Three little Words” in honor. (Thanks, commenter “David L” for the link!)
(1942-1944)The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Additional Cut Waist-Down Footage
[Added: 10/17/11] This footage is notable for several reasons, particularly for Balboa: There are some Bal-swing dancers around the column at 1:30-1:44, including Bob Ashley, who does out-and-ins and a toss-out. Most out-an-in footage we have is from old timers later in life, so this was exciting, since that’s mostly all these dancers do. The other important thing about this footage is that a dancer has very similar styling to Willie Desatoff, though it is unconfirmed yet if it is him or not. At 3:37 you can really start to see him and his partner on the left side of the screen, and they dance across the front to the right side. Even if it’s not him, it’s still very exciting to see Willie’s style represented in an early clip.
Hal and Betty Takier show off their unique mix of Southern California Lindy and Bal- Swing. This clip apparently took the current SoCal swing world by storm when it was unearthed again in the late 90s.
(1943) Kid Dynamite
By the way, here’s thewhole movie. At 38 minutes in the full clip, the jitterbug contest begins, and there are several couples doing Balboa and Bal-Swing. Around 40 minutes, couple No. 44 actually goes into a toss-out (straight from a Pure Balboa Come-around) and into a Texas-Tommy, which, interestingly enough, is the only occurrence we have of that in a classic film.
Like this clip, Balboa and subdued LA Swing in the old films often exist in the background to put more attention on energetic looking Lindy Hop in the foreground. Some other films with Bal in the background include: Talk of the Town, Hi, Neighbor, Dance Hall (Pure Bal), Ringside Masie (Pure Bal), The Bachelor Mother (Bal-Swing), and Dancing Co-Ed (Bal-Swing). (Thanks, Nick!)
(1980s) Willie Desatoff and Ann Mills and others at Bobby McGees AKA The Willie Yellow Pants Clip
This clip begins with Bart Bartolo doing some Bal. Willie Desatoff, in cream-colored pants and dark glasses, comes out an does a brief jam with Freda Angela Wyckoff (the one in the *cough* rather pumpkinish muumuu) At 1:40, Willie Desatoff comes out again and does a jam with Ann Mills. This is, without a doubt, one of the most influential clips of Bal-Swing that the modern generation of instructors watched. You can’t deny that Willie is one incredible stylist with a unique voice and incredible rhythm and footwork. He’s so flashy, it’s easy to forget he’s dancing with Ann Mills, one of the greatest Bal followers of all time — Ann doesn’t do a ton here; she often does more when dancing with other leaders. At 3:40, Hal Takier and Marge (his second and current wife) are on the middle of the dance floor. There’s tons of Bobby McGees footage (a family restaurant all the original SoCal dancers met at in the 1980s-to-late 2000s), which often has cameos by many of the great SoCal dancers of the original era. Check them out on YouTube.
(1980s) Ed and Inez Thompson doing (Pure) Balboa
For those wondering where some Pure Balboa footage can be found, here’s Ed and Inez Thompson.
(1982) Bobby McGee’s Dance Party
A great example of the sorts of dancers you can find in the Bobby McGee’s footage. Balboa Greats to watch for: Ann Mills and Inez Thompson are incredible followers. Willie Desatoff and Hal Takier (with his second and current wife, Marge) also enter the jam.
(1993) Maxie Dorf with Sylvia Sykes
Sylvia has footage of many of her lessons with Maxie; it’s not all that exciting, mind you — for instance, they took a few months to learn the basic alone. Imagine a video tape of every lesson at that pace.
(1937) Arthur Murray’s How to Dance the Shag
The highlight is at 3:25, when four couples of teenagers come out and drop some real street Shag. There’s also a routine with some great basic Shag vocabulary at 5 minutes.
(1938) It’s in the Stars
Not the best dancing in the world, and some very choreographed steps, but otherwise…Collegiate Shag.
(1938?) Harvest Moon Ball Footage
There are a few clips of various Harvest Moon Ball footage, and the event had both Lindy Hop and Shag divisions. So throughout the clips, you can catch glimpses of Shag dancers.
(1938) Venice Beach AKA “The Beach Clip”
Along the LA Swing dancers is the shag couple Connie Wydell and possibly Barbara Plum.
(1938) “Jail House Blues” AKA Woody Herman and his Orchestra
Hal and Honey Abbott perform a tap version of Collegiate Shag.
(1939) “Lady Be Good” AKA Artie Shaw Symphony of Swing
A fantastic clip, full of great Collegiate Shag styles and moves, most of them on the smoother end of the spectrum—perhaps the same style of dancers in the Arthur Murray clip, just after two years of smoothing out their movements.
(1939) Blondie Meets the Boss
Dancers are Ray Hirsch (striped socks) with Patti Lacey (Her name is also written as “Patty” in credits of Georgie Porgie.) A guy reportedly named Max (striped blazer) does some Shag, but mostly LA Swing, with Barbara Kent. [UPDATE: Not Roy Damron, as IMDB suggest. The story goes Roy was supposed to be a body double for an actor in the film. Ray Hirsch has a photograph of the dancers from the film, and name “max (something)” is reportedly on the the guy in th striped blazer.]
(1940) Mad Youth
The movie poster for this film describes “senses drowned in forbidden pleasures.” So, just think about that the next time you let someone Collegiate Shag. Ray Hirsch, once again striped, with Patti Lacey. Other dancers are Eugene Taylor, Aileen Morris, Maxine Taylor and Pearl Tolson.
(19??) Georgie Porgie
Ray Hirsch and Patti Lacey are featured in this short. It’s interesting to mention Ray and Patti considered themselves good performers of flashy choreography, but did not think of themselves as incredible dancers.
(19??) Fred and Betty Christopherson
A sort of audition reel or stock footage for Hollywood film makers, I think. Fred and Betty were obviously heavily influenced by Ray Hirsch and Patti Lacey. This is a style of Collegiate Shag, unlike the Shag of the Venice Beach Clip or “Lady Be Good,” which involves more performance-based movement and wild breakaways. Once again, embodying the idea of the “wild, crazy jitterbug” label rather than the lead/follow social dance label.
A few others films involving Collegiate Shag are (1939) Bachelor Mother (which has Ginger Rogers doing a little shag), the cartoon (1946) “All the Cats Join In” (which also has cartoon Lindy, Bal, and Charleston) and other films on this list such as The Powers Girl, Groovie Movie,Kid Dynamite, and Naughty But Nice. (Thanks, Nick Williams and David Lee!)
Solo Jazz and Misc. Jazz Choreographies
(1990s) Frankie Manning’s Shim Sham Demo
From his instructional videos, with Erin Stevens.
Dean Collins Shim Sham
Dean on the right, Bart Bartolo on the left.
Also worth looking at (1945) Tabby the Cat, to see how Dean styled some of his solo jazz dancing when he was younger.
Al and Leon’s Shim Sham, (The Spirit Moves version)
Al Minns far left, Leon James second from left. Other two unknown as far as I know.
Al and Leon’s Shim Sham (Marshall Stearns tour version). Al Minns on left, Leon James on right.
The “Tranky Doo”
Tops and Wilda, Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. Cuts off pretty early in the routine as we tend to perform it.
The Spirit Moves
Tranky Doo done by Al, Pepsi and Leon (from left to right) for The Spirit Moves. Cuts off before the ending as we tend to perform it.
Al and Leon
Al and Leon do the entire choreography as we tend to perform it today. (There is a weird camera cut that takes it to a different part of the routine, but most importantly, the long ending is there.)
The Big Apple
Al and Leon
(1959/60) “The Playboy Clip”
Al Minns and Leon James toured the talk show circuit with author Marshall Stearns for several years. There are tons of clips from these tours. (YouTube ’em!) “The Playboy Clip” is the most famous among us dancers. This was probably filmed in 1959 or 1960. The talk show was called “Playboy’s Penthouse” that ran little more than a season from 1959 to 1961. The show’s interviews focused on great jazz musicians throughout its run, as well. Since Al and Leon were in so many clips together, it is often hard for dancers to know which is which. Al Minns is the one who dances with a proud posture and lots of energetic movements. He is the follower when they partner dance. Leon James has a more “laid-back” and comical style. When Marshal Stearns announces them, Al Minns is the first person the camera looks at, sitting in a chair. The camera then pans to Leon James who has his hand around one of his knees.
This is at the bottom of this list because there is hardly any old-timer history of it on film, with one large exception being Blues clips taken from The Spirit Moves (Those pesky conservative pre-1970s!). We have modern-era dancer Joe DeMers to thank for putting these on You Tube for the public. There are a few more where these came from, this is just a taste.
(1950s) The Spirit Moves: Sandra Gibson)
[UPDATED: According to Call of the Jitterbug, this IS Sandra Gibson, against previous thought.] The inspiration for many great solo Blues dancers since.
The Spirit Moves:: Probably NOT Sandra Gibson
[UPDATED: Clip is NOT Sandra Gibson.] So, this clip is probably NOT Sandra Gibson, as the film credits declared. (Probably just another of the many errors the film made in the names. Note also: “William” instead of “Willamae,” and a few other mix ups on The Spirit Moves name cards in other clips.) We’re pretty sure she’s not Sandra Gibson because the previous clip is also labeled Sandra Gibson, and it’s a different woman, a woman who appears in the documentary Call of the Jitterbug
Here are a few classic routines that have inspired modern Lindy Hoppers greatly. Unfortunately, there’s not enough space to list more than a few of them. (I am now working on a separate post of non-swing dance clips.)
(1929) “One Man Dance”
Duke Ellington song “Black Beauty.”
(1942) The Berry Brothers in Panama Hattie
Just one of many great cane routines by the major rival of the Nicholas Brothers. YouTube ’em.
(1943) The Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather
Cab Calloway on vocals. Again, just one of several great routines. YouTube ’em.
(1965) Coles and Atkins Taking a Chance on Love
The incredible tap duo show off an elegant and extremely rhythmically challenging soft shoe. (They, like Al Minns and Leon James, also worked with Marshall Stearns—this is from a similar television interview as the Al, Leon and Marshall clips.)
REGARDING THIS LIST
This list specifically covers those notable dancers who danced swing in the period before the resurgence in the 1980s. And, as mentioned, not every old-timer swing clip is on here. Other historians may justifiably have reasons for thinking I left off a “must-see.” I’d be happy to consider adding it to the list if you contact me.
If you have information on any of the names (leaders or followers) left out, please send me the info at my email robertwhiteiii at gmail dot com and include some form of reference.
First off, this post was the bright idea of Daphna [Updated from “Daphne”] at Lindy Focus IX, who mentioned to me after an old-timers talk that it’d be nice to have an index of all the classic clips where newcomers can go and see them. (By the way, I do an Old-timer’s talk, if you’re interested.) Another huge thanks is in order for Chelsea Lee, who edited the piece. (I might have missed a few, Chelsea)
Even though this list cuts out the hard-won joy of tracking down a clip you’ve been searching for, I think everyone would agree it’s far more important to actually have the clips be easy to get to than to make people work for them, “the way they did back in my day, aught one, grumble grumble grumble.”
However, these are only the basics––there are some more advanced ones that you have to hunt down yourselves, and I will only give you a hint on one of them: “(1945) Musical Parade: Boogie Woogie.” When you track down this clip, please send me your findings so I can check your homework.
In collecting these YouTube clips, I noticed that a fair share of them came from sources such as Peter Loggins, The San Francisco Jitterbugs, CollegiateShagMovies, and a few others. If you have a chance, take a moment to check out their other clips on YouTube, thank them for the hard work, or get a neck tattoo from them.
Another huge thanks: Nick Williams and David Rehm made the mistake of answering my questions and helped me clear up a bunch of names.
I’d also like to give an additional shout-out to Nick, an avid clip collector and historian, who, before YouTube, compiled “The Original Jitterbugs” DVD, which had almost all the important Lindy clips on it, and sold it only for the cost of making the DVDs and mailing them—again, giving out freely the hard work of compiling all that film and info. So a great deal of thanks is given to those mentioned and many others who have tracked down this history for us.
Oh, and Natch.net before Nick. Remember that? In the early 2000′s, Damon Burke’s website was a place where you could download many of these old clips, provided you had a few hours for the file transfer. (I’m so glad technology is better now.) Thank you, Damon; you helped shape the way I looked at Lindy Hop, in a good way. And, the Old-timers owe you a big thanks, for without you, many people wouldn’t have ever been able to see their work in the early years of the new generation.