9 Clips of Classic Black Lindy Hoppers Who Aren’t Whitey’s
This is a version with very little text, where a reader can watch the clips without a lot of input. For a geek-out version with more thoughts and information, check out this one.
Recently it has dawned on me how much of our focus (including mine) regarding classic Black Lindy Hoppers goes towards the Savoy Ballroom’s famous performance group, The Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. And yet there are films of many non-Whitey’s Black dancers from the 1930s and 40s.
So here’s several examples of non-Whitey’s groups to get a broader understanding of what Lindy Hop meant to other Black dancers during the swing era. Watch and enjoy.
The original version of this article had clips from the Bill Green Collection on YouTube. However they were all taken down for copyright reasons. All but one of those has been updated with working links.
“Rubberneck” Holmes & Others, Spirit of Youth (1938)
Someone in the comments of the video has reason to believe this group was from Chicago, and Bill Green himself found information that they called themselves the Big Apple Dancers. Guess which one is Rubberneck.
Archie Savage and Marie Bryant in Jammin the Blues (1944)
Archie Savage (1919-2003) was raised in Harlem and became a professional dancer and actor. Marie Bryant (1917-1978) was well known for her African exotic dancing and singing, both in film and on stage.
Down, Down, Down (1942)
These unknown dancers are doing all socially-led moves, movement, and technique in the Harlem fashion.
Mac & Ace, and Kit & Kat, Juke Joint (1947)
The Jitterbug Johnnies, Juke Joint (1947)
Most of the Savoy Ballroom probably looked more like the dance floor in this clip than it did the dance floor of Keep Punching.
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
Jivin’ N’ Be-Bop (1946)
This film has always struck me as interesting because of the crispness and style of the follower’s swivels.
The Spirit Moves (1950)
The Lindy Hop here is very different than the Lindy Hop of Frankie Manning, for instance.
There are several reasons why we in the modern day have focused so much on the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. The most important reason being that the Whitey’s were the most practiced, the most organized, the most performative, the most creative, and the most exciting — so it makes sense that we pay the most attention to by far the best group.
There is a much broader world of Lindy Hop out there, however, than people know if they only see Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers films. And simply seeing what Lindy Hop meant to others is enough to inspire us, and keep it open to a great breadth.