R.I.P Ray Hirsch, Great So-Cal “Swing” Dancer
Ray was a true “Swing” dancer as they would have called it — meaning, he didn’t do just one dance; he instead did any and every step swing music inspired, mixing the styles and moves of Shag, Balboa, Bal-Swing, Lindy, and the numerous wild tricks he and his partner Patty Lacey could think up. He especially loved performing in contests and films. (For instance, Mad Youth)
He spent the later years of his life traveling the world as a special guest at swing dance events, and was always known for being kind, excited, and in good spirits.
I first heard the news at the International Lindy Hop Championships, an event that celebrates the music and dancing he spent his life doing and its influence across the world.
The final night, Nick Williams and I gave a tribute to Ray over the microphone, ending by urging that Ray was not the kind of guy who would want people sad over his passing. So we instead encouraged the dancers to pay tribute to him by rolling up their pant legs, getting out onto the floor, and dancing any and every step they felt inspired to do.
The next time you’re on a dance floor, take a moment to do the same. The smile on your face will match Ray’s.
To see Ray in action, Morgan Day has put up a great tribute to his dancing:
Also, some pictures of note. First, Ray with Judy Garland, a good friend of his. Second, with Frankie Manning. Photos courtesy of Morgan Day.