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The 1936 Harvest Moon Ball

July 30, 2020

COVID ask 3

This is the shorter, SNACK SIZE version. (I know, it’s a big snack.) For the longer, GEEK-OUT version, click here. For our 1935 HMB essay, click here.

This essay is not just the story of a contest. It’s the story of a year in the life of Lindy Hop. It’s a story of context. A story of hidden memories. A story of two dozen heroes. 


On July 12, 1936, The Daily News announced the follow up to its highly successful first Harvest Moon Ball. Once again, Whitey would expect his dancers to flood the Savoy prelims.

1936 00 First announcement Daily_News_Sun__Jul_12__1936_

From the announcement of the 2nd annual Harvest Moon Ball.


Before we go further, we should mention something that is supposed to have happened since the last Harvest Moon Ball: The Savoy ballroom contest where, the legend goes, Frankie Manning and Freida Washington introduced the first air step into swing-era Lindy Hop. Since we covered that contest in the 1935 essay, we won’t go over it here. (And you should really hear Frankie tell you, anyway). Read more…

The 1936 Harvest Moon Ball (GEEK OUT)

July 30, 2020

Geek ask 2

This is the longer GEEK OUT version, where we go into detail in everything. For the snack sized version, click here. For our 1935 HMB essay, click here.

This is long, but for a reason. This is not just the story of a contest. It’s the story of a year in the life of Lindy Hop. It’s a story of context. A story of hidden memories. It’s a story of two dozen heroes. 

May, 1936

The first “National Dance Congress” was held in New York, involving many of the of the greatest Euro-centric dance scholars and performers of the time. A relatively famous dancer and choreographer named Mura Dehn had, years earlier, stumbled into the Savoy Ballroom and fell in love with the dancing there. She had gone on to spend the years since studying Black American dance in all its forms.

She used the congress to express that Black American dances like Jazz dance were a truly groundbreaking art form and worthy of serious attention. Most of her peers did not agree with her.

The Missing Clip

While sorting through all the Harvest Moon Ball footage we could find, we came upon this clip. No information anywhere about it:

Read more…

Practice w/ Bobby SEASON 2!

June 25, 2020

Over the COVID-19 quarantine I’ve been doing 30 minute, down-and-dirty Improv jazz dance training. (And I will continue to do so, btw, Monday Nights at 7pm EST on my FB profile!

Here is SEASON 2! It’s only $19.99 for FOUR HOURS of dance training (and, you know, fish eye lenses and FB live video quality!) You can even try out Episode 13 for FREE to see if you’ll like it!

JUST CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO GET THEM. (Links to the videos are also over at the The Swungover STORE  and so you don’t have to search for this post!)

More info below. 

Season 2 thumbnail crop

Read more…

“Whitey’s Hopping Maniacs” at the Savoy, 1937

May 26, 2020

COVID ask 3

Perhaps you’ve seen the footage before of a young Frankie Manning dancing at the Savoy ballroom. With Chick Webb and his band swinging in the background, Frankie is clearly seen dancing and smiling, and sporting a suave 1930s mustache. It was used in Ken Burns’ Jazz, for instance, but if you haven’t seen it before, or in awhile, here is a pretty clear copy recently made available on Getty’s stock footage website: (Please note the announcer makes a racist pun on “dark” that was sadly typical of the time.)


So there’s some Frankie Manning for you on his birthday. But who’s that dancing with him? And if you watched it a few times, you might notice there seems to be a group of three couples, including Frankie, that pal around and talk to each other while they’re dancing. Those three couples get the bulk of the camera’s attention in these short snippets. So who are they?

We think those three couples are none other than Naomi Waller & Frankie Manning, Mildred Cruse & Billie Williams, and Lucille Middleton & Jerome Williams.  

Here’s a little bit about their story, and why we think it’s them. Read more…

R.I.P. Roy Damron (1921- 2020)

May 21, 2020

Roy Damron & Snookie Bishop

Roy Damron, original Southern California Swing dancer, passed away January 2, 2020. He was 98 years old.

Roy was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 27, 1921. He grew up in the then-small town of Alhambra, where he attended Alhambra High School. Like many young people, he took basic dance lessons during that time, where he learned the box step. He would practice it while walking five miles home from the lessons with a friend, and they would occasionally stop to try out the step with each other. After Roy got into swing dancing, he would forever think of that box step as the fundamental basic of all the swing dances. Read more…