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Posts Tagged ‘Swing

“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”*…

 

Lindy Hop

 

In Atlanta’s historic Vine City neighborhood, hidden among the trees overgrowing the lot at the corner of Sunset and Magnolia, is a barren concrete slab. On this spot, in the heart of an early-1930s African American community, Atlanta was first introduced to what would become “America’s National Dance”: the Lindy Hop.

Teenagers from all over the Westside would flock to the Sunset Casino and Amusement Park. The cavernous pavilion, which had been converted to a dance hall, featured a rotating cast of local talent along with the best swing bands in the world — Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald. The Sunset also held Saturday afternoon dances and weekly Jitterbug contests. At the Sunset, for just 25 cents, the city’s black youth could briefly escape the ravages of the Depression and Jim Crow and dance their cares away…

Swing Dance is a modern umbrella term that describes a range of partner dances associated with swing music. But the realest swing dance is the Lindy Hop. The Lindy Hop was an art form invented by black dancers at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem during the late 1920s, and almost the entire history of African American dance was its source material. The dance is based on a core move called the “swing out,” in which two partners engage in a reciprocally counterbalanced swinging movement around each other. The dancers then layer on infinite embellishment and elaboration, including the acrobatic “air steps” for which the dance is known. Lindy hoppers may use rehearsed choreography when competing or performing. When dancing socially — as we normally do — Lindy Hoppers, like jazz musicians, improvise all their movements in real time, creating a wholly new dance at each moment on the floor.

The Lindy Hop evolved through the growing popularity of big bands in the mid-1930s, especially as dance troupes began touring and appearing in Hollywood movies. The term “jitterbug” was introduced to the lexicon by a Cab Calloway song in 1932 and became the preferred term for young Lindy Hop dancers, ultimately becoming synonymous with the dance itself. By the time that LIFE magazine belatedly proclaimed the Lindy Hop to be “America’s national folk dance” in 1943, the dance had been a part of cultural and social life in African American communities across the country for well over a decade…

In the South of 90 years ago, young African Americans started dancing the Lindy Hop.  It was an act of resistance, an assertion of freedom against the discrimination and violence of the time.  Today, swing dancers across the South — black and white together — pay proper tribute to that legacy: “Jitterbugging With Jim Crow.”

* music by Duke Ellington, lyrics by Irving Mills (1931)

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As we trip the light fantastic, we might recall that it was on this date in 1940 that Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. became the first African American to rise to the rank of General in the U.S. Army.  His son, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., was the first African American General in the U.S. Air Force, a rank he attained after commanding the famous Tuskegee Airmen.

Benjamin_o_davis

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., in 1944

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Written by LW

October 25, 2019 at 1:01 am

Helpful Hints…

C’est ne pas fixer une passagère avec insistance, quand bien même elle aurait les yeux revolver. (Don’t stare at a female passenger, even if she has eyes like a revolver)

Being stuck in a grimy, crowded metal box deep underground doesn’t bring out the best in the average subway commuter. And Parisians aren’t exactly known for their willingness to keep their complaints to themselves.

Last year, the regional transit authority Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens launched an ad campaign to discourage rude behavior on the Paris subway. They used images of hens, warthogs, and sloths to scold riders for holding loud phone conversations, eating gross foods, and taking up too much space.

When public shaming failed, RATP turned to an equally Parisian solution: charming PSAs that look straight out of the Belle Époque. The newly released ebook Manuel de Savoir-Vivre a l’usage du Voyageur Moderne names 12 essential, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, rules for getting by on the subway. Local graphic designer Marion Thomas-Mauro created some very French illustrations to accompany the rules, offering a slightly wacky take on the recommendations…

C’est les jours de grosse chaleur, tel le manchot empereur, bien gardes les bras le long du corps et prendre sa meilleure prise en bas du poteau, pas tout en haut. (On very hot days, be like the emperor penguin — keep your arms along the sides of your body and grip the lower handholds, not the ones on top.)

Read the full story, see more of the instructive illustrations, and find a link to the full guide at “Keep Your B.O. to Yourself, and Other Friendly Tips for Paris Metro Riders.”

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As we just say “non,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1944, that Glenn Miller and the plane on which he was flying disappeared over the English Channel.  The musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader– the biggest star and best-selling recording artist of Swing Era– had put aside his career when the U.S.. entered World War II to enlist and lead The Army Air Force Band.  He was on his way to Paris to perform for troops there; the wreckage of the plane was never found, and he remains listed as “missing in action.”

 source

Written by LW

December 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

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