Dancing With Carri Fox

You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart!

Swing Started In The 1920's

evinnoel2.gif (19034 bytes)The term "swing dance" is commonly used to refer either to a group of dances developing in response to swing music in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, or to lindy hop, a popular partner dance today. While the majority of swing dances began in African American communities as vernacular African American dances, there were a number of forms which developed within Anglo-American or other ethnic group communities. Balboa is one of the most commonly cited examples.

Origins Were In Dixieland Jazz

Though they technically preceded the rise of swing music, and are commonly associated with Dixieland jazz which developed in New Orleans in the south of the United States, dances such as the black bottom (dance), charleston (dance) and tap dance are still considered members of the swing dance family. These sorts of dances travelled north with jazz to cities like New York, Kansas City, and Chicago in the Great Migration (African American) of the 1920s, where rural blacks travelled north to escape persecution, Jim Crow laws, lynching and unemployment in the South during the Great Depression.

Dress The Part...

Swinging jazz music features the syncopated timing associated with African American and West African music and dance - a combination of crotchets and quavers which many swing dancers interpret as 'triple steps' and 'steps' - yet also introduces changes in the way these rhythms were played - a distinct delay or 'relaxed' approach to timing. Swinging jazz developed from Dixieland jazz, and travelled north with black dancers during the Great Migration.

Today there are swing dance scenes in many developed Western and Asian countries throughout the world, and though each city and country varies in their preferences for particular dances, lindy hop is often the most popular. It is important to note, though, that each local swing dance community has a distinct local culture and defines "swing dance" and "appropriate" dance music in different ways.


Lindy

Lindy yukked it up with ReichsmarshallHerman Goering in Berlin, 1938. Goering decorated Lindbergh at a state dinner with the Verdienstkreuz der Deutscher Alder(Service Cross Of The German Eagle), one of the highest Nazi civilian medals, by order of Adolph Hitler. This event signaled the beginning of the end of Lindbergh's huge international popularity.

Lindbergh (at Goering's invitation) visited Nazi Germany four times since 1936. He openly admired the discipline, intellect, organization, and strength of the Nazis, and their views on the traditional role of women. Lindbergh despised the degeneracy of swing era America; he had nothing good to say about "African Jazz", or even of dancing. In a Reader's Digestarticle, he warned against "the infiltration of inferior blood" into the American racial makeup. He criticized the American ideal of "universal equality." Hitler gave his architect Albert Speer carte blanch to build a permanent residence for the Lindbergh family in Berlin. (Decades later, Speer laughed,"The American must have been very naive!")

Friends and admirers quickly began to desert Lindy when he advised Europe of the futility of resisting Hitler's superior military power. The Russian government, having previously welcomed him as a hero, was insulted by his public devaluation of their air force. They angrily announced that Lindy would be arrested if he ever again set foot on Russian soil. Going against President Roosevelt, Lindy urged America to shun aid to Europe. He suggested that America ally with the stronger power! He was "convinced that Adolph Hitler... held the future of Europe in his hands, and maybe of civilization, too." The final straw for Americans was Lindy's 1941 speech in Des Moines, accusing Jewish media ownership and Jewish influence in government of pushing America towards war.

Cries of "Anti-Semitism!" and a tidal wave of rebuke immediately followed. The Lafayette Restaurant in NYC removed their large "Lindbergh Flag" from its wall. TWA's "Lindbergh Line" of commercial aircraft (which Lindy helped create) had his name painted out on all the planes. Little Falls, Minnesota (his birthplace) took down its proud "Home Of Charles Lindbergh" billboard. Pamphlets and articles appeared: "Is Lindbergh a Nazi?" and "Lindbergh And The Jews." Amidst the vitriolic anti-Lindbergh fervor from virtually every previous supporter, Lindbergh resigned his Air Force commission. Not much named in honor of Lindy remained. Hello JITTERBUG.

Even one of Whitey's Savoy Lindy Hop troupes was named Jitterin' Jitterbugs. However, a small group of Savoy performers clung tenaciously to the name LINDY HOP. It was their creation, their identity, and their life. After all, it was named for Lindy the hero, not Lindy the racist. They privately applied JITTERBUG as an epithet for any "inferior," mass-consumption, "white" distortion of their baby, the LINDY HOP. '90s Lindy Hop revivalist circles often echo this perspective: WE do Lindy Hop, the superior 8-count dance, YOU do Jitterbug, the inferior 6-count dance. (Interestingly, the black Lindy Hoppers of the '30s weren't referring to # of counts! They would most likely call these proud '90s white Lindy fanatics, even the self-styled "good dancers," ......JITTERBUGS!)

Lindbergh, after a lot of doing, was allowed by Roosevelt to serve in WWII in the Pacific against the Japanese. He flew with exceptional bravery, making many valuable contributions to the American war effort. Following the Allied Victory, Lindbergh visited occupied Germany. He discovered how he had been lied to, and used as a propaganda dupe by the German high command. He saw the death camps, the slave labor incinerators, the technical specs and launching platforms for intercontinental rockets targeting New York City. Temporarily recanting his unpopular pre-war views, he went into seclusion, working for the U.S. government on defense projects and the space program.

Even later, he became quite anti-technology. He enthusiastically participated in ecological and humanist causes: endangered tribal minorities, whales, eagles, rainforests. Lindbergh flew to the jungles of Africa, South America, Philippines, etc. to work personally on these projects.

However, in his introductory chapter to the 1970-published "Wartime Journals," Lindbergh asserted that he still held the same pre-war beliefs, with no word of criticism for the Nazi government. He insisted that the war was wrong, and that the wrong government had been fought: Communist Russia was the real enemy. He even denied that the cause of the Allies had triumphed.

Lindbergh continued his work on humanist projects. He never learned to dance. The bold, gifted, outspoken pioneer died of cancer in Maui in 1974, facing crashing sea, vast sky, and brilliant sun.

LINDBERGH, Leonard Mosley (Doubleday, 1976)
CHARLES A. LINDBERGH: A BIO-BIBLIOGRAPHY, Perry Luckett (Greenwood Press, 1986)

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