to start? First off let me say that I base all my statements by
regularly dancing with yesteryear legends. I've studied with Swing Dance
Hall of Famers, Harvest Moon Ball winners, and many State Champions
during the 30's, 40's and 50's. Second, I've had discussions with Jazz
Dance Historians and we have all came to the same conclusion. Last, but
not least, I own one of the biggest collections of Jazz dancing on film
in the world, and so with all that I base my facts.
going to start with by explaining the style of "Shorty George
Snowden." The first film available on him is "After Seben"
 where his "Troupe," as well as himself, perform the
earliest form of the Lindy Hop. Basically it's pretty sloppy by toady's
terms, but historically amazing none the less. The bodies of both the
man and women are very erect as they shuffle through the Charleston
steps. And their arms are very taunt bent at the elbow, basically more
on the stiff side.
lets jump to the big debate that seems to be growing everyday due to the
fact of who's teaching what. From the tapes I own, Lindy Hop in the 30's
and 40's at the "Savoy Ballroom" was very erect with the mans
knees bent as though he was sitting, and the woman basically the same
except she swiveled very hard on 7-8 and coming in 1-2.
there were shoot-offs of style that were rare. The two extreme
examples would be Dean Collins and Frankie Manning. The difference being
that Dean Collins style is when you and your partners feet are closer
together than your head and then Frankie Manning's style would be when
you and your partners heads are closer together than your feet. Both
were rare in the 30's. Norma Miller (a Savoy dancer) was quoted as
saying that "you could easily pick out Frankie on a dance floor of
hundreds by his long linear style where his body would almost be
horizontal to the floor. "In all the hundreds of dancers I've seen
in old film clips, only one or two come to mind where there is a dancer
with that style.
we have Dean Collins style. Now although the earliest film of Dean was
filmed in 1939 we can clearly see he is actually bent over a lot but he
is leaning back so far against his partners weight, that their feet are
much closer than their heads. Unlike Frankie, Dean taught dancing as far
back as people remember which would be around 1937-38. Being that he
taught "His" style of Lindy, many people followed that same
criteria of leaning back against your partners weight. And because of
location, (Los Angeles) it became a very popular style into the 40's.
and Frankie's style were not on a slot, and never were on a slot except
during a performance where either they or the other dancers were next to
you, or if the camera angle demanded it. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers danced
on a slot, first in 'A Day At The Races'  and then 'Hellzapoppin'
. At the end of both of these scenes you can see the couples
dancing next to each other, and to make it possible they where dancing
in a slot. In the Soundie, Chool Song  we can clearly see Dean
Collins also dancing in a slot other than the "rhythm circle and
slip out" so that the camera can catch his dancing from the side.
Again let me state the basic was never on the slot, as a matter of fact
there was no Lindy more circular than Dean's "Flyin' Lindy"
steps, and to this day never will be.
brings us to foot styling. We all know the Lindy Hop is 8 counts and 6
counts or just 2's, however you want to look at it. The basic Lindy step
or what is sometimes called the Lindy rhythm, is walk-walk, triple step,
walk-walk, triple step, right? Well Frankie Manning and or all Whitey's
Lindy Hoppers would cut out the triple steps at fast tempos (Hellzapoppin,
1941) and during "air steps" basically stand there while
lifting the girl through airials. Now Dean Collins footwork was
different. He would always do his triples even at fast tempos and on
what we know as 1-2, and instead of a rock step Dean would do a
kick-ball-change. At that point he would do variations of the basic
stalls on the triples and extra steps on the 1-2 or whatever, get the
point? Deans dancing concentrated a lot on variations of the basic.
There is one move in a film from 1941 where Dean does kick-ball-change,
triple step, triple step, kick-ball-change, triple step, triple step!!!
Count it if you want, it's the Lindy rhythm and it goes with the music
he was dancing to perfectly. Today it seems people learn Lindy without
the triple steps which gives them a "Hip Hop" or
"Lazy" look at slow tempos. This is a "modern" style
of Lindy that is most popular today amongst the new generation of Lindy
reason I wrote this is to educate those who completely fabricate
misleading information on there web pages, and to those that we see out
dancing who commonly ask what the differences are between
"Authentic"' and "Modern" Lindy Hop. Some people
have gone so far as to call one style "Savoy" which is a far
cry from the truth. Others call one style "G.I" style which is
almost as though the Army-Aircorps were teaching Lindy Hop!
closing I would like to say we dance to have fun. Some of us like to add
modern stylings into Lindy to make it evolve into the future. Others,
like myself, enjoy preserving the dance as it was. All in all, both
styles are fun, there is no right or wrong, and together we can show the
world our American History. In 1977 Dean was quoted as saying,
"There is no such thing as East Coast or West Coast, it's all Lindy
Hop and will always be Lindy Hop."