|Swing and Lindy Terms|
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Maxie and Colleen
A long time ago, we used to teach Lindy Hop. We don't do this anymore (mainly because of work responsibilities) and we reccommend that you seek out current instructors in the DC Area. This section is included as a historic artifact that demonstrates the difficulty of developing
Understanding Swing and Lindy terms
We have taken these definitions from the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, not only to impress you with our erudition but also to start right at the source: the music. When all is said and done, Lindy Hop is nothing more than interpreting Swing music with your body.
The generic swing definition of 4/4 time refers to four quarter notes per bar. "Duple Meter" means that you speed this up by putting eight eighth notes per bar. Hence, the famous song "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar", an exhortation to put some heat into the music.
Here is a good Mnemonic, or memory device: If you say this phrase: "Step, Step, Triple-step, Step, Step, Triple Step", you will get a good feel for this "swinging" rhythm. One of our very favorite swing songs is "Flat Foot Floogie" --- in Brooklynese, the verse sounds like "Flat foot flee-oo-gee Wit De Floy-oy floy"; this leads us to "Step, Step, triple step,step, step,triple step."
LINDY or JITTERBUG: The correct name for the dance is "Lindy Hop". "Jitterbug" has an etymology similar to words like "Egghead", Beatnik", "Hippie", and "Punk". In each case, the dominant culture applied a pejorative term to a developing youth trend; by virtue of the social momentum generated by the trend, the word lost its negative connotation and was adopted by the participants in the trend. In Harlem slang, a "Jitterbug" is an alcoholic who experiences Delirium Tremens (violent shaking and hallucinations.) Those who did not care for the lively antics of the early Lindy Hoppers derided them as "Jitterbugs."
As time passed, the media called the dance "Lindy" and the people who danced it "Jitterbugs". Finally, with passage of time, Lindy became the "Jitterbug's Dance" or just "Jitterbug."
Lindy Hop passed from the American scene when the music stopped having eight beats per measure (about 1957). Several variants evolved to permit partner dance to newer musical forms. In 1988 people began to reconstruct the dance from interviews with "Originals" like Frankie Manning and archival motion picture footage. Alas: you can only do Lindy Hop to eight count Music.
Photo: Max Dorf This is a picture of our good friend, the late Max Dorf, King of Balboa and all-around great guy. He is dancing with his partner Colleen. Unlike Dean Collins, Max served his country as an enlisted man in the Navy. Max served in both WWII and the Korean War. For my money, Max was one of the greatest dancers that ever lived.
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