World Lindy Hop Day

May 26th is World Lindy Hop Day

Let the world join us as we celebrate World Lindy Hop Day!

World Lindy Hop Day welcomes people from all walks of life, all ages, and from around the world to experience this exuberant African American social dance. Originating in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, the Lindy hop is done to the big band jazz of the era. While swing music is generally known, our goal is to spread the dance to a wider global arena.

The universal language of the Lindy hop (aka swing dancing or jitterbug) features creative and exhilarating movements that allow partners to connect in a way that uplifts the spirit, promotes human connection, and develops generosity. It allows dancers to meet in a positive environment that supports the building of bridges on personal, community, and global levels.

The vision of World Lindy Hop Day dovetails with that of our sponsor, the Frankie Manning Foundation:

“The Lindy hop will be danced all over the world, to live big band music when possible or to recorded music when live music is not accessible. Everywhere that Lindy hop is danced, on the dance floors and off, people of diverse backgrounds will treat each other with respect and warmth. The history of the originators of the Lindy hop at the Savoy Ballroom will be made known to dancers and non-dancers everywhere.”

Grounded in unity and collaboration, World Lindy Hop Day, celebrated every May 26th, encourages people from all different backgrounds to enjoy and share the many benefits of this joyous and enduring dance.

Why May 26?

frankie.jpgAs one of the prime creators of the Lindy hop, and the most influential person in swing dance history, Frankie Manning’s birthday (May 26th, 1914) is a fitting marker for World Lindy Hop Day.

Frankie moved to Harlem as a child, where he first saw dancing at neighborhood rent parties and ballrooms. By the early 1930s, Frankie was a regular at the legendary Savoy Ballroom. While part of the Savoy’s inner circle of elite dancers, Frankie introduced many innovations into the Lindy hop, including the air step and synchronized ensemble routines. His ideas, done to this day, revolutionized the Lindy, catapulting it from ballroom to stage and screen. As chief choreographer and lead dancer for the sensational Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, Frankie created and danced in routines for numerous films, including his masterpiece, Hellzapoppin’ (1941), and performed internationally in theaters and nightclubs with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, and many other jazz greats of the Swing Era.

After active service in the United States Army during World War II, Frankie helmed his own troupe. The Congaroo Dancers were a hugely successful act, appearing with Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, and other stars. But as musical tastes changed, demand for Frankie’s brand of entertainment diminished, and he gave up show business for a day job. After working in the U.S Postal Service for thirty years, Frankie was rediscovered in the 1980s by a new generation of swing enthusiasts. Suddenly in great demand, he traveled constantly for the next twenty-five years to share the dance he never stopped loving—teaching, performing, choreographing, and lecturing for dancers clamoring to study with the master.

Frankie served as a consultant for and danced in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Debbie Allen’s Stompin’ at the Savoy. Among many honors, he received a Tony Award for his choreography in the Broadway hit, Black and Blue. Hundreds of articles and dozens of documentaries, including profiles by GQ, People, 20/20, and Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns chronicled his activities. His memoir, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, was published by Temple University Press in 2007.

frankie_Manning_Ann_Johnson_1941Although Frankie passed away in 2009, he is still beloved, revered, and emulated by swing dancers around the world with an enthusiasm that cannot be quantified. Since the 1980s, his birthday has inspired special events across the globe in celebration of the man, the music, and the dance. On May 26th, Lindy hoppers everywhere have gathered to swing out to big band jazz, communing via the joyous dance they feel so lucky to share. For these reasons, and in honor of Frankie Manning, we have declared that May 26th forever be known as World Lindy Hop Day.