As I’ve noted in my Artistry in Rhythm series, we’re getting to a point where things that happened in the early part of the revival are starting to feel a little bit like ancient history. Minnie’s Moochers is a big part of that as I outlined in part three of that series. Andy Reid described his experiences with the team in a post on the Jam Cellar blog.
When I was 22, I was asked to join a dance group full of teenagers. They were the best dancers in town and I enjoyed their company. They inspired me and shaped my dancing and we all grew together. What was happening in this group was really something special and unique and I jumped in head first. We spend several days of every week in the gym in a creative frenzy and it was one of the greatest times of my life. Minnie's Moochers was, and is, Kate Engle, Lucy Engle, Caitlin George Wellman, Susan Wolff, Sylvie Ynetma, Jenna Hallas, Simnia Singer Sayada, Ramona Staffeld, Sarah Spence, Mark Eckstein, Robin Coleman, Skye Humphries, Finian Makepeace, Ben Furnas, and I.
Skye Humphries told a little bit about their background in one of his posts here on this blog.
We went to a school called ACS (the Alternative Community School) [where] we were encouraged to pursue our own interests and develop our own ways of learning. We started teaching a class at our school almost immediately and brought our friends into the dance. Our school gave us space and time to practice, and allowed us to shape our curriculum to reflect our interest in the dance.
History, sociology, politics, media- our teachers were very encouraging and allowed us to find the connection between dancing and the rest of our studies.
There was an amazing community of dancers in Ithaca who created a great atmosphere and ran great dances. We started going out and dancing socially all the time. ISDN (Ithaca Swing Dance Network) also put on great workshops with the top international dancers and teachers, and they were always supportive of us kids.
My friends and I went out together dancing, and then Bill started a little performance group and we started doing gigs around town.
Soon we started running and directing our own group, and started performing, competing, and eventually teaching on our own.
The definitive history of this group is yet to be written, but I did the next best thing and assembled all the available online footage of the team here so you can get a taste of what they were about.
American Lindy Hop Championships 1998
Frankie Manning’s 85th Birthday celebration 1999
American Lindy Hop Championships 1999
North Atlantic Dance Championships 2000
Swingout New Hamphire 2000
North Atlantic Dance Championships 2001
Alternative Community School Graduation performance 2001
Frankie Manning’s 88th Birthday celebration 2002
This is their last major performance before school took themtheir separate ways.
American Lindy Hop Championships 2007
The reunion for the 10th ALHC.
Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday celebration 2009
A bigger reunion for the biggest event.
Where are they now?
Many former members are still active in the Lindy Hop community
Others have moved on
Thanks to these YouTube users for sharing their videos