Stuff happens a lot in the Lindy scene these days. As much as I post on the FB page for this blog, I still miss quite a few things. Thankfully there’s a multi-headed beast trying to keep on top of it all. Even if you can’t follow 100 blogs or so, then at least Dance World Takeover has been posting things to get your learn on while Yehoodi has been staying on top of the more “mainstream” swing news. Despite that, there’s still quite a few things that don’t get as much publicity as it should. I know simply because a lot of it is just sitting in my queue right now. I don’t get to them mostly because of time. Having a full time job can be a pain in terms of keeping up with vernacular jazz dance. During Hurricane Sandy, while the whole East Coast of the US was locked down, I tried to post links every 30 minutes just to break the monotony of being stuck in my apartment. Even with all the time in the day, I found myself barely keeping pace with the volume of links to sort through, review, write short copy for and post.
I’ve had dreams of a full scale swing news site, but now more than ever, I’m certain such a thing would require full time involvement of at least one person, maybe more. Even an army of volunteers would require someone to keep on top of them all. Anyone interested in stepping up?
So with all that in mind, here are a few selected highlights from this past year.
Hal Takier (1917-2012)
One of the wonderful things about our community is its continued connection to the originators and innovators of the dance. Unfortunately, we lost one more of their number in January. Hal Takier was widely regarded as one of the greats to come out of the Southern California scene. Learn more about Hal through Bobby White’s always thorough blog. You can also see for yourself through this documentary created by SoCal dancer, Marcelo Teson.
The O.G. Keeping it Real
Fortunately many of our elder statesmen and women are still with us and continue to inspire us. One of the most popular videos of the year is footage of Jean Veloz dancing at Herrang Dance Camp for the first time.
Probably the most compelling story of the year was the son of Al Minns, Kevin, discovering the Lindy Hop scene. Al has been an enigmatic person despite being the first original dancer to be contacted by the revivalists in the 1980’s. Rochester Lindy Hopper, Mike Thibault, contacted Kevin Minns after he made a comment on a Youtube video, whichhas opened up an opportunity for us to learn about Al and for Kevin to see a side of his father that he did not know existed.
In an effort to recognize as many old timers as we can, The International Lindy Hop Championships invited them all to be guests at this year’s event, and honored them with awards and thanks during a special ceremony that connected them with the next generation of Lindy Hoppers.(Starting at 2:30:42)
Don't Call It a Come Back
I’ve been around long enough to see many, many people come and go through the scene over the years, so it’s great to see one of the return to the spotlight with a vengeance. Sing Lim trained and danced with Ryan Francois in England in the 90’s and was one of the most influential dancers of that time. She eventually returned to her home in Singapore to start a local scene and a not small family. That’s where most Lindy Hop stories end, but this year Sing added another chapter by invading the Korean Lindy Hop Championships and taking second place in the Showcase division with one of the most entertaining performances of the year. She then hit New Orleans in the Fall and won the Jack & Jill at the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown.
It’s even more heartening to see it returned to its roots in Africa.
Funding the Future
Crowd sourced fund raising from sites like Kickstarter made lots of news this year. Campaigns to fund the production of CD’s by Glenn Crytzer and The Mint Julep Jazz Band were successful as well as the push to fund the film, Swing The Documentary.
Of course we have quite a few people doing a good job of representing the dance today, and getting recognition outside of our little global scene; from international instructors like Nina Gilkenson to up and coming dancers like Jessica Miltenberger to whatever you would call the freakishly talented Sommer Gentry and Dorry Segev. Then there was the spotlight on those musicians that fuel our passion such as veteran bassist Ernest McCarty and new sensations Meschiya Lake and Aurora Nealand.
I’m sure there were many more I missed, and that's ok. It doesn’t matter as long as people keep trying to save the world one dance at a time. Some people keep fretting about when the Next Big Thing will come along to give us a shot in the arm like the media frenzy of the late 90’s. I think our energies are better spent doing what we can to spread the Lindy love and showing the world that our dance is something happening today, tonight, and tomorrow.