The History of Lindy
Lindy Hop began in the late 1920s / early 1930s in Harlem, New York. Named after Charles Lindberg’s hop over the Atlantic, it is an important part of American history, and is connected to fundamental historical landmarks such as segregation, Jim Crow, Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II and many others.
It is danced to swing-era jazz music, and therefore emphasizes self expression and improvisation. Lindy Hop and the music it’s danced to is a uniquely American art form. Before WWII, it spread across the globe in movies like Keep Punchin’ and A Day At the Races. Then, when WWII hit, traveling soldiers brought Lindy Hop with them all over the world. The best example of Lindy Hop on the big screen is Hellzapoppin (starts with musicians, ends in mind-blowing dancing!!).
It fell out of popularity as jazz musicians began to play bop and dancers began to partner less and less, but don’t worry, folks – it makes a comeback in the 1980s!
Other Research Sources
It is so wonderful to be a part of the dance and to learn about how profoundly historically significant and original its history is. If you want to learn more, here are a few places to look.
- Frankie Manning – This guy is a huge reason why lindy hop exists today. He is by far, the most famous Lindy Hopper who ever lived, and he traveled around teaching, performing, and giving talks on lindy hop until his death at 94. His book, Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop is entertaining, informative, and you get a wonderful sense of the person Frankie was.
- Swing History 101: The Birth of Lindy Hop (Early 1900s – 1929) – This site has a quick timeline of Lindy Hop’s early years.
- Archives of Early Lindy Hop – This site is super old, but it has some great stuff on the history of Lindy Hop, biographies of great vintage dancers, and links to famous vintage film clips.
- The Lindy Circle – Again, a very old page, but with some useful history stuff.
- Street Swing – Again, a very old page, but with some useful history stuff.
Lindy Hop Today
Today, you can find Lindy in almost every major city in America and across the world. You can dance everywhere from right here in Austin, TX to Tel-Avive, from Canada to Estonia, from Australia to New Zealand.
Lindy Hoppers routinely gather together at large events around the world where they take classes, compete, and social dance to amazing live music until dawn. These events are what binds the global Lindy Hop community together – we become friends with each other, learn about each other’s culture and become more accomplished well-rounded dancers through sheer exposure to other styles of Lindy Hop.
Lindy Hop has changed a lot since the 1940s, but it still retains they key elements of self-expression, improvisation, energy, rhythm and swing.