My Lindy History
Last week I got to be on a panel at an event at City College in SF called “Bay Area Lindy Legends”. More than a couple of decades ago, few people in the bay area had heard of Lindy Hop and you certainly couldn’t go Lindy Hopping if you were the rare exception who had. My colleague Belinda Ricklefs and I were practice partners back then. We both taught by ourselves and got together every week to work on material that needed refreshing and sometimes learning new dances. We had been exposed to Lindy, liked it, and longed for a community of dancers. When we began to build the community, spurred by the desire to dance with anybody besides each other, never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the scene that exists today.
We couldn’t foresee that we would become friends with, and teach with, the charismatic embodiment of joy Frankie Manning in the last 15 years of his amazing life as the ambassador of Lindy Hop. One of the people who invented the dance, a living history book, Frankie died just shy of his 95th birthday, still dancing until his last year when his knee finally made it too painful.
A Supportive Lindy Community
We built our community with care, making sure it would be one with a cooperative spirit, where everyone would help to promote one another’s classes and workshops and dances, hoping that when it got too big for us to have any control over it, that it would take that positive spirit with it. Now that we have one of the biggest communities, and hardly anyone knows me from Adam any more, I can stand back and think we gave it a pretty successful shove in the right direction. I’ve visited Lindy dances in other countries and states, and ours is the only one I know of that has visitor jams where we single out and make out of towners feel welcome.
So I was honored to be on the panel and proud of my part. I teach a lot of different dances, but Lindy is the one I dance most often for my own enjoyment. It’s a highly creative, music oriented dance with a welcoming friendly community of people. If you like swing music and joyful dancing, and you live in the Bay Area, take advantage of the wonderful opportunity you have here. It wasn’t always available and it will only be here as long as the dancers continue to support it!
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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