Who Found Frankie Manning in the 1980s

Written (copyright) by Harri Heinila

It is time to clear the facts about the Revival of the Interest in the Lindy Hop in the 1980s and tell which of the Lindy revivalists really first found Frankie then.

Everyone who was in the Frankie95 Lindy Revival panel discussion in May 2009 remembers the clip in which Margaret Batiuchok and Frankie danced together in the dance studio. That clip was from 1985. I asked Margaret later when she saw Frankie at the first time. That was even earlier: in 1984, when Margaret was an understudy in the rehearsals of the Norma Miller’s dance group. Frankie was sitting there and watching queitly the rehearsals. Frankie also frequented the New York Swing Dance Society’s Cat Club since 1985.

We also know that Lennart Westerlund with his friends, Anders Lind and Henning Sörensen, and Larry Schulz, who worked with Albert ‘Al’ Minns at the time, saw Frankie earlier than Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell. They, however, did not attend to Frankie then. And it also should be remembered that Jiving Lindy Hoppers (Terry Monaghan and Warren Heyes and their group) worked with Frankie and Norma Miller at the latest in 1986.

Even that is not the whole truth. To be exact Frankie never disappeared totally from The Lindy Hop scene. Although he worked in the post office for decades, he still danced socially and participated in gatherings of the old Savoy Ballroom guard. He also judged in one of Louise ‘Mama Lou’ Parks Duncanson’s International Harvest Moon Ball competitions with other Lindy Hop masters like George Sullivan in the beginning of the 1980s. So, how to “rediscover” him, if he never really disappeared?

The official story still goes (by the Frankie’s official biography ‘Ambassador of The Lindy Hop’ and even by the Frankie document film ‘Frankie Manning: Never Stop Swingin’) that Erin and Steven called Frankie from California and they met him in 1986 at the Bryant Dupré’s party in New York. Frankie started to teach them after that. That was the official start of Frankie’s new career as The Lindy Hop teacher.

These, however, are the facts. Margaret Batiuchok should get the recognition that she was the first one of the revivalists of the Interest in the Lindy Hop who danced and rehearsed with Frankie Manning in the 1980s. We know that Margaret and Frankie danced regularly together also later because there are Margaret’s theses and DVDs (from 1987-88) in which Frankie dances with Margaret. Hopefully the history of the Revival of the Interest in the Lindy Hop will be reconsidered, and these facts are noted before the Frankie100 panels, because we do not want to repeat old mistakes.

This is the updated version which is based on Harri Heinila’s article in 2009.

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About authenticjazzdance

The author of the site is Harri Heinila, Doctor of Social Sciences, political history, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Political and Economic Studies at the University of Helsinki. He is interested in Authentic Jazz Dance: all jazz dances from different eras of jazz. E.g. Cakewalk, the Charleston, Black Bottom, The Lindy Hop, Mambo, Rhythm Tap. Heinila researches jazz dance, in particular, in the context of Harlem, New York. His doctoral dissertation, An Endeavor by Harlem Dancers to Achieve Equality - The Recognition of the Harlem-Based African-American Jazz Dance Between 1921 and 1943 is a groundbreaking study in the field of jazz dance and Harlem.
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3 Responses to Who Found Frankie Manning in the 1980s

  1. Steve Pastor says:

    Speaking of Frankie… There used to be a Washington Post interview with him on line (It was mentioned in Terry’s August 2002 paper, and in “Ballroom, Boogie…etc”) The listed url no longer exists and I can’t find it in any of the archives I’ve looked at. Anyone have a copy they want to share, or know of a working link?
    Thanks
    Steve

  2. Judy Pritchett says:

    I knew and danced with Frankie Manning in New York in 1985 and attended many of the same swing dance events with him in those early days. I was present when he first met up with Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell at Bryant Dupris’ dance party in the old Mercantile Exchange basement. As the story of Erin and Steven “discovering” Frankie grew, I asked Frankie about it. What he said was that it was not until he saw Erin and Steven dancing that he was inspired to start teaching and that he first saw the possibility of the revival of the Lindy hop. ln particular, he mentioned that Erin did the swivel in the way that he remembered while Margaret Batiuchok was not doing it yet. And he was impressed with Steven Mitchell’s musicality from the start. Frankie had the highest respect for Margaret’s dancing at that time and for the rest of his life. However, it was seeing Erin and Steven that gave him inspiration.

    • Hi Judy! Thank you for your comment. The way how Frankie thought about Steven Mitchell and Erin Stevens’ dance skills reminds us of Larry Schulz’ story about finding Albert ‘Al’ Minns in Mama Lou Parks’ International Harvest Moon Ball contest in 1981. It was Minns’ “natural grace and a “connection to the music” like no one Schulz had seen before” had had as he told to Erin Stevens. This can be found in Tamara Stevens’ (With editorial contributions by Erin Stevens) Swing Dancing, page 156. This is usually considered the beginning of the Lindy Hop revival which I and also the late Terry Monaghan rather call the revival of the interest in the Lindy Hop because the Lindy Hop was not really rediscovered in the 1980s. It still was around, but the interest in it was waning during the decades before the 1980s. However, that is not the main issue here. Anyway, the revival was going on at the time when Frankie started to teach Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell. At that time, the revival was not yet flourishing in the way it was when Frankie Manning started to teach newcomers around the world. I also think that Margaret (Batiuchok) saw her first partner, George Lloyd, similarly than Frankie saw Erin and Steven: It was George’s musicality which was the reason for why Margaret began to be interested in his dancing. So, musicality was one of the main reasons for the revival!

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