Frankie Manning Revised – A Few Thoughts About His Role in the Lindy Hop

Written and copyright by Harri Heinila

The late Frankie Manning is likely the most known Lindy Hopper in the world at this moment. You can find interviews, articles, comments and videos about him almost everywhere. There are people who literally worship him to the extent where all kind of criticism is squashed immediately if someone dares to challenge the statements he made during his lifetime. This article discusses especially his first air step claim and tries to start a critical discussion where his statements are compared to the other evidence, and thus connected to the bigger picture of the events. Manning was mythicized and made as some kind of a “godlike being” who could not be criticized, at the latest, from the end of the 1980s when he started to win fame among the newcomers in the Lindy Hop who began to worship him without any kind of proper criticism.

This all was connected to his come back to the Lindy Hop where various people took honors in bringing him back. Indeed, there are videos, for example, on YouTube where you can see Frankie Manning dancing already in 1983, years before his “official” come back in 1985-1986. He had retired from the professional Lindy Hop dancing in the middle of the 1950s when there was not anymore the Lindy Hop dancing as another popular myth goes. These popular myths are simply wrong. Manning did not disappear after his retirement in the 1950s. He still danced through the decades like so many other Savoy Lindy Hoppers did as well. Manning might not have performed until the 1980s since his retirement, but other Savoy Lindy Hoppers and their descendents performed and kept the Lindy Hop alive through the decades like Manning did too, although he obviously only social danced during these decades. Also the Lindy Hop did not disappear during the 1950s: The Savoy Ballroom was still going on strong until 1958, and Savoy Lindy Hoppers taught new enthusiasts during the following decades. There was no kind of gap in the continuation of the Lindy Hop when the new, mostly white enthusiasts began to raise interest in the Lindy Hop starting from the beginning of the 1980s. These 1980s enthusiasts’ actions are still errorneously called the revival of the Lindy Hop. Actually, it was the revival of the interest in the Lindy Hop because the Lindy Hop never disappeared.

It also should be remembered that many of Savoy Lindy Hoppers like Norma Miller, Al Minns, and Louise ‘Mama Lou’ Parks Duncanson brought out Manning’s importance in the Lindy Hop when the new enthusiasts began to be interested in Manning’s stories and dancing in the 1980s. It did not just happen like snapping fingers. It took persuation to get Manning interested in teaching newcomers. The reasons for that are not clear. There likely existed decades old grievances between the Savoy Lindy Hoppers, and Manning possibly did not feel comfortable to start any kind of conversation concerning his Lindy Hop career. One of the newcomers told me that he was astonished when Manning began to speak about his experiences in the Lindy Hop. It obviously really took persuasion to get him talking about the experiences. After he started to talk, he really talked, and he obviously became the most interviewed Lindy Hopper from the Savoy Ballroom. Although he stressed that he did not want to be egoistic, he usually brought out his achievements in the Lindy Hop. One of those achievements was the first air step which he claimed to have been responsible for.

Manning’s claim on the first air step in the Lindy Hop has usually been accepted without any criticism. It seems that only the late Terry Monaghan criticized the claim. He stated that Manning’s air step invention was possibly true in the localized context as Manning claimed to have invented it in the Savoy contest against George ‘Shorty’ Snowden. Air steps, however, were used in the Lindy Hop before Manning’s air step invention which happened, according to Norma Miller, during spring 1936. Indeed, Miller was not in the U.S. at the time because she was performing with the Harvest Moon Ball 1935 winners in Europe. Concerning the early air steps in the Lindy Hop, there exist both written and visual sources where these “air steps” are described. The Chicago Defender article in March 1931, described the Lindy Hop as follows, “A couple will swing off into space and hop up and down. Another couple will break into the exaggerated steps of, the stage adagio team. He will lift her from the floor and swing her about just as high into the air and as long as he can maintain his breath…” In fact, The Afro-American published the description with slightly different words already in February 1930. It becomes clear from the articles that they really were executing early “air steps”. Another proof for the early “air steps” is the short movie called ‘Rufus Jones for the President’ in 1933 where a couple performed a similar kind of a lift which was described in the articles. Frankie Manning obviously was not frequenting the Savoy at that time, so he was not aware of these early “air steps”. In addition, also Norma Miller has told, how she was dancing with “Twist Mouth” George Ganaway at the Savoy in 1932, and her legs did not touch the dance floor. Isn’t that a “air step”?

Frankie Manning explained how he executed the first air step in the Lindy Hop in the Savoy contest against George Snowden and his dancers. According to Manning, Snowden wanted to show to the younger generation that he still was the number one Lindy Hopper. When considering the fact that Snowden had lost at least one competition before the claimed 1936 contest, the claim is suspicious. Even Snowden admitted to Marshall Stearns later in 1959 that he (Snowden) was already known at the Savoy, and they wanted “a new talent” to be a winner, when Snowden claimed that he lost the Opportunity Contest at the Savoy to a New Jersey couple obviously at the beginning of the 1930s. So, why would he have challenged the younger Lindy Hoppers somewhere in 1936 if he had lost already before? He knew that he can lose. Secondly, The New York Amsterdam News stated in September 1936 that Snowden was “the king of them all” when the paper described three Savoy couples in one of its pictures. Indeed, Frankie Manning was not in the picture. If Manning won Snowden in the claimed contest in spring 1936, and Manning became the star dancer at the Savoy, why he was not mentioned in newspapers for his success in creating the groundbreaking first air step?

It is possible that Manning really did the air step in the contest against Snowden, but it seems that the results of the win did not transmit to the newspapers or to other sources at the time. Thus, his possible invention should be seen in its localized, Savoy Ballroom context. Maybe, it created some kind of a stir at the very beginning, but there is no proof for long-lasting results. Air steps were executed already at the time when Manning claimed to have made his invention. Maybe, Manning was responsible for that Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers turned these air steps into spectacular air step routines as Terry Monaghan has suggested. Anyway, Manning was not the originator of the first air step.

When it comes to other inventions in the Lindy Hop, which Manning claimed to have been responsible for, more research is needed to ascertain the facts behind these inventions. Manning’s stories should be connected to the bigger picture of the Lindy Hop. Now, the research has stuck on Manning’s statements without proper grounding on other sources. There still is a lot to research at least as far as the Lindy Hop history from its beginning to nowadays is concerned. This does not take away Manning’s significance in the Lindy Hop, it rather helps us to understand his real role in the big picture of the history of the Lindy Hop.


About authenticjazzdance

The author of the site is Harri Heinila, Doctor of Social Sciences, political history, and the former 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. His ORCID iD is 0000-0002-7783-9010 .
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21 Responses to Frankie Manning Revised – A Few Thoughts About His Role in the Lindy Hop

  1. swiveltam says:

    I’m not sure you can conclusively say “Manning was not the inventor of the air-step.” Just because it was written: “He will lift her from the floor and swing her about just as high into the air and as long as he can maintain his breath…” does not mean it was the kind of “air-step” Frankie was talking about. There are plenty of other “lift hops” or moves where the follow is not touching the ground. I think Frankie’s distinction may have been an actual “flip” done in time to the music. I know from his many classes that he really emphasized keeping the rhythm in the air, so you land on beat and continue the counts and phrasing.

    On another note, just because there is documentation doesn’t necessarily mean we are interpreting the information correctly. I recently read a book that espoused the black slaves willing participation in the Civil War, There were plenty of “documents” to somewhat support, yet they were all quite slanted and if you really read them and dug into them, they really did NOT illustrate the slaves state of mind or willingness to fight on the Confederate side.

    I applaud historians efforts to paint the most accurate portrait of history, but I think this may be a bit of arguing semantics and unfair to the Frankie Manning legacy.

    ~ Tam Francis ~

    • Hi Tam Francis! Thank you for your comment. Well, it sounds to me a kind of lift which was done later many times, even in Hellzapoppin’ by Norma Miller and Billy Ricker, and nobody says that it is not an air step. If your both feet are in the air for a relatively long time and you are high above the ground, it sounds an air step to me. Maybe, Frankie Manning had different standards for air steps, but that happened a way before his time. When it comes to Frankie’s statement to keep rhythm in the air, Bill Robinson stated on the contrary that you can’t make rhythm in the air. So, there were different takes on the issue. I wish that people could finally see behind the Frankie Manning stories and find out how those stories are connected to other sources, but I have no high hopes on this issue at this moment, indeed. Besides, isn’t it unfair to other Savoy Lindy Hoppers and Harlem dancers to stay on Frankie Manning’s stories and ignore these other stories and sources because if Frankie said something, it was so, although there is no kind of evidence for his first air step, but his word.

  2. Alex says:

    This is a great perspective, and reminds us to be skeptical. However the opening paragraph is hyperbolic.

    • Hi Alex! Thank you for your comment. The first paragraph is arguable, but that is what it looks like after researching Manning and based on my experiences when discussing Manning with various people in various forums. As I argue, Manning’s statements should be researched more profoundly with connecting them to other sources. This process has not been done yet, at least, to a great extent. Manning was part of the bigger picture, and he was not the only one who affected the Lindy Hop as I also argue. The bridge between different Savoy generations, I mean the Manning’s generation and the 1950s Savoy generation, and the later generations, should be built. Now, it is just about Manning, and if you dare to criticize his statements, according to my experiences, watch out! There still are Savoy Lindy Hoppers (in addition to so many other Harlem dancers) and dancers from later generations who should be recognized and acknowledged. This does not seem to happen because the discussion is stuck on Manning and his claimed achievements which overshadow anything else. If the statements could be better analyzed and connected to the bigger picture, there might be possibilities to proceed in acknowledging the later generations. They definitely deserve the recognition. Well, with said, I’m afraid that is going to never happen, at least, when they still are among us. Maybe, future generations respect all the Old Timers equally. At least, I hope that they will. You can compare that to Tap dancers who respect all their Old Timers equally and have frequently brought various Old Timers to their events. In so-called swing dance community, only certain Old Timers have succeeded in that sense. Others have mainly been forgotten and many of these forgotten Old Timers have already passed away without any kind of recognition.

  3. I sent these messages to my Facebook friends yesterday. I have tried to contact the Facebook administrator concerning the issue. I have had troubles with the author of the site already before this incident. He still has the link to my ‘Frankie Manning Revised’ article in his site when I send this.

    I would like to note all my Facebook friends that I have nothing to do with this site and with that it posted a link to my article, which I asked the author of the site to remove. He didn’t. I don’t explain here why I had to do that. I wish that they don’t anymore post anything which concerns me.
    You also can read his lies concerning the case. These are my messages to him in the messenger: Please, remove the link to my article. I wish that you don’t post anymore any links to my articles or anything I publish. Thank you! I really don’t want any arguments on nothing, and you intentionally keep arguing, although there is no need to that. Anyway, I won’t argue on that. All the best, Harri Heinila
    I wish that there is no need for legal consequences…

    Here are my two deleted answers to two different persons. First this: Hi Tena Morales-Armstrong, I make an exception and give my answer here. I have had bad experiences about commenting here, and that is why I have stayed out of here. I don’t hold any grudges against anybody here. Because the article was linked to this site, let my answer be here as well. The late Terry Monaghan has nothing to do with my Frankie Manning article. I mentioned him because he commented on the first air step claim in his study as he researched Harlem and the Savoy Ballroom. Sadly, he never got his PhD about it. First, I would like to say that if you feel that you have better information than I have or Terry had, please make a better article about Manning’s first air step. I am not mad at anybody who makes a better article! Please, also bring out the information where we can see that Manning was correct. Now, we have only his word, no other evidence. Manning might have been correct that he made his air step, but he was not always around when things happened, so even he did not know everything!

    And the another answer: A comment to Greg Stasiewicz: The stories and other sources should be analyzed together, according to the rules of history research. There still is a lot of information to dig: there still are Savoy and Harlem dancers who should be interviewed before it is too late, and there is a huge amount of other sources which should be researched. Remember that there were millions of dancers who went to the Savoy. Most of them definitely have not been interviewed!

  4. Dirk says:

    While many of the considerations are plausible, I wonder what “myths” there are to deconstruct? I met Frankie first in 2000, and many times after. I’ve talked to him on the phone for an hour. He never claimed to tell proven history but his own personal view. So it is clear, all his acounts are most likely the best truth he could deliver, but his truth only. He was a dancer and a postal worker, not a scientist. Put aside personal legend and believe, and look at it with your own hands-on experience: Nothing ever grows out of nothing. Of course, there had been ideas before, and people trying to do this or that. Before the worldwide internet and instant communication, many things got invented several times, by different people in different places. As in daily life today, in history too nothing just occurred because of one single cause but has to be seen in a bigger picture, within the circumstances, the situation. If we don’t know details, we can be sure as hell there are a lot. In particular in social situations, which is a common background to all Jazz, be it dance or music.

    According the airstep: Normal always pointed out, that he was the frst to make it in tune and rhythm with the music.Wheather this is true or not – of cource dancers in Vaudeville and anywhere had been executing some kind of partnerered artistic moves for effect. If anyone believes there’s a myth about Frankie being the outstanding inventor of something yet unknown by mankind, they’re naive. Most likely he just did it very well, at the right time in the right place, for the right people to see, so it could grow and live on. And don’t forget: every air step needs a partner!
    So ift there are myths, they are made up by the people who believe in them. Sorry to say.

    During the first lecture I heard from Frankie, he pointeed out that some stories in the book “Jazz Dance” are untrue, in particular some anecdotes Al Minns and Leon James had given, but others as well. When asked about the what and why, Frankie assumed Al and Leon just didn’t take Marshall Stearns serious at the time, but liked him – after all, he meant work for them – and told him stories that kept ihim interested. That’s how it goes. It’s personal memories and accounts, gossip, sometimes even random chatter blown up as a revolutionäry turnpoint.

    The only myth that’s going to live, is the myth of his outstanding personality, skills and importance for spreading the dance.

    • swiveltam says:

      Here, here. Nicely said. I, too was honored to have interviewed Frankie and taken numerous lessons as well as heard many talks. I think it’s fair to search for deeper truths, but not at the expense of throwing someone under the bus. I, too agree that in history and the “world of invention,” many things are “invented” simultaneously, does that mean that person is not the inventor. No, I don’t think so. Yes, you can point to historical notations of a “lift” done in a dance, but as I pointed out, “lift” could be subjective as well.

      I do appreciate new information and new interpretation of information, (that’s how a scientific and or historian mind works), but we must be wary that our own prejudice or agenda is not adding to the misinformation.

      Thank you for opening such an interesting discussion.Luckily I write historical FICTION and although I try to weave factual incident and people into my stories, I needn’t worry about these issues. 🙂

      ~ Tam Francis ~

      • Hi Tam!

        Thank you for your comments. I have seen a large number of Frankie Manning’s interviews. I participated in his classes in 2005, and I have been in events where he told about his experiences. Indeed, I never interviewed him personally. I have some kind of idea how he expressed himself. We definitely know what Frankie Manning thought about his air step. Now, it is time to bring out the other evidence for supporting his story. By this moment, nobody has brought out any sources which prove for Manning’s statement. It is all about his word.

        All other evidence clearly proves that Manning’s air step was not the first air step. It is even possible that the competition never happened. He might have mixed things and that was something else. If we suppose that he was correct in that there was the competition between Herbert White’s dancers and George Snowden’s group where he did his air step, where is the other evidence for that? Where is the evidence for that it created a development for a frequent use of air steps? Where is the evidence that it created at the very least some kind of development in some sense? Now, it is all about his word and the rest is pure speculation without any kind of other evidence.

        I wish you had been in my public examination. I talked there about the current situation of “swing dance research”. Now, it is dominated by amateur historians who lack basic education for history research. These “history buffs” recycle the most worn-out myths and make hurriedly produced stories and articles which they publish sometimes almost daily in the Internet. I’m not against anybody who collects different material and publish it in the Internet as such without any explanations. Those who try to make serious research can use that material. You have to be able to distinguish serious researchers from the “history buffs” and collectors who write only for fun. It is time to bring the serious attitude back to the research which I rather call jazz dance research than anything else.

  5. Hi Dirk!

    Thank you for your comment. There are a lot of stories in Frankie’s autobiography (please check Frankie Manning and Cynthia R. Millman: Ambassador of Lindy Hop). When I checked the autobiography for my doctoral dissertation, I saw that obviously Cynthia R. Millman had verified some of stories from the other sources like newspaper articles. That was especially striking when you think about that Margaret Batiuchok interviewed Frankie Manning either in the end of 1987 or in 1988 for her master’s thesis (The exact year can be find out in the Frankie Manning DVD of that thesis.), and Manning remembered in that interview that he made different things mainly in 1935. I may exaggerate here a bit, but anyway the main conclusion is that he seemingly could not remember the correct years. So, I think that those events and their years were identified with the help of other sources. As all the things could not be verified correctly, there are stories which definitely are not correct.

    Thus, Manning’s stories in his autobiography, interviews, and in other sources should be taken mainly as individual accounts which should be connected to the bigger picture with the help of other sources and studies, and that is what I argue in my Frankie Manning revised article. As a researcher, you should also be critical where the verified or non-verified stories are concerned and research as to if they are correctly analyzed from the other sources. That is a daily routine among researchers. His air step claim is seemingly contradictory, and that is why I used it as an example. I have no time at this moment to make a dissertation about Frankie Manning from the revised view. He definitely needs a comprehensive biography or other studies where his statements are connected to the other stories and to the bigger picture. It seems that those studies are coming as based on the observation that my Frankie revised article has seemingly awaken interest in the issue. There also are those respected researchers who have been forgotten in the discussions concerning my article, and who researched those Manning’s statements and tried to connect them to some extent to the bigger picture of the history. Please, consult my doctoral dissertation in that sense.

    I also take a stand on Stearns’ Jazz Dance in my dissertation, but I don’t take a stand on those Al and Leon stories you mentioned. Please consult my doctoral dissertation in that sense. If you don’t know where you can find it. Please, e-mail to me.

    I’m planning to reveal more information on the Manning’s air step case later. I’m still waiting for any kind of other evidence for Manning’s air step statement where we can see that he really made it, and it created something which we can identify as a positive development for the increasing use of the air steps at the time, and we especially can identify that he was acknowledged for his invention in the press. There is no single mention in the press of the 1930s for that.

    I’m sorry if I sound too harsh in my answer. I’m preparing to my doctoral defense in the public examination on this Saturday. That is why I have been quite busy lately.

  6. Dirk says:

    Thanks for your answer.
    Basically, we’re on the same page. It’s individual accounts, describing parts of a larger picture. Most likely some of these accounts are untrue, folly or in detail, because of a slip of memory or on purpose – though I would doubt that last option in Frankie’s case.
    To me, that’s just common sense. It’s very likely Frankie messed up years and events from time to time. Also, he often repeated his stories (because people asked about them). He was a showman who liked to entertain. A slip at a moment, not too far off the “correct” version, as a result a nice effect with audience – he might have subconsciously fixed this version in his memory.: “Lift up the mood? Now, there’s a gooid story!” That’s just the way a human brain worlks.

    We do have acccounts for the general picture. Stearns, Batiuchok, Ken Burns “Jazz” (even if you question the Frankie-based content), Norma, Al Minns, accounts of musicians, biographys, fellow dancers (Ruthie Rheingold) and many more. So we can be quite sure about the general story of Lindy Hop.

    I do not consider the correctness of certain details as being crucial. These might be nice topics for academical discussion though. I personally always doubted the “Lindbergh headline / Shorty” story – simply because it sounded too unlikely to me. Just that bit too far off.. A few years earlier I’ve read an article of someone who researched for that newspaper in archives and came up with: nothing (again, that’s what he said). But it’s a good story, so it’s persistent and as good as any other story about how the dance got it’s name. Because the exact source, the exact moment when someone was the first to come up with that name, is not important at all – neither for the dance nor the dancers. A dance hstorian though, might not be satisfied with this perspective.. (By the way; it is likely the Lindbergh name is source for “The Lindy”, but it has most likely taken a less iconic path – more of the kind of chats at the bar, where a certain term just came up like many other language fashions, and then there was this moment when it arrived in the media, and certain people remembered this moment later on. uite comparable to teh way, the term “Rock’nRoll” later on found it’s way into public.).

    Same goes for the “first aerial”. What accounts of it’s impact to you expect? It’s highly unlikely social dancers suddenly started to summersault in the ballroom. It was as show act, a stunt. Of course not the first of it’s kind, but the first within a certain context. It had effect. Frankie and the other Savoy Lindy Hoppers being entertainers, they saw the effect and picked it up. Dean Collins left New York in 1935, right? He did air steps in California, not as much as Whitey’s crew (as far as I know), but yes: of course dancers knew about it even without that “first” one. Artistic moves belonged to the stage and shows long before. So, there’s no news for a reporter. A crew of dancers experienced a moment of “Wow, this seems to be impressive” and worked on it.” The used it, in the prestigious (for them) Harvest Moon Ball, on film, anywhere theyx needed to have an effect: on stage. On stage, doring some artistic stunts aint no big news, except for those incorporating it into their quite unique dance show.

    The air steps gained there massive impact later, when english and Swedish dancers got inspired seeing them in the movies, within the context of a dance unnown to them – but strongly inspiring. And it seems plausible to me, that Frankie did that very first aerial, precisey timed,as an integral part of the dance, “first” as in: a spark. Not the only one, but that specific one. From now on it became an essential tool for Lindy Hoppers to catch their audience. And Frankle was in a position to submit a good portion of the development of this show dance “tool” – so most likely he’s done that.

    And still: no air steps without a partner! When Frankie said “I did it1”, the subtext always is: “We did it”. I guess, for him this was just self-evident. But when he told about it, he was the one on stage being asked, and him being a ahow man …. Didf he set up a myth? I don’t think so. We have been creating it, fascinated as people were about Frankie, with more gaps in their knowledge about the time and the dance, than knowledge about details and context.

    Most likely, the “myth” is not as much a question of the sources, but more a question about how people reconstructed historical scenes in their fantasy, and how they received the details and personal acccounts of those sources. That would by my thesis, thouzgh.

    Good luck with your examination!

  7. Hi Dirk! Thank you! I had the public examination in Saturday. I’m a Doctor of Social Sciences now, but not fully authorized until after 1-2 months. I studied political history in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Indeed, my dissertation is close to cultural history. Doctor of Social Sciences is equivalent to PhD. In Finnish universities, you can be called a researcher when you have a doctoral degree.

    I was one of those who researched newspapers for finding the headline where it is said that Lindbergh hopped over the Atlantic Ocean. I never found any reference to that kind of a statement. I found various references in those newspapers where it was hopped over different areas. The term ‘hop’ was used quite frequently there. That means, that Snowden or anybody else could have been aware of that kind of activity. It was Snowden or someone else who named the Harlem Lindy Hop by the middle of September, 1928, and that naming could have been based on Charles Lindbergh’s nickname. That means, the Lindy part of the term ‘Lindy Hop’ comes from Lindbergh’s nickname, Lindy. That all still is speculation until we have proof for it.

    When it comes to the term ‘rock and roll’, it was used much earlier before the term reached popularity in the 1950s as a music term concerning rhythm and blues influenced music.

    Mura Dehn argued that dance hall and performance stages were in a continuous exchange. Different steps were transferred between dance halls and stages. The Lindy Hop was influenced by Adagio kind of dancing. Various acrobatics were included in the Lindy Hop years before Manning did his air step. If you take a close look at the Lindy Hop scene in ‘Rufus Jones for President’, you can see that the couple who does the early air step has good timing. They have a preparation for the step, and after that she goes up and comes down in time. All according to the “rules” of air steps. The dancers had clearly practiced it, and they had a clear idea how to do that. Maybe, it still was not according to the “rules” which Frankie Manning had, but it was clearly an air step.

    It is possible that Frankie Manning did an air step which affected the Savoy crowd in the claimed competition. Anyway, it was not the first air step. It was the first air step to Frankie Manning because he was not aware of earlier air steps. As historians, we have to use all available sources for our analysis. We can’t micro-analyze only one account (Frankie’s memory about his air step) and ignore other sources. I’m still waiting for other evidence to support Frankie’s account. In addition to the account, we have to rely only on the speculation of that Manning’s air step had a strong effect on the Savoy crowd, and it initialized a development for a frequent use of air steps. Where is the evidence for all that?

    • Dirk says:


      You write: “In addition to the account, we have to rely only on the speculation of that Manning’s air step had a strong effect on the Savoy crowd, and it initialized a development for a frequent use of air steps. Where is the evidence for all that?”

      Acutally, I wonder who ever brought up the thesis that this “first” air step had these effects, in terms of changing the dance? I have never heard anybody say so, including Frankie. All he – and others – repeatedly said was: It had an immediate effect on the crowd (in terms of applauding, cheering, small talking about it). So he – and others – worked on it, and as a result it was used for performance more often. It gained attention to the Lindy Hop.

      Do you know Frankie words saying: “From now on, the social Lindy changed”?

      So far, I suspect some misunderstanding, or over-interpretation.

      • Hi Dirk! Thank you. Concerning your claim that Manning never stated that his air step had any effects in terms of changing of the dance, please see his autobiography and there pages 100-103. Manning clearly describes how his ‘over the back’ was followed by his ‘over-the-shoulder’, and which was followed by George Greenidge’s ‘the side flip’. Manning states after that, “After that, I don’t know who made up what because everybody started creating air steps.” Thus, he clearly implies that his ‘over the back’ was the first air step which was followed by others. After that, Manning states on page 103, “At the time, it [his air step] was just another step. I didn’t realize that it was going to change the face of Lindy hopping – no one did – but it was actually revolutionary. It meant that the Lindy Hop was a little more exciting than it was before. Pretty soon, we started getting dates in theaters and nightclubs all over the world.”

        Can it be said any clearer? You are clearly wrong with your claim that he did not say that the Lindy Hop changed after his air step.

        I wish that you finally bring out evidence for supporting Manning’s claims that we can proceed in this discussion. It still is all about his word and your speculation.

  8. Harlem Gal says:

    The Harlem Swing Dance Society aims to have Harlem informed properly and will use a lot of the research material in a museum exhibit and panel discussion at The Museum of the City of New York on February 27th – and give Harri credit.

    • Thank you Harlem Gal! I give the late Terry Monaghan credit for initializing the discussion concerning Frankie Manning’s air step, and in addition to that I give him credit for other things where I have built on ideas which he had initialized (you find them with the help of the notation of my dissertation), and which I have discussed in my dissertation. Whoever comes next after me and Terry, he/she has to build on that.

  9. Harlem Gal says:

    The Harlem Swing Dance Society knew Terry well, as he would visit us yearly till his untimely passing. Terry was very supportive, as Frankie was, that things happen – and it has with the help of remaining Harvest Moon Ball Champs, the Mama Lu Parks Dancers (and Parkettes) and Harlemites who were at the Savoy Ballroom, Apollo Theater, Savoy Manor and other spots that kept the dance alive and flourishing in their own way :>)

    • Hi Harlem Girl! That is right. Terry helped to organize various events where Old Timers like Frankie were presented and celebrated. He treated and supported Old Timers equally. He interviewed anybody who was connected to the Savoy Ballroom. That kind of activity still is important as there still are Savoy dancers and their descendants around. It is 2016, and it is now or never. The clock is ticking and there is no time to waste. We have lost so many Old Timers during last years. I wish I could be part of the event. I wish I could come back to interview and promote Harlem dancers. That is the most important to me now. Because I can’t come back for financial reasons, I’m writing now the part 2 (the continuation to my doctoral dissertation), and it will bring out The Third Generation of Savoy Lindy Hoppers. Possibly, I’m able to continue to their descendants (the next generations). I wish so. It is important that Harlem still remembers its dance culture. Your event is extremely important for presenting those Harlem dancers still alive.

  10. Pingback: In Defense of the Former Lincoln Theatre Building in Harlem | authenticjazzdance

  11. Sandra Cameron says:

    Hi, all of this is very interesting. My husband Larry Schulz persuaded Al Minns to come downtown Nyc to the sandra Cameron dance center. We had an invitation from US dance historian sally sommers to go up to Harlem to a Mama Lu Parks event. This was 1981. Al taught at SCDC from 1981 to 1985 when he passed away. Larry asked Frankie Manning to teach at SCDC. Franki faithfully taught his Monday night class for 25 years. Except of course when he was traveling to do workshops. Al managed Al and Sugar and the Norma MIller dancers. As Norma says in an interview with The Harlem Swing Dance Society “ talk to Larry Schulz, none of this would have happened weren’t for Larry. Barbara one of the founders of HSDS wrote a great article about our connections to Al, Frankie, Norma, Sugar, Sonny, Chaz Young and many other original Lindy dancers. If you want to know the correct history of that time period read the May 2017 blog.
    The legendary dancer Al Minns was the inspiration behind the 1980s Lindy Hop been shown to downtown New Yorkers. We know this information to be true and have all the evidence to back it up. You see 37 years ago we were there. In 37 years very few people other than Terry Monaghan have had any interest in speaking to us about our history. In 2017, Allison and Barbara the founders of the Harlem Swing Dance Society interviews us. We are extremely thankful to have had the privilege of passing on to future generations the authentic Savoy Lindy as taught to us by the legendary Lindy hoppers Al Minnsand Frankie Manning. History is important and it should be correct. Unfortunately there are many swing Society’s out there that do not have the correct history about the early 1980s in NYC. Passing on this article by the Harlem Swing Dance Society could help. The Swing dancers today are so incredibly blessed. They can see so much utube of the original Lindy dancers. Especially Al Minns and Leon James. What a gift they have. But to see Al Minns dance live was truly amazing. He was truly the inspiration behind Larry Schulz doing everything he could to pass it on. Yes, he would have blown today’s swing dancers socks off. What an unbelievable dancer this man was. We were so very lucky to have met him.
    Be glad to be of any help we can. Larry Schulz and Sandra Cameron

    • Thank you for a very interesting history lesson. I have spoke with both Sally Sommer and Larry Schulz regarding Albert ‘Al’ Minns who is my favorite dancer. I always love to see his dancing, although we can see that only in video clips. I think that you were there too when I spoke about Albert Minns with Larry in September 2012. As I promised, I will write about Albert Minns. I definitely agree with you that if it were not for you and Larry, the history of the revival of interest in the Lindy Hop had been very different. Thank you for your efforts to keep jazz dancing alive. I also appreciate the efforts of The Harlem Swing Dance Society to keep the Lindy Hop alive in Harlem where Harlemites, unfortunately, are not so interested in the Lindy Hop anymore. And I guess that this is the blog you mentioned:

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