1944 Instructional Video Teaches You the Lindy Hop, the Dance That Originated in 1920’s Harlem Ballrooms

1944’s MGM short Groovie Movie, abovebills itself as an instruc­tion­al film for those wish­ing to learn the Lindy Hop and its extreme­ly close cousin, the Jit­ter­bug.

The edu­ca­tion­al mod­el here is def­i­nite­ly of the “toss ‘em in the pool and see if they swim” vari­ety.

The eas­i­ly frus­trat­ed are advised to seek out a calm and patient teacher, will­ing to break the foot­work down into a num­ber of small, eas­i­ly digestible lessons.

Or bet­ter yet, find some­one to teach you in per­son. We’re about 20 years into a swing dance revival, and with a bit of Googling, you should be able to find an ath­let­ic young teacher who can school you in the dance pop­u­lar­ized by Frankie “Mus­cle­head” Man­ning and his part­ner Fre­da Wash­ing­ton at Harlem’s Savoy ball­room.

Speak­ing of teach­ers, you might rec­og­nize Arthur “King Cat” Walsh, the “top flight hep cat” star of Groovie Movie, as the fel­low who was brought in to teach I Love Lucy’s Lucy Ricar­do how to boo­gie woo­gie.

He’s got more chem­istry with his Groovie Movie part­ner, Jean Veloz. Backed by Lenny Smith, Kay Vaughn, Irene Thomas, Chuck Sag­gau, and sev­er­al tal­ent­ed kid­dies, they quick­ly achieve an aston­ish­ing­ly man­ic inten­si­ty as nar­ra­tor Pete Smith barks out a host of jazzy lin­go. (Here­in, lays the tru­ly sol­id instruc­tion. The atti­tude!)

Smith also heps view­ers to a few of the influ­ences at work, includ­ing bal­let, tra­di­tion­al Javanese dance, and even the “gay old waltz.” Sad­ly, he fails to men­tion the Harlem ball­room scene from whence it most direct­ly sprung.

At least Whitey’s Lindy Hop­pers, a pro­fes­sion­al troop drawn from the Savoy’s most skilled prac­ti­tion­ers, got their due in the 1941 film, Hel­lza­pop­pin’, below. Again, aston­ish­ing!

Okay, worms, let’s squirm.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

James Brown Gives You Danc­ing Lessons: From The Funky Chick­en to The Booga­loo

Rita Hay­worth, 1940s Hol­ly­wood Icon, Dances Dis­co to the Tune of The Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive: A Mashup

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Leg­end Djan­go Rein­hardt

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her play Zam­boni Godot is open­ing in New York City in March 2017. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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