Skip to main content

Black Lindy Hop Matters - Really?

Black Lindy Hop Matters 
How so and How much?

Dedication, Destructiveness and Decisions: 
The plight for some Black Dancers

Have you read this recent viewpoint "Who is to fight Racism in Dance"?  Please take a look 

When it comes to Black Lindy Hop Matters "movement" White people can do something about getting more Black people involved and within the scene - but they are not obligated to.  Even if the current state of affairs is not their fault.  But it is refreshing to read and especially meet those who do see (and understand) that some changes are overdue.... and could be welcoming.

Yet with the few numbers that there are in comparison, its Black folks who are waiting and whining about it. Not all of course. These ones are still frequenting the main or major venues and events; they attend and then snarl about what they see that appears a bit redundant or sickening for them. They pay to go to these events and "habitually" stand, sit and stare/glare.  We think they should consider doing something about their dilemma and take some action.

Theres all types out there but gone should be the days of always trying to fit into others standards to be accepted. Especially if its something your people created themselves!  But perhaps the residue of slavery, Jim Crow and other factors are hard to shake for some.  You still see Black Lindy Hoppers begging other black dancers (or enthusiasts) to join them to frequent the chosen "Hot Spots" (the ones sanctioned by "you know who").  Then they attend and want changes made within these events!  Or they want to form a Black Coalition of sorts within the mainstream – in this case white dominated hosted and structured events.  A "Wakanda" movement… 

Meantime some of these same folks also don't bother with supporting other new or developing spots by Black Swing and Lindy Hop dancers.  Some prefer to sabotage or blackball it.  Or they attend and then later bad mouth it (or the Host) on social media and within their cliques/ "Lindy Family". Honesty quite a few Black folks have left the Lindy Hop scene altogether because of this.  These are ones that learned the dance art form within the last 5 years... but because of what they see, hear and observe with the back-biting, lying and cut throat activity they are done.  Or they are gullible and believe the hype - and join in the melee! The phoniness and bent out of shape jealousies are thick if you are aware or within the loop.  So of course some Black newbies are now perhaps somewhat confused, angered and/or sick about ALL of it enough to keep their distance.  Or they've left the scene altogether... as mentioned done….

The Harlem Swing Dance Society (THSDS) has heard this from a variety of students who took lessons with them. Ironically they have heard it from Instructors too. There is an undercurrent of drama.  THSDS has identified at least 10 people who contribute to this on their end.  Some of the Black seasoned elders and experienced dancers as well have been notified by Team Disrupt.

Yes the above mentioned behaviors exists in Harlem but with a different venom or energy.  So basically its no wonder upward movement is a bit slower in the area than other regions around the world that are quicker at developing solid dance scenes.  Isn't that ironic for the place where it all began with this exciting and invigorating dance of Lindy Hop?  Thats the breaks. THSDS prefers not to have a blind eye and be realists as we continue to maneuver around the poisonous regimen of sorts encountered...

Yet there is more to the Harlem equation than stated in this musing. However don’t get us wrong here: There has been growth and continues to be.  In the last 10 years there has been more Lindy Hop and Swing Dancing in the area than the prior 10 to 15 years.  That’s a feat despite some of the various obstacles and attitudes of others.  You cannot blame it on gentrification,  most times it is other Black folks who could care less or have no real knowledge of the history (another topic and musing!). Yet there are enthusiasts and true Historians still with us.  So despite combating elements - or the nature of the business -  the Lindy Hop Legends and Savoy Ballroom Dancers (and Savoy Manor!) that are no longer with us would be very pleased at the re-growth of late.

So does Black Lindy Hop really matter? How so and how much? Are you proud to be Black period and down for the cause? Or is it only to be that token Black or mascot within your area of  Lindy Hop Land to the sole Black Star?  During an interview songstress Solange Knowles was asked "Why are you proud to be Black?" Her response: "Watch us walk, watch us move, watch us overcome, listen to our voices, the sway. The resilience. The innovation. The raw, unfiltered and untouched soul we have cannot be touched."  She speaks as if we are still unique trendsetters. 

So the question now is what kind of trend or example are you setting?

Black Lindy Hop has to matter so much that you as a Black person are building and bonding with others that want to do the same.  You are seriously ready to roll up your sleeves and work. Without struggle there is no progress remember? The complainers mentioned in the beginning of this reading don't ask themselves "Who is benefiting financially off of this culture" though.  For Black people and Harlem the benefits are more than monetary - or at least should be for those involved. 

So don't give up, seemingly wanting to continue to be groomed to believe that whats currently offered is all there is, and no one Black person (or group) could never rival it.  Or just have their own space and energy! Yearly some spend hundreds of bucks to get to these "conventions, and beforehand continue doggedly to recruit other Black newbies so they won't be "lonely" on the scene at these venues.  Perhaps your efforts could be utilized more constructively for the long haul for Black Lindy Hop Matters and supporting that. Your choice.

Now what about you and your area? Are you seemingly content with current status quo and yet are still complaining on the sly while you continue to give your hard earned bucks to others?  Is it that bad for you? If you’re not going to make changes or do something about it then maybe you can go get some cheese to go with your whine.... 

The Harlem Swing Dance Society (THSDS) is the premiere non profit organization in Harlem promoting, preserving, propagating and protecting Lindy Hop and Swing Dance Culture. Our outreach is done by FYI sessions, lessons, Harlem Lindy Hop/Jazz Tours, performances, lectures,
 workshops and more in Harlem and beyond.

Our next Black Lindy Hop Matters Meetup is Sunday April 7th.  
Space is limited but perhaps you can be there if you qualify .... :>)


Popular posts from this blog

In Remembrance of Ruby Reeves

Ruby Reeves went to Smalls Paradise in the 1980s and  witnessed the transition of social dancing going from uptown to downtown. She knew Mama Lu Parks and many of  the regular Monday night Harlem crowd that listened and danced to Al Cobbs Band. She performed professionally doing the Tranky Doo (or her version  the Cranky Doodle").   It has been stated but not confirmed that she was also part of the 1982 famous Harvest Moon Ball dance competition.  But b ack in 1988 when a tribute was given to Mama Lu ( Tapping Through an Evening in Honor of Mama Lu Parks )   she was in grand company Naturally she saw and experienced the "exodus" of Harlem's dance traveling from uptown to downtown. And uptown folk seemingly going with the flow because - in her words - "we weren't doing anything in our community".  Thus part of the sad rea

The Call of the Jitterbug Kids!

Dominick Robinson, Matthew Cherrington, Jessica Hand, Coral Foxworth, Kelly Robinson and Matthew Hunt "I've never heard of them!" people retort.  Well you missed out to a degree but they were part of Harlem's 20th century Lindy Hop story... perhaps rightfully so the 5th generation to keep the culture going  :>) The  Jitterbug  Kids were founded in 2001/2002 and were a group of 8...ranging in the ages of 7 to 10 years old. They were a fixture in Harlem and in NYC, performing at public and private events. Sarina Robinson started the group one year after she was inspired to start taking Lindy Hop/Swing Dance classes.  Having a Dance Studio helped as she gathered this group of children and trained them at dance workshops for one year. Then they were off! While they have grown up to be young ladies and gents they influenced many and got the attention of young and old alike.  These exciting and fun memories and groundwork that was established never

Class Act: Take note of our lead Dance Instructor in Harlem - Rafal!

" He's the teacher?!   I don't want that White Boy teaching me anything!"    "He's not teaching me my dance!" And with that they - some African Americans/ Black people -  do an about face and march out of the dance classroom... ________________ Harlem and Harlemites (aw heck Black folks!) can be a challenge - and that race card goes both ways a whole lot.  With that bad word "gentrification" and the bullying tactics in the area it can have some of the locals thinking EVERYTHING is being taken/stolen away from them.  So when some folks  - Black and White - see The Harlem Swing Dance Society's main teacher Rafal Pustelny he definitely generates all kinds of reactions.  SSSSSSSSSssssshhhhh.... Most times he is unaware of it ....  ;>) Oh but what they miss out on! Rafal Pustelny has built up quite a resume from the days we met him sometime back when he proudly spoke of "Boogie Woogie" influences. Th