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 back 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 reality currently in Harlem, and how the area is trying to recoup a solid growing footing on their famed dance artform of the Lindy Hop in its birthplace....
When one of our cherished elders leaves us we lose an encyclopedia of treasured heartfelt memories, wisdom and more. Sadly this month we lost this classy lady but we have documentation.
Our sympathy goes out to her family who surely lost a gem...
Its nice to share, but a good piece of the action with Lindy Hop culture should have stayed in its Harlem home. It's not too late however with a new generation to keep it growing back.... dancers who can be inspired by the memories and experiences of Ms. Ruby. The Harlem Swing Dance Society will continue to do its part in this needed endeavor.