These are the lively
rhythms and sounds of Harlem that came alive during the Harlem
Renaissance. This was especially true at Harlem's famed Savoy Ballroom
that was on West 140th Street and Lenox Avenue.
It was at this landmark venue where a new dance called the Lindy Hop was
perfected, and one of its innovators groomed this dance to new
heights. His name? Frankie Manning. Such was his influence and vision
that in May of 2014 there will be an international
celebration in New York City and Harlem celebrating this Lindy Hop Legend.
Who is Frankie
Manning came to Harlem as a child by means of the great migration from Florida. In the early 1930's, while in his teens,
Frankie and his friends loved dancing to the big band music of the day.
As he would say, "I frequented the Alhambra ballroom; next was the
Renaissance ballroom, which was like "high school". When you got really
good you got to enter the Savoy Ballroom, which
was like college". Or the creme de la creme.
was already an avid dancer on the floor of the Savoy Ballroom when Whitey (Herbert White) recruited him to
elite troupe of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
It was there that he propelled partners through the air to the swinging sounds of Chick Webb,
Count Basie and other jazz/swing masters.
went from the Savoy Ballroom to Broadway and Hollywood, enjoying a
fantastic career as an inspirational teacher and choreographer of
Harlem’s world famous dance the Lindy hop.
He also led the way in giving the Lindy hop professional expression while thrilling audiences.
Read more about Frankie Manning on the following links -
Because of the Savoy Ballroom Frankie Manning and others became masters
to an American art form that is still danced and cherished worldwide.
Lindy Hop, Jitterbug Jive, Swing Dancing, Savoy Style: All of these have
their roots in Harlem. It's an exciting culture
The Harlem Swing Dance Society (T.H.S.D.S.) has the mission of promoting
and preserving this cultural and American dance art form in Harlem.
They have teamed with Harlem One Stop to have the Harlem community look
back at their exciting dance history. We feel
it is vital as portions of this exciting event will be in the area in
in this series you will learn about Harlem's signature dance. We will
be exploring it's roots and gradual world impact thru the lives of
You'll also how Frankie Manning influenced others...and was influenced himself.
There are many stories out there, so we implore you to talk to relatives
and friends about the Lindy Hop....Jitterbug Jive....Swing
especially about the Savoy Ballroom. Harlem is a rich treasure
trove of this history, and there are many still alive who can tell their
experiences first hand in our midst.
To see the importance of having dialogue note the following story
A "Hidden" Harlem Treasure and Lindy Hop Legend
|Seated left to right Ronald Jones, Beatrice Pierce, and Angela Pierce |
|Beatrice Pierce and her partner John "Smitty" Smith in 1953|
Late in September
2013 Ronald Jones was talking at his job about his love for Lindy Hop
and swing dancing...and an upcoming event having to do with Harvest Moon
Ball Winners. Angela Pierce overheard and got
in the conversation. She stated "I knew my aunt won first place in
'something'" but she wasn't sure what. Immediately she called her, and
was floored to find out that Beatrice Pierce was a 1953 Champion of the
famed New York City Harvest Moon Ball Dance contest
at Madison Square Garden! Due to this remarkable find within 3 weeks
she was honored at The Harvest Moon Ball Swing Dance at the Joseph P Kennedy Center on October 19th given by T.H.S.D.S..
Beatrice came to
Harlem in 1944 as a dancing teenager, and residing at 557 Lenox Ave.
She was 20 years old when she started going to the Savoy and became part
of a group Big Nick
Nicholson) got together in the ballroom (she was part of their 400 club). In 1953
Charles Buchanan (Savoy
Manager) told her and her partner John Smith (Smitty) to "Go and bring
back 1st prize" in The Daily News Harvest Moon Ball contest at Madison
Square Garden -
and they did!
When T.H.S.D.S. met Ms. Pierce (and saw her cherished Savoy collection) she was asked did she ever think
anyone would be interested in
her historic accomplishment anymore. "No I didn't; I am so happy that
other people are still dancing the Lindy Hop and Swing like we did at
the Savoy!". Beatrice would like to see Harlem,
especially it's youth, embrace this art form once again.
So would we.
The Harlem Swing Dance Society
for Harlem One Stop
|The Harlem Swing Dance Society|
Look forward to reading Part 2 of this series titled "The Beginnings: Influences and Innovators 1920's -1930's" in January 2014
Labels: angela pierce, Frankie Manning Centennial, frankie manning; harlem swing dance society, frankie100, lindy hop, New York City Harvest Moon Ball Dance, ronald jones, swing