Eliana

Usually if I speak to a fellow dancer I'll just say Lindy, but if it's someone uninitiated it'll be Lindy Hop. And if I'm in a public space where lots of people are dancing, I'll ask someone that's just tapping along to the music "Do you dance?" and not specify which dance.

If things go well from there, I'll ask mid-dance "How's your Balboa/Shag/Blues/etc?".

To me Lindy is just dancing.

The one that always bugs me a little is people calling it "The Lindy hop."

It makes me cringe, and I think it bugs me because it seems like such a ballroom thing to put "the" before the name of a dance.

It makes me think of some demo video from the mid 90's with a super enthusiastic, middle aged couple showing you all the dances you can learn at their studio: "the tango!" "the foxtrot!" "the salsa!" "the swing!" It's a culture thing more than a question of what's correct.

Norma Miller called it "the lindy hop" but if I heard someone call it that today I'd assume they were a very out-of-touch ballroom dancer.

As for the teason: I've heard that LA swing dancers used to call the dance they were doing "Lindy" and not "Lindy Hop" because they had taken the bounce out of the steps.

A smooth swing dancer in LA was dancing Lindy and someone that had more pulse or bounce to their step was doing Lindy Hop. Although this could be a regional difference that never took off, which means that most people wont associate any difference between the two names.

Anyway, using "Lindy" as a standalone word often makes me think of those days, but I don't mind people using it as shorthand for "lindy hop" if they're already on the topic of vintage swing dances.

Eliana

I was disappointed by the lack of swing dancing (it looked there was a kind of "swing lite" in the background of a couple scenes) but I was interested in the fact that they depicted "[not] our kind of jazz" as being dance music.

Or even that a jazz club is a place you would go to dance.

Every time I've been to a "jazz club" (outside of New Orleans) people sit and listen in a hushed manner. And I know that after the swing era jazz musicians no longer considered that they were playing for dancers but instead only for "listeners," but when you see all the bopping heads and other body parts at a jazz club, you know that at least some people would like to be able to dance.

Yet I still loved it.

Sebastian and Mia's struggles hit so close to home. As a lindy hopper I definitely squeeled at the half break portion of the shim sham shimmy Mia and Sebastian did, as well as the mention of Chick Webb (thanks again focus) and what appeared to be a lindy circle performed by an extra.

Really can't recommend the film enough if it's playing near you. Failing that, wait for it to come out on Netflix/ hbo/dvd/pirate bay.

Eliana

Montreal Swing Riot 2016 - Vintage vs Modern Street Dancers - Part 1 of the Invitational Battle

Montreal Swing Riot 2016 - Vintage vs Modern Street Dancers - Part 1 of the Invitational Battle.

I just watched this amazing video. It really captures the beauty of retro/vintage dance and modern street dancing. I was hooked the first time I watched it. No matter how you look at it is really cool, but what stood out to me is that this video has thetallest, skinniest dude I have ever seen.

One thing that really got to me though was when I was reading the comments. The comments on that video are embarrassing. People insulting and making fun of a 15 year old kid. We have no idea what it's like to be him, have a little compassion.

If I could dance I would go for it.

I stumbled over my feet many times when I started swing dancing. I still don't have great body control.

Also realize you are watching literal professionals dancing. These are world class dancers. I've now been dancing Lindy hop just under 8 years and it brings tons of joy into my life!

Eliana

There is so much great talent out there that it makes me happy to see people taking interest in it on a larger scale. One thing that I want to mention though is that people always forget about the band, sadly. That whole video was basically improv by the musicians.

Eliana

One of the main ideas is that it is difficult to actually appropriate culture, and is heavily reliant on the relationship between the supposed "appropriater" and "appropriatee" and the nature of the supposed appropriation.

To systemically culturally appropriate is to assume a relationship of oppression.

An example would be that black dancers might find it uncomfortable or at least sad that there has been a trend by some schools of white dancers of moving away from the African-American movements and styling that underpinned the origins of the dance, and it would be a good thing for students to learn about the body movements, rhythms and musicality as originating from African dancing rather than blindly copying the white modern lindy hoppers that they tend to see on YouTube.

Those who appropriate are taking from cultures that are perceiving oppression. Thus, cultural appropriation happens in situations when one culture has a history of oppressing another, and the oppressed culture still has a perception of being oppressed. This is why cultural appropriation is a much larger deal in America as there is still a perception of oppression in many cultural groups.

However, it also explains why many groups don't feel culturally appropriated, because there is not necessarily that same perception of oppression.

So the question becomes, does your culture create a perception of oppressing Black Americans? Note that this does not refer to you being a white male, but instead about your actual heritage and culture. Second, there is the act of appreciate vs. appropriate. What counts as appreciating vs. appropriating can be very tight.

In the past year, I've met many pros who actually have very differing opinions on this. Some hold a strong belief that we are re-enacters of an era and staying to the roots is best, while others believe that the dance has grown and needs to push its limits and evolve.

And this leads me to an interesting perspective that has gotten some attention in Sociology at the moment: personal cultural appropriation.

When a person claims cultural appropriation, there's usually an implication of disrespect or offense, yet a single person, nor a group of people, can claim for an entire culture and its history. This also leads to the question of who has the right to claim cultural appropriation.

So this is going into rather unanswered questions, but is more based on interesting happenings that have occurred in the last 4 or so years.

There have been studies that show that 2nd or 3rd generation Americans often face cultural dismorphism, where they don't feel like they belong to their parents' or grandparents' culture, but don't feel like they belong to the general "American" culture of their peers. This often causes them them to latch on to their ethnic history very strongly. A study that my peer is currently working on has shown support to the idea that many ethnic-Americans who are 2nd or 3rd generation feel a "right" to their culture, that their parents' and grandparents' don't feel the same way.

Many immigrants or 1st generation Americans were actually surveyed to love the idea of their culture spreading, even in ways that many people consider "cultural appropriation," such as South Asians enjoying when their children's friends partake in cultural jewelry and clothing, or East Asians loving the spread of food culture and fusion cuisine.

These are all interesting points.

I think for 2nd or 3rd generation ethnic-Americans, there's a feeling of confusion when the cultural qualities or traditions that caused them to feel different or made fun of while growing up in the US are suddenly thought of as "hip," "trendy," or "fashionable." Along with that is the awareness of the transient nature of trends.

As a non-cultural example, let's say you've always liked cat memes, but people thought you were weird.

Then all of a sudden cat memes were all the rage. People would think you were trendy. Then cat memes fall out of favor and doggo memes are in. People will think that you are "behind the times."

Furthermore, there is an interesting wave of Africans who believe that Black Americans are appropriating their culture(s).

A rather incredulous idea, but its true. Whether they hold any merit, is left to be said.

So what counts as cultural appropriation?

And who can really claim it? Systemic cultural appropriation is easier to point out and see, but even that has its nuances (there's an idea that's currently being discussed about whether the idea of a culture masquerading as another counts as cultural appropriation, see Africans believing Black Americans are culturally appropriating). My response to your points is to love this dance.

Do it to your best intentions, and make the dance yours. Love it and respect it, and I don't know anyone who would call you out for that. Your dancing is a statement of who you are, and doesn't belong to any group of people besides yourself.

Don't ignore the cultural history of Lindyhop, but don't let it deter you from finding yourself in this amazing dance.

This is a huge part of appropriation.

The people who originated the thing are shut out of "being good" at it on an international stage because they don't have the money to compete or train "in the right way". The thing that was originated has been changed enough that it is very hard for an on-one dancer and an on-two dancer to dance together, but they have essentially the same name (because I'm sure you didn't know about the on-one on-two split).

The one that developed later in time and and further from the community that built it is given more respect, more notice and more money by people who don't know anything about it.

Eliana

Look at the musicians. Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton are some of the best swing bands and playing their music is a good way to be sucessful.

There's just an insane amount of knowledge that goes into making music sound great.

If you think about most swing bands, everyone in the group has spent between ten years and their entire lives working on learning their instrument, and they all think they have way further to go. How insane is that? Like if you add up the years of experience from like the Gordon Webster septet, it's probably something like a 150 years of playing their instruments.

And they're STILL improving noticeably from year to year.

The key components of Lindy hop music are having the right tempo, swinging the 8th notes, and having four on the floor.

Tempo:

While this will vary depending on the skill of your scene, slow lindy music is typically 100 to 140 BPM, medium tempo music is 140-180 BPM, and fast is 180-220 BPM. Experiment with different tempos and see what your dancers respond to, but also don't stay locked in the same tempo range for ever either, move it around.

Swung Eighth Notes:

I'm assuming you know what these are. If the song doesn't have them, it's not lindy hop music.

Four on the Floor:

Typically lindy hop music has a rhythm section hit on each quarternote.

Four on the floor means that the bass drum is played on every quarter note, however, swing era drummers did a thing called feathering the bass hits, which means they're barely audible - it should be "felt not heard." Most drummers hear the phrase four on the floor and think of the heavy bass sound of disco.

What we mostly hear that generates the feel of lindy hop comes from the walking bass and chunking quarter notes on the guitar (the italic terms are the ones that those musicians would recognize for this concept). While the drummers should feather the bass on every beat, it's important that it's subtle enough that most listeners wouldn't even realize it was happening.

If you watch lindy hop drummers, they're typically hitting the bass drum on every quarter note. Upright bass players and rhythm guitar will also typically be hitting the quarters most of the time.