Excerpts from Social Dancing in America ~ Swing, jazz and blues - Dance to the music

Friday, January 19, 2007

Excerpts from Social Dancing in America

This is the third part of an interview with Ralph G. Giordano who recently published his book Social Dancing in America: A History and Reference Volume 2 Lindy Hop to Hip Hop, 1901-2000.

[Part 1: How come you wrote a book about social dancing in America?]
[Part 2: Which dances do you write about in the book? ]

Part 3: Can you share some interesting facts about Lindy hop?

I can give you some excerpts from the book:

"Most Americans only saw the Lindy Hop in newsreels of the Harvest Moon Ball competitions and movies such as A Day at the Races (1937), Buck Privates (1941), Hellzapoppin’ (1941), Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942), Groovie Movie (1944) a nine-minute movie short, and Killer Diller (1948). Each provides some of the best acrobatic performance and smooth style versions of the dance ever filmed.

The acrobatic aerial dance movements were eye-catching stellar performances by the best professional Lindy Hop dancers in the country. They were extremely fast paced and choreographed for maximum effect on the movie scene and definitely not for simple enjoyment on a social dance floor."

"The comedy A Day at the Races, starring the Marx Brothers did well at the box office. At the time, the Marx Brothers were one of the top Hollywood box office attractions. Scenes in the movie offer an excellent contemporary singer Alan Jones singing in the "crooning" style made popular by Bing Crosby. In various dance scenes Groucho Marx performs a Tango, Fox Trot, Rhumba, and Charleston.

The film also has an ensemble dance scene between Harpo Marx and some African American children and another scene of African Americans adults performing the Lindy Hop. Unfortunately a large segment of America did not get to see either the Harpo scene or the Lindy Hop scene. Since these scenes involved "racial mixing," they were censored out of distribution copies throughout the south and other areas of the United States. (At that time, this was a common practice of all Hollywood movies).

Copies with deleted scenes continued to air well into the 1970s on television stations. It was not until the very late 20th century that the movie was shown intact. By that time the age of the movie regulated it to specialty cable stations dedicated for movie buffs that regulated the segregation to obscure trivia status."

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