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Mind-blowing Lindy Hop from 1941 film

One of the most iconic Lindy Hop performances on film, this scene from Hellzapoppin’ (1941) demonstrates some amazing examples of “air steps” in which the dancers become airborne through lifts or gravity defying leaps.  The technique was invented by Lindy Hop choreographer Frankie Manning, one of the dance form’s pioneers.  Lindy Hop, a type of swing dance, originated in African American spaces such as the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the late 1920s where Manning got his start as a dancer.  This dance tour de force from Hellzapoppin’ (choreographed by Manning) is the only scene in the film featuring African Americans with an otherwise all white main cast.  The conceit of the scene is that domestic workers behind the scenes of a movie set spontaneously break into dance, which enabled the film to include the mind-blowing dance piece while bowing to white audience expectations of African Americans in only minor roles and relegated to the accustomed sphere of domestic work.


Manning in 1938