FYI | The Swing Never Stops at Lindy Hop Championships

What’s up in the dance community

When many ballet, tap, and jazz students turn 18, they stop dancing. But lindy hop students never stop. “Lindy hoppers start dancing as children and keep dancing until they die,” Paulette Brockington, American Lindy Hop Championships founder, told DSL.

About 400 dancers will be swinging in style during this month’s 20th anniversary American Lindy Hop Championships in Harlem.
Photo by Pawel Kowalczyk

About 400 participants—from competitors ages 10 and older to spectators, live music lovers, and educators—are expected at ALHC’s 20th anniversary October 26 to 27 at the National Black Theater of Harlem, New York City. Dance classes will be led by jazz historian Moncell Durden, tapper Chester Whitmore, swing artists Minn Vo and Stefanie Klausmann, Nathan Bugh and Gaby Cook, and others. One of the special guests will be “Queen of Swing” Norma Miller, 97, of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers (she’s wearing a chef’s hat in the famous Hellzapoppin’ dance number).

Brockington, a performer, choreographer, and ballet and modern dance teacher who learned to lindy hop from swing dance legend Frankie Manning, founded the championships in 1998 to show respect for a dance form that’s rooted in vernacular jazz, yet isolated from both ballroom and concert dance.

But thousands of dedicated lindy hoppers around the world keep the high-energy dance alive in studios, championships, and dance events such as Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, she said.

At ALHC, beginners through professionals will strut their stuff in divisions such as Truckin’ (solo jazz) to a Couples Showcase to Match Game (with partners chosen through a blind draw). In between contests, everyone takes to the ballroom floor in a celebratory “all dance.” “Norma always said that if the government sent her to the Middle East with a Count Basie record, she could bring about world peace,” Brockington said. “You never see anyone unhappy when they are swing dancing.”