This weekend, the Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum are hosting a free weekend of special events on the theme, 'Docklands Extravaganza'. Education manager Vikky Evans-Hubbard tells us more about the ‘Jiving Lindy Hoppers’:
The popular dance group The Jiving Lindy Hoppers will be making a return visit to International Slavery Museum on Saturday 4th February, as part of our Docklands Extravaganza weekend. They last visited during Black History Month 2009, leaving us all speechless with their daring and acrobatic dance moves and they look set to do the same this year – have a look at them on YouTube performing at the JLA Real Variety Show. After watching them in action, there will be the opportunity to learn the basic step yourself in a fun workshop.
The Lindy Hop (or Lindy) is a partner dance that originated in 1920s and 30s Harlem, New York. The dance contains footwork borrowed from the Charleston and Tap. It can be wild and spontaneous, with frenzied kicks and body movements, or it can be cool and sophisticated.
'Lindy' is considered a cultural phenomenon that broke through the race barrier when segregation was still the norm. Looking back on where the Lindy Hop came from, we encounter American history and a the global cultural change facilitated by the American GIs that travelled in World War II. Modern dancers, interested in cultural history are piecing together the roots of Lindy through the tales and film footage of the original dancers, now in their 80s and 90s. Although the lineage and history of Lindy may be muddled, it is certain that it was born from the blending of African rhythms and movements with European structured dance.
The influences of the Charleston and Tap dance are evident still in the Lindy we do today and the dance is also said to have come from an early version of the Foxtrot. Remnants of older dancers such as the Cakewalk, Texas Tommy, Black Bottom and popular "animal" dances such as the Turkey Trot and the Buzzard Lope are also expressed. It’s interesting that these came from African social dance culture. Some, such as the Cakewalk, were created when free Blacks and enslaved Africans alike, imitated and mocked the formal dance structure of the Europeans, which they would then use in their entertainment routines. Ironically, the white spectators would then copy the entertainers, and a social dance that bridged the divide emerged.
You can see (and do) the Lindy Hop at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm at the Merseyside Maritime Museum on Saturday 4 February - just one of the activities we'll be running as part the Docklands Extravaganza.