Frankie Manning came to Harlem as a child by means of the great migration from Florida. In the early 1930’s, while in his teens, Frankie and his friends loved dancing to the big band music of the day. As he would say, “I frequented the Alhambra ballroom; next was the Renaissance ballroom, which was like “high school”. When you got really good you got to enter the Savoy Ballroom, which was like college”. Or the creme de la creme.
Frankie was already an avid dancer on the floor of the Savoy Ballroom when Whitey (Herbert White) recruited him to his elite troupe of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. It was there that he propelled partners through the air to the swinging sounds of Chick Webb, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and other jazz/swing masters.
Read more about Frankie Manning on the following links –
You’ll also how Frankie Manning influenced others…and was influenced himself.
To see the importance of having dialogue note the following story
|Seated left to right Ronald Jones, Beatrice Pierce, and Angela Pierce|
|Beatrice Pierce and her partner John “Smitty” Smith in 1953|
Beatrice came to Harlem in 1944 as a dancing teenager, and residing at 557 Lenox Ave. She was 20 years old when she started going to the Savoy and became part of a group Big Nick(Delma Nicholson) got together in the ballroom (she was part of their 400 club). In 1953 Mr.Charles Buchanan (Savoy Manager) told her and her partner John Smith (Smitty) to “Go and bring back 1st prize” in The Daily News Harvest Moon Ball contest at Madison Square Garden – and they did!
When T.H.S.D.S. met Ms. Pierce (and saw her cherished Savoy collection) she was asked did she ever think anyone would be interested in her historic accomplishment anymore. “No I didn’t; I am so happy that other people are still dancing the Lindy Hop and Swing like we did at the Savoy!”. Beatrice would like to see Harlem, especially it’s youth, embrace this art form once again.
So would we.
|The Harlem Swing Dance Society|
The Harlem Swing Dance Society
for Harlem One Stop
Look forward to reading Part 2 of this series titled “The Beginnings: Influences and Innovators 1920’s -1930’s” in January 2014