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Lindy Hop: That Crazy Energetic Dance

8th September, 2010

Have you heard of the Time Warp series on Discovery Channel?

They took a teacher from MIT, Boston, and paired him with a high speed camera expert. Expect only fireworks! With camera shots at 20,000 frames per second, making a 1-second shot last as long as 8 minutes, they explain the principles of physics in simple everyday activities.

Anyways, I saw one episode where they focused their high speed camera wizardry on one specific dance style: the Lindy Hop.

Kevin St Laurent & Jo Hoffberg, Lindy Hoppers

The Lindy Hop is really really fast-paced! People are jumping around, throwing each other and tapping their feet faster than you can click your mouse. They pull each other and gain momentum to do all their stunts. Well, it’s more than just stunts!

Show Me!

Really, you must see this dance for yourself! Possibly one of the more famous Lindy Hop scenes in Hollywood, this 2:23 minute video is from a 1941 movie called Hellzapoppin’:

Did you count the number of times their feet left the ground?

A History of the Lindy Hop

It turns out that the Lindy Hop is named after one character – Charles Lindbergh – who cross the Atlantic in a single flight in 1927. Now we all know how difficult it is to get a branch of knowledge named after you (even the Russians couldn’t make cosmonauts a household term). But hey, if you’re the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic sea (from New York to Paris), you’re the man!

Anyways, this trend started in Harlem, New York and fused many dance styles prevalent at that time. That was in the 1920s, the Swing Era.

Lindy Hop went through a resurgence in the 1980s, started appearing in movies and commercials, and continues till today. There’s even an international competition in Sweden that brings together the world’s best Lindy hoppers.

Back to the Time Warp video. It features this woman rotating left to right to left to right to a full circle, while going down on one foot. This woman, it turns out, is pure genius.

You know, Carla Heiney

A few more YouTube searches for the genius that is Carla Heiney results in some awesome gems. The following 2:43 minute video is considerably slower than what you saw in Hellzepoppin’, but is exciting nonetheless. Do note the guy’s funky pants:

Dude! Look at the male dancer’s perspective in the above video. You get to wear funky maroon pants, jump around like you’re really having fun and, most importantly, have Carla Heiney crawling all over and under you – without touching the ground.

Yes, yes, the Time Warp Video

I thought you almost forgot and won’t even ask! Tch tch tch, don’t worry readers. Discovery channel has the video archived online, though only a short clip of it. (You wouldn’t have watched the whole show, anyway!)

After the painful 15 second ad that you must bare, do check out the Discovery Channel: Time Warp: Lindy Spin video.

This Lindy Hop sure looks like fun. That is, after you can do it!

Happy Lindy Hoppin’

(Photo: The Killer Dillers)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 8th September, 2010 11:22 AM

    Charles Lindberg?? Wasn’t he the one to make the first trans Atlantic flight?

    • 8th September, 2010 11:29 AM

      Oh oh! I’m sorry, you’re right – just made the correction!

      The Lindy Hop is indeed named after Charles Lindbergh, and his flight across the Atlantic in 1927, but that’s it. He didn’t start the dance!

      Thanks for the catch ji!

  2. 8th September, 2010 11:28 AM

    Thanks for the Gyan! 🙂 I really like watching the Lindy Hop. And I also do know, that Lindy Hop is being adopted by Indian choreographers now. I saw that on TV.

    • 8th September, 2010 11:36 AM

      What, really? Where where?

    • 8th September, 2010 11:41 AM

      One of the kids dance shows… was not bad at all.

    • 8th September, 2010 12:02 PM

      Kids dance shows. Hmm. Sounds like a good topic for another blogpost! Hehe!

  3. 8th September, 2010 6:26 PM

    Hey! Lindy Hop Jive’s what anukool and i learned at LVDS, Palace Grounds – although what they taught was nowhere as crazy-circus-acrobatic-y as Hellzapoppin’ (and thank all-spaghetti-flying-monsters for that!), nevertheless, it IS a lot of fun!

    • 10th September, 2010 1:30 AM

      Really? That is just awesome! Did you twist your legs / ankles / knees in that weird way? Also, this information is crucial in me taking his case.

      Thank you.

  4. 21st April, 2011 8:55 PM

    Just want to represent the lindy hop world and say that the awful maroon pants (and Carla’s skirt over pants) was a style fad. That video was from 2003 and lindy hop has grown and changed a bit since then.
    Here’s one (out of MANY) examples of where the dance is now:

    • 25th April, 2011 7:45 AM

      Hi Cassie – thanks for dropping by!

      It’s really interesting to see how a dance form progresses over time. In a short span of 8 years, Lindy Hop has changed so much! (They’ve graduated to wearing shirt-and-ties, eh?).

      On a more serious note, thanks for posting this video! Amazing website you have there – great to see you’re keeping this dance form alive!

  5. 20th February, 2013 3:11 PM

    This page certainly has all the information I wanted about
    this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

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