The records of the Lindy Hop revival: Sweden

In the peak of the Jazz Era, Lindy Hop dancers swung on the theater screen in movies like ‘Helzapoppin’‘Keep Punching’‘Radio City Revels’ and ‘Manhattan Merry-Go-Round’.

Around 50 years later, these feature-length films were still around in the world and were rediscovered by a group of young people who fell in love with what they saw.

The Swede Catrine Ljunggren tells that the first of these movies that she saw was ‘A day at the races’, in 1984. Shortly after, three of her friends, including Lennart Westerlund, traveled to New York in search of Al Mins, one of the dancers featured in the film. After being convinced to visit Sweden, Al Mins stayed in the Nordic country to share what he knew about Lindy Hop and Jazz. 

One year later, Catrine and a few friends created ‘The Rhythm Hot Shots’ – TRHS. In a time where there was no Internet and producing videos was not that easy, they exchanged ideas with Lindy Hop enthusiasts from other countries through letters and phone calls. Among those were the Londoners from ‘Jiving Lindy Hoppers’, and the Californians Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell. Upon learning about Frankie Manning, Catrine and Lennart flew to New York to meet him and take him to Sweden.

“I met him for the first time in my mother’s living room, together with the rest of the The Rhythm Hot Shots dance group, in 1987. We started to work closely with Frankie and our close relationship lasted until his death.” 

Gradually the study and training routine of The Rhythm Hot Shots intensified. Along came performances, classes and workshops in various countries. Catrine and Lennart still keep records in VHS of what they did in that time. On those videos, the dancer comments:

“I think the only chance you have to see this old VHS videos is in Herräng Dance Camp, if Lennart decides to show them. Or you have to pay me a visit. I have been thinking about making them on DVD and later to Youtube, but I can’t find the time to do it.” 

​”Hop The Millennium” was a dance festival that happened between 1999 and 2000. In the videos of the event, we can see some of The Rhythm Hot Shots dancers.

The revival of Lindy Hop in the 80’s by Catrine and her friends also happened at the same time in other countries. Besides them, names like Rob and Diane, Sing Lim, Ryan François and Simon S. had direct contact with Frankie Manning for many years. The learning came directly from the source and brought a vast experience. That “second generation” of dancers, as Catrine call them, produced videos that are still relevant to the scene, but she has the feeling that most of the Hoppers from modern days don’t know that those people even exist.

“I would like to see that people start to appreciate us oldies a bit more, because I do think it helps to understand the dance from someone who actually study it for a very long time directly from the first generation like Al and Frankie.” 

‘Old Kinki Lady’ is one of Catrine’s favorite recent performances: “I like it because I do a bit of everything I love: dancing and acting at the same time. I love being on stage!”

The dancer understands that it is through Youtube videos that the information is shared nowadays and she expresses: “It would be wonderful if there were a video with us, the ‘oldies’, sharing what we learned with the masters.”

So, is anybody up for producing this material?

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