Airsteps chronology

Video clips with dance steps where connection with the floor is lost. Ordered by date of apperance. We focus on those who have been registered until the late 40’s. From 1941 we are able to see a new style. Billy Ricker is credited with creating that style of Lindy Hop called “Mutiny” in which a swing out is followed by one air-step after another. When Frankie Manning first saw Ricker doing this dance with Esther Washington, he exclaimed, “Billy, that’s mutiny!” meaning it was mutiny against the traditional Lindy Hop. The name stuck.

1933 Rufus for president

This movie with Sammy Davis Jr. for the first time on screen with 7 years. Plenty of humor and irony contains the first airstep that we have found: the stack (19:20)

1937 Ask Uncle Sol

One of the few opportunities in which you can see the legendary “Shorty George”. As they used to do at the end of their dance their partner “Big Bea” carries Shorty on his back and they finish their number. Airsteps: the stack (0:46), over the back (0:54 ). Well, it really is half “over the back”

1937 A Day at the Races

190/5000 First appearance of the “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers” on the Big Screen in “A Day at the Races”, a sequence well known to all Lindy Hoppers. Airstep: Charleston backflip (1:52).

1938 Harvest Moon Ball

The “Harvest Moon Ball” was a dance competition held from 1927 to 1984 almost always at Madison Square Garden in New York. In the Lindy Hop division we can see some aeirsteps: the hat-trick (1:00).

1938 Radio City Revels

Washed-up songwriter Harry and his neighbor dancer Billie, are insolvent despite efforts to find work in radio. But Harry is visited by his “student,” hillbilly Lester Robin, who can only write songs in his dreams. And lo! Lester’s first nap yields a song hit for which Harry takes credit. But to fulfill his new contract, he needs to keep Lester sleeping, amidst romantic complications. Appearance of the “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers”. Airsteps: over the back (1:23).

1939 Keep Punching

Henry Jackson, known as Little Dynamite, is a champion of Golden Gloves, who accepts to become professional despite the opposition raised by his father and Fanny Singleton, his girlfriend. Soon, Jackson is ready to fight for the Championship, when he meets Frank Harrison, an old school friend. Frank is not the loyal friend that Jackson thinks he is, as he is betting heavily against him. To secure the bet, he introduces a “hot girl”, Jerry Jordan, who is ordered to make him drink, stay late and generally ruin it by any means. In this funny comedy The “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers” come out dancing the version that later became the famous choreography of the Big Apple (0:12). Aerial steps: Charleston Backflip (3:58), Reach and Flip (4:10), Frida flip (4:30).

1941 Hot Chocolate

Directed by Josef Berne The song is called “Cottontail”, but the soundie was titled Hot Chocolate, putting the title of the song in parentheses. When this soundie begins, “Duke Ellington & His Orchestra” will perform at the Orpheum in a show called “Jump for Joy”, and we will see the theater. The camera closes on a sign outside the theater. They leave Ivie Anderson, Herb Jeffries, Big Joe Turner, Al Guster, and the trio of “Pot Pan & Skillet”. Ellington shouts the name of Ben Webster just as Ben is standing by his saxophone solo. Then some listen to the radio and break into some incredible dances. Choreographies: The Chase (1:22). Aerial Steps: Charleston Backflip (1:18), Frida Flip (1:20), Pancake (1:40, 2:03 and 2:31), Around the Back (2:10), Snatch (2:13), Over the Back (2:21), Tandem Charleston Front Flip (2:27), Monsters (2:33).

1941 Hellzapoppin

Based on his Broadway musical of the same name and shot at Universal Studios, in this scene the musicians Slim Galliard and Slam Stewart, dressed in work clothes, discover some musical instruments. More behind-the-scenes workers come together, including Rex Stuart in trumpet and C.C. Johnson in the bongo. Immediately and filmed in an angle that emphasizes field work and speed come the “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers” that leave us with their mouths open. Routines: The Chase (0:58), California Routine (2:42). Aerial Steps: Charleston Backflip (0:53), Frida Flip (0:57), Pancake (1:28 and 1:47), Willa Mae & Al Mins Backflip (1:38), Tree House (2:00) Around the Back (2:06), Snatch (2:07), Over the Back (2:20), The Horse (2:25).

1942 Sugar Hill Masquerade

The song “After You’ve Gone” jazz standard ,s recorded on December 1941 by Gene Krupa and his orchestra with Roy Eldridge on trumpet. The soundtrack was saved, and the image was not filmed until September 1942, a usual practice. The little band you see on the screen at the beginning, directed by trumpeter Walter Fuller, has nothing to do with the music we hear on the screen. Dancers: Edna Mae Harris, Slim Thomas, Ray Harris, Carrie Frederick, Charlie Morrison, Frances Urline Jackson, Dorothy Moses, Thelma Hereford, Estella Marrino, Alyce Barker (choir girl on the right), Florence Alexander. Airsteps: Backflip (0:45), Around the back (1:02), Pop Over (2:20), Knickerbocker (2:30), Sugar Hill (2:32), The Horse (2:39).

1943 Stormy Weather

With the Nicholas Brothers. Fred Astaire called it the best recorded dance scene in history. Airstep: Spagat (2:30).

1943 Cabin in the Sky

A compulsive gambler dies during a gunfight, but will receive a second chance to reform and reconcile with his worried wife. Duke Ellington plays and dances Archie Savage and Garland Finney. Airsteps: Flying Frog(2:48), Judo Flip(2:58).

1943 Film Vodvil

Shot by Columbia Pictures with different numbers of clubs in New York. The dancers are Dottie Mae Johnson and Leon James, Connie Hill and Russell Williams, the music “Lets keep Jumping” by Cootie Williams. Choreography: California Routine (0:46). Airsteps: Around the Back (0:55), A-Frame (1:04 and 1:44), Pancake (1:06), Crunch Toss (1:18), Pop Over (1:34), The Horse (1:48)

1944 Jammin the Blues

Artistic shot of a jam session with Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, Sid Catlett, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, John Simmons, Jacquet Illinois and Marie Bryant. Dancers are Archie Savage and Garland Finney. Sitting in the shadows, Barney Kessel is the only white musician in the film. Directed by Gjon Mili, edited by Everett Dodd, with lighting and photography directed by Robert Burks, and released by Warner Bros. Mili pioneered the use of these fancy effects in video. Airsteps: A-frame(6:48).

1945 Twiced Blessed

Stephanie and Terry are identical twins who have separated since their parents divorced. Intrigued by their opposite lifestyles, change their identity. An appearance the mythical Hal Takier with Alice Scott doing the funny airsteps Mery goes round (2:20), showing some West coast style swing.

1947 Boy! What a Girl!

A couple of theater producers try to get support for their musical show. Airsteps: Snatch (0:05), Waterfall(0:16 y 01:20), Tandem Charleston Front Flip (0:34), Pancake(0:44), Pop Over(01:01 y 01:17), Around the back(01:07), Knickerbocker (01:09), Frida Flip (01:11).

1948 Killer Diller

Comedy, dances, performances and production completely black with the appearances of “Andy Kirk and His Orchestra”, “The Clark Brothers”, “Nat King Cole Trio” and Harlem Congeroo. Routines: California Routine(1:58) Airsteps: Pop Over(0:42 y 0:56), Pancake(0:54), Over the Back(1:13), Waterfall(1:16 y 2:14), Around the back(1:22, 2:03 y 2:16), Snatch(1:23), Crunch Toss(1:35), A-Frame(1:42 y 2:08), The Horse(1:45)

During the Second World War (1941-1945) many musicians and dancers were draft to the army, with which established groups of musicians and dancers had to be dissolved. After the war the popularity of the Lindy Hop declined, in part for the so-called Cabaret Tax among the many reasons: in 1944, a 30% tax on dance clubs was imposed in the US at the federal level, partly for tax reasons, partly because of the control of the Congress by Puritan legislators. They considered dancing a sin. Club promoters and owners could not afford to pay the city, state and federal taxes, so “DO NOT DANCE” signs spread to clubs all over the US. The rate had remained at 3% from 1924 to 1941. In 1941 it rose to 5%. In April of 1944 it went up to 30% to go down to 20% in July of that same year, but the damage was done and the posters remained for a long time. Clubs that provided strictly instrumental music where no one danced were exempt from this tax. That stimulated the Bebop revolution. Drummer Max Roach said in Dizzy Gillespie’s memoirs: “If someone got up to dance or sing a song, there would be a 20 percent higher entrance fee … it was a wonderful period for the development of the instrumentalist music”.