Websites & Blogs for West Coast Swing & Lindy Hop

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
#21
Just pasted this from somewhere else. Listed book has a section on West Coast Swing. Other that the incorrect statement about Dean Collins, I don't remember much about it. Don't think it's a treasure trove or anything like that.

I recently came across a book "Social Dance in America" by Ralph G. Giordano published this year (2007). Page 95 states that Dean was on the cover of The New Yorker when he was 18 and Dancer of the Year. This is a new wrinkle, so I thought I'd check it out.
I went to the library and looked at covers of the New Yorker from 1934, 1935, and 1936. First I noticed that they always use drawings and not photographs. After looking at all covers for these years, no dancers. A librarian sat with me and verified my observations. So this brand new book has at least one incorrect statement.
/tangent/ The cover of Life Magazine issue of August 23, 1943, has the title The Lindy Hop, and a photo of a dancing couple. The man was 17; perhaps this is the source of the confusion, (Life/New Yorker, 17/18).There's a neat photo essay inside; some pix of the cover couple, Stan Catron and Kaye Popp, and then Leon James and Willa Mae Ricker. Stan Catron was indeed, according to him, Jitterbug Champion of the Year at least once, although I can't find anything on the web to back up that statement, I always believed him. He was my next door neighbor for decades, and loved to tell tales of the old days. /endtangent/
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#22
That spread in Life is available on line (somewhere!).
And, HEY! that's a great observation!

Some of you may know of Peter Loggins, used had (past tense unfortunately) the CalJazzDance site. (There was a lot of good information on that site. It is a real shame it is gone. I've been using the Inernet Archive to try to recover parts I hadn;t copied.) His take on it was that Dean may have gotten some "award" somewhere, sometime, and the rest is "mythmaking".

As you go through life, you realize that a good story is often more interesting than the literal truth. Soem of us want to know the literal truth, however.

Dean's relationship to West Coast Swing is another place where myth making probably happened. Dean was a great swing dancer, no doubt, and was the most filmed swing dancer at that. He also spent most of his life in the Los Angeles area. He was very influential.
But...
His style of swing was NOT what became known as West Coast Swing. It wasn't even Western Swing as described by Lauré Haile. At best it was intermediate between what we see Whitey's Lindy Hoppers do on film, and WCS.
Skippy Blair has written (and said!) that Dean ALWAYS insisted on a strong rock away at the beginning of each pattern, rather than the woman walking forward. Joe Lanza tells the same story. And I have no doubt that YouTube has clips of Dean telling students the same thing.
(Last week I heard SKippy tell about dancing the Peabody with Dean while they were filming "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom". She said that she and Dean danced so vigorously that she watched as the sweat broke out on Dean's brow, and was just about to pass out but would NOT stop dancing.
p.s. They stopped before she did pass out!
p.p.s. Lauré Haile is in at least one of the dance scenes in that film.)
 

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