Frankie "Musclehead" Manning Dies
As I noted yesterday in a brief blog item, Lindy Hop dance pioneer Frankie "Musclehead" Manning died. The full story is here. But there's only so much one can say about him with words. It's far better to experience him onscreen. Here he is, in overalls, from the exciting jitterbug sequence from the 1941 Hollywood film, "Hellzapoppin' ":
I found out about Manning's death with the help of Chris Bamberger, a local authority on dance and in particular the work of Fred Astaire. She's the wife of local radio treasure Rob Bamberger, whose WAMU-FM program "Hot Jazz Saturday Night" provides a compelling balance of great music and insightful commentary.
Manning owed his 1980s career resurgence to a "swing reawakening," as I like to call it. There's been lots written about why such a revival occured. Personally, I think it's just damn good music.
But according to a profile of Manning in the magazine GQ, a revival of swing music began in the 1980s as a revolt among California punk music fans who felt their discordant, anti-establishment music style had been embraced by too many in the mainstream and thus diluted of its power. To counterattack, the punk rockers incorporated elements of 1940s clothing style, GQ reported: Women traded in their shaved heads for Betty Grable hairdos and men donned gabardine suits. Madison Avenue picked up on the uptick in swing popularity, notably in advertisements for Gap clothes, and swing bands were again cool.
The New York Times obit of Manning included his observation that the Lindy Hop's appeal was that it resembled "a series of three-minute romances." I felt this line would have worked better if, for example, Manning was talking tango. The Lindy Hop, which is about as limb-snappingly fast as a dance gets, seems hardly like a romance. More like a...um...well, this is a family blog.
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Posted by: lindy47 | April 28, 2009 10:26 PM
Posted by: danceman | April 29, 2009 2:43 AM
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