The style of swing dancing we do in Southern California has been strongly influenced by great performers who danced in old movies. Here are my picks for the top ten vintage clips that have influenced swing dancing LA/OC the most. Special thanks to video historian John Cooper for helping compiling this list!
#1 GROOVIE MOOVIE (1944)
Groovie Moovie is my pick for L.A./O.C.’s most influential vintage swing clip. It is credited by many as the inspiration behind the revival of Hollywood Style Swing dancing in Southern California.
#2 HELLZAPOPPIN (1941)
Certainly anywhere but in Southern California, this famous clip featuring Frankie Manning and Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers would be number one. It’s probably unmatched in the sheer number of aerials per minute. You’ll get winded just watching this.
#3 SWING FEVER (1944)
This jam circle footage featuring Jean Veloz is nice because it stays focused on the dancers for the entire song. I still remember Bill Elliott playing “One Girl and Two Boys” so faithfully to the original.
#4 BUCK PRIVATES (1941)
#5 LET’S MAKE MUSIC (1940)
This clip could have been taken straight from a jam circle at Camp Hollywood (aside from the fact that it’s black and white and fuzzy). The styling has really been emulated by the Hollywood folks.
#6 WHITEY’S LINDY HOPPERS PERFORMING THE BIG APPLE (1939)
The Big Apple had a resurgence a few years ago. This is one of many variations, but it doesn’t get more authentic than when Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers do it.
#7 A DAY AT THE RACES (1935)
Another frenetic routine from Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. It’s chock full of aerials and jam circle material that you still see today.
#8 TWICE BLESSED (1945)
This is a clip where background dancers are the good ones to watch and the main actors are lousy dancers. Lots of “signature” moves that you’d see in a contest at Camp Hollywood. People even dress like this at Camp Hollywood..
#9 SENSATIONS OF 1945 (1945)
Cab Calloway’s crazy energy is evident in this number. The swing clips are fragmented, but there are lots of jam circle moves that you still see today.
#10 MAHARAJA (1943)
Balboa is big in LA, and you’ll see many of the moves in this clip with Hal and Betty Takier in dance contests and on the social dance floor at Joe’s Bar and elsewhere.
BONUS: ALL THE CATS JOIN IN
My bonus video is a 1946 animated short featuring Benny Goodman performing “All the Cats Join In”. Yes, it’s animated, and there’s not a whole lot of dancing in it, but every dancer in LA will know this one, so I add it as a “bonus”.
What do you think? What videos am I missing? Let me know below! – Brian