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the first air step

Breaking Boundaries: The First Air Step in Lindy Hop

As a great lover of Lindy Hop acrobatics that I am, I am very excited to share with you the history of the first aerial in the history of Swing.

Frankie Manning and Frida Washington are two pioneers of swing dancing who were credited with the creation of the first Lindy Hop aerial. This innovative move changed the rules of the game for the swing community as it allowed for greater complexity and added a new level of creativity and expression to the dance.

Frankie Manning was born in 1914 in Jacksonville, Florida and grew up in New York City. He began dancing at age 15 and quickly became a master of the Lindy Hop, known for his smooth and effortless style. Frida Washington, also known as Frida Segerstam, was born in Sweden in 1906 and moved to New York City in the 1920s. She was an expert dancer and quickly became known for her energetic and elegant style. Both were members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, a group of dancers who performed at the Savoy Ballroom.

To create the first Lindy Hop stunt, Frankie and Frida were inspired by a move they had seen done in the Savoy room when Big Bea picked up George Snowden and carried him on her back out of the room. dance floor as he kicked his legs up. Frankie didn't want to copy the same thing, but rather improve it. He proposed to Frida to lift her towards her back and roll her until she landed in front of him, all this to the rhythm of the music.

We often call this first aerial “Back to Back”. Frida and Frankie performed it for the first time at a Lindy Hop competition at the Savoy hall. Chick Webb , whose band was the official band of the room, agreed on the song with Frankie and amplified the effect of his aerial with the ability of him on the drums. So when they did it the room exploded with screams and excitement.

George Snowden, also known as "Shorty George," came to congratulate them and ask where they got that wonderful idea. And Frankie said: I got it from you!! 🙂

Don't miss this fantastic and funny video of Frankie explaining how they created the first aerial with Frida Washington.

The First Air Step - A Talk by Frankie Manning

This aerial step quickly became a signature move for Frankie Manning and Frida Washington, and they were known for their dynamic and daring performances. They performed the fly step in many shows and competitions, and it soon became a popular move among other Lindy Hop dancers.

The creation of the first aerial had a profound impact on the Lindy Hop community, opening up new possibilities for spectacle and expression.

Enjoy this video from the movie Hellzapoppin' in which the dancers from the group Whitey's Lindy Hoppers do a choreography full of acrobatics. And at 2:13 you can see Frankie Manning, this time with Ann Johnson, doing the aerial "Back to Back".

The famous clip of "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers" in the film Hellzapoppin' (1941)

I am very happy to have had the luck in my career to have teammates like Marti Gasol, Leonardo Ost, Rufus and Yldor Llach to practice, perform and teach aerials. Having done gymnastics and circus as a child, I was very fortunate to have been able to rediscover acrobatics as an adult and be able to mix them with dance. Two passions united in Lindy Hop.

On my Instagram account I have videos of some vertiginous aerials. Look at this one for example, I made with my friend Ramon Rufié (Rufus).

If you dare to try it, don't hesitate send me a message and show me your video.


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