30 years in pictures: Lindy Hop Social Nights

30 years in pictures | 08 December 2023

Lindy Hop Social Night at Shrewsbury House. Photo: Roswitha Chesher

Lindy hop has always been a favourite class at Greenwich Dance – back when we were based at The Borough Hall but more recently during our time at Charlton House and even online through the pandemic.

Originating from Harlem, New York City it was first danced in the famous Savoy Ballroom in the 1920s. In its combination of African American dances and European partnered dances, lindy hop is considered a cultural phenomenon that broke through the race barrier when segregation was still the norm. It is said the name lindy hop was inspired by aviator Charles Lindbergh who ‘hopped’ the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 and it draws inspiration, especially in the footwork, from jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston.

“I was up and dancing before I even knew it! How clever and wonderful, I feel so happy and ready to do more!”

Participant at Glyndon Community Centre

Recently we have been working closely with South East London based lindy-hop experts Temujin Gill and Sunanda Biswas of Grounded Movement and long-time lindy hop class teacher Wendy Steatham to develop more ways of interacting with this joyous dance style. Using Cultural Recovery Funds we created a series of audio-described downloadable tutorials which are available for free for people to learn lindy hop steps in the comfort and safety of their own homes. These have been accessed by participants across the globe, with over 10,000 downloads from countries including Germany, the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Australia.

An Introduction to Lindy Hop featuring Temujin Gill and Wendy Steatham. Filmed and edited by Roswitha Chesher

In Spring 2021 we designed a touring Lindy Hop Social Night to share its origins and history as part of Black History Month 365. Our Lindy Hop Social Nights toured to Glyndon Community Centre, Shrewsbury House, Charlton House Assembly Rooms and Abbey Wood Community Centre. At a time when human connection and enjoyment had been so sorely missed due to covid restrictions, lindy hop was the perfect way to bring people back together within their local community in celebration. Our Lindy Hop Social Nights became a space to enjoy moving and music and socialising with others, learning a new skill, developing a new hobby, and delving into history.

Lindy Hop Social Night at Shrewsbury House. Photo: Roswitha Chesher

“It has been so wonderful to learn about the history of Lindy in a way that felt easy and fun. I have loved learning new moves and everyone has been so friendly”

Participant at Shrewsbury House, Shooters Hill

Lindy Hop Social Night at Charlton Assembly Rooms

“We live just around the corner and heard about this event from the centre manager. Its so wonderful that it is free and we are having such a great time. We’d love to come again as there isn’t often much like this in Abbey Wood”

Husband and Wife at the Abbey Wood event

Temujin was even able to use his unique ability to get a room on their feet at the launch of the Black History Month 2022 fund. Following a slick duet with partner Sunanda, the gathered audience – a combination of staff of local cultural organisations and local councillors – were soon up on their feet and dancing in the aisles. That’s the power of dance!

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