Editorial Note: We were delighted to be reminded by our friend Cynthia Millman that today was a particularly special anniversary. Not only was it Frankie Manning's 103rd birthday, it was also ten years ago today (May 26, 2007) that the worldwide lindy hop community rallied around our ambassador of swing in a special way. Here's how Cynthia recalls it.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Ambassador!
Ten years ago today Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop was published by Temple University Press. Conceived in Herrang in 1993, Frankie and I worked on it for the next thirteen years. For so many reasons, collaborating with Frankie on his fascinating and inspiring history was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
On May 26th, 2007, Frankie’s 93rd birthday, swing dancers around the world purchased the book en masse from Amazon.com. This was in response to a viral email campaign spearheaded by Yehoodi with the goal of bumping Ambassador of Lindy Hop into Amazon's top ten list.
By the end of the day, Frankie’s autobiography was #7! Talk about a birthday present! What a thrill to watch Ambassador of Lindy Hop climb the charts until it beat out a bunch of bestsellers! (Actually, several people told me that it reached #6 by midnight on the West Coast, but I didn’t get a screen shot since I’d gone to bed at midnight in NYC, exhausted but exhilarated.)
I still remember one dancer summing up the day on Yehoodi’s forum with, “All I did was buy a book, but it felt so good.” What a lovely sentiment, one that everyone involved appreciated so much. Huge thanks to all who participated in the Amazon group action, and to the swing dance community for their ongoing warm response to the book.
The Amazon event was considered newsworthy enough to warrant an article in "Publishers Weekly."
Yehoodi also threw our book party at Riverside Church, along with the Jazz Museum in Harlem, and they supported us during every phase of writing and sharing Frankie’s memoir. Thanks for everything, Yehoodi! Love you guys!
We love you too, Cynthia! Here's a bit more about the campaign to get Frankie's book to the top 10 on Amazon, and all the folks that make it happen. It was truly a community effort. Were you one of the hundreds and hundreds of lindy hoppers who bought a book that day? Let us know in the comments. And if you don't have Ambassador of Swing, what are you waiting for, gate? Ah one, ah two...
(By the way, check out Cynthia's awesome interview on The Track podcast.)