Acknowledge Women's Contributions to the Dance (Op-ed)

Willa Mae Ricker and Leon James

Willa Mae Ricker and Leon James

Our friend Mandi Gould is (1) Canadian and (2) one of the nicest people we know. So when Mandi goes on a rant, we pay attention. Here she calls out folks who fail to acknowledge the contributions of women to lindy hop, particularly when they are sharing online a dance video:

I’m usually one of the last people to get vocal about sexism on social media but can we PLEASE start to properly acknowledge women in Lindy Hop?... What is wrong with us that so many of us do that, even if it’s unconscious… Especially if it’s unconscious. BE conscious! This is a dance that gives and takes in the partnership more than any other dance I know of. If we can go on a huge campaign to change the name of the Jack n’ Jill, we can certainly start to open our eyes and give women proper acknowledgment. It needs to start NOW.
— Mandi Gould

I've definitely seen a lot of this on my social media feed too. Some fictionalized, but not far from the truth, examples:

  • "Wow watch Remy just kill this classic routine!" (ignoring that he's dancing with someone else)
  • "Todd's footwork is incredible. #dancegoals " (not mentioning that his partner is probably also doing some pretty great footwork)
  • "This aerial unbelievable? How does Patrick even lead this?" (not mentioning the person actually doing the "air" part of the aerial.)

So yeah, don't be that guy! (or gal.)

I'll fess up to being that person too. Like when sharing this picture, I've definitely neglected to mention Ann Johnson, the one actually executing this difficult airstep with Frankie. Very not cool.

Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning, 1941

Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning, 1941

A lot of us know this quote referring to Fred Astaire and his longtime dance partner Ginger Rogers:

Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, ...backwards and in high heels.
— Bob Knaves, 1982

But I actually prefer this quote about Ginger Roger's dancing:

Believe me, Ginger was great. She contributed her full fifty percent in making them such a great team. She could follow Fred as if one brain was thinking. She blended with his every step and mood immaculately. He was able to do dances on screen that would have been impossible to risk if he hadn’t had a partner like Ginger - as skillful as she was attractive.
— Edward Everett Horton to Dick Richards. Ginger - Salute to a Star, p. 162.


Original post on Mandi's blog.