Lindy Hop Featured in France's Largest Paper, Le Monde

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Le Monde, France's largest newspaper, featured a neat article about lindy hop on May 11.  The main article is entitled "Lindy Hop : et que ça swingue!" ("Lindy Hop: and that's Swinging!") It focused on the French lindy hop scene, it's rapid growth, and motivations for the dancers. The rather dreadful Google translation is appended below.

There are a couple of side bar articles on the history of lindy hop and the Herrang Dance Camp that are worth a look as well.

EDITORS NOTE: Google translation of Le Monde article. Yes, it's terrible. If you want to send us a better translation, we'd be happy to replace this one!

Lindy Hop: and that's swinging!

Everywhere in France, we dance to the sounds of jazz bands, diamond ties and balloon sleeves. The lindy hop, dance of the roaring twenties, is back on waxed floors.

To observe them, one is surprised to smile, the air smiles. Won by the ambient euphoria. Doped to the joy of living. Is it the music of the orchestra, which awakens the memory of Tex Avery of yesteryear, or this intermingling of dancers, like at the wedding of the cousin, young, old, gifted or awkward, all jumping with the same enthusiasm? A swing ball is antidote to the gloom, we had been warned. Only a depressive could deny it.

Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), at the locality La Marbrerie, a Friday evening in April. Giant loft, raw concrete and tagged smoking room. The futuristic underground atmosphere contrasts with the appearance of the participants who seem to have escaped from a pre-war black and white film.

Pleated pants, diamond ties, two-tone shoes, short hair slashed backwards for guys. Little flowery dress with balloon sleeves and headband in the girls' side hair. It's swing night, organized by Brotherswing, the biggest Parisian school specializing in these retro dances, including the queen of the moment, lindy hop. In a Berlin 2018 decor, three hundred people replay Harlem 1930.

It was there, in the black community of New York, that emerged in the late 1920s, and thrived in the immediate aftermath of the war, this energetic street dance, and couple, baptized lindy hop in tribute to the aviator Charles Lindbergh. The Gl have landed with her in Europe, but since the 1950s, rock swept it with a hips movement. Until this unexpected jazzy rebound that goes through Sweden in the 1980s, England, Lithuania, and France, since the beginning of the millennium, with a sharp acceleration of tempo these last four years.

Paris can boast of having become in no time one of the swing scenes that make noise in Europe. Paris where a good twenty specialized schools (they were only three in 2011) compete for the market of apprentices-swingueurs - softly, since the courses are already complete, with 1,100 and 700 students respectively enrolled Brotherswing and Shake That Swing, the two biggest ones. They organize weekend internships, "practices" (school balls to train), parties, festivals, outdoor demonstrations for which a slew of new jazz groups are adapting their repertoire.

Whoever stamps his foot can dance every weekend, and several evenings a week, to the sound of an orchestra. The rooms where the tunes of time in the capital (The Wild Cabaret, Fun Chance, The Ground Control, The Temple Tile ...) have captured the news of the past vein: in the cinema, it's Au revoir là -high (2017) after Midnight in Paris (2011), The Artist (2011) and Gatsby the Magnificent (2013), in the series, the Prohibition version Peaky Blinders or Boardwalk Empire and, at home, the golden trend and graphic Arts Deco.

The pleasures of the bounce

It's been seven years since La Bellevilloise, in Ménilmontant, bet on the inter-war period, holding each month its big swing ball, which is now filling up: six hundred people! Until refusing the world, sometimes. Not to mention the festival that takes place at Easter (Paris Jazz Roots Festival), New Year's Day, another summer festival ...

"We posted some videos of acrobatic swing, we had millions of views! Something is happening, "observes programmer Julie Musa. Paul-Edouard Thierry, known as "Paulo" in the Gominé milieu, does not seem to regret his conversion. This forty-year-old with a fine mustache, formerly a sports teacher at a Tarterets college in Corbeil-Essonnes, swapped the tracksuit for a total Al Capone look to develop Brotherswing since 2009. The former association, which became a SARL, employs ten Eight teachers and has already trained 15,000 students in eight different places every night. "There is a phenomenal explosion," he says. In Paris, going out and having never heard of swing, it's weird. "

As it is everywhere in France. Especially since it is to a teacher of French taps, Franck Balbin, that lindy hop owes its French revival. Large or medium, all cities now have their courses, where 200 people wiggle ( Gon'a Swing in Lyon, Swingtime in Bordeaux), or 300 ( Grenoble Swing ), 400 ( Swing Jammerz in Montpellier) and even 800 ( Studio Hop In Toulouse). Count double participants for weekend evenings and local festivals. Jean-Baptiste Mino, 30, who brings together 450 students at Swing Jammerz, speaks of a "madness, on a scale of Montpellier". "And there are at least four other schools! "

Back to the "jazz & swing party" in Montreuil, hoping to understand this dancing frenzy. Before the sextet takes the stage, two teachers introduce the first arrivals to the pleasures of the bounce, the "rebound", all flexibility of the knee.

Not forward, not back, not obvious. But it's laughing. "Quickly slow," and "quickly quickly returns," then "take the bounce" to two, arms on the arm of the nearest neighbor. "Quickly slow and fast quickly turns! " We pat thighs, you make a turkey head, advancing and retreating chin, rear shaken. Not everyone follows, but everyone moves and applauds at the end.

"Sharing spirit"

And when the orchestra starts, nobody makes tapestry. The twenty and thirty-year-olds, present en masse, drag in their wake dancers of the age of their parents. Unless it's the other way around. Damien Campas, a guy, a 30-year-old computer scientist with a hipster beard and a crazy-haired haircut, does "just that on weekends," lindy hop.

"Everyone dances with everyone, no matter the level. That's how we learn the most, adapting. " What pleases him? "It's very free, like dancing, you can even do a solo in the middle. The leader can be the woman, it is more balanced than the tango. " And? "And music is carnal ... we talk with the body. After only, we ask for the first name. But we have already seen if there was a good connection with the person, even rhythm, even delirium. » No need to fill out a profile on I adopt a guy or Tinder.

Cécile Acevedo, a 27-year-old brunette, actress and costume designer, who sews her outfits herself, agrees: "Here, we force ourselves to drop our phones. " In the true sense: with acrobatics, smartphones land on the ground without causing panic. She who has never been to a club ("In Paris, we do not dance, except in concert") adores "the Great Gatsby aesthetic  ", the "very joyful" side , like the balls on the banks of the Marne of my grand- parents, " dance for two, " because, when you get there, it's great! " And this way of spending less sinister than the rower of the gym. "In the end, I have cramps on my toes! "

On the side of the bar, we spot a young woman with long purplish hair that one would imagine more willingly in a living room manga. Ecstatic, she tells the dance teacher in a bow tie and flannel vest, Reda Bendahou, that her boyfriend refused until then any dance for two. "But there, he found that it looked too funny, he would see well try. Thank you for successfully relaxing it! You really put a nice atmosphere. "

Reda Bendahou still excelled in urban dances. If he came to lindy hop, it's for "the spirit of sharing". "Here, we are not in battle mode, confrontation, or in judgment. Everyone welcomes you with open arms. This dance conveys the joie de vivre of the old-timers who danced in the years 1930-1940 despite misery and segregation. "

Freedom of improvisation

We summarize, recovering our notebook entrusted to others by a sexagenarian determined to make us swing: a good-natured and happy atmosphere, likely to hide for a time small hassles and environmental apocalypses.

"We can not help but make the comparison with the 1930s, the crisis and orchestras hyper joyous," says Paulo. An opportunity to meet, for a dozen euros the evening, on good live music . A dance with a few basic steps in one hour, which does not force you to focus on the 45 degree angle of the right foot but leaves a lot of freedom of improvisation, and which brings values f equality ... Everything to please in 2018.

To this, add a good dose of ripple effect. "Why are they coming? It's simple, they've seen people dancing! They were having fun, " Jean-Baptiste Mino of Montpellier had told us the day before by telephone. Far from Daddy's musette, and even salsa and tango with their obligatory seduction game, lindy hop "changes the vision of dance for two for young people". The show "Dance with the stars", on TF1, had already contributed.

On a platform near the entrance to La Marbrerie, "Carlos the hairdresser" shaves the nails of the gentlemen high. He also officiates at the Casablanca shop, in Ménilmontant, a vintage thrift shop where lindy hoppers come to dress. In the evenings of La Bellevilloise, we propose not only the hairdresser, the barber, but also the makeup pin-up and the Photomaton. Pleasure of elegance, when nothing requires it. And attraction of the past, for those hyper-connected young people who, when they do not swing, dress in thrift stores, polish a 1950s Formica interior, listen to vinyls and take Polaroid while eating rutabagas. The future is not what it was.