Stuff We Liked: A Tribute to Gladys Bentley, New Scoring App for Swing Comps, Tasha Wins House Dance Forever

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Happy Black History Month! Lots of great stuff on the interwebs this week we wanted to highlight. Check out this fantastic feature at the New York Times, “Overlooked,” which highlights inspiring humans that the newspaper has neglected over the years now finally being brought into focus. This month’s “Overlooked” features the incredible Gladys Bentley, a queer artist who was a sensation during the height of the jazz era in Harlem.

Gladys was an openly gay performer known for her explicit and brilliant performances in Harlem:

In her top hat and tuxedo, Bentley belted gender-bending original blues numbers and lewd parodies of popular songs, eventually becoming Harlem royalty. When not accompanying herself with a dazzling piano, the mightily built singer often swept through the audience, flirting with women in the crowd and soliciting dirty lyrics from them as she sang.

By the early 1930s, Bentley was Harlem’s most famous lesbian figure — a significant distinction, given that gay, lesbian and gender-defying writers and performers were flourishing during the Harlem Renaissance. For a time, she was among the best-known black entertainers in the United States.

Read more about her, and many other incredible Black men and women finally getting the New York Times obits they deserve at

Other Stuff We Liked:

  • After a bit of a hiatus, The Track podcast is back with an interview with the incredible polymath Sommer Gentry. Sommer and host Ryan Swift discuss her love of pop music, what it’s like both dancing and researching with her husband, performing superhuman feats of mathematics on television, and how one can embody Zeno’s Paradox on the dance floor. We’re long time fans of Sommer, chatting with her back in 2012 on SwingNation.

  • RP Scoring is a new app designed to help contest organizers of Lindy Hop, Balboa, Swing, and Blues competitions. The creators promise you'll be able to “easily and confidently run solo, team, partnered, and random partner divisions - import your competitors, print all necessary judges / score / result sheets, and fully detail the tabulated results.” They use relative placement in prelims, semi-finals, and finals, which they view as “the most fair, accurate, and reliable tabulation system for swing dance competitions.”

  • House / waacking / African / solo jazz styles artist Latasha Barnes has just won House Dance Forever, one of the most prestigious house dance competitions in the world. Check out the epic, final round between Tasha and Serge Lopes:

  • We love this beautiful spread in Ebony Magazine from August 1961 called “Popular Dances from the Cakewalk to the Watusi”. It features Leon James and Al Minns demonstrating a host of fantastic dances through the ages, from the Black Bottom to the Hucklebuck to the Tranky Do. [Thanks for the heads up, Moncell Durden.]

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