Simon’s Swing Notes


The atmosphere is electric and a buzz of anticipation runs through the crowd as spectators squeeze around the edge of the dance floor. Meanwhile, the dancers are preparing themselves on the side like prize fighters ready to enter the ring, stretching their bodies or restlessly shuffling from foot to foot, mentally running through choreographies and pre-prepared combinations of old and new tricks they know they will have to pull out of the bag when the time is right if they are going to make an impression. This is not any ordinary Lindy Hop contest, this is 1935, it’s Saturday night and we are at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Both audience and dancers know what’s coming, this is more than just another weekly Saturday night contest at the Savoy, where great dancers compete for $40 in prizes, this is not just about the money, this is a battle about being able to hold your head up high, of personal prestige amongst your peers. On this night, two teams of three couples will go head to head to find out who is going to be crowned the best of the best. This is the end of the Jazz age and the beginning of a new swing era, these six couples are all pioneers in their own right. It’s their hard work, skills and creativity alongside a desire to be the best that created a new dance form that today, over 80 years on, dancers from all across the world, from all walks of life, from America and Europe to China and Russia, young and old alike are still discovering afresh today: the Lindy Hop.

Swing Notes Vol 135: Battle of the Century. By Simon ...


In 1986, when I took a trip to New York to discover more about the Lindy Hop, Jiving Lindy Hoppers co-founder Terry Monaghan recommended that I connect with Margaret Batiuchok, who was one of the founding members of the recently formed New York Swing Dance Society. I attended one of her classes, and little did I think at the time that I would develop a professional relationship that continues to this day, and that at that first class I would meet a wonderful group of her students, many of whom I’m still friendly with today – over 30 years later – and who themselves have since made big contributions to Swing. Perhaps not so well known outside of New York City, Margaret has been an important witness of the transition between the lean times of the 1970s and the rekindling in the 1980s and beyond, she has played a major role in the revival of the Lindy Hop and we have a lot to thank her for.

Swing Notes Vol 132: Who is Margaret Batiuchok? Part 1. ...