1997 Improvised Switching Partners. Chad, Virginie, Ken, Margaret, Mishi Catalina Island CA. Video By Paolo
Story: At the popular annual Swing Camp Catalina, after a long day of workshop and non-stop dancing we would still look forward to the last evening's dance at the beach. Our friends from San Diego Mishi and Margaret showed up to play on the dance floor. What you see is a complete on-the-fly, in the moment, improvised stealing and switching dance with Virginie, Ken, Me, and Margaret, so much fun!! (Switching and Stealing are aided by my Aikido training).
Chad & Yumiko's First aerial in Japan
Aerial Workshop in Oita, Japan. Yumiko first aerial after the workshop.
Story: On my first visit to Japan I taught an aerial workshop in Oita. Yumiko had never done aerials before. This was the first attempt to a song, and she performed it like a pro!! I did not speak Japanese and she did not speak English but we did have a local interpreter Lindy Hopper at the workshop. After the workshop we both left Oita on the bullet train to Fukuoka. Since we could not communicate with each other, I made the assumption she would understand the language of dance. So, I took her between the train cars and taught her the entire Shim Sham routine at 177 miles per hour!
2019 Teaching Daktari Shari's Black Performance Group Lindy Hop routine with aerials.
Story: My good friend and teaching partner Shari asked me to teach her Black Perfomance Group, Lindy Hop . It was for historical dance performance showcasing periods of dance highlighting the roots of African dance and pride. Imagine the irony of an Asian-American (Me) teaching Lindy Hop to descendants of a dance created and originated by African-Americans. The opportunity to give back the joy I have received by teaching them, was a privilege and an honor .
Doghouse Cabaret, Doghouse Mini Shim Sham (Just for Fun)
The "Doghouse" first venue run by dancers for dancers. For 9 years was the longest running Saturday venue is SF. An old English saying was when your feet ached, "Your Dogs are Barking" hence the name "The Doghouse" People from as far as Sacramento, San Jose, Petaluma an all over the Bay Area would come to The Doghouse to dance every Saturday. Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dawn Hampton, Rhthym Hot Shot, Smooth Stylists Lindy Hoppers from LA all came to visit or perform. The Doghouse Cabaret was a local community talent show of Bay Area Lindy Hoppers ,who were actually gifted performers with outstanding mix of talents. As much as we tried to match the tech to the performance the building –built in 1911– was too old to accomodate professional lighting and our zero budget depended on the love of Doghouse and volunteer tech and performances to make it happen.
Metronome Ballroom SF
Story: Metronome Showcase at Fort Mason Stage in SF. This theme was Smooth Style Lindy Hop vs. Savoy . A parody of the rivallry between the two styles, eventually being friends in the end. Joint effort in choreography between teachers and performers.
Tweedle Dee & Dum Chad, Jason & Allison Metronome Ballroom SF
Story: Every year as teachers at the Metronome Ballroom we had a showcase performance. That year was, "Allison in Wonderland" Jason and I took the part of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. The routine was so long and high energy with aerials we didnt think we could make it to the end of the routine we were so winded (And we were in condition dancing everynight), but we made it to the end...barely. (Aerials lifting and supporting Jason weight comes from my Judo training.
1998 Catalina Preliminary Performance in Marin
Paul & Sharon, Chad & Virginie
Story: Up until 1998 most Lindy Hop perfomances at Swing Camp Catalina Island – in Southen California– were fast, full of aerials and not always danced to the music. We came up with a slow tempo routine with a song and theme of switching partners. As a result we our routine was a big hit. We were even asked by the Sweds–who we idolized and admired–if they could incorporate switching in their future routines.
1999 Yerba Buena Auitorium Rob & Diane Performance Group. Chad & Katherine, Ken & Cynthia, Allen & Diane. Music by Lavay, Chris and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers.
Story: Largest Lindy Hop gathering in SF back then. I remember looking at the crowd and thinking SF has finally come into it's own as a huge Lindy Hop scene. I performed–with others– in Rob and Diane Van Harren performance team for this event. Rob and Diane were a huge fixture in SF Bay SF scene, they taught and ran the Broadway Studio venue in SF and Swing Central, Foresters Hall in San Mateo.
Chad & Niloufar Metromome Ballroom
Chad & Melanie
Bay Area Backroads TV show Lindy in the Park San Francisco CA
One of the First Lindy in the Park's
Brandee & Chad Metronome Ballroom
The Original Saturday Venue The Doghouse
Original Founders Chad Kubo & Ken Watanabe of Lindy in the Park, Golden Gate Park, SF, CA.
Frankie Manning's 85th Birthday in SF
Me and Frankie Manning in Herrang 1994
Ad campaign for Sutter Health SF, CA
Flyer for Jive @ Five dance venue at the Metronome Ballroom
(In back) Ken Watanabe
(Lft to Rt.) Dave Wong, Norma Miller, Chad Kubo
Doghouse original flyer
Hi jinx with Kevin, Elliott &
Owen at Cafe Cocomo SF
Roots of Lindy Hop
The origins of Lindy Hop were created in an atmosphere of repression and sadness. Slaves and forced laborers from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean gathered in the public squares, and danced to the music and rhythms brought from their homeland. It brought them joy.
The melting pot of cultures in the United States created an evolution of jazz music, swing, dance, blues and tap. White America has often tried to appropriate vernacular dances and music as their own invention, separate from their native origins. Yet the original, authentic versions still remain.
Music and dance bonds people together to nurture, grow and evolve. Even during the hardest economic and racist times in America, people danced to create happiness in their lives. Musicians took their clues from dancers, what songs “swung,” what dancers liked to dance to and what created the energy to get people to move and dance. Dancers took cues from the music to improvise, create new moves, when to hit the breaks, pauses and do fancy footwork and aerials. Swing music and dance swept the nation as a beacon of freedom, expression and travelled throughout the globe during World War II. It created opportunities for some black entertainers and artists in America: their talents were so valued and respected it helped break through some of the worst racist stereotypes of its day.
Jazz music and dance has the ability to absorb and influence other forms of dance and music: Latin, blues, country, classic, German, Irish, Japanese, Italian, Jewish, and many more. With time music and dance evolves or devolves depending on your perspective. Lindy Hop has many styles, from Smooth aka Dean Collins and Hollywood style to West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Jive, Shag, to DC Hand Dancing, etc. Classic Lindy Hop jazz dance moves are still seen in similar forms, from the 1950’s to today.
What Lindy Hop means to me
For me, Lindy Hop is a total immersion into the dance, dance history, community and joyfulness. A TV documentary peaked my interest in Lindy Hop and living treasure Frankie Manning. Learning dance movement was a progression of love. I had heard the music before when my Dad played 1940’s Big Band music and jazz, I must say I wasn’t very impressed. I thought the music was slow. I just didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until I started dancing that I could appreciate Jazz music. First learning steps and movement using the music for its rhythm and timing. Later, as I improved my dance skills, I started to hear more and understand the richness and subtleties in jazz music and how it applied to my expression of Lindy Hop. The benefits of Lindy Hop goes way beyond just the dance. It is a shared community of friendship and connections that exist for a lifetime. From the originators of Lindy Hop—and all its forms—we all experience the joy of dancing with each other to the music.
People ask why do I have to know about the history of Lindy Hop? Would you ask the same question about American history? Lindy Hop is a crucial part of American history. It is an evolution, from all the contributions of cultures and ethnicities that creates the richness of American art. Lindy Hop is a purely American and created in the U.S.. It is a mixture of African and European partner dancing. Jazz and Lindy Hop are synonymous–as with tap dancing and blues. It is also important to give due credit to the originators of this form of dancing and music. It is showing as much respect to them as the founding fathers of our country. Lindy Hop and Jazz music born out of repression and rising to the status of a treasured All-American art form.
As a Japanese-American I identify with the oppression by the American government in World War II on my family. They had their rights, property and privileges unjustly stripped away. They had to deny their identity just to get by. Forced into concentration camps, the onus was put on them to prove they were as ‘American’ as their white counterparts. But they proved it, time and again, in blood, courage and and sacrifice.
My father Shoji Kubo and family was interred at Tule Lake and later moved to Heart Mountain, Wyoming Interment Camp. By listening to Big Band music and learning to dance swing, my father found emotional solace in a depressed place of incarceration. He enlisted in the Army and played in a big band, where he eventually met my mother while dancing.
Late in life when he contracted Parkinson’s diseased, his escape from the pain was listening to swing music.
Four years of incarceration does not equate to the generations of oppression of African-Americans in this country. However, because of the pioneers of Lindy Hop and Jazz musicians contributions to America culture, many people survived the mental anguish of The Depression and World War.
I am grateful for the joy of music and dance has given me, as well as my family. Thank You!
So much has been written about the history of Lindy Hop it would be better to see a more complete history than I can give you so here are the links:
bay area history
Here is a Facebook link and pictures: