There have been some important discussions taking place in the Lindy Hop community about recognizing the Black origins of the dance. Julia Loving has created a list of some questions for event organizers to think about. This is a great list for Lindy Hop Event Organizers, Teachers, and Scene Leaders around the world to truthfully ask themselves in order to assure their events are inclusive.
Bringing light to an issue that needs correcting is the first step. We thank all event organizers for their efforts to create a more diverse, inclusive swing dance community and increasing Black representation is part of that.
Do I look for, consider, or hire qualified Black DJs for my events or to cover band breaks?
Do I invite constructive responses for policy and programs to address racial inequities within my events?
Do I lead by example as a dance instructor by including history lessons as an integral part of my classes? For example; mentioning during class lessons Lindy Hop Historical facts. Northern racism impacted our dance scene early on. Did you know that the Cotton Club was not an integrated ballroom? Black dancers could only perform there, but the Savoy prided itself on being an integrated ballroom.
Do you pay Black instructors equitable to non-black dancers? Is there equity in your hiring/payment practices?
Thank you Julia for sharing this excellent list of questions. We welcome feedback and suggestions for what can be added to this list.
Julia Loving for the past 25 years has been a teacher of Library and Information Science and Africana Studies in New York City public schools. Her Lindy hop training began with the Harlem Swing Dance Society under the tutelage of Samuel Coleman a little over five years ago. She prides herself as being a plus-size Lindy Hopper in her blog biggirlslindyhoptoo.blogspot.com which encourages swing dancing free from stigma. She dances socially throughout New York City. She competes in various competitions always happy to note that she won 3rd place at the 2015 Lincoln Center’s Mid Summer Night Swing and Alhambra Ballroom Jazz Vespers competition with her then 15-year-old dance partner Brandon Barker (now 19).
She is an avid supporter of swing dancing by sponsoring students in different swing communities. She attends weekly social dances in NYC. She recently began co-hosting bi-monthly swing dance events in Harlem called “It’s an Uptown Saturday Night Swing Dance.” She has taught introductory level lindy hop to adults at the Marcus Garvey Center in Harlem as well as to her after-school program. She loves to galvanize her Harlem Lindy Family and Swingout Group members to attend social dance through text and email. She travels outside of New York City to support the lindy, blues, and balboa communities in other states.
She is the creator of LuckyLindysNYC undergarments for dancers and yoga enthusiasts which has become a hit with many in the swing dance community. Ultimately, Julia says she is “a jazz lover that shares the African American experience through dance.” On any given day you may find Julia dancing away at Brooklyn Swings, Bierhaus, Frim Fram Jam, Swing 46, or dancing to sounds of jazz vocalist Charles Turner in the aisles of Minton’s Playhouse.
Some may ask: Why me?
Julia along with four other people was recently asked by Judy Pritchett, Board Member of the Frankie Manning Foundation, to assist her in responding to a request from the Swing community in Greece to help them make their events more inclusive with regards to the inclusion of more African Americans into their scene. Why me? I guess because she knew that I’ve learned to navigate through my own feelings of isolation in this dance community as well as that I am a supporter of the art form. I was a wallflower when I first started! Being black, older, plus size, and culturally not use to asking men to dance is not the norm. But I had the encouragement from two great guys Samuel Coleman of New York City and Ryan Francois of England both of whom are swing dance instructors. They encouraged me to learn more and just hang in there and I am thankful for that. Now I rarely sit on the sidelines and I am an advocate for inclusion and relevancy.
So for the record, swing dance has changed my life in so many positive ways and therefore I felt it necessary to respond as honest, reflective, and thoroughly as I could.