Frankie 95



  • May 21st -May 25th, 2009
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • New York City

The birthplace of Lindy Hop and the Savoy Ballroom played host to a spectacular birthday celebration for one of America’s most charming and inspirational cultural ambassadors. Lindy hoppers, jazz musicians, swing legends, tap dancers, friends and supporters from around the world descended upon New York City for five days and nights of activity including: social dancing to over 12 bands, workshops taught by the best swing dancers in the world, the return of the Hellzapoppin’ dance competition, tribute performances, panel discussions, video presentations, tours, and more!

Live music was one of the cornerstones for the weekend and we were thrilled to have live music at all five evening and late-night dances.  The line up included Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, the Boilermakers, Campus Five, a “Battle of the Bones” featuring Benny Powell, Art Baron, & Wycliffe Gordon, New York favorites the Blue Vipers, Cangelosi Cards, Paul Tillotson Trio and Ron Sunshine and Full Swing.  The Saturday evening gala event was a battle of the big bands, Savoy Style, pitting Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Band, George Gee and His Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra, and the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, all against one another in the beautiful 12,000 square foot Hammerstein Ballroom:

In addition to evening and late-night dancing, there were plenty of daytime activities including panel discussions, special talks, walking tours, and workshops taught by internationally acclaimed instructors inclduing Sylvia Sykes, Frida Segerdahl, Syke Humphries, Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas, Steven Mitchell and Virginie Jensen, Sackarias Larsson, Max Pitruzzella and Annie Trudeau.

And there was more!  The event saw the return of the Hellzapoppin’ dance competition with the finals taking place during the Saturday night gala event.  Though, perhaps the highlight of the entire weekend was the suprise 1 hour long dance show dedicated to Frankie including performances by some of the best swing dance companies today including the Silver Shadows, Ninjammerz, and the Harlem Hotshots. Most of the weekends evening events took place in the Hammerstein and Grand Ballrooms at New York’s historic Manhattan Center.

The most important aspect of the event, however, was not the bands, the venues, the workshops or the competitions; the most important aspect of this birthday celebration was Frankie’s living legacy.  For his entire adult life Frankie Manning joyously and tirelessly spread his love of Lindy Hop all over the world. Though he could not be there in body for his 95th Birthday, it was an opportunity to pay tribute to him for the joy he shared with us.