Aurelia Santos: World Lindy Hop Day

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 (Haje Jan Kamps)

May I have this dance? Aurelia Santos invites us to join the festivities.

A-one and a-two and a-you know what to do. Any lindy hopper worth their swing out recognizes those as the words of the great Frankie Manning – a Black American dancer and choreographer, who we credit as one of the inventors of Lindy Hop, back in the 30s, and whose birthday we celebrate today – World Lindy Hop Day.

I got hooked on swing dance in the 90s, after seeing a Gap TV Commercial featuring Louis Prima’s Jump and Jive. When I started lessons, I found a community of dancers of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Lessons from lindy hop are many. It’s okay to be silly on the dance floor. It’s not a mistake, they say. It’s a variation.

And it’s okay to say no to a dance invitation. Dance communities are heavy on consent. We learn to respect each other’s no.


But if the answer is a hell-yes, magic can happen. On the dance floor, we are all equals – sharing a three-minute “love affair,” – as Frankie used to call it. When the perfect swing out happens – endorphins rush, resulting in a feeling called being swung over. There’s no better feeling.

During the pandemic, many dancers suffered as venues stopped operations for public safety. Recently, I received the sad news that one of the biggest venues in San Francisco is closing down for good – leaving many without a dance home.

I try and take the consolation that dance magic can happen anywhere. It can be in your kitchen, the park, or a club with a live band – as long as you got the jazz.

And Lindy Hop is still relevant today. It’s truly American – rooted in Black history – and deserves to be celebrated as it builds stronger community. Dance like everyone’s watching. And hope that they join in.

A-one and a-two and you know what to do.

With a Perspective, I’m Aurelia Santos.

Aurelia Santos is a photographer and storyteller. She organizes dance events and lives in Oakland.