"Shorty George" Snowden
Shorty George Snowden was the
in the Savoy Ballroom from its opening in 1927 into the early 30's,
he formed the first professional Lindy Hop troupe, the Shorty Snowden
They performed with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra at the Paradise Club
through most of the thirties.
Although he was barely five feet
made his height an asset rather than a liability. With comic genius, he
parodied himself in his signature "Shorty George" step, in which his
his knees, swinging from side to side, exaggerating his closeness to
Shorty's partner, Big Bea,
over him. They often ended their routines in a comic move in which she
carried him off the dance floor on her back. Frankie Manning says that
this move inspired him to create his first air step, in which his
started out on his back and then she flipped over his head and landed
the ground. Ironically, Shorty was defeated by Manning in a major
when Manning introducted this first air step in 1935. Manning replaced
Snowden as reigning king of the Savoy.
Manning remembers his first idol
competitor at the Savoy this way: "Shorty was a great comic dancer who
knew his art well, like Jack Benny on violin and Victor Borge on
brought comical moves to Lindy Hop and intricacies of footwork."
Snowden is often given credit
Lindy Hop its name. As the story goes, there was a charity
in New York City in 1928, shortly after Charles Lindbergh's (known as
Lindy") triumphant "hop" across the Atlantic. A reporter saw Snowden
away from his partner and improvise a few steps in a style that was
in Harlem. "What was that!?" he asked. Snowden thought for a few
and replied, "I'm doin' the Hop...the Lindy Hop". The name stuck.
In recent years some writers
challenged the authenticity of the popular story about Short George
the Lindy Hop. When asked about this, Frankie Manning has said, "All I
can say is that I heard the story from Shorty George himself. The other
fellas from that time were standing around listening and they didn't
'Aw, come on Shorty, quit the BS' --- which they would have said if it
Written by Judy Pritchett with Frank
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