Feb 18

Who is Frankie Manning? Norma Miller? Dawn Hampton?

Category: faq

Attending a Boston Swing Central dance you might often hear us champion Frankie Manning or invoke his name in some context. You might also here the names of Norma Miller and Dawn Hampton. These three are all dancers from the original swing era. And in the case of Norma & Frankie, they are both original Lindy Hoppers from the 1930s Harlem Ballrooms.

Frankie Manning was was a dancer, choreographer, performer and innovator of the Lindy Hop. He was a member of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers a perfomance troupe which appeared in several movies and in Life Magazine. After his storied career as a professional swing dancer, Frankie disappeared from the public eye and went to work at the Post Office where he worked for years. Very few if any of his co-workers knew he was a dancer, let alone an amazing one who had invented airsteps (or aerials).

In 1986, Steven Mitchell & Erin Stevens found Frankie, brought him out of retirement to teach them the Lindy Hop. Since his discovery, Frankie spent the remainder of his life teaching, performing and promoting the Lindy Hop becoming the dance’s Grand Ambassador, and it’s spiritual leader. Frankie died in 2009 right before his 95th birthday. Many of us learned from him or were inspired by his talks. We keep his memory alive by spreading the joy of swing dancing and in particular the Lindy Hop, the Shim Sham and his favorite music, Count Basie’s “Shiny Stockings”.

If Frankie was the King, Norma Miller is the definitely the Queen. She too was one of the Founding Lindy Hoppers who has spent a great deal of her time inspiring, teaching our current generation of swing dancers.

Dawn Hampton is a little younger and was from the next generation of swing dancers. She was also a jazz musician and a cousin of famous xylophone player, Lionel Hampton. She often appeared at dance camps where she performed and spoke eloquently about the love of the dance.  If you have some time, find her on YouTube and listen to her words or watch her dance, she will lift you up with her presence, truly an inspiration to us all!

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