Tops and Wilda in "Love in Syncopation"


Back in 2005 I had a "History of Jazz" internship at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. It sounds glam but the reality was combing through 1970's back issues of "Downbeat" magazine for hours on end. One of the big perks were the archives on the first floor. It was open to the public but it was really convenient for me to go almost every lunch hour and watch clips from the Ernie Smith collection. This was by far one of the best finds. The original soundie is more like a short film, clocking in at about 27 min so I made this edit to showcase all the dancing by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers Tops and Wilda, and kept the opening credits (where they misspell her name). It's the earliest known clip of the Tranky Doo and their fast partnered dancing at the end is pretty breathtaking. 15 years ago I had an official copy made on VHS, and just last week this blog inspired me to finally make it digital.

You could already find this on YouTube but in separate scenes and sometimes weird quality. I hope you guys like it! -N


2 fun facts:

  • Tops and Wilda were supposed to be the 3rd couple in Hellzapoppin. but after missing a rehearsal Frankie replaced them with Al Minns and Willamae Ricker. Tops and Frankie almost got in a fist fight over it (check out Frankie's biography "Ambassador of Lindy Hop" page 174)

  • The bandleader in the film Henri Woode co-wrote the jazz standard "Rosetta" with Earl Hines

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