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"UK Jazz" Dance in the 80's


I just saw this brief documentary posted by a dance friend on Facebook (thanks to Dom Eagleton for the find!) and it was super interesting. It is about this amazing scene of dancers and musicians in London in the 80's who found their way to some amazing fast and furious hard bop jazz music and brought their own special influences and exuberance to the dancing they did to this music. It's a beautiful document of a real live scene, full of excitement and innovation.


I first brushed up against this dance while teaching with Naomi in Tokyo oddly enough. Turns our this London scene had some Tokyo dance connections that brought the same dancing to Tokyo where it still exists today. We were brought to a club in the basement in the middle of the city where great dancers threw down a mix of house and jazz, with obvious inspiration from the Nicholas Brothers and more, all to some amazing post swing-era jazz, while old dance clips including Hellzapoppin and featuring the likes of Al & Leon were projected on the wall. It was amazing and I always wanted to know more about this scene. This documentary is a treat (AND it's narrated by a young Hugh Laurie for the record).


I also stumbled upon a Yehoodi post from 2019 that I don't know how I missed that has some great info and resources about this scene. Of particular interest is the YouTube playlist that Rik put together with some great examples of this dancing.





I don't know how much that scene interacted with the Lindy Hop scene that grew up in London soon after this, but these videos offer an amazing snapshot of a fresh response to this amazing old music.


-P


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Ryan Schlangen
Ryan Schlangen
May 06, 2022

It is truly amazing how dance styles emerge from all music. I love the dance video you showcased at the end of the post, very playful and cool.

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