Thoughts on swing dancing and Lindy Hop, one word at a time…

Mister John Clancy

At the end of August at ILHC Lennart Westerlund gave a LED Talk about the involvement of Sweden (in turn himself) of the swing dance revival back in the 80s and 90s. During the talk Lennart showed a clip of one of the first instructors they invited to Herrang, John Clancy.

The detail that caught my eye during the clip was during this video clip of him dancing he did the same Lindy Circle that I learned from Mike Faltesek awhile back, that in my eyes is rarely lead on the social floor these days. Due to time limitations Lennart only got to briefly mention John and didn’t get into much detail. My curiosity got the best of me and I shot him an email asking about John Clancy, this is the response I received.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of information concerning John Clancy but please find the below small infos:

At the time when we got in touch with him he lived in Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan in New York. He was around 70-75 at the time (1982) and was married to Kicki (she also visited Herräng in 1982). He had been a dance teacher somewhere in New York in the 40s, 50s and 60s. During the World War II he spent time with the U.S. Military Air Force (did he say that he was a pilot?) and in the 60s and 70s he was a salesman of light bulbs. I guess that he had retired at the time when he was invited to Sweden. His dance style had a white and kind of ballroomish flavour. Everything he tought us was in strict patterns (short choreographys) – it wasn’t much about lead/follow. I can’t remember what kind of music he used – I even believe that most of the classes were more or less without music. Many of the things he showed had defined names. I don’t think that anything that we spent time with had a connection to how to improvise – it was very strict structures all the time. I remember that someone asked him something about the Savoy and he told that he had never been there. He also pronounced it strange – SA-VOY instead of SA-VOY. He is the only one I’ve heard pronounce it that way. Later on, when we read Jazzdance by Marshall Stearns, Stearns indicated that such pronunciation of Savoy was typical for white downtown people with not too much of an experience of the lindy hop …
Well, what do I know. However, John (and Kicki) became very appreciated during their visit to Herräng but unfortunately (I don’t remember the exact reason) we never had the opportunity to invite them to come back. I did call John a couple of times when I was visiting New York in the 80s and we met and had lunch together. Gradually we lost contact and I assume that they both have passed away by now.

Best regards
Lennart W.

Unfortunately my attempts to find more information about John and his wife Kicki online were met with no results found. However I hope you all enjoy the information Lennart was kind enough to provide.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s