Leroy “Stretch” Jones
A popular first generation Lindy Hopper, in the early years of the Savoy Ballroom (1927 to early 1930’s), Leroy “Stretch” Jones was one of Frankie Manning’s idols. Frankie thought of him as the Fred Astaire of Lindy Hop, with his grace and flashy movements. His partner Little Bea was like Ginger Rogers. Stetch was 6 feet tall and Little Bea was about 5 feet; they formed an amusing counterpoint to contemporary Shorty Snowden, whose partner Big Bea towered one foot taller than Shorty.
“Stretch” stopped frequenting the Savoy around 1935 when he joined the Shorty Snowden Dancers in a downtown gig at the Paradise Ballroom where the Paul Whiteman Orchestra was playing for white dancers. A few years later, Jones was invited to join up with a group of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers who were performing in the Broadway show, “Hot Mikado.” Sadly, his dancing had become very stilted and joyless from performing the same old routines night after night. This was a tremendous disappointment to the other dancers who had first been inspired by “Stetch” and they resolved never to stop dancing socially, no matter how far their professional careers advanced.