In the 1940s, musicians in Sophiatown (South Africa) started playing swing music in the style of the American big bands they heard on the radio. Before long, the neighbourhood became know as ‘Little Harlem’. This South African swing had a very distinctive flavour as the (often homemade) penny whistles and guitars substituted for the traditional instruments. And boy, did they swing! Here is a little taster by a group called The Manhattan Brothers.
Some of South Africa’s finest musicians, such as Miriam Makeba came out of this era and ‘Kwela’, the genre that followed it, still thrives today. However, in 1955, Sophiatown was bulldozed by the apartheid government and the bands were largely dispersed. Like the Lindy Hop in America, the South African swing era faded into memories.
Thanks to Jeannie Elliott, a dancer and teacher out of Texas who has made Cape Town her home, swing music has South African feet tapping once more and a small Lindy Hop scene is growing in the Mother City. Although the movement is slowly gaining momentum, Cape Town is a long way from the rest of the swing world and we’d love to plug into the global swing community. So, in March 2016, the Cape Town Swing team will be hosting South Africa’s first international Lindy Hop festival and inviting dancers from all over the world to come and visit our beautiful city and experience the African swing flavour. We’re working on an all-star teacher line-up (to be revealed soon), but flying them over here is not cheap and we’re looking to you to help us make this happen.
We’ve decided to crowd-fund the event by selling early-bird tickets through IndieGogo, a platform like Kickstarter. The campaign goes live on the 19th of June, and we’re depending on the international Lindy Hop community to help make this a reality! If we can sell enough tickets to reach our target, the payments will be processed and the festival will go ahead. A full ticket gets you three days of classes and workshops, live music and chandelier-swinging, dance-till-you-drop, badass parties. Once in Cape Town you’ll also get a chance to explore the city with local dancers, who are busily organising a series of tours around the famous Winelands, the Cape Peninsula, the iconic Table Mountain and the historic city landmarks.
For more information see our website.