Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop, member of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and the Harlem Congeroo Dancers, Tony Award Winner for Black and Blue (at the age of 75!), and beloved mentor to hundreds of dancers throughout his instruction in the latter part of the 20th century and early Aughts, is also one of the notable godfathers of the Savoy Shim Sham (also known as the Shim Sham Shimmy).
The Savoy Shim Sham itself is based in the tap version of the dance created by Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant, originally called the “Goofus”, in the late 1920s. According to Frankie’s biography, “At the Savoy Ballroom, some Lindy Hoppers did the Shim Sham as a group line dance, without the taps. A bunch of dancers would just jump up and start doing the Shim Sham on the side of the ballroom, over in the corner”. In the mid-80’s, Frankie introduced the line dance to the New York Swing dancers, building it out to the full 32-bar chorus we dance today.
The Savoy Shim Sham is just one of several Swing dancers around the world perform: Al Minns’ and Leon James’ version; Dean Collin’s Shim Sham (he had two variations, elements of the earlier incarnation can be seen here, and the wider performed version here); and of course, the original tap version.
In 2012, George Gee (an East Coast bandleader) released a live version of the Shim Sham, called by Frankie, available for free! You can download this version here (click the little download icon beneath the waveform). This is the song that will be played throughout the summer of 2019 for the Syndicate Shim Sham, where we can experience of the great Frankie Manning calling it for us!
If you’re interested in learning the Shim Sham, the Syndicate will occasionally offer group lessons (usually in August and December). Keep an eye on the newsletter and/or blog and/or Facebook for announcements. You also can contact the Syndicate using the form below the video to let us know your interest!
And now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s Frankie calling the Shim Sham in 1988!
About the Cover Image
Frankie Manning Calling the Shim Sham at this 85th Birthday Celebration at Roseland Ballroom in 1999 – Recorded in Swingin’ Away. With Chazz (Frankie’s son, to Frankie’s right) and Charlie (to Frankie’s left). From, Frankie’s 85th in NYC.