Skip to main content

Z is for Zoot-Suit

Waaaaay before I was born there used to be this slight, little noticed dance craze called Swing.

It wasn't much... just a few kids here and there who discovered this crazy way to dance that made the heart beat as if it was flying out of ones body.

Fast-forward to my generation.... and the swing revival of the late 1990's.... and what you would find was a teenage girl discovering the absolute best thing there is to dancing, SWING.

That girl would be me.

I am in love with swing dancing.

Let me give you a little background: Swing music is predominantly a 1930's and 1940's style of music that surprisingly (or maybe not so) created quite a stir. The Zoot-Suit, which is typically connected with swing dance was actually outlawed after the Zoot-Suit Riots broke out in Los Angeles in 1943.

Swing dancing also caused quite a ruckus in Germany and during Hitler's reign was outlawed because of the majority of African and Jewish big band musicians. Yet, since dance is anything but resistible groups of kids aged 14-18 started dancing in secret. The Nazi's didn't like that to much and started trying to round them up. They called them the Swingjugend or Swing Kids.

Old School

But none of this happened in my generation.

My generation saw the emergence of bands such as the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

These are the bands that first introduced me to swing.

New School

All of this, however, would have been an interesting side note in the 'Life and Times of Cannwin' were it not for one man. The first man I ever met who could swing.

We've been married for 9 years now.

We love to dance together.... although we never find the time. In fact the last time we danced was  at Ralexwin's brother's wedding (above pic). We got rave reviews, several family members came up to us with comments like "I didn't know you guys could do that!"

When we were young and spry we used to go to this dance place in Washington, Utah. It was always sweltering hot in there but we would go and practice lifts or to just dance. 

At nine months pregnant with my first child, Ralexwin and I danced in our tiny little living room hoping it would induce labor.

It's been years now... and we are so out of shape I don't think we'd last five minutes, but they're such a wonderful memories to have with him.

Those times we practiced moves at the hotel I worked grave-yards for.

The times people gave us dirty looks because we monopolized the dance floor.

The night I discovered he knew how to swing.

Ralexwin would say that we never were really good, that we didn't go as often as I remember. We weren't and we probably didn't, but I connect our courtship with swing dancing and I honestly have to say:
 I ♥ Swing and I ♥ Ralexwin.

Jenny Matlock


Polly Blevins said…
I like to swing too. I am terrible but it is still fun. I have practiced a few times with York and I think at least one time with Relaxwin. I didn't know the zoot suit was outlawed.
Jennifer said…
I didn't know you guys did that! How cool! I love swing, but I've never been able to find anyone to dance with me. :)
Jackie said…
I LOVE that you and your husband dance together! How tender!
Nora Johnson said…
Super ‘Z’ post – didn't know it was outlawed either! Love that you & your husband dance together.

Have a lovely weekend,


PS Mine this week is HERE. Hope you can join me!
Pondside said…
I love your z post. I like to dance too, and The Great Dane is a really good swing dancer. Sadly, we really only dance at weddings and on New Years Eve - but it's like riding a comes back quickly!
I like to do a sort of "cowboy" swing even though I'm not very good at it. I have a friend, though, whose good enough to make anyone who dances with him look like they know what they're doing...
Cannwin said…
My husband actually knows country swing which is a far more rigid form of swing than I learned, but we manage well enough.

All this makes me want to go dancing!
I'd be sooo flipping skinny if I did that Lindy stuff! Now to find a man who's willing to throw all 200 plus pounds of me around...
signed...bkm said…
Lovely memories and I love dancing too, love the swing music - does not matter if you are good or only matters that you experienced it with happy memories....bkm
JDaniel4's Mom said…
A group of friends and I used to go swing dancing outside of Washington, DC a lot it was so much fun.

I love to put on Brian Setzer and have my two year old dance with me.
Viki said…
I love to watch people swing dance and I love old movies where they show the bands. It looks like so much fun. I was a child of the 60's so no swing dancing for me lol. Great Z post.
Sue said…
I love swing, too. It's just so much fun...and so is the music!

Great Z post.


PS. My husband bought a zoot-y-ish suit yesterday. I think they're coming back!
ChristiS said…
My niece loves to do swing and is really good at it! Its one of a list of things I'd love to learn to do!
Cari Hislop said…
Ah...that's Sooo lovely! My Goblin is hard of hearing...even if the music is really loud all he can hear is a deep base (unless he's listening with head phones). Sometimes I'll get him to dance with me in the living room, but I have to sing/make up music to dance to and we end up laughing more than dancing.

Thanks for sharing that clip...gosh, I wish I could dance like that!
Jo said…
wowzers, those are some videos ... my feet have never been that fast... i wish i head their energy!
Cheryl D. said…
I love swing dancing too! I was doing it in Los Angeles before it was even considered cool! (see my comments on Zydeco--#47 on Jenny's list). Unlike Zydeco, swing took off big time in L.A. after the movie Swinger's came out. Before that, I was able to go to the Derby, pay $5 and dance to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy playing before 50 of us! LOL! Those days didn't last long! Great post and a fun walk down memory lane for me!
Enjoyed your Z post. I wish I could dance. Even though I can't I certainly enjoy watching others.
Myya said…
HOW FUN!!! I remember doing this in school during PE, I mean it wasn't quite as elaborate but man was it fun! I don't think I'd last more then 5 minutes either. I am so out of shape!
The Muse said…
Well, happy Z day :) Let's party...and of course the party has dancing! ~ It has been 26 weeks of fun...this Z post, shows just that :)

I think it is wonderful that you and your love share a bond of dancing ...

hope you can visit my z when you have time :)
Sarah said…
Pull out the music and start dancing! How great that you and your husband enjoy dancing. I could count on one hand the number of times I've danced with my husband. :-)
Jenny said…
What a fun stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter "Z".

We had an 80th Birthday party for my Dad in January and had a 50's band play. I brought in some dance instructors to teach everyone to do swing dancing and I loved it!

Now to talk my husband into going to lessons might be a challenge.

But I would do it in a heartbeat.

I'm glad your fella is more cooperative.

Thank you for this great link!

linda said…
The only way to fly.

Popular posts from this blog

Altered Shoe Art: Ring Holder Shoe Tutorial

This was my week two craft for So You Think You're Crafty. I placed third that week for this one. I thought you might enjoy finding out how I made it.

I tried about a million different decorations before settling on one that didn't drown out my rings. I wanted them to the focal point. This is also why I went with black fabric and not something more vivid.

Don't be intimidated by the lack of 101 I'm giving you. It really is a straight forward sort of project. If you know how to use a glue gun without burning yourself you can do this. Just be sure to dust off your imaginative brain space first. :)

The one important thing you might be wondering is how I got the pink fabric to stick to the shoe. I really just Mod Podged it on.

There are several different ways to make ring tubes that you can find online. One I saw used that colored foam paper stuff that you find in the kids craft section. I thought that might have been easier, but I had scraps of batting lying around so I …

How-To Pretend You Work For Anthropologie

The problem with Anthropologie is that they cost way too much money. WAY TOO MUCH! I mean, come on--these book boxes:

Cost $68-$188!

Do you have that kind of money?

I don't, but you know what I do have? I have a library with a cart full of free books that no one really cares about! So guess what I did... I made my own (and then I gave them away because I really don't have anywhere to put them).

Here's how.

What do you think?

Mutterings of a Middle-Aged Dreamer

Use your words, my dear sweet soul, they are inside of you... So find them. Write, you silly girl, write so hard the world will never forget you.
But does it matter if the world remembers you? 
Age begins to press its hands upon your chest and the need to be remembered seems to increase with the pressure. 
That's not a line of thought you're interested in pursuing. 
Live in the now.
Does it matter if the world remembers you if your neighbor is going hungry? 
Perhaps age is merely pushing you out the door. 
Go. Live in the now.