Frankie Manning’s Comeback of a Lifetime

By  | 


Frankie Manning is the undisputed ambassador of a dance genre called THE LINDY HOP.  While you may not know exactly who he is, you’ve undoubtedly observed the influence of his life work.  Frankie Manning has been called, the Ambassador of Lindy Hop, The King of Swing… Many say that the man’s legacy began when he pulled the first dance -floor (partnered) aerial during a contest at the Savoy Ballroom in 1935 with his partner, Freda Washington.  Those flips stunned their audience and quickly became the new trend in the Swing Dance world.   Frankie’s young Lindy Hop group performed all over the globe and were featured in movies.  Frankie retired his dancing shoes 1955 when he went to work for the Post office.  He remained there until 1987. He could have never imagined what would happen next…


The second leg of Frankie’s career (and possibly the most- influential) would not even begin until he was 75 years old.  It all began when Pasadena Ballroom owner, Erin Stevens, discovered Frankie.  She and her sister, Tammi flew to New York when Frankie agreed to meet with them and they convinced him to teach them everything he knew.  That experience marked the beginning of the 1990’s mass revival of swing dancing.  Before long, classes were held at the Pasadena Ballroom and (eventually)  throughout the world. Frankie soon became a living legend and his career was in high demand.  For the remainder of his life, Frankie travelled the world, taught thousands of dancers, and appeared in numerous documentaries and talks.

To this day, Frankie’s dance style is studied by Lindy enthusiasts throughout the world.  When the Swedish Lindy Hop performance group “The Rhythm Hot Shots” caught hold of the old Hellzapoppin’ footage in 1994, they recreated the routine to perfection.  Here’s a clip of the group honoring Frankie in 1994 on his 80th birthday:

 Frankie cherished those last years of his life as he witnessed a stunning revival of his dance.  He taught for nearly the rest of his life and seemed to relish in every moment of it.  Here’s a tribute to Frankie Manning: