Dragons’ Den Success Launches Swing Dance Balls Across UK to Celebrate Lindy Hop Legend
November is First Annual UK Frankie Manning Month
Keds shoes sponsors UK’s biggest series of swing dance events
Thousands of dancers – from professionals to absolute beginners – will swing out at big Keds sponsored Swing Dance Balls across the UK from late October to the end of November. The balls celebrate the first tour of the UK from lindy hop legend, Frankie Manning. “Swing”, “jitterbug” and “lindy hop” are all synonyms for the street dance style popularised by Manning and other dancers at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom in New York City from the late 1920s to late 1940s. Fusing style, energy and fun, the dance was the precursor to jive, rock-and-roll and hip hop. It influences most popular contemporary dance styles.
November has been designated UK Frankie Manning Month by Swing Patrol – the swing dance school BBC Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden invested in – in honour of the Harlem lindy hopper who was the world’s leading authority on swing dancing. The timing matches Frankie Manning’s first tour of the UK which included an appearance at the Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. During his career Frankie Manning performed steadily with jazz greats including Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, as well as performing in numerous Hollywood films.
The Swing Dance Balls for UK Frankie Manning Month will be the biggest series of swing dance events in the UK. They are organised by Swing Patrol in collaboration with local swing dance scenes around the nation and kick off in Birmingham (25th October), before moving onto Manchester (1st November), Bristol (14th November), London (15th November) and Edinburgh (28th November).
Each Swing Dance Ball is hosted by successful Dragons’ Den entrepreneur and Swing Patrol’s founder, Scott Cupit, who will lead lessons for hundreds of absolute beginners so everyone attending can get into the swing of the evening, even if they’ve never danced a step in their lives. Then Swing Patrol’s professional performers will bust out some of Frankie Manning’s signature moves – including his favourite acrobatic lifts, jumps and flips – to delight the guests. Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists, The London Gay Big Band, are just one of the bands that the crowds can swing out to as their night progresses with stylish, energetic fun including games and dance competitions – with Keds footwear as prizes.
During UK Frankie Manning Month, Swing Patrol’s regular classes will focus on teaching Manning’s moves. Scott Cupit will also be giving talks about Frankie Manning, swing music and dancing to jazz music – a pleasure that can elude many jazz fans.
Deborah Meaden, Dragons’ Den panellist and investor in Swing Patrol said, “Prior to launching UK Frankie Manning Month, Scott showed me how successful his big swing dancing events are. Swing Patrol’s event hosts are charismatic; the teachers run lessons which hundreds of people participate in at once; the performances by Swing Patrol’s dancers are exhilarating; the bands are on fire – and everyone dances, even if they’ve just learned the steps. I have brought friends and family of all ages to these events and, like me, they all get caught up with the atmosphere extremely quickly. The Swing Dance Balls during Frankie Manning Month are going to swing the UK out.”
Scott Cupit, Managing Director of Swing Patrol UK said, “From ballroom to break dancing, Frankie Manning’s moves have had a massive impact on dance culture. He so impressed Queen Elizabeth in 1937 it’s reported that he was the only performer after the Royal Command Performance to whom she offered a handshake. The Keds sponsored Swing Dance Balls are an amazing vehicle to share Frankie Manning’s dance mastery and swing music with people that have never set foot on a dance floor. To anyone even curious about swing I say strictly, ‘Come dancing!’”
Noah Bernard, Brand Director of Keds, said, “The awareness of the mix of classic and contemporary style of swing dancing has rocketed since Swing Patrol’s success on Dragons’ Den. It’s important that Keds recognises its place within swing culture as lindy hoppers’ shoe of choice by contributing to the community’s success. Swing is about head-to-toe style, authenticity, enthusiasm and a sense of fun – which are core values of the Keds fashion brand. Teaming Swing Patrol’s Keds wearing dancers with other dancers around the UK at the Swing Patrol Balls will spread the joy of this energetic, sociable and stylish pastime.”.”