Back in the Day

Update: I some how forgot to list my favorite performance from this era, Naomi Uyama & Matt Smiley’s Frenesi performance at ALHC 2001. I inserted it down yonder. Or check out the separate post I wrote about it back when I started this blog.

Over at Bug’s Question of the Day, someone asked for people’s favorite competition videos from 2000-2004. No one answered seriously, so I whipped out a post I wrote on Yehoodi a few years ago when they asked for the top American Lindy Hop Championship moments through 2006. I was just going to cut out the excess years and post that to Bug’s question, but then in a fit of late night random productiveness, I added a whole bunch of stuff I could remember.

I always wanted to turn the original post into a blog, and since I did all the legwork last night, I just made some adjustments and voila!  I’m probably missing a bunch, but this is a pretty long list anyway. This isn’t a definitive list, just a list of stuff that I grew up watching over and over while I tried to figure out how to dance.

The parameters are pretty straight forward. The list is limited to competition videos from 2000-2004, so there are no performances, jams or other informal social dancing videos. Also, the west coast will have to forgive me, but I never got around to traveling out there and never got any videos from Camp Hollywood or any other events from that time period.

To show you how much video is important in remembering things, 2003 is a black hole for me because I don’t have any footage from any event in that year. I’m just relying on memories of watching stuff online that I lost or other people’s videos. 2000 is slim because I didn’t start traveling until 2001 which is why there’s a ton of stuff from that year.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a little guide to the events listed:

ALHC=American Lindy Hop Championships. A Lindy competition weekend that used to be held in Conneticut just outside of New York City from 1998-2010

NADC=North Atlantic Dance Championships. A crossover event that included Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, Hand Dance, and Carolina Shag. Lasted from 1999-2004.

ULHS=Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. A Lindy competition started in 2002 in Minneapolis, MN. It moved to New Orleans, LA in 2009 and is part of The New Orleans Swing Dance Festival.

HJDF= Harlem Jazz Dance Festival. Vernacular Jazz Dance event that included tap, hip hop, and Lindy Hop. The prelims where literally held on the streets of Harlem. The event was only held in 2002 & 2003.

Basie Ball-Part of the Yehoodi 6th Anniversary weekend in 2004. The Hellzapopin contest was originally part of HJDF, but this event adopted it after HJDF folded in 2003. There were no Hellzapoppin contests in the US until Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Celebration in 2009.


NADC Lindy Jack & Jill-Caitlin George & Skye Humphries: The first of many moments for the Skye highlight reel.


ALHC ClassicJustin Zillman & Jenn Salvadori: THE prototypical “groove” routine performed, ironically, by two of the genre’s most ardent  detractors.  That didn’t stop them from showing people how it was done.

ALHC JuniorBen Furnas & Lucy Dunne: Brilliant send up of the state of Lindy Hop competitions that’s still relevant.


NADC Team-Minnie’s Moochers

NADC Team-Loose Change: this was supposed to be a cabaret piece, but had to change to the team division when it got cancelled. The cool thing to watch is how they compensate for being short one person due to a last minute injury which is why Elliot Donnelly walks through at the beginning. This gets referenced at ULHS many years later.

NADC Champions Lindy-Jojo Jackson & Skye Humphries: A lot of people watched this trying to figure out WTF happened.

ALHC ClassicNaomi Uyama & Matt Smiley: My favorite performance from this era, I wrote a whole post about it. I don’t know how I forgot to list it.

ALHC BluesAndrew Twiss & Julee Mertz: Andrew and Julee exhibited the more fun and flirty side of blues that so many others turn into crass physical innuendo.

ALHC BluesPeter Vawter & Maggie Moon: Peter and Maggie actually performed a number of pretty inventive routines over the years, but I think this was their best one.  Very few performers at ALHC have been able to provide such a distinct atmosphere in the short time allotted to them.

 ALHC Blues –Amanda Gruhl & Ogden Sawyer:

ALHC Junior- Todd Yannacone & Emily Hoffberg:

ALHC JuniorsSkye Humphreys & Ramona Staffeld: Before Mad Dog ignited the fast lindy revolution, Skye and Ramona kicked down the door and dumped kerosene all over the floor.

ALHC Team-N’ Back: The loudest reception for a routine that I’ve ever heard in person.  Probably the last best public boy band performance.

ALHC Advanced J&J Final Heat 2-Carla Heiney and Skye Humphries

ALHC Advanced J&J All Skate: Skye cuts loose.

ALHC  American Showcase-Valerie Salstrom & Joel Plys


NADC Champions J&J-Virginie Jensen & Peter Strom: A very rare appearance of Virginie in a competition.

ALHC CabaretHouston Hep Cats: I think this is actually the best performed version of the “Keep Punchin'” Big Apple routine (of the modern era) that I have seen.

ALHC JuniorStephen Jean & Danielle Eley: Great, classy performance.

ALHC Strictly LindyJustin Zillman & Caitlin George: Up until that point, the prevailing view of musicality encouraged dancers to contort their bodies to mimic lyrics or notes in a song.  Here the dj lays down Count Basie’s “Topsy” which starts off very mellow for the first eight 8’s before the band screams into the “b” section, and finishing off mellow again.  Keeping with the music, Justin and Caitlin dance fairly small until the whole band kicks in, and suddenly they’re taking up three times as much room as they were before while still doing the same basic moves.  Their enthusiasm infects the competitors standing behind them as they go crazy from the burst of energy before Justin takes it back down to close their shine.

2002 ALHC Strictly Lindy Hop-Jen Ulrich & Marty Lau: I always just liked watching Marty move.

2002 ALHC Champions J&J-Nina Gilkenson & Marty Lau: He could even make falling down entertaining.

ALHC TeamZAH-ZU-ZAY: Overshadowed by Mad Dog, Seattle showed how far ahead of the curve they were by busting out old school before Mad Dog hit the floor five routines later.

ALHC Team-Mad Dog: A milestone of the modern era.

ULHS Liberation-Nina Gilkenson & Matt Smiley: The first major video to come out of ULHS and put the event on the map

ULHS Slow-Naomi Uyama & Peter Strom: I lost my footage from that round. All I can remember is I’m a little tea pot . . .



HJDF Hellzapoppin Contest-Andy Reid & Sarah Spence and Corina Acosta & Minn Vo: A dance contest to the original Hellzapoppin music in the Apollo Theater. Just epic.

ULHS Jack & Jill-Frida Segerdahl, Skye Humphries & Ben Furnas: Another lost gem. All  I do remember is watching Skye Humphries & Ben Furnas trading off Frida Segerdahl because there were too many leads in the J&J finals that year. Damn amusing stuff.


NADC Invitational Crossover J&J-Tatiana Mollman & Skye Humphries: 2nd ever crossover J&J between Lindy Hoppers and WCS Dancers.

NADC Invitational Crossover J&J-Ramona Staffeld & John Lindo: My favorite moment comes when Ramona just turns to look at the audience with such charisma that everyone, even the people behind her, react.

ULHS Libertation: Notable turning point for the event with the increased level of competition highlighted by Naomi & Todd’s Minnie Dip from Hell and Minn Vo stage diving through the all skate.

ULHS Team-120 Special: Incredibly fast topped by a sort of call back to the Loose Change performance from NADC 2001 above.

ULHS Champions J&J-Everyone: Great interaction between all the competitors as you can see Lindy starting to get comfortable with the jam format.

ULHS Solo Charleston Dance Off-Frida Segerdahl & Jojo Jackson: A first in the tradition of throwing it down one on one at ULHS.

ALHC MastersCraig Hutchinson & Nici Mahlandt:  Awe-inspiring, humbling, and heart wrenching.  Not many people will realize the contributions this man has made to not just Lindy Hop, but to so many other dance communities.  Despite being physically ravaged by Lou Gehrig’s disease, Craig made the trip up to ALHC and competed if for no other reason than to remind people that some people simply have to dance.

Basie Ball Hellzapoppin Contest-The whole thing. A band made up of alumni from the Count Basie orchestras led by the legendary Frank Foster. Counted off by Chester Whitmore. And a 1100 screaming Lindy Hoppers; newbies and old timers, amateurs and legends alike.



  1. Brody said,

    October 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Great selection! This is the stuff I grew up on, and it’s great to see them remembered, especially Justin Zillman, who was a trend-setter, but seems to have been mostly forgotten.
    If it were me, I might have added the disqualified Dax & Emily/Jo routine from ALHC 2001. I’ve still never seen such a cool routine, to such complex, jazzy music. When Doug Silton first heard the music, he told Dax he thought it was undanceable.
    And something with Jason Esparza from Houston. I thought he was among the best of his time, but never got the credit he deserved.

  2. Jason baggett said,

    October 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

    2003 ulhs. The Skye/frida/ben 3-way wasn’t jack and Jill. It was a partners comp. Skye and frida were gonna do it but his plane was delayed or something and so frida entered with ben instead. Then Skye showed up pretty much AS the comp was starting.
    I think frida placed twice.

  3. Tena Morales said,

    October 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Great stuff Jerry! One of my favorite clips of all time is Jen&Justin’s Classic piece.
    Of course Danielle and Stephen. I must say I am not impartial to them or the Hepcats! Prior to the Hepcats doing the Big Apple at ALHC that year, I hadn’t seen anyone else perform it or even do it socially like they do now. Maybe they were and I just hadn’t seen it. Frankie was teaching it in classes and I watched the original clip. One of my dreams when I was coaching the Hepcats was for them to perform it. Many of them had never seen the clip when I showed it to them and told them that is what they were going to compete with in Cabaret!

    • stephen said,

      October 15, 2011 at 2:39 am

      a couple things you can’t tell from the clip during the Big Apple was the crowd was totally roaring. i feel like that was around the time lindy hop audiences really started getting loud and rowdy and going ‘balls to the walls’ was starting to be ‘in.’ you can’t hear em bc whoever edited the videos that year tuned out the crowd/dubbed over with the music.

      also, like tena said, no one from that generation of dancers had seen it performed in competition setting like that. on top of that, no one was teaching the jazz line portion – no one really knew it back then, except for maybe the swedes – but they weren’t traveling, nor was there youtube available to copy them. we had to break it down from the blurry mpeg file, and as we all know the music doesn’t line up with the video in the original.

      we didn’t even place, but we all walked a little taller that weekend knowing we had totally shaken up the LH community 🙂

  4. stephen said,

    October 15, 2011 at 2:41 am

    i totally meant to reply to the disussion, not tena.

  5. rikomatic said,

    October 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

    These are amazing clips that totally took me back. So much has changed, and evolved, but a lot has remained.

    Thanks so much, Jerry.

  6. Evin said,

    October 31, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Great collection! And of course I gotta what what for the inclusion of the Andrew Twiss/Julee Mertz video 🙂

    All of these are great fun!

  7. Nici Mahlandt said,

    December 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you so much for including Craig and my (not really competition) performance from ALHC. It was very last minute as Craig was doing the scoring that weekend – as usual. I often helped him tabulate, and in those days did more judging than competing. At the last minute I said – let’s dance today. We had never danced in competition together – despite my having known him since moving to Washington in 1987. He said “nope” and with a shrug and a downcast eye added he was afraid he wouldn’t be steady enough on his feet. I just laughted and said – don’t worry, I won’t let you down. I wasn’t able to stay for the awards ceremony, but am told it was a tribute to a great man and a special member of the dance community. I DO know that when he presented me with the unexpected medal a week or so later his eyes were shining and he had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

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