Extract from the short story The Lindy Hop
from Miss Esther Scott's Fancy
The American troops who disembarked from the liner Queen Mary which had been converted to a camouflaged troopship in World War 11 brought Camel cigarettes, nylons and Hershey bars to Glasgow. They also bought the Lindy Hop. ‘It don’t mean a thing/If it ain’t got that swing,’ Ray Nance of Duke Ellington’s band crooned between blasts on his trumpet. No one can remember when this social dance, a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and theCharleston was first seen in the ballrooms of Glasgow, but it was certainly danced in the Barrowland, where there were manyromances between the GIs and citizens.
The Lindy Hop didn’t disappear when the Americans returned home, some with Glaswegian brides, others who didn’t know, or didn’t care, that they were fathers. Its movements were incorporated into other dances, and there were stalwarts who kept dancing it. Swing Dance societies were formed, and young people began to take an interest in the Lindy.
Mandy Graham was taken along to a swing society dance when she was eighteen by a friend. She loved the energetic movements to the beat of the big band sound – actually a recording of ‘I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo’ by Glenn Miller and his Band, said to be the greatest exponents ofswing music. Mandy’s obsession with the Lindy Hop wasn’t only with thedance, but also with its accessories – the shoes, the dresses. As a modernyoung woman she called the jewellery she bought ‘bling.’ It wasn’t hallmarked gold or silver, but coloured baubles of glass and plastic clustered on a necklace. As for dancing dresses, since she couldn’t find what she wanted in the stores, she went on eBay and began to bid for dresses of 1940s vintage. They were expensive, and in the beginning she was beaten by a late bid, but she became adept at the strategy of keying in a bid in theclosing seconds of the on-line auction.
She also purchased dresses from a shop in the west end ofGlasgow called Retro Grotto. The title didn’t really live up to the range of stock in the cavern of the shop which was run by a woman who modelled the garments she was selling. One day she would be wearing a long blue dress, the next a daring little number. When a customer wanted to buy she went into the curtained cubicle and removed the desired article.