American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination by Black Hawk Hancock

By Black Hawk Hancock

“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison greater than seventy years in the past, “the zoot swimsuit comprises profound political which means; maybe the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to nice power power.” As Ellison famous then, a lot of our such a lot mundane cultural types are greater and extra vital than they seem, taking over nice value and an unforeseen intensity of that means. What he observed within the energy of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine as soon as billed as “America’s precise nationwide people Dance”—would unfold from black the US to make an enduring influence on white the United States and supply us a very compelling technique of knowing our tradition. yet with what hidden implications?

In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock deals an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance inside of a bigger Chicago panorama of segregated social practices. Delving into Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin’, Hancock makes use of a mix of participant-observation and interviews to deliver to the outside the racial pressure that surrounds white use of black cultural varieties. concentrating on new varieties of appropriation in an period of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and gives brilliant insights into the intersection of race and tradition in the USA.

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Additional info for American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination

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This section of Uptown was once an exclusive cultural center for the elite, but is now marked primarily by prostitution, drugs, homelessness, and panhandling. The elevated-train stop had appeared threatening, with small groups of menacing-looking men loitering just outside the exit doors of the station eyeing train riders as they rolled through the turnstiles in their direction. The Green Mill Jazz Club, once a speakeasy that boasted such infamous patrons as Al Capone, and the Saxony Inn liquor store and bar were lit up in the distance and seemed to be the only other venues open for business.

16 introduction On the surface, the Lindy Hop revival is a story about a creative subculture deriving pleasure and constructing identities out of the cultural resources of everyday life (de Certeau 1984; Ross and Rose 1994; Sco 1985, 1990). We must move beyond such an uncritical celebration of American dance and self-expression to understand the consequences of this revival, both socially and symbolically, for contemporary American society. In order to do so, we must unearth the material and symbolic representations of race and racial identities performed through the Lindy Hop and what that tells us about the larger narrative of American society.

In his collection of essays Going to the Territory, Ellison makes his most clear statement about the task of confronting the issue of race. He argues that we must “cease approaching American social reality in terms of such false concepts as white and nonwhite, black culture and white culture, and think of these apparently unthinkable ma ers in the realistic manner of Western pioneers confronting the unknown prairie” (1995a, 108). Utilizing Ellison’s metaphor of rethinking American society without racial terms requires a new imagination—not a sociological imagination—but a new racial imagination.

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