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  • Hannah Anderson

Ways to dig deep into Lindy Hop and Jazz History

Willa Mae Ricker and Leon James demonstrating Lindy Hop moves for Life Magazine in 1943
Willa Mae Ricker and Leon James Life Magazine 1943

We recently had Shelby Johnson give an excellent and inspiring talk on Jazz and Lindy Hop history (we can't wait to have him back!). Some of the resources below come from Shelby's talk. Connecting with the African American origins of Swing enables us to understand how it was and still can be, a force for positive social change- it's about more than us turning up to learn a nice hobby, it's a way to challenge our own perspectives, racism and inequalities in our society. Want to swing out with more power? Get your head around these boss ways to engage with Jazz history:


  • 1619- a storytelling podcast exploring how slavery shaped America. Episode 3 'The Birth of American Music' might be of particular interest. (Thanks Tim Lane for this tip)

  • BBC Sounds- as well as a number of radio shows dedicated to Jazz, the BBC air well produced specials and series about the history of Jazz and key musicians of the Swing Era. Programmes dont tend to be available for long, Here's what's currently available

  • Crossroads, from Radiolab podcast. The mysterious legend of how 1920s Blues musician, Robert Johnson got so good at playing guitar goes like this: 'he went out to the crossroads just before midnight, and when the devil offered to tune his guitar in exchange for his soul, he took the deal.'


  • Swungover- written by Bobbi White, this blog has some brilliant posts about key dancers, moments and events in Swing history. Well researched and always an entertaining read.

  • Obsidian Tea- written by Grey Armstrong, this blog an excellent way of connecting with different aspects of Black culture and history. Written from the perspective of an African American who is also a dancer, the variety as well as the depths of posts available make for both an entertaining and important read.


The Mersey Swing Library

We've got a few books available for members to borrow, as some of the books listed above can be hard to come by and expensive. If you'd like to offer something to the Mersey Swing Library, or would like to borrow- contact us:

Do let us know if there's something we've missed- we'd love to expand this to a section on the website and would welcome more recommendations!


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