Swing and Racism

Unfortunately, racism and segregation were also present. Due to the racism found in many states, clubs throughout the country were often segregated. Just a few bands were racially mixed, of which Benny Goodman's was possibly the first.

Hollywood films handled the race issue by including the African-American swing jazz band performances in films in such a way that these sections could be easily removed from the movie reels that were to be distributed to Southern states without disturbing the storyline. In these movies, scenes that featured black swing dancers -- such as Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, or the Congoroos -- would be completely cut out when they were distributed for Southern audiences. This also had the advantage in that these sections could also be viewed seperatly from the movie, presenting them as short subject films.

The birthplace of the Lindy Hop, the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York, from its beginning was integrated. This may have been the actual leading cause of it getting closed shortly after the the zoot suit riots of 1943 erupted in California rather than the one that was officially given.


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