It’s May 26th, 2016 and Frankie Manning has finally been honoured in a Google Doodle!
I just did some digging in my email and I was able to locate some early efforts made towards having Google recognize Frankie Manning in a Doodle. I was able to find this event from 2012 created by Alex Gaw. Over the years, other people like Lucie Q Mazzanti also did a big push to help make it happen, and David Ljung Madison in 2013/2014. Cynthia Millman in particular and the rest of the Frankie Manning Foundation board have been coordinating with Google in secret since January. Thank you to everyone who has helped to get Frankie the attention he deserves! https://www.facebook.com/events/280677998690775/281066528651922/
Here is the page from the Frankie 100 efforts: http://frankie100.com/participate/google-doodle/
I have some very personal memories of Frankie that I would like to share.
Before ever having seen him before, a few of us traveled to New York for his 85th birthday. Dan and Mark Hart were two of the people who still dance now, and Arthur who went up in a different car. For me, it was a very overwhelming experience. There were so many people there, and they were all there to celebrate the one great man who I had heard so much about but never seen. I hardly had a chance to see him at the event, but I do remember how everyone was given an individually wrapped sweet potato pie because that was Frankie’s favourite. I thought that was pretty cool.
About 6 weeks later I made my way to the Herrang Dance Camp 1999. My sister and I took the very long ‘scenic’ (lost) route to get there. When we got off the bus we were confused and exhausted and unsure what to expect. The very first people we met walking down the Herrang road were Frankie and Chazz. I recognized these big stars from my brief experience in New York and felt awe struck, but both of these gentlemen greeted as with casual warmth and friendly hellos. Their smiles were genuine and kind.
I will always love and remember how Frankie would call all the ladies “Baby” and all the guys “Jim.” If only I could get away with forgetting people’s names so smoothly.
I have many memories of hearing Frankie’s talks. Though some of the stories were often the same, it never ever mattered. What was so magical was Frankie himself. I wish I could have bottled his enthusiastic story telling to save for a rainy day. His talks made me so happy.
A couple of years ago I had dinner with Frankie and Chazz and Frankie began to tell us a story – I think that it was about playing basketball with Cab Calloway – Chazz exclaimed with surprise that he hadn’t heard that story before. I thought that it was so neat that Frankie was still remembering wonderful and amazing snippets from his many rich experiences.
Later on I had the very humbling privilege of teaching with Frankie on three different occasions. I say humbling because to stand before him, to have him take your hand and begin to lead you through even the most simple is nothing short of incredible. To swing out with him was perfection. Strength. Surety. Rhythm. Absolute clarity.
Recently I saw footage of myself teaching the first workshop with Frankie back around 2002. I felt so embarrassed to see how I danced then since I have come such a long way in my learning since that time. But I also remember how absolutely gracious Frankie was dancing with me at that first workshop, even if I wasn’t very good. I am so happy that I had the chance to teach with him one year ago as a much better dancer so that I could really appreciate all of the nuances of his skill.
What was amazing about Frankie is that off the dance floor or teaching floor I could really feel his age, but as soon as it was time for him to stand before an audience he would light up and turn on. It was like he would instantly lose 20 or more years. The most remarkable instance of this was when we had to wake up very early one morning to make a television appearance. It was so early and he was so tired. But just before we went to do the performance he went through his transformation. That short dance was absolutely amazing. I have never felt anything like that before or since. Every step, every second was absolute Lindy Hop perfection. I am obtaining that video footage this week and will try to post a clip of it soon.
These are just some of the random thoughts going through my head about Frankie this morning. I’m sure that I will have more to add to this note soon.
Frankie has passed away – it is our responsibility to continue to share what he has given us April 27, 2009 at 9:17am Frankie Manning has passed away one month short of his 95th birthday.
Frankie was a truly great man. There are not many people who that can be said about.
Everyone has a story to tell about Frankie. About how he inspired them and really touched them on an absolutely personal level. It wasn’t just that he taught us to dance. It wasn’t just that he showed us the soul of the Lindy Hop. That was important, but it was more than that. Frankie Manning inspired LIFE. His passion for dancing was… is… will always be synonymous with a passion for life.
All of the good things in life, all of the positive energy, deeds and feelings; that’s what Frankie Manning was teaching us. He was radiant with it. Frankie was a living, breathing, pulsing mass of life-inspiration. All around the world, everywhere that he went, he inspired people right down to their core.
This man has left a legacy with us and I truly believe that it is each of our responsibility to carry on the Lindy Hop gospel. Tell people about Lindy Hop. Tell them about Frankie Manning. Teach them what it means to swing. Show them, not only with steps but with that same passion and joy that he brought to us. Remember that feeling. Cherish it in your heart and spread it whenever and wherever you can.
Thank you, Frankie Manning, for everything that you have given us.