Frankie Manning – The Man Who Gave


Have you ever given a present to a
child and seen their face light up, have you helped someone overcome
a problem and seen joy in their eyes? Whatever you do, be it sailing,
skydiving, ski-ing, anything you love, anything you’re good at then
it’s wonderful to be able to give something back. There’s a great joy
in that.

Frankie was a dancer, maybe the
greatest Lindy Hop dancer of all time, but that’s a matter of opinion
and it’s not the most important thing. That Frankie was a contender
for the title greatest swing dancer of all time is a statement few
dancers would argue with, if any. I say ‘if any’ because it
underlines how Frankie brought people together. Frankie put back more
than most people can dream of giving. I hope and believe that he felt
that joy of giving every time he looked around himself at all the
people he helped, all the people he inspired. And he must have,
because the thing I remember most about Frankie is his laugh, his so
deep, so rich, so infectious, so joyous laugh.

I’m feeling very sad this morning,
having just learned that Frankie has passed away a few weeks shy of
his ninety fifth birthday. I honestly thought he’d be with us for
years yet, he seemed so fit. So much we take for granted. I know we
should celebrate his life and what a life. Frankie didn’t just teach
dance, oh no. Frankie has left us his words on video and on paper and
his comments about how life was for him about racism and how he dealt
with it are as inspirational as the joy he gave us on the dance floor
and through his lessons. That he toured with the great Billie Holiday
and lived to see Barack Obama inaugurated as President of the United
States are just two of the many things that remind us of the
incredible changes the world has been through in Frankie’s ninety
plus years.

I feel very privileged to have had
about a dozen lessons with Frankie at various dance camps, to have
listened to his talks, I won’t say lectures because they were too
entertaining for that particular epithet and of course to have met
him. Thousands upon thousands of dancers have shared these
experiences, because that’s what Frankie did, he gave and he gave and
he gave. When the grief and sadness passes, that joy will return
because Frankie, more than anyone, helped to create the wonderful
society of swing dance. We will continue to dance and laugh together,
because that’s Frankie’s legacy to us. The Lindy Hop community is a
greater memorial than any plaque or statue because it’s what Frankie
created, it’s what he gave to us.

Frankie Manning 1914-2009 The Man Who


About sailorsnook

I live on a boat and travel most of the time. I used to be a skydiving instructor, car and motorcycle racer. I ran my own advertising agency for many years. I'm interested in ski-ing and snowboarding, writing, music and dancing, particularly swing dancing. I have plans for a world peace campaign.
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