A celebration of a life of dancing the Lindy Hop
Swingin' at the Savoy
The Memoir of a Jazz Dancer
Search the full text of this book
Norma Miller with Evette Jensen
Norma Miller is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships, 2003
Dancer, award-winning choreographer, show producer, stand-up comedienne, TV/film actress and author, Norma Miller shares her touching historical memoir of Harlem's legendary Savoy Ballroom and the phenomenal music and dance craze that "spread the power of Swing across the world like Wildfire."
It was a time when the music was Swing, and Harlem was king. Renowned as 'the world's most beautiful ballroom" and the largest, most elegant in Harlem, the Savoy was the only ballroom not segregated when it opened in 1926. The Savoy hosted the best bands and attracted the best dancers by offering the challenge of fierce competition. White people traveled uptown to learn exciting new dance styles. A dance contest winner by fourteen, Norma Miller became a member of Herbert White's world-famous Lindy Hoppers and a celebrated Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hop champion.
Swingin' at the Savoy chronicles a significant period in American cultural history and race relations, as it glorifies the popularized home of the Lindy Hop, and the birthplace of such memorable dance fads as the Big Apple, Shag, Truckin', Peckin', Susie Q, Charleston, Peabody, Black Bottom, Cake Walk, Boogie Woogie, Shimmy, and tap dancing.
Miller shares fascinating anecdotes about her youthful encounters with many of the greatest jazz legends in music history including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters, and even boxer Joe Louis.
"A refreshing look at the history of swing dancing is Swingin' at the Savoy.... Miller has not only created an entertaining history of swing, but more importantly, gives the reader a sense of the personalities of people and places most have only heard of. The book is unique as a humorous autobiography, full of youthful antics and charm. Delightful anecdotes and photos of big bands give us a view of swing music and its popularity in a real world aspect different than most music historians today."
Evette Jensen met Norma Miller in 1992 while working as a producer associate in Las Vegas and jumped at the chance to help, sorting through interviews, stories, pictures, and other memorabilia that became this book. Jensen lives in Las Vegas where she sells real estate and works as a freelance writer.