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The Twenty Most Watched Lindy Hop Videos

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of YouTube and lindy hop on the platform has certainly come a long way since this.* By my estimation lindy hop videos have been watched somewhere between 70 million and 200 million times on YouTube.** I thought I’d compile a list of the most watched swing dancing videos on YouTube.

I chose the top 20 videos by views (including aggregating the views from more than one copy of the film) that feature a reasonable amount of lindy hop or authentic jazz dance content (i.e. if it’s “the swing”, it ain’t included). All these videos can be considered ‘popular’*** to some extent given their large audience.

There’ll be plenty on this list that’s familiar – and maybe some that aren’t:

1. Fast Swing Dancing – ULHS 2006 – 6.9 million views

The first video in YouTube search results for lindy hop comes from 2006 edition of the most influential lindy hop competitions in the contemporary scene. This is far from the only badass ULHS video on YouTube (ULHS also features two other videos in the top twenty) but it has been up there for 8 years and sure accumulated a lot of views over that time.

2. Denver Airport Holiday Flash Mob – 4.0 million views

This was the most viral lindy hop video of 2011. This was part of a big PR campaign by Denver Airport and the power of a marketing machine has helped push this into the number 2 spot.

3. Hooked On Swing Dancing – 2.7 million views

The music here is kind of square and the poster has basically cut together a whole series of classic B&W film clips of mostly white dancers (though it does finish with highlights from Hellzapoppin’).

4. Whiteys Lindy Hoppers .. Hellzapoppin – 2.6 million views

The greatest lindy hop routine on film performed by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and choreographed by Frankie Manning. This clip has inspired recreations and competitions and it remains the most referenced and loved clip of contemporary lindy hoppers.

5. Charleston — Original Al & Leon Style!! – 1.9 million views 

Demonstration of classic Charleston steps by Al Minns and Leon James at the Savoy Ballroom. This was filmed by Mura Dehn as part of her legendary Spirit Moves documentary. Only small excerpts of this exist online – the full documentary is almost six hours long and only viewable at a small number of institutions. This video’s popularity probably has something to do with the numerous remix videos (typically with modern electronica overdubbed) that have been made – note that I haven’t included these in the view count.

6. Swing Dancing from the Movie Twiced Blessed (1945) – 1.8 million views

This film features some of the best swing dancers from Southern California during the 40s many of whom continued to dance and teach Balboa and Lindy Hop during the revival. The dancers are Hal Takier & Alice Scott, Lenny & Kay Smith, Wally & Mousie Albright, Freda Angela Wyckoff, Bob Ashley, Chuck Saggau.

7. Lindy Hop funny instructional video : Groovie Movie (1944) – 1.6 million views

This short film shot in 1942 again features great Southern California swing dancers (including many of those in the clip in the number 6 position). It’s well known for its comical style and spoof of dance instruction techniques.

8. Lindy Hop Dance – Charleston meets Lindy Hop – 1.5 million views

From the 2007 Jump Session Show (put on as part of Camp Jitterbug, it is the best annual revue of authentic jazz dance) Annie Trudeau and Max Pitruzzella perform a fantastic routine of Charleston and Lindy Hop.

9. 1920s Charleston – 1.2 million views

The wonderful Sharon Davis compiled this video of vintage clips of people dancing Charleston. Though it’s been online since 2009 I’d guess that it’s views have shot up recently thanks to the Gatsby effect.

10. Shim Sham – 1.2 million views

Frankie Manning demonstrates the Shim Sham with Erin Stevens. This is by far the most watched Shim Sham video on YouTube, though there are many, many other videos out there.

11. Swing Dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets (1956) – 1.2 million views

Although this one is definitely getting into boogie and rock and roll there’s still enough recognisable Lindy content that makes this the only 50s film to make the top twenty.

12. Caravan Palace – Dramophone [OFFICIAL VIDEO] – 1.1 million views

I debated about including this one as it is electro-swing music. However Caravan Palace does work quite a lot with Lindy Hoppers and there’s some of the best featured in this music video. With the popularity of electro-swing in Europe it’s odd that this video doesn’t have many more views.

13. Gap Commercial – Khaki Swing – 1.0 million views

Air Steps, bullet time and neo-swing – the pinnacle of the 90s revival. Gap made a whole series of commercials featuring its khakis in the late 90s (including Soul, Go-Go, Country, Rock and Hip Hop) but this one has seen more YouTube views since its 2006 upload than the rest of them combined.

14. Slow Club – Two Cousins – 1.0 million views

Reminiscent of the Spirit Moves this 2011 music video features Ryan François and Remy Kouakou Kouame. It was one of the most popular videos for 2011 and remains in the top 20.

15. Tricks & Airsteps for Swing – Dance Clip – 800,000 views

Though this is just a promo video for an instructional DVD on aerials it features 5 minutes of various air steps. Nearly all of the videos in this list feature some sort of air time so that might be why this film has so many views.

16. ULHS 2006 Charleston Finals Dance-Off  – 800,000 views

ULHS represents again with the 2006 (the same year as the Liberation finals which hold the number 1 spot) finals of the Charleston competition.

17. ILHC 2013 – Invitational Strictly Lindy Hop Finals – 700,000 views

This film got picked up on 9GAG and has since accumulated many views. I didn’t realise this one had gone viral that way until Mikey mentioned it during the Frankie 100 livestream.

18. ILHC 2011 – Champions Strictly Lindy – Finals – Spotlights – 700,000 views

ILHC again, this time coming in with slightly fewer views in a much longer time span.

19. The Basics of Lindy Hop – 700,000 views

I’m surprised an instructional video has made it’s way into the top 20 (and one with pretty poor production values – which the maker does admit!) but here it is.

20. ULHS 2005 – awsome!!! charleston-finals – 700,000 views

Rounding out the list is yet more bad-assery from ULHS and the fourth Charleston video in the top 20. Just goes to show that the world thinks solo dancing is pretty awesome too.

* YouTube doesn’t make it terribly easy to search for old videos. This was the first one that I could find that hasn’t subsequently been deleted. Yehoodi’s 7th Anniversary Red Carpet celebrations was a close second.

** I worked this out by gathering data on youtube views of “Lindy Hop” videos of the top 10 search results and then the 20*k th search result (for k=1:25) fitting a power law function (R^2=0.99) and integrating this function between 1 and 200,000 (approximately the number of search results). The 70 million is the mean number whilst the upper bound was based on the standard errors. I figure that the loss of videos without “lindy hop” in the title or description will be made up for by the false inclusion of “the swing” videos.

*** As I noted above the distribution of views of lindy hop videos appears to follow a power law (at least for videos with more than 10,000 views) so there doesn’t appear to be be any sort of threshold, above which one can call the video popular. I also use the term popular here rather than viral, which typically denotes a rapid accumulation of views.

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