carolina shag

Interview with Alice Windley for Voices of the Jazz Era Ballroom

My grandfather, grandmother, and aunt, circa 1947

A couple of years ago I read about Voices of the Jazz Era Ballroom, a “web-based oral history project devoted to preserving and passing along the memory of dance in the Jazz Era through the lives and words of everyday people.” Anyone could contribute a video or audio recording of anyone who lived and danced in the 1920’s through the 1950’s. I knew immediately that I wanted to capture my grandmother’s stories and this project was the impetus to do it. Since I started swing dancing over 15 years ago, my grandmother, Alice Windley, would relay stories of her own dance history and I loved it, all the little tidbits of her life and how dancing was a part of it. It gave me the feeling that I had carried forward the legacy of the family jitterbug to the third generation (the second generation having adopted Carolina shag).

My grandmother grew up in eastern North Carolina, living a mostly rural life, but with the onset of World War II and her proximity to a military base, I believe she was exposed to much more music and swing dancing in her early years of social dancing than might otherwise would have occurred in this part of the country. But I’ll let her tell you all the stories, via YouTube.