Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lindy at Mimi's in the Faubourg Marigny

It was 10 o'clock Monday night when I arrived at Mimi's, a funky, little club and tapas restaurant in the bohemian neighborhood behind the French Quarter known as Marigny.

A fellow in my lindy-hop dance class had given me instructions to walk through the bar to find my way up the back stairs to a second-floor room.

The lights were dim and I had the distinct feeling I was walking into a speakeasy. A few people began to gather and settle in before the free dance lesson.

I ordered a beer and waited to see what might happen. A range of people trickled in and by 10 o'clock the room was full. A trim young man stepped to the center of the room, beckoning us to form a circle. He demonstrated a couple of easy dance steps along with his partner, a striking French woman who wore vintage heels with ankle straps, a straight black skirt and a 1920s bob haircut.

Rotating from one partner to the next, we practiced using those simple moves to create a sultry little partner dance, adaptable to any situation. 

At the end of the lesson, two of the dancers picked up their instruments and sat down behind a velvet cord to help form a Traditional Jazz band. And that's when the real dancers hit the floor - leepin' lizards! Lindy hop has become the latest rage in New Orleans. Our dance instructors from earlier that night, Chance and Giselle, almost cleared the floor with lightning fast-paced spins, twists, kicks and stomps.

Chance says New Orleans is uniquely poised to welcome this dance trend since it is the only U.S. city with live bands playing traditional jazz music every night of the week - The Jazz Vipers, The Loose Marbles, Palmetto Bug Stompers and the Sazerac Sunrise Band, to name a few.

I've been reading a book about American jazz dance, which states no one over 30 should even attempt the Lindy - the eight-count dance named for Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh who "hopped" across the ocean in his single-seat, single-engine monoplane in 1927.


  1. Hi Mary Grace,

    I was in New Orleans last year and ran across some kids dancing -what I think was- lindy hop in a bar. It was just amazing! Now, I'm headed back next weekend and wanted to try to see some more. Any suggestions on where to go? The web seems to have lots on lindy-hop classes, but not a list of venues to try to catch some. Your speak-easy type experience sounds phenominal. Thanks! Brook (

  2. I should have answered this post publicly since it is getting a lot of hits. The best place to look for a list of current lindy-hop events is on nolajitterbugs web site. Short of that, go to Frenchman's Street almost any night of the week. There's bound to be a traditional jazz band at the Spotted Cat, d.b.a. or La Maison - usually the early set. Chickie Wah Wah on Canal is another possibility. WWOZ-FM's livewire is an important resource as is Gambit Weekly, our local alternative newspaper, although you might have to be familiar with the names of the bands. Cottonmouth Kings and Tuba Skinny are other great bands you can hear on Youtube.