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Monday, April 27, 2009

In Memory of Frankie Manning

This is one of the seldom times were I write about something that isn't related to the game of poker at all. Some of you may know that I have another passion: dancing ... in particular the Lindy Hop (a swing dance from the 30's and 40's).

Today is a sad day because the idol of all swing dancers around the world Frank Manning died this morning at the age of almost 95.

For those who don't have an idea how Frankie danced ... just look here:

He's the guy from the last couple (at 1:22 min) ... scene from "Hellzapoppin"

It was in 1992 at the famous dancecamp in Herraeng (Sweden) were I met Frankie for the first time. Beside the wonderful music he was for sure the main reason that I fell in love with the Lindy Hop. I had never before met a guy who still was sooo young at the age of 78. One of the happiest people I ever met. It seemed that he enjoyed and loved every minute of his life. From there I had the pleasure to meet him and learn from him several times over the next years.

We all knew that this day would come someday but it's still so unbelievable that he won't be around anymore. I will miss his happy smile when he danced and his laughter when he told us stories from his early years. I think I must have heard some of those for at least ten times ... but I enjoyed them every time again.

I was in Herraeng again the year before he got his artifical hip. He hardly could walk ... but he still could dance almost like before. And then he came back the very next year ... one year older but looking at least 2 years younger ... still dancing, dancing, dancing!

It was that time when it felt like he would never leave us. He got 85, 90 and he still danced and teached everywere around the world. It was in 2006 when I met him for the last time. It was so great to have him back at the Boogie-Baeren Whitsun Camp in Germany after so many years. So great to see that already the next generation (many people who never met him before) felt the same fascination that I had felt when I met him for the first time. When we said goodbye in that year I didn't know that it was the last time that I would ever meet him.

This is how he danced in 2006 at the age of 92

I believe that leaving this place isn't the end of it. And I am sure that his special spirit will leave a mark at his next destination too. And for us he left a big legacy. He never wanted to be famous. All he wanted to do was dancing. But his love for the dance "infected" more then one generation of swing dancers. Frankie has left the dancefloor forever but the dance will stay. Isn't that one of the greatest things somebody can leave behind when he finally he has to go?

And from now one every swing dance danced anywere in the world is a memory of the great and wonderful Frankie Manning!


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