Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lineage - the Inspiration of Freda Wyckoff

My last post a few months ago was a meditation on the lineage of the Lindy Hop. There I mentioned Freda Angela Wyckoff having celebrated her 90th birthday. Earlier this week I received the news via Facebook that she was in intensive care. This morning I received the news that she passed away from heart failure last night.

Morgan Day dubbed her the Queen of the Rock & Roll Lindy era. I think to many of us (including Morgan) she was much more than that.

Here are a couple of her memorable videos from YouTube, dancing with George Christopherson:

I'm sad to say that none of the photos on my classic MySpace profile with me and Freda survived the transfer to new MySpace. There weren't many, but I remember a picture with Freda, Lila Desatoff and me, in which the ladies wore t-shirts with bikinis printed on them. Perhaps someone has a copy somewhere. There are plenty of photos of Freda surfacing on her Facebook profile at the moment. She clearly meant a lot to us.

Do I even remember the time she went from being the lady who danced in those clips to being a person whom I knew and loved? Faintly perhaps. I'm not sure if it was my first or second time at Bobby McGee's. At that point I was still taking in those first whiffs of family, like being part of a thing that was more than a hobby. Freda wasn't alone in that sense, but she was a major part of that.

The thing I remember is that she loved us kids. She welcomed us with open arms, without reservation. I mainly remember lots of hugs. There was a lot of love in that woman. That's what I remember more than the dancing.

Here's the tribute that my friends at the Swing Pit made for her 90th birthday just a short while ago.


Watching this clip now I think it was Dave Frutos who put the word "Lineage" into my mind via this exact clip. It's a sadness for me that I wasn't there. I miss you all, my friends.

Here's a comment I wrote just minutes ago to a photo of Kim Clever and Freda from that same party: 

Hugs, Kim 
I miss Freda too. I had been thinking about her since I moved so far away. And I think that more than her dancing were the open arms with which she greeted us youngsters. 
And I hope you won't mind if I say I feel you embody that really well. So in some way, Freda lives on.

In memory of Freda I suggest that you find a way to hug someone at a dance this week. Just let them know they are welcome. Show someone some love.

1 comment:

  1. A little more of Freda's story, from her profile on Sonny Watson's