90-year-old dance legend shows off her Lindy Hop skil’ls – and boy has she still got it!
Americans (as well as the British) have picked up Swing dancing in particular in recent decades, starting with the re-forming of dance groups in the 1980s. But by showing Gen X what they were missing out on in the following decade – in everything from Gap commercials to the neo-swing sounds of bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Squirrel Nut Zippers – they created a new generation of dancers and dance fans. With apologies to anyone under 40, those of us in the 40-55 age range only have to think back to the MTV days when “Zoot Suit Riot” was on heavy rotation or Brian Setzer Orchestra’s cover of “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” sounded perfectly natural on a mixed tape with Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me.”
We might not have known precisely what was going on, but we were into it because it looked and sounded like so much fun. Then came the 1999 Broadway show Swing! and everyone was enamored with dance again. Now, dancing competitions have come back on the air and these nearly century-old dances are back in the public eye for those under 40 as well. Jean Veloz’s heydays were in the 1940s, when she went by her maiden name Jean Phelps. She starred in Hollywood dance classics such as Jive Junction (1943) and The Horns Blow at Midnight (1945).
Her late husband had a dance show in the 1950s – on which she would often appear – called “The Frank Veloz” show. It ran for 5 years and taught viewers the basic steps of swing dance and the Lindy Hop, as well as tango, waltz, rhumba, and samba. More recently, Jean came out of retirement during the 90s swing revival to help spread her skill and love of dance – and she hasn’t stopped yet! 2014 was a particularly big year for the Lindy Hop queen as she was invited to demonstrate her skills around the world. In fact, one video of her – posted by the Arizona Lindy Hop Society – that year has been viewed nearly 5 million times!
At 90 years old, she and her dance partner – the dance instructor Steve Conrad of the Arizona Lindy Hop Society – lit up the floor at the FatCat Ballroom in Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s worth noting that her moves easily rival those of her decades-younger partner! At 90 years old, she and her dance partner – the dance instructor Steve Conrad of the Arizona Lindy Hop Society – lit up the floor at the FatCat Ballroom in Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s worth noting that her moves easily rival those of her decades-younger partner! Heck, if dancing is what’s kept her so healthy and spry, we’d be happy to give it a try! As far as we know, Jean’s still at it, appearing on multiple shows and doing teaching and demonstrations well into 2017.
And this year she did an interview on her husband’s career at the Rock That Swing Festival 2020!