There was a time in the late ’90s when every third bar had a swing jazz night, septuagenarians’ wardrobes were being raided by their treasure-hunting grandchildren, and bands with names like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Squirrel Nut Zippers were getting airplay on actual Top 40 stations. That time has passed, but the swing dancing craze that fueled it did not disappear. Though it may have been pushed from the mainstream, it’s stayed strong, and is more popular than ever with its less numerous, but more loyal, adherents.
Alive And Kicking is studio exec-turned-filmmaker Susan Glatzer’s loving study of that world. Following a group of people who have made the Lindy Hop and the community built around it integral parts of their lives, it explores swing dancing’s jazz-fueled origins in black jazz clubs of Depression-era America and how it spread across cultures and continents. It also features a lot of really eye-popping dancing.
The feature-length documentary was picked up by Blumhouse Productions, which is usually known for its horror movies (such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, and Sinister), but has recently been experimenting with non-fiction films, like HBO’s The Jinx.