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IT DON'T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING: LAKELAND DANCES TO THE BIG BAND SOUND

Introduction


The Airport Grill on Lakeland Hills Boulevard

It was the late 1930's. Florida and the rest of the nation were still in the throes of world wide economic depression, exacerbated in Florida by the collapse of the land boom a decade earlier. People sold fruit and pencils on street corners to make ends meet. Dark clouds of war hung ominously over Europe and threatened to engulf the United States. A sense of foreboding permeated the country.

Still, the young people of America retained the exuberance of their youth. They sought their entertainment where they could find it. They danced to the music of orchestras and swing bands led by Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bennie Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Les Brown. Tunes such as Tuxedo Junction, In the Mood, Choo Choo Cha Boogie, and It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing had the feet of America's youth tapping.

The young people of Lakeland were no different. Maybe Glenn Miller and Woody Herman didn't come to Lakeland, but there were local swing bands who could play the popular tunes of the day with as much enthusiasm, if not as much talent, as their famous counterparts. So the young people of Lakeland went to the Airport Grill at the Lakeland Municipal Airport and to the Crystal Lake Pavilion to dance to the big band sounds.

If you look closely at the pictures which follow, you can almost hear the strains of In the Mood faintly in the background.

                  Dancing 1                                 Dancing 2