Swing Heil!

I know they meant well, known they was our audience, but man, most ain’t known two strokes about jazz, come out only ’cause of the ban.” (151)

Sidney is talking about Swing Kids, a movement of German teenager who took in jazz shows because jazz music was being oppressed by the Nazis and they wanted to express their defiance. In the book, Sidney denounces them, saying they didn’t truly know jazz, they only listened to it for rebellion. This is interesting, because there was a movie made in the early 90’s about those same Swing Kids (indeed, the movie shares the same name), but in it, the teens are made out to be the protagonists.

In Swing Kids (1993), a group of German youth use swing music, largely imported from the states as means of rebellion against the Nazis and the Hitler Youth. In the film, the clear antagonist is the Nazi party, while the audience is expected to cheer for the Swing Kids themselves. I thought it was interesting how simply depending on who’s describing the Swing Kids, they could be viewed as either a positive or a negative party. To German youth, they were a force for freedom and good. To “true” jazz musicians, they were posers and fakes. An interesting lesson in perspective.

More on the Swing Kids film:

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