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Al Minns  (Rt) and Leon James (Lt) portrait (courtesy Kevin Minns)

Stage Name

Birth Name

Al Minns Al David Minns
    Legendary and youngest swing dancer with the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the 1930's. Danced at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem and Harvest Moon Ball New York ( Sandra Pollard-Gibson and Minns #61 won the Ball in 1938.) He can be seen in the films " Cabin In The Sky," Hellzapoppin ( With Wila Mae Ricker, Third couple) as well as the 1961 "Dupont Show of the Week" ( Remade as: Chicago and All That Jazz) with Leon James doing the Charleston, Shimmy, Snake Hips, Lindy Hop etc.

    During the 1940's, Minns and Leon James ( Known as the Jazz Dancers)  had a comedy act called "Moke and Poke" and even took their act to film. They also developed a novelty act in which they danced together. As a side note, Leon toured with the "Ink Spots" in the mid 1940s as Moke and "Poke" and Coke and "Poke." in the issue of "The Providence Journal - Sept, 12&14, 1945"

addresses the Moke and Poke / Coke and Poke question. Listings for this team have varied during the year (c.1945.) Apparently, Leon (Poke) became ill in Dec./44 and then Moke ( Fletcher Rivers, not Al Minns)  took on a new partner and continued without Minns using the same name. Poke (Leon James) was left "out in the cold" until Leon took on Harold  Cromer and started performing as "Coke & Poke," but many continued to confuse the new name with the old "Moke & Poke."

    Al and Leon did a lot to help spread The Lindy Hop around the Globe. Thru Newspaper articles, Magazines, Books, Television, Performances and Film. Al helped fuel the Lindy revival in the early 1980's and was instrumental in it's growth as an original pioneer of the dance. They truly were great dancers in their prime.

    Al and Leon were approached by Johnny Carson to be part of the daily pre-show entertainment for his TV show. Very soon after, Leon had his first heart attack and plans were scrapped. Later Al was a guest on the show by himself ( Courtesy
of Mike Thibault

    During the 1960's Minns and James would do many exhibitions in the Charleston, Shim Sham , Lindy Hop and other dances together and with partners trying to help keep the dances alive and by doing so caught the attention of author "Marshall Stearns" (book) and was interviewed heavily by Stearns. Stearns book became a defacto authorship for many years, altho it was not entirely correct, as almost all historic pieces on dance are not, It helped historians trace a lot of people and dances of the past. Al was very instrumental in the early 1980's in bringing back the popularity of the Lindy hop in New York and Sweden. Minns died of cancer on April 4th, 1985 at Queens Hospital Center. He was 65 years old.

Birth Place

Birth Date



n/a 1/1/1920-4/24/1985 n/a Albert Minns, Kevin Minns, Denise Minns, Rachel Minns, Melody Minns, Tommy Watson

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Air Steps! Harlem Congeroo's n/a
The Big Apple Leon James      
The Black Bottom Sandra Gibson      
The Charleston Sandra Pollard      
The Jitterbug Sugar Sullivan      
The Lindy Hop Whitey's Lindy Hoppers      
The Shim Sham Willa Mae Ricker      
The Shimmy        
The Snake Hips            
Trunky-doo (Tranky-doo)            

Night Clubs / Studios



Central Plaza Dance Hall Madison Square Garden  ( Harvest Moon Ball) Hot Mikado
Dance Players Studio (NYC)   Hellzapoppin' ( Dancer in White Coat)
Playboy Club (NYC)    
Savoy Ballroom    

Video Clips (pop-up)




Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1937 - Jittering Jitterbugs ( Aka: Big Apple) 1961 - DuPont Show Of The Week ( W/ James) Jazz Dance - Marshall Stearns ( Book)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1938 - ?Paramount News: Savoy Contest ? Johnny Carson Show 1/4/1959 - NY Times article ( Page 13, dance)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Hellzapoppin' [DVD] 1964 - Playboy Club ( W/ James & Minns) 11/14/1960 - NY Times Article ( Music Notes Section)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Hot Chocolates       1/24/1982 - NY Times Article ( By Jennifer Dunning)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1943 - The Big Apple Minns and James demo Big Apple Steps  ( Clip)    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1943 - Cabin In The Sky [DVD]            
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1946 - Midnight Menace (?)            
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1950 - The Spirit Moves ( Mura Dehn)            
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1954 - Jazz Dance by Roger Tilton ( W/ Minns/James)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1961 - Jazz Dance            
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1964 - Twelfth Street Rag ( W/Minns)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1991 - Chicago and all That Jazz ( W/James)            

NOTE: Kevin Minns, Al Minns son also may have info on his father (Kevin is on Facebook)

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