Beside dancing at Minsk Lindy Exchange Lennart Westerlund stumbled across several questions concerning Lee Harvey Oswald. Did the accused murderer dance the Lindy Hop? Was it him introducing the Lindy Hop to Belarus back in 1961? Karl Lennart Westerlund embroideres his thoughts concerning the subject in this cronicle. 

In the early 1960s, the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald, later accused of assassinating American president John F. Kennedy, spent a few years in the Soviet Union city of Minsk. At the time, Oswald was a young American ex-military man with communist ideas. His personality was an enigmatic paradox, a mixture of apparently inconsistent ideological perceptions and psychological unpredictability. He was neither unintelligent nor a political novice—far from it

Lennart Westerlund at MLX 2017

Oswald had somehow managed to change his American citizenship to a Soviet Union one, which at the time was more or less impossible. Once in Minsk, he was offered an apartment on the fourth floor in an imposing Stalin architecture building at Kalinina Ulitza 4 (later on Komunistichnaja Ulitza 4), beautifully located next to the city center overlooking the serpentine Svislatj river. His job, which was at the Horizont Radio Factory, was conveniently located around the corner from his apartment. Oswald probably never saw any of his co-workers in the building where he lived since his neighbors consisted exclusively of decorated bigwigs in the communist hierarchy. A few years later, in the aftermath of what happened in late November 1963, it has always been debated whether this privileged treatment was the beginning of an advanced plot that lead to the assassination of the American president.

Social dance at MLX 2017.

One evening in March, 1961, Oswald met Marina Prusakova at a social dance held at the Union House i
central Minsk. Miss Prusakova was a 19-year-old beauty and Oswald fell for her pleasant and inviting personality. The very next year, they were married, expecting a baby and applying for American citizenship. A year later, they were both approved, and the young family moved to Fort Worth, Texas. For Oswald the Soviet Union era was over, he was once again an American, presumably cured from his communist infection.

About ten years ago the Lindy Hop revival approached Belarus. On March 23-26 this year, the annual MLX took place in Minsk, with some 200 dancers from Belarus as well as a handful of other countries participating. The event was held in the shadow of political demonstrations but in the good spirit of jazz and swing. Belarus is obviously no longer only the eternal home base of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, painter Marc Chagall and poets Janka Kupala and Jacub Kolas, it’s also one of the many homes of the migratory Lindy Hop.

The house in Minsk where Oswald lived for some years. Lennart went there to have a look.

Nothing above is explained and nothing is questioned. All potential question marks are still intact, waiting to be activated. In this context, one question is, however, more urgent and important than the others: who actually introduced the Lindy Hop to Belarus? Was it local teachers back in 2008, or was it Oswald back in 1961? Did Oswald know the Lindy Hop and was there any jazz-influenced music played in Minsk at the time? Nobody knows for sure and Oswald himself won’t be able to tell us since his voice is long gone. He was dramatically shot dead by night club owner Jack Ruby inside the garage of the Dallas Police headquarters only two days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. One violent bullet and no further questions to be asked or answered.

 

Karl Lennart Westerlund/Carl Leonard Westerhund