This is the question that Bobby White at Swungover* asked himself. In June 2011, just before All Bal Weekend, he published the answer, as we now know it.
Back then, all we knew was that there is a couple, both dressed in all white, dancing Bal-Swing in the clip famously called “The Venice Beach Clip”. This clip is important to dancers and historians as one of the earliest known examples of filmed southern California swing and Balboa dancing. It’s important to me as a beginning dancer learning everything I can about the origins of swing, and as an amature Californian historian. I’ll point you all to Swungover* for the details that I deliriously consumed. Read it before you continue here.
There, Bobby chronicles his journey into discovery, including amazing quotes from the follower’s future dance partner Johnny Duncan and her son Jeffrey Sliakis.
Short Answer: Genevieve Grazis, who went by Jenny Gray in films. A Bal-Swing dancer, then Lindy hopper, later mother. Her son Jeffrey tells Bobby that he has a box with some things in it that he would like to show him. Then, the story pauses.
Years later, I read all of this and lay awake at night wondering: what’s in that box? What happened to this story? What else is there for the world to discover about Jenny Gray, or Jean as family called her. It was a burning question that I had to pursue.