Swing Dance Styles

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Posted on Oct 2, 2015

Swing Dance Styles

Swing Dance

Swing Dance is the umbrella term for all the dances that grew out of the swing era.  Inspired by the swing Big Bands of the 1920s-1940s, dancers developed a seemingly endless collection of social dances. Those that survived to the present day include The Lindy Hop, The Balboa, Collegiate Shag, The Carolina Shag, The Flea Hop, The Charleston and of course Tap Dance. Today, the most well-known of these dances is the Lindy Hop, which originated in Harlem in the early 1930s.

History of Swing and The Lindy Hop

Surprisingly, “swing dance” was not commonly used to identify a group of dances until the 1980s. Historically, the term “Swing” referred to the style of jazz music, which inspired the evolution of these dances. When referring to the dance, most of the participants of the original swing era would have used the term Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, The Bop and other names that emerged during this period. Therefore, below is a short history of The grandfather of all Swing Dances, The Lindy Hop.

The Lindy hop is an American dance that evolved in Harlem, NYC in the 1920s and 1930s and was driven by the popularity of the Big Bands the styles of Swing that were emerging during that time period. Its popularity skyrocketed during the Swing era (1930s and early 1940s). The roots of The Lindy Hop come from the early social jazz dances the predated it. Dances like the Black Bottom, The Charleston and Tap were highly influential styles. Today The Lindy Hop is considered the grandfather of all the swing dances.

In its development, the Lindy hop combined elements of both partnered and solo dancing by using the movements and improvisation of black dances along with the formal eight-count structure of European partner dances. This is most clearly illustrated in the Lindy’s basic step, the swingout. In this step’s open position, each dancer is generally connected hand-to-hand; in its closed position, men and women are connected as though in an embrace.

There was renewed interest in the dance in the 1980s from American, Swedish, and British dancers and the Lindy Hop is now represented by dancers and loosely affiliated grass-roots organizations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.



Video Samples

Paolo & Lauren dancing The Lindy Hop

Combination Charleston And Lindy Hop

Vintage Lindy Hop from Hollywood 1950s

Vintage Lindy Hop Hollywood production 1940s