What Is Swing Dancing?
Swing music originated in the United States back in the 1920’s and was most popular from the 1930’s through to the 1950’s, when big band music was at its greatest. It has seen a renewed interest over the last few decades and is now back with a BANG, appealing to people of all ages from all over the globe!
The dance that accompanies this music encompasses a wide range of styles. The most well known and grand-daddy of all these is the "Lindy Hop". Other styles include Charleston, Solo Jazz and Balboa.
Also sometimes referred to as the “Jitterbug” or “Jive”, this has its origins deep from the heart of Harlem New York in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Lindy Hop is a fun, incredibly versatile and inventive dance and is most well known for its aerial acrobatics**, appearing in classic films such as “Hellzapoppin” and the Gap Commercial. Although this dance style originally developed alongside the original swing music of the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, you can see many variations danced to other music, including Boogie Woogie, Electro Swing, Hip Hop, Hot Jazz, Jump Jive, Rhythm & Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
**NOTE: Aerials are usually reserved for performances or competitions, so do not worry that you will be expected to learn or dance this way in classes or socials. Phew!!
In its modern form, the Charleston was a popular dance style of the 1920’s which grew with the Ragtime Jazz music of that time and evolved into something more by the 1940’s. It has simple basic steps that allow dancers to stylise and improvise, either as a couple or dancing solo. As well as the original style of the Charleston (as made popular again by TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing), it can also be incorporated into and danced with the Lindy Hop, as can be seen << here >> .
Dancers sometimes just like to dance on their own! Solo Jazz (also known as Authentic or Vernacular) originated around the 1930’s. A staple part of all swing dancers repertoire, it forms the basis of all improvisation in the other styles in the Swing dance family. There are choreographed routines, known around the world, such as the Shim Sham , the Tranky Doo and the Big Apple. Otherwise, just OWN THAT FLOOR by yourself, as can be seen at this annual event!!
A style of swing dancing that developed in Southern California in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the movements look and feel like they are loosely based on the Charleston, but became something entirely unique. Mainly danced in a ‘close-embrace’, the smaller scale of the movements allows dancers to more easily keep up with the fastest tempos without (hopefully) getting exhausted! This cute video shows just how much fun this elegant dance can be.