The History of Swing Dance

Posted on by Juliet

Swing dance is a dance style that was created with a type of swing style to jazz music beginning in the 1920’s and lasting until the 1950’s. There were many different dances in the group known as swing dance with the most popular being the Charleston and the Lindy Hop commonly called the Lindy. The Lindy hop is described as a fusion of breakaway, tap, and jazz while the Charleston was often performed by flappers in the 20’s. Other styles were also considered a part of swing dances such as Shag, Boogie Woogie, Balboa, and the West Coast Swing.

Most of the swing dances originated in African American communities across the United States with Harlem being one of the most prominent with their infamous Savoy Ballroom. Swing dances that have roots in white communities include the Boogie Woogie and the West Coast Swing. In all honestly, the term swing was a term used for the jazz music being played when dancers began these wild moves.

The very first dance that evolved with jazz music was the Lindy Hop. The dance was created in Harlem and was one that surely portrayed high energy. The dance is an eight count circular basic often known as swing out, however, the Lindy included more steps in the 8 count and 6 count rhythms.

Balboa was the second dance of the swing era often referred to as Bal which is an 8 count rhythm but in a closed position, making it very different from the Lindy Hop. This dance was mainly seen in white communities that did not really have room for the wild antics of the popular Lindy Hop.

The Jitterbug may be the most confusing swing dance of its time as there is no set dance moves for the dance. The name occurred to explain the dance moves of dancers while dancing to Cab Calloway swing band leader. He looked out at the dancers which were performing various swing dances including shag, Lindy Hop and others and stated the dancers looked like a bunch of jitterbugs with all the bouncy and fast movements.