When Benny Goodman gave a concert at the Paramount Theatre, New York, in 1937, teenagers went wild and poured into the aisles to “Jitterbug”, as the newspapers called the dance. The craze swept across America. Variations in technique led to styles such as Boogie-Woogie and Swing Boogie, with “Jive” gradually emerging as the generic term that covered the family of Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and Boogie-Woogie dances. Whichever term was used in the forties, the music was always Swing. After the Second World War, bands got smaller and the music changed. By the fifties, the music was no longer as smooth and polished as swing but it had huge popular appeal; this music was Rock’n’Roll. Although Rock’n’Roll is related to Jive and danced to the same rhythm, the style is simpler and can be less energetic. The era of Pop music really began with Rock’n’Roll and the early Rock groups which were featured in films and on records at this time.
The origin of the word “jive” is not really known but it is likely to signify “jive talk” or badmouthing. Jive is considered to be a faster version of the swing dance form and it is known that dancers taking part in jive competitions dance at a speed within 32 to 44 bars per minute. Jive dance is popular as one of the five international Latin dances and particularly in this dancing form, dancers use energetic movements by consistently using the balls of the feet. Pertaining to jive dance, it is striking that African American slaves are known to be the oldest practitioners of jive dance form. Further, according to specific sources, Jive dance is considered to have developed from an American dance form that is known as the Jitterbug, by removing its acrobatic elements and certain lifts. After the origination of the jive dance in the United States, it spread to the European countries slowly and in the United Kingdom, the popularity of this dance form coincided with that of Rock n Roll.
However, soon after branching out to UK, the jive dance form was tailored to fit the new music style. Further, at the hands of the French, jive dance was made simple to a significant extent and when the Frenchmen mixed it with conventional French dances, the modern jive dance sprang to life. In the current times, the jive dance form is extant in two forms: one form is based on the developed style of jive dancing while the other jive dance form has evolved from the original African beat. In Ballroom dancing, Jive is a dance style in 4/4 time. It was originally presented to the public as ‘Jive’ in 1934 by Cab Calloway. It is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, a form of Swing dance. Glenn Miller introduced his own jive dance in 1938 with the song “Doin’ the Jive” which never caught on. Many of its basic patterns are similar to these of the East Coast Swing with the major difference of highly syncopated rhythm of the Triple Steps (Chasses), which use straight eighths in ECS and hard swing in Jive. American soldiers brought Lindy Hop/Jitterbug to Europe around 1942, where this dance swiftly found a following among the young. In the United States the term Swing became the most common word used to describe the dance. In the UK variations in technique led to styles such as Boogie-Woogie and Swing Boogie, with “Jive” gradually emerging as the generic term. After the war, the boogie became the dominant form for popular music.
It was, however, never far from criticism as a foreign, vulgar dance. The famous ballroom dancing guru, Alex Moore, said that he had “never seen anything uglier”. English instructors developed the elegant and lively ballroom Jive, danced to slightly slower music. In 1968 it was adopted as the fifth Latin dance in International competitions. The modern form of ballroom jive in the 1990s-present, is a very happy and boppy dance, the lifting of knees and the bending or rocking of the hips often occurs. Jive is a fast and energy-consuming dance. It is normally the last dance danced at competitions because of the energetic style.