“Swing dance” is most commonly known as a group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s-1950s.The best known of these dances is the Lindy Hop, a popular partner dance that originated in Harlem in 1927 and is still danced today. While the majority of swing dances began in African-American communities as vernacular African American dances, some swing era dances, such as the Foxtrot and the Balboa, developed in white communities. Swing dance was not always used as a general blanket term for a group of dances. Historically, the term Swing applied with no connection to the Swing era, or its Swing music. The Texas Tommy Swing dance first appeared in print in 1910 in San Francisco (Barbary Coast). Into the 1920s and 1930s every major city had their own way to dance, based on regional roots, and influences. Los Angeles had its own form of what they called “Swing dance” which came from Charleston, Fox Trot, and Jig Trot influenced footwork. In Chicago and in the south they had their own style of Swing, which was more two-step based.
In many scenes outside the United States, the term “swing dancing” is used to refer to one, or all, of the following swing era dances: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Shag, and Balboa. This group is often extended to include West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Hand Dancing, Jive, Rock and Roll, elden Jive, and other dances developing in the 1940s and later. A strong tradition of social and competitive boogie woogie and Rock ‘n’ Roll in Europe add these dances to their local swing dance cultures.
Early forms from the 1930s and 1940s
- Lindy Hop evolved in the late 1920s and early 1930s out of the Partnered Charleston. It is characterized by an 8-count circular basic or “swing out” and has an emphasis on improvisation and the ability to easily adapt to include other steps in 8-count and 6-count rhythms. It has been danced to many different styles of music with blues or jazz rhythm (with the exception of jazz waltzes), as well as non-traditional styles of music such as hip hop.
- Balboa is an 8-count dance that emphasizes a strong partner connection and quick footwork. A product of Southern California’s crowded
- Collegiate Shag typically refers to a kind of double shag that is believed to have originated in New York during the 1930s
- St. Louis Shag done in the “Sang That Rhyme” Charleston position
- Jitterbug is often associated with one form of swing dance, but is not in fact a general term for all swing dances and is more appropriately used to describe a swing dancer rather than a specific swing
Later forms from the 1940s, 1950s and later
- Lindy Hopcontinued into the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and is featured in many movies of the era featuring Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers with Frankie Manning, Dean Collins (whose style would lead to the creation of West Coast Swing), and Hal Takier and the Ray Rand Dancers. Traditional Lindy Hop in its purest form is found in many US locations and in Sweden. Swedish Lindy Hoppers preserve much of the old-style technique which was passed on to them by Frankie Manning, through various visits in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Lindy Charleston is essentially the 1930s and ’40s Partnered Charleston woven in and out of Lindy Hop moves
- Eastern Swing is an evolution of Fox Trot.
- East Coast Swing is a simpler 6-count variation of Lindy Hop, that evolved with swing-band music of the 1940s and the work of the Arthur Murray dance studios in the 1940s. It is also known as Six-count Swing, Triple-Step Swing, or Single-Time Swing. East Coast Swing has very simple structure and footwork along with basic moves and styling. It is popular for its simple nature and is often danced to slow, medium, or fast tempo jazz, blues, or rock and roll.
- West Coast Swing was developed in the 1940s, as a stylistic variation on Lindy Hop. It is a slotted and danced to a wide variety of music including: blues, rock and roll, country western,smooth and cool jazz. It is popular throughout the United States and Canada but was uncommon in Europe and much of Asia until the 21st Century. West-coast-swing communities are growing in Australia, Brazil, France, India, New Zealand, Ukraine, Romania, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere
- Western Swing, also called Country Swing or Country/Western Swing (C/W Swing) is a form with a distinct culture. It resembles East Coast Swing, but adds variations from other country dances. It is danced to country and western music.
- Boogie-woogie developed originally in the 1940s, with the rise of boogie woogie music. It is popular today in Europe, and was considered by some to be the European counterpart to East Coast Swing
- Carolina Shag was danced along the strands between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, during the 1940s but, during the 1990s and later, has expanded to many other places.
- Imperial Swing is a cross between East Coast and West Coast Swing as it is done in slot and in the round. It started at the Club Imperial in St Louis.
- Jive is a dance of International Style Ballroom dancing. It initially was based on Eastern swing taken to England by American Troops in World War II and evolved before becoming the now standardized form of today.
- Skip Jiveis a British variant of the Jive, popular in the 1950s and 1960s, danced to trad jazz.
- Modern Jive (also known as LeRoc and Ceroc) developed in the 1980s, reputedly from a French form of Jive. Modern Jive is not technically of the Jive family which typically use a 6-count pattern of various combinations of walking and triple steps.
- Rock and Roll– Developing in the 1950s in response to rock and roll music, rock-and-roll is very popular in Australia and danced socially as well as competitively and in performances. The style has a long association with Lindy Hop in that country, as many of the earliest Lindy Hoppers in the early 1990s moved to Lindy Hop from a rock-and-roll tradition. There are ongoing debates about whether rock-and-roll constitutes swing dancing, particularly in reference to the music to which it is danced: there is some debate as to whether or not it swings. Despite these discussions, many of the older Lindy Hoppers are also keen rock-and-roll dancers, with rock-and-roll characterized by an older dancer (30s and older) than Lindy Hop (25 and under).
- Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll Popular in Europe, acrobatic rock’n’roll is popularly associated with Russian gymnasts who took up the dance, though it is popular throughout Europe today. It is a performance dance and sport rather than a social dance, though there are people who remove the acrobatic stunts to dance it on a social level.
- Washington Hand Dancing originated around Washington, DC in the mid-1950s, DC’s own adaption of Lindy Hop once the music changed and a new generation of dancers started innovating to Soul Music and R&B.
- Push and Whip are Texas forms of swing dance developed in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Modern Swing brings a modern update to traditional Lindy Hop from the 1940s and 1950s. Among its influential figures are dancers Yuval Hod and Nathalie Gomez (world champions in several occasions), who are known for incorporating Salsa and ballroom moves into Lindy Hop, using a variety of modern clean “swing outs” and wearing modern outfits in competitions. Despite the popularity of modern-swing technique in Lindy Hop circles in the US and worldwide, many dancers in Lindy Hop communities prefer to stick to the old tradition. As opposed to modern swing technique, followers of old-style traditional Lindy Hop prefer not to use moves and technique that cannot be found in movies from the 1950s, 1940s, 1930s and 1920s. Overall, old-style Lindy Hop technique is more popular than modern technique in swing communities around the world.
- Mo-cathy or silly swing is a developing type of swing dance in which the hands are just shown to the partner and without touching the dance moves on, there are elements of craziness in it expressed by facial expressions and it is tried to mix silliness in rhythmic manner while dancing