What Is Swing Dance?

What Is Swing Dance?

Swing dance is a style of dance characterized by big movements. 

The dances often include steps in an 8-count or 6-count rhythm to the tune of upbeat jazz or big band music.

My first introduction to swing dance came in the 1990s when swing revival bands became a big hit. 

However, the history of swing dance goes back much further.

When Was Swing Dance Introduced?

Swing dance refers to styles of dancing that originated during the jazz era in the 1920s. 

It evolved from the dance halls of Harlem and soon spread across the nation.

Swing reached the heights of its popularity in the 1930s and 1940s before introducing rock and roll in the 1950s.

While the popularity of swing declined, the influence of swing can be found in most modern dance styles, including hip hop, disco, and country line dancing.

What Are the Types of Swing Dances?

I’ve come across over a hundred swing dances and probably hundreds of variations. 

Some of the best-known swing dances include:

  • Lindy Hop
  • Charleston
  • Balboa
  • Collegiate Shag
  • Boogie Woogie
  • Jive
  • East Coast Swing

The Lindy Hop is considered the original swing dance. 

George “Shorty” Snowden coined the name after a dance marathon in Harlem in 1928. 

Charles Lindbergh had recently completed his “hop” across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Lindy Hop is a reference to the historic flight that captivated the country.

After the Lindy Hop, swing dancing became popular among people of all backgrounds. 

There is now an endless list of swing dances, but they tend to share several traits.

Swing dances are often fast-paced and involve a lot of swinging and throwing of dance partners. 

However, the dancers mostly stay in one spot, making it easy to accommodate many people on a crowded dance floor.

What Is the Jitterbug?

I initially thought that the jitterbug was another type of swing dance before discovering several meanings. 

Bandleader Cab Calloway may have coined the phrase when he said that the dancers on the floor looked “like a bunch of jitterbugs” due to their fast movements. 

Calloway also had a hit song called “Jitter Bug” that was released in 1934.

We may also use “jitterbug” to refer to certain types of swing dances. 

It’s often used when talking about the East Coast Swing or the original Lindy Hop.

Swing Dance Is Perfect for Beginners

While there are likely hundreds of variations of swing dances, the thing that I love most about swing is its versatility. 

As with the jazz music that inspired swing, these dances are often improvisational.

You may follow a specific count and general idea, but you have the freedom to cut loose and let the music move you. 

I’ve found that swing dance is more flexible and forgiving for beginners than many other ballroom dancing styles. 

Swing dancing is incredibly fun and easy to jump into with no dance experience.

Now that you know more about swing dance, it’s time to slip into your dancing shoes and put some swing in your step.

Conclusion

Swing dancing is a type of social dance that originated from jazz music and was popular during the 1920s.

It is characterized by an up-tempo beat, often accompanied by fast footwork such as kicks, spins, and taps.

Swing dancers can wear anything they want to the dance party because there are no rules about what you should or shouldn’t wear to swing dance.

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