Swing dance history starts back at the beginning of the twentieth century. In addition, swing dancing seems to endure changing times and resurface periodically. What is the timeless allure of swing dancing? And why has this particular partner dance genre consistently maintained its popularity since its inception? I can only conjecture about the reasons but here are a few thoughts on the ever present swing mania and some swing dance resources including some swing song recommendations, videos of the different styles of swing and some basic tips on dancing swing. My name is Pattie Wells and I have been hooked on swing, all forms of swing for almost four decades.
Swing Dance History
Swing dance is a truly American invention originating in the 1920’s and continuing to the present. The period known as the swing era was 1920’s through the end of WWII but new forms of swing dance started in the 40’s, 50’s and continued to evolve in the 60’s with the West Coast swing. The grandfather of swing is the Lindy Hop along with other related dance genres like Balboa, Charleston and Bal-swing. In the 1940’s along with big band music the East Coast swing and Jitterbug became popular. Other 40’s and 50’s dances include Carolina, St. Louis and Collegiate Shag and D.C. Hand Dancing and finally in the 1950’s, on the West Coast, a dance developed called Western Swing, later the West Coast swing. The swing has continued to evolve with contemporary music and is also enjoyed by vintage dance enthusiasts. Read more about the history of swing dance here.
Types of Swing Dance
There are at least a dozen different types of swing dance. The original swing dance started in Harlem, New York at the Savoy Ballroom in the 1930’s; the Lindy Hop. Swing dance quickly spread across the U.S. and morphed into many regional forms with unique names like the Flea Hop and the Bop but the major swing dance styles are Lindy Hop, Balboa, Jitterbug, East Coast Swing, Carolina Shag and West Coast swing; read more about the swing dance styles here.
Swing Dance Music Playlists
The original swing dancing and music evolved together reaching their height during the Jazz & Swing Era in the 1940’s. Jazz music shifted to include a swing beat and dancers expressed this in their dance styles adding a swing rhythm to their dancing. Each swing genre has its favorite songs, composers and bands. Here is a list of some songs on playlists for the various swing styles:
Questions about the different types of swing dance and the history of swing dance come up often so I started the DANCE TALK blog, a series of dance articles and video blogs to answer some of these swing dance questions and other questions about dance in general.
Here are links and snippets to a few articles of interest about swing dancing.
Swing Dance Articles
- Swing Dance Elements1 – Swing Dance Series
“Generally, the swing dances are built in two beat increments that are sometimes called “units,” a term coined by Skippy Blair. A unit is two beats of music and the swing dances can be dissected into sets of two beat units. The basic 6 count triple rhythm swing is composed of …”
- The difference between Jitterbug, East Coast swing, West Coast swing & Lindy Hop
I will cover the major differences between the most common swing dances: Lindy hop, jitterbug, East Coast swing and West Coast swing. All of the swing dance genres have similar components or elements, read more about …
- A Guide To West Coast Swing Technique
The West Coast swing is a living dance that is constantly evolving to fit contemporary music and culture. It is flourishing because it is perfect for all ages of dancers due to its fluid movement and the breadth of West Coast swing music that works for dancing like this Irish Swedish …
Swing Dance A-Z
Articles on the different types of swing dance genres, here are the links to more articles:
Swing Dance: Psychology of Happiness
How many times have you heard stories about the joy that dancing has brought to people. I have heard too many to recite them all here but here are a couple of fun articles that demonstrate some of that joy of swing dancing!
Swing Dance For Fitness
Dancing With The Stars: Swing Dance Marathon
Swing dance is one of the most aerobic of the partner dance genres making it a great way to get more exercise. Swing dancing has many health benefits including: cardio workout, building bones and muscles, improve balance, stretching the body and aerobic benefits, read more articles about the fitness benefits of swing dance here: