Swing Dance


What is swing?

“Swing dance” is most commonly known as a group of dances that developed with the vintage swing style of jazz music in the 1920s-1950s. The “Golden Age of Swing” in the 1930’s and 1940’s was when clubs were packed with swing dancers and big bands were the hottest ticket in town! Venues like The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem NYC were renowned across the country and the African American community was instrumental in developing both the music and the dance moves that would become mainstream across all of the USA by the time of WW2. Decades later, former professional dancers Al Minns and Frankie Manning were coaxed out of retirement to help bring back both the music and the dances they inspired. It worked. Thirty years on, there are now thriving swing dance communities worldwide.

What is Lindy Hop?

Lindy Hop (or just “Lindy”) is what you will see most of the time when you come to a Swing Dance. It’s an energetic dance that involves both 8-count and 6-count rhythms with triple steps, as well as elements borrowed from Charleston and Vernacular Jazz. Although performance Lindy Hop (such as with routines or within a “jam circle”) often involves lifts and high flying aerials (also known as air steps), social dancing Lindy Hop doesn’t require leaving the ground! Lindy Hop is characterized by a low, relaxed posture, an elastic connection to your partner, and a rhythmic bounce–or pulse–that matches the music.

What is Blues Dance?

Blues dance is an umbrella term for a family of dances done to blues music and blues structures.  It is an improvisational dance form primarily danced with a partner, but also solo or in a group. Parallel to blues music, blues dance is based on social dance styles created from African and European roots in America between the 1800’s and mid 1900’s, although it has experienced significant evolution within the last 10-15 years.

Rooted in African movement, blues dance places a high value on rhythm and individual movement.  Today there is a strong emphasis on connection with your partner, the music, and the community.

What is Balboa?

Balboa is a partner dance and belongs to the family of swing dances. Starting in the twenties, Balboa had its best time in the thirties and fourties. It is danced with great enthusiasm all over the world and people are eager to develop it further and further. Balboa is danced in closed embrace (Pure Balboa) and in open Position (Bal Swing). The dance is full of elegance and fascinating footwork, which make you feel like a feather.

What is Shag?

Collegiate Shag (or “Shag”) is done primarily to uptempo swing and sometimes pre-swing jazz music (185-200+ beats per minute). It is believed that the dance originated in the Carolinas in the 1920s, later spreading across the United States during the 1930s. The shag is still danced today by swing dance enthusiasts worldwide. Shag is believed to have been the first and most popular swing dance of the original swing era.

St. Louis shag is a dance that evolved out of the Charleston. As its name suggests, it is recognized as having started in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis Shag features a stationary 8-count basic that is most commonly composed of triple-step, kick, triple-step, kick. It is a very fast closed position dance that is usually done to stomp, jump, and boogie-woogie music.

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. It is most often associated with beach music, which refers to songs that are rhythm-and-blues-based and, according to Bo Bryan, a noted shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, is a term that was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Swing in Canary Islands

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