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What’s Swing Dance?

What is Swing Dance?

 

Swing dance is an umbrella term which encompasses many vintage/vernacular American Jazz styles including Charleston, balboa, shag, jitterbug and Lindy hop. These dances paved the way for the later swing dances such as boogie-woogie, rock ‘n’ roll. west and east coast swing and jive. We Mersey Swing folk focus on the early swing styles, and specialise in the grandaddy of them all – the Lindy hop!

 

 

What is Lindy Hop?

Lindy hop is a partnered dance, originating in late 1920’s Harlem, born out of partnered Charleston and the ‘breakaway’ and influenced by many popular dances of the time such as the ‘Turkey Trot’ and the ‘Texas Tommy’.

 

It is danced to syncopated swinging jazz music which gives the dance it’s “low down” feel, and the dance grew with the popular music of the time, bands such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb and Cab Calloway. The most basic form of the dance is broken down into 6 and 8 beat figures, but the more you dance, the less these frameworks seem to matter. Similarly to the music which dictates this style of dance, Lindy is improvised, and each ‘social dance’ is led and followed without any set choreography. Choreography is and always has been saved for performances, whereas the social floor is all about responding to the music, really connecting with your partner and having fun trying out your moves.

 

How can I get really good at it?

The best place to start is at a weekly class- sort out your basics, as they are the fundamental building blocks to your dance. Then maybe after a while try a more intense workshop day to really hone your technique. Most importantly social dance with anyone and everyone. Try leading if you are a follower and try following if you lead. Dance on your own- try Charleston and authentic jazz. Listen to the music, love it and own it through your dance. See live bands who play real authentic sounding swinging jazz- and social dance to it!