Swing dance is not a single form of dance, but a group of various dances that developed in the earlier half of the twentieth century. These dance forms flourished with jazz or swing style of music. The origin of these dances can be traced back to the vernacular African-American dance forms. Today, the most popular form of swing dancing is Lindy Hop. In fact, many of the swing dance forms have descended from Lindy Hop. Other dance forms are Shag, Blue, Balboa, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Rock and Roll, Hand Dancing, Modern Jive, etc.
History of Swing Dancing
The art of swing dancing has been influenced by many cultures and traditions. Apart from the Lindy Hop, various other forms have evolved from Charleston, Fox Trot, Tango, and Waltz. The close dancing forms Tango and Waltz were introduced in USA in the beginning of the twentieth century. Earlier, these dances were not accepted by the society; however, with rise in their popularity in Paris, the Waltz and Tango became instant hits in America. Dances like Truckin', Shim Shammy, and Black Bottom are known to have preceded the swing dancing craze in the US. Variations that occurred in swing dances were numerous. Out of them, the West Coast Swing, used a pattern of 6 beats. One can perform the West Coast Swing with any form of music. The East Coast Swing is similar to the West Coast Swing in terms of beats (6 beats are used). This dance includes stepping side-to-side. One has to take one step backwards after every three steps.
Swing Dancing of 1930s
Swing Dancing of 1940s
This form of dance evolved in Southern California, and it was generally performed as a ballroom dance. The Balboa swing dance is performed in a close embrace and quick footwork is its specialty.
- Lindy Hop:
This form of dance evolved in a period between the late 1920s and early 1930s. It is an 8-count dance and gives more importance to improvisation. The jazz or blues rhythm is used for this dance and it is adaptable to any form of music.
- Collegiate Shag:
This dance form originated in the '30s decade in New York. It is said that the prefix, 'collegiate' was added to the name for attracting the young crowd to dance halls and studios. During the later half of twentieth century, the name collegiate shag became standard. This form of swing dance is performed with a 2-beat rhythm.
The boogie-woogie dance developed in the 1930s. This dance-form became popular with the rise in boogie-woogie music. It is also known as the European form of East coast swing. Originally a six-count dance, the boogie-woogie has undergone many changes. It is now performed with 8-count variations. The boogie-woogie and various forms of rock music are used to perform this swing dance.
- Carolina Shag:
During the 1940s, the Carolina Shag was performed between the Myrtle and Wilmington beaches. This form of swing dancing is associated with beach music.
The different forms of swing dance was very popular amongst the youth. The college-going crowd used to throng nightclubs for learning this dance form in the 1940s and 1950s in the US. Since there were no fixed or specific rules, various styles of this dance emerged. The New York Society of Teachers began the work of documenting various forms of swing dance in the early 1940s. Thereafter, the Arther Murray Studios started teaching this dance form.
Swing dancing history is marked with changes and variations. It was largely influenced by different types of dances and different dancing styles. Thus, one can see a lot of variety in this form of dance.