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Swing Dance History

We offer swing and lindy hop dance classes at West Roxbury School of Dance: see our current class schedule under Classes for Everyone. Or look for our LGBT classes here.

You´ll love learning swing (also known as east coast swing, lindy, lindy hop and the jitterbug), one of the most upbeat and most popular partner dances. If you love pop music, rock and roll, blues, big band or country, swing dancing has it all and more; blow your friends away at your next party! Learn it now and you'll do it forever.

Later forms of Swing Dance from the 1930s and 1940s:

  • Lindy Hop evolved in the late 1920s and early 1930s as the original swing dance. It is characterised by an emphasis on improvisation and the ability to easily adapt to include steps from other 8-count and 6-count Swing styles. It has been danced to most every conceivable form of jazz music, as well as to the blues, and any other type of music with a blues or jazz rhythm.
  • Balboa is an 8-count dance that emphasizes a strong partner connection and quick footwork. Balboa (sometimes referred to simply as "Bal") is primarily danced in a tight, closed position with the follow and lead adopting a firm chest-to-chest posture. This dance is particularly popular in settings with fast jazz (usually anything from 180 to 320 beats per minute) and/or limited floor space, though it is also danced to slower tempos.
  • Blues dancing today is an informal type of swing dancing with no fixed patterns and a heavy focus on connection, sensuality and improvisation, often with strong body contact. Although usually done to blues music, it can be done to any slow tempoed 4/4 music, including rock ballads and "club" music. Historically, there are many different types of blues dancing, including the slow drag. Blues is occasionally danced alone in swing dance communities, though almost never outside the United States. There are only small (if any) blues dancing communities within the wider swing dancing communities outside the United States and Europe.
  • Carolina Shag
  • Collegiate Shag is a simple 6-count dance that is typically done to faster music.
  • St. Louis Shag

Forms from the 1940s, 50s and later

  • Boogie Woogie developed originally in the 1940s with the rise of boogie woogie music. It is popular today in Europe, and is considered by some to be the European counterpart to East Coast Swing, danced to rock music of various kinds, blues or boogie woogie music but usually not to jazz.
  • Country Swing, also called Western Swing or Country/Western Swing (C/W Swing) is a form with a distinct culture. It resembles East Coast Swing, but adds variations from other country dances. It is danced to country and western music.
  • East Coast Swing is a simpler 6-count variation. It is also known as Single-Time Swing, Triple-Step Swing, 6-Count Swing, Rockabilly, or Jitterbug. East Coast Swing has very simple structure and footwork along with basic moves and styling. It is popular for its forgiving yet elegant nature, and it is often danced to slow, medium, or fast tempo jazz, blues, or rock and roll.
  • Washington Hand Dancing
  • Jitterbug is often described as a subset or development of Lindy Hop.
    Jive is a dance of International Style Ballroom dancing. It diverged from Swing still further.
  • Push and Whip are Texas forms of swing dance.
  • Skip Jive
    A British variant, popular in the 50s and 60s danced to trad jazz.
  • West Coast Swing was developed in the 1940s and 1950s as a stylistic variation on Lindy Hop. Followers stay in a slot, which reduces their ability to move left and right but improves their ability to spin left and right. West Coast Swing is often danced with blues and rock and roll music, as well as to smooth and cool jazz. It is popular throughout the United States and Canada and has an avid following in Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.
  • Acrobatic Rock and Roll
    Popular in Europe, acrobatic rock and roll is popularly associated with Russian gymnasts who took up the dance, though it is popular throughout Europe today. It is more a performance dance and sport than a social dance.
  • Rock and Roll
    Developing in the 1950s in response to rock and roll music, rock and roll is very popular in Australia and danced socially as well as competitively and in performances. The style has a long association with Lindy Hop in that country, as many of the earliest lindy hoppers in the early 1990s moved to Lindy Hop from a rock and roll tradition. There are ongoing debates about whether rock and roll constitutes swing dancing, particularly in reference to the music to which it is danced: there is some debate as to whether or not it swings.

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When joining our swing, lindy hop and other dance classes, note that our OUT to Dance studio locations, West Roxbury and Roslindale, MA, are within twenty minutes of downtown Boston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Brighton, Allston, Brookline, Newton, Chestnut Hill, Dedham, Norwood, Needham, Westwood, Milton and Quincy; and within 25 to 35 minutes of Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Wellesley, Natick, Waltham, Braintree, Brockton, Stoughton, Canton, Foxboro, Weymouth and surrounding towns. We are also less than an hour from Providence, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Swing and Lindy Dance 1

We regularly run really fun swing dance classes at West Roxbury School of Dance; see our current class schedule under Classes for Everyone. Or look for our LGBT classes here.

Other dances you can learn in our OUT to Dance Classes

Swing/Lindy, West Coast Swing

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