A Brief History of Swing Dancing

swing dancing coupleA Brief History of Swing Dancing

With the evolution of Jazz music, Swing dancing emerged in the 1920’s through the 1950’s Swing in African American communities, most notably in Harlem, New York. Swing dancing grew from a combination of African dancing, tap, ballroom dancing and sheer creativity from some of its founders, most notably Dean Collins, Frankie Manning and “Shorty George” Snowden.

The first of the Swing dances included Lindy Hop and the Charleston and developed into over 24 variations including Shag, Balboa, West Coast and Jive. With stylistic differences from bouncy and hoppy to smooth and subtle, the Swing was versatile and exciting!

In the late 1930’s, the Jitterbug, with it’s big movements and fast footwork, brought Swing dancing into the mainstream. By the 1940’s Swing dancing was offered in schools of dance and was recognized among the American Society of Teachers and dancing as a style that was here to stay.

Did You Know…

Did you know that the Jitterbug, a common term representing several styles of Swing dancing, was named after the way alcoholics acted while drunk? The “jitters” suffered by alcoholics reminded trombonist and drummer Harry Alexander White of the lively movements that he saw on the dance floor as he coined the term “Jitterbug” in the early 1900’s.

While Mr. White named the Jitterbug, Cab Calloway often receives credit for title of the dance because of his 1934 song titled “The Jitterbug”. This song made the swing a household dance from that point on.