Various forms of swing dancing emerged from the 1920’s through the 1950’s in African American communitites with the evolution of Jazz music. Charleston and Lindy Hop are two key Swing dances that came from Harlem, New York in the 1920’s. By mixing African cultural dance, various ballroom dances, tap, creativity and the jazz music of the day, Swing dancing began to grow! At the time, American Society of Teachers and Dancing as well as the Dance Teachers Business Association believed Lindy Hop to be a fad that would not last.
Little did they know that Swing dancers would develop more styles including Shag, Balboa, West Coast Swing and Jive, to name a few. In the 1930’s, a Swing dance variation named the”Jitterbug” was created when a band leader compared the dancers to jitterbugs bouncing on the floor. There was even a song introduced called the “Jitter Bug” in their honor.
By the late 1930’s Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Jitterbug were sweeping the United States. However, dance schools did not formally recognize, document or begin teaching them until the early 1940’s when they realized it could no longer be ignored. They decided to “refine” and standardize Lindy Hop for easier instruction at dance schools, where we get what is now known as East Coast Swing.
A smoother style of Lindy Hop called “Smooth Lindy” was soon created in California by Dean Colllins. Mr. Collins, who was originally from Harlem, NY, began to dance a more fluid and slower swing which caught on very quickly on the West Coast. The dance took on a slotted motion rather than having a circular look to it. The dance was soon re-named the “West Coast Swing”, which is the official state dance of California to this day.
Swing dancing has developed as a mainstay in American dance culture throughout the years. The dance known simply as the “Swing” has managed to remain a staple dance attracting young and old alike.
Famous original Swing dancers included: “Shorty George” Snowden, Frankie Manning and Dean Collins.
YOU can learn how to dance Swing at Dance FX Studios in Mesa, AZ. We offer the most popular social Swing dances including East Coast Swing, Jitterbug and West Coast Swing. You will find yourself using these dances everywhere in Arizona from Country bars to weddings and other social dance events. It is popular amongst all ages as a FUN and PLAYFUL dance with many looks and styles. Express yourself on the dance floor in the Swing!