Swing Dance Studios

Swing Dance Classes

Swing Dance

Swing DanceThe term "swing" refers to a variety of unique partner dances.

  • Lindy Hop: The most popular swing dance, which dance originated in Harlem in the 1920's. 
  • East Coast Swing: Was influenced by the American Foxtrot, and is often seen in club or bar dance floors.
  • West Coast Swing: A slotted dance in which the follower travels back and forth along a rectangle, or slot.

Swing was created in the 1920's, after the black community of New York, while dancing to contemporary Jazz music, discovered the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. Between the 1920's and 1990's swing music varied and evolved with the moods of the modern society. Music styles bounced from Jazz to Bop, to Rhythm & Blues in the 40's, and Rock & Roll in the 50's and 60's, to Disco, to Country, and along with it, the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, and Swing in general progressed across the U.S. with these various regional styles and expressions of Swing dance.

Although Swing dancing was popular among the urban communities, the professional dance schools such as The New York Society of Teachers and Arthur Murray, did not actually formally document or teach the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, and Swing until the early 1940's. Among the ballroom dance community, the foreign dances were most popular, and such teachers of dance were focused on teaching the styles of the Australian Waltz and Argentine Tango, Brazilian Samba, Cuban Mambo and Cha-Cha, English Quickstep, and Spanish Paso Doble' and Puerto Rican Merengue. Occasionally, the American Foxtrot would be thrown into the curriculum as well. By the 1940's though, the ballroom dance community had to recognize the rising popularity in Swing dance, and the Arthur Murray studios observed competitor's dance floors and in turn instructed dance teachers to teach the popular dances danced in their respective cities. Thus, Arthur Murray begin teaching numerous expressions of Swing in each city that had been undocumented prior. 

A decade later, in the late 1950's, American television brought "American Bandstand", "The Buddy Dean Show" and other programs to the teenage audiences, introducing Swing dancing to a large group of the U.S masses. American teens fell in love with Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, who leading the phenomena. In 1959, some of the California dance organizations, with Skippy Blair leading the way, changed the name of Western Swing to West Coast Swing so as not to have it be confused with country western dancing. Since the mid 1940's to today, the various dances of the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, and Swing, were broken down and distilled by the ballroom dance studio teachers in order to simplify what they taught for the less nimble-footed general public who wished to take dance lessons. Consequently, it is the ballroom dance studio community that bred and developed a ballroom East Coast Swing and ballroom West Coast Swing.

As varied as the dance styles of Swing, so too is the music; many musicians claim there is no such thing as swing music, there is only music that "swings." It can be stated that the varying styles of swing dance was greatly influenced by the changing popularity of the music of the times, ranging from jazz, hip-hop, blues, rock&roll, funk, and pop. The beauty of Swing dancing is that dancers can dance to many different rhythms, the slower beats offering a break from fast-paced swinging, and then faster beats once again sparking that Swinging urge to let loose! When taking swing lessons, you will learn the basic, essential steps and patterns for swing dance, but you can count on encouragement from your teacher to add your unique style and expression to your routines, once you get the hang of the motion of the ocean.