Swing Dancing

Swing dancing rocketed to popularity with the advent of the big band, especially during World War II, though it was popular throughout the late 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. The most common types of swing are the Jitterbug and its more difficult counterpart, the Lindy Hop. (The Jitterbug is done on an eight count, and the Lindy Hop is a triple step.)

There are dozens of styles of dance that fall under Swing Dancing: the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug, the Balboa, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Jive, and St. Louis Shag to name a few. But all are done to big band jazz music, and all are partner dances led by the male.

Women dance with their elbows tucked in close to the body and their hands at waist height to receive the messages sent from the leader; no matter how tall or short her partner is, the woman decides the height at which the two have their arms. The man leads the woman with pressure on the hands and back to indicate where she should move her body.

In ballroom dancing competitions, East Coast Swing is the standard used for swing dancing. East Coast is a 6-count variation of the Lindy Hop perfected in the 1940s. East Coast can be danced to slow or fast paced jazz; Rockabilly is more of a West Coast style.

Today, swing dancing is most often found in social settings; local dances often have large followings of swingers who dress in period costume and dance the night away to live big band artists.

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