Today, I thought I’d share a bit about one of my favourite things to do- swing dancing.
I’ve always loved the music and the styles of the 1920s right through to the 1960s and swing dancing falls into the earlier part of that period. Growing up watching musicals and with a dance background myself, when I found out about a lindy class that I could join, I jumped at the chance! I learned the dancing first and am chasing up on the history, but here’s a simplified breakdown from my searches online (I’m still a beginner so please bear with me if I’ve said something wrong!).
Swing dancing is an umbrella term for several different styles of dancing performed to music from the big band era. You can find lindy hopping, jiving, jitterbugging, rock n’ roll and even blues fall into this category. Some of the names for lindy refer to very similar styles and others (like blues dancing, which is slow and sultry) are a bit different. I first learned the Savoy style of lindy which originated at the Savoy ballroom in Harlem, New York. Taken from the streets and calling on some African styles of dancing , the style was seen in the Dance Marathons that were fashionable at the time. I later learned Hollywood style, which is based on Dean Collin’s style of dancing. He lived in LA and choreographed for the plethora of dance films that were popular at the time. Have a look at this great number:
Swing dancing is an absolute ball and while a lot of the dance numbers in films would have been choreographed, it’s a social dance and so once you know the ‘rules’ you should be able to dance with a stranger and follow them without knowing what they’re going to do beforehand. That bit takes practice and I’m still working on my following skills but I love dancing to music I know and love in a way that feels right to me. There is no other feeling like being spun around fast (or slow) and having fun with someone as they play with the beats in a song. I continue to learn a lot of new steps from different guys (sometimes they’re made up which is even more fun) and love the rule that if you ask someone to dance, they have to say yes. So boys ask girls, girls ask boys and you can take responsibility for getting a bunch of dances without feeling like a wallflower.
My experience has all been in London and there’s lots happening here. I used three different local groups’ websites as sources for learning a bit more about swing, but there’s plenty going on internationally. All it takes is a Google search. It’s so much fun-give it a whirl!
[image sources found here]