Swing Dancing Makes a Comeback and The Lindy Hop Is The Star Of The Show
Do you like to dance? Have you considered dance as a way to meet people, get exercise, and improve your social skills? If you answered yes, or are even thinking about it, then “Swing Dancing” is a beautiful way to express yourself, it is simply filled with heart and excitement. Swing Dancing began in the 1930s and 1940s during the big band era when Benny Goodman was in his prime and America was young and filled with the promise of the future. Then as well as today, swing dancing is excellent exercise and probably the best social ice breaker you’re likely to find anywhere in America, or in cities around the world.
Swing dancing at it roots is improvisation and began to sneak its way into competitions years ago when dancer (competitors) began looking for ways to single themselves out, to make the judges notice them. Not easy when the floor with filled with excellence, but try they did moving their torso to one beat, their hips to another and finally cascading down to the knees, with yet another twist and turn. Wow, The King would have loved it and who knows; maybe that twisty hip of his had its root in Swing Dancing.
One dynamic form of swing dancing is called the Lindy Hop, and it is, in a word, unique. It started as an African America dance move in the late 20s in the city of cities… New York, but rapidly crossed the boundaries of race, since it was filled with energy and rhythm and based on jazz music. Back in those days, news (and social mores) did not travel with the speed of the net, but still, the word got around as dance troops like the Lindy Hoppers, Hot Chocolates and Big Apple Dancers incorporated the Lindy into their routines. Audiences were amazed and sat spellbound watching gyrations they’d never seen (or even imagined) before. It wouldn’t be long before the famous Arthur Murray dance studio (yep the one you’ve heard of) began teaching The Lindy and the rest is history; well maybe not history, since Swing Dancing and The Lindy are making a comeback at dance studios and clubs nationwide.
There was a time when Rock and Roll ruled (let’s have a quiet moment for “The King”) and the Lindy and Swing disappeared or at least diminished from our culture. That sometimes happens with over the years, but there are always those who remember those golden days (swing dancing was featured in movies, which may have triggered the resurgence) since American troops stationed overseas brought Swing dancing to distant “ports-of-call”.
The actual term “swing dancing” is perhaps a misnomer, since (at the time) it referred to a group of dances from the early part of the 1900s, namely… Lindy Hop, Charleston, Shag, Balboa and Blues, which spawned from the rhythm of Dixieland jazz, but grew to encompass other forms of music.
FACTOID: The Black Bottom and The Charleston, while not technically a part of Swing Dancing, are both considered to be part of the family. And a not so distant cousin is Tap dancing.
We’ll always have debates about what type of music REALLY defines “Swing Dancing”, can you swing to rock and roll (don’t know haven’t tried)? But across the country, right now as you read this, someone, somewhere is swinging to some music that you might not think appropriate, but it is if it fits. And perhaps that’s the true beauty of “Swing Dancing”, it fits with so many genres of music that almost anyone can find enjoyment.
Perhaps “Swing Dancing” is one instance when… history repeating itself is a positive statement, giving new life to Benny Goodman (the big band sound) and others of his era and musical persuasion.
Swing Dancing has proven the test of time and the expression, “it’s so old it’s new again, has taken root and grown into a nationwide dance craze, though most swing dancers are still concentrated on the west coast, but as they travel and news spreads, it won’t be long before “swing dancing” might be happening just down the street. And no matter what style you see: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Shag, Balboa and Blues, or what music you hear, it’s all Swing Dancing at its finest.