The History of Swing Dance: Things You Never Knew

Some feel dancing is a reciprocation of being alive, while some dance for enjoyment. But it is something that shows great energy on the part of the dancer. Dancing is nothing but moving the entire body or any part of the body along with the music. Among many dance forms which vary greatly in music selection to the tempo of the music, the Swing Dancing is unique in its own way. It gets its name from dance developed during the swing era i.e. 1920-1940, with the popularity of the Big Band and its jazz music. Though there are many forms and classes of swing dance which are known by different names, the name swing dance commonly refers to any of them. One of the most popular forms is known as Lindy Hop, originating in Harlem in the 1930s.

The Lindy Hop dancers were initially known as Jitterbugs, getting their name from the twitchy movement that the dancers made. There were other forms such as Balboa, Collegiate Shag, etc., and more styles were being developed every year. The dance became immensely popular with fast and intricate movements and dance moves. Charles Lindbergh was a revelation in this case and thus the name Lindy Hop came into being to honor his style of dancing.

Over the years, other dance forms began to develop like Boogie Woogie, RocknRoll and disco dancing which were only the derivatives of the original swing dancing.  They grew in popularity and more people were attracted to the newer dance style. The original swing dancing almost was reduced to a handful of dancers and by the 1960s, the culture almost vanished. Moreover, the musical tracks were made more in favor of the other alternative styles of dancing. It remained out of any major stage until the 1980s when it was introduced again by the French with a new name of French Jibe or Modern Jibe. Eventually, they started getting good appreciation and recognition all over the world. Slowly it emerged as one of the leading dance forms and became quite popular all over the world. It slowly made its way back to the UK in the early 1990s and is danced to contemporary jazz music and modern music. There are a considerable variation and development taking place even in the recent times and can be found distinct to each other in different parts of the world.

The dance format skewed its way through many dance styles and classes since the early 20th century. In the 1940s it grew popular as East Coast Swing and most commonly referred to as Six Step Swing. It also had a variation name West Coast swing which was more stylistic and lively. Imperial Swing, Washington Hand Dancing, and push are its other form and variation which saw growing popularities in the 1950s.

Swing dance has rightfully found its place in modern art and culture with increasing popularity among dancers as well as common people. Many dance competitions are being held nowadays where the subtleties of swing dance are judged based on timing, teamwork, and technique among the dancing couples to select the winners, though the original Lindy Hop competitions only look to select the most impressive dancer to be the winner without any of these criteria. There are many modern day dance groups who are keeping the tradition alive and taking it forward.

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