History

Swing dance is an umbrella term used to describe several styles of dance originating from 20th century America.

First and foremost, swing dances are street dances, meaning they were created by everyday folks going to music and dance halls for a fun time. The origin is not one of ballrooms and highly trained professionals, but rather one of African American youth responding to the music of the era. The creation of swing dance was a direct reflection of the newly emerging jazz music of the 1920s. During this time, an early form of the dance called the charleston took the nation by storm. It became a national dance craze that people of all color, status, and locale danced. Right along with the charleston came a dance known as breakaway. These dance steps combined through the years, and adapted with the popular music as it gained a more heavy swing beat. Thus, lindy hop was born. Lindy hop is entirely the creation of African American youth in Harlem, New York, as a response to the new sounds of swing being invented by black musicians during the Harlem Renaissance.

As swing music made its way across the U.S., the dance spread and developed regional differences. Today, we know these styles and dances as LA swing, balboa, and bal-swing. Alongside these were solo dances and line dances made by choreographers to express both vernacular solo jazz and partner dancing.

This history is so rich, and there is always more to learn. For further reading, visit this Swungover blog or Yehoodi article and take a look around!