WHAT IS SWING DANCE?

"Swing dance" refers to any dance that is danced to swing music. Not every swing dance has "swing" in their name, and some dances that have swing in their name aren't swing dances by this definition. Many dances originated from swing dance, but have since strayed far enough from the original dance and music that we no longer consider them to be "swing dances."

 

For some examples of swing dancing, check out the vidoes on the Swing Dance Clips page and more on our youtube channel.

Lindy Hop

 Lindy Hop (or just “Lindy”) is what most people are talking about when they talk about “Swing Dance.” It’s an energetic dance that involves both 8-count and 6-count patterns with triple steps, as well as moves borrowed from the Charleston. Although performance Lindy Hop often involves lifts, tricks, and aerials, social Lindy Hop requires none of these things. Lindy Hop is characterized by a low, relaxed posture and a rhythmic bounce–or pulse–that matches the music it is danced to.

East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing (also called Jitterbug) was created in the 1940's by the Arutur Murray dance school, as a simplified, standardized, and somewhat balroomized version of Lindy Hop. The term is also commonly used to describe 6-count Lindy Hop, such as what we teach in our drop-in beginner lessons. However, rather than being a separate dance, we think of our lessons as a jumping off point for people who want to learn Lindy Hop, not as a separate dance.

Balboa

Balboa is a swing dance that originated around the same time as Lindy Hop, but in the ballrooms of California as opposed to New York. Balboa, as we use the term today, is actually a fusion of what were once two distinct dances "Balboa" (what we now call "Pure Bal"), and "Randy Swing" or just "Swing" (what we now call "Bal-Swing"). Balboa is charaterized by a more upright position that Lindy Hop, intricate footwork, and many turns. It is often danced to faster swing music, but can be danced to any tempo.

Solo Jazz

A broad category including solo charleston, vernacular jazz, some forms of tap, black bottom, cake walk, and others. Solo jazz may be danced alone, or in a circle, where dancers might steal each others moves and try to one-up each other. Solo jazz routines such as the Shim Sham, the Tranky Doo, and the Big Apple all fall into this category.

Shag

Collegiate Shag and St. Louis Shag are two different swing dances, despite their similar name (and both wholly different from the non-swing dance Carolina Shag). Collegiate shag is danced with an upright position, and is based on energetic scoots and hops. St. Louis shag is closely related to charleston, and is often danced to boogie woogie and jump blues. Unfortunately, neither dance has much poularity in the Vancouver area.

Savoy Blues and Slow Drag

Blues is a tricky one. Savoy blues (also called slow drag) has its roots in the same African-American music and dance traditions as lindy hop and solo jazz - it's just slower. Nowadays, "blues" is danced to a huge variety of music, and "alt-blues" and "fusion" dancers are pushing the boundaries of the genre. In our eyes, dancing done to slow swing and blues music in a way that is insprired by the original dances done to this music is swing dancing. Other dancing that also goes by the name blues, not so much.

Non-Swing Dances

Dances that grew out of swing, but are not danced to swing music, include:

 

  • West Coast Swing

  • Boogie Woogie (Europe), Rock & Roll  (North America - also called Jive in places)

  • Fusion blues and other non-swing blues varietals

  • Ballroom Jive

  • Carolina Shag (no relation to the Shag dances above)

  • Western Swing

  • Ceroc

 

If you'd like to learn one of these dances, learn away! But the Vancouver Swing Society won't be able to help you.

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