What is Swing Dancing?

Swing dancing is broad term used to describe a number of dance styles that originated in America during the late 1920's and early 1930's. The main styles that are still popular today include Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Shag and Solo Jazz (probably just known as dancing at the time). In our dance school we focus on Lindy Hop, Charleston and Solo Jazz.

The Charleston was popularised in the USA during the 1920's. It was danced inside the nightclubs of the time as both a partnered and individual dance. The flamboyant style became widely associated with 'flapper girls' and was America's first national dance craze. The original 1920's Charleston style was adapted in the 1930's alongside the development of Lindy Hop. We teach both styles in our classes.

Savoy ballroom Harelm. Swing dancing and lindy hop.

Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York. The original home of Lindy Hop. Image courtesy of the New York public library digital collections.

Lindy Hop originated in Harlem, New York in the late 1920's. It grew out of the many partnered dances of the time, such as Charleston, and in the 1930's developed into it's own form of dance. The exact roots of Lindy Hop are not well established because it developed as a vernacular dance: meaning there were no formal rules like those associated with the traditional ballroom styles. This freedom allowed the dancers in Harlem, in particular within the Savoy ballroom, to shape and develop Lindy Hop alongside the new and exciting swing music of the time. When swing music gained national prominence in the late 1930's, through the likes of Goodman, Shaw and Basie, so too did Lindy Hop. This led to Lindy Hop spreading all over the world during the 'swing era' (1935-1945) and featuring in Hollywood films. Today we recognise the roots of the dance whilst also pushing it in new and exciting directions.

Solo Jazz dancing was performed on stage during the swing era, as part of revues and stage productions, much like modern dance styles today. In our lessons we recreate some popular jazz routines and also learn to improvise using jazz steps, allowing us to social dance individually to jazz music.

What is social dancing?

Swing dancing Lindy Hop

A couple social dancing at a swing dance event held in Nottingham.

Social dances are where swing dancers meet up to dance with one another. There are no routines or formal rules on how you have to dance, you simply ask someone to dance and enjoy the experience. We practice social dancing in our lessons to give you a taste.

There are lots of different types of social dance, from big evening events with live music and fancy attire to chilled out afternoons with a cup of tea. We encourage everyone to social dance as much as possible: it develops your dancing and is a great way to make new friends.

We run Nottingham's regular social dance with our friends. It is called Late Night Lindy and you can find out more here www.latenightlindy.co.uk

There are also weekend events dedicated to social dancing. These are called exchanges and can range from 50-1000 people. Keep up to date with upcoming social dances and exchanges in our News blog.