Swing refers to a group of dances that developed concurrently in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s with the rise of swing style music. Dances include Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Shag and Peabody.
Lindy Hop, born in Harlem New York, this style of dance has become the cornerstone dance style of all modern swing. Also known as the Jitterbug, this truly American-bred dance has been danced in New York since 1927. It is a highly improvisational dance that works at many different tempos. It incorporated a wide variety of 6 and 8-count triple, double, and single rhythm footwork, 30’s style Charleston and era specific jazz movements. At the advanced level, it can be done with aerials (overhead, acrobatic moves) which are choreographed and practiced.
It is traditionally danced to big band, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm & blues, however we have never let that limit us!
Balboa is a swing dance that developed in the late 20’s/early 30’s in Southern California. It was originally developed for crowded dance floors, emphasizing a close embrace, front-of-body connection, and fancy footwork. Balboa can be enjoyed to all tempos of swing music, traditionally danced to big band era jazz. A repertoire of more open patterns evolved, which is now referred to as Bal-Swing. Currently, dancers use a mix of both traditional balboa (known as “pure bal”) and bal-swing patterns to define balboa today.
Charleston is the energetic granddaddy of all the swing dances, and is still danced today – both on its own and combined with East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop and Balboa.
Collegiate Shag is an 8-Count type of swing executed through upward movement, almost hopping. There are versions of single time and double time Collegiate Shag.
Hollywood Style Lindy Hop (sometimes referred to as Smooth Style or Dean Collins) which isn’t bouncy like the “Jitterbug”, but is more on Counter balance and whip technique. It tends to resemble a rubber band kind of movement. Known to many as the “missing link” between early Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing, this style of swing was the first to form the dance slot, which was created for the purpose of filming dancers in the 1930’s and 40’s.
West Coast Swing (WCS) is a slotted dance that originated in California in the 1930’s. It is a bar dance, designed to work in narrow spaces, that derived from Lindy Hop. Though WCS and Lindy Hop share a similar structure and many similar patterns, WCS is a bit more sultry and sexy than any of the other swing dances. It is characterized by its distinctive ‘elastic’ look and lends itself to improvisation for both the lead and the follow.
Smooth and rolling, the current WCS scene has people dancing to a wide variety of music, blues and R&B, as well as some country, pop, rock, and contemporary music. Because of this, you can have fun with this dance style in an extensive variety of settings and venues. (Be sure to check out our weekly Wednesday night WCS Party!)
Ken & Paula dancing at our 2014 Winter Bash Party (Video Clip)
East Coast Swing is a style term by some to characterize swing dancing strictly comprised of 6-Count Patterns. We teach the basics, critical movements at the Basic & Advanced Basic level of our Swing/Lindy program. Social swing dancing ultimately combines these fundamental patterns with 8-count movements.
These varieties of swing dancing, all of which stem from 6 and/or 8 count basics, can be combined while social dancing to create a very exciting dance experience.
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