Swing Dance Move

You enjoy dancing the swing, but have you ever wondered how it ever came to its present form? Find out the history of the swing dance move and gain a deeper appreciation of this fun and exciting ballroom dance.

Swing was born during the 1920s in Harlem clubs and streets. In March 1926, the Savoy Ballroom opened and attracted the best dancers in New York. The dance style that prevailed here was swing.

Here’s something you might not have known. Did you know how the name Lindy Hop came about? No, it was not a dancer named Lindy who sort of hopped all over the dance floor (if you thought this, it’s OK— I did too). It was actually a dancer who was asked by a local reporter what dance he was doing. At that time, the Lindbergh plane was just flying to Paris and the headlines read, “Lindy Hops The Atlantic”. The dancer took the headline and as you know, the rest is history.

During the 1930s the swing, particularly the Lindy Hop and the Jitterbug, became immensely popular. This is largely due to the burgeoning interest of Hollywood into this type of dance. Some of the movies that showed a part of swing dancing were “A Day In The Races” and “Sugar Hill Masquerade”.  There were many, many more films that showcased swing from the 1940s to the 1960s.

The interesting thing about this is that initially, dance studios refused to have anything to do with swing. Call it dance snobbery, for them swing was a passing fad that wouldn’t last for long. It definitely did not belong to the hallowed halls where The Tango, Paso Doble, Samba, Waltz, Cha cha and The Quickstep had their rightful positions. Of course it wasn’t long before the Hollywood producers came knocking at their doors to ask for swing dance lessons and what do you know? Forgiveness comes quick at the heels of potential income generator proposals.

As the music evolved through the years, many variations of swing were also developed— some of them were brought about by regional flavors, others by the type of dancing itself. For example, we have the Imperial swing from Missouri, Supreme swing from Oklahoma, DC Hand dancing from Washington, and of course, the East Coast and West Coast Swing.

It was only in the 1950s when the first syllabus for swing was actually published by Laure Haile for Arthur Murray Dance Studio. The standardized and polished swing was now being taught by respected dance instructors all over the countries for people who paid to learn how to dance the swing. I guess you could say that swing was the little dance that could. It started from the streets of Harlem, but is now recognized and celebrated around the world.

Now you know the history of the swing dance move. Interesting, isn’t it? It gets you to wonder what next form of dance is waiting to be introduced to the world— who knows, you might just be the one to create it. Enjoy!


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