As the jazz music of the 1920s and ’30s began to develop into ‘swing’, so did the way in which people danced to it. Influenced by the Charleston, tap and other dances of the era, Lindy Hop (also known as Jitterbug) evolved on the dancefloors of Harlem and became famous for its wild energy and spectacular aerial moves. A social dance in which one partner leads and the other follows, but both get to be as creative as they like, Lindy Hop can be smooth and slinky or floor-ripping wild. This is the dance with which the American GIs stole Britain’s sweethearts in World War II, the one you see in the movies, on Strictly Come Dancing… but you’ve got to try it to really find out how much fun it is.
Collegiate shag is an energetic and unbelievably fun variation of swing dance originating from New York in the 1930’s, though several other variations sprung up across the States around that time. It got the collegiate title added because it was popular with the young college crowd back in the day, so basically all the cool kids were doing it!
Normally done to upper tempo swing music, it is basically a 6 count dance, characterised by a ‘slow slow, quick quick’ tempo, danced in both the closed and open position. The “slows” are over two beats, and can incorporate kicks, hops or taps on the second beat, and the “quicks” are on the 5 and 6 single beats, giving it the awesome look of a fast footed frenzy of a dance. Add in some camel kicks, breaks, and side to sides, and it looks amazing. Come and try! Also a great way to keep fit!
Balboa is a restrained and elegant swing dance that originated in the dancehalls of Southern California in the 1920s and 1930s. Having originally evolved as a response to overcrowded dancefloors, Balboa is danced in an upright, mostly close embrace position with small, shuffled steps and many variations on turns, spins and slides. It can be danced to any tempo but is particularly suited to fast music. Balboa steps and styles combine well with Lindy Hop (a fusion sometimes referred to as Bal-Swing), and recent years have seen both Balboa and Bal-Swing resurging hugely in popularity worldwide.
A simple back-and-forward basic step that mimics the natural movement of walking, this dance craze of the 1920s is still an integral feature of Lindy Hop and has many variations. Energetic, fun, versatile and brilliant for faster music, it can also be danced solo.
When the night gets late and the lights dim, the music gets bluesy and so does the dancing… channelling the spirit of the original Delta juke joints, blues dancing is not about fancy footwork or complicated moves but on the connection between partners. Its simplicity makes it accessible to everyone – if you’re already a dancer then learning blues will help your connection and musicality, and if you’re not then it’s a great place to start!