Swing 1 Class 1 Cultural Material: What is Swing Dance?

What is swing dance?

It’s great that you want to start your swing dance journey! As you’re learning, it’s important to us that you not only learn the dance steps and techniques, but also about the rich culture and history that Lindy Hop and other jazz dances come from. The people of yehoodi.com are a nice resource for learning about this, here’s a short summary of how they describe the dance:

Lindy Hop was danced predominantly by Black dancers starting in the 1920s. Many of them lived in Harlem, where there were dance clubs such as the Savoy and Alhambra ballrooms.Lindy Hop emerged as a defiant, joyous response to financial hardship caused by the Great Depression, harsh living conditions, and systemic racism.The dance evolved out of several forms of social dance that preceded it, such as the Cakewalk, the Breakaway, and partnered Charleston. A uniquely American dance, Lindy Hop brought together the African traditions of social and circle dance and European partnered ballroom dancing.

Learn more about Lindy Hop's origins and history on our History and Culture page.

P.S. I thought you were going to tell me about swing, what is this “lindy hop” thing? Are they different?

No! Well, sort of 😉 Because this dance culture is not strictly defined by rules, as you continue dancing you’ll hear these words used in different ways. For now, you can think of Swing as being a big umbrella that a lot of dances fit under, and Lindy Hop and Charleston are what we’re doing.

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