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Learning Center

History of Swing Dancing

Posted on April 5, 2016 at 2:15 PM

With April upon us, we now have new group class offerings including the ever popular East Coast Swing.  As always, our group classes are kid and adult friendly!  To get everyone ready for East Coast Swing we are offering every Thursday evening in April, here is a brief history of Swing dancing in general, the parent category in which East Coast Swing lies. 

...In the 1920’s, a new dance was being developed, different from any previous dance. It would become known as the Lindy Hop, and later as the Jitterbug. Lindy Hop (the original form of swing dance) is a mostly 8 count dance based partly on the Breakaway and the Charleston, with influences from many Jazz dances and other previous dances. Smooth Lindy would develop soon after the birth of the Lindy Hop, and these two styles would give rise to various other dances.

Dance contests became more and more "attention getting". In the 1930's a dancer named Frankie Manning added the first aerial into the Lindy. Aerials (lifts, flips, and other "air steps") had been done for years in a few other dances through exhibitions by professional club entertainers, but supposedly had not yet been done in the Lindy Hop.

Frankie and his partner worked out a back flip they had seen, and they added it to their performance at a dance contest in an effort to beat the then Savoy Ballroom "king" dancer, George Snowden.

July 4, 1928. On the 18th day of a non-stop dance marathon at the Marathon Casino, the NYC Board of Health had finally closed down the event. Four of the original 80 couples were left standing. Contestant number 7, Savoy Ballroom dance star "Shorty" George Snowden, and his partner shared the prize with the other three couples. Earlier, when the event was still in full swing, people could post a small cash prize with the emcee for a brief mini-contest among the survivors. This was the backdrop in which Shorty's spontaneous throw-out breakaway, and a flash footwork improv, capturing media attention. "What are you doing with your feet?" asked the Fox Movie Tone News interviewer. "The Lindy Hop," replied Shorty George -- Charles A. Lindbergh (aka "Lindy") had recently "hopped" the Atlantic, landing on May 21, 1927. From Shorty George's ad hoc reply, the Lindy Hop was officially given a name...

...Today there are many types of swing. East and West Coast, The Lindy Hop, The Charleston, The Jitterbug, etc. The ASU Swing Dance Club teaches East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Shim-Sham.

The above information is excerpted from a wonderful post by Appalacian State University Swing Dance club and is the full property of that organzation.  Read the full article here.


Some MOTIVATION to get out and learn East Coast Swing with us!!! Check out this videos of the professionals showing us all how its DONE!!

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1 Comment

Reply Kourtney Jensen
4:12 PM on September 13, 2017 
I've always been interested in learning about swing dancing but I'm not very charismatic. I always watch it and feel like there are so many foot movements that I wouldn't be able to pick up. I want to look into a good dance class where I can learn slowly about swing and won't feel like I'm behind while learning!