The Origin & History of Swing Dance

While anyone can learn a dance without knowing the history of it, as with so many forms of art, you’ll find your experience is made richer by the knowledge of its context and history.

Today, we’ll look at the dance, or rather a collection of dances, known today as swing; its origins in the early days of the Jazz scene and its constant evolution and consistent popularity in the century since.

The Origin of Swing Dance

Today, swing dance refers to the style of dancing associated with swing music from the 1920s and ’30s, but the term itself didn’t become popular as a description until the swing revival of the late ’80s and ’90s.

The earliest of these dances, the Lindy Hop, arose in the 1920s in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City as a Black American dance that predated the rise of the “swing era” of jazz.

Other dances, now considered swing but then more likely called jitterbug, arose in the decades following, including the Shag, Balboa or Bal, and the Charleston.

The History & Evolution of Swing Dance

Swing dance has seen countless evolutions and permutations, referring always to dances paired with the jazz and swing music of the era. Swing dance reached its first peak in popularity in media coverage through the 1930s and ’40s, where terms like jitterbug, Lindy Hop, and Lindy would be used interchangeably to describe a variety of interrelated dances.

During this time, dance shoes became a popular component of swing dance, and other musical styles such as rhythm & blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country built off of and, in turn, influenced swing music and swing dance in the years ahead.

Over time, ballroom dance teachers created distilled, simplified swing dance styles for widespread consumption, the East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing. The Jive, another dance with its origins in swing, became part of international ballroom dance competitions.

Swing dances remain popular in their own right today, and the permutations and influence of swing on dance as a whole can even be seen throughout disco, hip hop, international ballroom dancing, country line dancing, and more.

Start Dancing Today

Now that you know where the swing dance of today began and how it’s evolved, it’s time to take the next step and get moving.

At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we can help you take the next steps toward swing dancing no matter your starting point; whether you’re a beginner armed only with curiosity or an experienced dancer looking to improve further, we’ll be glad to help you achieve your goals. We’ll teach you at your pace and let you find the right steps to meet your goals.

Learning swing dance with our team is an outstanding way to improve your fitness, make an impression at a wedding, meet new people, maintain your mental health, and more.

When you’re ready to learn swing dance with Fred Astaire Dance Studios, call 317-846-3237 to get started.