Origins of Swing Dancing
Swing Dancing originated in Harlem, New York, during the late 1920’s. It developed from Jazz and the Charleston as a partnered dance and was popularised by “Shorty” George Snowden who was a master of the partnered Breakaway dance in the 1920s and is reputed to have coined the name “Lindy Hop” after Charles Lindbergh’s first non-stop solo flight in 1927 across the Atlantic ocean.
The Lindy Hop partnered dance, performed to the “swing” music of such greats as Chick Webb, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, grew in popularity at dance halls such as the Cotton Club and, most famously, the Savoy Ballroom which was one of the few venues at the time to allow inter-racial dancing.
At the Savoy Ballroom, the better dancers performed in what became known as Kat’s Corner and Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers emerged from the Savoy becoming a professional dance troupe managed by one of the Savoy bouncers, Herbert “Whitey” White, nicknamed because of a white streak in his hair. They toured the world during the 1930’s and 40’s dancing to routines choreographed by one of the dancers, Frankie Manning. During this time they were featured in a number of films such as Day at the Races with the Marx brothers and probably one of the greatest dance sequences ever recorded in the 1941 film Helzzapoppin’.
With the coming of WWII, many of the dancers and musicians enlisted and the Big Bands slowly disappeared after the war as popular music was changing and vinyl records had gained popularity. Frankie Manning formed a dance company in 1946 called the Congaroos which toured internationally but by the mid-1950’s, Swing Dancing had virtually disappeared although the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll meant that partner dancing did not completely disappear.
It took until the mid-1980’s before a resurgence in Swing Dancing took place lead by Frankie Manning now in his 70’s who had retired from his job as a postal worker after 24 years. Frankie’s charisma, sense of humour and humility were the catalysts behind the growth of Swing Dancing which now has millions of dancers worldwide attending social dances, lessons, workshops and competitions.
Other Swing Dance Styles
To complement the Lindy Hop there are other Swing Dance styles that developed during the 1930’s and 40’s. Some of the better known styles are Lindy Charleston (not to be confused with the 1920’s Charleston), Balboa (Pure and Bal-Swing styles) and Collegiate Shag.
Our Dance Classes
We mainly teach Lindy Hop and Lindy Charleston dance moves but from time to time we will introduce some of the other dance styles which can be incorporated into a social dance usually to faster music.