You could see scenes with swing dances in “La La Land”, “Chicago”, “Swing Kids” and many other movies devoted of the era 1920s-1960s. Small fragments and sometimes even whole stories about dances also can be found in the novels of Bradbury, Salinger, King and other classics.
People dance swing on jazz, blues and rock'n'roll music parties. Swing dance receives its' name because of specific swingin' rhythm which is usual for these musical genres. But it continues to evolve, and swing dancers start to dance to rhythm'n'blues, electroswing and other modern music.
Improvisation and sociality are the main benefits of any kind of swing dance. After some lessons, you can dance without memorization specific choreography and create each dancing in a new way. But the most important - you can dance with any person all over the world.
The “swing dancing” includes a number of dance styles. Some of them have already received wide recognition. For example, you’ve heard about Charleston, Lindy hop (partnered jazz dance) or Boogie Woogie (rock'n'roll). However, such dances as Blues, Shag or Balboa are still unknown to many people. All these dance styles are related and differ only in nuances of body positions, movements type or leading-following – all that arising during the historical and cultural development of society.
However, these dance styles are studied separately in regular schools. In our view, it narrows students' horizon or forces them to pay and attend the lessons of several teachers, which often keep saying the same things. We don’t agree with this approach and can proudly say that Swing.School is the first dance school in the world, where each group's students gradually learn all the swing dances.
Swing dance styles
Lindy hop is the most popular of the couple swing dances. He was born in New York in the 1920s and was especially popular a decade later: he was danced in huge halls, often to live bands-orchestras. After it was forgotten, but it began to be revived in the late 80s - and now lindy hop is popular and danced all over the world.
Heis danced both to fast jazz and to a rather slow music, which opens up space for variety and gives opportunity to calmly relax or release all your energy. Improvisation and freedom are exactly about it, which distinguishes it from ballroom dancing, for example. It is quite simple, which allows you to start dancing right after a few lessons.
What is "boogie"? Both music and dance. It can be both elegant and slow, dynamic and fast. It can be danced to jazz, but rock and roll is much more popular. Along with lindy hop, it is one of the most popular pair dances; it appeared on its base a little later, around the 40s.
As easy as lindy, it has its own features and depth. And there are a lot more spectacular stunts: next to the boogie stands acrobatic rock and roll - a whole separate sports world!
There are disputes, but there is an opinion that the collegiate shag is the oldest of the swing dances. There are also discussions about what exactly was called "shag" before, because although it was spread all over the USA, it was danced in different ways. Now one of its versions is popular, and the prefix Collegiate ("university") was taken because of the popularity among students.
In terms of leading-following, shag is somewhat similar to lindy hop and boogie, but it differs in its dynamics and, most importantly, speed. Shag is always danced to fast music, both jazz and boogie; at the same time, it retains its lightness and easiness.
Balboa is another style of couple swing dance. It is danced to a very, very fast music - sometimes even shag dancers can't keep up with them! And he is also distinguished by a close position and many spins. At the same time, the couple needs a minimum space: balboa was danced in overcrowded halls, and everything in the dance was miniature and neat.
From the outside it is discreet, balboa is stunning inside; not every dance can boast of such complex and interesting nuances of leading and following.
You've surely heard about blues music, but there is also a dance called blues, and it it the slowest of all swing. He is often, but not always sad: the blues can be both fun and cheerful, but always soft. Lingering and smooth, he asks to move as if in honey.
The blues is danced a lot in a close position, like balboa, but there are no rotations like there. You can move a lot, or you can move a little; as in other swing dances, there is a lot of room for improvisation.
You can dance to swing not only in pairs. Solo jazz is an opportunity to dance alone, whenever and wherever you want. It's not a jazz-modern dance; although the whole body is also involved here, solo jazz has its own rhythms. There is an alphabet of movements here, but the dance is not limited to them, because solo jazz is an absolute improvisation of free steps.
Solo also helps to improve the overall dance technique and gives a better understanding of your body and music. In addition, its elements are used in couple swing dances, for example, lindy hop and balboa.
Charleston is the first one that comes to mind when we talk about the dancing of the "roaring 20s". They say it was named after the city of Charleston in South Carolina, although in fact there are two cities with this name in the United States.
In the 20s and 30s Charleston was especially popular, but its style gradually changed. Only cheerful dynamics and tempo were preserved everywhere: as a rule, it is danced to fast jazz. He is often mixed with lindy hop, with which he is related to many points in the leading-following and general principles of dance.
St. Louis shag is a couple swing dance, which is quite different from its "brother" in name, the Collegiate Shag. It is named after the city of St. Louis in Missouri and is a direct "descendant" of Charleston, from where it partially took the steps on which it is now being danced.
Just like it was with Collegiate, in different places it was danced in different ways, and also to different music: first it was jazz, then rock-and-roll was added. One thing is still there - he is fast and funny.
West Coast swing is a couple dance that developed on the West Coast of the USA. Now it is also called Modern Swing. This is due to the fact that, unlike other swing styles, it is often danced to modern music and not danced to jazz at all.
West Coast is the heir to lindy hop, and that's why so many of the movements and concepts in leading-following remind us of lindy. Nevertheless, it has its own style and features that make it unique.
According to legend, charleston named after the city with the same name in South Carolina. It is often danced not only in pairs, but also solo. The explosion of popularity happened to him after the musical "Runnin' Wild" shown in 1923.
Solo Charleston, as well as a couple dance with the same name, has different styles; the most famous of them is the Charleston-20s, characterized by expressive twists in legs. Like (sometimes) solo jazz, it is danced to a fast tempo, which makes it energetic and spectacular.