A BRIEF HISTORY

Here is a brief description of the dance styles you can learn at Swing Zing dance school:

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS SWING DANCING?

The term "swing dancing" is an umbrella term for any dance done to swinging jazz music (eg: Lindy Hop, Balboa, Bal-Swing, Collegiate Shag), from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The term is sometimes also used to include earlier jazz dances (eg: Charleston, Cakewalk, Blackbottom), and some related or more modern styles as well (eg: Blues Dancing, West Coast Swing).


Helzapoppin features perfomance troupe Whitey's Lindy Hoppers

WHAT IS LINDY HOP?

Lindy Hop is a partnered swing dance, that evolved out of the Charleston in the late 1920s, in the ballrooms and on the streets of the African-American district of Harlem in New York City. The dance evolved alongside swing music itself, emerging in the late 1920s when hot jazz (born in New Orleans) was transforming into swinging jazz, and died out (as we know it) in the late 1940s as the swing era gave way to bebop and rock 'n roll. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, as swing music spread across the USA and the world, Lindy Hop spread with it. 

Legend has it that Lindy Hop earned its name in 1927 when one of its original dancers, George "Shorty" Snowden, was asked its name by a reporter, and dubbed it Lindy Hop after aviator Charles Lindbergh and his famous solo flight across the Atlantic that year (newspaper 

headlines read "Lindy Hops The Atlantic"). It is sometimes simply called The Lindy, and in Australia it was commonly known as The Jitterbug. Hollywood films and US newsreels first showed Lindy Hop to Australian youth in the 1930s, and the US servicemen that visited our shores during World War II were widely responsible for popularising the dance in Australia in the 1940s.

Legend has it that Lindy Hop earned its name in 1927 when one of its original dancers, George "Shorty" Snowden, was asked its name by a reporter, and dubbed it Lindy Hop after aviator Charles Lindbergh and his famous solo flight across the Atlantic that year (newspaper headlines read "Lindy Hops The Atlantic"). It is sometimes simply called The Lindy, and in Australia it was commonly known as The Jitterbug. Hollywood films and US newsreels first showed Lindy Hop to Australian youth in the 1930s, and the US servicemen that visited our shores during World War II were widely responsible for popularising the dance in Australia in the 1940s.

While the acrobatic aspect of Lindy Hop is perhaps most familiar to many people, Lindy Hop has many characters. Though it can indeed be danced wild and fast, with spectacular airsteps, it can also be slow and smooth, elegant or sexy. At a swing dance in Perth, a variety of tempos will be played. Swing Zing classes will teach you how to dance Lindy at all speeds.

Lindy Hop is the mother of a variety of other dances, that evolved out of Lindy from the 1950s onwards, including Rock 'n Roll, Boogie Woogie, Jive, Ceroc and West Coast Swing. These later styles are all danced to different music, have other influences, and are simplified, mainstreamed, institutionalised or just far removed cousins of Lindy. Lindy Hop is the original swing dance!

LINDY HOP CLASSES

Want to learn to swing dance? Here's where to start! Simply turn up at one of our Lindy Hop Beginners' Classes (Lindy 1) at a venue near you. Each Beginner's class is a casual, drop in class, so you don't have to book in for a course.

We understand life is very busy, so our drop in style classes are convenient and easy to attend. Over some months you will gain proficiency with the foundation moves.

Once you feel confident with them you can ask your teacher about moving on to the next level of intermediate drop in classes. 


Rudi and Tiph performing the dancers dance at VSX

WHAT ABOUT BALBOA?

Balboa as a dance takes its name from the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach in California, where it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. It is said it developed as a style there because of the packed ballrooms, where the dancefloors were far too crowded for any but the tightest partner dance.

Balboa is a much more compact and subtle dance than Lindy Hop, done almost entirely in a closed position (no breakaways or 'swingouts') and mostly on the spot. It has an 8-beat basic step, and very small footwork, meaning that it can be danced from medium to extremely fast tempos. Followers often wear high heels to dance Balboa, and leaders wear smooth soled shoes that allow them to slide on the floor.

"Bal-Swing" is a style of Balboa that incorporates some of the open positions from other swing dances. Many Lindy Hoppers around the world also dance Balboa and Bal-Swing, and vice versa. Some people call Balboa the "dancer's dance", as it is not as flashy or spectacular to watch as Lindy Hop, but a challenging and satisfying dance in terms of the strong connection to your partner, its pure style of lead and follow, its elegance, and the subtlety of its movements and improvisation.

BALBOA CLASSES

Want to learn the smooth partnered danced known as Balboa? This is the place! On Thursday nights at the Mount Hawthorn Community Centre, we offer two levels of Balboa.

Bal 1 is open to anyone of any level (even if you have never danced before), and then Bal 2 for those that know the fundamentals of Balboa and Bal-Swing. Both classes start at 8.15pm.

Join our newsletter (sign up on the home page) or email us at info@swingzing.com to find out more.


Stephen and Chandrae from Los Angeles demo Collegiate Shag

WHAT IS COLLEGIATE SHAG?

Collegiate Shag is a lively high-energy swing dance that developed in southern USA (most likely New Orleans) in the 1920s, and was made popular by college students, hence the name "collegiate". Full of hops and kicks, and danced to medium or fast tempos, it has a style that is recognisably 'jitterbug'. It is danced in a closed position hold, similar to most ballroom dances, but also includes open and separating elements.

In its most popular form today, it has a 6-beat basic step that has a "slow, slow, quick-quick" rhythm similar to Fox Trot. This form is sometimes called Double Shag (because of the two "slow" steps), but there are also Single and Triple forms of Collegiate Shag. There are other dances known as "shag" dances, including Carolina Shag and St Louis Shag, but these are vastly different.

 

 


Mikey and Gaby perform Blues dancing in Austin, Texas

WHAT IS SLOW SWING AND BLUES DANCING?

Slow Swing and Blues are just modern term used for the Slow Drag or Slow Dancing of the early jazz eras. It is commonly danced to slow Blues and slow Swing music.

Blues dancing was never danced socially in ballrooms, or performed on the stage, but instead was a more intimate, after-hours dance style that thrived in juke joints, honky tonks and house parties.

Blues dance is strongly tied to blues music, with its elements of call and response, tension and release, and emotional intensity. For as many types of Blues music that there are (eg: rural, urban, slow, electric, delta, modern, etc.), there are just as many styles of Blues dancing.

This close partner contact, slowness and style of movement in many styles of Blues dancing often lead observers to assume the Blues is intrinsically a sexy or sensual dance, and though this can be true, Blues dancing is more focused on subtle physical communication and connection with your partner, and need not be sensual in any way.

The skills learned in Blues dancing will improve your partnered technique in other dances as well. At Swing Zing you can learn a variety of vintage and modern Blues dancing styles, from the Mooche to Slow Drag, Blues ballrooming, tango-influenced modern Blues, and more.