Swing dance in its basic form is one of those dances that will be around forever and so many people know it or a version of it.
How many times when you have heard “swing” in reference to dance did you think of the jitterbug or rock ‘n’ roll or the Lindy Hop? Although they all belong to the same music group, they are all different dances.
Swing is a group of dances that developed with the style of jazz music in the 1920s to ’50s, when the music was primarily from the Big Band orchestras.
Of all the dances just listed, swing was the easiest to learn and became the most popular. There is a triple-step swing that is used when the music is slower and a single-step swing when the music is much faster.
Both consist of a side-to-side action with a rock step away from the partner. The only difference is the added step with the faster music.
In many areas outside the United States, swing is not as popular – it is truly an American Big Band dance style.
Eventually, swing developed and extended to include the West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, shag dancing, jive, rock ‘n’ roll, the Lindy Hop and modern jive.
Lindy Hop continued into the 1960s and is featured in many big Hollywood movies of the era.
East Coast Swing is a simpler, six-count variation of the Lindy Hop that evolved with swing-band music and the work of Arthur Murray from the 1940s.
West Coast Swing is danced more in a line rather than side to side and was developed in the 1940s as a variation on Lindy Hop. It is danced to a wide variety of music including blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country-western, smooth and cool jazz. It is popular throughout the United States and Canada.
Carolina shag was danced along the coast between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, N.C., as early as the 1940s but, during the 1990s and later, expanded to many other places. It is most often associated with beach music, which refers to songs that are rhythm-and-blues based. The shag community is growing and many shag clubs have been formed.
Jive is a dance of International Style Ballroom dancing. It is mostly used in competition and not in the social dance world.
Swing – in its many styles – is a fun, easy and fast-moving dance that most people pick up quickly. If you learn basic swing, you can take off from there!
Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. hiltonheadballroom.com