What is Swing Dancing?

What is Swing? More than just the twirling in Grease, how would you spot it today? Look for couples hitting the dance floor with huge smiles and having a ton of fun! Famous for its quick spins and partner flips, ‘Swing’ is an assortment of dance moves invented in the 1920’s to 1940’s to accompany the vintage music styles of Big Band, Swing, Jazz, Hot Jazz, Dixieland Jazz, and Charleston. 

Popular dance steps of Swing include the Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, Charleston, Black Bottom, and the Shim Sham. A well-known feature of Swing is its lively pace that combines aerials or ‘Air Steps’ where the leader tosses, hurls or flips the partner into the air, spotlighting a variety of performance moves that spin the partner and almost resemble acrobatics in speed and aerobics in ecstatic sweat and movement. Modern types of Swing dancing have evolved in the past 20 years, like East Coast and West Coast Swing, which adapted classic Swing dancing to the bass and feel of modern Club music, looking almost like a fusion of Ballroom and the Hustle.

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What Are The Steps to Swing Dancing?

So, now that you know a little about the story of Swing, how do you dance it? To be clear, Swing is a speedy, fast-paced dance. Couples hold hands instead of placing hands on the other’s shoulders or around their waist, as ballroom dancers would. Then, partners do the exact same steps side-by-side or like a mirror image of one another as they jive.

‘Rock steps’ are one of the foundations of the dance and the ‘Side-Together-Side’ is another technique you will commonly practice in class. Discovering the moment at which you can dance the steps with ease is a fun feeling of accomplishment and is a huge boost for self-confidence. Imagine when you can approach an attractive somebody and invite them to dance, saying ‘Yes’ with a wink and grin and you have a blast dancing to the upbeat music.

One of the star reasons why Swing is so much fun, is because dancers have the opportunity to add in their own personal style and flair. What does your dress say about you? What about that hip pin? How about the expressions that you shine as your body jives, twirls and Rock steps? Do you do any signature moves to showcase your style, like shaking your finger at your partner or playfully saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Watch professional Swing dancers and notice their particular style. Once you begin to attend Swing classes, you will surely learn the basic steps until you can shine on your own. Then, your instructor will encourage you to add in your own playful moves to the dance. How will you express a trumpet blast? What emotions would you display in each step? Be creative and go wild.

Swing instructors will often teach beginners at dance clubs before the open dancing begins, and more in-depth lessons are available at studios and private classes. Swing may require some extra practice to get rolling, but once you learn the basic steps, you might just never want to stop Swinging.

What is your favorite aspects of dance? Do you know any unique moves? How did you learn over the years, and what do you recommend to new attendees just getting started? Let us know in the comment section, and get out there on the dance floor and Swing, Baby, Swing!

Types of Swing Dancing

East Coast Swing

This dance is regularly referred to as a triple step swing due to the rhythm of its basic 1-2-3 step. East Coast swing requires a rock step back by both the man and women to begin and consists of six and eight count patterns. This circular dance is moved with a bounce and is very grounded and not high in the legs. This bounce requires the dancer to stay very smooth and not jump around much. East Coast swing is the base for all swing dances.

West Coast Swing

Consisting of six and eight count patterns, the West Coast swing is done in a slot. The rhythm is generally done to medium tempo swing, which is most of the time slower than the East Coast swing. However, high qualified west coast dancers perform this dance in a faster tempo music. The dance has a very smooth feel and no bounce. You will rarely see high kicks or moves which require the performer to leave the dance floor.

The Hustle

The hustle, known as disco, and part of the swing family, is similar to the West Coast swing pattern. In the 1970s, its distinct flavor, using disco style music and revived partner style were well appreciated from nightclub dancer. Hustle is also danced to the contemporary pop dance music of the last 20 years. The dance is fast and smooth, the lady spins almost constantly while the man draws her close and sends her away.

The Jive

Jive is a European version of East Coast swing and is composed of the sane six and eight count pattern. This dance makes its difference with its bouncy sharp kicks and flicks. Unlike East Coast swing, jive is danced to a faster tempo swing music and is meant for competitive style dancing.

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