The story of swing dancing

By | April 8, 2021

Early history

The history of swing dance is difficult to distinguish from other dances and types of music. The advent of jazz, blues and ragtime has similarities with Cakewalk, Foxtrot and Back Bottom. Swing dance grew, like jazz, out of African American culture from the time of the Civil War for most of the 20th century.


During the 1920s, swing appeared in the clubs of Harlem and Manhattan. Although it has its own specific features, it is common knowledge that the most popular versions of this dance came from Lindy Hop which was itself created by crane moves in combination with Charleston and Foxtrot which were today’s two most popular dances. The birth of swing dancing was imminent.

Herbert White

Herbert White, owner and director of the hugely popular Harlem Savoy Ballroom, became a credible force behind Lindy Hop and Swing Dance as he formed performance troupes that were presented in motion pictures of the day. ‘Hellzapoppin’ and ‘A Day at the Races’, both hit films, presented this dance that created a nationwide movement. Whites were originally banned from the Savoy Ballroom, but as the swing and Lindy became popular, this rule changed and these dances served as a bridge between the competitions. Soon, the swing dance moves were developed and changed to suit the tastes of every decade and region in the country.

East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing is a straight six-step similar to Lindy Hop and became wildly popular in the 1940s. The dance studios Arthur Murray, who danced at the most famous dance studio, now featured swing dance, which has much simpler footwork and can be danced to slow, medium or fast music, depending on what you prefer West Coast Swing West Coast Swing Dance is a newer form of this style of dance and was created in the 1950s. Although it still resembles Lindy Hop, it is danced to all types of music that include: rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues and jazz. It is still a very popular dance today in the United States and Europe, Asia and as far as Australia and New Zealand. Despite its name, West Coast Swing has made its way into dance studios and dance floors around the world.

Time frame

Swing dance has really stood the test of time and has turned into many other types of dance. Other types of swing dance that emerged in the 20’s were Western Swing, Boogie Woogie, Imperial Swing, Carolina Shag and many other regional favorites that put their turn on the original swing movements. The story of swing dancing is a very colorful one. Swing is much more than throwing girls in the air and gyrating on the dance floor. Its music is an interesting mix of blues, ragtime and jazz and is so very popular, it has stood the test of time.