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Swing Dancing Chicago

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Lindy Hop: Socially dancing from Montreal. Max Pitruzzella, Annie Trudeau, Thomas Blacharz, & Alice Mei
Lindy Hop: Choreographed performance from Sweden. Skye Humphries & Frida Segerdahl
Solo Charleston: The Finals of the Solo Charleston competition at the Lone Star Championships.

What is Lindy Hop?

Lindy Hop is the original swing dance that evolved from the Charleston and other jazz dances in the 1920s and flourished in the Swing Era of the 1930s and 40s. It spread from Harlem, New York where it was born, across the United States and to the rest of the world. Named after Charles Lindbergh and his famous ‘hop’ across the Atlantic. Lindy Hop is most famous for its acrobatic “airsteps”, but this is only one aspect of the dance. It can be danced socially to fast or slow tempos and it is perfect for all ages and levels of fitness. So what makes Lindy Hop so special?
By definition a swing dance is danced to swinging jazz, a musical style popular in the 1930s and 40s. This is what differentiates Lindy Hop from dances like Rock ‘n Roll, Rockabilly, Jive, West Coast Swing or Ceroc - these dances all evolved out of Lindy Hop over the decades, and they are all danced to other types of music. Lindy Hop is the original swing dance. Of course you can dance Lindy Hop to other music too, but it will never feel as fantastic as dancing to music with a swinging pulse. Lindy Hop evolved alongside jazz, so it echoes the nature of the music. Swing dancers are musical - this means that they listen to the music and interpret it spontaneously into dance form, regardless of whether they know the song or have never heard it before. Like jazz, Lindy Hop is based on rhythms and syncopation.

Keep Reading... 
Lindy Hop: Whitey's Lindy Hoppers dance number from the Movie Hellzapoppin' (1941).
Lindy Hop: Groovie Movie (1944), a comical but classic instructional video.
Balboa & Shag: Dancers doing LA Swing (early form of Bal-Swing) and Collegiate Shag at Venice Beach, CA (1938).

Bal, Shag, & Charleston

Within the Lindy Hop scene dancers also dance other various vernacular jazz dances that are closely tied to Lindy Hop. The most popular three are Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston.

The original Balboa (Pure-Bal) was a dance born in overly crowded ballrooms of Southern California during the 20's and 30's. A style of Lindy Hop called L.A. Swing, now called Bal-Swing, developed around the same time as Balboa. The two were separate dances but because of their similarities have blended together over time and are now both casually referred to as simply "Balboa." When these two styles of dance are combined, we get a dance with the best of both: dynamic, energetic, graceful, and intimate. The smaller scale of the movements also allows dancers to move more easily when keeping up with the fastest tempos.

Collegiate Shag is a partner dance that originated in the 1930’s and has a history similar to other jazz and swing era dances, such as the Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Balboa. The dance is known for its hopping basic step and high energy footwork that separates it from other forms of swing and other dances that use the “shag” name, such as Carolina Shag or St. Louis Shag.

Since Lindy Hop grew out of Charleston so it is no surprise that there is plenty of it in the scene. Various variations of the original 20's Charleston include side by side Charleston, hand to hand Charleston, and tandem Charleston. Each typically seen when the beats per minute get cranking. Since you can't look good dancing with a partner if you can't look good dancing by yourself, solo Charleston has become widely popular among the more experienced Lindy Hoppers. Line dances like the Shim Sham, Big Apple, and the Tranky Doo are a great way to build a repertoire of Solo Charleston moves.

Blues: Emerald City Blues Festival 2010 Solo Blues Contest
Blues: ULHS 2009 Couples Blues Final in House of Blues, NOLA
Blues: Strictly Blues finals at the Lone Star Championships. Michael Darigol, Sara Deckard,Andrew Twiss, Evin Galang...

What is Blues?

The history of Blues - the dance as well as the music - is tied to the history of jazz, and this legacy merges with jazz dance as the music evolves, but it also maintains an identity of its own throughout the history of African dance in America. The goal of The Blues Dance Project is to document the personality of Blues dance, its forms, its context, and its development within the continuum of African-American vernacular dances.
Over the last decade, a resurgence of interest in Blues dancing has been quietly evolving. It has been established in parallel to the resurgence of interest in Lindy Hop and has been directly and profoundly influenced by that. As social Blues dance has gained momentum and interest across the United States and the world, more and more students of the dance are asking about its history.

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