Swing (dance)

Swing is a group of related street dances that evolved from Lindy Hop. Swing is a partner dance, where the couple consists of a leader and follower, who share a connection.

Forms of Swing

The three main dance forms of swing are Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, and East Coast Swing. However, there are many other dances of this kind, such as Jive and Balboa.

  • Lindy Hop evolved in the late 1920s and early 1930s as the original swing dance. Its main draw is the style's openess to improvisation and ability to easily adapt to include steps from other 8-count and 6-count Swing styles.
  • West Coast Swing was developed in the 1940s and 1950s as a stylistic variation. Followers stay in a slot, which reduces their ability to move left and right but improves their ability to spin left and right. West Coast Swing is danced with blues and rock and roll music.
  • East Coast Swing is a simpler 6-count variation. It is also known as Single-Time Swing, Triple-Step Swing, 6-Count Swing, Rock-a-billy, or Jitterbug. East Coast Swing has very simple structure and footwork along with basic moves and styling. It is popular for its forgiving yet elegant nature, and it is often danced to slow, medium, or fast tempo jazz, blues, or rock and roll.
  • Boogie woogie is the European counterpart to East Coast Swing, danced to rock music of various kinds, blues or boogie woogie music but usually not to jazz.
  • Country Swing, also called Western Swing or Country/Western Swing (C/W Swing) is a form with a distinct culture. It resembles East Coast Swing, but adds variations from other country dances. It is danced to country and western music.
  • Push and Whip are Texas forms of swing dance.
  • Charleston is a classic 8-count dance that predates Lindy Hop and is often incorporated into Lindy dances. The Charleston originally developed as a solo performance dance in the brothels and speakeasies of the day, but it was adapted into a partner dance sometime during the 1930s. Today, it can be, and is, danced in both modes.
  • Balboa is an 8-count dance that emphasizes a strong partner connection and quick footwork. Balboa (sometimes referred to simply as "Bal") is primarily danced in a tight, closed position with the follow and lead adopting a firm chest-to-chest posture. This dance is particularly popular in settings with fast jazz (usually anything from 180 to 320 BPM) and/or limited floor space.
  • Collegiate Shag is a simple 6-count dance that is typically done to faster music.
  • Carolina Shag
  • St. Louis Shag
  • Ballroom Swing is a part of American style Ballroom dancing. This form (most often the same as or similar to East Coast Swing) has been adopted by Ballroom dancers. Street Swing and Ballroom Swing are very different. Ballroom Swing is danced in competition and is done strictly in patterns (a series of interlocking moves). Street Swing is danced in many different styles and places with thousands of differences. It is very open to interpretation.
  • Jive is a dance of International Style Ballroom dancing. It diverged from Swing still further.
  • Hand dancing
  • Blues dancing is an informal type of swing dancing with no fixed patterns and a heavy focus on connection, sensuality and improvisation, often with strong body contact. Although usually done to blues music, it can be done to any slow tempoed 4/4 music, including rock ballads and "club" music.


Originally, swing was danced to swing music, which is a kind of jazz. Some of the swing jazz great performers are Count Basie, Woody Herman, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Many dance forms fit their own music. West Coast Swing is usually danced to blues or rock and roll. Country Swing is usually danced to country and western music. Charleston is usually danced to ragtime music.

Most dances fit many kinds of music. For example today, Lindy Hoppers dance to Ragtime, Swing, Bop, Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll, Disco, and Hip Hop. West Coast Swing dancers may dance to virtually any 4/4 music that is not too fast.

Swing music had a revival in the late 1990s thanks to musician Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the movie Swingers, and a number of other bands.

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