LINDY HOP – A BRIEF HISTORY
It would take many pages to cover the history of Lindy Hop, suffice for now to present enough facts to set the scene.
Evolving in New York, Lindy Hop, usually referred to simply as Lindy, is a partner dance of the 1930’s/1940’s (though it’s origins go back much further) using six and eight beat counts in both open and closed hold. A “jazz” dance, it draws on earlier dances such as the Charleston, Tap, Texas Tommy, and Cakewalk.
If you think ‘Lindy’, you have to think of the Savoy Ballroom, a huge “dance palace” as it’s home. With it’s elongated shape, two dance bands were accommodated at the same time, one at each end of it’s large dance floor. Playing seven nights a week, did the dancing ever stop? The Savoy was one of a very few racially integrated ballrooms of the time, where White folk could dance alongside, learn from, and share moves with the Black originators of Lindy Hop.
The Jitterbug is, in simple terms, the “white” name for Lindy Hop. It is usually associated with the American GI’s, who managed to successfully export it around the world! In fact, it is so close in style that we may as well call it the same dance as Lindy.
The Hollywood Style (my personal favourite) of Lindy, inspired by Dean Collins is seen in many Hollywood films of the era. Dean, who learnt Lindy in New York during the 1930’s, “smoothed” the dance and added steps and styling of his own. Due to its styling changes it is well suited to slower tempos, though of course equally danceable at faster speeds.
Lindy, though danceable to various genres and styles of music, truly “comes alive” to Swing music, particularly of The Big Bands, the original music for this wonderful form of dance. I’ve heard it said that the few top dancers of the day danced to tempos up to 240 beats per minute (BPM), extremely fast! Obviously speed of dance is relevant to ones fitness and experience, 180 BPM is an upper limit that suits most social dancers.
When one has so many “favourite” tracks it is difficult to recommend just a few. I have endeavoured to suggest tracks, both vintage and modern, covering a variety of musical styles. These are only the tip of a large iceberg and there are plenty more to choose from.
Notes and music choices selected by Mike “Jumpin’ Bones” Jones