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What is "lindy hop"?

The history

Dance called the Lindy Hop evolved in the 1920s and 1930s in dance halls with live music like Sawoy ballroom in Harlem, New York. When the Savoy opened its doors in the mid 20s it soon became the meeting spot of lindy hoppers. Thew danced to hot jazz and swing jazz music and competed a lot. Just like in Jazz music african and european cultures mett, so it is in lindy hop. It includes african rhythm movement and expression in dancing as well of the european tradition of partner dancing, with its own style. When Big Band music started it began a golden era for Lindy Hop. When the dance started it was all bout "the breakaway", this is breaking from closed position dancing into open position and doing crazy stuff when dancing.

The name

After one of the legendary dance competitions the news journalist interviewed a winner, George Snowden. He was a small dancer, thus ge got a nickname "Shorty". Journalist asked Shorty what is the name of the dance he is dancing, and he replied "Lindy Hop". Je just made it up while thinking about aviator Charles Lindbergh "hopping" over Atlantic in his aeroplane.

Frankie Manning
Legendary Frankie Manning, the king of Lindy Hop

Later in the 1930s the dance was "renamed" to the Jitterbug. The credit for this goes to a popular singer of the time Cab Calloway and his song "The Jitterbug" in 1934. The song isn't really about dancers. But Cab sings about JitterBugs (actually people who like to consume alcohol) who "jitter", and that is what people thought lindy hop dancers did, dancing really fast and jumping around like they had the jitters. Later on the dance was just known as Swing dancing, that is also the name we use a lot in Slovenija when describing it.

How to dance it?

Lindy hop is perfect to be danced to american music styles like Hot Jazz, Swing, Jazz, Jump Blues. The basic of these styles is 8-count music pattern. That doesn't mean that lindy is strictly 8-count, it is a mixture of 8, 6, 4,... count steps, but the basic lindy steps that the most dancers know are 8-count. But it is not so much about getting the steps right - like most of the swing dances improvisation and expression in dancing is important.

There are two main Lindy Hop dance styles of dancing that are alive today. The first is called the "Savoy Style". The most famous dancer of this style was Frankie Manning, a true legend and embassador of swing dancing. He was one of the most influental dancers in Savoy, also performed with a famous group The Whitey/s Lindy Hoppers, a dancer and coreographer.

Another style is called the "Hollywood Style". You probably guessed it - it was danced in California, and a lot in Hollywood movies. The main leader of this style was Dean Collins. He learned how to dance lindy hop in Savoy, but then moved to California and he was teaching people ther how to dance - in his own style.

Lindy hop was almost forgotten for several years but it returned in big style! It spreads around the world fast and more and more dancers are dancing it today. It has a lot to do with Swing and jazz music returning and being popular again. Average swing dancers dance it mostly to medium tempos of music, but for more challenge it can be danced to faster tempos too. When it comes to fast music people in Slovenia prefer to dance simplyfied version of Lindy Hop we also call just Six Count Swing, but there are many similarities between the two dances.

 

Lindy Hopa video clips

Lindy Hop - Hellzapoppin (1941)

A group called the "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers" also performed in a movie called Hellzapoppin from the year 1941. This is probably most famous presentation of how dancing lindy hop really fast looks. One of the dancers is also Frankie Manning whom I mentioned above. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers performed in several broadway shows and movies.

Lindy hop today - "showdown" of dance teachers

Again a faster presentation of lindy hop dancing. You need quite some knowledge of the dance and years of visiting classes and dance nights, but it can be done. Don't let these two video clips scare you, you usually won't find music so fast on the dance floors.

Slower Lindy Hop

Here we go, Lindy can be danced also slowly. It gives a lot more room for improvisation and smooth dancing. So the tempo you choose is up to you. :)

Also check out other swing dances: Charleston, EC six count swing, Collegiate Shag, Balboa

 


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