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Swing Dancing

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Swing! Go daddy-o!

A new generation of swingers has arrived, and these cool cats and kittens really know how to swing it! But just what is this thing called swing?

Swing dance includes most of the forms of dance done to swing music, such as West Coast swing, East Coast swing, Lindy hop, balboa, shag, jitterbug, jive, bop, whip, push, and dances under many other names. Some use the rule of thumb that swing dances include both six- and eight-beat patterns.

Swing is known for its wild gyrations and the way one partner swings his partner around, sometimes through the legs or even flipping her over his back.

This dance is a good workout, both on your body and on your mind! "Many go to a psychiatrist to help them survive in life. I would suggest a dance class in addition to any other help they may be getting. It would offer a lot quicker solution to most of their problems," says H. Leon Raper, a swing dancer from California.

The most common swing dance is jitterbug, sometimes called "six count" or East Coast swing. It is quite easy to learn. For this reason, you could go swing dancing and have a good time the first time out. Plus, veteran swingers are usually eager to help new dancers.

"There is an old saying which is, 'Everyone loves a dancer.' It is completely true," says Raper.

Swing originally goes back to the early 1900s but has been enjoying a revival of late, with people in their teens and 20s dressing up in zoot suits to go jitterbugging and sip martinis.

Swing dancing came from ballroom dancing, but is more free and energetic. When the jazz movement of the 1920s was being inspired by African rhythms and Louis Armstrong started a fresh scene in New Orleans, dancers started to experiment with newer, faster movements. The Lindy, a dance some call the original swing dance, was a combination of the two-step and the Charleston (named after Charles Lindburgh after he made his solo transatlantic flight in 1927).

Today's swingers have really caught on to the jitterbugging ways of the 1930s. They've taken moves which were once considered crude or vulgar and exaggerated them to create the retro swing of the 1990s.

Swing kids can be found all over the world today, shaking it up in clubs and dance halls, and taking lessons in community centers or coffee shops. Swing dance has come full circle since the '20s and '30s and is now a mainstream dance again.

But will it last? This dance movement died out once before. How long until this trend vanishes again? Die-hard swingers say this will never happen, and that swing has never really left the building but has just been overshadowed by other dance crazes.

"Killer Diller!" Along with the swing craze, comes a whole new lifestyle with a swinging way of speaking, dressing and, of course, dancing.

With the rebirth of swing, people have been clamoring for lessons and swing dance instructors are very hot right now. Other swing-related jobs are professional swing dancers (for TV and movies), as well as swing musicians. You could even work at a swing club. Swingin' joints are opening up all over in response to all the cool cats and kittens out there needing a place to swing! However, most swingers aren't in it for the money. They are in it for the fun!

"My only tip for other people interested [in] getting into swing dancing is to stay with it," says Brenna Moore, swing dancer. "People are often disappointed that they don't learn how to do lifts on the very first night. But once you get the basic moves down, everything comes from there. Pretty soon you'll be a total swing kid!"

Getting Started

Swing dance lessons can be found at most dance schools, and a lot of dance clubs are offering special swing nights with free lessons beforehand. Lessons are usually around $30 to $40 per month, but you might want to try the many books and videos available instead. This way you can learn swing moves for considerably less.

Another great way to get swinging is to find a swing dance club in your area. They usually offer lessons and hold dances. It is a great way to meet other movers and shakers and to become immersed in the swing culture.

Other than lessons, there really is no expense. However once you're hooked on swing dance, don't be surprised if your whole life changes. Today's swingers are often found at vintage clothing and record stores trying to find big band records, zoot suits, and wing tips.

Make sure your swingin' duds are machine washable! Swing dancing is a workout! Because it is a partner dance, there is a lot of dipping and lifting and swinging your partner around! Having a good cardiovascular system and upper-body strength is definitely a bonus with this dance!

Of course any real swinger should go rent (or buy) the movie Swing Kids. A lot of swingers credit this film with starting the retro swing movement. It is about a group of kids in wartime Germany that rejects the Nazi movement in favor of the swing movement from America.

Hit the Internet. Using newsgroups is a great way to meet other swingers around the country and to find out what is happening in the world of swing!

And last but not least, since the retro swing movement is headed by Generation Xers, you know there are tons of Internet sites out there. Here are a few killer diller sites to get you started on your search for swingdom!


Chicago's Windy City Jitterbug Club
P.O. Box 713
Franklin Park , IL   60131

The New York Swing Dance Society
P.O. Box 1512
New York , NY   10009-8405

South Florida Swing Dance Society, Inc.
PO Box 52-7723
Miami , FL   33152-7723


Swing! The New Retro Renaissance,
Published by  V/Search Publications
Dialogues in Swing: Intimate Conversations With the Stars of the Big Band Era,
by  Fred Hall, Eugene D. Wheeler
Published by  Pathfinder Publishing
More Dialogues in Swing: Intimate Conversations With the Stars of the Big Band Era,
by  Fred Hall, Eugene D. Wheeler
Published by  Pathfinder Publishing
Jitterbug Swing: Beginners Handbook-Ballroom to Barroom
by  John Kersten
Published by  Stumble Bum Printing


Any Swing Goes
News and information on the revival of swing, big band, and jump blues music, culture and dancing

National Swing Dance Calendar
A search engine for swing dance events around the U.S.

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