What is Swing Dancing?

whiteys lindy hoppers
Famous Dancers from the Swing Era: Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers

“What is Swing Dancing?” is a question perhaps better answered by watching some of the greatest dancers in their prime of the jazz age.

So much of the power of Lindy Hop comes through our interpretations of the video clips that remain from the Swing Era, as popular culture gravitated towards the dances that developed to jazz and Big Band music of the early 20th century.  In addition to knowledge passed down through generations, modern revivals of jazz-era dances, such as Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Charleston rest heavily on the footage captured during the 1930’s-1960’s. Here are a few quintessential videos to start your own study:

Hellzapoppin’ – one of the clips that fueled the Lindy Revival, featuring the best dancers in the world, Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.

Hot Chocolates – a Soundie with Duke Ellington, featuring Ben Webster on saxophone, and Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers dancing.

Buck Privates – Jewel McGowan and Dean Collins dancing to the Andrews Sisters

The Swing Dance Revival (1970’s-2000)

Frankie Manning, a choreographer and dancer with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers was one of the teachers and dancers who helped revive swing dancing with history and technique. Here’s a documentary where he, Normal Miller, and Chazz Young explain the history of jazz dancing from Harlem to today.


Contemporary Swing Dance (2000 – Today)

Did you know you can Swing Dance all across the world? Today Lindy Hop communities span from North Carolina to South Korea! You can social dance with friends or get competitive and compete in the International Lindy Hop Championships with competitors from across the globe.

In fact, see 22 countries perform a popular Swing Line Dance, called the “Shim Sham” in honor of Frankie Manning’s 95th birthday: