Jive and Swing

Dance styles have always followed musical trends and none more so than the ‘rock n’ roll’. While we tend to think of the ‘rock n’ roll’ phenomenon as beginning in the 1950’s, the dance actually started emerging more than two decades earlier in the u.s.a. During the early 1920’s, there had been a verible zoo of animal dances. The best known of which was probably the turkey trot. These were in addition to other dance crazes, such as the charleston and black bottom, whose wild moves got wilder as the music got faster. Other dances and styles developed from these and by the end of the 1920’s, the lindy hop and jitterbug were extremely popular.

As the lindy hop continued to develop into the 1930’s, it found a home in the harlem savoy ballroom,where it grew up with the great swing bands of the era. Benny goodman, cab calloway, tommy dorsey, louis armstrong, count basie and duke ellington all performed at the savoy. The bands inspired the dancers and the dancers inspired the bands in an upward-reaching spiral towards new heights of dance and musical expression.

In 1937, when benny goodman gave a concert at the paramount theatre, new york, teenagers went wild and poured into the aisles to dance as the newspapers called the dance ‘jitterbug’. As the craze swept across america, the ‘jive’ gradually emerging as the generic term that covered lindy hop, jitterbug and boogee-woogie dances. Whichever term was used in the 1940’s, the music was swing. By the 1950’s, the music was no longer as smooth and polished as swing but it had huge popular appeal. This music was ‘rock n’ roll’. By the end of 1950’s, jive had already reached the ballrooms and dance schools out in a different style with variation in technique.

The basic of all the dances from the lindy hop through to boogie woogie to rock n’ roll is virtually the same at ‘rythemics’, we use the jive as the main rock n’ roll style of dance as this is the most technically established dance in our internal dance syllabus. The dance ‘swing’ is being taught at rythemics as a casual street latin dance, so whatever the rock n’ roll music played at a dance party (slow or fast tempo) students can dance the night away.