Eastern Swing or East Coast Swing developed from the Lindy Hop and is perhaps the most famous American folk dance. The best known forms of Swing include the Black Bottom, the Charleston, and the Shag. In the early 1940s, these forms became what was called the Lindy.
The Lindy was first danced with a slight shuffling movement, as a modified box step. The shuffling movement of the original Lindy can be likened to today’s single rhythm in Swing. As the shuffling, or single rhythm developed, it progressed into both the double and triple time Lindy. Today all three styles form the basis of good Swing dancing.
About 55 years ago, Swing was danced in the Harlem section of NYC. It was during a time when band greats such as Chic Webb, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were popular. The dance took on most of today’s popular steps and styling.
For many years, the better establishments frowned upon the wilder forms of Swing dancing. The acrobatics involved would limit the number of people who could dance at one time. But it is not impossible to do fine dancing in a relatively small area. So there was no question that Swing was here to stay. In all parts of the country one can find dancers adding their own changes to style and interpretations. In order to survive, all dances must be built up from a firm basic movement so that ad-libbing and complete freedom of expression can be interpreted into the dance. Swing has these attributes. Such bands as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have revived Swing dancing in the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s.
The Swing is a spot dance that does not move along the line of dance. Free interpretation is a characteristic of the dance style, often using single, double or triple rhythms. Highlights of the Swing include a relaxed shuffling movement and use of upper body sway.