Updated: Mar 23
SPRING is the perfect time to get up and active, after a long winter spent indoors. One great way to do this is through swing dancing, which not only gets your body moving but also uplifts your spirits. In this blog, we'll explore the history of swing dance and its benefits, as well as some spring activities you can do to get active.
Swing dancing originated in the 1920s in African American communities in Harlem, New York City. Historically, “swing” referred to the swing style of jazz music which was hugely popular at the time. Created from the fusion of Anglo-American, African, and Creole influences with its improvising and syncopated rhythms, the swing in jazz music lent itself to the movements that inspired the dance.
The upbeat sounds of jazz became a favorite on the radio. The most popular jazz musicians of the 1920s were Louis Armstrong and Duke Wellington. The dance style quickly spread throughout the United States and became a hallmark of the swing era in the 1930s and 1940s. Big bands like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie became famous for their swing music, and dancers would flock to ballrooms to dance the night away. The dance itself evolved from the Charleston and other popular dances of the time, but with a focus on rhythm and improvisation. It became wildly popular and was danced in ballrooms across the country, with many famous dancers and performers showcasing their skills.
Swing dancing has evolved over the years, with different styles emerging from different regions. The Lindy Hop, which originated in Harlem, is one of the most well-known styles of swing dancing. It’s a fast-paced dance that involves a lot of spins, jumps, and lifts. Other styles include the Charleston, the Balboa, and the West Coast Swing.
One of the most famous swing dancers was Frankie Manning, who helped develop the Lindy Hop style of swing dancing. He was known for his incredible energy and creativity on the dance floor, and he continued to dance and teach swing well into his 90s. Swing dancing has gone through many variations over the years, but the spirit of improvisation and joy remains at its core.
One of the things that makes swing dancing so special is its ability to uplift the spirits. During the Great Depression, swing dancing provided a much-needed escape from the struggles of everyday life. It allowed people to forget their worries and come together to enjoy music, movement, and community. Even during World War II, when many men were overseas fighting, swing dancing continued to bring people together and provide a sense of connection and unity.
Today, swing dancing continues to be a popular pastime for people of all ages. It’s a great way to stay active and meet new people. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Many cities have swing dancing clubs or events where you can take lessons, practice your moves, and dance the night away.
Swing dancing also requires a lot of physical activity, which is great for getting your heart rate up and burning calories. You'll be moving your body in all sorts of ways, from jumping and spinning to twirling and kicking. It's a full-body workout that's also a lot of fun, so you may not even realize how much exercise you're getting.
You don't need a partner to get started, as many swing dance classes and events have people rotating partners throughout the night. This means you get to meet new people and dance with a variety of partners, which can be both challenging and rewarding.
Try a beginner swing dance lesson at Blueheel Dance Studio in Port Credit, Mississauga. It’s a great way to learn the basics and meet other people who share your love of dance.
No matter how you choose to get involved in swing dancing, one thing is for sure: it’s a great way to uplift your spirits and get up and active this spring.
Finally, swing dancing is just plain fun.