Up until the early 20th century dancing was a gentile affair with a form of line dancing with simple steps and bows without much contact between the sexes. It wasn’t until the Jazz age in 1920’s, during prohibition and in speak easy clubs, that the Charleston became the fashionable dance among “the bright young things”. It could be done solo or with a partner. With the growing underground clubs and bars the “flappers” would drink and dance the night away. The Charleston was named after the South Carolina town of Charleston and became an international dance sensation, comprising of a series of shuffles and leg kicks.
In the 30s and 40s this developed into the Lindy Hop. With the growth of the Big Bands such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, and with GI’s over in the UK fighting the war, dances popped up at Army Air force Bases around the country and in ballrooms in London. Hollywood soon latched onto the craze and recruited dancers such as Dean Collins and Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers to the studios and frequently gave them guest spots in the movies showcasing their fast paces moves and high lifting throws. The Lindy Hop was danced with a partner with a the lady twisting and spinning around the man, with the occasional throw over the shoulder.
After the war it became very expensive to travel with a Big Band so smaller combos such as Louis Jordan formed playing a simpler version of swing, called R&B, which in turn saw the growth in the teenage sound of Rock and Roll. The music was a more basic beat (4 beats instead of the 8 that was popular during the war years).
Teenagers were moving away from “what their parents did” – finding their own music, fashion and lifestyle and with new bands such as Bill Haley and Elvis in the charts – the Jive was born. Juke joints, coffee bars were everywhere with teenagers doing a simpler version of the Lindy Hop.
In recent years all these dances have grown in popularity again with classes around the country – it is a great form of exercise, to meet new people and so much better dancing with a partner than shuffling around your handbag!
While I’m on holiday I like to take the opportunity to introduce you to some wonderful, talented, people that I am lucky enough to work with. Please do take a few minutes to visit their websites and check them out, as they wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think they were wonderful.