Lindy Hop Dancing

Lindy Hop Dancing

The Lindy Hop is an American dance that started life in Harlem, New York City, in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. It was very popular during the Swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but it is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston.

The Lindy Hop combines elements of both partnered and solo dancing by using the movements and improvisation of the formal eight-count structure of European partner dances. This is clearly illustrated in the Lindy's basic step, the ‘Swing-out’. In this step's open position, each dancer is usually connected hand-to-hand; in its closed position, men and women are connected as though in an embrace.

Lindy Hop entered mainstream American culture in the 1930s, gaining popularity through many sources. By the early 1940s the dance was known as "New Yorker" on the West Coast.

Lindy Hop moved off-shore in the 1930s and 40s, again in films and news reels, but also with American troops stationed overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other Allied nations. Although Lindy Hop and jazz were banned in countries such as Germany, both were popular in other European countries during this period.

In 1944 the United States levied a 30% federal excise tax against "dancing" nightclubs. Although the tax was later reduced to 20%, "No Dancing Allowed" signs went up all over the country.

Arthur Murray's 1954 edition of How to become a Good Dancer included four pages of instruction for Swing: the Basic Lindy Step, the Double Lindy Hop, the Triple Lindy Hop, the Sugar Foot Walk, and the Tuck-In Turn. A chapter is devoted to Lindy Hop in the 1953 and 1958 editions of ‘Dancing Made Easy’.

There was renewed interest in the dance in the 1980s from American, Swedish, and British dancers and the Lindy Hop is now represented by various organisations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
Sandra Cameron and Larry Schulz of the Cameron Dance Centre Inc in New York were instrumental in bringing back Lindy Hop at their dance centre.

American and European dancers from California, New York, London and Sweden went about "reviving" Lindy Hop using archival films such as “Hellzapoppin” and “A Day at the Races”. In the mid-to-late 1990s the dance was propelled to wide visibility after it was featured in movies such as “Swing Kids” in 1993 and in the "Kakhis Swing". On television commercials for GAP in 1998 reignited the interest in Lindy Hop. The popularity led to the founding of local Lindy Hop dance communities in many cities.

In 1999, “Swing!” opened up on Broadway generating a new interest in the genre. Lindy Hop was also featured in various swing-related dance pieces in the Tony-nominated show during its run at the St. James Theatre. The show closed in January 2001, yet continues to be set in regional and international cities around the world.

"When you're swing dancing, for a few minutes you become an actor, a dancer, a choreographer. You become the best version of yourself as you let go of life's concerns."
Ashley Clark