Swing & Lindy Hop

What is it?

Lindy Hop is the dance style that started the Swing craze in the late 1920's, developing out of partnered Charleston with strong influences from blues, jazz, and tap. There was no singular form of Lindy Hop and, as noted by legendary Lindy-Hop dancer Frankie Manning, "everyone... had their style". Lindy Hop also established the first aerials, or 'Air Steps', acrobatic motions performed to the rhythm and timing of the music. Lindy Hop is distinguished from other Swing styles by the inclusion of characteristic actions such as 'Air Steps', 'Lindy Kicks' (a modified Charleston), and improvisation through the 'Swing-Out'.


East Coast Swing (ECS) is often used as a generic term to distinguish the various swing (and subsequent rock 'n' roll styles) that emerged on the East Coast of the United States during the 1930's from West Coast Swing. More specifically, ECS was developed as a distinct style during the 1940's to provide a standardized form of Lindy-Hop for competitive dancers. While defined as a 6 count basic step, in practice ECS combines 6 count figures with the 4 count base rhythm and 8 count actions of Lindy Hop. ECS is therefore danced using similar rhythms, footwork, and figures to Lindy Hop, but with characterisation, definition, and movement typically better suited for slower to mid-pace music. Adapting to faster music, ECS later developed into the broadly recognised dance styles of Jive and Rock 'n' Roll.


While we nominally progress students from introductory Smooth Style (Hollywood) Swing to Lindy Hop, at the end of the day Cool Cats recognises that whether West Coast, East Coast, Lindy, Harlem, Hollywood, or Savoy... Swing is Swing. The following sentiment expressed by West Coast Swing instructor Skippy Blair sums it up: "The only problem that exists in SWING is when someone decides there is only ONE WAY to dance it. There is never only ONE WAY to do anything ...". Provided it's still got that swing (i.e. faithfully characterises the core style), we couldn't agree more.

Swing & Blues (Slow). This clip shows the transition between blues and swing dancing. The swing content is consistent with the smoother and earthier heritage of blues.

Smooth Swing (Mid-Pace). An excellent example of the predominant presentation of swing during the heart of the swing revival in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Smooth Swing & Lindy Hop (Slow & Fast). The fantastic Kevin St Laurent and Carla Heiney displaying the continuum between slow and fast swing styles. Fast or slow, it's all smooth.

Lindy Hop (Fast). This is a great clip showing the fun and freedom of Lindy Hop. Smooth, street, and (the currently popular) bouncier styles are all displayed. 

Help Me Choose...

How is Swing/Lindy Hop Different ?

There is so much encompassed by 'Swing', that this is a difficult question to answer. In the US and much of Europe, 'Swing' also captures most of the dancing that in Australia is referred to as Rock 'n' Roll or Jive. At Cool Cats we keep our definition of 'Swing' pretty simple, considering it to be any style consistent with the blues based 'Swing' arising on the East Coast of the USA in the late 1920s. This contrasts with West Coast Swing, which is an upright style and thus Latin in presentation (rather than blues) though much of the footwork and figure patterns are very similar or effectively the same. 


Why would I Prefer Swing/Lindy Hop?


Improvisation, musicality, connection, and variety. Swing has a lot to offer as a beautiful, though at times complex, dance style. No other dance style feels both so elegant and expressive; or when you ramp it up into Lindy Hop - so explosive and sheer fun! 

How energetic is Swing/Lindy Hop?

The general distinction between 'Swing' and 'Lindy-Hop' is primarily one of dance tempo and the use of Lindy Kicks and 'Air Steps'.


Our classes focus first on Smooth Swing, which is well suited to slower music and (as implied) a smooth and fluid body and footwork movement. While Smooth Swing can be danced with a lot of energy if desired, this dance is typically sultry and flirtatious and not about burning up the dance floor. In contrast Lindy-Hop is a rocket, with lots of energy and dynamic movement. Heaps of fun, but not for the faint hearted!


Slow and smooth or fast and furious - it's up to you; either way we're glad to help!