It’s hard to talk about swing dancing without also talking about the Lindy Hop. After all, this was one of the first types of swing dancing to really take off and it’s one that actually continues to be popular to this day. So, let’s take a look at what this particular dance is really all about and how it can be a great experience for you and your partner to get out there and find somewhere that you can do this dance for yourselves (or learn it at least).
Where it Started
The Lindy Hop came about somewhere in the late 1920s or even the early 1930s. No one is really positive about the timing but we do know that it came from Harlem in New York City. With a mix of different styles of dance built right into it, the Lindy Hop is all about the jazz, breakaway, Charleston and tap combined. When you put them all together in just the right way, you definitely get something truly amazing and a whole lot of fun. It was originally a street dance really, but it started to evolve and today it’s considered either a jazz dance or a swing dance, and one of the first.
What It’s Like
If you’re trying to describe the overall style of this dance you actually can’t slim it down into a single category. For some, this dance is considered wild and a little bit crazy. For others, it’s considered more sophisticated. The truth is that it can be both. It’s all about exactly what iteration you’re looking at and how you choose to interpret it. The only thing that really matters and that really defines it as an overall category is that this dance is one that you’re going to do with a partner out on the dance floor.
How to Lindy Hop
Of course, there is a range of different moves involved with the Lindy Hop, which means that it’s never going to be done exactly the same way by anyone. But you are going to see some great features that get repeated time and again. It’s mostly about finding the moves that you like and combining them in some way. But remember you need to be able to communicate your intentions to your partner, because usually, these dances aren’t going to be practiced or planned ahead of time. They’re all about the improvisation. It’s part of what makes them fun. Just check it out right here.
When you’re starting out, the best thing that you can do is learn the basics. This starts with the right stance and moves through just a few basic movements.
- Move the left toe back to touch the ground, keeping the heel raised. At the same time, make sure your right foot bears the weight.
- Bounce on the left and shift your weight over to the right and back again. This is considered a rock step.
- Now you’re going to move your left foot forward on a sort of hop. This brings your weight over from the right to the left, so you want your right heel to be up with only your toes on the ground.
- Move your weight over onto the right foot and then switch it to your left, causing you to slightly walk in place.
- Shift your weight over to your left foot and move the right foot back. This is where you’re going to put your right foot down and for the first time have equal weight on both feet.
- You’ll repeat this process back and forth, over again until you decide to add in a new move or the song is over.
If you think you’re ready to bump things up a bit you’re definitely going to want to know how to do it. This is going to speed things up and it’s definitely going to get you trying some new steps and new additions, like kicks.
- Move your left foot back, keeping your weight on the right. Your left foot should only barely touch the ground and you should actually be leaning forward as well.
- Now you’re going to kick with your left foot, bringing it forward and bouncing the right foot slightly. Make sure you’re not kicking too forcefully though.
- You’ll land on your left leg once you kick, so it’s going to move you slightly forward from where you were. Pull the right foot off the ground as soon as you land.
- Move the right foot back and bounce from right to left. You’ll look like you’re walking when you do.
- Now you’re going to repeat the moves on the other side. So it’s time to kick your right leg, but backwards. You’ll lift your left leg up when the right lands and also kick it back slightly.
- From here you’re just going to keep moving these same ways. You’ll be kicking, bouncing, walking and more all the way through the song and that’s going to put some of the fun in it.
What to Keep in Mind
If you’re planning to start dancing the Lindy Hop for yourself it’s definitely time for you to check out some of these tips and tricks. They’ll help you better understand what you’re getting yourself into and they’re also going to make it easier for you to pick up the different moves as you go along.
You Can Practice Alone
You don’t actually need to have a partner in order to practice this dance. You can stand in front of a mirror if it helps you to see your movements. You can also choose to just dance alone in a regular space or room. If you have someone to practice with or you want to practice with a partner that’s definitely good too. It’s going to be a whole lot easier to get more practicing done if you’re doing it without a partner because you don’t have to try and sync up your schedules for when to dance.
Keep Close to Your Partner
If you’re just starting out it’s a good idea for you and your partner to sort of move as one. You don’t need to in the Lindy Hop and you can dance this style of dancing side-by-side or front and back if you like. For those who are just getting going with it, however, it can definitely be a lot easier if you stand together so that you can see what each of you are doing and make sure that you’re taking the same steps at the same time. But make sure you relax a little into it.
Flip the Moves to Follow
If you’re going to be following you just need to flip the moves around. So instead of stepping back on the left, you’ll step forward on the right. Your partner’s moves are going to look like a mirror image of what you’re going to do and that’s actually going to make it a little easier for you to learn, especially if you’re dancing with someone who has done it before or who has a better understanding of the steps and the process that’s involved. They’ll be able to show you what to do.
There’s Always a Way to Improvise
If you’re looking to slow it down a little or you’re looking to bump it up a little you’ll have ways to get it done. You can add some spins, dips, twirls and a whole lot more as you start getting a little bit better with this dance and you start learning all of the nuances. Once you’ve got the basic footwork done you’re definitely going to be off to a better start and that’s going to make it a lot easier for you and your partner to enjoy. After all, the foundation is the most important part of the game.
Some Interesting Facts
When it comes to this dance you’re definitely going to want to know some of these really cool facts that come from history. After all, whenever it comes to anything you know there’s going to be a story, right? Well, the Lindy Hop is definitely no different. From way back in the 1920’s you’re going to find a number of great stories and tales, whether they’re true or not, there’s definitely no way to know for sure (at least for all of these), but they’re fun to talk about anyway.
Charles Lindbergh is the Inspiration for the Name
Back in the 1920s, when the Lindy Hop first came around, Charles Lindbergh was quite the hero. He’d actually just flown a nonstop, solo flight across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris. It was such a feat that George Snowden, who was the first person to be asked about dancing this particular dance, reported that he was doing ‘the Lindy hop.’ That was all it took for the name to really take off because it was immediately published and the dance became known that way ever since.
You May Hear About the Jitterbug
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about the Jitterbug they’re actually talking about a slightly different dance. Though the two are very similar in a number of ways, they do have enough differences to be considered separate. That doesn’t stop people from talking about them as though they’re one and the same though. Even dancers and different studios will use the terms interchangeably, so it’s difficult to say who really even considers the differences anymore. But what we do know is that they were created at different times and in different areas as well.
Lindy Hop Spread Through the Movies
The really unique thing about this dance is that it didn’t just spread from one person to another in a traditional fashion. Rather, it was actually put into a range of different movies and the entire world saw it there. If that wasn’t enough, it had gained in popularity throughout the States before WWII, so when soldiers traveled overseas, they actually took this dance along with them and made it popular there as well. Even though it slowly started to die out, it even picked back up and was seen in newer movies and throughout the world.
You’re Going to Move
Sure, you probably assume you’re going to move when it comes to any style of dance but this one is definitely going to get you up and moving. It’s going to get your heart rate up as much as 180 beats per minute and it’s going to keep you going with a partner as well. All of this means that this dance is one that’s considered quite social. You need to be able to move in sync with your partner, especially since you’re going to be improvising a lot of the song.
Worldwide Gatherings Are Common
There are a number of different events that occur in different parts of the world and draw even more people into this dance. You might even be surprised by just how large these events can get and just who all might be attending. The fun can be general, with people just getting together to dance, or it can be about professional performances and even competitions. There’s no end to the number of reasons that people will get together to enjoy the Lindy Hop.
If you’re interested in learning how to do swing dancing you’re definitely going to have to start with this one. It’s really fun, it’s really wild and it’s definitely going to increase your ability to improvise with any kind of music. No one is going to get bored or be able to catch their breath while they’re dancing this one and that’s definitely going to be part of the appeal. All you need to do is find yourself a partner and you’re going to be more than prepared for the next time a great song comes on that you can Lindy Hop to. And now you know how.