We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Jitterbug?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The jitterbug is a variant of swing dancing, and derivative of the Lindy hop and East Coast Swing. It became popular in the 1940s. Several suggestions for the origin of the term jitterbug exist. Since the dance involves jerking movements, and may resemble the jitters of alcoholic recovery, it may have derived its name from such. Cab Calloway once remarked that the dancers looked like a bunch of “jitterbugs.”

Another possible origin for the name jitterbug is that it was originally intended as a derogatory or ethnic slur. Most dance schools in the late 1930s did not want to teach the Lindy Hop. However, as the popularity of the dance grew, the jitterbug began to be taught, and any slur to ethnicity has since been forgotten.

Some people use the term jitterbug to refer to all types of swing dancing. This is technically incorrect by the strictest definition of the dance. As well, jitterbug can be used as a verb: Do you jitterbug?

The jitterbug places emphasis on the six-count move. The very basic move of the dance is a back, step, forward, touch, step, and touch. The man would begin this dance on the left foot. The footwork for the leading partner is left-right-left-right-right-left. The following partner duplicates the steps on the opposite foot.

There are multiple turns, lifts and spins associated with the jitterbug. Often the partners may dance side by side, instead of in a face-to-face partner hold. This is characteristic of many variants of swing dance.

Once basic steps and spins are mastered, some of the lifts are fun to learn. These can include lifting and swinging the following partner from one side to the other, swinging the partner through spread legs, and various other complicated maneuvers. The dance is quick, so most of the tricks take some skill to acquire.

The jitterbug requires brisk 4/4-time music. It can be danced to rockabilly, 50s and early 60s rock and roll, some modern rock songs, swing music, and some jazz predating swing. A variant of the jitterbug may be danced to quick time Country and Western music as well.

Since swing dance has risen in popularity, many clubs offer swing dancing with instruction for beginners for a half hour prior to open dancing for all. This is a fun way to get an introduction to dances like the jitterbug. As well, many dancing schools, community colleges and recreation centers offer introductions and more advanced classes in swing, which can soon have one tripping the light fantastic in classic jitterbug style.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Musical Expert contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By summing — On Jun 16, 2012

I saw a swing dancing exposition a few years back and I was amazed at the skill, precision and speed of the dancers. I had always thought of swing dancing as kind of a silly fad but seeing it with my own eyes is like watching a combination of jazz, rock and gymnastics.

It was clear that the dancers practiced relentlessly and that they had woked with each other for years. It was like they had one mind and two bodies. And the athleticism! They could rival a lot of professional ball players in grace and strength.

By truman12 — On Jun 15, 2012

I took swing dancing lessons a few years back and the jitterbug was one of my favorite steps. It is simple but active. You do not have to try very hard to feel like you are really dancing.

Plus, it has amazing swing. Most swing dances are pretty upbeat and frenetic but the jitterbug really stood out for me. I do not swing dance much any more because how often do you really have the chance but I always enjoy enjoy being able to jitterbug when I can.

By backdraft — On Jun 15, 2012
Last week was my grandparents' 40th wedding anniversary and they had a big celebration to commemorate the exciting occasion.

Both of them love to dance and they actually met at a dance when they were much younger. There was a band and a dance floor at the anniversary party and grandpa and grandpa were burning it up. They could dance better than just about anyone there even with their old knees and shaky legs.

You could see when they danced together what a bond they still had. It was like they were dancing on the clouds and no one else in the world existed. I was pretty moved by the sight of it all. I hope that I can find a love like that sometime in my life.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Musical Expert contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.