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The lindy hop, a swing dance that first appeared in New York during the late 1920s and early 1930s, is a unique style of movement that combines elements of both partner and solo dances. The dance is thought to have been given its name in honor of the famous aviator Charles Lindberg.
The steps of the lindy hop are a combination of traditional African dance and the eight-count structure of formal European dance. The basic step used by lindy dancers is called the swingout. Each dancer performs alone in the open position, then the couple comes together to dance in the swingout’s closed position. The steps in this dance can be closely compared to those in the Charleston, breakaway, Texas Tommy, and the hop.
Since the lindy hop was taught informally among small groups of dancers, the exact style of each performance can vary greatly. Some lindy dancers seem to be inspired by Frankie Manning and other African-American dancers from the Savoy Ballroom, while others have steps that seem more reminiscent of white dancers from the west coast such as Jewell McGowan and Dean Collins. Occasionally, these two styles are described as the Savoy-Style and the Hollywood-Style Lindy Hop.
Generally, the lindy hop is associated with big band musical arrangements by artists such as Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, and Benny Goodman. However, this dance was also a significant part of the neo swing music revival in the late 1990s. In certain circumstances, you may even see the lindy hop performed to rhythm and blues, soul, or hip hop music.
Today, the lindy hop has earned a permanent place as a part of pop culture in the United States. The dance is performed socially in many nightclubs and there are a number of cities that have swing dancing competitions on a regular basis—events that are highly publicized on a variety of Internet forums. TIt is also prominently featured in the music video to the hit Christina Aguilera song Candyman .
Although the lindy hop is best known in the United States, it’s worth mentioning that the dance has a worldwide following. This dance is practiced regularly in England, Russia, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Lindy Hop and where did it originate?
The Lindy Hop is a vibrant and acrobatic dance style that originated in the late 1920s in Harlem, New York City. It evolved in the ballrooms of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly the Savoy Ballroom, where it was influenced by dances like the Charleston and the breakaway. The Lindy Hop is characterized by its energetic and improvisational nature, incorporating both structured moves and spontaneous styling.
How did the Lindy Hop get its name?
The Lindy Hop was named after Charles Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight, commonly referred to as "Lindy's Hop." The dance was so named because it captured the spirit of the era, emphasizing freedom, excitement, and a sense of flying or hopping through its aerial moves and lively steps. This connection to a significant historical event helped cement the dance's place in American culture.
What are some characteristic moves of the Lindy Hop?
Characteristic moves of the Lindy Hop include the swingout, Lindy circle, and Charleston kicks. The swingout is the quintessential Lindy Hop move where partners swing around each other. The Lindy circle is a closed-position move where the couple rotates together. Aerials or "air steps" are also a hallmark of the dance, where dancers perform lifts and jumps, adding a thrilling dynamic to performances.
Is the Lindy Hop still popular today?
Yes, the Lindy Hop remains popular worldwide, with a dedicated following and communities in many cities. It experienced a revival in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to be danced at swing clubs, festivals, and competitions. Modern Lindy Hoppers often strive to preserve the authentic style and spirit of the dance while also contributing new interpretations and movements.
Can beginners learn the Lindy Hop, and where can they start?
Beginners can certainly learn the Lindy Hop, as it is a social dance meant to be enjoyed by people of all skill levels. New dancers can start by taking classes at local dance studios or workshops at swing dance festivals. Many communities also offer social dance nights where beginners can practice and learn from more experienced dancers in a fun, supportive environment.