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What is the Lindy Hop?

The Lindy Hop is a vibrant, energetic dance that originated in the Harlem ballrooms of the late 1920s. It's a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston, reflecting the exuberance of the Swing era. With its playful lifts, fast footwork, and improvisational style, the Lindy Hop is a celebration of rhythm and connection. Ready to swing into its rich history?
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

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.

The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.
The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.

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.

The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.
The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.

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.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the MusicalExpert team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

Learn more...
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the MusicalExpert team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

geekish

@bluespirit - You fared better than I in learning dance moves! My high school learned square dancing moves, which is not, in my opinion near as fun as it seems learning swing dancing would be.

I would just love to hear some lindy hop music. With names such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Benny Goodman associated with this type of music, it doesn't seem like you could go wrong.

bluespirit

Did anyone get to learn the lindy hop moves while in school? While I was in high school we learned some swing dancing but not this specific dance.

Learning swing dancing was great fun and memorable. I think it would be great for a high school class to do a small project on learning lindy hop history and finish the lesson by having the class take lindy hop lessons wearing authentic lindy hop clothing.

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    • The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.
      By: pavalena
      The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.
    • The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.
      By: Yurok Aleksandrovich
      The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.