“Get down! Get low! Get sassy! Stay low to the ground! Don’t be afraid to bend your legs! Lower! This ain’t no Riverdance, people!”
Lindy hop is the granddaddy of all swing dances, a blend of African and European dance influences that is both uniquely American... and now spans the globe.
Lindy hop takes its name from the Charles Lindbergh's flight to Paris in 1927.
If Tango is sultry, and Ballroom dancing is aloof, lindy hop is joyful and playful. Lindy has a grounded, flowing style that closely reflects its music -- from the late 20s hot jazz to the early 40s big bands.
Harlem, New York, and in particular the Savoy Ballroom ("The Home of Happy Feet") is where the dance was developed and innovated from the 1920s onward.
Based on earlier dances such as the Charleston, the Black Bottom and the Breakaway, the dance evolved and spread over the decades along with the new swing music.
And while the dance continues to evolve today, contemporary lindy hoppers still strive for that same spirit, inventiveness, and musicality of the pioneers of lindy hop like Norma Miller, Dean Collins, Frankie Manning and many more.
Lindy is at its heart a social dance, with each step improvised on-the-fly on the dance floor. But is also a popular competitive and performance dance, with competitions and shows taking place all over the world.
The air-step, created by the late Frank Manning, is one of the most iconic images of lindy hop. Demonstrating the most athletic, energetic side of Lindy, air-steps were first seen globally in such movies such as “Hellzapoppin” and “Day at the Races.”
Lindy hop as a movement continues to grow internationally, with vibrant dance scenes in as far flung places as Taiwan, Mozambique, and Brazil. Just like the newspaper headline of 1927, lindy has hopped the Atlantic, the Pacific, and every other ocean there is.
From Boston Balboa: bostonbalboa.org
Balboa is a type of swing dancing that developed in the 1920s and ’30s in Southern California. The name Balboa comes from the Balboa peninsula in Newport Beach where it is believed to have been popular. The movements look and feel like they are loosely based on Charleston, but became something entirely unique.
The modern term “Balboa” (or “Bal” for short) is essentially made up of two styles of dance that were done during the swing era which are now referred to as “Pure Balboa” (or “Pure Bal”) and “Bal-Swing.” While they were separate dance styles back in the day, they had enough similarities in connection and aesthetic that they’ve blended together over time and are now commonly danced together.
Pure Balboa is done in a close, closed position (supposedly due to congested ballroom floors with little space to maneuver and rules prohibiting break-away movements), and uses the close lead-follow connection to create a smooth movement with subtle weight changes and footwork variations.
Bal-Swing, originally referred to simply as “Swing,” is really just a catch-all term that refers to a family of figures and movements that developed around the same time as Balboa, in different areas around Southern California. While the dancers generally remain connected, the connection itself can be more open and allows for more freedom and variation of movement, including turns and breakaways, while still remaining closer together and having more rotational shapes and dynamics than several other styles of dance around the US during this time period. (such as Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Shag)
The smaller scale of the movements in both Pure Balboa and Bal-Swing allows dancers to more easily keep up with the fastest tempos while still being creative, connected, and musical.
The Charleston dance started at the dawn of a new age after the ravages of the war to end all wars, World War I. After the war, the air was filled with an exuberance for freedom and the pleasures of life. The Charleston dance symbolized the emergence of a new enthusiasm for breaking free from the constraints of war. It was the era of the Roaring Twenties and the Flappers. The term Flapper came from the flapping of the arms that was common in Charleston dancing. The Charleston started a dance craze in the twenties that evolved into many decades of swing dancing.
The dance can be performed solo, with a partner, or as part of a group. There are many variations to the basic dance movements. Different dancers make improvisations to the Charleston Dance.