“Swing dance” is a group of dances that developed concurrently with the Swing style of Jazz music in the 1920s, 30s and 40s; although the earliest of these dance forms predate Swing Jazz music. The best known of these dances is the Lindy Hop, a popular partner dance that originated in Harlem and is still danced today. While the majority of Swing dances began in African American communities as vernacular African American dances, a number of forms (Balboa, for example) developed within Anglo-American or other ethnic group communities.
Swing Jazz features the syncopated timing associated with African American and West African music and dance; a combination of crotchets and quavers (quarter notes and eighth notes) that many Swing dancers interpret as “triple steps” and “steps”. Yet it also introduces changes in the way these rhythms were played; a distinct delay or ‘relaxed’ approach to timing.


Traditionally, distinctions are made between “Ballroom Swing” and “Jazz Dance Swing” styles. East Coast Swing is a standardized dance in “American Style” Ballroom dancing, while Jive is a standardized dance in “International Style”; however both of these fall under the “Ballroom Swing” umbrella.

Social Swing Dancing

Many, if not most, of the Swing dances listed above are popular as social dances, with vibrant local communities that hold dances with DJs and live bands that play music most appropriate for the preferred dance style. There are frequently active local clubs and associations, classes with independent or studio/school-affiliated teachers and workshops, with visiting or local teachers. Most of these dance styles, as with many other styles, also feature special events such as camps or exchanges.

Swing is a simpler 6-count variation of Lindy Hop that evolved with Swing band music of the 1940s and the work of the Arthur Murray dance studios in the 1940s. It is also known as 6-count Swing, Triple-Step Swing, or Single-Time Swing. East Coast Swing has very simple structure and footwork along with basic moves and styling. It is popular for its simple nature and is often danced to slow, medium, or fast tempo jazz, blues, or rock and roll. Occasionally, Rockabilly, aka Rock-a-billy, is mistaken for East Coast Swing, but Rockabilly is more closely related to Western Swing.

Music Examples:

1. Lido Shuffle by Studio Musicians
2. In the Mood by Glenn Miller
3. Start Me Up by Rolling Stones