On Let’s Swing

When think of the emerging music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA, swing music come to mind. The initial craze led into the Big Band era that continued into the 1950s.

From the likes of African-American giants as Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, and Louis Prima to Big Band icons as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman to the new generation of swing of Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, then onto the more contemporary sounds of Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Even within a generation, not all swing music is the same. Different music with different rhythms at different tempos also means different dances. Swing dance broke the rules of dance as it was fast, loose, and free … so the purpose of this post is to examine a few of the mainstays of swing dance.

Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop’s roots a traced back to the Harlem community of New York City, and influential dancer George “Shorty” Snowden. Life was a buzz with Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo flight over the Atlantic, and his name became attached to many things.

The dance, a fusion of Charleston and Foxtrot, moved out of Harlem and became popular – and also took on another name – the Jitterbug. Interestingly, this dance remains popular today – especially in clubs specializing in Lindy Hop/Jitterbug. Enjoy this classic movie clip that includes dance legend Frankie Manning.

 

Jive
As a variation of Lindy Hop, Jive became popular in the late 1930s, then American GIs took the dance to Europe. Although variations as boogie-woogie, swing boogie, and modern jive exist, today’s jive is a competitive ballroom dance.

 

East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing evolved as a simpler version of Lindy – that is, East Coast was easier to do and easier to teach. Arthur Murray Dance Studios were instrumental in popularizing this dance, which also became part of the competitive ballroom dance circuit.

Because of tempo variations in the music, one could subdivide this dance into single-time swing (fastest music, slower steps), double-time swing, and triple-time swing (slowest music, fastest steps).

 

West Coast Swing
With a Lindy style that was more anchored and whippy, dancer Dean Collins left Harlem and took the Lindy Hop to the California. From this, West Coast Swing developed into a slotted dance where dancers are either on or off the slot (track). West Coast Swing music is typically slower than East Coast Swing music with more of a smooth, blues, R&B, cool jazz sound. This video involves two good dancers dancing improv (not choreographed).

 

Shag
As another variation of swing that developed from the upbeat music of the 1930s. Shag developed in the African-American communities of the Carolinas, and then spread across the country. DIfferent variations include Collegiate, Carolina, and St. Louis. This video is interesting because is uses multiple dancers.

Swing dance isn’t limited to the above as other variations include Balboa (Bal), Rock and Roll, Western Swing, Imperial Swing, Jazz Dance Swing, Rock and Roll Swing, Acrobatic Rock and Rock, Washington Hand Dancing, Push and Whip, DC Swing, and Charleston. Even in competitive dance, American Style Ballroom Swing is different that International Style Ballroom Swing.Swing dance is also the foundation other modern dances as disco and country line dancing.

Speaking of line dances, let’s end the post with a classic. Shim Sham originally appeared as a tap routine in Harlem during the 1930s – but it morphed into a swing dance, then into a line dance for today’s swing dancers. Let’s bring back the great Frankie Manning for some Shim Sham.

Any favorites? Which of these do you wish you could do? Better yet, can you dance any of these swings?

Which of these dances should have its own dedicated post?

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 279

Gone since late September, OITS are back! .. .and this is the 1750th post (which is sort-of-a milestone) … and this post is loaded.

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I stopped into one of those large (but temporary/seasonal) Halloween stores .. .and I was surprised to see the Banana Flasher. For those who dare and want to know, here’s the link.

Remember the post earlier in the week about the email? Ever since that post, I haven’t heard from any of the ladies. Not one!

Sky: The Musical is off to a good start as Opening Night was a success. I want to complete this musical before the December holiday season, so Act 2 is next week!

  • Theme – Sun
  • All song titles must include Sun, Suns, or Sunny in the title
  • No compound words (sunlit, sunlight, etc) and No variations as Son, Sons, or Sonny
  • Showtime – Tuesday, November 17th, 9:30 pm (Eastern US)

I like black licorice, so I pounced on the deal at Costco when I spotted a display offering a 2 lb (0.9 kg) bag for $2.50. Hey Canadians … it’s from your country.

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. These words touched me.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald wasn’t the worst maritime tragedy in the history of the Great Lakes. Another early November storm in 1913 took a dozen ships and more than 250 sailors’ lives. The bodies of the Fitz’s crew were never recovered, but the ship’s bell was. And when it is tolled 29 times today, as it is every year, it will be for those men — and for the 25,000 others who have lost their lives on those waters down through the centuries. (Carl Cannon, Editor, Real Clear Politics)

Do you remember my tango routine? Well, my partner and I successfully did it without a major glitch! … and that also means it is over … Whew – a lot of work!

Dale (A Deleciable Life) made me aware of this wonderful dance video from the Montreal Swing Riot – and quite the riot it is. Whew – lots of energy and skill. The entire video is about 20 minutes, but even short stays are worth the time. Enjoy.

Speaking of dancing, the official Dance: The Musical song list is coming soon!

I’ve enjoyed Dancing With the Stars season 21 … and I’m pulling for Bindi. Best wishes to Tamara Braxton because she has withdrawn due to a serious health issue. As a dancer, she’s been very good.

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Early this week, I saw (live on CNN) Alysin Camerota’s interview with Republican candidate Ben Carson – and his answers to her good questions were pathetic.

George (The Off Key of Life) had this outstanding post about the 2016 presidential election.

Woo hoo … I missed another one this week, so I’m 5 for 5 when it comes to avoiding the party-specific presidential debates. Here are some fact checks from the event:
Annenberg FactCheckAssociated PressPolitiFactPoliticoWashington Post

From all indications, I tend to agree that the CNBC moderators did a poor job – but that is no excuse for poor answers. Given my rules, candidates in both parties should be thankful that I’m not running the debates. However, Jimmy Kimmel’s comedic take on the event is priceless!

To lead you into this week’s satire, The Onion offers these tips for conquering phobias.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Chinese buffet has french fries
Group of friends shouting “Shots” make compelling point
Robert De Niro stunned to learn of man who can “Goodfellas”
Scientists Find Strong Link Between Male Virility, Wearing Mötley Crüe Denim Jacket
Beijing Fire Department Extinguishes Massive Five-Alarm Burning Cloud Of Smog

Interesting Reads (a few more than normal)
A good almost 3-minute video report about a Brooklyn high school (from CBS News)
Columnist David Ignatius on power Ignatius on power
Columnist Kathleen Parker of demonizing in campaigns Parker on demonizing 
Melancholy as a good thing (Thanks Elyse)
The human body: on 4 facts or fiction
New hidden chambers in King Tut’s tomb?
A church and the Hawaiian leper colony
Barcelona’s La Sagrada from The Atlantic (article & pics) (Thanks Merril)
Rare Photos of early Peking

No Explore post this weekend, but don’t forget Act 2 is next week.

Here’s a two-fer to send you into the weekend – a leftover for Act 1 and a golden oldie. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.