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What Is Swing Dancing?

Learn what swing dancing is from dance champion Robert Royston in this Howcast dance video.


Swing dancing is one of the few forms of couple’s dances that started here in America in the late 1920s. The word swing comes from a style of jazz music that was being done in the late 20s where they took what was called a triplet, a triplet is where you take three beats and put it where two beats would normally be. So they took these triplets into this jazz music and the middle beat of the three, they would push to one side or the other. Instead of having dah, dah, dah, all of equal timing, it would go dah, ba-dah. So it would have a little bit of a delay. Or, Ba-dah, dah. So it would take that middle beat and they would move it to one side or the other. That was called a swung triplet, where we would take that middle beat and swing it to one side or the other.

As we started to dance to that jazz music with the swung triplets, it became a swing rhythm. So now we have a swing rhythm. What do you do to it? You swing dance. So the word swing dance and the styles of swing dance that we do all come from music that has a swung triplet. Now the first style of swing we know from 1927 was called the Lindy Hop, and it happened three days after Charles Lindbergh hopped the Atlantic Ocean. All over the newspaper, Lucky Lindy Hops Atlantic. They interviewed a Harlem dancer by the name of Shorty George Snowden and said, what's that dance you're doing to this style of music? And he called it the Lindy Hop. And swing dancing was born.

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