What is swing?

Swing is a musical feeling. At its simplest, a beat which has been ever-so-slightly moved out of place. The distance between the beats creates the feeling- the urge to move, to dance.

Swing is danced in many different ways- but to start things off we’ll begin with two of the most common styles: Lindy Hop and Balboa.

Lindy Hop is typically characterized by its swingout- the “breakaway”, a motion in which the dancing partners move away from one another, connected only by one hand and the rhythm. The dance found its genesis in the East Coast dance halls of Harlem among the black community in the 1920s, rapidly becoming a broad cultural phenomenon through the 30s and 40s. It is an improvisational dance which encourages creativity, self-expression, and freedom- and is currently danced by a growing, enthusiastic global community.

Balboa is usually, in contrast to Lindy Hop, danced much closer to one’s partner and in a more upright position. Thanks to its economical approach to movement and simple basics, it is a dance that is often quite easy to dance to fast music. Balboa takes its name from the place where it is rumored to have been invented- the Balboa Promenade in Newport Beach, California. Balboa dancers pride themselves on improvisation and precision, much like jazz musicians themselves.

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