THE HISTORY OF SWING
1999 written by Gail Arias
Copyright 2002 DanceDanceDance.com. All rights reserved.

The " 20 's" " 30 's" " 40 's" " 50 's" " 60 's" " 70 's" " 80 's" " 90 's"

The Roaring " 20 's" were given such a name for a good reason. For the first time in history women were voting and smoking cigarettes. Women also cut their long tresses into a short bob hairdo and began dancing the Charleston in the local Speakeasies! The name Charleston originated in "Charleston" South Carolina. This dance was considered scandalous and irreverent.

The '20's were the prohibition period and to enter the speakeasies you needed to know the secret password. This is where you could see the flapper girls performing the Charleston.
The most popular saying was " 23 Skidoo".
The most famous silent film stars were Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
The Roadster Automobile with a rumble seat was very popular with the singles.
The Charleston was short lived due to its controversy and so it evolved with kicks and hops and more and more people began to pair up doing side by side movements.

By the early " 30 's" Charles Lindbergh had completed his famous solo flight. The headlines read, "Lindbergh hopped over the Atlantic".
Meanwhile, George Snowden, nicknamed "Shorty" was dancing to Ragtime and Blues music in Harlem where he was noted for his unusual style. When reporters asked the name of the dance he was doing he said, "The Hop", then paused for a few moments and said "The Lindy Hop" named after the Lindbergh Hop over the Atlantic.

Dick Powell and Joan Blondell were the most popular Actor and Actress at the time.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were all the rage in the musical, "Top Hat".
And who could forget the most popular girl of the 30's Shirley Temple.

The" 40 's" brought war time. People were very patriotic. The Big Band Era had arrived and it was exciting. The Big Bands included:
Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Harry James.
These Big Bands traveled all over the United States. Here in Hollywood the Palladium was packed and considered the place to go dancing. Slang expressions from the 40's were "A-OK", "Copasthetic", "Super", and "In the Groove". The famous actors and actresses were Irene Dunn and Robert Taylor. The dance of the 40's which evolved out of the Lindy Hop of the 30's was called the Jitterbug and in the later 40's known as the West Coast Swing originating here in Hollywood during the movie making period. The director and choreographer wanted to fit more dancers on the floor for the camera without losing their faces with the circular movement of Jitterbug and so the West Coast Swing was born danced in a straight line or a slot.

The War ended in 1945 and the Fabulous " 50 's" quickly rolled in. These years were considered the "Good Times". Men came home from war married, raised a family and took pride in their home.
President Eisenhower was in office for two full terms and women stayed home to raise the children.
Television kept people home more than ever before except for the dancers who drove their Chevy's and Ford's to the Sock Hops where they danced to Elvis tunes all night. Elvis was ever so popular and of course considered untamed and irreverent with his famous hip gyrations.
Popular slang expressions were "Keen", "Neat", "Cool" and "Boss"!

The " 60 's" brought in freestyle dancing where people did not touch. However, the Devotees of Swing never stopped, even through the 60's when couples dancing was looked upon as being real square.

When the " 70 's" rolled in, John Travolta brought back couples dancing with his movie role in Saturday Night Fever.
White polyester suits were really in style with the open shirt and a half a dozen gold chains.
For the men that really wanted attention the famous John Travolta stance with one arm up in the air holding a girl in the other arm always turned heads especially with that Macho Man facial expression that was so popular in the 70's. The girls wore the Danskin leotard with the wrap around skirt and long flowing hair. This generation was called the "Me Generation".
Popular Slang expressions were "Take it easy" and "Bitchen".
Live Bands playing in nightclubs were replaced with D.J.'s and Discotheque's. The dance of the greater part of the 70's and early 80's was called the Hustle. The Hustle is still done today without the polyester suits.

The Mid and late " 80 's" were anti Disco and pro freestyle meaning dancing alone in front of a partner once again. But the committed dancers never stopped, no matter what the media or fashion dictated the true dancers kept right on dancing together. Country Western Line dancing became popular in the late 80's into early 90's.

1990 and upward towards 2000 brings partner dancing back. Country Western Line dancing has now shifted towards Country Two-Step, Waltz, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Lindy, Hustle, Salsa and more. People are dancing to all types of music which makes all forms of couples dancing popular. No matter what your taste in music, there is a particular dance that fits your favorite tunes! Everyone is doing it. Young and old. Single and married.

 

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