Lindy Hop is a partnered dance that is danced to swinging jazz music. It is a very social dance, as people change dance partners every one to two songs. Many people will even make it their evening’s mission to dance with all people attending the event! What we as the Sugarspin team love about the dance, is that Lindy Hop has a tremendous amount of room for improvisation, creativity, and silliness, making it loads of fun!
The history of Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop emerged in Harlem (New York) in the African American community around 1927 and evolved together with the jazz scene. Lindy Hop started out as an improvisational street dance with solo and partner elements and broke the race barrier in the 1930s, popularised by Hollywood films such as A Day at the Races (1937) and Hellzapoppin’ (1941), which featured some of Lindy Hop’s greatest legends: Frankie Manning (1914-2009) and Norma Miller.
‘Lindy Hop’ is often included under the umbrella term of Swing Dance. Lindy uses steps and figures from Charleston and Solo Jazz. In Swing Dance you will come across parties and workshops specialising in related and overlapping dance forms such as Blues, Balboa, Shag, Authentic Jazz, Westcoast Swing, Jive and Boogie Woogie. The Lindy Hop takes its name from the aviator Charles Lindbergh (1902-74, nicknamed ‘Lucky Lindy’), whose non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1926 became a landmark event. During the Second World War, American soldiers brought the dance to Europe, but after the war the music scene quickly changed: bands got smaller, and Lindy Hop was replaced by bebop and other new rhythms.
Lindy Hop Today
In the 1980s, there was a revival of Lindy Hop across the world. Dancer and choreographer Frankie Manning taught a new generation to dance Lindy Hop, first at dance schools in New York and later across the Atlantic, for instance at a summer camp in Herräng, Sweden.
Lindy Hop is “alive and kicking” today (check out the documentary bearing the same name!). All major cities have one or several thriving Lindy Hop dance scenes. An international community of Lindy Hoppers meet and swing out at events across the globe (check out: http://www.swingplanit.com/): not a weekend goes by without some swing dance event or the other! And now Groningen is on the Lindy map, too!
Our ‘Best of Lindy’ — Songs and Videos
There are zillions of videos to give you an idea of what Lindy Hop looks like. Below, the initiators of Sugarspin show you some of their favourites among them.
We went to see Alive and Kicking with a group of Sugarspin Lindyhoppers, it’s a beautiful documentary that exactly captures the beauty of swing dancing (most notably Lindy), and how much joy it brings people!
The first video I saw when I saw an event advertised was this video of the International Lindy Hop Championship finals. I think this is when I fell in love with the dance. Just watch and enjoy!
The cool thing about lindy hop is that it is a social dance and that there are a lot of events you can go to, take classes and dance the night away. At the end of the year there is a big festival in Stockholm, The Snowball. Last year they’ve put a live stream on where you can see people dance socially. You can skip the first part to get to the band if you like.
Per (Per Rock) and Kati (Arikoski.com), the lovely dancers in this first video, were my first Lindy teachers in Copenhagen. What I love about this video is that it gives you an idea of the weightlessness of dancing and the timelessness of Lindy Hop. A lot of Hip Hop actually evolved from moves first practiced by Charleston and tap dancers almost 100 years ago!
Another electro swing video. I recorded this in a public park in Copenhagen where every sunny afternoon is used for public tasters and demonstrations. I chose it because it shows the range of dancers, most of whom have never danced before.
One of my favourite show pieces at the moment. You have to fast-forward to 1:50 for the actual dancing to start. I picked this one because it is playful and crazy and shows fun musicality at its best. I trust the other board members to choose more well-behaved videos!
Vera’s favourite songs to listen and dance to: