Lindy Hop is a partner dance that is danced to swing jazz music. It is a very social dance, as people usually 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 (1919-2019).
‘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, West Coast 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 that gave people hope and cheer in difficult times. 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brought the dance to Europe, but after the war the music scene quickly changed: bands got smaller, and Lindy Hop was superseded by bebop and other new rhythms, so it took a rather long break. Until the 1980s!
The dance and the music
Lindy Hop is danced to a certain type of swing music. It is an expression of the structure, but mostly the freedom of the music. In fact you are having a conversation with your partner and with the music! We therefore recommend that you listen to a lot of Lindy Hop music. You can start with our Spotify playlist and explore from there.
Leading and following: Having a conversation
In Lindy Hop the leader initiates the conversation. But if the leader asks all the questions, and the follower only gives short, expected answers, it will be a rather boring conversation. In the start, it may be like this as you’re both learning this new language. But already from early on we teach and encourage both people in both roles to listen to each other as well as the music, add on to, and continue the conversation. In this way, the dance really becomes an interaction between two people.
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 out on YouTube to give you an idea of what Lindy Hop looks like. Below, the initiators of Sugarspin show you some of their favourites among them.
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. Before the pandemic 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!