Swing is an all American family of dances that date back to the 1920's and 30’s. Swing dances are some of the most popular and sought-after dance styles.
Jitterbug, East Coast Swing, and Jive are Swing dances that were adapted from the street swing dances of Harlem (e.g., Lindy Hop) in the 1920s and early 30s. Swing dancing entered mainstream American culture in the 1930s and as a result of the popularity, dance studios began to adapt street swing moves into teachable steps and patterns. (It is worth noting that during the Swing Era, street dancers used the names Jitterbug, Lindy, and Jivin' (UK) as umbrella terms to refer to any kind of swing dancing. Many dance names and terms did not become standardized until decades later in many cases.)
During World War II American soldiers carried Swing dancing to England where it swiftly found a following and eventually became Jive.
Many regional variations have also evolved such as the Push Whip (Texas), the Imperial Swing (St. Louis), the Hand Dancing (Washington, D.C.), and the Carolina Shag (Carolinas and Norfolk) just to name a few. Visit our West Coast Swing page for more on this great dance.
East Coast Swing is a fun, upbeat dance and is one of the five competitive dances in the American Rhythm category along with Rumba, Cha Cha, Bolero, and Mambo.
It is also a very popular social dance. The basic step consists of two triple steps and a rock step and moves smoothly either forward and backward or side to side. It also naturally rotates on the dance floor. It is distinguished by its bounce, rock step (back break), Cuban hip motion and triple steps.
Common patterns include the Open Break, Underarm Turns, and Tuck-Ins.
Jitterbug is an easy-to-learn social dance that is often taught in conjunction with East Coast Swing because the patterns and styling are so similar. The difference is that the triple steps of the East Coast Swing have been condensed into a single step to accommodate the faster tempo of Jitterbug music. Jitterbug is sometimes called Single-Step Swing.
Jive is one of the five competitive dances in the International Latin category along with Rumba, Cha Cha, Paso Doble, and Samba.
The Jive is a lively dance that incorporates high energy with plenty of knee-lifting, bending, and rocking of the hips. It features many of the same basic patterns of East Coast Swing however its rhythms differ drastically. The tempo is also much faster than East Coast Swing.
Common patterns include Fallaway Rocks, American Spin, and the Stop ‘n’ Go.