If you are interested in learning more about the History of
Swing Dancing and Swing Music, click here.
Swing Dancing is a worldwide favorite
partner dance that was created right here in America. Swing is an offshoot of the
Charleston. It developed during the Jazz Era of the 1920's (Lindy Hop), was refined during
the the Big Band Swing Era of the 1930's (Swing), and refined during the Rock 'n Roll Era
of the 1950's and 1960's (Jitterbug).
Currently Swing Dancing is sweeping the
nation as the biggest dance craze since the 1970s Disco. Who can resist the siren
call of "Zoot Suit Riot" by the Cherry Poppin Daddies or "HooDoo VooDoo
Doll" by the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies ? Or "Jump, Jive, and Wail" by Brian
Setzer ? Or for that matter the classics like "In the Mood" with Glen Miller and
"Rock Around the Clock" with Bill Haley.
The famous Gap Commercial comes alive as
people learn to Swing dance and make the music happen right here, right now in the Bayou
Swing can be used to a wide variety of
music such as Western Honky-Tonk, Big Band, Rock, and Oldies, as well as to the new
fabulous new 1990's Swing Music featuring bands like the Cherry Poppin Daddies, Royal
Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer, and many more!
Beginning, Intermediate, & Advanced
Swing cover the most common patterns in ascending degrees of difficulty.
Trivia Question :
What is Swing called in
Zoot Suit Riot!!
ZOOT SUIT RIOT is the name for our Super- Advanced
Swing course. It currently has five levels which may be taken in any order.
In particular there are many Double Turn patterns,
intricate performing-style patterns involving complicated
rhythm-changes, and many eye-catching footwork patterns.
These courses are very challenging. The ladies
should be prepared to do lots of turns. The men need to complete Advanced Swing and put in
some practice before they even think about it. Also offered as a Crash Course.
The Lindy Hop was Americas first Swing dance. It
is a wonderful cross between Jitterbug, Charleston, and Shag.
Popular in the 20s through World War II, the Lindy disappeared for 40 years, but is
enjoying a renewed interest as the 90s Swing music sweeps the nation !
For a lengthy background on how SSQQ was instrumental in
bringing the Lindy Hop here to Houston, click here
People ask what is
the difference between Swing and Lindy. Generally speaking, Lindy consists of 8-count
patterns and Swing of 6-count patterns, although both dances can have patterns using both
counts. Lindy's 8-count allows for styling and interpretive movement but, socially, is
danced to slightly slower music.
Swing styling is usually more limited and swing can be
danced more comfortably to faster music. The terms Lindy, Swing and Jitterbug are often
fascinating Charleston kick patterns are a major part of the Lindy Hop.
However they can just as easily be used to a Swing system as well. These
courses cover all the major Charleston patterns and how to get into and
out of them using Swing 6-beat timing.
As the World of Swing
evolves, it turns out one of the most popular aspects of the Lindy Hop
era are the fabulous Charleston patterns.
Charleston patterns do
not require a knowledge of Lindy Hop to be performed. They can just as
easily be generated from Swing footwork and timing. There are two Swing
Charleston courses at SSQQ : Swing Charleston Classic and Swing
Charleston Tandem. You may take them in either order. This course
assumes you have completed at least Beginning Swing because the pace is
fast and furious.
Charleston Classic patterns include Bus Driver, Kick and Rock, Side by
Side Charleston, and Crossed-Hand Charleston as well as others. Many
people are not aware that the Lindy originated out of the Charleston. In
particular, the “Side by Side” and “Crossed-Hands” patterns were
pretty much the first Lindy patterns ever used when Lindy was making its
breakout from the Charleston in the 1920s, hence the name “Classic”
for this course.
Swing Charleston Tandem covers Back
Charleston Patterns, Traveling Kicks, and Jig Walks. The major
characteristic of these patterns is that the man and the woman are
frequently dancing the
same footwork as a mirror image, hence the name “Tandem”
Classic and Tandem alternate months at SSQQ. They can be
taken in either order. We do suggest you at least finish Intermediate
Swing before tackling these classes.
Nothing captures the attention of an
audience like Swing Acrobatics !
Flips, Dips, Drops, & Lifts guarantee
all eyes in the room will be drawn to you. These moves are difficult to master until you
learn the secrets of leverage and timing.
After that, the moves become surprisingly
easy. Partners are required for all Acrobatics classes because trust and timing is so
The moves we teach are not dangerous, but
an occasional bruise is sometimes par for the course. Athletic ability is certainly
helpful, but these moves are within the reach of anyone in good shape.
As 90s Swing Music dominates, dancing
calls for the knowledge of more than just Swing when different types and speeds of music
are played. This course teaches Closed Position Swing (moves for when the floor is
crowded), Cha-Cha (for Latin music), Night Club (a blend of Slow Dance and
Latin), plus "BoxFox", a special form of Foxtrot perfect for slower Swing music
and small floors. Learn all four in this unique four week class !
Note : This course is tailored specifically
for music currently played in Houstons Swing clubs. It assumes the floors will be
The Shim Sham is an old-time Tap Dance
that works perfectly to slow Swing Music as a Swing Line Dance. In addition there are
other Swing Line Dances such as the Madison, the Big Apple, the Charleston, and the
During the Lindy Hop Revival of the 90's,
it has become common at Swing Camps around the country for 100 people or more to get out
on the floor and dance the Shim Sham together.
Unfortunately the dance is so complicated
no one can expect to pick the dance up simply by watching. With that in mind, SSQQ
has decided to sponsor a free Shim Sham Workshop every Monday from 6:30 - 7 pm.
When enough people think they have it, we
will start dancing it every Monday during our Swing Night at 9:15 and at our Saturday
Swing parties. If you are interested in learning this classic dance, just show up !
Also sometimes called
"Street Swing" or "Hand Dancing", here at SSQQ we
have renamed this style of
Swing Dancing to "Shaggie Jitterbug". Swing dancing can be
danced at many different levels. Swing Dancing can vary from the primitive forms
of Swing used in high school to Swing danced with precise footwork,
timing, and leads in dance exhibitions.
somewhere in the middle between "High School Swing" and
"Professional Swing" is "Shaggie Jitterbug". This
particular style of Swing Dancing is very popular at College Station.
It is fast and eye-catching, but pretty rough on the arms and can tire
you out quickly if you aren't careful. "Shaggie Jitterbug"
can also be seen in many of Houston's Western Clubs as the dance is
not at all exclusive to Texas A&M. In fact it is danced in many
places throughout the state of Texas.
"Shaggie Jitterbug", basically the boy pulls the
girl in one direction and she keeps going till she gets to the end of her arm
(or "arms" if she still has both). Both
the boy and girl lean away from each other in a classic tug-of-war position until the
tension in her arms causes the girl to snap back towards the boy rubberband-style. At this point, the
next move begins.
moves like the Pretzel, the Rope, and the Weave, "Shaggie Jitterbug" when done well
can be pretty flashy. In many ways it resembles the early Disco
dancing done in Houston shortly after the appearance of "Saturday
Night Fever". One of the advantages of "Shaggie
Jitterbug" is it is easy to
learn because there is a minimum of footwork. Another advantage is
there aren't very many patterns, so people can concentrate on doing a
few patterns well. Finally, if someone is "rhythm-impaired",
this is a great dance because there is no set timing.
the "Shaggie Jitterbug" also has its drawbacks. Since the
"Shaggie Jitterbug" has no
"timing", it is done pretty much at the same speed to every song.
This makes it tougher for the girl to follow and also keeps the dance
from having much style in relationship to the music.
is often danced quite fast. At its best the speed can be very flashy,
but the downside is people wear out.
women can get hurt. Although using your arms to stop is easy to learn,
after awhile your arms get sore!! Also moves like the Pretzel and the
Rope can easily lead to a woman getting bopped in the head by an
inadvertent elbow if the man doesn't know what he is doing. Ouch!
there is no obvious way to get a breather. The dance is pretty much
perpetual motion. Swing Dancing with systematic footwork and timing
includes several simple stop and rest points, but not "Shaggie
some people consider "Shaggie Jitterbug" to be a "lowest common denominator"
dance. In other words, if the lady doesn't know Swing
timing and footwork, the man can shift "down" to leading
"Shaggie Jitterbug". Or if the man can't
lead Swing, the lady will be forced to adapt to his particular style of
"Shaggie Jitterbug". Although the "Shaggie
Jitterbug" has its loyalists, most people who know both
system-Swing and "Shaggie Jitterbug" prefer system-Swing.
Swing has more patterns, the footwork makes it easier to stop without
having to use arm tension, the dancing fits the music, and the pace
allows for fast action as well as breathers in the middle.
summary, "Shaggie Jitterbug" is popular because it is easy
to learn and can be used almost immediately by Beginners. Consider it
a sort of "training wheels" Swing Dance. There is something
to be said for a Swing Dance that can learned quickly. For example,
seventh graders don't have the discipline to pick up System Swing, but
adapt to the "Shaggie Jitterbug" quickly.
a serious dance, the "Shaggie Jitterbug" lacks style and grace because it has no relationship to
the music. There are just a minimum of patterns due to the lack of footwork and timing.
Finally, it is incredibly tiring and very rough on the body. Women report their arms are
extremely sore after a night of dancing this way.
reason for liking this dance is that it can be used with a total
stranger who has never had a lesson in Swing
footwork. However due
to allegations of "serious trademark infringements" and the threat of an
A&M lawsuit SSQQ no long offers "Shaggie Jitterbug"
classes under its "Real Name". You probably think this is a "you-know-what" Joke,
but believe it or not, it is the truth.
SSQQ is not prevented from teaching the "Forbidden Dance"
under its new name, the Shaggie Jitterbug. Look for it as a Crash
Course from time to time.
you are curious what Texas A&M did to prevent us calling this dance by
its well-known name,
Trivia Question :
What is Swing called in England ?
Answer : Jive.
Jazz music is considered to be
the only art form to originate in America.
With New Orleans as the
"cradle of Jazz", Dixieland music, Ragtime, Blues, and Spiritual music developed
in the South after the Civil War. As freed slaves migrated in search of opportunity, they
moved up the Mississippi to St Louis, then on to Chicago as well.
For example, Louis Armstrong, a major Jazz pioneer, started as a cornet-playing teenager
in New Orleans. After he moved to Chicago, Armstrong rose to fame first with the Creole
Jazz Band, then with the Fletcher Henderson Band during the Roarin' 20's.
Other musicians moved from the
south up to New York's Harlem which gave rise to Jazz music,
the Charleston, and then Lindy Dancing during the 20's. Duke Ellington reigned supreme at
Cotton Club in New York during this period. It is Duke Ellington who is given credit for
coining the name "Swing Music" with his classic 1932 song,
"It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't got that Swing."
All this time however the
street name for Jazz was "Jive Music". When the American GI's arrived in England
to begin the staging for D-Day, they brought with them not only their music and their
dancing, but also their slang name as well. "Jive" became the term the Brits
commonly used to refer to both the music and the dancing. Now 50 years later,
"Jive" (not "Swing" I might add) is a major part of all
International Ballroom Dance competitions thanks to the British influence. Some
people even think Jive originated in England. Wrong ! Swing started in Harlem
right here in the USA and is just as American as the Super Bowl, Basketball, and the
The excerpt above was taken
from the SSQQ "History of Swing" article.
If you are interested in visiting this page and learning more about the history of
Swing Dancing and Swing Music, click here.