What is Lindy Hop?

Lindy Hop was the all-American folk dance circa 1930 that was the precursor of modern West Coast Swing (WCS) and East Coast Swing(ECS)dances. Therefore it is not surprising that Lindy contains elements (and steps) of both WCS and ECS. Actually, WCS and ECS are just variations of Lindy. If you can Lindy Hop, you can swing with almost anyone.

Contrary to the sound of the name, Lindy Hop is basically a smooth dance.The "swing out" provides ample opportunity to play with the music and for syncopations, and it is well suited to the slow grooves that WCS dancers love. But Lindy Hoppers also enjoy it when the music speeds up and they can show off the fancy footwork and kicks that ECS dancers like. And of course there are the "dips-n-tricks." But perhaps the most enduring aspect of Lindy is the flow of movement from one pattern to another.

Lindy can be danced to a variety of music from blues to jazz to rock-n-roll. At fast tempos the Lindy Hop can really fly. At slower speeds the dance can be smooth and silky. But of course Lindy does not suit all music, and it really needs an 8-beat rhythm.

The signature pattern of Lindy Hop is the basic 8-count swing out. Starting from an open hand-hold position, the woman does swivel steps on counts 1,2 as she comes forward, and the man rock steps back. The partners come together on 3&4 in a closed but facing position as they do a triple step 180 degree turn. They separate on counts 5,6 as the woman "swings out" back to the open position. The final 7&8 triple step is free for adding individual styling, which can even extend into the next 1,2 counts. This encourages improvision, and Lindy Hop is sometimes referred to as partnered jazz. There are of course many pattern variations as well as numerous 6-count figures, and even some Charleston movements.

There are two recognized styles of Lindy. The Savoy style is characterized by long horizontal lines and is danced down low (Frankie Manning is a good example). The other style is often called Hollywood (or G.I.) style, although it also originated at the Savoy. This style is danced with a slotted, whipping action on the swing out (Dean Collins). Since the resurgence of Lindy Hop back into popular culture in the 1990's, a couple more stylings have emerged: a "smooth" style that is popular with slower blues music, and a "funky" Lindy that contains elements of Hip Hop. But however you slice it, it's Lindy and it swings.

For more information, check out the links below.

What is Lindy Hop? by Kurt Lichtmann

Archives of Early Lindy Hop


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