Swing Dance Styles taught at EUSDS


Lindy Hop

Frankie Manning & Freda Washington

Lindy Hop, sometimes called "Jitterbug" by those who do not dance, is the main dance style of EUSDS and of almost all other swing dance clubs and societies across the world. Lindy Hop is one of the most influential dances of the 20th century; it was not the first true partnered swing dance (shag pre-dates it) but it is the ancestor to a huge number of later dances such as jive, rock-n-roll and even break-dancing. Dating back to the late 1920s, Lindy Hop is a Rolls Royce of dance styles, able to look really smooth and cool to slow music, and also able to fly like the wind when the tempo picks up. You can watch archive clips of authentic Lindy Hop by clicking here (where the star is the inventor of the dance, George Snowden), here (after a short into), and here (with a 50s feel).

Click here to find out more about Lindy Hop, including details of basic steps.

Lindy Hop is the only one of the dance styles on these pages that is taught every year, throughout the academic year; the others come and go in shorter chunks of time,

Collegiate Shag

A well-drerssed couple, shagging
Shag is a very fast close-hold dance that evolved in the crowded dance floors of college "hops" in the USA. It can be danced to the fastest jazz music, and fits swing music as well as the Rag-Time for which it evolved (it pre-dates Lindy Hop). EUSDS is the only place in Scotland to teach classes in Collegiate Shag. The name has no rude connotations in the USA, by the way. You can watch a video of period shag dancing by clicking here, here and here, and you can watch cartoon characters dancing shag in a wonderful pre-war 'pop video' by clicking here. You can see a modern demonstration of shag (with some Balboa too) by Markus and Baerbl, probably the best shag dancers around today, here.

Visit the class notes page on the Swingdoctors' website  for notes and videos about how to dance Collegiate Shag.

Balboa/ Bal swing/ Bal-trot

Balboa is a jazz dance which can be done either to swing music or to the odler, Dixieland, form of jazz. The dance dates from the 1930s, and was probably derived from Charleston and Collegiate Shag. It first became popular on the Balboa Peninsula of California in the 30s (although there are several competing stories of its origin).. Pure Balboa is danced in a closed position with a chest to chest hold and, except in the 'break', this close hold is never lost. The dance is ideal for crowded floors and fast music.

Bal-Swing is a derivative of Balboa that opens out and takes up more space. Most 'balboa' classes taught round the world are actually classes in Bal-swing. Bal-swing includes all balboa and then a lot of other material besides. It is difficult to fid vintage movies of Balboa. You can see a 1970s clip of some famous Balboa old-timers dancing here, and of modern international-level dancers here.  This vintage clip is of a style of Balboa/ Bal-swing that owed much to shag; it illustrates well the point that Balboa does not have to be a smooth and gliding dance!

Bal-trot is a modern invention which turns Balboa into a progressive dance that goes around the room the way that Foxtrot, Quickstep etc do. By dancing Bal-trot you can therefore mix with members of Footloose in ballrooms, but you still have the full repertoire of Balboa and Bal-swing moves to drop in to look really flashy!

We teach all three forms at EUSDS.

Visit the class notes page on the Swingdoctors' website for notes and videos about how to dance Balboa.

St Louis Shag ("speed shag")

St Louis Shag is a partner dance derived from the Charleston. It can be danced at very high speed, although some of its figures can look graceful at moderately-paced music. It is danced mostly in place, the body barely moving but the legs dancing different patterns on the floor. It is not often seen any more - EUSDS is probably the only place to teach it in the UK. I have not found any vintage movie clips, but you can see a modern one by clicking here,

The Charleston

The Charleston

The Charleston is not strictly a swing dance but is such a close ancestor that it seems a pity to ignore it. The Charleston is the dance of the Roaring '20s. It is mainly an unpartnered dance form, and danced well can be both energetic and funny. You can find a great show of autenitc 20s Charleston here, with instruction. You can see a compilation of original 1920s footage here, here, here and another here: they show dancing and other aspects of 20s life. The strange movie to be found here seems to include images from a pre-war party with Charleston and Bunny Hop going on, but has a very modern sound track.

Visit the class notes page on the Swingdoctors' website for notes and videos about how to dance the Charleston.

Slow Drag

slow swing

When the music gets really slow, Lindy Hop is no longer suitable and a different style, intimate and dreamy fits better. This year, we will do a special themed class inthis style - Slow Drag - on the nearest lesson to Valentine's day. The dancers pictured above are from EUSDS, by the way.

Jazz strolls

Jazz steps

One feature of the swing era was a succession of crazes for jazz strolls and line dances. We teach some of the more famous ones, because they are fun and also because they are a very good way to practice steps that appear in partnered dances too. You can see original footage (1930s) of Whitey's Lindy Hopers doing the Big Apple here. You can see Frankie Manning (see the photo under 'Lindy Hop') leading a shim-sham, at the age of 90, here.

Visit the class notes page on the Swingdoctors' website for notes and videos about how to dance some of these strolls and line dances..

NOT swing dances

The following dances are sometimes confused with swing dances, but they are NOT because the music for which they evolved was not swung. They are not taught at EUSDS, but we can put you in touch with people who teach them if you ask us to;