Category Archives: Historical Korner

The Histories Of Dances And Fashions From The Swing Era

Boogie Woogie – Historical

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What Is This Dance You Speak Of ?

42691367Boogie Dance, or Boogie-woogie is a form of swing dancing that was originally known as “Barrelhouse” dancing. It is called boogie-woogie in Europe, but this dance is more commonly known as East Coast swing in the United States. During the 1950s, today’s boogie-woogie would have been known as “rock ‘n’ roll.” Although the dance can go with boogie-woogie music, it’s more often paired with rock music. Because rock ‘n’ roll dance was already established in dance competitions (Acrobatic Rock n’ Roll), boogie-woogie had to find an alternate label. It adopted a name based on the music with which it was often paired: fast-paced, boogie-woogie style piano. (Pinetop Smith writing the first official Boogie Woogie song in 1928. However, there were main parts of the music style as far back as 1900. It is the single most influential Boogie-Woogie composition of all time, it was the first recorded piece to use the term “Boogie-Woogie” in the title).

Boogie-Woogie dancing was a response to this new sound – but didn’t really evolve until Rock ‘n’ Roll music came into existence in America and Europe in the 1950′s. It’s popularity grew and grew as the fledgling Rock ‘n’ Roll stars such as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis replaced the old Swing music on the radio and in nightclubs.

Boogie-woogie is commonly danced to a fast pace. It is famous for its fast and spectacular footwork, high energy and also it’s freedom throughout the dance that allows space for improvisation and free styling. The step variation for boogie dance is a combination of six and eight count with sharp, quick movements. It often makes use of a syncopated beat, which helps to create the constant footwork for which boogie is widely recognised.

3timeworldchampsBoogie-woogie can be danced in social situations (mostly in Europe), or in competitions (worldwide). As a competitive dance, boogie-woogie is a “lead” dance, without any choreography but can contain acrobatic elements, although, not like in acrobatic Rock ‘n’ roll. There are various limitations of aerials in European countries, but by the strong Lindy Hop influence, they cannot be completely removed from the dance. Most rules suggest that the couples have to maintain some contact during the acrobatics, which helps to avoid moves like double/triple flips, commonly seen in Acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll (like the name suggests).

Boogie-woogie can be slow or fast. When fast beats are used, boogie-woogie often moves into East Coast swing, Hollywood style and jitterbug. Many people confuse it with the lindy hop, which it closely resembles. Although lindy hop has had a great influence on boogie woogie, the two are not interchangeable. Another misconception is that as a form of swing dancing, boogie-woogie must be fast paced. Boogie-woogie dance and music can, however, be slow.

As the history on this dance style is quite ambiguous, the information above is to the best knowledge based on all sources online.

Personally This Style Is One Of My Favourite Dance Styles To Watch – j

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West Coast Swing – Historical

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Hey Katz,
After Alot Of Reading And Way To Much Information Here Is The Story About West Coast Swing – In Short A Dance Created From Lindy Hop By One Man Who Made It Look Different To Suit The Camera! (Looked Nothing Like The Majority Of What You See Today).

Dean Collins2The History Of West Coast Swing:
West Coast Swing originated from an earlier dance known as the Savoy Style Lindy, which was done at the Savoy Ballroom in New York in the early 1930′s. Although WCS was not invented by, it was indirectly spawned by a man whose name was Dean Collins, who also danced at the Savoy while living in New York.

Collins came to California in the 1930′s to get into the movie business and brought with him ‘his version’ of the “Savoy Style Lindy.” Collins, after dancing in Hollywood for a couple years started dancing in many nightclubs began competing. He would get to know some of the other local dancers, which have been said too have “not seen that style of swing before, but they liked it very much.” It was alot different than what they were doing at the time (which they called the “Whip”). When Collins started winning contests everyone wanted to learn his style. Dean’s partner Jewel McGowen was the hottest female swing dancer who had ever “Switched” (swivel back and forth) with Dean. They made many movies apart as well as together. When Dean would be asked what style of swing he was doing he would say “there is no style, there is only Swing.” He never said there is only Lindy Hop or West Coast or Jitterbug, there is only swing. And being a true master of swing he realized that “Swing is Swing”… period!

BuckPrivatesCollins started teaching “his version” to L.A. and soon everyone on the West Coast was doing it. Dean finally got his break and started doing many Hollywood movies in the 1940s and 1950s. (There were basically three styles of swing done in the movies of the time: 
1) Lindy Hop, 2) West Coast Swing, 3) East Coast Swing. Although the Sugar push is said to have existed before it was not portrayed in the other styles on film). He brought many local swing dancers who he had taught this “new style” with him into these movies as well. During this time, the movies billed this dance as “Jitterbug or Rock and Roll.” Many soldiers danced this version of swing in W.W. II. The soldiers and U.S.O. took “West Coast Swing” and other forms of swing all over the world … disguised as the newer term of Jitterbug or Rock and Roll (before these titles swing was known as the Lindy Hop). Dean past away in 1984.

The Slot: is not original to West Coast Swing but is strongly linked to it today. West Coast Swing, which is a strictly slotted (a 3′X6′ or 3X8′ rectangular dance space) which has the leader dance in place while the follower travels back and forth. This style of swing has some to say that this slot was born out of “WIDE ANGLE LENSES” not having been invented yet! (not totally true). The Directors needed to put the dancers in straight lines to get them all in the camera. However, many swing movies only had “one couple dancing” at a time and many previous movies of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers will show a slot being danced (for the camera) This “Slot” idea was to get the profile of the dancers rather than the backs of the dancers to the camera. If the dancers rotated while dancing it would not have shown the movie-goer much dancing. This “slotted-style” eventually caught on as the norm and stayed Strickly sloteed! When West Coast is danced socially. The film “Don’t Knock the Rock” strongly features the WCS Slot that California dancers prided themselves on by dancing on a couch, coffee table etc.

YGZIF00Z 225x300Yet, another story is that because Los Angeles had many small nightclubs, and there was a huge migration happening in California at the time. The L.A. dancers had to squeeze together and thus maintained a “Slotted type movement” to avoid hitting each other. The two above ideas merging together would be the main reason people today dance slotted swing socially

Style And Footwork influences have been many from tap, to Latin & The Switches, along with whatever music was popular at the time and of course aerials.

In one of Arthur Murray’s dance books in the mid 1940′s, Murray describes a dance called “Rock and Roll dancing.” It names the “Under Arm Pass, the Whip and the Sugar-Push.” and describes the “Coaster Step” and “Anchor step” very clearly. Later he would call this style of “Western Swing” “Sophisticated Swing.” Today there are eight basic steps that the whole dance revolves upon.

In the 1940′s Ms. Laurie’ Haile was hired by Mr. Murray to document the dances set in Murray’s curriculum and the current dances being done around town. This was no easy task, but she did it beautifully. She knew Dean Collins and some of the other dancers and documented what they along with the Sailors in San Diego and Long Beach were doing at the time. She called it “Western Swing” which is were we get the name “West Coast Swing.”

Myrna Myron of Myron’s Ballroom in Los Angeles, California coined the term “Sophisticated Swing” in a conversation to Arthur Murray years earlier by describing what she saw being done in and around Los Angeles in the early 1950′s. Although a song title with that name did exist earlier, it was not associated with swing as a dance but rather a musical style. West Coast did not look like the reckless abandon of the previous swingers and looked much more smooth, polished and stylish. Murray used this term quite frequently to describe West Coast Swing.

During the 1960′s, Television put dancing on the back burner. Most people did not have to leave their homes for an evening’s entertainment as in the past. Televisions were now affordable and almost in everyone’s home. Since these dancers were not going out and dancing and leading the way, newer dancers generally did not know what or how to do the dances of the past. In walks a dance called the “Twist, Frug, Hully Gully etcetera” plus “dancing in the sand” at the beach would be the death blow to most structured partner dances and no one had to learn anything, just flap your arms, shake your hips or twist and shake the night away”

3858047581 5c30b76cd9 207x300West Coast Swing has found a way to adapt and evolve through each decade and musical style  picking up moves “patterns” from newly formed dances along the way Eg: 70’s disco, Hip Hop. It is said “Modern” West Coast dancing has up to 5000 patterns with a strong latin american ballroom dancing look to it now losing some what of its classical style.

Retro-Swingers recently started to use a term called “Hollywood Style Lindy” before they realized it was basically “Hollywoods West Coast Swing they were doing.” They now just call it Hollywood Style Swing with the term being coined by Erik and Sylvia Robeson. This Hollywood Style Swing was actually the original form of West Coast Swing, as done by Dean Collins and Jewel McGowen, Gil and Nikki Brady, Lou Southern etc. and others of days gone by. Many of the old time West Coast Swingers who are still around today have helped them with this “authentic style”.

So There It Is A Dance Made For The Camera – j

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Balboa – Historical

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What Is Balboa ? Where Is It From ? How And Why Did It Come About ?

Here Goes The Origins & History Of Balboa:

24Balboa is a form of the Swing dance family. The original Balboa is a hybrid of the Charleston, Jig Trot, Swing and appropriated steps from the 1920′s Collegiate Shag which later Arthur Murray would try to refine in the mid 1930′s thru his studio chain.

Later, many dancers started experimenting and started to add steps and twist and kicks back into the dances using the Shag as a model in and near Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California (Balboa Pier), namely the Balboa Pavilion with this new Balboa dance being born out of it’s predecessors of the Shag, Jig Trot/Walks, Charleston and Swing mixture. It was originally called the ‘Bal-Hop’ and ‘Balboa Shuffle’. The Balboa was used as well for very tight dance spaces and a chance to catch your breath (Jockeying) while dancing to fast Jitterbug music. It had finally come full circle and was getting very popular with the swing dancers in Southern California.

rendevousballroom20 300x208The Newport Beach “island clubs” in Southern California, such as the Rendezvous Ballroom (1928-1966) which was directly across from Balboa Island (the island was established in 1905,) and the older Balboa Pavilion started having ‘swing dance night’s’ (meaning music style rather than dance) in the early 1930′s that continued well into the mid 1980′s the older Pavilion did not allow Jitterbug dancing due to structural problems which indirectly lead to a popularity of the Balboa. Over the years the dancers who did Collegiate or the Murray shag, Charleston, Jig Walks, Foxtrot, and Lindy merged the dance into a more energetic style. Most of the Balboa dancers were of today’s older West Coast Swing crowd, with a few newer Lindy dancers finding the beauty of this dance as well today.

The Balboa became a dance of the Swing dance family and was reported many times as a new dance. Basically the dance evolved thru crowded dance floors and high tempos. A dancer getting tired would pull his partner close and do Balboa to catch their breath, then swing out again or it was just plain to crowded to dance and they did or had to do the Balboa all night.

 Balboa is mainly a closed position swing form, that uses very little break-away’s, only a few turns, and usually fast footwork. Most written articles of the time report that the Balboa was replacing the Fox-Trot in swing circles. Most of the larger Ballrooms were so crowded that they had signs posted “No Breakaways” which meant No Jitterbug dancing (such as the Paramount in L.A.) and the Balboa worked real well for overly crowded dance floors such as the paramount. There were a few different styles of Balboa such as the:

  • 1) Swing-Bal Has some swing steps / Breakaways thrown in, uses swing timing, to be clear… not shag timing, but does have some converted shag patterns.
  • 2) Slow Balboa (similar to Rhumba), that is very, very smooth!.
  • 3) Fast Balboa
  • 4) Bal-Hop was the original name, which originally was more similar to Collegiate Shag.
  • 5) Plus there is Single Bal, Double Bal and Thriple Bal (Swing Rhythm) to mix.

 The basic rhythm for the dance is a Double Shuffle Swing Rhythm. Some original music was Dorsey’s “Melancholy Baby” or Artie Shaw’s “Begine The Beguine” (as reported by an early Photo Play magazine article.) Celebrities like Jackie Cooper and Bonita Granville were also avid Balboa dancers.

Wiki Was Useful:

bobbywhite 300x300Balboa today is commonly used as a general term for dances that come from southern California during the 1920s and 1930s, which makes the history very obscure. Most of the original Balboa dancers have died and many of the swing dancers that followed continued to use their steps and sometimes styles to integrate into their “swing” dancing which some people today call “Bal-Swing”.

Balboa is a form of swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is the subtle communication between the lead and follow, like weight shifts, that most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a “dancer’s dance” than a “spectator’s dance”. Designed to take up only a small space, Balboa involves chaining two-step movements together while shuffling the feet on the floor.

▪   Balboa: sometimes referred today as “Pure Bal;” dancers stay in close embrace for almost the entire time, their torsos touching, doing variations based on footwork, turning as a couple and moving as a couple.

▪   Bal-swing: originally known as just “Swing” or sometimes “Randy Swing” in newspaper articles of the time; Bal-Swing is an eccentric dance unlike Balboa, which allows for improvisation. This dance style came from Charleston, and its earliest known use was a contest in Venice Beach in 1932. The name “Bal-Swing” came about during the 1970s from an attempt to differentiate the dance from the much more general term “Swing Dancing.” While dancing Bal-swing, the closed connection of the Pure Bal can be broken, with partners doing other variations.

Alma Heaton included two pages on Balboa in his 1954 book “Ballroom Dance Rhythms”, and a page of instruction in “Techniques of Teaching Ballroom Dance”.

n636010446 6066336 7992453 243x300A small, active Balboa community has always existed in the Los Angeles area. Today, Balboa is resurging worldwide due in part to the efforts of Jonathan Bixby and Sylvia Sykes.

Balboa is a contemporary of Lindy Hop, so comparisons are hard to avoid.

▪   Both dances evolved at the same time with the same swing music. Both are considered evolutionary descendants of Charleston. Though some consider Balboa to be an adaptation of various Latin dances such as the Rumba done to American big band music, the latter were not yet popular with American swing dancers when Balboa was developed, so a connection to Latin dance is doubtful. Balboa had also typically been recognized as a regional dance done in Southern California whereas Lindy Hop was more widespread nationally, but that is no longer the case among modern swing dancers: today, most consider Balboa and Bal-Swing legitimate forms of swing dance.

▪   Both Bal-swing and Lindy Hop would have been considered dances done by jitterbugs during the 1930s and ’40s, unlike Balboa, which was done by more mature dancers who wanted to avoid the Jitterbugs’ energetic and eccentric floor work.

And There It Is ….j

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Jitterbug – Historical

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What Is The JitterBug ?

Well Essentially The Jitterbug Is Not A Name For “A Specific Dance. So With That Being Said Let The Story Unfold icon smile

White Harry trombone2 300x288The Jitterbug! (What a strange but unique name) all people attribute Cab Calloway (1907-1994) as coining the term. However, he was not the one. As you will see, Harry Alexander White (b.6/1/1898) who was also known as “Father White” by his peers coined the term “Jitterbug.” White was a trombonist, drummer and arranger on the “Keith Circuit” in 1914 as well as working with Duke Ellington (1899-1974) and Elmer Snowden, later White, would work with the renowned Cab Calloway. 

 Calloway’s trumpeter, Edwin Swayzee, overheard Mr. White using the term “Jitterbug,” which apparently was unheard of during this period. Swayzee wrote the song entitled “The Jitterbug” for Cab Calloway after hearing White’s use of the word. Calloway recorded the song in January 1934, which made it a household name. Sooo White coined it, Swayzee used it, and Calloway made it famous.

jitterbug1 190x300Jazz lingo played an important part as well (Daddy-O, Icky, Reefer, Hep-Cat, etc.) and was big during the Jazz era. Here are some of its stories:
1) One description is that it meant a man or women, suffering from alcoholic or drug nerves. 
2) Another story has Jitterbug associated to the English word “Bugger or Bugging” (a sexual act,) and was used to characterize someone suffering from Syphilis. 3) Another is of racial nonsense (resembling the preceding) was used to characterize a man or woman, who was sexually active with a dissimilar race (Black and White,) and/or who had the “Jitters from Drugs, Alcohol or Syphilis and was “bugging” them a Jitterbugger! 
4) Some of the stories were comical, such as; the dancers looked like jitterbugs – because they bounced. So, whatever the original intent of the word may have been, it is now, to be known as a dance.

- There were distinct forms of Lindy and Shag already being done at such places as the Savoy Ballroom. Today, the Jitterbug as a dance, is also known as: Hollywood Style, Lindy Hop, East Coast, West Coast, Push, Whip, Jive, Shag, New Yorker, Bop, Ceroc, Leroc, Rock and Roll etc. Jitterbug was a slang or umbrella term for what we call “Swing dancing” today with the term Jitterbug initially enveloping all styles of swing. Depending on what City or State you came from and what year you danced in. Each variant of swing that was danced was called the Jitterbug at one time or another. Today some people are trying to maintain it is only “Single or double rhythm East Coast swing” (Well … yes it was!, as well as all the other forms mentioned above.) The W.W.II and the U.S.O. spread the Jitterbug all over the World.

1176958 f248 237x300Benny Goodman (1909-1986) is credited with establishing the Swing Craze as well as helping make the word jitterbug a household name. Goodman was signed to perform on the “National Biscuit Saturday Night ” radio broadcasts in New York. Goodman would perform popular standards during the day for the popular radio hours in New York, but late at night, when New York was asleep, he would play some of his own music. Because of the national time difference, California being three hours behind, many younger Californians did lend an ear.

During the spring of 1934, RCA-Victor Records Company signed Goodman’s Band. That Summer he went on the road and toured the Ballrooms, despite having his own music, he was told to play the standards, as earlier attempts to play his music found much displeasure by the older ballroom dancers. This was to lead to a procession of failures (flops) on his tour, as no one eventually came. Nevertheless, when Goodman hit California, there was about to be a transformation.

 The first stop was Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, Ca. young adults lined up for blocks to hear and dance to Goodman’s new music, They Jitterbugged all night long. This was ACTUALLY the first “Un-official” start of the Jitterbug craze and the Big Swing Bands. (Goodman wouldn’t believe his success, thought it was some flook.) Descending the coast to his next and final, would be permanent stop on his tour was in Los Angeles at the “Palomar Ballroom.” This would become the first “Officially recorded start of the Jitterbug” and Swing Bands.

 Originally, before his successfulness at Sweets ballroom, the Palomar Ballroom was to be the final stop of Goodman’s tour (as well as to be their final gig, forever, due to all his previous touring failures.) The show at the Palomar was jammed with young adults that were listening to Goodman’s prior New York broadcast’s on the radio, due to the earlier time frame between New York and California, the young adults on the East Coast didn’t listen to his music. Benny Goodman became a TREMENDOUS sensation at the Palomar (to his surprise); these ‘West Coast kids’ and adults were jitterbugging all night long and loving it. The newspapers loved it as well and reported on the “jitterbugging” done at the Palomar.

 From there, Goodman went on to Chicago (a success,) then finally arriving back in New York, where he formerly had his first dismal turnout after the Palomar on this “would be” famous tour. In the summer of 1936, the Paramount Theater in New York, on hearing of his achievement in California, hired his band to play. Goodman’s West Coast success at the Palomar was rivaled only by the Paramount Theater as the kids were “Jitterbugging in the Isles.” The newspapers reported on his band’s success and about the dancing. Again, the reporters used the term “Jitterbug” in their columns and the term “Jitterbug,” after that day, publicly was here forever.

So if you “Swing Dance,” whatever style it may be You are a Jitterbug, “Believe it or Not!”

What The Dictionary Said :

Dancing the jitterbug 300x278Jitterbug can be used as a noun to refer to a swing dancer or various types of swing dances, for example, the Lindy Hop,[1] Jive, and East Coast Swing. This has led to confusion within the dance community, since jitterbug can refer to different kinds of swing dances. It can also be used as a verb to mean the act of dancing to swing music.

Various editions of Arthur Murray’s “How To Become a Good Dancer” contain the following text. “There are hundreds of regional dances of the Jitterbug type”, “A favorite with young New Yorkers is the Lindy Hop” (1947), “Whether it’s called Swing, Lindy or Jitterbug..” (1954). “Formerly called Jitterbug, Lindy Hop and various other names in different parts of the country… Swing is the newer title”(1959).”

So Now You Know The Story Behind “The Jitterbug”. j

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