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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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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Lindy Hop – Historical

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Hey Katz,

I Have Under Taken The Task Of Giving An Extensive History Of The Dances That Existed During The Swing Era, So When You Have Time Have A Read And Learn About The Dances You Love, Perform & Or Teach.

What Wiki Has Written:lindy hop life19431 219x300

The Lindy Hop is a dance based on the popular Charleston and named for Charles Lindbergh’s Atlantic crossing in 1927. It evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and ’30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

In its development, the Lindy Hop combined both partnered and solo dancing by using the movements and improvisation of black dances along with the formal eight-count structure of European partner dances.The Dance evolved in the late 1920s and early 1930s out of Partnered Charleston. It is characterized by an 8-count circular basic or “swing out” and has an emphasis on improvisation and the ability to easily adapt to include other steps in 8-count and 6-count rhythms. It has been danced to almost every conceivable style of music with blues or jazz rhythm (with the exception of jazz waltzes), as well as non-traditional styles of music such as hip hop.

After A Little More research:

The very first known form of swing but not yet recognized as such was the Texas Tommy in 1913, which later changed to the Mooch and Sugar in 1916 and even later called the Break-A-Way by 1919. During the 1920′s when the Charleston was becoming all the rage, the Breakaway and Charleston would start to mix with and was forming a new but yet unnamed dance style (Lindy Hop) with a few other dances thrown in the mix.frankie Manning Ann Johnson 19411 216x300

In 1927 this style was finally acknowledged and given a name by a fabulous swing dancer named George “Shorty” Snowden. ‘Shorty George’ from New York’s Harlem was to re-name the ‘break-a-way’ the “Lindy Hop or Lindbergh hop” after the famous pilot “Charles Augustus Lindbergh” (Lindbergh made his thirty-three hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean to France successfully on May 20, 1927.)

In September 1927, a newspaper reporter having never seen this style of dance before walked up to the winners at a dance marathon contest in Central Park in New York, (known as the un-official start of the Harvest Moon Ball Contest (later to be tried again in 1934). This reporter asked the winning couple (Shorty George!) what it was that they were doing, as he had not seen it before. Shorty thought for a second and replied “the Lindy Hop… We flying just like Lindy did!.” The newspaper reporter did an article on the contest in his newspaper and described what he saw calling it the “Lindy Hop.”

In the last 90 years the Lindy has become the first form of swing as we know it today (the Great Grandfather of all Swing if you will) and along with the Charleston were the main dances of the 1920′s. The Charleston mixed in with the Lindy, as well as other prior forms of dance such as the Texas Tommy, Turkey Trot, Apache Dance, Black Bottom, The Shimmy, The Strut, Cakewalk, The Frisco, Foxtrot, Tap and more. These dances were known as “Jazz Dances.” The Lindy was the first form of swing “White America” had seen and was about to fall in love. Some of these folks would go to the famous “Savoy Ballroom” in Harlem and watch the “African-American dancers” strut their stuff.

As time went on, dance contests became more and more “attention getting.” In the 1930′s a dancer named “Frankie Manning” “claimed to add the first Air-Step” (lifts/ flips) into the Lindy (Al Minns and Leon James as well). Frankie Manning was also one of the main choreographers for most of the black and white movies you see the whiteys lindy hoppers dancing in!savoy1 300x225

Over the years, aerials became a main attraction in Lindy competitions and exhibitions, however, aerials were not permitted at most clubs and ballrooms during any social type dance while on the dance floor except during exhibitions or contests as too many dancers and people around these dancers were getting hurt or fearful of it. Even the famous Harvest Moon Ball eliminated Aerials during the contests for a brief period of time.

The Savoy Ballroom opened in 1926 and was the main haunt for Harlem’s dancers. During this time the original Lindy or Break-A-Way looked more like couples Charleston, with a splash of the other said dances thrown in rather than today’s style of Lindy. Shorty George was at the head of the pack during this time frame. The Savoy would later prove to be the breeding ground for swing as the main dance.

In the early 1930′s, Hubert “Whitey” White was the head bouncer at the Savoy and noticing an opportunity to make some cash decided to form a group called “Whitey’s Hopping Maniac’s,” later to be known as “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.” It was a pretty open market for him as his only competition was “Shorty George and his dancers” who were doing most of the exhibitions and shows around town in ballrooms and clubs such as the Cotton Club at the time, Shorty would join Whitey’s very first group as well but later quit and moving to the Cotton Club.CAPAC.001809.SAVOYBALLROOM.WEB LG1 234x300

Whitey had auditions and picked some dancers to start his group. This was to become the form of Lindy Hop we know today. During the Lindy Hoppers reign, the Lindy was to take on a newer “Sophisticated or cleaned up look.” The Hoppers went on to become the main Swing groups of the time and traveled all over the world performing in many exhibitions, movies, and stage shows. About the same time … Dean Collins was to bring Savoy Style Lindy, a smoother and slower form to Los Angeles in the early 1930′s which gave birth to today’s modern West Coast swing, previously known as “The Whip.”

The death of lindy came about due to a number of reasons including: The change in music from Swing & Jazz to Rock N Roll, Exhibition dancers of the time all tried making there own style, along came a new dance known as “The Twist” all these factors helped Attribute to the death of the lindy hop until its resurgence in the early 90’s with the birth of “neo-swing” music along with a large array of new teachers (such as Sylvia Sykes, Erin Stevens, Steven Mitchell, Terry Monaghan and Warren Heyeslead) lead by Frankie Manning himself.

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