The Jitterbug

Swing dancing has a long and colorful history in the United States. Each Swing-dancing generation developed its own style of Swing for dancing to the rhythm and blues, swing, rock 'n' roll, and hustle music popular in its time. The styles of Swing dancing which developed through the generations and across the country are (alphabetically) the Balboa, Bop, Carolina Shag (South Carolina state dance), Country Swing, DC Swing (Washington, DC), East Coast Swing, Hustle, Imperial Swing (St. Louis), Jitterbug, Jive (England), Lindy Hop (New York City), New York Hustle, Push (Dallas), Rock 'n' Roll, Shag, Sling Hustle, Supreme Swing (Tulsa), Swing, West Coast Swing (California State Dance), and Whip (Houston).

 

During the early 1930's, the Lindy Hop spread throughout the country via dance contests. With the inclusion of elaborate twirls, acrobatic moves (aerial or adagio flips, jumps, etc.), and breaking away from your partner with exotic jazz steps (Black Bottom, Fishtail, Shimmy, Snake Hips, Squat, etc.), the character of the dance changed. A bouncy six-beat variant was named the Jitterbug by the band leader Cab Calloway when he introduced a tune in 1934 entitled "Jitterbug." Music played by Calloway's orchestra was popular in such hot spots as Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. The Jitterbug's style of violent and frenzied athleticism was hazardous for performers and other dancers, and a Jitterbugger with fast feet was called a flash dancer at the black dance clubs. In 1936, the Jitterbug became popular with the whites when Benny Goodman brought swing music to New York's Paramount Theater. The desire to perform the Jitterbug while dancing around the radio and juke box spread from coast to coast. It could be danced on a spot or take up the entire floor. It was a dance for attractive, young, and lithe beings who enjoyed flaunting their bodies. Kids hooked on Jitterbug were called "jive addicts." One faster version, called Shag, had a characteristic kick backwards and forward stomp. Movies which popularized Jitterbug included "A Day at the Races," "Swing, Sister, Swing," "The Prisoner of Swing," and a cartoon called "I'm Just a Jitterbug." Herbert White, head Savoy bouncer, formed Lindy Hop troupes such as The Savoy Hoppers and Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. The 1941 movie, "Hellzapoppin'," provided a glimpse of the Lindy Hop with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (including Albert Minns and Frankie Manning) performing the dance. An electrifying exhibition of couples jitterbugged at the 1939 World's Fair to top the 30's off.

 

Swing is the one dance that is all American!

 

Song Suggestions:

 

Jump Jive & Wail by Various Artists

In The Mood by Various Artists

Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley

Great Balls Of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis

All Of My Love by Buddy Holly

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham

Swing The Mood by Jive Bunny

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by Various Artists

Straight Up by Brian Setzer Orchestra

We're Gonna Rock This Town by Stray Cats

Candy Man by Christina Aguilera

This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof by Brian Setzer Orchestra

Miss Otis Regrets by Bette Midler

Rock this town by Stray Cats

The Dirty Boogie by Stray Cats

Sing Sing Sing by Brian Setzer

Mr. Pinstripe Suit by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

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