Lindy Hop is usually the dance people think of when they hear the words “swing dancing.” It’s often called the “grandaddy of all swing dances.” It’s not strictly true, since there were a number of swing dance styles that were completely unrelated to Lindy Hop, such as the Collegiate Shag and Balboa. Still, Lindy Hop had an unmatched influence around the world, in part because it was featured in a large number of Hollywood movies.
Born in Harlem in the mid to late 1920′s, legend says the Lindy Hop was named by the notoriously skilled contest dancer “Shorty George” when a reporter asked him about the step he’d used to earn his latest win. Apparently he was being witty when he referred to Charles Lindbergh’s famous airplane “hop” across the Atlantic, but the name stuck.
From 1926 to about 1933, Lindy Hop was characterized by kicks, steps and hops done to fast jazz music. The dance was essentially an amalgamation of dances such as Charleston, the Breakaway, the Jig Walk, and the Collegiate. Around 1933, as the music style changed, dancers started to include triple-steps in their basic movements and the dance acquired its signature look.
Through the effect of movies, Lindy Hop influenced other dance styles of the day, such as the Swing style popular around LA that now dominates the modern swing dance called Balboa.
Modern Lindy Hop stays true to the original spirit of the dance by borrowing from the various dancers of the swing era as well as modern dancers. Lindy Hoppers benefit from old movie clips of famous dancers such as Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Al Minns, Leon James, Jewel McGowan, and Dean Collins, as well as video of the many modern dancers.