Swing dance is a group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s-1940s. During the swing era, there were many styles of swing dancing.
The term “swing” refers to a variety of unique partner dances.
East Coast Swing:
Currently, East Coast Swing is the base for all swing dances. This is the first swing dance that most dancers learn today. It is a circular dance that is danced with a bounce. The East Coast Swing is danced with a triple step and a rock step back and consists of six and eight count patterns. It is a really fun dance!
West Coast Swing:
Danced to music that is frequently slower than East Coast Swing, this dance also consists of six and eight count patterns. It is a slotted dance in which the lady travels back and forth along a rectangle, or slot. Instead of doing a rock step as in East Coast Swing, the lady always walks forward on count one. This is also a fun version of swing.
A “jitterbug” might refer to a person who dances the swing dances. The Jitterbug dance consists of a bouncy six-beat rhythm. Popular in the 1950s, Jitterbug sometimes involved the man picking up the lady and swinging her onto his hip or pulling her between his legs across the floor. This is a very acrobatic form of the swing, fun to watch and to dance.
Jive is a very fast-paced dance that originated in the United States in the 1940s. In Jive, many of the steps are the same as in the East Coast Swing. This is one of the five International Latin dances in which many professional dancers compete. The basic look and feel of Jive is lots and lots of energy, with the legs portraying a pumping action.
A popular swing dance, this dance originated in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it, but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. The Lindy Hop utilized elements of partnered and solo dancing, with the eight-count structure. The basic step is a swing-out, with dancers connected hand-to-hand, followed by a closed position similar to an embrace, for lead and follow movements. There was renewed interest in this dance in the 1980s, with the Lindy Hop sometimes considered a street dance.
Carolina Shag is a dance performed to beach music that originated between South Carolina and North Carolina during the 1940s. Carolina Shag uses six and eight count patterns, danced in a slot, and is a descendant of Carolina Jitterbug.