Neo-Swing Dance Era


In the late 1990's, Swing regained popularity again, and a new "Swing Explosion" took place on both coasts, emerging from a nearly 50 year hiatus. East Coast Swing, both the original ballroom school version and the looser street version began being taught to new dancers. West Coast Swing is popular mainly in a number of clubs in Southern California.

But, to the current generation, weaned on dancing to a volume so pumped up that all conversation is shut out; and with partners kept at arms's length or farther, the social aspects of Swing Jazz's upbeat, infectious rhythm and casual physical contact have proved particularly appealing. Many of today's new Swing Dancers bored with the old formless, free-style dancing of techno and hip-hop clubs like being able to grab on to their real life partners.

They are dancing not only to the music of Benny Goodman and Louis Jordan, but also to the jump-jiving, faster paced retro bands such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer, with their modern, updated, and somewhat faster paced take on big-band-era music, and to Hot Jazz styled bands such as Squirrel Nut Zippers and Mora's Modern Rhythmists. Many of the neoSwing bands have a mix of Ska or Hip Hop in some of their new music, bringing a new life to the music. Brian Setzer with his rockabilly sound is taking on old classics. Louie Prima, the man who wrote "Sing Sing Sing" (made popular by Benny Goodman) who also continued his career into the 1950's with many comedic tunes, is known by almost any Lindy Hopper you ask.

Clothing also seems to be an item. Many of the older crowd show up in casual dress, but the younger guys look sharp in suits, shirt and tie, or a full zoot suit. The girls in lace and dresses, leaping and shimmying to CDs of swing-era classics. Two toned oxfords, called spectators, are on almost every dancer's foot.

Swing offers a joyous alternative to a generation that came of age during the AIDS crisis, and a time when sexuality was hidden under grunge. This is a return to elegance, to touch dancing and to wearing your sexuality on your sleeve. An open rebellion against the grunge music era of the early 1990's, and the tattered mismatched looks of the 1980's.

Frankie Manning, the man credited with creating the first aerial in Lindy Hop, had gone on to be perform with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in several movies, and later with his own dance troupe, the Congoroos. In semi retirement, in the early 1980's, he was approached by a number of people including the Rhythm Hot Shots (a Swedish dance troupe), and dance partners Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell. They all urged him out of retirement and he now teaches people, from all over the globe, how to dance the Lindy Hop the way he remembered it from the days of the Savoy Ballroom. Frankie, now a icon of the swing dance community, is still going strong today!

A great many dance schools are reporting a surge in students learning the classic swing dance and it appears that Swing, the Lindy Hop born in Harlem about 80 years ago, is here to stay. At clubs, ballrooms, and school dances, you will find the dance floor filled with twirling, jiving Swing dancers showing off their best Lindy Hop steps and having a ball. Most are in their twenties and thirties. Many took their first Swing Dance lesson within the past year!


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