What are some famous swing dances


Swing dances is a group of dances that were created during the swing era (1920-1940) to jazz and swing music. Hundreds of different styles have been created during this time. Most of them disappeared again at some point. From this time, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Colligiate Shag and Charleston in particular have remained. The best known of these today is Lindy Hop, it dates back to the 1930s and was created in Harlem.

Lindy Hop

Lindy Hop is the most famous swing dance, it dates back to 1930 and has its roots in the Savoy Ballroom (Harlem, New York). Lindy Hop is danced in pairs, but can also be adorned with small solo jazz variations. The rhythm is the 8-count, 6-count and Lindy-Charleston (basic step from the basic Charleston). The dance tempo is very extensive, from slow-lindy to fast-lindy everything is represented.

All over the world, Lindy Hop has settled in small regional scenes and almost every larger city offers Lindy Hop parties or courses. The focus in Lindy Hop lies in the connection and cooperation between leader (leading person) and follower (following person). An insight into the history of Lindy Hop can be found in a separate article.


Balboa is a swing dance from the 1920s and comes from southern California. The dance became more and more popular between 1930 and 1940 and has persisted to this day. What makes Balboa special is the tight posture and close body connection of the dancers.

Balboa is also danced to swing music, mostly big band swing from the 1930-1940 years such as Chick Webb, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. The tempo is faster compared to Lindy Hop, 180-250 BPM. The gypsy swing (Django Reinhardt) or faster swing by smaller bands is also popular. Due to the smaller and closer together steps, dancing to up-tempo music is easier and you can dance over 300 BPM. Balboa is also possible in slow form (slow balboa).

Balboa was created when the ballrooms were getting full and the space for dancing was very limited. Balboa is characterized by the fact that it is very space-saving, most of the turns and twists are adapted to tight spaces.

From a certain level there is the difference from “Pure Balboa”, which can be seen in the fact that the body leading is almost through and the rather tight posture is hardly abandoned. "Bal-Swing" offers more freedom and space, as well as own interpretation and variations for both dancers.

Balboa is very common all over the world and many dancers discover the dance via Lindy Hop and Charleston. In some cities, Balboa is even bigger than the Lindy Hop scene. Today Balboa is at home in all countries of the world.

Collegiate Shag

Collegiate Shag or Shag for short is a partner swing dance that is mainly danced to fast jazz and swing music, often the tempo is 185-200 BPM or more. Shag originated on the dance floor in the 1920s. Shag began with the colored dance communities in Carolina / USA and spread throughout the country during the 1930s. Today shag like Lindy Hop and Balboa are still danced all over the world.

To this day, it is still not exactly clear where the shag comes from. According to the records, it is only certain that it was a street dance, which suggests that there were no fixed figures and sequences as part of it. The dance teacher Arthur Murray took on this for the first time in the 1930s and set the "standards" of the shag in his studio.


Charleston comes from the 1920s. The origin of the name comes from the city of Charleston in South Carolina in the USA. In 1926 the Charleston had reached its peak on the dance floor, it was wonderfully suited to dance to the jazz and swing music. One of the most famous Charleston songs at the time was "The Charleston" composed by Jamed P. Johnson, the title was written for the musical "Runnin‘ Wild ".

Charleston is divided into various styles

The Solo Charleston can be danced alone or in pairs. Everyone has their own idea of ​​how to interpret the music.

Partner Charleston is danced in pairs and uses the same basic step as the normal Charleston. It is danced a lot to this day and has also become an integral part of Lindy Hop as "Lindy-Chaleston".

Jamcircle-Charleston is danced in larger groups. A circle of dancers forms, which results in a dance floor in the middle. One after the other, one dancer steps into the circle and puts their skills to the test. This type is also to be seen as a competition.


Rock'n'Roll is a partner dance and dates back to 1955. In contrast to Lindy Hop, the dance is based on a choreography, the focus is on the appearance of the characters themselves. Rock'n'Roll is danced very quickly and, compared to Lindy, has Hop not a social dance scene, it's a tournament and indoor sports dance.

With the development of rock and roll music, the dance developed from Lindy Hop and in 1940 it became Boogie Woogie. It was also possible to dance to rock and roll music. A main feature are the many acrobatic figures.

Boogie Woogie

Boogie Woogie is a couple dance, unlike rock'n'roll it has a social dance scene. Boogie Woogie is also the name of the jazz music genre, which is characterized by its unmistakable rhythm. Boogie Woogie has its roots in the late 1920s. After the Second World War, the dance was brought to Europe as a “different” version of Lindy Hop and established in Paris. Later Boogie Woogie became very popular in Germany as well. Many figures and steps can still be compared to Lindy Hop.