How Swing Dance and Jazz Music Connect

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

How Swing Dance and Jazz Music Connect – The Connection Between the Two

Introduction: How Swing Dance and Jazz Music Connect

What is the connection between swing dancing and jazz music? For many people, they are two completely separate things. However, there is a strong connection between the two. Swing dancing developed alongside jazz music in the early 20th century. Both were born out of African American culture and both have since had a profound influence on American culture as a whole.

Jazz music and swing dance both have their roots in the African American experience. Jazz was born out of the blues, a genre of music that was created by African Americans in the late 19th century. Blues is a raw, emotional form of music that expresses the struggles and joys of daily life. Jazz took the blues one step further by adding elements of European classical music and creating a more complex sound. Swing dance developed from various African American dances such as the Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Black Bottom. These dances were often done to jazz music, which is why there is such a strong connection between the two.

Today,swing dancing and jazz music are enjoyed by people of all cultures around the world. They are both forms of expression that are truly unique to America. When you swing dance or listen to jazz music, you are taking part in a rich cultural history that has shaped our country in profound ways.

The Origins of Swing Dance and Jazz Music

Jazz music and swing dance are inextricably linked; the history of one is intricately entwined with the other. Swing dance emerged in the early 1920s, just as jazz was beginning to take shape as a distinct genre of music. Both swing dance and jazz developed in African American communities in the Southern United States, and both were deeply influenced by African American vernacular traditions.

The first records of people actuallyswing dancingto jazz music date back to the early 1920s, when Lindy Hop, a precursor to today’s swing dances, was first danced in Harlem, New York. The Lindy Hop was characterized by its Lindy Charleston steps as well as Lindy turns and swivels. According to some accounts, the Lindy Hop was named after aviator Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Jazz music also originated in the early 20th century, in African American communities in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jazz is a style of music that is characterized by syncopated rhythms and improvised solos. Like swing dance, jazz was deeply influenced by African American vernacular traditions such as blues and ragtime. Early jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington made some of the first recordings of what we now know as jazz music.

Swing dance and jazz music continued to develop side by side throughout the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. In the 1930s, Swing kids in England started doing a new kind of swing dance called jive; meanwhile, big band swing became wildly popular in America thanks to bands like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. In the 1940s, Swing dancing crossed over from African American communities into the mainstream white population; at the same time, bebop emerged as a new style of jazz that would go on to have a huge impact on both jazz and popular music

The Relationship Between Swing Dance and Jazz Music

Though it is commonly accepted that jazz music and swing dance are connected, the relationship between the two is often misunderstood. It is true that both jazz music and swing dance emerged from African American culture, but the connection goes much deeper than that. For many people, swing dance and jazz music are inextricably linked; they are two expressions of the same creative impulse.

Jazz music and swing dance both emerged in the early twentieth century, in the midst of a period of great social and economic change. African Americans were migrating from the rural South to the urban North in search of better opportunities, and they brought their culture with them. Jazz music and swing dance were both expressions of this new African American cultural identity.

Jazz music was originally created for dancing; it was only later that it began to be performed as a concert art form. Likewise, swing dance was originally created for jazz music; other styles of music were adapted to work with swing dancing only later. The connection between jazz music and swing dance is therefore more than just historical; it is deeply rooted in the way that these two art forms developed.

The Different Styles of Swing Dance

Swing dance and Jazz music have been connected since the early days of the genre. While there are many different styles of swing dance, they all have their roots in Jazz. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular styles:

– Lindy Hop: The Lindy Hop is one of the original Swing dances, dating back to the 1920s. It is characterized by its quick footwork and fancy moves.

– Charleston: The Charleston is a solo dance that became popular in the 1920s. It is known for its high energy and fast pace.

– Balboa: Balboa is a partner dance that originated in Southern California in the early 1900s. It is known for its close connection and fast footwork.

– Shag: Shag is a partner dance that originated in the Carolinas in the 1920s. It is characterized by its swaying motion and focus on rhythmic footwork.

The Different Styles of Jazz Music

Jazz music originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in African American communities in the Southern United States. Jazz is a genre of music that was created by African Americans that includes elements of blues, Ragtime, and European marching band music. The different styles of jazz music have developed over time and include New Orleans jazz, Dixieland jazz, Swing jazz, Bebop jazz, Hard Bop jazz, Cool jazz, Modal jazz, Free jazz, and Fusion jazz.

Swing dance is a type of partner dance that was developed in the 1920s and 1930s. Swing dancing is usually done to Jazz music, specifically Big Band-style Swing music. The different types of Swing dances include Lindy Hop, Balboa, Shag, Charleston, East Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, and West Coast Swing.

The Influence of Swing Dance on Jazz Music

The connection between swing dancing and jazz music is often thought of as one that is intrinsic and essential. The two forms of artistry often go hand-in-hand, with one often influencing the other. For example, the Lindy Hop, one of the most popular forms of swing dancing, is said to have directly influenced the development of bebop jazz in the 1940s.

In essence, swing dancing can be seen as an extension or reflection of the music itself. The fast-paced nature of swing dancing often mirrors the fast tempo and lively spirit of jazz music. Similarly, the dancers themselves often dress in colorful and eccentric clothing which reflects the lighthearted nature of much jazz music.

While it is clear that there is a strong connection betweenswing dancing and jazz music, it is important to note that this connection is not always a positive one. For example, some people argue that the commercialization of swing dancing has led to a decline in the quality of bothswing dancing and jazz music. In particular, they claim that people are now more interested in Swing Dancing as a social activity rather than an art form, leading to a decline in the technical ability of dancers and musicians alike.

The Influence of Jazz Music on Swing Dance

Swing dance and jazz music are two American art forms that were born out of the same era and share a close connection. Jazz music laid the foundation for the swing dances that became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and many of the early jazz musicians were also talented dancers. The close relationship between these two art forms is still evident today, as many of the top swing dancers are also avid jazz fans.

Jazz music has had a profound influence on swing dance, both in terms of the steps and the feeling of the dance. The original Lindy Hop, which was created in the 1920s, is directly based on the rhythms and moves of jazz. Over time, otherswing dances have emerged that are also inspired by jazz, such as Charleston, Balboa, and Shag. Even though these dances may look different from each other, they all share a common foundation in jazz music.

In addition to influencing the steps of swing dance, jazz music also affects the feeling or style of the dance. Jazz is known for its improvisational nature, and this element is also present in swing dance. Good swing dancers are able to feel the music and improvise their own steps and movements while still staying in sync with their dancing partner. This ability to improvise gives swing dancing its unique flavor and makes it one of the most creative and expressive forms of partner dancing.

Whether you’re a fan of Swing Dancing or Jazz Music (or both!), it’s impossible to deny the strong connection between these two American art forms. The next time you’re out dancing or listening to jazz, take a moment to appreciate how these two vibrant genres have influenced each other throughout history.

The Future of Swing Dance and Jazz Music

While the future of any art form is difficult to predict, the future of swing dance and jazz music is likely to be intertwined. The two genres have a long history of influencing each other, and as the world becomes more connected, it’s likely that they will continue to do so.

Jazz music has always been at the forefront of cultural change, and as it evolves, so does swing dance. For example, when jazz began to incorporate elements of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, swing dancers began to adapt their style to match the new music. This trend continued in the 1960s with the rise of soul and R&B music, and again in the 1970s with disco.

As we move into the 21st century, it’s impossible to say exactly how swing dance and jazz music will continue to influence each other. However, one thing is certain: the two genres have a rich history that is sure to continue shaping both art forms for years to come.

Conclusion: How Swing Dance and Jazz Music Connect

In conclusion, swing dance and jazz music share a lot of history. They both originated in the United States in the early 20th century and became popular in the 1930s. Both forms of dance and music have evolved over the years, but they still maintain their original roots. Swing dance is often danced to jazz music, and many of the same movements can be seen in both genres. Jazz music is also influenced by other genres such as blues and gospel, which can also be heard in swing dancing.

Further Reading: How Swing Dance and Jazz Music Connect

In the early days of jazz, dancers and musicians were often one and the same. With the rise of big bands in the 1930s, however, dancing and music-making began to diverge, and by the 1940sswing dancing and jazz had become two separate but interconnected worlds.

Today, there is a close relationship between swing dancing and jazz music. Many people who enjoy one also enjoy the other. While there are different styles of swing dancing, all of them are based on the moves that were popularized in the early days of jazz. And while there are many different types of jazz, all of them have their roots in the music that was created by African American musicians in the early 1900s.

If you want to learn more about the connection between swing dance and jazz music, there are a few resources that can help you out. Here are some books, websites, and videos that we recommend:

-Swing Era Scrapbook: From Lindy Hop to Jitterbug by Mark Hopkins
-The Lindy Hop: Origins and Evolution by Norma Miller and Jesse Jones
-Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance by Marshall Stearns and Jean Stearns
-Swing Kids: Dancing on Air by Penny McLean


-A Day at a Time: A History of Lindy Hop – (starts at 4:40) () ()

Similar Posts