Swing Music Onlline History

Swing Music, Jazz Music, are one and the same baby... All you cats out there probably think that swing was the watered down "white" version of jazz. But let me tell you something; The black and white "felines" were jumpin' at the Savoy back in the day when a swing music record came on daddy-o!

Sure Benny Goodman was a white dude playing in a Jazz music style, but Benny was one good ol' boy who could get down, and SWING! Benny brought Swing to the masses and helped the progression of Jazz.

The history of swing dates back to the 1920's, where the black community, while dancing to contemporary Jazz music, discovered the Charleston and the Lindy Hop.

Swing Music and Jazz Music relation:
On March 26, 1926, the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors in New York. The Savoy was an instgant success with its block-long dance floor and a raised double bandstand. Nightly dancing attracted most of the best dancers in the New York area.

This was "soul train" without the afros and bellbottom pants! This was when you saw the dance trendsetters.

Stimulated by the presence of great dancers and the best black bands, music at the Savoy was largely Swinging Jazz.

One evening in 1927, following Lindbergh's flight to Paris, a local dance enthusiast named "Shorty George" Snowden was watching some of the dancing couples. A newspaper reporter asked him what dance they were doing, and it just so happened that there was a newspaper with an article about Lindbergh's flight sitting on the bench next to them. The title of the article read, "Lindy Hops The Atlantic," and George just sort of read that and said, "Lindy Hop" and the name stuck!

In the mid 1930's, a bouncy six beat variant was named the Jitterbug by the band leader Cab Calloway when he introduced a tune in 1934 entitled "Jitterbug". I always liked how Cab Calloway looked like he was up to mischief.. I think Duke got some style and flavor from Cab.

With the discovery of the Lindy Hop and the Jitterbug, the Swing Music, Jazz Music communities began dancing to the contemporary Jazz and Swing music as it was evolving at the time, with Benny Goodman leading the action. Dancers soon incorporated tap and jazz steps into their dancing.

In 1938, the Harvest Moon Ball included Lindy Hop and Jitterbug competition for the first time. It was captured on film and presented for everyone to see in the Paramount, Pathe, and Universal movie newsreels between 1938 and 1951.And of course when the media saw pictures of dancing girls being thrown around, flipping their skirts showing their panties to the world... well... you know what happened next!

Hey Kids... nothing like this ever happened BEFORE... The next time may be when John Travolta made Disco the dance craze with the "Staying Alive" movie. Well, maybe Flashdance did a little bit . But SWING was a Monster hit with the movies!

n early 1938, Dean Collins arrived in Hollywood. He learned to dance the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy and Swing in New York City and spent a lot of time in Harlem and the Savoy Ballroom. Between 1941 and 1960, Collins danced in, or helped choreograph over 100 movies which provided at least a 30 second clip of some of the best California white dancers performing Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy and Swing.

But the usual thing happened when the "underground" gets discovered... it gets watered down for mass consumption! Kind of like "smooth Jazz" and Kenny G (sorry I could not resist!)From the mid 1940's to today, the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy, and Swing, were stripped down and distilled by the ballroom dance studio teachers in order to adapt what they were teaching to the less nimble-footed general public who paid for dance lessons. As a result, the ballroom dance studios bred and developed a ballroom East Coast Swing and ballroom West Coast Swing.

In the late 1950's, television brought "American Bandstand", "The Buddy Dean Show" and other programs to the teenage audiences. The teenagers were rocking with Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry leading the fray. In 1959, some of the California dance organizations, with Skippy Blair setting the pace, changed the name of Western Swing to West Coast Swing so it would not be confused with country and western dancing.

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