We teach a variety of vintage dance styles from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s
Charleston is most often associated with 1920’s America. It originated in the black communities in the South particularly around Charleston South Carolina. It became wildly popular all over the US after the song “Charleston” along with the dance appeared in a popular Broadway musical in 1923. 1920’s Charleston can be done as a solo or partnered dance. Another swingier version of Charleston was developed in the 30’s and 40’s by black dancers in New York. This style of Charleston also has solo and partnered versions and was often mixed with lindy hop. Solo Charleston dancing often includes a variety of other solo steps from the same era such as the Suzy Q, Truckin, Shorty George, etc. Today we often refer to these dances collectively as vernacular jazz. Even though you may be more likely to learn dance in a classroom these days none of these dances are about doing something in a proscribed way. To really capture the spirit of Charleston or vernacular jazz you need to be willing to listen to the music improvise and bring your own creativity into the dance.
Lindy hop is an improvisational partner dance—lindy hoppers learn a repertoire of common moves and technique but have the freedom to be creative and improvise with the music like a jazz musician. Lindy hop is the original swing dance, a Black American dance that started in New York in the late 1920’s. The first lindy hoppers were dancers who could dance the Charleston as well as a variety of ballroom dances. They improvised new moves and new ways of connecting with a partner to fit the swinging style of jazz that was becoming popular at the time. By the 1930s people were coming from all over the city to listen to the bands at the Savoy, the Cotton Club and other famous ballrooms and to see the dancers interpret their music on the dancefloor. By the 1940’s lindy hop became so popular that dancers from the Savoy toured the US and Europe and appeared in several Hollywood films. In the 1950’s rock and roll and bebop replaced swing as the pop music of the day but lindy hop made a comeback in the 1980’s when some of the original lindy hop stars from the 30s began sharing their knowledge with a new generation of dancers. Rob and Tina have been fortunate to attend classes taught by these respected elders of lindy hop including Frankie Manning and Dawn Hampton.
Balboa is a swing era dance that developed in California around the same time that lindy hop was developing in New York. Like lindy hop it has some roots in Charleston and ballroom dance but it evolved entirely separately and has a different connection and repertoire of moves. Balboa also became less popular at the end of the swing era and was revived in the late 1970’s. The Balboa you see today is usually a mix of different styles including ‘Pure Bal’, which is danced with a very close connection and ‘Bal-swing’ which includes some closed moves and some moves in open.