A Dancing ‘Did you know’ Moment:
Your grandmother, and possibly even your great-grandmother, probably danced better than you. No, she didn’t do the twerk or jump into a mosh pit; but, she probably did her fair share of the Lindy hop, the Charleston, and swing depending on when she grew up. These dances spanned a forty year mark in our history and are still thriving today. It is hard to picture that your grandparents tossing each other around, isn’t it? But, you can dance the day away too, and look great doing so.
Late in the 1800s and up through the turn of the twentieth century, couples danced the waltz, the foxtrot, and other ballroom favorites. These were slower dances with an overwhelming amount of grace and stiffness. Participants and spectators alike dressed in very formal clothes and presented a sophisticated air.
But, as the 1900s broke out, the music and dancing got speedier and, according to some, even scandalous. The fashion changed as well. Shorter dresses for the ladies and more fun suit styles for the guys made this era more than just fun; it was exciting.
Dress the Part
Dancing in the twentieth century is supposed to be fun; so, wear fun clothing. Depending on the decade you want to represent, ladies could wear a swishy-beaded flapper from the 1920s or a rockabilly dress covered in polka dots from the 1950s. Men always wear a suit; at one time the zoot suit was the in-thing. Suits aren’t so bad in these fun styles and most men take off the jacket and loosen the tie anyway.
Express yourself in fashionable clothing and you will feel the part you are playing on the dance floor. Here are a few numbers that will really dazzle the crowd. This hot and sassy item will move with you and flare out as you are spun all around the dance floor.
Or, stand out in this beautiful white party dress with an empire waist. Your head will spin while you acknowledge the onlookers.
Now that you have the perfect outfit, it is time to learn a little bit about the popular dance moves from the time. Don’t worry, it is not as difficult as it may sound.
A Little Bit of Charleston
Learning the basic moves will bring back the swagger at your next party. Charleston is one of the first steps in learning how to swing. It is a simple series of up and back dance steps that is fun and can be done by yourself, in a group, or with a partner. This is the basic dance that leads to the Lindy Hop and empowers the Swing. All of your body is involved; including your facial muscles – from smiling so much.
A few things to remember about this first step to swing: almost nobody is perfect right out of the gate. Dancing takes time and practice to get. Frustration is a saboteur of confidence; let it go.
From the Basic Charleston to the Swaying Lindy Hop
The Lindy Hop is a fast paced partner dance with fresh moves that are quick and energetic. Historically, the Lindy Hop was a dance out of Harlem. It is set to snazzy jazz music or energetic rock and roll, anyone can learn this 1920s dance craze; at least the basic moves. According to Langston Hughes, an American poet; “The Lindy-hoppers at the Savoy even began to practice acrobatic routines, and to do absurd things…,” this of course, is a more advanced rendition of the basic steps.
Now that your confidence is greater and you are comfortable on the floor, you’ve learned some fun moves and you’re ready for the full Monty. Now what?
Secrets of the Swing
Swing is very fast paced. Partners are thrown in the air or sliding between legs. While you may not be quite ready for this, don’t be afraid to try new moves. Just make sure you have the basics down pat. This is a social dance and lessons are readily available. However, note that lessons fill up fast. Book early.
Make sure that whoever your partner is, they feel like a star on the dance floor. If this means doing the most basic steps but doing them extraordinarily well, then make it happen. Take advantage of others’ knowledge and ask questions of more advanced dancers.
Remember, anything worth doing is worth doing well. Put time into learning how to dance and you will be rewarded on the dance floor by your partner and others. Above all else — Have fun.