Lindy Hop was so named after Charles Lindbergh’s flight to Paris in 1927, when the newspaper headline read: “LINDY HOPS THE ATLANTIC”. The dance has no “hop” in it. On the contrary, it is smooth and solid, and while there is a constant rhythmic 8-count “pulse” that you feel in your bones, there is no hopping, bopping, or prancing in the dance.
Lindy Hop, also known as Jitterbug, is the authentic Afro-Euro-American Swing dance. It is an unabashedly joyful dance, with a solid, flowing style that closely reflects its music — from the late 20’s hot Jazz to the early 40’s Big Bands. Just as Jazz combines European and African musical origins, Lindy Hop draws on African and European dance traditions. The embracing hold, and the turns from Europe, the breakaway and solid, earthy body posture from Africa. The dance evolved along with the new swing music, based on earlier dances such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom, by black people in Harlem.
Lindy Hop is a social dance. Partners are connected smoothly and gently to each other, while relating closely to the music, in feeling, improvisation and phrasing. The core tempo range is 120-180 beats per minute.
Films such as Hellzapoppin and Day at the Races, as well as Malcolm X and Swingkids show seemingly reckless airsteps (aerials), often done at very fast musical tempos. Far from being just acrobatic antics, airsteps are in fact smooth, extremely precise, and perfectly in synch with the music. They require a superb degree of expertise and are not danced socially, but only for performance, if only inside a protective ring of spectators, as in the Cats’ Corner jams at the Savoy Ballroom. Airsteps are impressive and spectacular, so that’s what you see in the movies!
Just as Swinging Jazz music feels very different from, say, Rockabilly music, Lindy Hop feels very different from other dances, such as WCS, ECS, Jive, and Rock’N’Roll-Jitterbug, especially in posture, partner connection, and musical connection.