What is Swing Dancing?

Swing dancing, usually including Lindy Hop, Balboa, Shag, Charleston, and East Coast Swing, started in Harlem in the 1920s. Most often done with a partner to big band jazz music, swing dancing incorporates improvisation, circular and linear movements, and a lead / follow connection.


The Swing Dance Association of Victoria advocates for and promotes Swing Dancing, an African American art form, originating in the early 1900s and inextricably linked to the history of the slave trade. The Africans who were sold or taken into slavery brought their culture with them. Black people have nurtured their culture in the harshest of conditions, and created, and continue to create, many transcendent art forms, including swing dance. As guests in this art form, we strive to keep the history and culture of its originators and keepers in mind. We encourage you to learn more about the culture and history of swing dancing as you journey within this space. (adapted from B’ham Hop’s History Acknowledgement)

The Early Days

Star dancers of the early days, like Frankie Manning, Ann Johnson, Billy and Willa Mae Ricker, Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan, Maxie Ford and Al Minns, can be seen performing in video clips on your favourite video site. Check out clips from “After Seben”, “Day at the Races”, “Hellzapoppin'”, "Rings on Her Finger“, and 'Groovie Movie,” to see some of the historical record.

Shorty George Snowden, After Seben (1929)

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, Day at the Races (1937)

Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan, Rings on Her Fingers (1943)

Arthur Walsh and Jean Valoz, Groovie Movie (1944)

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, Hellzapoppin' (1941)

The Modern Era

Modern swing dancing draws extensively on the early roots of the dance. Some video examples of more modern solo jazz/charleston (Lennart Westerlund), lindy hop (Skye Humphries and Frida Segerdah), competition lindy hop (Camp Hollywood Open Lindy Hop Finals 2017), and balboa (Nick Williams and Kate Hedin).

Lennart, Åsa, and Daniel (Rhythm Hot Shots), Big Band Swing (2017)

Skye and Frida, Athens Rhythm Hop (2019)

Open Lindy Hop Finals, Camp Hollywood (2017)

Nick and Kate, Snowball (2018)

The Global Trickeration Project in celebration of Norma Miller (2020)

Check out more dancing on our Youtube Channel!