Monday, December 15, 2008

Jive And American Swing Dances - The Similarities And Differences

The term "Swing dance" is a generic term that covers over a dozen different types of partner dances. The US Swing Dance Council defines Swing dance as follows:- "Swing dance is an American Rhythm dance that consists of 6 and 8 beat rhythms that cover either a circular or slotted area on the dance floor. The dance incorporates underarm turns, side passes, pushes and whips, plus other variations, syncopations and extensions. All styles incorporate the same identifiable moves. If you can define the dance as something other than Swing, it is not Swing". Some of the more popular and well known Swing dances are the Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Balboa and the Carolina Shag.

A meetup group called KL Swing was recently set up by a group of Swing dance enthusiasts to promote Swing dancing in Malaysia. For the past couple of months, KL Swing has invited Sinclair Ang, a renowned Swing dance instructor from JAZZ INC, Singapore to conduct classes and workshops in Kuala Lumpur. As I was keen to know what the similarities and differences between Jive and American Swing dances were, I emailed Sinclair for his views. This was his reply:- "One could say that Lindy Hop/Swing was the original form of Jive, historically speaking, and it is danced mainly to 8 counts. Six-count Swing or East Coast Swing, done to triple steps are a part of a lindy hopper's repertoire of moves but it is always tied-in with the 8 count or Charleston. Six-count Swing is closely related to Jive but the main difference comes in the feel in which they are executed."

Sinclair further elaborated - "I am not an expert on Jive or Rock n' Roll but the general feel of Jive is upwards and bouncy. The bounce or pulse in Swing (even 6 count) is downwards, keeping in closer tradition to its African American roots. And because the swing era music that inspired the Lindy Hop dancers came earlier (1920s to 1940s), compared to the Jive (1940s onwards), the emphasis of the music, and thus the dance, is on the even (off) beats rather than on the odd (on) beats, thereby creating the swing feel. While there is ballroom swing, the original form of Swing/Lindy Hop remains a street dance and ballroom swing would probably have more in common with Jive than the original street version."

JAZZ INC is a collective of dancers led by Sinclair Ang to promote Jazz dancing, from vernacular Jazz to Charleston and Lindy Hop through classes and performances. Sinclair has been a leading figure in the Lindy Hop and Swing dance community in Singapore since 2001. He is known internationally as well, having taught at several workshops and camps across Europe, Australia and Asia over the years. Sinclair has trained and choreographed for several performance groups and has performed for the stage, both locally and abroad. He is currently focused on helping the fledgling Swing dance scenes in Asia grow. To know more about Sinclair Ang and his dance classes, please check out his websites at or

Related Posts

> Can't Stop The Lindy Hop - A tribute To Lindy Hop Legend Frankie Manning

> Swing, American Smooth And American Rhythm Dances

No comments: