Hop to happiness. The Lindy Hop is a cheery little dance, also known as the Jitterbug; but underestimate it not, as this quick paced, energetic sport isn’t as light and fluffy as it sounds – it’s ruddy hard work. Based on the ever-popular Charleston of the swinging ‘20s, it is a form of authentic Afro-Euro-American Swing dance that uses the upbeat rhythms of jazz, tap, and breakaway. It is unabashedly joyful, and when seen from a spectator’s view looks like one never-ending whirl of spins, steps and lifts. We dare you to try it without smiling.
The dance heavily relies on the participant’s relationship with the music, and with their partner. The tempo is incredibly quick, averaging between 120 and 180 beats per minute. Just a friendly Wahanda warning - this isn’t your usual lazy waltz, so be prepared to get your sweat on…
The form of the dance lends itself heavily to the formal eight-count structure that most European partner dances follow, with movements being executed on every beat. The most common starting position is for you and your partner to be in a close embrace, with one hand joined, allowing you to switch between an open or closed position (together or apart), whilst using the resulting force of your partners movements to make sure you don’t go flying across the dance floor.
The moves themselves are a mixture of side-stepping, spinning, lifts and jumps all executed in close succession. Like all dances there are different grades of Lindy Hop, and depending how good you get there are more extreme moves you can try. For the more adventurous hoppers out there, you can move onto the ‘Air Step’, an acrobatic dance move characterised by either you or your partner removing both feet from the ground in a dramatic gesture. You might have to practice a little in those dancing shoes before reaching those dizzy heights.
If you’ve got two left feet when it comes to the dance floor, this fast paced dance might leave you a bit befuddled. It’s best to start out slowly and build up your confidence by practising the steps, but beginner or expert it’s a great sport to try - you’ll have a whale of a time even if you do look a bit like your Nan dancing at a wedding.
The Lindy Hop was named after Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing in 1927, when the headlines read ‘Lindy Hops the Atlantic’.