Lindy Hop & Boogie Woogie
Lindy Hop and Boogie Woogie are currently two of the most common international swing dances (*). They're closely related and share several defining traits.
Starting with the relationship, Lindy Hop is said to be the "granddaddy of all swing dances". In the late 1920's, when swing jazz was all the rage, Lindy Hop brought together several dance influences of the time and molded them into a dance style that fitted like a glove to the big band music. During the 40's and 50's, particularly as American GIs brought the dance to Europe, several other swing dance styles evolved out of Lindy Hop. One of these styles was Boogie Woogie.
Today both Lindy Hop and Boogie Woogie live and thrive in dance halls around the World. Maintaining the granddaddy position, Lindy Hop is danced all over the Western World (and then some), but Boogie Woogie has grown up in its own right. There are currently Boogie Woogie scenes all over Europe (and then some - including USA).
Defining traits of both Lindy Hop and Boogie Woogie are that
- they are danced with a partner
- communication with the partner through leading and following is key
- adapting the dance to the music (improvising) is essential
- it can be wild or crazy - or mellow or elegant - or whatever else the music tells you
- there are multitudes of regional and personal styles
- you should always enjoy it
- it should always "swing" (or "it won't mean a thing")
The differences, in our humble opinion, matters less than the similarities. We think that a lot of what is considered to be differences of the dances, are really results of different music in the Lindy Hop and Boogie Woogie dance scenes. Lindy Hop (at least in Europe) is generally danced to jazz, while Boogie Woogie is generally danced to music styles such as boogie woogie piano, jump blues, rock'n'roll and neo swing. Personally we feel that a dancer of any swing style should always try to adapt to the music, so a Boogie Woogie dancer dancing to jazz music should pretty much have the "look and feel" of a Lindy Hop dancer. Correspondingly, a Lindy Hop dancer dancing to boogie woogie piano music should pretty much have the look and feel of a Boogie Woogie dancer - the way we see it.
Technically both Lindy Hop and Boogie Woogie use a mixture of 8 count and 6 count patterns. As a rule of thumb, though, Lindy Hop dancers will tend to use more 8 count patterns, and Boogie Woogie dancers will use more 6 count patterns. Boogie woogie dancers typically use triple steps instead of Charleston steps and kick steps, while Lindy Hop dancers will tend to use quite a lot more Charleston steps and kick steps. Rhythmically, Lindy Hop dancers will often tend to put a stronger emphasis on the 1, 3, 5 ... counts of the music than Boogie Woogie dancers, while Boogie Woogie dancers will tend to put a stronger emphasis on the 2, 4, 6 ... counts. But again, this really only reflects the differences of the music that the dancers are used to hearing - and the best dancers will generally adjust their rhythm in accordance with the music.
If this all starts to sounds confusing, the videos below will (although displaying the inherent extremes of competition dancing) highlight some of the differences.
Examples of boogie woogie:
Examples of lindy hop:
*) Examples of other common international swing dances are Balboa, (Collegiate) Shag, West Coast Swing and Jive.
© 2010, Inge Harkestad & Marianne Beck