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Dancing the Lindy Hop at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, Sacramento, California, USA (2006)

The Lindy Hop is based on the popular Charleston and named for Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing in 1927. It evolved in New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

In its development, the Lindy Hop combined both partnered and solo dancing by using the movements and improvisation of black dances along with the formal eight-count structure of European partner dances. This is most clearly illustrated in the Lindy's basic step, the swingout. In this step's open position, each dancer is generally connected hand-to-hand; in its closed position, men and women are connected as though in an embrace.

Revived in the 1980s by American, Swedish, and British dancers, the Lindy Hop is now represented by dancers and loosely affiliated grass roots organizations found in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.




Swing era (1920s–1940s)

The Lindy Hop was born in black communities in Harlem, New York in the United States from about 1927 into the early 1930s from four possible sources: the breakaway, the Charleston, the Texas Tommy, and the hop.[1]

According to Ethel Williams, who helped popularize the Texas Tommy in New York in 1913, the Texas Tommy "was like the Lindy", and the basic steps were followed by a breakaway identical to that found in the Lindy. Savoy dancer "Shorty" George Snowden stated that, "We used to call the basic step the Hop long before Lindbergh did his hop across the Atlantic. It had been around a long time and some people began to call it the Lindbergh Hop after 1927, although it didn't last. Then, during the marathon at Manhattan Casino, I got tired of the same old steps and cut loose with a breakaway..." [1] Fox Movietone News covered the marathon and took a close-up of Shorty's feet. When asked "What are you doing with your feet," Shorty replied, "The Lindy". The date was June 17, 1928.[1]

The first generation of Lindy Hop is popularly associated with dancers such as "Shorty" George Snowden, his partner Big Bea, and Leroy Stretch Jones and Little Bea. "Shorty" George and Big Bea regularly won contests at the Savoy Ballroom. Their dancing accentuated the difference in size with Big Bea towering over Shorty. These dancers specialized in so-called floor steps.[2] [3]

As white people began going to Harlem to watch black dancers, according to Langston Hughes: "The lindy-hoppers at the Savoy even began to practice acrobatic routines, and to do absurd things for the entertainment of the whites, that probably never would have entered their heads to attempt for their own effortless amusement. Some of the lindy-hoppers had cards printed with their names on them and became dance professors teaching the tourists. Then Harlem nights became show nights for the Nordics."[4]

Charles Buchanan, manager of the Savoy, paid dancers such as Shorty Snowden to "perform" for his clientele.[5] According to Snowden, "When he finally offered to pay us, we went up and had a ball. All we wanted to do was dance anyway." [1]

"Air steps" such as the Hip to Hip, Side Flip, and Over the Back (the names describe the motion of the woman in the air) began to appear in 1936, all of which were disapproved of by the old guard such as Leon James, Leroy Jones, and Shorty Snowden.[1]

Younger dancers fresh out of high school: Al Minns, Joe Daniels, Russell WIlliams, and Pepsi Bethel worked out the Back Flip, Over the head, and 'the Snatch.[1][3]

Frankie Manning was part of a new generation of Lindy Hoppers, and is the most celebrated Lindy Hopper in history. Al Minns and Pepsi Bethel, Leon James, and Norma Miller also feature prominently in contemporary histories of Lindy Hop. Some sources credit Frankie Manning, working with his partner Freida Washington, for inventing the ground-breaking 'Air Step' or 'aerial' in 1935. One source credits Al Minns and Pepsi Bethel as among those who refined the air step.[3] An Air Step is a dance move in which at least one of the partners' two feet leave the ground in a dramatic, acrobatic style. Most importantly, it is done in time with the music. Air steps are now widely associated with the characterization of lindy hop, despite being generally reserved for competition or performance dancing, and not generally being executed on any social dance floor.

Lindy Hop entered mainstream American culture in the 1930s, gaining popularity through multiple sources. Dance troupes, including the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (also known as the Harlem Congaroos), Hot Chocolates and Big Apple Dancers exhibited the Lindy Hop. Hollywood films, such as Hellzapoppin' and A Day at the Races began featuring the Lindy Hop in dance sequences. Dance studios such as those of Arthur Murray and Irene and Vernon Castle began teaching Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop's movement to the west coast of the United States is popularly associated with Dean Collins, who brought Lindy Hop to Los Angeles after learning it at the Savoy Ballroom in New York.[citation needed]

Lindy Hop moved off-shore in the 1930s and 40s, again in films and news reels, but also with American troops stationed overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other allied nations. Although Lindy Hop and jazz were banned in countries such as Germany, both were popular in other European countries during this period.[citation needed]

In 1944, due to continued involvement in World War II, the United States levied a 30 percent federal excise tax against "dancing" nightclubs. Although the tax was later reduced to 20 percent, "No Dancing Allowed" signs went up all over the country.[6]

Post-swing Era (1950s–1960s)

Arthur Murray's 1954 edition of "How to become a Good Dancer" included 4 pages of instruction for Swing: the Basic Lindy Step, the Double Lindy Hop, the Triple Lindy Hop, the Sugar Foot Walk, and the Tuck-In Turn.[7] A chapter is devoted to Lindy Hop in the 1953 and 1958 editions of "Dancing Made Easy".[8]

The 1962 "Ballroom Dancebook for Teachers" included an entire chapter on "Lindy".[9]

According to the book "Social Dance", copyrighted in 1969, by 1960 The Lindy Hop was x known as Swing.[10]

Revival (1980s and 1990s)

Sandra Cameron and Larry Schulz of the Cameron Dance Center Inc in New York were instrumental in bringing Al Minns and Frankie Manning back into teaching Lindy Hop at their dance center.[11] Minns joined the dance center and began a swing program there in 1981. Frankie Manning joined the Center in 1985.[12]

Al Minns' early students formed the basis for the New York Swing Dance Society, established in 1985.[11]

In the 1980s, American and European dancers from California, New York, London and Sweden (such as Sylvia Sykes, Erin Stevens, Steven Mitchell, Terry Monaghan and Warren Heyes who formed London's Jiving Lindy Hoppers performance troupe, and Stockholm's Rhythm Hot Shots / Harlem Hot Shots) went about 'reviving' Lindy Hop using archival films such as Hellzapoppin' and A Day at the Races and by contacting dancers such as Frankie Manning, Al Minns, Norma Miller, Jewel McGowan and Dean Collins. In the mid-to-late 1990s the popularity of neo swing music of the swing revival stimulated mainstream interest in the dance. The dance was propelled to wide visibility after it was featured in movies such as Swing Kids in 1993, and Swingers in 1996, and in television commercials for GAP in 1998. The popularity led to the founding of local Lindy Hop dance communities in many cities.[citation needed]

Current status

There are thriving communities throughout the world, and Lindy Hop can today be found in almost every large westernized city.

The small village of Herräng in Sweden (north of Stockholm) has unofficially become the international mecca of Lindy Hop thanks to the annual Herräng Dance Camp run by the Harlem Hot Shots, with an attendance from around 40 countries.[citation needed] Lindy Hop tends to be concentrated in small local scenes in different cities in each of these countries, although regional, national, and international dance events bring dancers from many of these scenes together. Local swing dance communities in each city and country feature different local cultures. The concept of a Lindy exchange, a gathering of lindy hop dancers in one city for several days to dance with visitors and locals, enables different communities to share their ideas with others.

Lindy Hop today is danced as a social dance, as a competitive dance, as a performance dance, and in classes, workshops, and camps. In each, partners may dance alone or together, with improvisation a central part of social dancing and many performance and competition pieces.

Mass media

Lindy Hop has been featured in the mass media since its inception.

It is featured in several music videos, including Marilyn Manson's Mobscene, the 2002 music video to Elvis Presley vs. JXL remix of A Little Less Conversation, the 2007 music video to Christina Aguilera's song Candyman[citation needed], the 2008 video release from Millencolin; Detox and the music video to Movits!'s song "Fel Del Av Gården".

The Lindy Hop was the dance Homer Simpson performed as a panda in The Simpsons episode "Homer vs. Dignity" season 12.

The Harlem Lindy Hop dance club and zoot suit culture forms a colourful backdrop in the early part of Spike Lee's film Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington. Spike Lee's character is called "Shorty".[citation needed]

In the 2009 Strictly Come Dancing final the Lindy Hop was performed by the two remaining contestants.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stearns, Marshall and Jean (1968). Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance. New York: Macmillan. pp. 128–129,315–316,322–326,330. 
  2. ^ "Lindy Hop Biographies: Shorty George Snowden". Judy Pritchett with Frankie Manning. 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b c Richard A. Long (1989). The Black Tradition in American Dance. Rizzoli International Publication, Inc.. p. 33. ISBN 0847810925. 
  4. ^ Langston Hughes (1940). The Big Sea. New York: Hill and Wang.  - cited in Lynne Fauley Emery (1972). Black Dance in the United States from 1916 to 1970. National Press Books. ISBN 0874842034. 
  5. ^ Jacqui Malone (1996). Steppin' on the Blues. University of Illinois Press. pp. 101–103. ISBN 0252022114. 
  6. ^ Albert Murray (2000). Stomping the Blues. Da Capo Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0252022114. 
  7. ^ How to become a Good Dancer. by Arthur Murray. 1954. Simon and Shuster. Table of Contents and pages 48-52. no ISBN
  8. ^ Dancing Made Easy. Betty White. David McKay Company, Inc. page 177. Library of Congress CCN 53-11379
  9. ^ Ballroom DanceBook for Teachers. Betty White. 1962. David McKay Company, Inc. pages 131-144. Library of Congress Number 62-18465
  10. ^ Social Dance.John G. Youmans. Goodyear Publishing Company, Inc. 1969. page 25. Library of Congress Number 69-17984
  11. ^ a b Swing dancer: Version 1.10, a swing dancer's manual. Craig R Hutchinson. December 1998. Potomac Swing Dance Club, Inc. page 5.1-5
  12. ^ [1]

Further reading

  • DeFrantz, Thomas. Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
  • Emery, Lynne Fauley. Black Dance in the United States from 1619 to 1970. California: National Press Books, 1972.
  • Friedland, LeeEllen. "Social Commentary in African-American Movement Performance." Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance. Ed. Brenda Farnell. London: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 136 - 57.
  • Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance. Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 1996.
  • Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
  • Jackson, Jonathan David. "Improvisation in African-American Vernacular Dancing." Dance Research Journal 33.2 (2001/2002): 40 - 53.
  • Malone, Jacqui. Steppin' on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
  • Manning, Frankie; Cynthia R. Millman (2007). Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press. ISBN 1592135633. 
  • Szwed, John F., and Morton Marks. "The Afro-American Transformation of European Set Dances and Dance Suites." Dance Research Journal 20.1 (1988): 29 - 36.
  • Thomas, Amy. "Infinity Dance: The Move That Never Ends". California: National Press Books, 2006
  • Batchelor, Christian, This Thing Called Swing. Christian Batchelor Books, 1997, ISBN 0953063100

External links

Lindy Hop history:

Lindy Hop dancing today:


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Swing Dancing/Lindy Hop article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

< Swing Dancing

The defining dance move of Lindy Hop is the swingout (a.k.a. Lindy turn or whip). Its variants are also used in jive, east coast swing and modern jive. The follower moves around the leader from open to closed position and back to open again, usually in eight counts. The key variations are the savoy swingout and the Hollywood whip. Dancers can change the style (arm work, footwork, or general movement and connection technique) or the whole move. Bits and pieces of different stylings and variations can be combined in the same swing out, though combinations may need finesse.



The basic swing out begins with both partners facing each other in open position, with the leader's left hand holding the follower's right hand. There are many variations and personal styling options on how to do this move. The leader brings the follower in (starting to move in sometime during the first 3 beats of music), the leader and follower come together in a sort of closed position and the leader redirects the follower's momentum to send them back out.

The basic swing out is very tight, and every element has a reason and there are no extraneous body motions. The connection between partners is critical to making the swingout work. There are, however, many ways to think about how this works, and the leader and follower need to adjust to each other to find a comfortable way to work together.

The basic footwork pattern for both partners is step step tri-ple-step step step tri-ple-step. The follower matches the leader's footwork. All steps are weight changes.

Savoy swingout

In the Savoy swing out, the leader and follower can either have a feeling of circling around each other sharing a common center, or typically a more passing by each other with a rebound feeling in the middle of the move.


Count 1-2: The leader may or may not choose to lead the follower in during the first two beats
Feet: The leader rock-steps/back-replaces, or Ball-Change (or can Kick back) with their left foot, ending with their weight on their right.
Body: Typically by the end of rock-step the leader has not moved.
Counts 3 and 4: Pass and Catch
Arms: He may choose to wait until count 3 to lead her in, or he may have done so earlier
Feet: He triple steps (left right left) either in place, or traveling forward.
Body: He stays grounded as he catches her with his right arm on her back and begins to redirect her momentum
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: He steps back onto his right foot.
Body: The step moves his whole body and his right arm back, and continuing to redirect her momentum.
Count 6
Feet: He steps left with his left foot.
Arms: He is no longer holding on to her back, and he may have even let go before the 5th count.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: He triple steps (right left right) in place or returning to where he started.
Body: Return to face where he started and sync up for the next move.


Count 1 -2
Feet: She steps right-left, typically in a twisting fashion. Her Feet underneath her, where ever he has led her to be (possibly in place).
Counts 3 and 4: Pass and Catch
Feet: She triple steps as she passes the lead, allowing him to rotate or redirect her as he chooses.
Body: She allows her momentum to continue through, thus giving the lead something to work with.
Arms: She places her left arm on top of the lead's right arm
Count 5
Feet: She is lead forward, so she steps forward with her left foot.
Count 6
Arms: As she's traveling away from the lead, she doesn't let her arm hyper-extend at the shoulder
Body: Because of the arms, the follow has a moderate rotation.
Feet: She continues to travel forward onto her right foot, this will likely be a somewhat sideways step*.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: She triple steps (left right left) returning to where she started.
Body: The follow returns to where she started (as far as the connection allows), and may choose to turn to face him, or may stay slightly more open allowing her some leeway to do the twists of another Swingout or other move.
  • Depending on when the follow is released by the lead, her direction on 5, 6, and 7 may change. If the lead releases the follow on 4, then she comes straight out facing away from the lead. If she is released on 5 then she will have a sideways motion. If on 6, then she will come out of the swing out backwards -- facing the lead.

Hollywood whip

In the Hollywood whip, the follower moves in a straight line, called the slot, so the leader must move out of the follower's way sideways as they pass. The follow walks forward on count 1, turns on count 2, walks backward on counts 3 and 4, turns on count 5, and walks backward on counts 6, 7, and 8. The follower goes furthest back on count 3+. In a whip, the leader explicitly turns the follower around. The Hollywood whip resembles the West Coast swing whip.


Count 1: Bring the follow in
Feet: He steps straight backwards onto his left foot.
Body: His whole body moves back, which moves his left arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Count 2
Feet: He steps left with the right foot to let the follow pass.
Arms: He pushes the follow's arm forward as she passes to turn her around, with his left arm.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: He triple steps (left, right, left) to the side. He ends with feet side-by-side, shoulder width apart.
Body: He turns to face the follow. He leans back to counterbalance the follow (who leans into the lead's arm) and momentum swings both around so they both face the opposite direction of where they started. He keeps his shoulders and torso square to his partner.
Arms: He puts his right hand on the middle of the follow's back or on her shoulder blade.
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: He puts his right foot directly behind his left foot put your weight on the foot.
Body: The step moves his whole body and his right arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Arms: The lead pulls the follow forwards with his right hand to return her to the start and lets go with the right hand. Push with both hands to turn follow around.
Count 6
Feet: He steps left with his left foot.
Arms: The lead pushes the follow back to where she started, with his left arm.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: He triple steps (right left right) in place.
Body: He returns to where he started and syncs up for the next move.


Count 1
Feet: She is pulled forward, so she steps forward with her right foot.
Count 2
Feet: She continues and steps forward with her left foot.
Body: Her torso turns around 180 degrees by being pushed.
Arms: She raises her left arm, so the lead can reach her back.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: Her right foot should point between lead's legs, left weight shift behind right foot, then shift weight to the right foot again. This triple-step is called a coaster step.
Body: The follow leans back into the lead's arm and momentum carries both around. During these two counts the follow keeps her shoulders and torso square to the lead's shoulders and torso. The follow turns around.
Arms: She places her left arm on top of the lead's right arm and places her left hand on the inside of his shoulder or biceps.
Count 5
Feet: She steps backwards with her left foot.
Body: She is turned around with the arms.
Count 6
Feet: She continues and steps backwards with her right foot.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: She triple steps (left right left) in place, as far as lead's connection allows.
Body: The follow returns to where she started and syncs up for the next move.


Stylings are simple variations that are independent of the partner. Stylings can be done at any time by either partner in basic swing outs, though they may conflict with other swing out variations. Stylings on counts 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 are easy, because dancers are separated in open position. Stylings on counts 3, 4, and 5 are difficult, because dancers come together in closed position, so stylings easily affect the partner.


Counts 1 and 2
Feet: The lead can do rock step, kick back and hold, kick back kick back, kick ball change, or flea hops.
Left Arm: In Savoy style, leading on count 3 and relaxing on counts 1-2 gives the follow room to play, though she can also do a var. on count 2. Pulling on 1 and 2 keeps the follow under control, which denies her room to play. In the Hollywood bring in, the follow is always under control.
Right Arm: The lead can move his right arm up (over his shoulder), to the side, or down (Frankie swoosh); or keep it at his hip.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The lead may do a foot sweep back.
Counts 5 and 6
Feet: The leads may step straight back, which gives the clearest lead. The lead may step behind his other foot (hook step), which starts getting out of the follow's way. The lead may step forward and left, which shortens the distance that the follow must travel, but the lead must twist his body.
Body: In Hollywood style, the lead may turn and lunge in the same direction as the follow to emphasize the body lead. He faces behind where he was positioned.
Head: The lead may either look over his right shoulder to where the follow will go, or look at the follow. In social dancing, the lead looks over his shoulder to make sure that no one has stepped in the follow's way and she has room to finish the move. If there is no room, the lead can safely stop the move. In performance, looking over the shoulder exaggerates the body lead. Watching the follow is more personal.
Counts 7 and 8
Feet: Lead can do kick backs and foot sweeps, crouch and touch the floor, sit on the floor and splay legs, jump and do splits, split slide.
Hand: He can change hands on count 8.
Body: He can turn toward the follow, turn 180 degrees away from the follow, or turn toward the audience. Body roll.


Counts 1 and 2
Left Arm: Her left arm can go up (over shoulder), to the side, down (Frankie sweep), or keep her hand at her hip. Wave.
Body: If turned away, adjust to make the connection on count 3.
Feet: Follows can do walk-walk, swivel-swivel, or kick-ball-change; or less frequently camel walks.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The follow may do a foot sweep back.
Torso: The follow may sit with a vertical torso (called a pike), or sit with hips going back staying balanced on her own feet. The pike is very Hollywood.
Counts 5 and 6
Left Arm: The follow can wave her left arm or keep her hand at her hip.
Feet: The follow can walk-walk or camel walks; or less frequently, swivel-swivel (but avoid body twist) or kick-ball-change.
Head: The follow can turn her head to look where she will go on count 8, where she came from on count 4, at the audience, or at the lead.
Counts 7 and 8
Left Arm: The follow may wave her left arm or keep it at her hip.
Body: The follow can turn toward the lead, 180 degrees away from the lead, or toward the audience. She may do a foot sweep, touch the floor, or do a body roll.
Head: The follow can look at the lead, away from the lead, or toward the audience. In a performance, the follow may look to the audience and wink.
Feet: Kicks. Kick aways. Split slide. Kick heels together.

Footwork (Variations): The footwork can be altered significantly. When lead and follow style on counts 7, 8, 1, and 2, they may need to do two triple steps on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Leads and follows often extend the stylings over counts 7, 8, 1, and 2. Extended stylings (footwork) include

Kick Together: The lead and follow can both do double front kicks on 7, 8, 1, and 2, while facing each other. Kick left, kick left, kick right, kick right.

Kick Away: Kick-Step, Kick-Hold on 7-8, 1-2. first kick towards partner - then face away on the step. Second kick away from partner - turn towards partner on the hold. Can also be done with both kicks facing away from the partner.

Other: Double foot sweep, scissors, kick ball changes, camel walks, fall off the log, and extreme fall off the log.


Variations require that the leader and follower cooperate. Some of these variations may be combined together in the same swingout. The variations are grouped (somewhat arbitrarily) into standard, change rotation, closed position, start, middle, end, side pass, and miscellaneous variations.

The names of these variations are representative, but dancers from different cities use different names to refer to the same variation.

Standard Variations

Four main variations based on the arm leads are the basic, inside turn, outside turn, and apache turn. In these variations, the follower turns on the 6, 7, and 8 counts. She may turn on 5 and 6, before travelling, on counts 7 and 8, after travelling, or on count 5, 6, 7, and 8, while travelling. The quick stop and free spin are simple extensions of these variations.

Basic: This is a basic Savoy swing out or basic Hollywood whip.

Inside Turn: The follow does an inside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually, the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 6, 7, and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Outside Turn: The follow does an outside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 7 and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Quick Stop: The follow does an outside turn, but holds on 7, with crossed legs. This variation is useful for hitting a break on count 7. This variation can be tweaked if the break occurs on count 6 or 8. This variation occurs in both social dancing and performance. This is also a useful way to get into the tandem Charleston position; the lead pulls the follow into the position on 7, 8 with his right hand after the turn is complete.

Apache Turn or Texas Tommy: This is an outside turn, but the leader switches hands behind the follower's back on count 6. The turn is signalled on 4. This can be extended by an overhead turn. This move can be used to change the lead to the right hand.

Free Turn: A free spin looks almost the same as a Texas Tommy. The lead puts the follow's right arm behind her back, but does not grab her wrist with his right arm, he simply lets go and lets her spin on her own.

Change Rotation Variations

In these variations, the follower moves around the leader in counter-clockwise for part of the swing out.

Reverse: The follower moves around the lead counter-clockwise. On counts 1, 2, 5, and 6, both leader and follower step slightly to their right.

Half: The follow stays on the right side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a normal swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a reverse swing out. (Aka, Swing Out Kate -- taught by Frankie Manning, SouthWest Lindy Fest 2004)

Reverse Half: The follow stays on the left side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a reverse swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a normal swing out.

Closed Position Variations

In these variations, the couple starts or ends in closed position.

Swingout From Closed

Swingout from closed, for example from Charleston to swing out. Charleston is mostly done in closed position. On counts 1 and 2, both do a normal rock step. On counts 3 and 4, the lead moves and turns 180 degrees to face the follow, using a triple step. The remaining counts are the same as a swing out. On counts 5 and 6, the lead pulls the follow forward with his right arm and lets go, and the follow walks past. On counts 7 and 8, they both triple step and sync up for the next move.

This variation is also known simply as the Swingout, in scenes where the standard swingout is known as the Lindy Turn.

Circle To Closed

From swing outs to charlestons, because the Charleston basic is done in closed position. The first four counts are the same as a swing out, but the right arm wraps around the follow further, perhaps to her hip. They remain in closed position and finish the move. The footwork is the same.

This variation is also known as the Lindy Circle.

Start Variations

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Syncopated: The follow may hold back on count 1 and come in fast on count 2. The lead may lead with a kick-ball-change so his body moves on count 2. The motion on counts 7, 8, and 1 is slow and in the same place, while the motion on counts 2, 3, 4, and 5 is fast, which increases contrast in the move. In slow music, the follow may hold on counts 1 and 2, jump on count 3, and so on. This variation is common in Hollywood style.

From Closed:

From Right Hand:

First Turn: Inside turn on counts 2 and 3. This is sometimes led when the lead's right hand holds the follow's right hand. (or outside or apache)

Middle Variations

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Layout: The follow jumps on 3, and lays out on 4, is pulled back up on 5. The follow jumps out with her legs several feet from the lead and holds on to the base's arms. The follow often initiates this variation. (K+C)

Pike: The follow may sit or pike on count 4. The pike is most exaggerated when the partners use a double hand hold. The follow sometimes holds one foot out horizontal on count 4 for styling.

Slide: This means that the follow hops on count 5, slides on count 6, and stands up on count 7. Slides are usually combined with a reverse swing out. This is usually for performance.

Extend Middle: Partners can remain in closed position and continue to spin or trade sides for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats, before continuing with the move.

End Variations

The variations change the motion on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Follow Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Lead Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Both Spin: Both follow and lead spin (He Goes-She Goes) on counts 7 and 8.

Jump: Jump on count 5, like a cannonball. The follow often lands on her right leg and then pivots slowly into place for the next swing out.

Arm Loops: Arms may move toward lead (such as putting the follow's hand on the lead's shoulder) or toward the follow (which brings the couple into closed position).

Close: During counts 7 and 8, the lead may move into closed position by adjusting to the follow. (This is like a Groucho ending.)

Extend End: Partners can freeze or hold the open position or spin on counts 7 and 8 for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats. (circle or whip). Afterwards, the lead may remain in open position or close.

Side Pass Variations

These variations seem like two side passes, because the couple does not close on counts 3, 4, and 5.

Reverse with Spins (Rename): The guy leads a side pass (rock, step, spin to cuddle) to his left side, and he turns as the follow passes (4 counts). Then he pushes her back to where she started on his left side (4 counts). He can start by facing her or facing away from her. She may finish by walking forwards, sideways, or backwards. If she walks backwards, she may duck under his arm. (Copy to side pass variation).

Reverse with Spins 2: The guy leads a side pass (rock, step, J-lead free spin, close on 4) to his left side, and he turns as the follow passes (4 counts). Then he pushes her steps past her to his right, turns and finishes (4 counts).

Hip Spin: Lead follows arm past. As the follow passes, the lead grabs her hip bone and pull her straight backwards or backwards into a free spin. This can be extended with one or more hip grabs at the end.

Right Hand to Hip Spin: Like a hip spin, but start with a right to right grip and do a turn during the first side pass. This ends with a hip spin or not. (Rethink)

Something: Double turn. Turn during first side pass. Turn during second side pass.

Titanic: Cross hand hold or pick up the second hand on count 2. Do a side pass to titanic position (4 counts). Do another side pass to return the follow to the start (4 counts). Titanic position is the follow leans forward with her hands to the side and behind her. The lead counterbalances her.

Basket Whip: Double hand hold. The lead moves around the follow. This is often extended with one or more spins at the end. Multiple reverses.

Hand on Hip: Put the follow's right hand on the lead's right hip, as she passes on count 3, and hold it there. She continues around and stops on the lead's left side, like a reverse cuddle. This variation often continues with side-by-side moves, like skating. Usually, the lead does not turn, but the lead can also turn with the follow.

Hand Throw: Start with a right hand lead. Lead a 4 count side pass on lead's right side, throw follow's right hand from the lead's right hand to the lead's left hand, then lead another 4 count side pass on lead's left side. The lead does not turn. The follow may spin on either side pass.

Thread the Needle: During the first side pass, the lead remains facing the same way. He may place the follow's hand on his shoulder and shrug it off so it slides down his right arm. On count 5, he bends his left elbow out to the side, so his left arm makes an opening, like a cup handle. He leads the follow's arm into this opening, then makes the connection forearm-to-forearm. He may end with a free spin.

Miscellaneous Variations


Simple: Both lead and follow do walk-walk on all counts, skip the triple steps and make each count a step. This is useful for music that is too fast for triple steps and for music with strong drum beats. This variation can be styled with crazy legs. On count 5, the lead will step back on the opposite foot from usual, which is fine.

Hip Hop: Both partners jump on count 3 to the usual count 5 position, hold on count 4, pull through on count 5, (hold count 6). Leg styling for leads may be two large foot sweeps, the first on counts 5 and 6, the other on counts 7 and 8.

Fast: Swing outs can be done in 6 counts. Lead on count 1, jump and close on count 2, back and swing on count 3, lead and open on count 4, jump on count 5, and end on count 6. In basic swing outs, counts 8 and 1 are slow can be omitted. The footwork need finessing.

Slow: The swing out can be done in 10 counts or more. Hold back on count 1 and move slowly.

Shoulder (Arm Pit): Start with a side pass and the follow keeps looking forward. The leads puts his right hand under the follow's right shoulder. He pulls her back and she leans back. As she goes down, he steps over her body and then pulls her back up. This is often treated as an aerial.

Neck Wrap: This is like the shoulder lift. (Expand)

Other Details

Movement: The lead may stay in place while the follow travels around him or the lead and follow may trade places, by both moving forward on counts 2, 3, 6, and 7. When the lead stays in place, the move looks more exaggerated, which is useful in performances and for slower music, but the follow must move farther and work harder. When the lead and follow trade places, the swing out fits in a smaller space, which helps in social dancing and with faster music. Leads can move themselves forward on either the first 4 counts, the last 4 counts, or all 8 counts, and the follow remains in place, which shifts the position toward the lead, but leaves everything else the same.

Orientation: Dancers can change the orientation of the swing out by overturning (1+1/4 turn) or underturning (3/4 turn). In social dancing, this is useful to find space on a crowded floor. In performance, this is useful to present a specific angle to the audience or adjust to or from other moves.

Mirror Image: The lead and follow do everything in mirror image (switch left and right). This is useful in performance.

Speed: Dancers may move half as fast as the music, which is often done with exaggerated, clownish movements. This is common in performance and socially to very fast music. Dancers move may twice as fast as the music, which is common to very slow music.

Start Count: Traditionally swing outs begin on count 1 of the music. But the swing out may actually start on any count, especially if it fits the music. For example, the couple may hold for 4 counts, do a swing out for 8 counts, and then hold for 4 counts. So, the swing out would begin on count 5.

Switch Roles: The guy usually leads and the girl usually follows. Partners sometimes switch roles, so that the girl leads and the guy follows. This can be fun in both social and performance dancing.


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