Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing Revives and Reinvents a Ballroom Dancing Favorite

This past week, tickets officially went on sale for Lincoln Center’s annual Midsummer Night Swing.  Every year, dancers from across the country travel to Manhattan to take part in this dance celebration that includes workshops, performances and, of course, multiple chances to dance the night away.  But for many, this festival is more than reviving this ballroom dancing favorite.  It’s the chance to do what the swing dancers of the past have done: reinvent it for their generation!   

Though commonly associated with the 1950’s, swing dancing originated back in the 1920’s as a response to the changing music of the "Jazz Age."  The music of the "Roaring 20’s" introduced less rigid and more syncopated rhythms, which led to improvised versions of traditional ballroom dances.  (Swing dancing is believed to have developed from the Charleston and the Foxtrot.)  Swing dancing continued to evolve with the changing music and culture of each era. The booming "Big Band" orchestras of the 1940's inspired faster and flashier dances while the commercial appeal of 1950's rock-and-roll music urged dance studios to create simpler versions of the swing that more people could learn.

Because the swing was constantly adapting, the different musical, cultural and regional influences led to its many forms.  Listed here are some of the most popular styles:

  •  Lindy Hop: This 8 -count dance.  It is recognized most by the circular “swing out” movement used by the couple.  Aerial tricks are often incorporated into this dance.
  • East Coast Swing: This is a 6-count dance. Its distinguishing feature is its triple step followed by a rock step.
  • Jive: This dance is very similar to the East Coast swing, but it incorporates faster and more energetic footwork.   
  • Balboa:  This 8-count dance is reserved for very fast music. Unlike other styles of swing dance, where partners maintain an arms-length distance, couples dancing the balboa must dance with their upper bodies pressed against each other, since the fast paced music makes swing outs too difficult.   

Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing is not merely an opportunity to celebrate this popular dance it’s your chance to make dance history and see how your generation is putting its personal spin on the swing.  If you’re interested in getting your swing back in shape for the big event, feel free to contact us and schedule a lesson.