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Swing Overview   «
Ballroom Dancing Basics  
1a. Swing Basic in Open  
1b. Swing Basic in Closed  
2. Underarm Turn Right  
3. Underarm Turn Left  
4. Man's Left Turn  
5. Cuddle  
6. Handshake Loop  

Swing Mood

fun, energetic, innocent, swingy, Harlem, rooted, American, 1950's, poodle skirts, rock n' roll

Beats per bar: 4


36-44 bars per minute:

Basic Count: SSQQ

Swing music has 4 beats per bar, but the basic dance rhythm is 6 counts long: SSQQ. This means that a basic swing step takes 1 bars of music (just like Foxtrot). So, like Foxtrot, the beginning and end of the steps don't always match the beginning and end of the bars.

Swing can also be danced with a triple rhythm that has 8 steps in the basic pattern. The triple rhythm is counted: Q&Q Q&Q QQ or 1a2 3a4 5 6. Triple rhythm Swing will often feel more comfortable for Swing music that is slower, while single rhythm works better for faster songs.

Music & History

There is a very broad range of style and character in swing music and dancing, reflecting the many different places and time periods that Swing has been popular.

The original swing music grew as part of Jazz, and was popularized in the 20's and 30's as 'big band' music. The wailing horns and swinging feel of songs like "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" gave that music an exciting, energetic feel.

As Jazz and Blues evolved into Rock n' roll, they brought swing dancing with it, and the early rock n' roll of the 1950's became the new swing music.

Really you can think of almost all American music as Swing music - from Jazz, to Blues, to Rock and Roll, to Country. And although we usually think of Swing music as being fast, it can also be slow, bluesy and very laid back.

Popular Swings

  • Runaround Sue -- Dion & the Belmonts
  • Hey Ya -- Outkast
  • Mustang Sally

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