Brief History of The Lindy-Hop & How The Swing Dress Was Born!
Posted on February 24 2016
We sell a lot of vintage swing dresses at Little Wings Factory; it is one of our most popular styles. But what do we really know about where it came from? Well the swing dress was born in the Lindy-Bop clubs that were popular in the 1940s and 1950s, so in this post we are going to look a bit deeper into their history:
The Lindy Hop is a dance that originated in the 1920's in Harlem, New York. The actual Lindy dance itself is a dance you dance with a partner, and it consists of both eight and six steps and is based on The Charleston and the Tap. The Lindy is often seen as a wild and spontaneous dance that consists of lots of frenzied kicks and body movements, but it can also be cool and sophisticated too. The basis of the Lindy Hop is that you dance with a partner to the music and enjoy yourself while you do it!
(picture sourced from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jitterbug)
What is interesting about the Lindy Hop is that it originated from the African social dance culture in Harlem and was brought to the attention of the rest of the city at the famous Savoy Ballroom in New York. The Savoy was one of the biggest dance halls in New York at the time, taking up the whole block at 141st Street and Lennox Avenue - and it was one of the only dance halls in the city that was racially integrated. The Savoy had a bandstand at each end of its elongated sprung dance floor and had two live bands playing every night seven days a week.
Jazz was in it's heyday at this time, and the dancers fed off the music as much as the musicians fed off the dancers. The top dancers would take turns to show and play with the rhythms produced by the bands. Weekly competitions took place and dancers were inspired to create new moves to wow the crowd and win over the judges.
The Head Bouncer at the Savoy Herbert White or "Whitey", managed to get together a group of the best dancers at The Savoy and he then formed a dance, troupe. He took them all over America to dance at various competitions and performances, and even managed to get them into some films - such as "A Day at the Races" and "Hellzapoppin". People flocked to the cinema to see the dancers, and they only had once chance to see the moves performed on the silver screen before trying to recreate it themselves - so the moves would evolve and become new moves, and the dances would then blend again to accommodate the newest fashion.
The Swing Dress was a great success at Lindy Hops as it allowed the ladies to move freely on the dance floor while still looking feminine. The wide skirt moved with the dancer and allowed them to flash a little leg at the same time!
To see Little Wings Factory's selection of Swing Dresses, please check out our online vintage clothes site at www.littlewingsfactory.co.uk.