Swing dancing is like a big umbrella under which several (partner) dances can be identified: Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, St. Louis Shag, solo jazz and more. They all have a shared background, having originated in the USA. These dances then evolved, along with jazz music, and became the craze of the 1930s/1940s, known as the ‘swing era’. The energetic music and the joyfulness it brings has attracted dancers of all ages ever since. Like swing music, the dance relies on rhythm, improvisation, co-operation, relaxation and groundedness.
You could call Lindy Hop the King of all swing dances, but in 1920s New York it originated from tap dance, charleston and several Afro-American vernacular dances. A little bit of historic context is important here, though the space is limited. After WWI Harlem (NYC) became the epicentre of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic period where Afro-American culture flourished broadly; literature, theatre, music, art, dance, fashion and journalism thrived. New Afro-American consciousness, claiming humanity, pride and dignity, resistance against discrimination and racial oppression, developed during this era. In this thriving climate nightlife blossomed all over Harlem, which was full of theatres, cabarets, cafés, ballrooms, and nightclubs. Even the rich white New Yorkers from other parts of town came to Harlem to be entertained.
One of most special places was the Savoy Ballroom, as it was one of the first integrated places where all races were welcome to dance. This was unique as segregation was still a daily reality. The Savoy was the hotspot for the best dance orchestras and the best swing dancers. Swing music and swing dancing swept the entire country in the 1930s thanks to radio shows, movies and travelling orchestras. The contributions and assets of the musicians and dancers from that era are still our great source of inspiration.
Swing music is the core of swingdancing, Lindy Hop, Balboa or Collegiate Shag. Swing is a popular jazz style from the 1930s-1940s. Artists such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Count Basie among others brought this infectious music to dance halls and saloons across America. It's impossible to sit still to this music; even non-dancers can be seen tapping their toes and bobbing their heads. This music is meant for dancing! Swingdancing can be done to all kinds of 8-count music, but the core will always be swing. Whether it is music from the early 1930s or now, swing music is still played and there are many modern swing bands that throw great parties together with swing dancers.
Learn to Swingdance in Rotterdam
Lindy Hop and Balboa are the two swingdances that are taught at Swing in Rhythm. You can register alone or with a partner, and you get to dance with everyone during the class. This is the way is taught all over the world, in order to best learn leading and following. Social and improvisation aspects of the dance are emphasized. Check lessons for more or go directly to Swing in Rhythm.
Get a taste of swing dancing
At the start of almost every RoffaSwingSalon we offer a one hour beginner's workshop. You can get a taste of how the dance feels and also get ready to move your feet for the rest of the afternoon. Check our events page for upcoming Roffaswing events. We can't offer classes at the weekly Swingpraktijk.
Lindy Hop and Balboa are a social dances; it means dancers meet in class and on the social dance floor. The latter makes swing dancing a great activity. Social dances are great fun; think of them like the best parties where you get to work out, enjoy great music and meet more people than you can imagine. Swing dance communities are thriving around the world and the swing dance scene is a very warm and open scene. There are international workshops and exchanges to be found everywhere. As a dancer you are welcomed in all these places and before you even know it you're crashing on someone's couch and make friends for life.
Swinging with RoffaSwing may infect you with the swing virus. Side effects may include:
- Ear-splitting grins
- Good health
- Happy feet
- The urge to dance all day, every day
While we will take credit for all of the above happening, we cannot be held liable.
Roffaswing is a non-profit organisation (stichting) which goal it is to promote Lindy Hop and swingdance in the broader sense in our beloved town Rotterdam. We do that by organising several events and activities that focus on swing dancing and its related culture.
Roffaswing consists of volunteers that have regular dayjobs. That's why you can contact us by e-mail. We try to answer you as soon as possible.
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We are a non-profit organisation, run a team of enthousiastic volunteers. No sweat, no glory! So would you like to join our team? Sing up here please.
So what's Roffa? Roffa sounds good and is streetslang for Rotterdam.
Look it up at the Urban Dictionary
The photo in the header comes from the site Oud Rotterdam: 'Koninginnedag 1929, een dansje bij het orgel in de St.-Mariastraat'
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