Originally published in Ka Leo, UH Mānoa’s student-run newspaper – September 13, 2007
Hidden among the many treasures of Hawai‘i is the little-known swing dance scene. Whether you are new to the islands or kama‘āina, the fun and engaging atmosphere is worth checking out. From high school and college students to retirees, the diverse atmosphere welcomes newcomers of all backgrounds. Hawai‘i Jitterbugs puts on two dances every week, with each dance displaying a mixture of lindy hop, Balboa and blues.
Don’t worry about not knowing anything – each dance features a free beginner lesson, which you can take as many times as you like. There are also beginning classes offered regularly, usually in six-week series. Then try your feet out on the dance floor; the friendly atmosphere makes it easy to learn and make new friends. Even the most experienced dancers welcome newcomers to dance with them.
You don’t need to come with a partner, but you’re welcome to bring as many friends as you like. Everyone dances with each other, which is what makes it such a great way to meet new people.
Some swing history
Swing dancing in the the United States comes in many forms.
The lindy hop, a member of the swing-dance family, developed in New York City in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It is a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston, mixing African-American dance styles with the eight-count structure of European dances.
Balboa, named after the Balboa Peninsula, developed in Southern California during the 1920s to adapt to the lack of space on the dance floor. Balboa dancers stand much closer together, touching from the hip to upper chest. The dance involves less movement, but a lot of fancy footwork.
Much like lindy hop, blues dancing originated from African-American dance styles. Blues dancing became popular in the 1920s as blues music, particularly jazz, was on the rise. As a passionate dance, blues invokes emotions.
Swing Dance Hawai‘i
So come on out and get into the swing of things!