Swing dancing was created by African-American communities during the 1920s and ‘30s, during the Harlem Renaissance of jazz era in New York, USA. The term swing comes from an energetic jazz beat percussion with swing outs and high energy footwork with a length of space between beats, characterized by fast rotations, dance and music shifted into high gear.
And, with the changing American lifestyle, this style continued to be popular through the 1940s and beyond.
Cab Calloway was among the band leaders who developed the music that lent itself to the bouncy movements of swing.
In 1935, an American dancer, instructor and choreographer, Frank Manning, arguably the most famous swing dancer of all time, won a dance competition with a daring feat – flipping his partner over his back and onto her feet (a common feature in many dance forms today) which came to be known as Lindy Hop.
Swing evolved into numerous variations, including Jitterbug, Jive, Charleston, East Coast Swing, Collegiate Shag, Balboa, Carolina Shag, DC Hand Dancing, right up to today's contemporary West Coast Swing with many similarities, but differing in various communities and cultures (salsa, mambo, pachanga and rumba).
Famous songs to swing to are by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller, among others.
THE JOURNEY INTO SWING DANCE
Fedora Cotta, from Panjim, was always fond of music be it jazz, pop or western classical and found herself on the dance scene almost by accident. But, in many ways, it was a long time coming.
Growing up in Goa, dancing wasn’t alien to her, and she knew the basics of jive and waltz. “I had opportunities to attend dance classes, but I was always too shy. Somewhere in 2018, I finally attended classes at my alma mater, Shiksha Niketan, with Nisha D’Cunha. I'm an architect by profession, and dancing isn't my main profession, but it’s always been close to my heart; I enjoy the creative process, be it design or dance,” says she.
“The learning was organic and the classes were a place to learn and practice. I realised that ‘knowing the steps’ is just one part of dancing. It was about being in a state of flow that I can only describe as magic.”
Many years prior to joining these classes, she had discovered swing dancing while searching for music on the internet, and had got hooked. However, over the years she realised that there was no one in Goa who taught the dance.
Just before the first lockdown she convinced a friend to learn swing dancing along with her by following videos. During the lockdown, she practiced on her own, and attributes a lot of her skills to those solo sessions, getting more comfortable with the subtlety that encapsulates a good dancer.
In 2022, she organized the first Lindy Hop intensive beginner workshop for about a dozen of students along with an instructor who taught Lindy Hop in Mumbai.
She then conducted practice sessions, and it was here that a steady influx of people, curious about the dance form, approached her, and a structure fell into place. People who wanted to learn, joined a beginner workshop and then the practice sessions, and unintentionally a community of Lindy-hoppers emerged and grew with each month.
“Be it the students or visitors to Goa, I have been lucky to meet some interesting and beautiful dancers at these dance sessions. The learning process will never end, constantly learning and improving my technique, the more I learn, the more I can teach,” says Fedora.
Fedora’s endeavour is to see swing dancing thrive in Goa, as well as good swing bands and dancers.
Lindy Hop beginners’ workshop
DURATION: 1 month
TIMINGS: 6.30 PM – 8.30 pm
FEES: ₹ 1,400
Informal learning and practice dance meet-ups
TIMINGS: 6 pm onwards
FEES: ₹ 600 per month
LOCATION: Saligao Institute, Saligao
DETAILS & REGISTRATION: +91 98230 89956
The sessions are subject to change and alterations. Please contact the number for the latest details.