Swing in Seconds: An Insightful New Series to the Dance’s Origins

By Adolfo & Cat of Time 2 Swing

Check out this exclusive look into the new series by Southern California-based dance duo Time 2 Swing, who’ve turned their hobby into a passionate lifestyle of choreography and dancing for various events and in media. See the third video of the Swing in Seconds series on their YouTube channel Time2Swing.

What do hip hop, shuffling, and swing dancing have in common? More than you probably thought.

Ok, so let’s go back, no like, WAY BACK. Imagine you are in 15th century Ireland, and your feet are moving about in a fast manner, making clicking and clacking sounds. Sounds like tap dancing, right? Well the jig started in 15th century Ireland and shaped what we know today as tap dancing. In the 18th century buck and wing dances were dances that derived from African American slaves. They used these types of movements as a way to keep connected with their heritage. Emphasis on downbeats, with heavy stomps characterized buck dances, while flapping arms and legs in a frenzied but controlled manner were known as wing dances. By the mid 1800’s these dances from two different parts of the world would be combined by a dancer named William Henry Lane, or Master Juba.

The elements of buck, wing, and jig would eventually evolve into tap dancing, 1920’s Charleston, vernacular jazz dancing, and Lindy Hop. Many of these styles have been carried through until today, showing up in shuffling steps that resemble Charleston dancing, and hip hop moves that stem from buck and wing. Dances today have ties and connections to many parts of the world that continue to move us.

Another common bond that ties these all together is that they are rooted in African rhythms and tribal dances. The dance that we and so many others enjoy in our community is part of Black history. Swing dancing is an umbrella term for the many dances that are underneath it (such as Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, and Collegiate Shag). But, our favorite is Lindy Hop, known to be a fast, energetic, and frenzied kicking, style of a dance. But sometimes it can be calm and cool, with syncopations that make your heart soar. Lindy Hop was born in 1930’s Harlem, NY. At this time, sadly, segregation was taking place, and many clubs would only let African Americans be performers or be in certain places within a club. There was one exception, and that was the Savoy Ballroom. You could say that the Savoy Ballroom was ahead of its time, exercising the freedom and ability for all to come and dance.

It was opened and owned by two White gentlemen, Joe Faggan and Jewish businessman Moe Gale, in 1926. The ballroom was managed by an African American gentleman named Charles Buchanan, a successful businessman and community leader. The three joined together to create one of the hottest and most popular dance clubs in Harlem. Here Black and White dancers would join together and do what they all did best- DANCE! It was the first interracial ballroom; no separate entrances, no separate places to sit, or different entrance fees. All were welcome. Frankie Manning, who is one of the original founders and shapers of Lindy Hop, recollected, no one cared about the color of their skin, just their dancing skills.

“One night somebody came over and said, ‘Hey man, Clark Gable just walked in the house.’ Somebody else said, ‘Oh, yeah, can he dance?’ All they wanted to know when you came into the Savoy was, do you dance?”

Lindy Hop, and all it encompasses—the music, movement and its history are a part of Black history. As not only teachers of the steps we also strive to teach the history of dance, all of it. Especially that in or surrounding Swing dancing, which is why we have started a segment called, Swing in Seconds: Past to Present. With this series, we aim to connect the past to our movements today. Since our first step as Swing dancers, we’ve always been curious and interested in where movements have derived from. We always aim to foster a sense of community and inclusivity for all– so, let’s get dancing– it’s time 2 swing!

Avidly dancing since 2013, Adolfo and Cat of Time 2 Swing met in high school and never considered themselves dancers, but in late 2012 their attraction to dance began after watching couples dancing Swing and Lindy Hop at Disneyland, immediately wanting to learn “how they did that!” (What they actually exclaimed). Since practicing from videos by Frankie Manning, Erin Stevens, and Shauna Marble from Lindy Ladder on the internet in Cat’s garage every day after school for hours, they began going to various dance studios learning and advancing their knowledge of other dance styles.

Time 2 Swing are trained in various Ballroom and Latin dances such as Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Bachata and Merengue, but their primary focus is Swing dancing, having appeared in six music videos from various artists such as The Moontones and Patrice Jegou, as well as in the independent film, “The Enchantress of Number”. Time 2 Swing are also traveling teachers, swinging out all over Southern California and official members of the LA Swing Dance Posse, a non-profit organization, whose goal is to preserve, promote, and teach the history of vernacular jazz and Swing.

If you would like to learn more about swing dancing, please visit Adolfo and Cat at their website or Facebook page Time 2 Swing or Instagram @time2swing.

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