What is the Lindy Hop?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

The lindy hop, a swing dance that first appeared in New York during the late 1920s and early 1930s, is a unique style of movement that combines elements of both partner and solo dances. The dance is thought to have been given its name in honor of the famous aviator Charles Lindberg.

The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.
The lindy hop is a popular dance in Switzerland.

The steps of the lindy hop are a combination of traditional African dance and the eight-count structure of formal European dance. The basic step used by lindy dancers is called the swingout. Each dancer performs alone in the open position, then the couple comes together to dance in the swingout’s closed position. The steps in this dance can be closely compared to those in the Charleston, breakaway, Texas Tommy, and the hop.

The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.
The lindy hop is still a popular swing dance today.

Since the lindy hop was taught informally among small groups of dancers, the exact style of each performance can vary greatly. Some lindy dancers seem to be inspired by Frankie Manning and other African-American dancers from the Savoy Ballroom, while others have steps that seem more reminiscent of white dancers from the west coast such as Jewell McGowan and Dean Collins. Occasionally, these two styles are described as the Savoy-Style and the Hollywood-Style Lindy Hop.

Generally, the lindy hop is associated with big band musical arrangements by artists such as Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, and Benny Goodman. However, this dance was also a significant part of the neo swing music revival in the late 1990s. In certain circumstances, you may even see the lindy hop performed to rhythm and blues, soul, or hip hop music.

Today, the lindy hop has earned a permanent place as a part of pop culture in the United States. The dance is performed socially in many nightclubs and there are a number of cities that have swing dancing competitions on a regular basis—events that are highly publicized on a variety of Internet forums. TIt is also prominently featured in the music video to the hit Christina Aguilera song Candyman .

Although the lindy hop is best known in the United States, it’s worth mentioning that the dance has a worldwide following. This dance is practiced regularly in England, Russia, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


@bluespirit - You fared better than I in learning dance moves! My high school learned square dancing moves, which is not, in my opinion near as fun as it seems learning swing dancing would be.

I would just love to hear some lindy hop music. With names such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Benny Goodman associated with this type of music, it doesn't seem like you could go wrong.


Did anyone get to learn the lindy hop moves while in school? While I was in high school we learned some swing dancing but not this specific dance.

Learning swing dancing was great fun and memorable. I think it would be great for a high school class to do a small project on learning lindy hop history and finish the lesson by having the class take lindy hop lessons wearing authentic lindy hop clothing.

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