What is Swing Dancing?


Swing dancing has a long history, going all the way back to 1927. It is an easy year to pinpoint because it is also the year the Charles Lindburgh – or Lindy, as he was also known – “hopped” over the Atlantic Ocean.

It was during that same period in history that two things were happening: swing music was just starting to hit its stride, becoming more and more popular; and black people in Harlem ballrooms were taking steps from different dances and combining them with new steps they created themselves, and weaving it all into one brand new dance. One fateful evening one dancer was asked what that cool new dance he was doing was called, and as the dance didn’t have a name as such yet, on a whim he called it “the Lindy Hop”. The name stuck, and within a few years people all over the country were doing the Lindy Hop, the original of what are now widely referred to as the Swing dances.

Swing is a wide family of dances incorporating many related (though sometimes only loosely) dances, from Lindy Hop to East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing to Boogie Woogie, Balboa to Shag, and from Rock ‘n’ Roll to Jive.

Jitterbug is another common term applied to the dances. It came about from an offhand remark by someone watching some people Swing dance, saying they moved “like Jitterbugs”. Jitterbug seems to be a term like Swing — that is, it isn’t one specific dance, but rather has been applied to several of the dances over the years. Many of the styles are similar and even share moves, and they were contemporary (that is, they are from around the same time). Some dancers would often even switch styles seamlessly in the middle of a dance. That’s why it’s hard to say any one dance was “THE” Jitterbug.

We are no longer running
Swing Dance / Lindy Hop classes
or social nights

Farewell from Jamie and Clare

Hi Everyone,

The last year and a half of living under the shadow of Covid has wrought many changes to all of our lives. As well, it has been a period of reflection and introspection, of re-examination of priorities.

Following much consideration, changing of plans and of minds, reconsideration, indecision, trepidation, and finally acceptance, Clare and I have come to the difficult decision to step away from teaching dancing.

This truly has not been an easy decision for us. We have years — for me, Jamie, Covid stopped us about 3 weeks before the 19th anniversary of the first dance class I taught in Ireland — of happy memories and have met so many wonderful people over the years, that it’s hard to imagine that not being a part of our lives.

Or rather, it would have been difficult to imagine pre-covid. Having had that responsibility — of organising classes, organising DJs, finding venues, publicising, responding to emails, taking phone calls at any hour of the day, night or weekend, teaching twice a week for 45+ weeks per year, and doing all of that on top of day jobs and raising 2 kids, and as a result being physically and mentally exhausted most of the time — lifted from our shoulders for the first time in 19 years, it was so liberating, as you can probably imagine, given the above list! And we realised that it was something that we just need to do, for our own sakes and for our kids.

As it turns out, our hands would likely have been forced anyway, as I have now signed up for a 2-year course to add qualifications related to my work, and the classes are only on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

We don’t intend to stop dancing altogether. Teaching our classes was always great fun, and we enjoyed it immensely. At the same time, it made the dancing into work, and we both tended to avoid social dancing as a result. We hope that stepping back like this will help us to rediscover our joy in dancing again and do more actual social dancing.

All of that being said, it was still difficult to contemplate giving up our “baby”! I’ve been teaching and organising social dances since 2000, and Route 66 has been going since 2004! We know that the social night in particular is (or was!) a beloved part of many people’s weekly routines, and we wanted to be sure we could hand it over to someone who had many of the same philosophies of teaching and social dancing as us, and who could be relied upon to take over the organisational reins on a long-term basis without letting it drop. For us, Alan fit that bill perfectly, and we were SO happy that he was willing to take over the night from us.

Yes, there will likely be some changes — some due to his own style, some due to the realities of the post-Covid world (whenever that actually arrives!!), which may even necessitate a change of venue and/or night (as Alan himself will elaborate upon further himself) — but the relaxed, drop-in nature of the classes and many of the same DJs will remain the same, he’s got many of the Dublin-based teachers you all know lined up to teach the classes, and of course the most important thing that made the nights so special will also be there: all of YOU, the students and dancers! This night was never about us; it was always you guys and the special friendships you made while sharing dances that really built the community you all came to love so much.

So whenever and wherever Alan is finally able to bring the night back, go out and hit the dance floor and celebrate with each other, and bring back the joy you used to feel and have been missing for so long. And if you see us out dancing, be sure to come over and ask us for a dance!! 🕺 💃 🥰 🥰 🥰