30s swing dance is the most recent dance craze to hit Greece
If you find yourself downtown wondering which bar to choose and you happen to hear swing music coming out of some joint, chances are there are Lindy hoppers swinging inside. So hop in, grab a drink and sit back because you are in for a treat. You’ve just landed in one of the countless weekly parties of the local Lindy Hop community.
The joints are usually crammed, so hold on to your drink. Couples will be dancing around you, trying not to bump into each other and to you, and don’t be surprised if you see two girls, or two boys, dancing together, or a girl leading a boy. In classes, there’s usually a shortage of boys, so some girls have to learn the part. But, unlike the Tango, for example, the Lindy Hop is such a goofy dance that no partner combination seems peculiar; everything is allowed as long as you’re having fun.
If you suddenly see people getting up and dancing in a line, it means that some specific song is playing and they are most definitely doing one of the jazz choreographies passed down by the original Lindy hoppers of the 1930s and taught all over the world. These choreographies, incorporating original jazz steps with funny names like “Suzy Q,” “Spank the baby,” or “Fall of the log,” are danced with jerky, unexpected movements and occasionally at crazy tempos. So, unless you want to get hit, give the dancers room and enjoy!
“ Lindy Hop is probably the happiest dance out there. I don’t think I have ever danced it without smiling and nor when I wanted to wallow in sorrow because I felt uncomfortable amidst all the merriment.”
If, at some point, you hear someone shouting “birthday jam,” then it’s time to celebrate the birthday person, who has to dance, alternating partners, until the song is over, while the rest of the dancers gather around them clapping and cheering, encouraging the couple that are “showing off” their dance moves, so to speak. You are more than welcome to join in, but remember to always clap on two! Finally, if you are not too shy, you can ask someone to teach you the basic steps. Lindy hoppers are always willing to spread the craze and take you for a “swing-out” around the dance floor!
ABOUT THE DANCE
The Lindy Hop, an African American phenomenon, evolved in New York’s Harlem, in the 1920s and 1930s, along with the jazz music of the time. The poverty caused by the Great Depression probably had a lot to do with the need of black Americans, the most impoverished – and discriminated – minority of all, to find release through dance, and a cheerful dance for that matter. According to anecdotal jazz history, the dance got its name from the famous aviator Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh, who in 1927 “hopped” the Atlantic by flying non-stop from New York to Paris.
The Lindy Hop is nowadays enjoying its second revival worldwide, with Greece gradually joining in on the craze since 2006 when the dance first appeared in Thessaloniki. Every year there are more and more classes, workshops and parties to attend, bands playing swing music keep popping up, and bar owners wishing to take advantage of the craze adding swing DJ sets to their repertoire.
If you want to bump into some Lindy hoppers on purpose,
here are two sites, administered by Lindy Hoppers,
that keep the community up to speed with what is happening
in town and outside town: Swing in Greece • Swing Kids Facebook Page
Photos by Stelios Papadopoulos
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