We dance primarily to music from the Swing Era, especially the music produced by big bands (12-25 musicians and contains saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section.). Many other styles of music are often confused with swing (Traditional Jazz, various forms of Jump Blues including Rock n’Roll, Motown, and at times even certain pop songs), and while this music often predates or is a derivative of Swing Era music, Swing Era music was produced during the years 1929-1945. Though there is swinging music from other time periods, these years are historically marked as the Swing Era – that is to say, swing music all swings, but not all music that swings is swing music.
To know the dance is to know the music, and vice versa. If you want to get started with listening to big band swing, check out bands led by Count Basie, Chick Webb, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Jimmie Lunceford. If sifting through vintage recordings isn’t your thing (understandable, it’s an acquired taste), check out Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five, Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders, Gordon Webster and Friends, or our very own local jazz band, Moonshine Rhythm Club, who all have recordings available online through Bandcamp (which allows you to sample all the songs for free) and other music streaming services, and recreate the vintage swing style so well that we’ll dance to their music as well!
The best resource to learn everything you could possibly want to know about swing music is Ken Burns Jazz. This documentary is cheaply available on Amazon, and you can find portions of on YouTube even. It will take you on an in depth journey to understanding the tremendous African American creation that is Jazz music. Produced in the crucible of racist oppression in the Jim Crow South, it became America’s first popular music and culture, and provides a road map to American history, art, and civil rights in the 20th century.
Finding the perfect song to practice all your new moves to can be challenging sometimes when you don’t know where to start. That’s why we have gone ahead and put together a playlist to get you dancing! Enjoy!