How to do the jitterbug dance moves

What is the Jitterbug? (with pictures)



Fact Checked

The jitterbug is a variant of swing dancing, and derivative of the Lindy hop and East Coast Swing. It became popular in the 1940s. Several suggestions for the origin of the term jitterbug exist. Since the dance involves jerking movements, and may resemble the jitters of alcoholic recovery, it may have derived its name from such. Cab Calloway once remarked that the dancers looked like a bunch of “jitterbugs.”

Another possible origin for the name jitterbug is that it was originally intended as a derogatory or ethnic slur. Most dance schools in the late 1930s did not want to teach the Lindy Hop. However, as the popularity of the dance grew, the jitterbug began to be taught, and any slur to ethnicity has since been forgotten.

Some people use the term jitterbug to refer to all types of swing dancing. This is technically incorrect by the strictest definition of the dance. As well, jitterbug can be used as a verb: Do you jitterbug?

The jitterbug places emphasis on the six-count move. The very basic move of the dance is a back, step, forward, touch, step, and touch. The man would begin this dance on the left foot. The footwork for the leading partner is left-right-left-right-right-left. The following partner duplicates the steps on the opposite foot.

There are multiple turns, lifts and spins associated with the jitterbug. Often the partners may dance side by side, instead of in a face-to-face partner hold. This is characteristic of many variants of swing dance.

Once basic steps and spins are mastered, some of the lifts are fun to learn. These can include lifting and swinging the following partner from one side to the other, swinging the partner through spread legs, and various other complicated maneuvers. The dance is quick, so most of the tricks take some skill to acquire.

The jitterbug requires brisk 4/4-time music. It can be danced to rockabilly, 50s and early 60s rock and roll, some modern rock songs, swing music, and some jazz predating swing. A variant of the jitterbug may be danced to quick time Country and Western music as well.

Since swing dance has risen in popularity, many clubs offer swing dancing with instruction for beginners for a half hour prior to open dancing for all. This is a fun way to get an introduction to dances like the jitterbug. As well, many dancing schools, community colleges and recreation centers offer introductions and more advanced classes in swing, which can soon have one tripping the light fantastic in classic jitterbug style.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent MusicalExpert contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent MusicalExpert contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Jitterbug | Bella Ballroom

The jitterbug is a generalized name used to describe various types of swing dancing. The jitterbug might include elements of the Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Charleston, Shag, Jive, or Balboa.

History of the Jitterbug:

The Jitterbug is a type of dance that became popular is the 1930s and is associated with various types of swing dances like the Lindy Hop, Jive and East Coast Swing. Jitterbug is typically used as a general term to describe the dancing of the big band and swing dancing eras. The name “jitterbug”comes from a slang term for alcoholics who suffered from the “jitters” and the name became associated with swing dancers who danced “out of control” with all of their jumping, spinning and cutting loose. Eventually, it became a way to describe all swing dancers and jitterbug developed into another name for the dance. The term became especially popular in 1934. Jazz singer Cab Calloway recorded “Call of the Jitter Bug” in 1934 and the film “Cab Calloway’s Jitterbug Party” was released popularizing the term “Jitterbug” even further. The lyrics of the song “Call of the Jitter Bug” drew a strong association between the Jitterbug and the consumption of alcohol:

“If you’d like to be a jitter bug, first thing you must do is get a jug, put whisky, wine and gin within, and shake it all up and then begin. Grab a cup and start to toss, you are drinking jitter sauce! Don’t you worry, you just mug, and then you’ll be a jitter bug!”

The swing style of the Jitterbug originated in African American dance clubs in Harlem, New York and surrounding areas. On March 26, 1926 the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors in New York, three years after the infamous Cotton Club Jazz Club opened. The Savoy became a huge and immediate success, as its dance floor was as long as a city block. It had a raised double bandstand and attracted many of the best dancers of New York City and the surrounding areas. Frequented by many great dancers and the best of bands, the Savoy became a huge swinging Jazz club where one could see the most cutting edge dances moves of the time.

The Jitterbug dance became very popular with the African American community, especially in the Harlem nightclubs of New York City. Dancers incorporated movements from their African heritage, which included quick legwork and very mobile upper body movement. Cab Calloway’s song “Cab Calloway’s Jitter Bug Party” brought the Jitterbug to the forefront of the public eye causing it to spread quickly beyond the African American community, across the United States and eventually to Europe.

The Jitterbug became very popular in the 1940s just before World War II and the swing craze continued throughout wartime. American GIs spread the jitterbug dance to Europe despite European officials calling the dance uncivilized. While many skeptics said that the Jitterbug dance craze would never last, the dance became very popular throughout the United States and Eastern Europe during World War II. The Jitterbug dance has survived throughout the years and remains a true social dance staple with the dance communities of today.

Jitterbug Dance Today:

The Jitterbug is still danced and celebrated by dance communities around the world. The Jitterbug continues to keep its legacy as the granddaddy of slam dancing yet is often grouped under the name of other Swing dances. The Charleston, the Lindy Hop, the Shag, and the Black Bottom are considered styles of Jitterbug dancing.

When the Rock and Roll craze put swing music on the backburners in the 1960s, a new type of “Jitterbug” began to brew on the East side of Detroit that became known as the “Jit.” The new Jit evolved mostly as a solo improvisation dance showcasing fancy footwork tracing back to Jitterbug styles of dance. The Jit evolved to incorporate the universal basic footwork of standing on one foot with the other leg raised at the shin or knee twisting the knee back and forth in a game of balance with accompanying subtle arm movements. Detroit dance groups who performed in competitions and club venues throughout the city also developed dance routines. The Jit grew to include power moves like aerial tricks and hip-hop’s moves stemming from popping and locking. The Jit was featured on TV programs gaining the style some fame nationally and internationally. While the Jit has died down in popularity and practice, Mike Manson That Be Dancin featured the Jit on national dance competition television show So You Think You Can Dance during the Detroit auditions.

The Jitterbug is featured at dance camps, dance competitions, swing dance workshops, and festivals every year. Swing dance festivals and camps allow dancers to exchange dance ideas and continue the evolution of Swing dancing. The Jitterbug continues to be used as a social dance, a competition dance, and a performance dance.

Jitterbug Songs:

  •  “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” Andrew Sisters
  • “At the Hop” Danny & the Juniors
  • “Choo Choo Chaboogie” Manhattan Transfer
  • “Rock This Town” Stray Cats
  • “Baby Likes to Rock It” The Tractors
  • “Swing the Mood” Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • “Jailhouse Rock” Elvis
  • “Rock Around The Clock” Bill Haley and Comets
  • “Jump Jive and Wail” Brian Setzer
  • “Zoot Suit Riot” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
  • “In the Mood” Glen Miller Orchestra
  • “I Wanna Be Like You” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • “Rock This Town” The Stray Cats
  • “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • “Pensylvania 6-5000” Glen Miller Orchestra
  • “Rockin’ Robin” Bobby Day
  • “That’ll Be the Day” Buddy Holly
  • “Shake Rattle and Roll” Bill Haley & Comets
  • “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” Company B
  • “Bye Bye Love” Everly Brothers
  • “Wake Up Little Suzy” Everly Brothers
  • “See You Later Alligator” Bill Haley
  • “Splish Splash” Bobby Darin
  • “All Shook Up” Elvis Presley
  • “Blue Suede Shoes” Elvis Presley
  • “Run Around” Sue Dion
  • “Rock and Roll Music” Chuck Berry
  • “Rockin’ Robin” Bobby Day
  • “Johnny B Good” Chuck Berry
  • “Great Balls of Fire” Jerry Lee Lewis
  • “Tutti Frutti” Little Richard
  • “At the Hop” Danny & the Jrs
  • “La Bamba” Los Lobos
  • “In the Mood” Glen Miller
  • “Lovers Who Wander” Dion
  • “Chantilly Lace” Big Bopper
  • “Come On Lets Go” Los Lobos
  • “Ability to Swing” Thomas Dolby
  • “Think” Aretha Franklin
  • “Rocket 88” Jackie Brenston
  • “Jive After Five” Carl Perkins

how to dance the jitterbug | Russian Bazaar


№71 (1202)

Vadim Dymarsky

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a new wave of popularity for an extremely dangerous dance called jitterbug (jitterbug). The dance is spreading across the country at an unprecedented speed and, at first glance, the absurd intervention of CDC experts is in fact absolutely justified.

The jitterbug originated in the mid-1930s - some time after the repeal of Prohibition. Back then, drinking establishments were opening at an incredible rate across the country. In the 13 years of the alcohol ban, Americans have grown tired of conservative dances like the tango and the foxtrot. Therefore, the national drunken frenzy gave rise to the jitterbug, which in translation from the southern slang meant "alcoholic delirium".

The jitterbug did not have precise instructions and specifications. As a rule, the dance was performed by two people to live perky music and the laughter of tipsy spectators. The dancers were shaking, spinning around each other, sharply throwing their arms and legs to the side. A woman could suddenly jump on a man and wrap her legs around him. A man could lift a woman to a height and try to keep her balance. Splits, somersaults, jumps and any other movements that in a sober state would not even come to mind were welcomed.

With rare exceptions, the jitterbug ended in curious and unexpected falls caused by the loss of balance. This was the main reason for the popularity of the dance. Tipsy and high-spirited patrons of bars, taverns, cabarets and nightclubs died of laughter when a lady flew into the bar or when her partner got tangled in his legs and fell to the floor with a roar.

Sometimes the jitterbug was performed by 20-30 people at once. In this case, the dance floor turned into a real battlefield. People collided with each other, fell, received injuries of varying severity - from bruises to open fractures. Often a large pile of human bodies formed on the floor. Someone laughed with all their might, someone groaned in pain.

There has always been a rule among jitterbug lovers: collisions and sudden movements on the dance floor should not provoke fights. If someone began to behave aggressively, then he was "disqualified" for life.

People went to dance and knew perfectly well how a chaotic release of energy could end.

Between 1935 and 1945, more than a thousand "victims" of the jitterbug sought medical attention daily. Researchers believe that the real number of victims is several times higher, since many victims traveled home on their own, and then rested for several days.

The exact number of deaths due to the jitterbug is unknown, but newspapers from time to time wrote about "another death as a result of alcohol dancing."

Most of these were in Boston and New York.

Founded in 1946, CDC has been fighting jitterbugs almost from day one. The dance began to be associated with drunkenness and recklessness. What annoyed the most conservative CDC executives was the jitterbug-popularizing song. It began with these words:0003

If you want to dance the jitterbug

First you have to drink a little

Mix whiskey, gin and wine in your stomach

Get on stage and let's dance

The jitterbug "died" in the late 1940s. The generation of his biggest fans has grown old. Drinking establishments began to buy black-and-white televisions for customers. Alcohol culture has moved from the stage of unbridled fun to the stage of intimate conversations.

In 1950, the CDC officially declared the "death of the jitterbug". Then no one could even imagine that interest in dance would return almost 70 years later.

Today there is a huge interest in dance from 21-40-year-old Americans. Black and white jitterbug videos dating back to the 1940s and uploaded to YouTube a few years ago now get tens and even hundreds of thousands of views. So, one of the entries in the period from 2014 to 2018 was watched by only 12 people, and in 2019year - more than 200 thousand.

"We thought we had completely eradicated the jitterbug, but unfortunately dance is back and it's a cause for concern," CDC spokeswoman Rebecca Lior said. "Young people are putting themselves at considerable risk."

According to Lior, the most common injuries after dancing are sprained and bruised toes. People leave the dance floor limping, and after a while the pain intensifies. X-ray shows a microcrack or dislocation.

At the same time, numerous Internet commentators did not see anything dangerous in the news about the return of the jitterbug. Some even rejoiced at the new entertainment and stressed that any physical activity is better than chatting on social networks on a smartphone.

“When I see a young couple ordering a glass of wine and then staring at their phones, it seems to me that the jitterbug is the best invention of American alcohol culture,” one user remarked. “Seven decades ago, people knew how to really have fun. When it comes to health risks, extreme recreation should always be a little dangerous."

Internet users also noted that the CDC warning about the dangers of jitterbug was a good advertisement. Millions of people who had never heard of this phenomenon from the 1930s and 1940s immediately began to explore an unusual way of relaxing.

Vadim Dymarsky

History of swing - break dance school discovered Charleston and Lindy Hop.

On March 26, 1926, the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors in New York. It became an immediate success with a block-long dance floor and a raised double bandstand. The night dances attracted most of the best dancers in and around New York. Featuring the best dancers and the best black bands, the music at the Savoy is heavily swing jazz. One evening in 1926, after Charles Lindbergh flew to Paris, local dance enthusiast "Shorty George" Snowden watched the dancing couples. A newspaper reporter asked him what kind of dance they had. It so happened that on the bench next to them lay a newspaper with an article about Lindbergh's flight. The headline read "Lindy Hops The Atlantic" (Lindy Hops the Atlantic), George caught his eye and he said "Lindy Hop". That's how the name stuck.
In the mid-30s, a peppy, galloping version of the six-count Lindy emerged. It became known as jitterbug (jitterbug). Cab Calloway is credited with the name when the "Jitterbug" theme appeared in his orchestra's repertoire in 1934. With the advent of Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, communities began to dance to modern jazz and swing as it developed at the time, with Benny Goodman spearheading the impact. The dancers soon incorporated tap and jazz movements into their dance.
In the mid-1930s, Herbert White, head bouncer at the Savoy, formed the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers dance troupe. One of the most important members of the troupe was Frankie Manning. Hoppers have been featured in the following films: "A Day at the Races" (1937), "Hellzapoppin" (1941), "Sugar Hill Masquerade" (1942) and "Killer Diller" (1948). In 1938, the dance competition "Harvest Moon Ball" for the first time included Lindy Hop and jitterbug in the competition program. They were filmed and presented nationwide in newsreels at the Pathé, Paramount and Universal cinemas between 1938 and 1951.
In early 1938, Dean Collins arrived in Hollywood. He learned to dance the Lindy Hop, jitterbug and swing in New York and spent a lot of time in Harlem and at the Savoy. Between 1941 and 1960, Collins danced himself and helped choreograph dance routines for over 100 motion pictures. Today we can judge this by watching 30 second clips of California's top white dancers performing Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy and Swing.
In the late 1930s and 1940s, the media used the terms lindy hop, jitterbug, lindy, and swing and interchanged them to describe the same styles of dancing that took place on the streets, in nightclubs, at competitions, and in movies. By the end of 19At the age of 36, the Lindi took over the United States. As might be expected, the first reaction to the lindy from most dance instructors was a cool negative. In 1936, Philip Nuttle, president of the American Society of Dance Teachers, expressed the opinion that swing would not survive the winter. In 1938 Donald Grant, president of the Dance Teachers' Business Association, said that swing music "is a degenerate form of jazz whose adherents — the unfortunate victims of economic instability. ” In 1942, members of the New York Society of Dance Teachers were told that the jitterbug (a direct descendant of the Lindy) could no longer be ignored.0066 Dance schools like the New York Society of Teachers and Arthur Murray didn't officially start documenting or teaching Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy and Swing until the early 40's. Ballroom dancers were more interested in learning foreign dances, such as Argentine tango, Spanish paso doble, Brazilian samba, Puerto Rican merengue, Cuban mambo and cha-cha-cha, English quickstep, Austrian waltz and, occasionally, American foxtrot and peabody.
In the early 1940s, Arthur Murray's dance studio enthusiasts looked at what was happening on the dance floors in the cities and sent their teachers to teach what they were dancing. Thus, Arthur Murray's studios taught different styles of undocumented swing in many cities.
In the early 40s, Laura Haile, being a swing dancer and sportswoman, recorded what she saw at the dances of the white community. At the time, Southern California nightclubs and competitions were led by Dean Collins with Lenny Smith and Lou Southern. Laura Hale gave their style the name Western Swing. She began teaching at Arthur Murray's studios in 1945. Dean Collins coached Arthur Murry's teachers in Hollywood and San Francisco in the late 40's and early 50's.
After the war, soldiers and sailors returned from abroad and continued to dance at their military bases and beyond. The jitterbug was danced to country music in country bars and popularized in the 80s.
While between the 20s and 90s the music changed (jazz, swing, bop, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, beat, disco, country), lindy hop, jitterbug, lindy and swing have branched out in the US into many regional styles. The late 1940s highlighted many dances that developed from rhythm and blues: Houston push (push) and Dallas whip (whip), imperial swing (in St. Louis), Washington hand dance (D.C. hand dancing) and Carolina shag (shag) — and these are just a few.
Laura Hale first published her dance notes as a western swing program in 1951 for the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Santa Monica. In the 1950s, she presented this program throughout America in masterclasses sponsored by the Arthur Murray Studios. For the past 45 years, Laura Hale's "Original Western Swing Program" has been taught by Arthur Murray's studios with minor revisions.
From the mid-1940s to this day, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Lindy and Swing have been disassembled and refined in detail by ballroom dance instructors to adapt dance elements to the general public - maybe more clumsy, but paid for the lessons. As a result, ballroom dancing studios developed and developed "East Coast Ballroom Swing" and "West Coast Ballroom Swing".
In the late 1950s, television brought American Bandstand, The Buddy Dean Show, and other programs to teenage viewers. Teenagers danced rock and roll with Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry at the forefront of the attack, although in reality they were Slightly altered swing, lindy and jitterbug steps. In 1959, some of the dance communities in California, where Skippy's studio set the tone Blair (Skippy Blair), changed the name of Western swing to West coast swing (West Coast Swing), so there was no confusion with dancing in the style of country and western.
At the end of the 20th century, 60-year-old dancers twitch their feet to the sounds of shag, jitterbug, lindy and swing.

Leader - partner
Follower Partner

1. Savoy Swing: A style of swing popular at New York's Savoy Ballroom in 30-40 years, originally performed under swing music. Savoy swing very fast, bouncy, sloppy dance style

2. Lindy (Lindy): more ennobled style.

3. West Coast Swing: An agile style that was popular in California clubs in the 1930s and 40s. According to a population survey in 1989, it was recognized as a dance of the state of California.

4. Whip (Whip): a style popular in Houston, Texas, emphasizing the partner's rotation movements between dance positions with a swinging rhythm break (wave rhythm break).

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