Read Lindy Hop in Harlem: The Role of Social Dancing to discover how dancing reflected Harlem's social climate.


Lindy Hop (originated 1928)




The Kennedy Center
Marco Polo
This resource was created in March 2003 by ARTSEDGE. All rights reserved.
ARTSEDGE is a project of the Education Department of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
and is a member of the MarcoPolo Partnership
Watch Earl Tucker dance the Lindy Hop in "Symphony in Black."

Find a party in Harlem in the late 1920s and you were likely to find people dancing the Lindy Hop there. The new dance evolved from the Charleston, but it also incorporated moves from earlier dances such as the Texas Tommy and the Cakewalk. As a highly improvisational dance style—jazz for the legs and feet—the Lindy Hop invited individuals to tailor the basic steps to reflect their personalities, preferences, and cultures.

"Shorty George" Snowden is credited with naming the Lindy Hop at a New York City dance marathon in 1928. A newspaper reporter saw Snowden break away from his partner, legend has it, and improvise a few intricate steps. Asked to identify the move, Snowden replied, "The Lindy Hop." Some scholars have suggested that the name honors Charles Lindbergh's history-making solo flight, or "hop," across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21 of the previous year.

After taking Harlem by storm, the dance craze was introduced to the masses in the 1937 Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races. From there the Lindy Hop (often dubbed "swing" today) exploded onto the world scene, dominating dance halls and nightclubs around the globe throughout the 1930s and 1940s.



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Herbert "Whitey" White started a dance group who do the Lindy Hop.
The Lindy Hop originated at the Savoy Ballroom.
Savoy Lindy Hoppers danced to the sounds of Chick Webb's band.
"Shorty George" Snowden is credited with naming and popularizing the dance.
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