Jive is a dance style which is influenced by many dance styles, including Lindy Hop, swing, boogie-woogie, B-bop, Le Pop, Rock ‘n Roll, Hustle, Hollywood style, West Coast Swing, Shag, Push, Whip, Jitterbug, Disco and more. The word Jive itself means swing music or early jazz. the jargon associated with swing music and early jazz. Slang. deceptive, exaggerated, or meaningless talk
Rock ‘n’ Roll
The immediate roots of rock and roll lay in the rhythm and blues, then called “race music”, and country music of the 1940s and 1950s. Particularly significant influences were jazz, blues, gospel, country, and folk.
What does “Rock n roll” meant to mean: From rock (move back and forth) + and + roll; originally a verb phrase common among African Americans, meaning “to have sexual intercourse”; it was a euphemism that appeared in song titles since at least 1914 (Trixie Smith’s “My Man Rocks Me With One Steady Roll”).
Known as the creator of Rock n roll Chuck Berry born October 18, 1926 in St. Louis Missouri USA. Chuck Berry’s successful career started when he started to work with the Chess recorder. He targeted his music to white teenage in America and his use of the guitar and his lyrics that engaged young Americans made his music unique at that time. Initially radio stations and people didn’t realise he was black and some stations removed his music once they found out.
Linday Hop was born in 1920’s -1930’s from Harlem, New York. Styles that preceded Lindy Hop were Charleston, Tap and early versions of the foxtrot.
This dance was a cultural delight in that barriers of white & black people danced together (although this was not always permitted and often needed to be subtle as times changed in Harlem with greater segregation).
World War 2 was pivotal in bringing us the Lindy Hop with the American GI’s observing styles that would be later developed to Lindy Hop.
The style is thought to be from “blacks” were imitating the formal dancing of “whites” but then “whites” then copied these movements creating a further development of the style.
The joint appreciation and blending of the cultures dancing Lindy together came from the interactions at The Savoy, 141st Street and Lenox Ave, Harlem NY.
The story of Swing is often thought to be about poverty, crime & sex but it’s about race. It was born in 1920, where New York is at the heat of musical and human segregation. Paul Whiteman is credited as the first “organized” bandleader. His smooth big band helped people forget about World War 1. Louis Armstrong, another important figure to the development of Swing giving the improvisation to jazz music in New Orleans & Chicago in the 1920’s, which was the melting pot of music and improvisation and expression.
1924 Louis Armstrong teamed up with Fletcher Henderson and the fusion of these artists came the creation of SWING! Swing band dynamic of written music and improvisation creating a magical fusion of music. Harlem was an area where black people felt free especially in the 1920’s , this time was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington when he heard Fletcher Henderson’s music, he knew that Swing was the perfect framework for his refined style of music. Duke Ellington was thought of one of the best composers as he was extremely skilled in fusing refined music and jazz. Some of his band members stayed together for 45years!! The Savoy Ballroom was for Black & White guests (mainly black) but The Cotton Club was for white guests only but with Black performers.
1929 Stock market crash started the great American Depression until 1939. Which directly effected the number of bands and musicians that could continue to work. Fletcher Henderson during this time was desperate for money and started selling his arrangements, selling some to Benny Goodman. Fletcher Henderson (black musician) arrangements played by Benny Goodman (white, Jewish, low economic status musician) became the “Elvis Presley of Swing”. Palomar Ballroom (largest dance hall in West Coast) is where Benny Goodman had great success, 1935. Count Basie performed in Carnegie Hall 23/12/1938 in the jam session part of the performance with Benny Goodman “Spirituals to Swing”.
1930’s the new generation of extraordinary singers such as Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee & Ella Fitzgerald were incorporated into the Swing bands. This was new as most bandleaders didn’t enjoy having the singers disturbing the flow of the music.
Glen Miller in 1942 dismantled his band and joined the army orchestra to perform over 800 performances to give the soldiers hope with his music. His plane disappeared in 1944. The Nazi were listening to the American music and tried to ban the music but could not as it had become too popular.
After World War 2 Swing music in America was becoming less popular and Rock ‘n’ Roll was becoming more popular however in Britain Swing was becoming very popular. Big Bands were becoming too expensive after the second world war. The Swing singers became more popular after the War, such as Frank Sinatra.
Swing eventually became popular in Hollywood movies such as “When Harry met Sally”. Now Michael Buble & Robbie Williams have made Swing music popular.
West coast Swing – This is a style evolved from Lindy Hop. Dean Collins 1930’s from New York to LA and bringing Lindy Hop to LA. In 1949 the mention of “Western Swing” first appeared in the Arthur Murray dance manual. 1959 Country and Western and Western Swing were getting confused to being related and causing the name “West Coast Swing” to be used for the style of dance. “The slot” term is a track that dancers would dance in for floor craft and crowd control. Characterised a smooth style of movement from the 1990’s. As the dance evolves the influence of Zouk is more noticeable in characterisation and style. The iconic steps in West Coast Swing includes “sugar foot”, “breakaway”, “sugar push”, “Texas tommy”, “anchoring” (counterbalance in the back rock). East Coast Swing has many similarities to the Ballroom dance Jive where West Coast Swing is more linear and smoother.
Jive was first demonstrated by Cab Calloway in 1934. It caught on in the United States in the 1940s and was influenced by the Boogie, Rock & Roll, African/American Swing, and Lindy hop.
Born on December 25, 1907, in Rochester, New York, Cab Calloway’s charm and vibrancy helped him become a noted singer and bandleader. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he first started singing, and where his lifelong love of visiting racetracks took hold. As a child he shined shoes, picked tomato’s and did many jobs to pay for his education. His older sister (by5 years) Blanche Calloway was a highly energetic jazz performer who was know for combining her music and dance in her performances.
Louis Armstrong was a role model for Cab. Because of Louis Armstrong suggesting Cab to join a Broadway show he started working in Broadway but then decided to leave the show to continue as a Bandleader in the Missourians. Then started his own Band in the Cotton Club and became famous due to his record “Minnie the Moocher“ and he became known as the “hi-de-ho” man. He was preforming and forgot the lyrics and started using “hi-de-do” and it was such a success he needed a theme to create a song around that
Plantation Days was Cab’s first big break in an all Black musical. He was great at interacting with the audience and a charismatic dancer. His dancing was used in some of the first cartoons as an animated character (Betty Boop “St James Infirmary Blues”). He was brilliant at “call and response” with audiences, not the creator of this type of interaction but a great part of his performances.
When we discuss Jive we need to acknowledge the styles that influence the dance we see today in Latin & Ballroom competitions or on television on Dancing With The Stars or So You Think You Can Dance.
The styles of dance come from the music and the influences of the music in terms of tempo, band composition, the culture and what is in style in that era.
Further exploration into what the steps are called in each style and who and how they were created.
You can find more information about the styles mentioned in this posts from these resources
- History of Rock and Roll: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UiOxEBMQ3A
- History of Lindy Hop: http://www.lindycircle.com/history/lindy_hop/
- Black history spotlight: Lindy Hop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgRS1batAWU
- The Spirit moves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjguncQiw70
- The swing thing documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anob9IMBE70
- The History of West Coast Swing: http://Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8itxUb_BtU