Music for dancing

Dance Music

Jazz was born in the late 1920s, and swung on into the 1950s. That's a lot of music - at least 30 years worth.

Where to start?

Many new dancers find contemporary bands recreating historic music the most accessible.

Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis 'Live In Swing City: Swingin' With Duke' – (1999, Sony)' is a great first purchase.

Or you might go straight to the original music with this collection of classic swing era big band music: 'An Anthology of Big Band Swing 1930-1955' (1993, Decca).

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Jazz Era


Lindy hop and swing music have their roots in the late 1920s, and many 1920s dances are popular with swing dancers around the world today. The 1920s saw the rise of big bands, yet the most exciting music of the era was played by small bands.

1920s solo dances and partner dances (like charleston and black bottom, and the earliest lindy hop) suit Jazz Era (1920s) recordings.

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Swing Era

1930s - 1940s

Swinging jazz was the popular music of the 30s and 40s. Young lindy hoppers of Harlem like the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, would go out to dance to big bands in ballrooms every night. But dancers would also be dancing to smaller bands in bars and at house parties.

Swing era music feels best for lindy hop and for swing era solo dances.

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Modern Swing Era

1950s - 1960s

Though rock and roll was sweeping the world, jazz was still healthy in the 50s and 60s. Big Bands like Basie's and Ellington's were still playing to packed theatres, and smaller combos were exploring newer, groovier styles.

Frankie Manning was a big fan of swinging out to big and small bands of the Modern Era (1950s and 60s).

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Contemporary Swing (2000s)

There are many bands playing great jazz today, recreating historic styles, or composing their own songs.

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Modern Swing Era (1950s-60s)

Hi-fi, high-fun, swinging jazz that sits right in the pocket.

Basie - Armstrong - Fitzgerald - Peterson

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Swing Era (1940s)

Swinging jazz at the height of its popularity, with jump blues beginning to make its presence felt.

Hampton - Calloway - Millinder - Barnet

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Swing Era (1930s)

Jazz goes mainstream, and becomes insanely popular with its swinging rhythms and biiiig bands.

Basie - Webb - Lunceford - Goodman

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Jazz Era (1920s)

Hot jazz and the blues sit side by side in popular music, and the public leap to their feet.

Armstrong - Morton - Beiderbecke - Henderson