The Often-Erased Black Roots Of Jazz And Swing

Four Black dancers lindy hopping
Abeni Jones
January 6, 2020

Swing music was a novel, popular offshoot of jazz - which Black Americans invented - and the Lindy Hop was its most iconic accompanying dance.

Like jazz, swing music is special, mostly because of the way it balances orchestration and improvisation. There’s a core arrangement, and then each individual musician goes off to make their part unique.

The Lindy was a perfect example of this, especially since it’s a partnered dance, giving both dancers ample space to feed off of each other.

There’s also evidence that it started as a spoof of white people’s boring, choreographed dances!

Black Americans have always excelled at improvisation - the Cakewalk, Charleston, and even more modern Black dance forms like breakdancing and vogue are based around it.

That goes back to our history - freedom and boundlessness have always been a core aspect of our culture. Others - particularly whites - have always envied this, which is why they keep erasing and even stealing things that we create!

Today, jazz and swing are often associated with white culture - even though WE were the ones who invented them! Many websites about the history of swing and even the Lindy Hop make no mention of our people at all.

We have to remember and spread our history to prevent our contributions from being erased!

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: