© 2019 by RROCA-NSW

1920's Dances

Once the 1920s became the Jazz Age, a term coined by 1920s-era author F. Scott Fitzgerald, public dance halls and clubs started opening in larger cities. Many of the dance styles were seen as almost scandalous by people of the older generations because the male and female dance partners were moving quickly and touching one another in ways deemed inappropriate.


The Foxtrot, which was originally known as the Turkey Trot, involved hopping side steps and scissor-like actions with the feet. The Charleston, named for the city in South Carolina, involved fast kicking of the feet. Some Charleston dancers even wore tap shoes. The Shimmy involved shaking the shoulders back and forth and leaning forward and backward to the music.


Other dances incorporated partners. The Tango originated in Argentina and Uruguay, but also had a lot of African influence. In the Tango, dancers were close together and glided across the floor. The Waltz also featured partners, but this time they danced, holding hands, in a box-like formation. Both the Tango and Waltz have several variations to them.


One of the more popular dances of the 1920s, which was still seen on dance floors into the 1950s, was the Lindy Hop, which later became known as the Jitterbug. The Lindy Hop was the original swing dance. Big band orchestras, like the Glenn Miller Orchestra, would cater the music to the movements of the swing dancers. Swing dancing involved bold movements and often the male partner sweeping the female dancer off the floor.