Lindy Turn Styling

The description of the Lindy Turn in the previous section only included a couple of pieces of stylistic advice, focusing on details that are likely to cause awkwardness in social dancing:

  • If the partners are side by side at beat 4, this makes many Lindy Turn Variations much harder to perform.
  • Keeping closer together at beats 7&8 allows the dancers to react more quickly, which is particularly useful with crowded floors or fast music.

There are many other style points for the Lindy Turn, but they are not universal—preferences may vary from region to region, dancer to dancer.

  • Circular or linear: In some styles (typically Savoy style), the dancers travel a roughly circular path around each other during the move. For other styles (such as Hollywood style or West Coast Swing) the follower moves in more of a straight line across the dance floor.
  • Exit forwards or backwards: Some dancers prefer the follower to move away from the leader while facing away from him, during the second half of the move (and so the follower delays her turn 180° right to face the leader until right at the end of the move, at beat 8). Others prefer that the follower should turn to face the leader earlier, on beat 6 of the move (this is the variant described in the previous section).
  • Cross in front or behind: For dancers who prefer that the follower exits the move backwards, there are two possibilities for the follower's step on beat 6 as she turns back to face her partner—crossing her right foot either in front of her left foot, or behind it (both of these were mentioned in the previous section).
  • Twist step or rock step: In some classes, the follower's steps on beats 1 and 2 are given as a rock step (mirroring the leader) rather than two twist steps (as described in the previous section). On one hand, this variation of the footwork means that the follower has further to travel on beats 3&4, because the twist steps reduce the gap between the partners, whereas a rock step does not. On the other hand, this approach emphasizes the ubiquity of the familiar rock step as punctuation throughout the dance.
  • Bent posture or upright: Some teachers prefer a style where the leader adopts a posture bent forwards at the waist, which is sometimes in order to more closely mimic the style of classic clips from early movies featuring Lindy Hop.

Savoy Style and Hollywood Style

The main division of styles in Lindy Hop is between "Savoy style" and "Hollywood style". Savoy style corresponds more closely to the original style of Lindy Hop danced in the 1930's, and is the focus of this book; Hollywood style is slightly more modern and has closer similarities with West Coast Swing.

The stylistic features that are common in Savoy style Lindy Hop are that

  • the Lindy Turn tends to be more circular than linear
  • the dancers tend to keep their weight forward on the balls of their feet
  • the dancers may have a more bent posture.

In contrast, for Hollywood style Lindy Hop

  • the Lindy Turn travels on more of a straight line
  • the dancers have a more upright posture
  • the dancers lean back more against the connection with their partner.

Differing Styles in Practice

Because the Lindy Turn is such a core component of Lindy Hop, it is common for teachers to focus on styling details for this particular move. The intent is that if a beginner dancer learns good styling for this central move, this will improve their styling for all of the other moves of the dance (whether directly or indirectly related to the Lindy Turn).

As described in the introduction, this book generally avoids much discussion of style—partly because of the difficulty in conveying it in a static text, and partly because of the potential for controversy that questions of style raise.

Some Lindy Hop teachers are very emphatic about teaching the "correct" or "authentic" styling when they teach the Lindy Turn. This increases the burden of things for beginning dancers to worry about, but is often worthwhile to prevent bad habits from being acquired early in a dancer's career.

More problematic is the fact that dance teachers can often directly contradict each other's pronouncements on the one true style for the Lindy Turn. This increases the confusion levels of learning dancers, and is likely to encourage balkanization of the swing dance community.

This book focuses on social dancing, where the majority of the style variations discussed above are much less relevant. As long as both partners are comfortable and end up in roughly the right place at the right time, then social dancing can still go on—and in fact a leader from one style can usually still lead a follower from a different style.