AS much as you think Lindy Hop is trapped in an American time warp some seven decades ago, it is not the case anymore as this genre of swing dance is buzzing up the scene in South East Asia. Last weekend, South East Asian swing dancers gathered here in Kuala Lumpur for SEAJam, a swing dance camp featuring international swing instructors that included US television hit, So You Think You Can Dance season three finalists, Michael Jagger and Evita Arce, 80-year-old spectacular tap dancer, Chazz Young and also rising stars of the Korean swing community, Soochan Lee and Hyunjung Choi.

Jitterbug, a type of dance associated with various types of swing dances such as Lindy Hop, Charleston and Jive originated in the early20th century in the US. Lindy Hop, in particular, was born in the ballrooms of Harlem, New York and the music that evolved with the dance was jazz music of the 1920s and 1930s.


Today, Lindy Hop is danced all around the world in thriving communities and can be found in almost every country in the world including Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

“I am impressed with the level of dancers here. I am sure that given a time frame of three years, they would be able to compete with dancers in America,”said dance celebrity Evita Arce, who is based in New York.

Compared to other genre of dances, Lindy Hop is all about seizing the moment and having fun with your dance partner.

Sun Chunyang, 22, from China, was told that dance was not her cup of tea when she was younger by her Chinese fan dance teacher. More than 10 years later, she is a Lindy Hopper that travels to swing festivals and social dances worldwide.

“Lindy Hop is so different, it doesn’t require much talent. You can be silly and that’s the whole point of it!” said Sun, who is now in her fifth year of swing dancing.

During the day, classes were held at two levels, intermediate and advanced at the Annexe Gallery in Central Market, Kuala Lumpur and the instructors took turns sharing their experiences and teaching their form of variations to the students.

Lee and Choi held a class entitled ‘Lindy Gangnam Style’ while Young taught the Lindy Hoppers a tap time step.

Young who was not in his best condition pulled off four classes on top of performing during the party that was held on Friday night did not look like he was sick.

“I just want to make the people around me happy and that is the essence of Lindy Hop. I don’t mind passing out on the floor but I just want my students to make the most out of my classes and enjoy it.” said Young, who is the son of legendary Frankie Manning, father of Lindy Hop.


“The classes were really helpful and the instructors were very good.” said 21-year-old Shourav Yathindranath from India who learned to swing dance at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

According to accountant Joanne Khoo, 29, of Malaysia, the American instructors were very technical and they explained the anatomy of movements detailing to the amount of force put in certain moves whereas the Korean instructors expressed themselves with more action.

As all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, there was social dancing at night for students to practise their moves among themselves and to gain the experience of dancing with different partners.

“The people here have high energy levels and they are very willing to dance and that is the most important as that is the spirit of Lindy Hop!” commented Lee, who has been dancing Lindy Hop for 11 years and is now a full-time professional dancer.

For Choi, who co-taught a class with Jagger and Young, she had a good time teaching the students while exchanging ideas with the other instructors.

“The class was fun. The other instructors were also very easy to work with and I would want to come here again to teach and dance.” added Choi who used to do salsa but eventually found her calling for Lindy Hop eight years ago.


Tell us what you think!

Go top