If most people think of a 1920s dance, they think of the Charleston. In my dance classes I teach the Charleston, with it’s high leg kicks, fast swivelling feet, knock knees and comical, clownish elements. There’s plenty of fun and fast dancing to be had with the Charleston alone. But there were many other 1920s dance styles too. These incorporate well with the Charleston. There’s the shimmy, the snake hips, the Black Bottom. What I like about it is that there’s such a scope for improvising, showing off, and for creating your own variations on moves.
Bea Jackson, once World Charleston Dance Champion
The Charleston was an African American dance, that really took off all over America and Europe in the twenties, becoming popular in nightclubs and dance halls. Here in England, even the Prince of Wales was a really keen Charleston dancer. Some historians think it goes back as far as 1520 when a dance called the Branle, danced by the Ash Ante peoples of Africa had a similar sequence of steps. Out of the Charleston developed the Lindy Hop, then Swing, Jitterbug and Jive, then rock and roll.