Blues dancing is a family of historical dances that developed alongside and were danced to blues music, or the contemporary dances that are danced in that aesthetic.
Blues Music and History
The modern blues dance community is fairly new and largely grew out of the Lindy hop dance community. However, the music and dance have a much longer history; blues originated from Black American communities. Understanding and appreciating this history and culture helps us honor the music, the dances, and the communities that gave rise to both. It can be tricky to appreciate someone else’s culture without appropriating it; to read more about this in the modern blues world read this blog post by Damon Stone.
Blues music was influenced by negro spirituals and work songs, which were in turn influenced by African music and rhythms. Blues music also predates jazz music which rose after the American civil war.
There are a myriad of sub-genres within blues music (e.g. Mississippi delta, Chicago, Piedmont), if you want to dive into blues music, go to allmusic.com.
Blues music arose from slave communities and slave traditions, in response to Jim Crow era laws and segregation. The music provided an outlet and social commentary of the everyday lives of the musicians and people of the time. The music encompasses a wide range of emotions such as loss, sorrow, joy, and longing.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of blues music, blues dancing, and the black culture behind both of these things, then these books are a great place to start:
Jookin’ by Katrina Hazzard-Gordon
Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Stearns
Stomping the Blues by Albert Murray
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