Swing dancing in Hawaii

By Laura Jolly

swing danceHidden among the many treasures of Hawai'i is the little-known swing dance scene. Whether you are new to the islands or kama‘āina, the fun and engaging atmosphere is worth checking out. From high school and college students to retirees, the diverse atmosphere welcomes newcomers of all backgrounds. Hawai'i Jitterbugs puts on two dances every week, with each dance displaying a mixture of lindy hop, Balboa and blues.

Don't worry about not knowing anything - each dance features a free beginner lesson, which you can take as many times as you like. There are also beginning classes offered regularly, usually in six-week series. Then try your feet out on the dance floor; the friendly atmosphere makes it easy to learn and make new friends. Even the most experienced dancers welcome newcomers to dance with them.

You don't need to come with a partner, but you're welcome to bring as many friends as you like. Everyone dances with each other, which is what makes it such a great way to meet new people.

Some swing history

Swing dancing in the the United States comes in many forms. The lindy hop, a member of the swing-dance family, developed in New York City in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It is a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston, mixing African-American dance styles with the eight-count structure of European dances.

Balboa, named after the Balboa Peninsula, developed in Southern California during the 1920s to adapt to the lack of space on the dance floor. Balboa dancers stand much closer together, touching from the hip to upper chest. The dance involves less movement, but a lot of fancy footwork.

Much like lindy hop, blues dancing originated from African-American dance styles. Blues dancing became popular in the 1920s as blues music, particularly jazz, was on the rise. As a passionate dance, blues invokes emotions.

More information

For more information on the weekly dances, classes or swing dancing, visit or e-mail

Swing Ong King
Thursdays, 8 to 11 p.m.
Ong King Art Center
184 N. King St.
Downtown Honolulu/Chinatown
Cover charge: $5
Located in the heart of Chinatown in downtown Honolulu, The Ong King Art Center has a fast dance floor, a fun, quirky ambiance, and you can bring your own drinks (including alchohol). It's air conditioned and has a small outdoor area for hanging out. Street parking is free at night, or there are several parking garages in the area.

Aloha Swing
Every Saturday, 8 to 11 p.m.
Aloha Activity Center
725 Kapi‘olani Blvd., suite C101
Honolulu, HI 96813
Cover charge: $5
Hardwood floors, A/C, and validated parking in the garage.


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