Boogie-Woogie (dance)

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Boogie woogie
Technology: Latin (unofficial)
Type: Couple dance , ballroom dancing , ballroom dancing
Music: Swing , big band , boogie-woogie
Time signature : 4/4 time
Tempo: 32-52 TPM
Origin: United States
Creation time: Late 1920s
List of dances

Boogie-Woogie is a ballroom and tournament dance from the swing dance family that is danced in pairs .

The story of boogie-woogie

Boogie-woogie belongs to the swing dance family . It originated in the USA in the 1920s from the East Coast Swing , a simplified dance derivative of the Lindy Hop of the 1930s, which emerged from black roots in the late 1920s . The use of the term “boogie-woogie” for dance remains limited to Europe.

East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop combined a basic structure of dance steps, which were put together again and again into newly invented and modified dance figures, with acrobatic elements. The sources are poor. It is mainly based on memoirs and a few film documents. This is based on the assumption that hours of dancing pleasure and continuous dance competitions in the 1930s and 1940s helped dancers invent new figures. American soldiers brought this dance to Europe after the Second World War, where the youth discovered it for themselves. Due to the immorality felt in line with the zeitgeist of the time and the social ostracism experienced largely because of its black roots, dance teachers initially largely refused to teach this dance in their schools after the war. It was banished to the back rooms of the dance schools as well as to the milk bars and dance bars with a jukebox and spread through copying and experimentation. The fact that the dance of the youth was largely suppressed from the public only came to an end when the film Out of Edge and Band came to German cinemas in 1956 and, as it were, opened "valves".

Since it was not possible to permanently withdraw from the youth's interest in this dance, the Afro-American swing dance was adapted to European “tastes” by European dance teachers. In contrast to the original dances, the Boogie-Woogie in dance schools and clubs is therefore more upright, more compact and often taught and danced in clearly defined lines. Items considered objectionable were not conveyed. The "Europeanization" of swing dance continued under the influence of dance schools with jive and rock 'n' roll . Berlin was a stronghold for boogie-woogie in the 1950s.

Boogie-woogie is not danced exclusively to boogie-woogie music , as one would expect , but rather to rock 'n' roll , rockabilly , rock , jump blues and swing due to the related musical elements . Dance is inextricably linked with the swing music on which it is based, its changes and the influences that affect it. Strong influences came from the black roots Rhythm & Blues of the 1940s and 1950s. A prerequisite for the sustainable success of the dance and for its further development was the stimulating effect emanating from the music. Swing was the "pop music" of that time, it was popular with young and old since the late 1920s, in the 1930s and after the Second World War. If the older generation found it to be too “wild”, they made do with speaking of “jazz music”. This was more socially accepted than "Hottentot or Negro music " which was too loud and supposedly endangering good order and morals .

The name of the dance in post-war Europe changed: While until the mid-1950s, in addition to the term “jitterbug”, “boogie-woogie” was common, at the end of the 1950s the term “rock 'n' roll” came up, a name , which the media and young people of the time helped to shape: movies, newspaper articles and soldiers' channels brought this term more and more into circulation from 1956 onwards. It was connected to the music of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, which was recently emerging from the USA, and who contributed to making the music, which was originally based on Afro-American roots, socially acceptable. The success is z. Partly to be explained by the fact that music and dance were an expression of the youth protest against the generation of their parents. After this movement died down in the twist and the emerging beat of the 1960s, "rock 'n' roll" experienced a rebirth in the 1970s: Along with music, dance was rediscovered and has since spread through dance schools and sports clubs. In the developing dance tournament, a quick distinction was made between “rock 'n' roll” and “boogie-woogie” in order to avoid confusion between acrobatic sport rock-'n'-roll and “boogie-woogie”, which was initially taught without acrobatics. The regulations for national and international competitions, which are important for judging courts and which have been regularly adapted, did not prevent the original forms of dance and dancers from being rediscovered from then, which has contributed to its current form. In addition to the schooled and valued dancing, there is still a folk expression of Boogie-Woogie with numerous worldwide different variations that have always adhered to it. Due to the changed zeitgeist, music and dance are no longer subject to the original social ostracism that they experienced as an expression of a youthful sub-culture during the Nazi dictatorship and in the 1950s.

Boogie-Woogie as a tournament dance

In modern boogie-woogie, emphasis is placed on clean and clear footwork, which often involves more than one step per count. A good dancer is characterized by making more than 200 steps per minute look playful and easy.

Starting classes
  • Junior class (Juniors): up to and including 17 years
  • Main class: Couples who start neither in the junior nor the senior class have to start in the main class.
  • Oldie or Seniors: One dance partner must be at least 35 years old, the other at least 40 years old.
  • Formation: four couples (quartet class) or four to eight couples (master class), no age limit

The couples are no longer allowed to dance in two classes. According to the old rules, dancers under the age of 18 were allowed to start in the main class in addition to the junior class. Oldie class dancers were also allowed to start in the main class. The highest demands are placed on the couples in the (main) main class. Every applicant is allowed to start in the main class, but candidates who are assigned to the main class by age can only start in this class.

In some countries there is the so-called show class , in which all age groups can start with a choreography (formation) that has been rehearsed in advance.

In Germany the tournaments are organized by the German Rock 'n' Roll and Boogie-Woogie Association e. V. (DRBV) coordinated.

Compared to rock 'n' roll (dance)

The rock 'n' roll dance developed from the boogie-woogie dance that preceded it. The main difference to rock 'n' roll is that the original boogie-woogie was not a program that was rehearsed in advance, but rather was danced freely to the music. Therefore, Boogie-Woogie was and is danced in dance halls, while rock 'n' roll is reserved for tournament dancing. In boogie-woogie in its original form, less acrobatic figures such as B. danced somersaults , rotation or lifting figures. Boogie-Woogie as a current show or tournament dance “dances” the fundamental musical components from the “swing” and the “blues” that shape the music and creates matching choreographies. In addition to the couple dance, formations made up of several dance couples or single dancers also encounter.

Boogie-Woogie is usually danced to rock'n'roll and swing music of the 1950s / 1960s or current music of this genre, with the emphasis on the 2nd and 4th beat because of the underlying music, which is musically called so-called " backbeat ". During rock'n'roll as a "social dance" with the so-called six-step with back seat and kick movements and the sport rock-'n'-roll with the so-called nine-step with the characteristic "Kick-Ball-Change" and stylistic variations of the jump step were very strongly determined, the Boogie-Woogie is essentially based on a six and eight basic step, which is performed in both flat and kicked variants. Musically, the 6-count structure of the blues and the 8-count scheme of swing dominate. Depending on the music style, the underlying musical framework and the tempo of the music, the dancers vary the number of their steps in order to adapt them to the musical accentuation.

In boogie-woogie, danced freely to the music, the dancers take on one of two roles: follower and leader . The leader (gentleman) leads and introduces the figures, while the follower (lady) has to react to the leadership. Both tasks are equally demanding and require full concentration on the dance partner.

An essential stylistic element of boogie-woogie is the dance interpretation of the musical phrases of a piece of music. This often requires intensive practice of a choreography at competitions, as well as a high level of attention to the music at social dance events. It applies u. a. especially to emphasize interruptions of the bar, so-called "breaks", or changes of musical phrases through stylistic dance elements.

Another difference lies in the step technique or accentuation. The characteristic of boogie-woogie music, the backbeat accentuation, is transferred to the crotch by the dancers, while current rock 'n' roll dancers now also place their emphasis on 1 and 3, as the sport Rock 'n' Roll has moved further and further from its musical roots.

Tournament rules

The tournament rules for boogie-woogie are not standardized, but differ from country to country. There are selected pieces of music that are mostly used in the tournaments. In international tournaments there are three starting classes, the couples must each dance (at least) one fast and one slow lap. No slow laps are danced in the junior classes.

Excerpt from the most important rules for international tournaments of the WRRC:

  • The slow lap is danced to a music speed of 30 to 32 bars per minute.
  • In the fast lap, juniors and seniors dance to a speed of 50 bars per minute, the general class dances to a speed of 52 bars per minute.
  • Average dance time internationally is around two minutes.
  • There are preliminary and hope rounds to qualify for the final. The pace corresponds to the pace of faster final rounds.
  • The slow round is danced exclusively by final pairs of the Main or Senior Class.
  • There are a maximum of seven pairs in the final.
  • In the finale, each couple dances alone.
  • In the preliminary, intermediate and hope rounds, several couples can dance at the same time, the pairings are drawn by lots.
  • A jury of five to seven judges evaluates the performance of the couples.
  • In the final (international), the pieces of music are drawn from four titles to the pairs.
  • In the preliminary, intermediate and hope rounds, the music is selected using a random generator.
  • Are valued interpretation ( interpretation ), footwork ( Footwork ), character design ( Figures ) and leadership ( Leading ).
  • The dance clothes should be based on the style of the 1950s.
  • It is not allowed to throw away any clothes in the competition.
  • In the final, every couple is entitled to a dance floor measuring at least 3 by 3 meters.

Evaluation guidelines

The boogie-woogie music is written in 4/4 time, with the second and fourth beats being emphasized by the rhythm devices. The characteristic of this music is the so-called back / beat accentuation. The melody emphasizes the first and third beats. (Excerpt from the tournament regulations: the first and third beats are emphasized by the melody, the second and fourth beats by the bass and rhythm instruments. )

The stepping movement must be emphasized by shifting your weight at least on beats two and four, analogous to the music (e.g. step-six - shifting to two, four, five and six).

The dance always has to end with the music. The clothing should match the music and dance.

Evaluation criteria

The evaluation criteria are divided into four areas. The total number of points of 40 points (10 per area) results from the sum of the four assessment areas, minus the error points:

Step technique

The generic term "step gentleman / lady" means all the criteria that represent the overall execution. The following criteria are to be assessed here:

  • Step:. In addition to the single, double or tripletime basic step, which is mainly danced flat, free variations are allowed, provided they fit the music. The execution should be easy and playful, but still dynamic. By choosing the step variations, the dancer should underline the rhythmic character of the music.
  • Body movement :. The leg movement of the step should be balanced by a countermovement of the hip in order to reduce the "up and down" of the upper body. The character of music and characters should be clarified through body movement.
  • Arm posture: The expression of the dance and the dance figures should be positively reinforced and supported by the position of the arms.
  • Overall execution or evaluation: The sum of the criteria is summarized in the "Step" area. Different interpretations or designs are permitted or desired, provided the specified criteria are met. The individual criteria are always to be subordinated to the overall picture that is as advantageous as possible.

Violations of criteria are rated more heavily than small errors.

Figure execution

All figures and dance elements are to be guided by visual, hand or body contact. When choosing dance figures, the dance couple should preserve the character of the boogie-woogie dance. If newly created figures or figures taken from other types of dance are incorporated into the dance, this should always be done taking into account the characteristics of this dance. With the execution of a figure, the technical execution of all figures shown in a lecture (taking into account the quality) is understood. Regardless of this, the execution should appear light, effortless, playful and yet be danced precisely. A wealth of figures is desirable and desirable. However, it was only intended to underline the dance skills. Repeating a figure several times, or a modified figure, does not add to the wealth of figures. Taking these criteria into account, the points for performing the figure are calculated. No acrobatics should be danced. Acrobatic elements are to be assessed like dance figures, with particular attention being paid to flowing, harmonious entrances and exits.

Dance performance and interpretation

The following criteria result in the overall category "Dance performance / interpretation":

  • Harmony:. Harmony means the agreement or complementation of both dancers in the execution of the movement and the harmony in the sequence of movements in the dance performance.
  • Couple action :. Lord and lady should work as a unit, i.e. as a couple, without losing the individuality of each individual.
  • Broadcasting :. In: dance lecture should reflect the joy of dancing. The dance should work freely.
  • Interpretation:. A dance couple should, through individual interpretation, give every dance, every piece of music, every figure, a special and unmistakable character. If interpreted correctly, the dance couple is "moved" by the music.
  • Rating:. The overall impression from the areas mentioned is decisive for the assessment of “dance performance / interpretation”.

The evaluation of "leadership" consists of the following questions:

  • Is a couple just waiting for the stop, or are they dancing fluently until the stop comes?
  • Are characters shortened to be in sync with music or are the characters well planned and managed?
  • Are “filling figures” used and are they danced?
  • How does the leader lead, with his arm, body or visually?
  • Is the leader using more force than necessary or is the leadership gentle?
  • Is the follower waiting for the tour or does it start by itself?

In order to lead, the leader has some “tools” at his disposal. The judges must evaluate how the couple uses these techniques.

Boogie woogie dance styles

Boogie-Woogie fans out in many styles, e.g. B. the local style , the tournament style or the so-called disco boogie , whereby the individual styles differ mainly in basic step and figures.

  • Disco boogie. can be compared to normal boogie-woogie. The main difference to the other styles is that disco boogie is usually danced in steps of four and six (see also basic step) and that disco boogie is danced to disco, soul and reggae music.
  • Local boogie. is danced in bars. The basic step is usually the step of four and the step of six.
  • Tournament boogie. ( Tournament style ) is danced by tournament dancers. The basic step is the figure eight up to the eleven step.


  • Sandra Kirch: Handbook Rock'n'Roll. Aachen 1995, ISBN 3-89124-256-5 . (Sandra Rosenberg: Handbuch Rock'n'Roll. 2nd edition. Aachen 2004, ISBN 3-89124-993-4 )
  • Arnold Shaw: Rock'n'Roll. The stars, the music and the myths of the 50s. Reinbek 1985, ISBN 3-499-17109-0 .
  • Collections “Rock'n'Roll” and “Boogie-Woogie” of the German Dance Archive Cologne . These are collected newspaper articles on the dances that can be viewed in the library of the archive.
  • Mike Evans: 1945-1963 - The Chronicle of a Revolution. Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-499-17109-3 .
  • Hellmuth Karasek: Go West! A biography of the 50s. Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-455-08563-6 .
  • Siegfried Schmidt-Joos, Barry Graves: Rock Lexicon. 3. Edition. Hamburg 1989.
  • Rüdiger Blömeke: Roll Over Beethoven. How rock'n'roll came to Germany. Innsbruck 1996, ISBN 3-85445-122-9 .
  • Heinrich Mayer: Rock'n'Roll in the picture. Dance figures, acrobatic figures, final figures. Munich 1979, ISBN 3-9800599-0-1 .
  • Otto Fuchs: Bill Haley. Father of rock and roll. Gelnhausen 2008, ISBN 978-3-86683-351-7 .
  • House of History / Federal Agency for Civic Education (Ed.): Rock! Youth and Music in Germany. Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-86153-384-7 .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. To mention are Frankie Manning and the appearances of the " Whitey's Lindy Hoppers " in " Hellzapoppin ' ", in German: " In hell is the devil ", and films with the Marx Brothers like "At the races"
  2. Report about this e.g. B. Contemporary witnesses like Frankie Manning. Such dance tournaments also took place in Germany. Horst Todt from Berlin and his partner Rita Janke set a world record in 1952 with 318 hours and 47 minutes, as the Berliner Morgenpost noted on May 19, 2002: the dance marathon only attracts four couples . The BZ reported on November 11, 2002: Rock'n'roll is timeless and keeps you young .
  3. An article in the Kölnische Zeitung from May 1948 reports that German dance teachers rejected boogie-woogie at their annual meeting, mainly because of its "immorality". This rejection was not limited to Western Europe: see dance. In: Der Spiegel. 20/1948, from May 15, 1948: There is nothing about boogie-woogie in the communist gospels. The Moscow youth newspaper "Komsomolskaya Prawda" reads the youth clubs of Odessa the Bolshevik culture riot act because of their fondness for foxtrot, rumba and swing. "These salon melodies are poison for the Soviet people," the newspaper angrily. "They breed low, degenerate tastes in musicians and listeners." The Soviet cultural custodians vigorously oppose the "Western dances" which, according to the party, are a blow to culture. At the same time they recommend the stumbled swing dancers in Odessa to “dance folk dances. And no longer out of line. "
  4. Of course there are exceptions: The show dance group of a Stuttgart dance school showed an "Original Boogie Woogie" in 1945 as part of a prom. Source: - ( Memento of the original from December 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Hellmuth Karasek in: Go West! A biography of the fifties. Hamburg 1996 and House of History (ed.): Rock. Youth and Music in Germany. Berlin 2005.
  6. The social ostracism in the late 1940s and early 1950s becomes clear when looking through articles in daily and weekly newspapers. B. were collected in the German Dance Archive in Cologne. Die Zeit 49/1948 reports that the cabaret artist Schaeffers surrenders the dance to mockery: "(...) It is about" Boogie Woogie ", the American dance that trained young people who have written" progress "on their flag , love and which Willi Schaeffers, the old master of German cabaret, took into the mesh to start it as a big number. He brings it as a parody in his "Melodie der Straße", which inspired Berlin, which in spoiled Düsseldorf " sensational success "and with which he is now afflicting the diaphragms of Hamburgers." (Source: Boogie-Woogie. In: Die Zeit. No. 49/1948)
  7. The original title of the film was "Rock Around The Clock". Articles in weekly newspapers deal with the "revolution of the disinhibited" triggered by the film, to which many rows of seats in the cinema halls fell victim. “The film caused countless cinemas to be devastated, as the energetic beginning shooed the audience from their seats within minutes” (Source: Out of bounds and band - Rock around the Clock. On: )
  8. An article in the Kölnische Zeitung from May 1948 shows that German dance teachers rejected boogie-woogie at their annual meeting, mainly because of its "immorality". At later meetings, the "Jive" is designed together, which experienced its own dynamic through its later inclusion (1976) in the world dance program and its classification in the "Latin" family. According to Michael Rauhut, "GDR ideologues in 1952 considered the boogie-woogie from West radio to be as 'dangerous as poison gas'", as read in the Berliner Zeitung of January 2, 2003 (source: Das Ende der Klosterbrüder. ( Memento of the original from June 29, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. on: , accessed on June 14, 2012) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. So read on the website of the 1979 founded Boogie Club Berlin eV: "Berlin was an absolute stronghold. From 1950 to 1958 all German championships in Boogie Woogie and Rock'n'Roll were held in our city. Berlin dancers like Horst Todt, German champion 1950 and -51 and Kalle Gaffkus, the only German rock 'n' roll world champion of the 50s and four-time German champion (1953-56), set the tone. " (Source: What is Boogie Woogie? On: , accessed on June 14, 2012)
  10. Hellmuth Karasek in: Go West! A biography of the fifties. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-455-08563-6 . The Wikipedia article " Hottentots " deals with the pejorative meaning of the colloquial term " Hottentot music".
  11. The parallelism of both terms proves e.g. B. the photo archive of the time. Here is a recording from the "Jitterbug-Boogie-Woogie Championship, Berlin 1952". Source: Germany is looking for the super anthem. on: , accessed on June 14, 2012.
  12. Shaw, Arnold: Rock and Roll. The stars, the music and the myths of the 50s, Reinbek 1985, and Blömeke, Rüdiger: Roll Over Beethoven. How rock 'n' roll came to Germany, Innsbruck 1996, emphasize the important contribution that American and British soldiers' channels, vinyl records and films made to the reception of rock 'n' roll.
  13. ^ Arnold Shaw: Rock and Roll. The stars, the music and the myths of the 50s. Reinbek 1985.
  14. The following work provides information on this: House of History (ed.): Rock. Youth and Music in Germany. Berlin 2005.
  15. The Wikipedia article " Rock 'n' Roll " deals with the development of music and the rock 'n' roll revival .
  16. The source can be: "Rocktime", the organs of the DRBV eV and the historical development of the DRBV eV, which showed a separation of sport rock 'n' roll and boogie woogie as well as competing associations. This development, which has lasted over many years, is now briefly summarized by the association: Rock'n'Roll (DRBV). ( Memento of the original from December 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on: , accessed on June 14, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. The Anglo-American usage shows this through the distinction between "social" and "competitive dance". See Wikipedia article: Swing (dance) , section: Forms of swing: "A strong tradition of social and competitive boogie woogie and rock 'n' roll in Europe add these dances to their local swing dance cultures."
  18. About the suppression of the swing youth during the Nazi era reports z. B .: "Formation of cliques and gangs among young people. Reichsjugendführung - Personnel Office - Monitoring. Berlin, September 1942": In: Detlev Peukert (Ed.): Die Edelweißpiraten. Cologne 1983, pp. 160-229. The source can also be: Matthias von Hellfeld , Arno Klönne: The deceived generation. Youth in Germany under fascism. Sources and documents, Cologne 1985. See also Wikipedia article " Swing-Jugend "
  19. Regulations of the DRBV
  20. This development becomes tangible if you go through the years of "Rocktime", the organ of the DRBWV eV
  21. cf. Wikipedia article Rock 'n' Roll (dance)
  22. The jump step already met in the 1950s. According to the training documents of the DRBV, this step was introduced in 1957 by the Italian "Clan Bruno Dossena" and the dance teacher Umberto Gallone from Milan. You can find it in numerous presentations on the history of rock 'n' roll dance on the websites of rock 'n' roll clubs. The original source for this is not given. A dance step with kicks is already encountered in the Heinz Erhard film "Girls with a weak memory" from 1956.

When researching the history of “boogie-woogie” as a dance, those interested come across a general problem: Primary sources as evidence are in short supply. The dancers, who could be useful as contemporary witnesses, were busy with the dance and did not, or only to a small extent, report on the past. The social ostracism of music and dance in the original period also led to a displacement from public life and from the media of the time. So we are left with a few newspaper articles, private film and photo documents, music and revue films and occasionally traditional life memories of dancers as essential sources. The quality of the processing in the articles and sources available on the Internet is correspondingly poor, and representations of the history are also based on poorly founded, but repeatedly copied secondary literature.