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The Charleston is a dance that became popular in the 1920s, during the era of jazz music, speakeasies and Flappers. Danced to ragtime jazz music in a quick-paced 4/4 time rhythm, the Charleston dance quickly became a craze. It was a physical representation of the uninhibited enthusiasm many of the young people of that generation wanted to express.

 

The Charleston is a dance named for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The rhythm was popularized in mainstream dance music in the United States by a 1923 tune called "The Charleston" by composer/pianist James P. Johnson which originated in the Broadway show Runnin' Wild and became one of the most popular hits of the decade. Runnin' Wild ran from 29 October 1923 through 28 June 1924. The peak year for the Charleston as a dance by the public was mid 1926 to 1927.

 

The Charleston was one of the dances from which Lindy Hop and Jazz Roots developed in the 1930s, though the breakaway is popularly considered an intermediary dance form. A slightly different form of Charleston became popular in the 1930s and 40s, and is associated with Lindy Hop. In this later Charleston form, the hot jazz timing of the 1920s Charleston was adapted to suit the swing jazz music of the 30s and 40s. This style of Charleston has many common names, though the most common are Lindy Charleston, Savoy Charleston, 30s or 40s Charleston and Swing(ing) Charleston. In both 20s Charleston and Swinging Charleston the basic step takes 8 counts and is danced either alone or with a partner.

 

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The History of The Charleston: