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You are here -> HOME - RETROVILLE - 1941 - Fads & Fashion - The Jitterbug
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Welcome to Retroville! It's 1941!
It was a time of big bands and swing, young men marching off to war, and women marching into the work place. It was time to JITTERBUG!

But what, exactly, is the Jitterbug? It was a high-energy dance full of emotion and freedom. With full skirts swinging and partners jumping to the fast beat, nobody could sit still when everyone else was Jitterbugging.

The high-energy Jitterbug was a favorite of young people from Coast to Coast
The Jitterbug was a word coined by Harry Alexander White, a trombonist, drummer, and arranger who worked with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. Calloway's trumpter Edwin Swayzee overhead Mr. White use the term "jitterbug" and wrote a song entitled "The Jitterbug" for Cab Calloway. Calloway recorded the song in 1934, and it quickly became a household name.

Throughout the jazz era, the Jitterbug took on such names as Hollywood Style, Lindy Hop, East Coast, West Coast, New Yorker, Bop, and Jive. Jitterbug became a term for all types of "swing dancing."

Depending on where you learned to dance and what area of the country you came from, you might know the Jitterbug by any of its other names. Purists maintain that it is a single or double rhythm East Coast swing.

Certainly the dances held by the U.S.O. throughout World War II helped make the Jitterbug the dance of the time.

As the big bands of the day--Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller--toured the country, whenever they hit the "jitterbug beat," the young people in the audience would be dancing in the aisles. They played from coast to coast to ever-growing crowds and popularity. From the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, to the Renaissance Ballroom in New York, dancers lined up whenever the swing era bands were scheduled to play. With dance shoes at the ready, the men and women throughout World War II jitterbugged the nights away.
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