Mix Up di Blenda: An Analysis of Transatlantic Cultural Flows
It is no surprise that several centuries of slavery have spawned hybrid modes of culture, blending African and European influences. As Europeans and Africans encountered each other in Latin America and the Caribbean, new identities were created, through a process of what Levi Straus termed ‘bricolage’. Caribbean dance, for instance, evolved from African dance forms, essentially, solo dances (a pas seul), into more formal partner dances such as the quadrille. New forms of dancing were born which incorporated elements of African ‘break’ movements unknown to European dance. Culture emerged not so much inside communities but between them.
The Quadrille: An example of hybridization
The Jitterbug (initially called the “Lindyhop”) first became popular in the 1920’s, although its popularity was limited primarily to Harlem. In the 1930’s when white dancers discovered the Lindyhop, the name Jitterbug often was used to describe the dance.
From the early days of the “hop” until the mid-1930’s, the mainstream of jazz music and swing/lindy/jitterbug dancing was developed and defined in the United States by African -Americans.
With origins in the Charleston (according to some experts the Charleston has its origins in Caribbean dance styles), traditional West African dance styles, and a variety of European social dances, the Lindy included not only partner dancing, but also individual solos and line dancing.