Last night I taught a 1920s solo Charleston dance class. A few people had learned some steps previously, and for a few this was their first experience of the Charleston - the dance that took American popular culture by storm in the 1920s.
One thing about the 1920s Charleston (that sets it apart from other vintage dance styles like Lindy Hop) is that it takes no time at all to learn the basics. If you can walk backwards and forwards, you can do the Charleston.
The class was an hour long, in which we covered the basic step plus 6 other fun variation moves, and then put them all together in a routine at the end. It was tons of fun.
My closing comment to the class is something I think is important to convey to people interested in learning the Charleston:
Back in the 1920s, the Charleston was not just danced by dancers performing on stage - it was danced by everybody. You didn't have to have fabulous technique, excellent balance, or flawless timing. You just had to have a sense of fun - THAT'S the true spirit of the Charleston.
Below is one of my favourite YouTube videos - a montage of 1920s dancing featuring lots of Charleston stuff. For me this video really captures the essence and spirit of the dance, and the utter sense of joy and abandon on the faces of the people doing it. Enjoy!
Interested in the history of the Charleston and other early 20th Century American jazz dances? Check out this book: