Swing music that I like

Please note, this post is a work in progress.

Absolute bangers.

Let’s start this post on a high note. These are the tracks that I love to dance to, and will never resist the opportunity. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re certainly mine.

“Is This Love” - The Schwings feat. Migloko.

The Schwings are a modern jazz band based in Vilnius, Lithuania. Led by their saxophone player, Remigijus Rančys, they play a mixture of original compositions, original swing tunes, and covers of modern (non swing) tunes. This particular tune is beefy, baritone driven cover of Bob Marley’s original reggae version.

Perhaps it’s because I used to play Baritone Saxophone, or the catchiness of the main riff, but this tune is my absolute favourite track for dancing collegiate shag. It has a wonderful energy, at a perfect shag tempo (around 200bpm), a really solid driving chunking guitar, and really interesting breaks - perfect for being musical, free, and fun while dancing.

On a somewhat personal note, this song always reminds me of mine and rebecca’s stay in a tiny AirBnB in a top floor flat in Barcelona after BCN Shag Festival 2016. It was absolutely perfect - a tiny studio flat, with a roof terrace larger than the inside, intimate, yet with space, air and freedom. This track reminds me of exactly the emotions I felt then. Connected, yet free, and able to improvise and be with someone without restriction or conflict.

Lovely.

“I'm gonna pick you up in a red dress, baby!” - Dizzy Birds

What can I say about this track that it isn’t possible to simply hear?! To begin with, unfortunately, is the name that is (shall we say) very much of its time1. To be blunt, the title is a racist reference to the dance events held in the “darktown” - i.e. sections of a city predominantly occupied by African-Americans. I’m hesitant in including this in my list of favourite songs, as the title and (some of the) lyrical content does not align with my personal politics. That said, I hope that it’s possible to appreciate this track purely on its musical qualities.

“Sugar Foot Rag” - Brothers Arntzen

I first came across the Brothers Arntzen’s wonderful version of “Sugar Foot Rag” when a couple of friends performed routine to the song at Mind the Shag 2017. Their routine is wonderful, and they couldn’t have picked a better song for it!

I love dancing to this song because of the wholesome, bouncy energy it has. It overwhelms with a great sense of fun, and has some great breaks.

“Mill House Stomp” - Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five

“Spreadin' Rhythm Around” - Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five

“I’ll Fly Away” - The Blue Vipers Of Brooklyn

I’ll fly away is one of those tracks that really inspires me and has helped me to get through tough times. It helps, of course, that it’s also a wonderful tune to dance to. It’s got a solid chuggy rhythm, some wonderful musicianship, great percussion breaks and a positive energy that practically infuses my dancing and spirit with life.


  1. I am not an expert in this history of race in america, so anything I say here must be taken as my (limited) knowledge at the time of writing. Any innacuracies are the result of ignorance rather than prejudice.

Posted on September 4, 2018
Last modified: Sep 06, 2018
Tags: swing dancing, music, review, personal, work in progress