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Swing Dance Songs

Keeping the "swing" in swing dance music
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The Koppelman Award
(All Swing DJ of the Year)
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The Wetzel Award
(Swing DJ Hall of Fame)

List Index

Swinging Dance Songs

September 2017

All songs posted to date

For best presentation some tracks may require edits or tempo adjustment.

To listen to a compilation of all of our published lists, download the Spotify application and search for the
'AllSwingDJ - Swinging'

About Our Swing Dance Songs

Let's get at least one thing "straight." You may hear that the objective of our group is to convince all swing DJs to play a 100% swinging mix. That is false! That assertion is usually presented as a straw man argument to invalidate the relevance of swinging music to swing dance or to disparage our group. Question the motive of anyone misrepresenting our position and direct them to this page. Our objective is to help swing DJs maintain a balanced mix, while preserving the essence of swing dance through its music.
"Good SWING music - SWINGS!"* says Skippy Blair.*

All of the selections in our Swinging Dance Songs lists swing, by definition, having been performed in "swung note," or shuffle rhythm, style.

As explained below, we believe that this style of music is the best fit for swing dance.

Because this is fundamentally a musical rhythm concept, we start with that and then relate it to Skippy's dance concepts. If you don't have any music training, you may not understand the following, initially, but don't give up! Listen to some of the selections in our Swinging Dance Songs list, then come back to this page and read it again. Let us know how we can make this easier to understand.

Whether you eventually get it or even want to get it, you should be able to trust that your DJ gets it. Any competent, swing DJ must understand this.

Musician's Perspective

For a better understanding of how musicians produce the sound and feel of shuffle rhythm, link to the instructional videos for the following instruments:
drums, bass, and guitar.

Based on the music's underlying
eighth-note triplets
       1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a
shuffle rhythm
       1-a  2-a  3-a  4-a
with its "longer" (stretched) eighth notes
      (1-   2-    3-   4-)
followed by the "shorter" (swung) eighth notes
      (the 'a's),
creates the lilting rhythm, or "propulsive, rhythmic groove," that encourages the dancer to accelerate into the next beat.

Coupled with an accented upbeat,
this syncopated, musical style is also known as a
rolling backbeat
       1-a  2-a 3-a  4-a

Dancer's Perspective

Relating the music to Skippy's dance concepts, the underlying
eighth-note triplets
       1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a
uniquely support the dancer's
rolling count*
   &a1 &a2 &a3 &a4
which enables smooth acceleration into body flight.*

(Notice that the dancer's notation is shifted left from the music notation by two, triplet 8th-notes. It's simply a different perspective, or window, on the music. Either way you look at it, the music doesn't change.)

The rolling backbeat
       1-a  2-a 3-a  4-a
leads to the swing dancer's
triple rhythm units* and the upbeat pulse*
   [--1 -a2][--3 -a4]

These dance techniques combined with swinging music help the dancer create the rhythmic energy and "elasticity of tension and release," which is the essence of swing dance.

Skippy also recommends* that music for swing dance should (1) contribute to the dance and (2) not interfere with, or challenge, the dancer. In other words, whether the music swings or not, it should be swing danceable, or swingable.

One of the contributing characteristics, a rolling backbeat, is explained above. One of the interfering characteristics that Skippy cites is any dance rhythm that is identified with another dance form such as Cha Cha, Hustle, or Rumba.

Elaborating on Skippy's music requirements, some other, interfering characteristics are:
  • Meter: 3/4 (Waltz) time signature, for example
  • Tempo: outside of the standard or comfortable range
  • Pulse: on the downbeat
  • Syncopation: so complex as to cause the dancer to lose track of the downbeat or upbeat (to be off time) or to knock the dancer out of the groove.
  • Structure: irregular or mixed dance rhythm, meter, tempo (rubato), pulse, syncopation, or phrasing

Most people associate the term "swing music" with big band jazz of the Swing Era. Most of our member DJs, however, play for slower forms of swing dance, such as, West Coast Swing, Texas Push/Whip, Carolina Shag, and Lindy groove.

Many people believe that Blues music is the primary genre associated with these dance forms and, therefore, swings, by definition; but not all Blues performances swing. We find the sound and feel of swing in other genres, also, including various styles of Jazz, R&B, Pop/Rock, and Country.

About every two months our member DJs post to our Yahoo! group their top 10 or 10 new songs in various styles and rhythms for swing dance. They also have the option to post 10 swinging songs that they've recently played at an event or their local venue. To generate our Swinging Dance Songs lists we compile all of the DJs' lists into one, rank the songs, and then select the top songs that swing.

AllSwingDJ offers these lists as a clear example of music that swings, because we are concerned that many of today's dancers and some newer DJs are unaware of the traditional connection of shuffle rhythm to swing dance. To preserve the roots of swing dance, we encourage you to include in the mix more of your favorite swinging songs.

We believe that we're the only DJ group that publishes lists of all swing selections. Other organizations publish lists that include selections that do not swing, but may be swingable. Some of those organizations are:
ABSCDJ, GSDJ, NARBDJ, NSDC (Music Preservation List), UCWDC (Competition Music), and USA Swing Dance Network (Classic Swing Songs).

* These marked links download Word documents. For all articles by Skippy Blair, see

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