The jitterbug began in the 1930’s and often is found among other dance forms of the same era that is similar to the way these dance routines are performed. Even the jitterbug has variations according to the nationality of the person performing this American dance. It is linked with The East Coast Swing, jive, Lindy Hop, and other swing dances.
The jitterbug is performed in a way that uses swing movements, but the pelvic area is used quite a bit. The man places his hand on the lower portion of the lady’s back and then holds her hand and you dance to the fast paced music; you must sway your hips back and forth while keeping your shoulder straight and level as you glide across the dance floor with her.
African Americans, on the other hand, had similar movements but were more erotic and extreme even though the dance moves were smooth, there was bouncing, hopping, and a bit more on the “dirty side” with some of the moves that were included in the dance.
The Savory Ballroom helped make the jitterbug and other swing dance forms popular with many patrons coming to just watch the dancers adding their own variations of the dance moves.
During World War II, the United States government placed a federal excise tax of 30 percent on any night club that allowed dancing in 1944. All across America, many night club owners could not afford the tax and had to place “no dancing” signs up in the clubs.
On the other hand, during this same time period, the jitterbug found its way across the globe as Americans were stationed in other countries. Many of the ballrooms had been closed until the American soldiers arrived and many British working class women who had never danced before began seeing American couples dancing. After D-Day in November of 1945, American troops were sent home, and English couples were warned not to perform this rude American style of dancing. But, by 1946, it was the hottest dance in England with competitions being held in Australia.