We get many questions about what songs are best for practicing your various swing dance styles. Here’s our answer! Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and, in fact, we are barely scratching the surface here. We encourage you to seek out these swing-era artists, and also find music done in this style by bands practicing today (check out our bands page for live swing music in St. Louis). http://jazz-on-line.com/ is a great resource that allows you to listen to and download much of this music. Next to each playlist heading is also a link to associated Spotify playlist. Listings are ordered as “Song,” Artist, Album, Year, (Beats per minute).

Basic Swing/Lindy Hop — Low- and Mid-Tempo (Spotify Playlist) loren-dennis-chick-webb-and-ella-fitzgerald-at-the-savoy-ballroom-new-york-city-1935

  1. “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” Duke Ellington & Louis Armstrong, At Duke’s Place (115 BPM)
  2. “Lil’ Dog” Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra, 1947-1949 (115 BPM)
  3. “Spinnin’ the Webb” Chick Webb & His Orchestra, Spinnin’ The Webb (120 BPM)
  4. “Walk ‘Em” Buddy & Ella Johnson, Go Ahead and Rock and Roll (125 BPM)
  5. “A Smo-o-o-oth One” Charlie Christian, A Smooth One (125 BPM)
  6. “Birth of the Blues” Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band, New Orleans Jazz Man (130 BPM)
  7. “Jive at Five” Count Basie & His Orchestra, Complete Clef & Verve 50s Studio Recordings, 1952 (135 BPM)
  8. “Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop” Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Swingsation (135 BPM)
  9. “Rose Room” Artie Shaw, Ten (137 BPM)
  10. “Uncle Bud” Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra, Hawkins Lane (140 BPM)
  11. “Hamp’s Got a Duke” Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Swingsation: Lionel Hampton (145 BPM)
  12. “Don’t Be That Way” Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra, Jazz Chronicles: Teddy Wilson Vol. 2, 1938 (145 BPM)
  13. “Tuxedo Junction” Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra, 1940 Radio Hits, 1939 (150 BPM)
  14. “A Viper’s Moan” Willie Bryant & His Orchestra, Throwin’ Stones, 1935 (150 BPM)
  15. “Apollo Jump” Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra, Jumpin’ Jive, 1941 (150 BPM)
  16. “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” Artie Shaw, The Essential Artie Shaw (155 BPM)
  17. “Flying Home” Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian, Best of the Benny Goodman Small Group Sessions (160 BPM)
  18. “Good Queen Bess” Duke Ellington, The Duke Swings Vol. 2 1940 (160 BPM)
  19. “Jump Session” Slim & Slam, 1938-1939 (165 BPM)
  20. “Red Sails in the Sunset” Mound City Blue Blowers, 1935-1936 (165 BPM)
  21. “Wednesday Night Hop” Andy Kirk & His 12 Clouds of Joy, Perfect Swing (170 BPM)
  22. “Sepian Bounce” Jay McShann and His Orchestra, Jumpin’ Jive (175 BPM)

Basic Swing/Lindy Hop — Up-Tempo (Spotify Playlist)

  1. “No Use Squawkin'” Erskine Hawkins, Riff Time (180 BPM)
  2. “Honeysuckle Rose” Benny Carter Orchestra, All Star Sessions, 1940 (180 BPM)
  3. “O.K. For Baby” Benny Carter Orchestra, The Classic Years Disc 2 (188 BPM)
  4. “Christopher Columbus” Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, The Jazz Effect (190 BPM)
  5. “Wham (Wham Re Bop Boom Bam)” Andy Kirk & His Clouds of Joy 1940 (195 BPM)
  6. “Whoa Babe” Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, The Essential, 1937 (195 BPM)
  7. “Big John Special” Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, Tidal Wave (200 BPM)
  8. “Just Jivin’ Around” Lester Young, Happy Birthday Mr. President (205 BPM)
  9. “Down South Camp Meeting” Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, Jazz – The Essential Collection (207 BPM)
  10. “Stompin’ At the Savoy” Chick Webb and His Orchestra, Stompin’ at the Savoy (210 BPM)
  11. “Everybody Shout” Henry Allen and His Orchestra, Swing Out, 1930 (210 BPM)
  12. “Four and One-Half Street” Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators, The Duke’s Men: Small Group Sessions, 1937 (215 BPM)
  13. “Riff Time” Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra, Caldonia, 1940 (215 BPM)
  14. “Jamaica Jam” Teddy Powell (220 BPM)
  15. “Muskrat Ramble” Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Lionel Hampton (220 BPM)
  16. “Sing You Sinners” Ella Fitzgerald & Her Famous Orchestra (Chick Webb’s Band) 1939 (225 BPM)
  17. “King Porter Stomp” Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra, The Fletcher Henderson Story 1933 (225 BPM)
  18. “The Buzzard” Bud Freeman and His Windy City Five, I Got Rhythm, 1935 (230 BPM)
  19. “Number 19” Earl Hines & His Orchestra, The Masters of Jazz: 33, 1940 (230 BPM)
  20. “Clarinet Marmalade” Joe Marsala’s All Timers 1944 (235 BPM)
  21. “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” Count Basie & His Orchestra, The American Swing Collection (240 BPM)
  22. “Rigamarole” Willie Bryant and His Orchestra, Throwin’ Stones (240 BPM)

St. Louis Shag* (Spotify Playlist)

Mike Renda & Virginia Shy doing the Shag

  1. “Rose Room” Charlie Shavers, Period’s Jazz Digest, 1957 (165 BPM)
  2. “Charleston Twist” Red Prysock, Swingsation (170 BPM)
  3. “Ride Sammy Ride” Sam “The Man” Taylor, Swingsation (170 BPM)
  4. “Buster’s Tune” Buster Smith, The Legendary Buster Smith, 1959 (180 BPM)
  5. “Doggin’ with Doggett” Illinois Jacquet, Jazz Foundations 31, 1946 (180 BPM)
  6. “Back Bay Shuffle” Ella Fitzgerald & Her Famous Orchestra 1940 (185 BPM)
  7. “Good Jax Boogie” Dave Bartholomew, A Country Boy (185 BPM)
  8. “Muskrat Ramble” Jack Teagarden, Jazz Icons from the Golden Era (185 BPM)
  9. “Let’s Ride Ride Ride” Jack McVea, Saxophone Rhythm and Blues Greats (190 BPM)
  10. “Lillie Mae” Smiley Lewis, I Hear You Knocking (190 BPM)
  11. “Darktown Strutter’s Ball” Albert Burbank And His Creole Jazz Band (195 BPM)
  12. “O-Kay For Baby” Jack McVea, Saxophone Rhythm and Blues Greats, 1945 (200 BPM)
  13. “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” Jerry Brent & His Orchestra (200 BPM)
  14. “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” Sidney Bechet, Because of You (200 BPM)
  15. “Walkin’ This Boogie” Roosevelt Sykes, Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 (205 BPM)
  16. “Little John Special” Lucky Millinder, Jumpin’ Jive, 1942 (210 BPM)
  17. “Ory’s Boogie” Kid Ory, Jazz Foundations Vol. 49 (215 BPM)
  18. “I Ain’t Mad At You” The Jones Boy (215 BPM)
  19. “Tab Steps Out” Tab Smith, I Don’t Want to Play in the Kitchen (215 BPM)
  20. “Mush Mouth” Buddy & Ella Johnson, A Family Affair (220 BPM)
  21. “Nursery Rhyme Jump” Tab Smith, Jump Time 1957 (220 BPM)
  22. “Jammin’ The Blues” Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five, Jammin’ The Blues (230 BPM)
  23. “The Crawl” Henry Red Allen, Swing Out, 1946 (230 BPM)
  24. “Roy Rides” Roy Milton & His Solid Senders, R&B Greats (230 BPM)
  25. “Clarinet Marmalade” Albert Burbank and His Creole Jazz Band, Sounds of New Orleans (235 BPM)
  26. “Jersey Jump Off” Coleman Hawkins, Cozy Cole, The Savoy Story (240 BPM)
  27. “Copenhagen” Ella Fitzgerald & Her Famous Orchestra 1939 (245 BPM)
  28. “That’s It” Tommy Dorsey, The Tommy Dorsey Story (250 BPM)
  29. “Oo-Wee” Sam “The Man” Taylor, Swingsation (265 BPM)

*St. Louis Shag is a highly rhythmic dance that can be danced to a variety of up-tempo jazz and swing styles. This playlist emphasizes music with a strong back-beat, which matches the shag basic well, but please note it is not exhaustive.

Early Charleston and Jazz Dance* (Spotify Playlist)alminns

  1. Down My Way” Jelly Roll Morton, The Jazz Biography, 1929 (160 BPM)
  2. “If You Never Come Back” The Mound City Blue Blowers (McKenzie’s Candy Kids), Red McKenzie Vol. 1 (165 BPM)
  3. “You Were Only Passing Time With Me” King Oliver & His Orchestra, Frog Spawn – The First Batch, 1930 (180 BPM)
  4. “St. Louis Blues” Louis Armstrong (Luis Russell Orchestra), Essential (180 BPM)
  5. “If You Were Only Mine” Washboard Rhythm Bands (180 BPM)
  6. “There’s Gonna Be The Devil To Pay” Clarence Williams, Vol. 2 (185 BPM)
  7. “Stuff” Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders, 1929-1930 (190 BPM)
  8. “I’m Satisfied You Love Me” Celestin’s Original Tuxedo Orchestra, New Orleans Jazz of the 1920s, 1927 (190 BPM)
  9. “It’s Tight Like That” McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Masters of Jazz 33 (200 BPM)
  10. “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” Chicago Rhythm Kings, Vintage Jazz (205 BPM)
  11. “Hot Honey” The Mound City Blue Blowers (McKenzie’s Candy Kids), Red McKenzie Vol. 1 (210 BPM)
  12. “Muskrat Ramble” Kid Ory, Kid Ory & His Creole Jazz Band 1922-1947 (210 BPM)
  13. “Darktown Strutters Ball” Bunk Johnson, Bunk Johnson Vol. 1 – New York (1945-1946) (210 BPM)
  14. “Blue Washboard Stomp” Johnny Dodds Washboard Band, Complete Sessions 1928 and 1929 (215 BPM)
  15. “Low Gravy” Jelly Roll Morton, Jelly Roll Morton (215 BPM)
  16. “Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia” Isham Jones, Archive of American Popular Music (215 BPM)
  17. “Goose Creek Stomp” Mart Britt and His Orchestra, Texas and Tennessee Territory Bands (225 BPM)
  18. “That’s A Plenty” Louisiana Rhythm Kings, It’s All About Swing, 1929 (225 BPM)
  19. “I’ve Found A New Baby” Ted Lewis and His Band, Tin Pan Alley’s Greatest Hits, 1926 (225 BPM)
  20. “Wolverine Blues” Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers, A Jazz Hour with Jelly Roll Morton (230 BPM)
  21. “Oriental Man” Johnny Dodds’ Chicago Feetwarmers, All Time Jazz (240 BPM)
  22. “Crazy Quilt” Charlie Creath’s Jazz-O-Maniacs, Jazz in Saint Louis, 1924-1927 (245 BPM)

*This is a traditionalist-leaning playlist. There are plenty of other later sounds, styles, and preferences that will be suitable for early charleston and jazz steps.