Swing Notes Vol 149: If Music Be The Food Of Love - Let's Eat!

October 28, 2019

If music be the food of love, play on (the first line of the play Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare; I think this guy knew a thing or two about people & human nature and could make it big one day 😊)

I want to share my love with you, my love for great music to dance to, which of course will be subjective – one person’s meat could be another’s poison. However I am often asked about the tracks I play in class, so that’s what you are going to get right now. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means, it’s not even my all-time absolute favourites, but they are all good songs that I regularly use in my classes, that you can practise your dancing to at home or maybe just find some new tracks that you can enjoy listening to on your way to work.


I am going to breakdown the music into different class suggestions, but it’s probably no surprise to learn that the songs will frequently cross into other groups. Dances like the Lindy, Balboa or Shag were regional styles danced to the same music broadcasted nationally through the radio or played across the country by touring bands, whereas the dances tended to stay in their areas much longer. Since we are dancers who count in 8s, I will give you 8 song suggestions per group.


The Practical stuff:
Title of song – artist – Beats Per Minute (bpm).
Most songs should be available on YouTube, iTunes or some similar form of streaming but most of my music comes from CDs and a few records that have been converted to digital.


Lindy Hop: Nice and easy 110-140 bpm:

  1. I’m Beginning To See The light – Harry James & His Orchestra 110 bpm

  2. Lazy River – Julia Lee 112 bpm

  3. Perdido – Duke Ellington 130 bpm

  4. Afternoon of a Moax – Charlie Barnet 131 bpm

  5. Jersey Bounce – Benny Goodman 132 bpm

  6. Cement Mixer – Slim Gaillard 132 bpm

  7. Shout Sister Shout – Sister Rosetta Tharpe 138 bpm

  8. Begin The Beguine – Artie Shaw 140 bpm

Lindy Hop - Picking up the pace (140-160 bpm):

  1. Swingin’ On Nothing – The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra 140 bpm

  2. Blues My Naughty Sweetie – Sidney Bechet 140 bpm

  3. Shoot the Sherbert To Me Herbert 144 bpm

  4. Apollo Jump – Lucky Millinder 146 bpm

  5. Love Me Or Leave Me – Sammy Davis Jr 148 bpm

  6. Opus One – Gene Krupa & Anita O’Day 152 bpm

  7. Let’s Get Together – WorldHarmonic 157 bpm

  8. Buckin’ The Dice – Fats Waller 158 bpm

Lindy Hop - A little faster (160-210 bpm):

  1. Jump Session – Slim & Slam 161 bpm

  2. Hollywood Pastime – Jimmy Dorsey 164 bpm

  3. Wednesday Night Hop Andy Kirk 172 bpm

  4. Strictly Jive – Chick Webb 172 bpm

  5. Moten Swing – Jonah Jones 172 bpm

  6. Stealin’ Apple – Benny Goodman 186 bpm

  7. Shorty George – Count Basie 196 bpm

  8. Don’t Be That Way - Chick Webb 210 bpm

Balboa – Slower tracks for learning:

  1. Maizy Doats – Pied Pipers 136 bpm

  2. A Vipers Moan – Mora’s Medern Rhythmists 144 bpm

  3. Alligator Crawl – Fats Waller 158 bpm

  4. Miss Otis Regrets – Alberta Hunter with Jack Jackson 160 bpm

  5. Montmartre – Rex Stewart & His Feetwarmers 174 bpm

  6. All My Life – Fats Waller 176 bpm

  7. Williams’ Swing – Hod Williams & His Orchestra 176 bpm

  8. Got A Pair Of New Shoes – Joe Loss 192 bpm


Shag – Slower tracks for learning:

  1. Missouri Rambler - Larry Clinton 140 bpm

  2. Ja Da – Bob Crosby 148 bpm

  3. Igloo – Betty Hutton 160 bpm

  4. Chris & His Gang – Larry Clinton 170bpm

  5. All The Cats Join In – Roy Eldridge & His Orchestra 176 bpm

  6. The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘round – Hal Kemp And His Orchestra 178 bpm

  7. All The Cats Join In – Benny Goodman 184 bpm

  8. At The Codfish Ball – Bob Crosby 200 bpm


Blues Dance (No bpm):

  1. My Hand Man Ain’t Handy No More – Alberta Hunter

  2. St. James Infirmary – Allen Toussaint

  3. I was Fooled – Billy Boy Arnold

  4. Clocks and Bottles – Amy Kucharik

  5. Egyptian Fantasy – Sidney Bechet

  6. Black and Tan Fantasy – Duke Ellington

  7. I Just Want To Make Love To You – Etta James

  8. Crawling The Walls – Dave Gross

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