Blues Dancing 101

Are you a blues dancer looking for more resources? Learning to learn more about the dance? About black culture?

Whether you are new to the style and trying to find info on it, looking for resources, or just wanting to gain some context to the dance, we have what you are looking for!

Check out this article for a simple summary of blues dancing: Some of it’s history, a brief explanation of idioms, and more.

What is Blues Dancing?

Blues dancing is a collection of vernacular dance styles that combines and explores many dances. These dances are historical: They have been passed down throughout the ages. Blues dancing is tightly tied to the development of blues music, it’s styles and genres and the culture that created that music.

Curious about blues dancing, but don’t know much about it? Obsidian Tea is a great place to be!

We explore what makes blues dancing different from freestyle partner dances. We also explore some history of the dance(s) and examples of what those dances are.

It’s a great place to send a friend you want to get into the dance!

We also get past some of the myths that often come up around this style, such as it being “just dancing. We include links for videos and articles that are also a great place to gain some understanding.

Idiom Dances

What even is an idiom dance?

A few years back, the idea of idiom dances became very mainstream within the blues dance community. Yet, going into smaller communities, people are still not exactly sure what that means. Is it just a ploy for more elitism? A competition thing?

We break it down so that everyone can get familiar with this term and what it really means.

Blues dance as a term is just an umbrella, like Ballroom or Latin dance, and that’s how we should think about it.

Elders in the Blues Community

As the community struggles with diversity, we also struggle with the following question: If these are historical dances, where are our black elders?

Most blues dance communities are currently missing this vital component. Lots of different things factor into this, such as popularity of the dance, oral vs written cultures, and community support. In other styles, like Lindy hop, it’s accepted by white culture and therefore its codification has shaped the culture around the dance.

We also look at the idea that there is more than one type of “elder” and other things we should look at for leadership.

Lindy Hop and Blues’s Bad Blood

Lindy hop and blues are dances that have been around for a long time. They even used to be danced at some of the same events. However, the split that occurred within the subcultures of lindy and blues caused a lot of bad feelings. These bad feelings stop us from working together and acknowledging our strengths and commonalities. In this way, they only hurt us in the end.

Instead of imposing values of each other’s dance, this post encourages working together to fix blind spots within both dance style.


Hobbies are great! The only thing that makes it better is diving deep into them. Some people won’t want to do that, and that’s ok. However, the dance will only get better once you start learning more.

I invite you to think about the “how”s and “why”s of your hobby. For some hobbies that’s buying a fancy book of knitting patterns from japan. For blues dancing, it’s learning about black culture and blues music.

Enjoy! And happy dancing.

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