What Is The Charleston? - Strictly All You Need to Know

What Is The Charleston? - Strictly All You Need to Know

The Charleston is a fun and energetic ballroom dance style that is nostalgic of the 1920s. With its fast-paced steps, energetic performance style and glamorous costumes, there is no sign of the Charleston going out of style anytime soon. 

In this Strictly Come Dancing ‘What is the Charleston?’ Special we speak to Professional Dancer and Choreographer Hannah Flynn who danced and choreographed routines on Strictly. Specialising in swing dance, Hannah knows exactly what the judges will be looking out for when the celebs and their partners take on the Charleston. 

There are many variations of the Charleston from the way it is performed to the concepts and costumes used in the performance, this gives dancers a great opportunity to give the dance their own unique twist and express their distinct style. The best dances and most memorable performances not only contain a high level of technical execution but also allow the dancer’s personalities to be felt by the audience. Strictly Come Dancing contestant Joe Sugg and partner Dianne Buswell danced the Charleston to 'Cotton Eye Joe' in a unique country remix of the 1920s ballroom dance style. 

Social Media Influencer Joe Sugg and Professional Dancer Dianne Buswell traded the flapper dresses and 1920s suit for flannel shirts and a barnyard setting as they reinvented the Charleston for a modern day country world. Impressing the judges with their energy and original interpretation of the classic dance style the pair scored 31 points out of 40, an impressive feat for week two of the competition. 

What is the Charleston? An Interview with Professional Dancer and Former Strictly Come Dancing Choreographer Hannah Flynn

The Charleston was and still remains to be a very popular ballroom dance style. The renowned dance style of the 1920s, the Charleston was danced by both young women or otherwise known as Flappers, and young men of the ‘Roaring 20s’ generation. It consists of fast-paced swinging of the legs, big arm movements and high energy.  


In the 1920s young men and women rebelled against the etiquette and moral codes of their parent's generation with young ladies cutting their hair, shortening their skirts, wearing makeup, drinking alcohol and smoking. Going against the popular dance styles of the 19th Century and early 20th Century such as the Polka, Two Step and the Waltz (link to Waltz piece), the new carefree generation of the Roaring 20s created a new craze which was soon to become known as the Charleston.


When speaking with professional dancer and former Strictly Come Dancing Choreographer Hannah Flynn, Hannah identified the main characteristics of the Charleston:


“Charleston music is ragtime jazz, in quick 4/4 time with syncopated rhythms and can be performed as a solo, duet or group. The basic characteristic of the Charleston is the bounce or ‘pep’ which runs throughout the entire dance. 


The most well-known attributes are the foot swivels, head shakes, arm movements and kicks. However, these elements must be in addition to the basic bounce, as it is this that gives the dance it’s base energy and musicality. If the bounce is not evident in every step then the quality of the dance is very flat.”

What Will the Judges be Looking for When Watching the Celebrities Perform the Charleston?

“Energy and performance, you can not dance the Charleston without these two elements. 


Technical aspects will include the basic bounce throughout, in addition to foot swivels with both feet, kicks, correct arm and hand movements, musicality, precision and interesting choreography.”

What Was it Like Performing and Choreographing for Strictly Come Dancing?

“Performing and choreographing for Strictly is unlike anything else I have worked on. From excitement to nerves you are on a constant emotional rollercoaster for the entire season. It’s hard work, you have to be on your toes, flexible in your thinking, able to deal with last minute changes and one step ahead the whole time, but it is also one of the most unique, fun and exhilarating projects to be a part of.”


Why Do You Think Strictly Come Dancing is So Popular?

“Strictly Come Dancing as we know it is now in its 16th consecutive season on BBC 1. Its popularity can be attributed to many elements including beautiful sets and staging, the incredible band and singers, stunning costumes and intricate choreography.


The fact that it’s a live show means viewers are able to join in, vote for their favourite couple and have a say in the outcome of the competition. This means they are invested in the journey of the couples throughout the season. Add that to the glitter and sequins and you have a winning combination that has made the show a Saturday night British tradition.” 

What Do Ballroom Dancers Wear When Performing the Charleston?

“The style of the Charleston has certainly been reworked and inspired by new trends and themes with Social Media Influencer Joe Suggs dancing the Charleston in a flannel shirt and country barnyard setting. However, traditional Charleston attire is very much representative of the ‘Roaring 20s’ with female ballroom dancers sporting a shorter hairstyle, shorter skirt or flapper dress and male dancers either a suit or chinos and a smart shirt.”

What is the Charleston? Hire Ballroom Dancers for your Event and Find Out!

The Charleston is a fabulous ballroom dancing style that is perfect for 1920s themed events and Great Gatsby themes, hiring ballroom dancers to perform at your event is a guaranteed hit with guests and an entertainment option that thoroughly entertains and brings the energy up.


Our New York Swing Dance Duo keep the energy high and transport guests back in time to the Roaring 20s with their glamorous Charleston routines and dazzling costumes. Specialising in swing dance from the 1920s to the 1950s this energetic ballroom dancing couple perform thrilling routines and wear fabulous costumes that are specific to each era.


Vintage Swing Dancers London


These Vintage Swing Dancers certainly know how to bring the Charleston to life with their fabulous group dances that capture the history of the Charleston and the excitement of the Roaring 20s era. Offering workshops, as well as performances our vintage dancers are a must have at every event and guaranteed to fill dance floors with their captivating and interactive ballroom dancing and Charleston performances.

1920s Twin Dancers

What Is The Charleston? - Strictly All You Need to Know

Our 1920s Twin Dancers may not be your traditional ballroom dancer couple but they certainly know how to Charleston. Having performed all over the globe our twin dancers not only perform energetic Charleston routines but they also lead your guests in an interactive workshop that gets everyone on the dance floor and moving in true 1920s style. We even had the pleasure of experiencing their Charleston workshop first hand when the twins visited the office! Read our news piece on how the team got on with all the Charleston steps.

Find The Perfect Accompaniment for your Charleston Ballroom Dancers

The Charleston demands high energy, and lots of it! Finding the perfect musical accompaniment for your ballroom dancers Charleston routine is incredibly important, and it doesn’t need to be limited to the 1920s. Ballroom Dancers can perform the Charleston to current hits that suit the 4/4 timing and audiences will still know it’s a Charleston.


Charleston Cover Band

What Is The Charleston? - Strictly All You Need to Know

A cover band that embodies everything about the Roaring 20s, our flapper girl singer and her band of talented musicians provide the perfect accompaniment for your Charleston dancers. Singing popular covers of current songs as well as hits from the 1920s, this Charleston Cover Band keep the energy high and create a fabulous Great Gatsby and 1920s vibe at every event.

What is the Charleston?  All You Need To Know

A ballroom dancing style that is packed full of energy, history and excitement, the Charleston is a guaranteed hit at every event and the perfect addition to any 1920s theme or Great Gatsby inspired soirée. With many ballroom dancers adapting the style and the look of the Charleston with modern costumes, the Charleston still remains a timeless classic that is a joy to watch.

Explore More Ballroom Event Dancers

With a whole host of ballroom dancers from across the globe to choose from, head over to our Dancers section and click Ballroom Act to discover and book high-end ballroom dancing acts, perfect for Strictly Come Dancing inspired soirees.

Get In Touch With The Global Entertainment Experts

If you’re still asking the question ‘what is the Charleston?’ Then get in touch with our team of highly experienced Entertainment Specialists who are more than happy to help you with all your questions and queries and will find you the perfect ballroom dance act for your event.

Learn More About Ballroom Dancing…

Strictly All You Need to Know About the Waltz


What Is The Quickstep? Strictly All You Need to Know


What Is The Tango? - Strictly All You Need to Know

__By Charlotte Russell

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