Do the Jitterbug

How to Jitterbug coverHow to Jitterbug

Submitter: It totally doesn’t belong in the children’s library collection anymore, but it’s more AWESOME Library Book than Awful (actually, one of my coworkers took it home for her own collection as soon as I showed it to her).


You’ll notice it’s actually copyright 1984 so it could be much worse, but like I said, I still think this is more an AWESOME discovery than an awful one, anyway.

Holly: It is pretty awesome…for a library other than yours or mine. I am absolutely shocked that the record survived the decades! It seems older than 1984, but I’m no dancer. Would the jitterbuggers among us enlighten me? Was this still a thing in 1984? Is it still a thing now?

Record in the book


  1. I know it had a resurgence in the late 90s because that’s when I learned how to swing dance for prom!

    1. Yes! Big Band Swing was also back in style- Brian Wilson (“Jump, Jive, & Wail”), Cherry Poppin’ Daddies& more. Plus Muholland Drive.

  2. Not surprising this came out in 84, as that was the year Wham! and their song “Wake me up before you go-go” came out, spending 3 catchy weeks at the top of the charts; you know, the one where with the prominent lyrics repeated over and over and over is “jitterbug.” Or maybe you just remember neon gloves and “Choose Life” shirts… *ahem* So of course kids of that time frame might have had an interest in looking it up. Funny though, 30-years later and as soon as I saw the word jitterbug, the song popped into my head.

  3. I’m wondering why this was ever in a children’s library. It looks kind of awesome now, but as a kid 1984, I can’t imagine picking it up. (That’s probably what helped preserve the record.)

  4. Are you kidding?! Think of the lyrics to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go!” It actually start with “Jitterbug” and is what went instantly into my head when I read the title lol I looked it up out of curiosity and the song was actually released in 1984 so there you go 😀

  5. The 80s had a lot of retro stuff going on – Happy Days was on until 1984 and there was a lot of other “remember when” stuff that decade, too…

  6. There is a Jitterbug / swing dance club at a local high school in my area. They visit elementary schools and do shows. But I don’t think they would want this book.

  7. The jitterbug originated in the USA in the 1930s and came over to Europe with the troops in WW2. I’m afraid the 1980s revival passed me by! A fun book though and I’m not surprised it was snapped up by a colleague.

  8. There was a lot of ’50s nostalgia in 1984, true. But I didn’t know anyone who went so far as to try to jitterbug, or even to dress in 1950s styles.

  9. Great, now I’m off to youtube George Michael and Wham in those fantastic short shorts and pastels.

  10. On behalf of swing-dancing librarians everywhere, I am here to say that YES jitterbug is still a thing. It is still danced socially and in competitions… it’s just not usually called “jitterbug” anymore. Rather, it’s referred to as “Swing” or “East Coast Swing,” or its more complex cousin, the LindyHop (actually, the dance depicted on the very 80s cover looks closer to a lindyhop swingout, albeit with pretty terrible posture!). Fans of “Dancing with the Stars” will probably recognize Jitterbug, also called “Jive” or “Swing” dancing in Ballroom Dance. Lindy and Jitterbug developed socially from dances like the Charleston and Foxtrot in the 1930s and 1940s in Harlem, NY and continued into the “sock hop” and rockabilly style of the 1950s. There was a swing/lindy resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s (remember those Gap khaki commercials?) thanks in large part to Swedish dancers and Frankie Manning (google him right now!). My guess is that this book was part of that early resurgence/renewed interest in swing dancing. This book looks really dated, especially for kids, but there are plenty of swing dancers out there doing the same basic steps. The dancers on the cover have pretty awful form, but our understanding of swing dance moves has become more “authentic” in the years since the 1980s rediscovery. The age alone makes this a weeder, plus I’m not sure you can learn how to dance like this from illustrations in a book: Do consider replacing with books on the history of swing dancing or instructional videos!

  11. A kid who was old enough to be interested in learning a dance but still getting books from the children’s section might have been, say, 12, in 1984. That kid is 44 now. That’s kid’s KID might no longer be looking for books in the children’s section. Weed it!

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