Balboa involves chaining two-step movements together while shuffling the feet on the floor. The leader often wears leather soled dress shoes, while the follow often dances in high heels.
The dance was originally a response to overcrowded ballrooms where the break away (a move popular in lindy hop at the time) was often difficult, if not banned by the venue. Balboa is often perceived as a restrained or introverted dance, with most movement below the knees.
- Pure Balboa (Balboa Shuffle or Pure Bal or just the Balboa). Dancers stay in close embrace at all times, their torsos touching, doing variations based on footwork, turning as a couple, and moving as a couple. Balboa came from Southern California during the 20’s and increased in popularity until World War 2. Balboa is named for the Balboa Peninsula, in Newport Beach, California where it was invented. It is believed to have started at the Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach
- Bal-swing: originally known as just “Swing” or sometimes “Randy Swing” in Newspaper articles of that time is an eccentric dance unlike Balboa, which allows for improvisation. This dance style came from Charleston and its earliest known use was a contest in Venice Beach in 1932. The name “Bal-Swing” came about during the 1970s from an attempt to differentiate the dance from the much more general term “Swing Dancing.” While dancing Bal-swing, the closed connection of the Pure Bal can be broken, with partners doing other variations.
Both Bal-swing and Lindy Hop would have been considered dances done by jitterbugs during the 30’s and 40’s, unlike Pure Balboa which was done by a more mature dancer who wanted to avoid the Jitterbugs eccentric floor work.