Lindy Hop first appeared in the dancing scene in 1928 at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York City. It evolved from tap, jazz, and Charleston, common dances at the time. The name was created after aviator Charles Lindbergh made his first flight across the Atlantic in 1927 (called “Lucky Lindy” who “hopped” the Atlantic) (also see the related song “Lindberg Hop” by Memphis Jug Band).
The dance itself first appeared in a dance competition in 1928 when the couple “Shorty” George Snowden and Mattie Purnell created the breakaway pattern by accident. This styling continued to evolve, and after a while the manager of the savoy hired dancers like Shorty to entertain his clientele, about which Shorty said "When he finally offered to pay us, we went up and had a ball. All we wanted to do was dance anyway."
Over time, lindy hop continued to increase in popularity with the addition of air steps or aerials in the mid 1930s. Lindy Hop also started to appear in mainstream culture, including in Hollywood films such as Hellzapoppin', in which the dance troupe Whitey's Lindy Hoppers appeared (check it out here). By the 1940s, lindy hop had spread across the country as well as overseas to Europe.
The 1940s also saw derivations of lindy hop, including east coast swing, west coast swing (sometimes called Hollywood style lindy hop), alongside new dances such as boogie-woogie, Carolina shag, jive, and western swing. Over time, new dances replaced old and lindy hop fell out of popularity. However, the 1980s and 90s saw a revival of swing music, dancing, and culture.
Nowadays Lindy Hop is more and more taught alongside the Black origins of the dance; not only teaching about Shorty George dancing at the Savoy, but also about black entertainers having to use separate entrances, being paid less, and facing discrimination for nothing but the color of their skin. As the dance gained popularity over the years, it also became white-washed, and much of the dance's origins were forgotten or ignored. In today's swing revival, the origin of Lindy Hop is taught as an essential part of understanding the dance, and in understanding our own culture and bias today.