The jitter bug (originally called the "Hop") first became popular in the 1920's, although its popularity was limited primarily to Harlem. The name Lindy replaced the name "Hop" in flight across the Atlantic. In the 1930's when white dancers discovered the Lindy, the name "Jitterbug" often was used to describe the dance. .
The music that this dance accompanied was jazz, which by the 1930's was also called Swing, and which traced its origins to ragtime, Dixieland and Blues. A blending of African solo movement for personal expression and European folk/courtly social dance, swing dance has remote roots. The dance first took place on the African-American side, often as a mockery of European partner dancing. As African American partnering styles developed, they became much more sexually suggestive than even the most social dances.
There is a unique look to the dance costume of Jitterbug. Unlike most dances, there is a wild, let loose look about the jitterbug outfit. Wherever there are Swing dancers, there is the look: vintage 1940's dresses, wide brimmed hats, rolled hairstyles, and red, red lipstick.
The style of Jitterbug is rambunctious and fast, and takes great flexibility to perform. There are moves when the women is flipped over the man's head and lands on the floor doing a split, and rises again to continue the dance. There are hundreds of moves for the jitterbug, and more are being created everyday.
From this observation you can get an idea of the culture this dance comes from. The energized, fast movements represent youth in the origins of Jitterbug. Jitterbug's relation to Dixieland and the Blues represent the African-American roots of Jitterbug. The fact that dancers of the Jitterbug wear clothes that were worn in the 1940s shows that they appreciate something about that time period-We can't be sure, but maybe it was just the jazzy fun of that time.