Lindy Hop is at its core, an expression of human joy. Not necessarily a disciplined, ultra-technical skill. Though, of course. It can be if you want it to be.
Before you roll your eyes and disregard dancing as something you are simply not able to do because you have "two left feet". Just know that everyone can Lindy Hop. But, of course, Lindy Hop doesn't scratch everyone's itch.
Lindy Hop can be practiced or "done" in many ways. The way YOU do Lindy Hop is up to you.
The short answer is no, and the long answer is also no.
This all might sound kitschy and cliche, but. It's true. And I'll tell you why.
And we don't need a 10-page paper on the history of dancing in America to understand why the answer to the question "Do I need to be a skilled dancer to Lindy Hop?" is no.
The history of the dance
While many dances have been codified into strict and deeply competitive forms from their once humble roots, Lindy Hop has not. It has always been a changing and evolving activity. And there has never been, to my knowledge a time when Lindy Hop's mainstream practitioners developed the dance into a form, written or otherwise where if you didn't "do it this way" you weren't doing Lindy Hop. This is a feature for most of its current practitioners with a few exceptions of course rather than a bug. Though its lack of structure doesn't attract everyone. Many people want to come into a dance class and be told exactly what to do and when to do it and not be expected to improvise. Lindy Hop, like its music, IS improvisational. Initially, you will learn the most common what I like to call "mini-choreographies" and then you dance with a partner who has also memorized these choreographies and then you do them together WITH the music.
A short digression:
We frequently joke in the Lindy Hop community that there aren't "mistakes" when you're learning. We do this for 2 reasons. One: is that its simply mentally and emotionally more helpful in our opinion to not focus on "fixing" "mistakes", but rather to focus on the very true fact that there genuinely are no negatives to the learning process, everything that's experienced is a part of the journey. Learning is not linear, and learning is not negative in any sense. If you're humbling yourself to learn a skill you're putting yourself in a position to feel bad about your ability to DO things, so if instructors focus oo
Back to the history discussion. As mentioned above, you may do whatever and the Lindy Hop technique's only requirements are safety and musicality. Do whatever it is you were going to do, but make it musical, and make it safely.
"I never taught people where to step on '2', because when I learned how to dance there was no '2'. We just danced to the music." ~ Frankie Manning
Americans don't dance, therefore. Dance is SCARY
It seems to me that there is a dearth of dancing in America. And for white people especially. Now, don't get me wrong, of course, I recognize all the different kinds of country-style dancing, ballroom, west coast swing, as well as all the other very popular dances done by many white Americans. These are exceptions to the rules. And, unless I'm mistaken, many of those communities feel as if dance as an activity was either a strictly skilled competition, a drunken afterthought, or something in between. This, in my humble opinion, is NOT the case with Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop is the competition-averse, sober person's dream activity. I, of course also must mention the Hispanic, Black, Asian, and indigenous communities have dance sometimes as integral to their gatherings as food. I am not referencing them. Mostly due to the fact their dances are a significant minority of overall Americans. Do not let white American culture ruin your capacity for joy. Do not let the community you grew near let you down now for the rest of your life. It is NEVER too late to dance. It is never too late to take up something that can potentially bring a polarized world into harmony with each other. Lindy Hop can be subversive to the point of revolution. A divided world united together with swingouts. A black-and-white world turned beautifully, ambiguously, and truthfully grey.
No experience needed - two left feet are welcome
Many who fall in love with Lindy Hop go the competition route, or the performance route, but most stick with it socially dancing and improving their basic techniques just for the love of doing it better than they had before. Lindy Hop is one of the few realms of adult American life where anyone can collectively practice an art form that doesn't need a ceiling to break through. By some member's estimations, there are people who have been doing Lindy Hop for 20-plus years who have seemingly never "improved" their basics but, they are still well-respected members of the community, they are always welcome, they are still loved, and frequently they are carriers of tradition and local historians.
Life is happening now - don't miss it
Don't let fear prevent you from starting. I know it's scary, but with the pandemic lifting, and ever more terrifying human events, learn to live NOW because a good future probably isn't coming. Despots have been known to ruin things for everyone else. I'm not saying "give up and distract yourself with dancing". I'm saying that dancing, might actually make you the closest you've ever been to true happiness. And there's no reason not to take advantage of that opportunity IF it's available to you.
Consumption is NOT the solution to your depression... Swingouts might be though!
I know it might not feel like it now, but I assure you. You are falling for exactly what the corporations want from you if you fill that common void in your soul by binging the next show as soon as it came out, or by buying lots of things like video games, protein powder, new gym clothes, new shoes, new make-up, new new new. Perhaps the happiness you're looking for is NOT consuming something for once. But, actually creating something. Creating something in tandem with others is one of the most satisfying things you could experience as a person. It's worth trying, I promise.