Frankie Manning, Legend of Lindy Hop

What is Swing Dancing?
Swing dancing is a partnered social and performance dance usually danced to big band era swing music. There are many versions and types of swing dancing such as The Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, The Balboa, L.A. Swing, Swing Charleston, West Coast Swing, Shag, Jive, and others. In general, swing dancing is characterized by flashy footwork and swivels, energetic kicks, breaks, throws, and open traveling turns. In performances and competitions swing dancers also do aerial steps where one partner hoists the other partner up and over in various flips and holds. Socially, swing dancing is highly improvisational, not just in the lead and followed patterns but also in the individual styling and movements.

Swing Dance Lessons:
Every big city or area has swing dance lessons at private ballrooms and/or colleges. The best way to dig those up is to use an online search engine Google. You should take lessons from teachers who are active dancers and who are involved in the local swing dance scene. The whole point of taking swing dance lessons is to prepare yourself to go swing dancing. Check out our list of swing classes here.

Go Swing Dancing:
Swing dancing is an evening social activity that you can participate in up to 7 nights a week. Typically, if you don’t take a class beforehand you will pay a small cover charge just like at a night club. These dances are held at ballrooms, dance halls, gyms, colleges, restaurants and bars. Most people show up alone and dance with everybody else. You never need to come with a partner. Some dances have live bands and others play recorded music. When there is live music the cover charge is higher.

The Famous Aris Allen Whites

What to Wear:
Clothing is casual most of the time. However you are going to meet a lot of people so dress how you would like to represent yourself. Make a good 1st impression. If you are going to a special event dress up a little. Also, some swing dancers like to dress vintage or “like” swing dancers. After you come out a few times you’ll catch right on.

Shoes for Swing Dancing:
Wear shoes that don’t fall off. Some girls like to wear heels and some love cheap canvas flats. Guys sometimes wear leather bottomed dress shoes and sometimes cheap canvas flats. Over time you will find what suits you. Did I mention cheap canvas flats?

Starting Your Swing Music Collection:
As you get more serious about swing dancing you will want to build a swing music collection. An easy way to start is to find 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s music on iTunes or any store. Look for Big Band, Swing, and Jazz from those decades. Additionally there are many excellent modern recordings. Pick up CD’s from the live bands that play around town. When you go dancing you can ask the DJ for some suggestions. Also, if you hear a song that moves you ask the DJ for the title and version of the song. We also have some great articles/information about swing music on our blog, check it out.

Swing Dance Etiquette:
Say, “Yes” when someone asks you to dance. Say, “Thank You” to your partner after each dance. Stand outside the dance floor when you are not dancing. Stay fresh by showering, brushing your teeth, and wearing deodorant. If you get sweaty change your shirt. Be aware of the other dancers on the floor and try to respect their dance space. Apologize when you bump into somebody or get bumped into. Make eye contact some of the time with your dance partner. If you do turn somebody down for a dance you MUST not dance with anybody else for that song.

Online Dance Lesson:
And now, stand up and try these simple steps to get you warmed up to come out to your 1st lesson. Chant this 4 times. “Side and, side and, rock step” That is the rhythm of the 6 count pattern. Each word gets 1 count. Leaders start on the left. Followers start on the right.

Say Side and Side and Rock Step
Counts 1 2 3 4 5 6
Feet for Leaders Step Left Hold Left Step Right Hold Right Step Back Left Step Forward Right
Feet for Followers Step Right Hold Right Step Left Hold Left Step Back Right Step Forward Left