What should I wear?
The most important thing is that you are comfortable in what you are wearing. Clothes that allow free movement are good. Layers are great, as you may well get warm and want to remove a layer during class.
Do I need specialist dance shoes?
Specialist dance shoes aren't necessary. The kind of shoes we recommend are something enclosed and supportive, ideally with a non-grip sole so you can really enjoy those swivels. a jazz style shoe or other kind of flattish lace-up is great, however, people dance in all styles of footwear, from trainers to heels. Come in the kind of shoe you are comfortable wearing everyday and we can advise you if you are finding them difficult to dance in.
What do I do if I don't have a partner?
Don't worry, you don't need to bring a partner for any of our classes, courses or workshops. Our Charleston classes concentrate mostly on solo work, which is great fun as it means you can learn moves to dance at a party and don't have to wait for a partner! For Lindy-Hop and Jive, where this is primarily a partnered dance, we rotate leaders and followers throughout the class so you are not just paired with one person, but get to dance with a range of different people. Our classes are full of friendly people so you won't feel left out.
What is lead and follow? How do I know which I am?
In partnered swing dance, one partner takes the lead and the other follows. Some dancers can take either role, while some prefer to learn and stick to one or the other. The lead is the person who decides and initiates what dance move is coming next and the followers take the direction. In the past it was customary for the men to take the lead role, and the women to take the follow role. However, today, anyone can lead and anyone can follow - we love to see female leaders and male followers. We love to see single-sex couples dancing as lead and follow, so you can try both roles and see which you prefer!
Which class or course is right for me?
We offer a few different styles of learning. If you've never danced before, you should try a beginners class or course. We start these from the very basics upwards with the very first steps you need to know. We offer these as both drop-in classes that you can try on a pay-as-you-go basis, or short-courses which are paid upfront. Drop-in classes are all stand-alone and you will usually learn a few moves which can be combined into a sequence. A short-course will build on moves learnt from each week into a complete dance routine so you will have an entire song's worth of dance moves by the end of it.
If you have already been learning swing dance for a few months or more, you can probably book for our improvers classes and courses, where you will need to have a grasp of the basic footwork in order to progress to some more advanced steps. For Charleston, we would expect you to know the basic Charleston footwork and moves such as the black-bottom, for lindy hop you would need to be familiar with 6 and 8 count basic footwork.
Intermediates should have been learning and dancing socially for at least a year as these classes will introduce some more tricky techniques and footwork.
We also offer open-level classes where anyone can come along. We will tailor the classes to your level and experience. If you are a complete beginner, you might want to come to one of our dedicated beginner classes first, as these are much faster-paced classes.
How quickly will I progress?
Unfortunately there is no real answer to this, as everyone learns differently. Many of our students will start to go and enjoy social dancing in public within a few classes, while others will prefer to stick to lessons for a long while before they feel like joining a social. Progress is never linear, and you might find one move really easy to pick up and struggle with another. The best way to learn is to have fun and practice, and this is what we would love you to do with us!
What exactly is the Charleston?
Think of the Charleston and you immediately conjure up images of flappers and The Great Gastby. The dance was created in the early 1920's and stemmed from authentic jazz, with moves borrowed from african-american dance stles such as juba. A fast rhythm and twisting step characterises the charleston. many people will recognise charleston steps such as 'grannies knee caps' and 'birdie walk', made famous by stars such as josephine baker.
Why Learn Charleston? The basic Charleston step is easy to grasp, enabling students to progress quickley into learning styling and variations. The Charleston can be danced solo or with a partner, making it versatile for all situations. The Charleston is also the originator of many modern dance styles and has brought about dance forms such as hiphop and funk, so those with a background in other dance forms will also gain from studying Charleston.
What exactly is the Lindy-Hop?
Lindy Hop originated in the 1920's and 1930's in Harlem, New York, drawing from Jazz and Charleston, and bringing African-American influences and combining them with a traditional european 6 beat or 8 beat count. The Lindy Hop is a partner dance with trademark moves such as the 'texas tommy' and can incorporate aerials such as 'over the back', many of which originated in the 30's in the renowned Savoy Ballroom. The most celebrated Lindy Hopper in history is Frankie Manning, who, together with groups such as Whitey's Lindy Hoppers popularised the dance and brought it into the mainstream.
Why learn Lindy Hop? The Lindy Hop is perfect for those who enjoy social dancing. A fun and creative dance, the Lindy Hop can be danced to a wide range of music due to it's long history. The Lindy Hop is also closely related to other forms of Swing dancing such as the Jitterbug and Jive and there is often crossover between the types.
What exactly is Jive?
The Jive is closely related to the Lindy Hop, with moves stemming from this dance. Jive became the most common form of swing dance after WW2 and it's heyday was the 1950's where the big skirts and petticoats in fashion led themselves to the twists and spins of the dance. Jive can be danced to any upbeat swing music but lends itself to boogie woogie and rock 'n roll. The dance is characterised by a bopping motion and lifting of the knees, along with a rocking or swaying motion of the hips.
Why learn the jive? As the Jive is classified as a latin ballroom dance, it is a great crossover for those who enjoy latin dances and want to try something new. If you love swing, and music from the rock 'n roll era, the jive fits in with this perfectly. It's a fun and social dance so great if you love dancing with others.