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Swing Dancing in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and all around Southern California!! Join us for lessons, dances, workshops, and more!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ):
Lots of great answers to common questions about swing dancing plus a lot of links and resources including my very special READ ME FIRST if you are brand new to swing dancing!

Types Of Swing Dance:
     Balboa
     Charleston
     Collegiate Shag
     East Coast Swing (Jitterbug)
     Lindy Hop
     SwingWalk
     West Coast Swing

Types Of Dance Lessons:
     Free Venue Lessons
     Group Lessons
     Workshop Lessons
     Private Lessons
     Online and Video Lessons

Class Levels:
     Beginner
     Intermediate
     Advanced
     No Partner Required!

Online Resources:
     One2Swing Daily Articles
     iDance.net
     socalswing.com
     thelindyhop.com

I AM LINDY HOP Why Lindy Hop? Come find out. Real people. Real stories.

README FIRST: BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SWING DANCING: This is a guide I wrote for brand new beginners. Includes my personal music recommendations

T ypes of Swing Dance: There are actually quite a few dances that would fall under the umbrella term "swing dancing". A lot of these dances followed the trends in music in America. We'll describe a few of the more popular ones here.


Balboa
Balboa is a fun and versatile swing dance born in the 1930's at the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California. Many of the original Balboa dancers were inspired by many different dances (both swing and non-swing) which lends to its versatility. Balboa, though typically danced to faster swing music, can easily be danced to a wide variety of music.

Why/When To Learn Balboa: Balboa and Lindy have a lot of similarities. Both are extremely fun and challenging to learn. Both are extremely versatile also as far as types of music you can dance to and tempos of music you can dance to. So basically the reasons to learn Lindy are the same reasons to learn Balboa.

The best way to decide is to watch both dances and see which one you like better. Or take some lessons in both and then decide which you'd like to pursue.

Of course since both dances are simply awesome, you should learn to do both of them anyway.

Charleston
Considered one of the ancestors of swing dancing, Charleston was the dance craze of the Roaring 20's. It was done mostly solo but also could be down with a partner with "swingouts" (which evolved into Lindy). A few terms you will hear are Solo Charleston, 20's Charleston, Side-By-Side Charleston, and Tandem Charleston or Shadow Charleston.

It is more common to see a whole song danced in Solo Charleston than Partner Charleston these days. Partner Charleston will usually be done in conjunction with Lindy, East Coast Swing, and Balboa to faster music.

Why/When To Learn Charleston: If you enjoy Charleston (dixieland/ragtime) music, then learning the Charleston is a good idea. Other than that, today Charleston as a social dance is usually done as a compliment to other swing dances (such as Lindy Hop and Balboa). For that reason it's a good dance to learn while you learn other swing dances. In fact many East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop instructors will usually take time to teach Charleston as part of their class series.

Collegiate Shag
Similar to Balboa, this dance developed independently as well and dates back to ragtime/dixieland - same as Charleston. This dance quickly became popular with college kids around the nation and eventually spawned many geographic variations (such as St Louis Shag, Carolina Shag). The basic steps are very similar to East Coast Swing.

Why/When To Learn Collegiate Shag: Similar to Balboa, it's another good dance to learn so you can dance to fast music without getting too tired. The difference is that Balboa has a lot more levels and flexibility to it and can easily be danced many songs in a row. Bal-Swing (Balboa with Charleston and Lindy influences) provides even more possibilities for the dance. Collegiate Shag is harder to integrate into other dances. It is also a bit more limited in its footwork variations. For that reason I do not suggest Collegiate Shag as an initial swing dance to learn but rather a compliment to other swing dances..

East Coast Swing (commonly referred to as "Jitterbug")
There are a lot of stories about how East Coast got started as well as how it became popular. From the 1940's until the 1950's jazz music entered the bepop area. The non-bebop jazz became Jump Swing, then Jump Blues, then Rhythm and Blues (R&B) which combined with pop to enter a number of great swinging songs in the 1950's such as Bill Haley's "Rockin' Around The Clock". This is when the step known as East Coast Swing became very popular.

Another story of how it became popular is that it was ballroom dancing's version of swing as they refused to recognize "Lindy Hop" as a ballroom dance. They instead chose East Coast Swing as its "swing" dance which is why "swing" in a Ballroom context refers to "East Coast Swing".

Regardless, the more raw look and feel of East Coast pretty much came out in the 1950's and has surived through today in both the "50's" culture via the Rockabilly scene and the ballroom culture. The ballroom versions are split into "Jive" (Latin/International Rhythm) and "East Coat Swing" sometimes called "Jitterbug" (American Rhythm).

Why/When To Learn East Coast Swing: East Coast Swing is probably the easiest swing dance to learn. This is good if you simply want to learn one social dance for any type of social gathering (such as a wedding). After about two hours of learning East Coast Swing, the normal non-dancing person will be in awe of you. This is also good as a starter dance if you are rhythmically challenged and can be a great stepping stone to more complicated social dances (swing or non-swing).

East Coast Swing is also a good dance to integrate into Lindy Hop for contrast in your Lindy (adding six count moves to your eight count moves).

Lindy Hop
Charleston swingouts eventually evolved into Lindy Hop as the world of jazz changed from Dixieland to Boogie Woogie and Big Band in the late 1920's through the mid 1940's. Lindy Hop is considered by many as the ancestor of all swing dances. It is one of the more difficult swing dances to learn. It's also one of the most jubilant and most fun.

Why/When To Learn Lindy Hop: Especially if you enjoy big band and swing jazz, you should learn Lindy Hop. If you plan on pursuing swing dancing for more than a few months, then Lindy Hop is a great place to start. It teaches good foundational lead/follow. Also, if you learn Lindy Hop, you should feel comfortable going to any social swing dance event not only in Southern California but basically anywhere in the United States and even in countries around the world.

Swingwalk
Swingwalk is what was danced in Lindy Hop ballrooms around the outside (in a circle) while Lindy Hoppers took the center of the floor. Definitely has inspirations in ballroom. However, though you may easily find clips of 1920's and 1930's ballroom dances, you may have a hard time with finding Swingwalk simply because it was never really "taught" or performed. It was just danced (similar to Lindy Hop in the old days). We first learned it from classes with Steven and Virginie and fell in love with this awesome and versatile dance. It combines elements of Balboa and ballroom while keeping the jubilation and attitude of Lindy.

Why/When To Learn Swingwalk: It's another great dance to pick up and add in to your repertoire. Swingwalk is a great choice for fast tempos (other than OR in addition to Lindy, Balboa, and Charleston). It's also surprisingly complimentary to good ol' funky west coast swing music (instead of double-timing and doing funky Bal). In fact, the reason I really liked Swingwalk when I first learned it was because it was such a great compromise between Balboa and funky body movement (if you know me, you know I'm a FUNNKKY person!).

West Coast Swing
Lindy also evolved into West Coast Swing pretty much through the 40's all the way up until today. . As East Coast Swing was done mostly to pop and six-count patterns, West Coast Swing became the dominating dance to R&B and with eight count patterns. Today West Coast Swing is done to many differnt types of music, most commonly at speeds of 120bpm or 130bpm and usually of R&B and Pop genres (such as Prince's "Kiss" or Sheila E's "The Glamorous Life").

Why/When To Learn West Coast Swing: The answer here is the same as the answer for Lindy Hop. The deciding factor is music. If you like swing music, go for Lindy Hop. If you like contemporary (R&B and Pop), go for West Coast Swing.

L esson Types

Free Venue Lessons
When you go out swing dancing, many venues will offer a "free" swing lesson with your cover charge! This is how Ben got started in dancing.

THIS IS GOOD FOR those that are just curious, who just want to try it out.. for the casual dancer who may or may not want to get better and instead really just enjoys the social "nightlife" atmosphere swing dancing provides!

Click here to find out where to go dancing

NOTE: Not all social dancing venues offer a free lesson. Contact them ahead of time to find out if they offer a free lesson. Even if they don't, it's good to go out and just go social dance! Social dancing is a key part of improving your dancing quickly!

Group/Series Lessons
This is usually offered through a studio instead of a venue. This is usually once a week, typically for four to six weeks, and is progressive. This is how Sheri got started in dancing.

THIS IS GOOD FOR people who want to learn faster and want the closer attention of teachers. Group lessons are very popular for three reasons: 1) their affordability compared to private lessons, 2) it's an avenue to meet other like-minded dancers, and 3) they're progressive as opposed to the "Free Venue Lessons" which usually are not. So you can usually get further taking a group series. Also, Group/Series lessons are good for those that just like to take classes and do not necessarily want to go to night venues.

Workshop Lessons
This is similar to a "Group/Series" lesson except instead of progressing through a number of weeks, all the lessons are offered on one or two days. Ben and Sheri have both taken many workshops.

THIS IS GOOD FOR just about any dancer at any level. The positives for "Workshops" are similar to the positives for "Group/Series" lessons with the difference being time committment. Instead of a weekly comittment of one or two hours, it's a one or two day committment of several hours. Also, workshops are usually the way a local studio can have an out-of-town teacher teach (as he/she may only be in town for a weekend). So workshops provide a great opporutnity for a local student to learn from a teacher they ordinarily wouldn't have a chance to take a group lesson from.

Private Lessons
Just like what it sounds like, this offers the ultimate in convenience and attention for the person taking the lesson.

THIS IS GOOD FOR those people with "special circumstances" (weddings, auditions, etc.), those that want to learn in a hurry, those that want the personal attention, for those that are not satisfied with "Group/Series" lessons, and for those that need the convenience of private lessons as far as scheduling is concerned.


Online and Video Lessons
Of course you can always get videos, DVDs, and online lessons as well. Cost and quality of video lessons will differ from instructor to instructor. Sheri and I both have a good amount of instructional video tapes at home and reference them from time to time.

THIS IS GOOD FOR people who want to learn in the comfort of their own home and are a bit shy about face-to-face instructor time. Other positives include being able to watch the video over and over again. Also the cost of a DVD is usually less than a private lesson and so you get a lot of material for your dollar. The trade-off is you do not get face-to-face instructor time and so you have to judge for yourself if you are learning correctly or not. Also quality of instruction on a DVD is hit or miss (even if the teacher is great in person!).

Erik and Sylvia's DVDs are really good (Lindy, Balboa, and Shag). Steve and Heidi also put out a nice 3-DVD set. Doug Silton produces a variety of instructional DVDs.

Another neat alternative is idance.net where you can download lesson clips one at a time. Clips start at $.99 each.

Ben and Sheri's Online Video Lessons at iDance.net
Erik and Sylvia's DVDs



C lass Levels

Level I (a.k.a. Beginner):
No experience is required to start taking lessons at this level. This is the "back-to-basics" level. Though targeted towards the beginner to beg/int dancer, it is appropriate for anyone. We focus on learning the steps and also incorporating good technique to set a foundation for you to become a great social dancer!

Level II (a.k.a. Intermediate):
This is a beg/int to int/adv level. You should already know the basic plus a handful of variations. It's good to have a nice foundation in connection/technique as well as familiarity with musicality. We usually cover some more intricate combos and stylings in these levels to improve your connection, technique, and musicality.

Level III (a.k.a. Advanced):
This is an int/adv and higher level. These classes move very fast. We cover complicated combos, stylings/slides that require a high level of connection. It goes without saying that you need to be able to do your basic at just about any speed and in your sleep, as we will tend to focus on pure body lead and abandon the "normal" basic.

NO PARTNER REQUIRED!
No partner is required at any of the lessons we teach (the exception would be aerials lessons). So come on by!

O nline Resources

One2Swing Daily Articles

A few select articles appropriate for this page.

Dancing With Music (it's not just about the moves!)
Getting Started: A Beginner's Guide
Improvement Through Competition
Staying Inspired (in a rut? hit a plateau?)
Tips For Musicality And Styling
The Birth of Swing (excerpts from a conversation with Frankie and Norma)
Thoughts on Connection
Thoughts on Connection: Part II
Where To Go Dancing (So.Cal)
Working On The Lindy Basic (Leads)

iDance.net

Go to Ben and Sheri's iDance page and see our online instructional clips. While you're make sure to check out their full library. There are a lot of clips from a lot of teachers so have fun!

socalswing.com

socalswing.com is a discussion board and bulletin board for Southern California and beyond. Read discussions and see what events are coming up.

thelindyhop.net

thelindyhop.com is an impressive resource of links to just about every swing dance site around the world.

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