Frequently Asked Questions
What is "Swing Dancing"?
When we talk about Swing Dancing, we’re talking about dances that have evolved since the 1920s. The Swing family includes Charleston, Balboa, Shag, and and Solo Jazz Dance, but at the heart of swing dancing is Lindy Hop.
Lindy Hop evolved in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 30s as a fusion of many dances that were popular during that time. Lindy Hop’s original dancers were swinging out at the Savoy Ballroom to music from Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and many others.
Portland Swing Project teaches three different Beginning Swing Classes - 8-Count Lindy Hop, 6-Count Lindy Hop, and Charleston. Once you learn all three styles, we'll teach you how to seamlessly weave between them on the dance floor in our intermediate classes.
I'm a total beginner. And worried I can't dance. Where do I start?
Don't worry - we have Beginning Swing Classes that start from scratch, and we give clear, step-by-step instruction. We play lots of music in class so you'll have plenty of practice time. And we rotate partners in class so you only need to bring yourself! If you can walk, you can dance.
If you just want to get your feet wet, try one of our half-hour beginning lessons before our Thursday Night Dances.
What do "lead" and "follow" mean?
'Lead' and 'follow' are the two roles in partner dancing, and each comes with it's own set of skills and challenges. Leads often initiate the movement and follows often respond and add to it. If the analogy were painting a picture, the lead might create broad brush strokes and the follow might fill in the details. As dancers become more skilled, there is an increasingly interesting and creative role for the follow in the dance. This is a particularly great article about the role of the proactive follow.
I'm a little nervous about coming to my first swing dance.
Is there any dance etiquette I should know?
Well that's really cool that you even thought to ask! Check out our "Dance Etiquette" page to find out more.
I just started learning Lindy Hop and love it!
How can I improve my dancing quickly?
We're glad you asked! Check out our page, "Tips for Learning to Dance".
What should I wear to classes and dances? What about shoes?
Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely and stay cool - anything goes!
Wear comfortable shoes with smooth soles that aren't too sticky on the floor - much easier on the knees. You could put suede on the bottom of a comfortable pair of shoes if you're ready to make them "dance only" shoes. Another alternative are dance socks which transform your comfy shoes into dance shoes.
Without going too "off the rails" on the shoe topic, it's important to mention that, while style is important to a lot of dancers, it's super duper important to take great care of your feet and bodies so you can dance for many years to come. Prioritizing foot-health promoting shoes with a profile that follows a natural foot shape wide toe box and zero-drop from back to front (no heel) is helpful for many. I follow foot experts Gait Happens (excellent Instagram account as well) and decide on shoes to buy based on Anya's Reviews which review barefoot style shoes of all sorts. I currently dance in Splay Shoes (affordable, comfortable, and great!), and I've added suede to the soles for smooth dancing.
Can I retake a class for free?
If you're paying for a higher-level class (B or C), you can attend a lower level class (A or B) for free. However, if the lead/follow balance is off, you will be expected to fill in for the needed role. We encourage you to practice the opposite role as much as possible.
If the class is full, we might ask students taking the class for free to step out.
If you'd like to be sure to reserve a spot in a lower-level class, you are welcome to register and pay for a spot in a lower-level class.
I'm not sure I can afford classes. Do you offer any discounts?
If you are unable to pay full price for classes, please submit a Financial Assistance Form. We never want cost to prohibit anyone from dancing.