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, East Coast Swing 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 - Lindy Hop, Charleston and 6-Count Swing. 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 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 should I wear to classes and dances? Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely and stay cool - anything goes! Some people dress up a bit for dances, but it's all a matter of preference. Wear comfortable shoes with smooth soles that aren't too sticky on the floor - much easier on the knees. Vans, Keds or Toms are brands that work well, but you could also put suede on the bottom of a comfortable pair of shoes. Bringing separate dance shoes saves our floors, especially when there's rain or snow outside.
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".