Category Archives: Uncategorized

California Routine–Are you up for the challenge?

Our last course of the year is a very special one–we’ll be teaching the California Routine! A classic lindy hop routine, choreographed by the legendary Frankie Manning, it draws on all of the fundamentals of lindy hop, including 6 beat, 8 beat and Charleston footwork. Once you know this routine, you will see it everywhere! Most lindy hoppers learn it at some point so it’s an easy impromptu performance piece. Whether you want to do more performing or you’re just looking to challenge yourself, this course is a great way to do it!

We will need to move quickly to get through the routine in four weeks so there are a few prerequisites. You will need to be familiar with basic 6 beat moves (tuck turn, passby, bring back), swingouts, and tandem Charleston. The version we do on the course will have some flashy moves but no big aerials so that we can focus on the dancing (for those that are interested we’re happy to help you add aerials in later!).

California Routine Course
Wednesdays, 20 November – 11 December
8:30 – 9:30pm at The Dance Studio Leeds
£32 for the 4 week course

Email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book your place

Here’s a sneak peek of what the California Routine looks like (with aerials)

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Add Some Fun to Your Life

When was the last time you rolled down a grassy hill or stomped in a puddle or made up a silly song? These days we all find ourselves spending far too much time working and planning and networking and generally adulting and we forget to make time to just have fun!

At Swing Dance Leeds we’re here to help. We want you to have a go at swing dancing, not so that you can become a pro and impress all of your friends–I mean that’s okay too–but mostly we want you too see how much fun it is! We think you’ll love it and that you’ll enjoy spending time with other people who have set aside the time to just do something fun for the hell of it.

How to get started

Our Fundamentals course will get you off to a great start and help you feel confident in your new found dancing skills. Classes are small so you will meet a lovely group of new friends and find out all about the swing dancing community in Leeds and other activities you can get involved in.  This course is appropriate for absolute beginners and anyone else who wants to re-visit their basics in a structured learning environment.

Course Details:
Wednesdays 25th Sept – 16th Oct
6:30-7:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
Cost: £32 for the 4wk course

Pre-booking and payment required in advance
to register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

For a full list of beginner lessons and drop in classes have a look here. And for those who might be feeling a bit nervous about their first class, check out this blog post: How to Survive Your First Dance Class

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Couch to Hellzapoppin’

It’s that time of year again when we ask the dancers of Leeds to show us what you’ve got! It’s time for the Couch to Hellzapoppin’ Challenge and this year we’ve got badges!

Here’s how to play:

  1. Start off with our Fundamentals Course. This is a 4 week introductory course that runs Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 at the Dance Studio Leeds. Take this at your own pace, some people do this course twice, for others once is enough. If you’re starting at the very beginning you’ve still got time to complete the whole challenge if you book onto the next Fundamentals course running 28th Aug – 18 Sept.
  2. Next up is the Swingouts Course. This one works on a quintessential Lindy Hop move and is an excellent follow on from the Fundamentals. Dates: 25 Sept – 16 Oct
  3. After that you’ll need to get some Tandem Charleston under your belt. Date: 23rd Oct – 13th Nov (if you’ve never done any Charleston before you’ll need to pop along to Hot Charleston to learn the basic step first)
  4. Wrap it all up with the California Routinea choreography that incorporates all of the standard lindy repertoire that you can learn in the courses mentioned above as well as a few extra flashy moves. It is easily the most famous lindy hop choreography and a fantastic goal to work towards (see video below)! Course Date: 20 Nov – 11 Dec

Have you got what it takes to go Couch to Hellzapoppin’?

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Science Says Learn to Dance!

It seems like every few weeks a new article is published with scientific studies demonstrating various health benefits of dancing. The latest article making the rounds states “researchers interviewed 1,000 people and found that often those who were dancing not only reported feeling happier, but also more satisfied with their lives, especially in relationships, health, and the goals achieved over the years.”

Dancing is great for your physical and mental health, can ward off dementia, and improve your quality of life. We’ve collected a few more articles on the benefits of dancing here. If you’ve never tried “proper” dancing don’t worry–the need to dance seems to be in our DNA! With just a bit of guidance you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier life (according to science!).

Start with the basics

Our Fundamentals course will give you a solid foundation in fundamental lindy hop moves and techniques, ideal for people who’ve never danced before. With small class sizes you will meet a lovely group of people, so you’ll have friends to dance with when you come along to a social dance or drop in class.  It is appropriate for absolute beginners and anyone else who wants to re-visit their basics in a structured learning environment. We run these courses regularly–the next one starts end of August.

Course Details:
Wednesdays 28th Aug – 18 Sept
6:30-7:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
Cost: £32 for the 4wk course

Pre-booking and payment required in advance
to register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

For a full list of beginner lessons and drop in classes have a look here. And for those who might be feeling a bit nervous about their first class, check out this blog post: How to Survive Your First Dance Class

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Is Lindy Hop for You?

Lindy hop is becoming more and more popular these days. There are a whole range of fantastic reasons to take up swing dancing! Some people start because of a love for swing music or vintage fashion, some are looking for a fun way to get more exercise, others are in search of a new hobby or a new challenge, some people are looking for a new way to connect with their partner or make new friends. Whatever the reason we’d love to see more people give swing dancing a try.

We take pride in the diversity of the Leeds lindy hop scene. You’ll see a range of ages on the dance floor, from 20-somethings to 60-somethings, in all shapes and sizes and colours. If you want to find out if swing dancing is right for you the best thing to do is pop along to a class. Our Fundamentals Course is a great way to start:

Learn the basics of Lindy Hop in just 4 weeks!

This course will give you a solid foundation in fundamental lindy hop moves and techniques, ideal for people who’ve never danced before. With small class sizes you will meet a lovely group of people, meaning you’ll have friends to dance with when you come along to a social dance or drop in class.  It is appropriate for absolute beginners and anyone else who wants to re-visit their basics in a structured learning environment. We run these courses regularly–the next one starts in May.

Course Details:
Wednesdays 1st -22nd May
6:30-7:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
cost: £32 for the 4wk course

Pre-booking and payment required in advance
to register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

For a full list of beginner lessons and drop in classes have a look here. And for those who might be feeling a bit nervous about their first class, check out this blog post: How to Survive Your First Dance Class

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It Don’t Mean a Thing….

You know it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing…If you’re ready to move beyond just executing moves this is the next step. Join us this May and learn to EXPRESS YOURSELF with our Musicality Course!

Musicality Course
Wednesdays; 1st – 22nd May
8:30 – 9:30pm at The Dance Studio Leeds
£32 whole course

Once you have a solid grasp of the basics and a good handful of moves under your belt the next challenge for most dancers is musicality–taking the moves and steps you learn in class and turning them into a three way conversation between you, your partner, and the music.

We take a practical and structured approach to musicality. We’ll cover the basic structure of swing music. We’ll help you find the parts of the music that speak to you and give you the tools to express what you hear. We’ll also look at how to work with a partner, and take inspiration from those around you.

As with all our courses the class size will be small so we can answer any questions and give individual attention. No partner required but pre-booking is essential.

Email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book your place

Here’s a favourite clip of ours, showing how musicality doesn’t have to be choreographed polished routines but just making it up as you go…

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How to Create a Welcoming Atmosphere for New Dancers

We love that lindy hop is a bit of a niche hobby, a little too geeky and involved to appeal to the mainstream perhaps and that suits us just fine BUT we also love having new people to dance with. So how can we make sure that those that do work up the courage to venture into our little subculture stick around long enough to become excellent dance partners? How do we make sure that our dance communities continue to grow? Here are a few things that anyone can do to help keep new dancers coming back for more.

  1. Be seen. Try to find a way to hold at least a few events in public spaces; outdoor dances, a social dance held in a space that is also open to the public, a charity event in a public space. All of these give people an opportunity to see what you do and how fun it looks. Make sure you’ve got some fliers for local classes for anyone who’s interested.
  2. Keep on top of  Social Media Make sure you’ve got information about your classes online at least with a simple website and facebook page and keep the information up to date so that potential new dancers can find out where and when classes are held and how to get in touch.
  3. Make the first move. This is one that everyone can help with. Keep an eye out for new people that you don’t recognize at a social dance and make a point of asking them to dance or at least say hello and introduce yourself. Will you intimidate them? Possibly (more on that in a moment) but more importantly you’ll make them feel welcome and included.
  4. Be Gentle. Dancing with newbies can take a bit of skill but here are a few tips that can help. Whether you’re a follower or a leader try to have a really clear bounce to help your partner find the beat. Keep it simple, avoid crazy variations or tricky moves. Be ready take it slow, new leaders may spend ages just stepping before they attempt to lead a move, new followers may need time to recover between moves.
  5. Be Reassuring If you’re dancing with a beginner dancer chances are that they’ll be worried that they’re doing everything wrong and ruining the dance for you. Let them know that they are doing a great job, they’ll learn faster by getting out there and social dancing. Even if you’re just having a chat with a newbie on the sidelines you can reassure them that everyone on the dance floor was once a beginner, encourage them to ask someone to dance, maybe even point out dancers that you know are good at dancing with newbies.
  6. Avoid unsolicited feedback Whether you’re having a social dance with a beginner dancer or dancing with them in a class, the one thing to avoid is giving them feedback or tips on their dancing. It might sound a bit counter-intuitive because you know they just want to get it right. However getting lots of unsolicited feedback can be overwhelming for any dancer and can make them feel very unwelcome. When you already feel like a clumsy octopus surrounded by graceful swans, and you’re desperately trying to keep up with what’s going on, the last thing you need is for every partner you dance with to let you know just how terrible you are. The most welcoming and effective way to help new dancers in a class is to be reassuring, make sure they are able to listen to what the teacher is saying, and help them practice by doing only what is being taught in a consistent way.
  7. Play music they can dance to. If you’re DJing a dance that has newer dancers in attendance make sure to periodically play some music that they can dance to–this might mean playing some slower tempo music or playing tracks that you know they’ve heard in class. If the event starts with a taster make sure the first few tracks at the start of the social dance are are the right style and tempo for whatever style was taught in the taster.
  8. Invite them along. Getting invited to go along with a group of dancers to the pub after a dance or for lunch between classes can easily be THE THING that tips the scale for a new dancer and makes them feel like they want to invest their time in becoming part of our community. Even though it was more than 15 years ago now, I’ll never forget the first workshop I went to and the dancers who invited me to join them for lunch that day and told me about a dance happening in the evening–that, more than anything else, is what made me want to keep going.
  9. Give them the inside scoop. Another great way to help beginner dancers is by letting them know about other classes, events and social dances that they can go to. Let them know where to find information about what’s going on in the local area, if there is a facebook group they can join or a website or community calendar to check.

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