Tag Archives: Newbies

Is Lindy Hop for You?

Our city of Leeds hosts a lovely diverse and vibrant Lindy Hop community. These lovely dancers make a start for a wide variety of different reasons. Some people take up swing dancing because of a love for vintage fashion, some are fans of swing music and trad jazz, some people come in looking for a fun way to get more exercise, some come in search of a new hobby or a new challenge, others are looking for new ways to connect with their partner or make new friends. These are all fantastic reasons to take up swing dancing!

You’ll see a range of ages on the dance floor, from 20-somethings to 60-somethings, in all shapes and sizes and all colours of the rainbow. If you want to find out if swing dancing is right for you the best thing to do is pop along to a class. For a list of beginner lessons and drop in classes have a look here. Another great option is our Fundamentals Course:

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

Course Details:
Wednesdays 26th Sept – 17th Oct
6:30-7:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
cost: £30 for the 4wk course

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

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Dance Weekends 101

If you’ve been taking classes and maybe even started venturing out to try social dancing the next adventure for you should be traveling to a dance weekend. You now speak the international language of dance and one of the most fun things you can do with this new found skill is to travel to another city anywhere in the world, have a dance with someone you’ve never met, and be amazed at how well it goes! Not sure where to start or what to expect here’s a handy guide:

Types of Events

Dance Camps: These are weekends or even a whole week with classes from one or more sets of teachers and often social dancing as well. This kind of event is great for those that like intensive/immersive learning opportunities. They’re also really great for getting to know other dancers since you will spend a lot of time with the group of dancers in your classes. Some events have leveled streams, others are multilevel, some offer taster classes in other related dance styles. Some events may also include competitions as a small part of the event or even as a focus. There are several camps that run over Christmas/New Years and in the summer that offer a whole week or multiple weeks of classes and events. Examples of dance camps: Swing Revolution, London Swing Festival, Lindy Shock, Herrang, Swing Summit

Exchanges: An exchange is a full weekend of social dancing (usually without any classed). These often feature live bands, and some combination of evening dances, late night dances, daytime dancing and social events. Exchanges are great for dancers who want to dance dance dance as much as possible and also chill out and meet new people from all over. Examples exchanges: Leeds Swing Exchange, London Lindy Exchange, Arctic Lindy Exchange

Top Tips for Attending Dance Festivals

Where to Look: If you’re looking for an event to attend, Swing Planit is a good one-stop-shop. Your local teachers may be able to recommend events that are popular with dancers in your area. If you want to know what events we’ll be teaching at have a look at our Dance Weekends page.

Plan Ahead: If you’re a single leader you may be able to spontaneously book an event the week before but be aware that some sell out way in advance. It’s a good idea to be looking ahead several months and take note of when bookings open for events you want to attend. If you’re a single follower, booking onto events in Europe can be a challenge–try to register as soon as bookings open to avoid being put on a waiting list. Or, even better, try to find a leader to book with either by asking around in your local scene or posting a message on the event’s facebook page or in a group like Followers & Leaders Let’s Book Together

What to Bring: Let’s just start by saying it’s totally fine to pack twice the amount of clothing and shoes for a dance weekend that you would for any other weekend trip! If you haven’t been dancing for very long be prepared for your feet to take a bit of a beating. Definitely bring more than one pair of shoes to dance in, in case one pair becomes uncomfortable or isn’t a good match for the floor at a venue. It’s also a good idea to bring some plasters and moleskin tape or blister plasters. Bring cool comfy clothes for classes. Depending on where you are staying you may need to bring a sleeping bag, towels, ear plugs/sleep mask. Evening socials may have a theme, if you plan to go to a dance in fancy dress plan a costume that will be comfortable to dance in. If there are no themes you may want to just bring some nicer outfits for the social dances. (Pro tip for those who wear dresses: lot’s of dancers wear shorts under their dresses so that they don’t have to worry about showing their pants). Social dances may be a bit more crowded and hot and sweaty than what you’re used to so you may also want to consider bringing extra tops, a fan or a sweat rag.

Make the Most of It: The best way to make the most of your dance event experience is to DO ALL OF THE THINGS–especially the things that make you a bit nervous! Ask strangers to dance, enter a competition, take a tour of the city, take advantage of all of the learning opportunities. If you are taking classes bring along something to take notes on after class or make sure you have space on your phone to film the recap that many teachers will do at the end of a class. Dance weekends are also a great opportunity to take private classes from teachers you like. If meeting new people is a priority, try to stay with local dancers rather than in a hotel if that’s an option, volunteering at the event is another great way to meet people (if volunteering isn’t offered as an option when you register just ask the organiser), taking classes is also a good way to get to know people or if you’re attending an event with no classes make sure to take part in whatever tasters or social activities are offered.

Avoid Burnout: Dance weekends can be pretty full on! Here are our best tips for avoiding fatigue: If possible try to stay as close to the venues as possible (to minimise travel time and maximise napping time!). Scope out the food options ahead of time for lunch and dinner (and consider how many other dancers will be there at the same time) to avoid having to wait a long time to your food. More waiting=less napping. If you prefer less crowded dance floors and a good night’s sleep, you’ll probably want to arrive right at the start of the evening dance. If you want to be able to make it to the end of the late night (and get up for class the next morning) you may want to have a good rest over the dinner break and arrive a bit later to the evening dance. Either way, you might want to consider booking the day after the event off of work so that you have a day to recover! If you’re taking classes don’t be too hard on yourself! Get geeky about your dancing during the classes and have a bit of a practice of your new skills at the social dances, but make sure you also give yourself a bit of a break to just enjoy dancing so that your head doesn’t explode.

 

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All Are Welcome!

What Does a Lindy Hopper Look Like?

On a fairly regular basis we get emails from folks asking if they would be welcome in a lindy hop class if they don’t happen to look like either of the people in this silhouette. So here’s a quick run down of what to expect from lindy hop classes and socials that will hopefully reassure you that this dance is for everyone! I can’t guarantee that what I say here will be true of every class everywhere you go but this what you can expect from the classes and events listed on our website (and this is the trend in the wider lindy hop scene in general).

Sometimes when people think of vintage partner dancing, they think of big frilly skirts, dapper hats, two-toned shoes and traditional gender roles. However, just because lindy hop is a vintage dance it does not mean that we all act as though we’re living in the 1930s. Some dancers go in for victory roles and seamed stockings but many dress in jeans and T-shirts or whatever else they feel like wearing. Lindy hop is still typically danced as a partnership between a leader and a follower, though it has become completely normal to see dancers dancing whichever role they choose regardless of gender. At a lindy hop class or social dance it is the norm to change partners regularly through the evening rather than to have one set partner. This gives everyone a bit more freedom to choose the role that suits them and to dance with a variety of partners. Some dancers prefer to focus exclusively on leading or exclusively on following while others start with one role and then learn the opposite role as well so that they can dance with everyone. Occasionally you may even come across an ambidancestrous class in which everyone dances both roles throughout the class.

So, how do you know who you can dance with?

In classes we’ll usually ask that you choose one role (lead or follow) and stick with that role throughout the class. Followers and leaders may be asked to gather at opposite ends of the room at the start or there will be some other mechanism to help everyone find an appropriate partner such as having leaders raise their hands to identify themselves. At a social dance the best policy is to watch and see. Once you’ve been to a dance a few times you’ll quickly become familiar with the dancers who attend regularly and will know who dances which roles. If you’re new you’ll need to pay a bit closer attention. If you are a follower look out for anyone who’s leading, those are the people you can ask to dance and vice versa. If you want to be extra sure, it’s fine to approach someone and say something like “Hi, would you like to dance? I’m a leader”

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