Are you sociable, energetic, and like to move? If so, then swing dancing may be a good fit for you to learn out of all of the dance styles out there. Swing dancing is fun and not that difficult when you compare it to some other dances out there.
But not all swing dances are created equal. There are different types of swing dances that are specific to different musical genres and steps. Before you put on your dance shoes and head out onto the dance floor, it’s important to be familiar with what you’re going to be doing during your swing dance.
If you’re not familiar with swing dancing and the different swing dance styles, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We’re going to take a look at the history of swing dancing, the different styles of swing dances, and swing music, as well as give you some beginner tips to get started.
Get your dancing shoes on and let’s go!
What is Swing Dancing?
Swing dancing is known as the group of dances that came about during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. It takes elements from different dances and combines them with contemporary constricted rhythm structures.
What are Different Types of Swing Dances?
Swing dancing is not just one type of dance. There are several different types of swing that fall under the general swing umbrella. These types of swing include:
East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing is also known as Triple Step swing because of the rhythm of the basic triple step. It is the base for all swing dances and is a simple dance.
In this dance, there are six-count patterns and eight-count patterns. To start, a man and woman step back. The Triple Step swing is a circular dance that has a bounce. It is not high in the legs and is very grounded. To do this dance, the dancer has to stay very smooth and not jump much. They require a rock step back.
West Coast Swing
You’ll see six-count patterns and eight-count patterns in the West Coast Swing as well. They are done in a slot. Instead of a rock step, the woman walks forward on count one. This swing dance is done to medium tempo music that is slower than East Coast Swing.
As you get better at this dance, you can do it to fast tempo music. There are no bouncy movements to this dance, and it has a very smooth feel. You won’t see many high kicks or moves that require the dancer to leave the floor.
The Hustle resembles the West Coast Swing pattern. It uses disco-style music and revived partner-style dance among nightclub dancers in the 1970s. The Hustle is a fast, smooth tempo partner dance. The woman spins constantly, while her partner draws her close and then moves her away.
The Jive is the European version of East Coast Swing dancing. It consists of six and eight- count patterns, with bouncy movements, and sharp kicks and flicks. Jive is danced to faster tempo music and is often part of competitive style dancing with its intricate footwork.
The Lindy Hop
The Lindy Hop is a member of the swing dance family. It’s frequently referred to as a jazz dance but is a fusion of many dances. The Lindy Hop is an African American dance that originated in Harlem, New York. Legend has it that the name Lindy Hop was inspired by aviator Charles Lindbergh who hopped the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.
There are many other swing dance styles as well. As you learn more, you can discover which types of swing dance styles you prefer and work more on those.
Beginner Tips for Learning Swing Dances
Before you start any type of swing dance, consider these beginner tips:
- Learn the basics
Learn the basics of swing dance and the traditional swing dances if you want to become a swing dance pro. Once you get these down, you can try the more complicated moves. Practice them everywhere and whenever you can!
- Dance with different partners
Swing is a partner dance, so you’ll want to dance with different partners instead of the same one all the time. You’ll find that dancing with different people can teach you new things and will help you become a better dancer.
- Record yourself
Record yourself dancing so you can watch the footage back and see what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
- Listen to swing music (lots of it)
When you’re just starting out, listen to a lot of swing music. It will help you with rhythm and breaks.
- Take dance lessons
By taking swing dance lessons, you can improve your technique and your style. You can learn from other swing dancers and see how they move.
- Watch other dancers
While you want to get as much practice as possible, watching other dancers, especially those who have mastered professional swing dancing, will help your craft. As you watch them and learn the basics, you can begin to learn other swing dances as well.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
When you first start out, you’re going to make mistakes. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes, learn from them so you can become a better swing dancer.
- Attend a swing camp
It may be a little intense, but attending a swing camp, Lindy Hop exchange, or workshop can really help you learn how to swing dance. These are like swing dance boot camps. There are usually dances at night that have advanced swing dancers or professional dancers to inspire you to continue to swing dance and get better at your craft. There is a huge event in Southern California known as Camp Hollywood. But, you don’t have to go to Southern California. There are plenty all over the country year-round.
FAQ About Swing Dancing
If you’re thinking of learning how to swing dance, you may still have some questions before you get started.
Do I need a steady dance partner?
Not at all! When you’re just learning how to swing dance, you’ll learn moves that can be used with all partners.
Do I have to be a certain age to swing dance?
No! Swing dancing is for people of all ages. Whether you’re learning the Lindy Hop or Jive, you can learn any type of social dancing at any age.
Do I need to be coordinated to learn to swing dance?
If you are willing to learn, you will learn to be more coordinated as you learn to swing dance.
Is previous swing dancing experience required?
No, you don’t need to have experience to take swing dance lessons.
What do I wear to learn how to swing dance?
When you’re just starting to learn how to swing dance, you want to wear comfortable clothes like a t-shirt, and leggings. You also want to wear shoes with hard leather soles or very hard rubber or plastic soles.
Where Can you Learn To Swing Dance?
You can learn to swing dance at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Durham. We love to teach beginners the art of swing dancing and can help you learn the swing dance style you choose. Call us today at 919-489-4313 or reach out to us online to learn more about dance lessons in Durham.