Rhythm City Productions

What is Swing? / Dance Lessons 101

Here are some things it’s helpful to know before your first dance class. You can also check out our FAQ page for more useful information.

Swing

a style of Jazz music, originating in the 1930s with the Big Bands of the Harlem Ballrooms, characterized by a swinging, or syncopated rhythm. Also, dances that are performed to this music. Lindy hop is the original partnered Swing dance, and many dances have evolved out of it, as the music has changed, and as the dances have moved around to different geographic regions and picked up different influences. Jitterbug, Jive, Rock & Roll, Boogie Woogie, West Coast Swing are all off-shoots of Lindy hop. At Rhythm City, we are devoted to Lindy hop and related Vintage Jazz dances, such as group solo dances that were performed socially at ballrooms in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and continue to be studied and danced today, worldwide.

Lead

the member of a partnered dance who determines the moves danced at any given time. The lead initiates the momentum, direction, and flow of the movement of the dance.

Follow

the member of a partnered dance who waits for the direction of the lead, and then executes the move or movement that has been led. The follow dances the moves determined by the lead, but may do so in their own particular way, using their own style and flair.

Rotation

what happens in most dance classes, where leads and follows change partners every few times we try a move, so that every follow dances with every lead. This is the best way to improve your connection (lead and follow) skills, as you learn a lot from how different partners lead or follow, and how different partners respond to your execution of a move.

About half of the people registering for Swing 1 classes sign up alone; some sign up with a friend who dances the same role (i.e., two follows signing up together), and some sign up with a partner. Whether you come alone or with a friend or partner, we recommend rotating in every class to avoid picking up and cementing the habits you develop dancing with just one person.

We advocate rotating in our beginner classes, because it is a helpful learning tool, and because it helps to establish and nurture a community of positive students sharing in a group learning environment. Our priority is a community of Swing dancers who mix, mingle, and participate in a joyful dance scene.

For questions about levels, history of the dance, what to wear, and what music to get, see our FAQ page.

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