BEGINNER SWING: Swing outs & Circles (4WK Series begins NOTE LOCATION CHANGE FOR NOV. 20 ONLY: The Mt Laurel School, 16 S Chestnut St, New Paltz, NY 12561 .)
In our technology-driven world, internet communities have taken the place of real communities. Swing dance brings back not only the skills and joy of partner dance so popular during the big band era of the 1930-'40s but also the joy of being part of a social community... people who share a genuine interest and passion for swing dance. As a result, friendships develop between people of all ages.
Our Commitment to Community
- We do not require a partner to attend any of our classes, dances or events
- We foster a safe space and welcoming community for all
- We rotate partners in the classroom so everyone is literally learning to dance together. This not only increases their dance skills tremendously as compared to staying with one person, but also creates a "we're all in this together" feeling of camaraderie
Swing Dance is a Social Dance.
How to Increase Your Popularity On (& Off) The Dance Floor.
Don’t Sneeze all over your partner or into your hand.
We've been told “cover your mouth when you sneeze” for as long as we can remember. So, we automatically put our hand over our mouth when we sneeze. Problem is the germs are now on our hands, which we use to open doors, pull out chairs--and in dancing--offer to our partner.
1. Sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. This will contain the germs on a less-spreadable part of your body.
2. Sanitize your hands. Immediately after sneezing excuse yourself and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Do the same before and after class and periodically throughout the night at a dance. We have hand sanitizer available at all classes and dances.
3. If you don't feel well, stay home, even if it's a class or dance you really want to attend. There's no way around the fact that dancing is a contact sport. Another dance will come.
4. Don't rotate. If you come to a dance or class with a partner and you suspect you might be coming down with something or just getting over something, stay with your partner for that night.
5. Allergy or cold? If you are sure it is allergies and NOT a cold, let your partners know.
6. Wash or sanitize your hands before and after dancing. It's a great practice to keep yourself and every one else healthy.
Don’t Sweat All Over Your Partner … and Don’t Stink either.
Swing dance is a highly engaging activity and the music is addictive. You go to a dance and dance, dance, dance. But after a while, you might sweat, sweat, sweat. You want your partner to stick around, not stick to you. Here are some tips to make your dancing experience pleasurable for you and your partners:
1. If you are coming to class or a dance directly from work or a day of physical activity, please be sure to think ahead: wash up and bring a change of clothes if needed.
2. For dances, always bring extra shirts and change into them as often as needed.
3. Bring a small towel or handkerchief to wipe your brow when needed.
4. Use deodorant (this is not always as obvious as it seems. We've had to have "the talk" more than once with students).
5. Have breath fresheners or gum available if needed.
6. Avoid wearing cologne or perfume. Some people have allergies.
Consider your attire.
Dress appropriately for a social gathering. Our dances are a form of social engagement. For dances, anything from dressy to vintage to neat casual attire is always appropriate. Look at the photos of people who attend.
1. If you have long hair and wear it in a high ponytail, be aware if you are whipping your leader in the face with every spin (this has happened to Chester) and make adjustments.
2. Invest in comfortable, dedicated dance shoes with a smooth sole. Avoid spike heels that could injure those around you, as well as damage the dance floor. Use dedicated shoes that are only used on the dance floor and not outdoors. Most of our dancers change their shoes before a dance and class. This practice will protect the dance floors and your knees, as well as make dancing easier so you aren't sticking to the floor. Dance shoes can be any favorite and comfortable pair of shoes with a smooth sole.
3. If you have a skirt that twirls up make sure you are wearing shorts underneath.
4. Avoid wearing bangles, big rings, long necklaces and heavy jewelry/earrings.
5. Dress to dance. Beware of flying scarves, shawls and clothing that gets in the way of dancing.
Wear layers. You may get warmer while dancing and cooler when sitting in air conditioning.
You could have danced all night ... if ....
1. You ask more people to dance. We have no gender bias. We want to and encourage every person to ask and dance with everyone. We encourage all Got2Lindy students to learn and dance both lead and follow.
2. You introduce yourself. Swing dances are social events. People may attend with their spouses, dates, partners, friends, classmates and alone, so be sure to mingle as you would at any party or social event
3. You are a swing ambassador. We especially want to seek out, dance with, and welcome new dancers. There is no one at any level of dance who did not begin as a beginner and we celebrate the addition of new dancers to the swing scene.
4. You take the beginner lesson. It is natural for people to dance more often with people they know. You’ll know more people just by showing up for the beginner lesson included with your dance admission. Advanced dancers often take the beginner lesson to be sociable and round out the ratio.
5. You take the beginner lesson AND do (or attempt to do) the moves being instructed. There is nothing more annoying than the dancer who does his or her own thing during the lesson regardless of what the instructor is teaching. Stick with the program.
6. You take lessons and attend dances. It is also natural for people to want to dance with good dancers and improve their own dancing and technique. The more classes and dances you attend, the more your capabilities and circle of swing dance friends will grow.
7. You practice saying “yes." Saying, YES, applies both to accepting a dance AND accepting yourself as a dance partner. Don’t turn someone down or not ask someone to dance because you are intimidated or think you don’t know what you are doing. Make a practice to say yes, especially if you are intimidated.
8. You honor “no." A social dance is an opportunity to dance with as many people as possible, but that doesn’t mean you are required to say YES. There are lots of good reasons to say NO: You’re hot, tired, injured, in the middle of a conversation, promised the song to someone else, hate the song, are thirsty. You can always follow up NO with yes later. If you are on the receiving end of NO, bear in mind all the reasons for NO that have nothing to do with you.
9. You don’t teach or offer “feedback” on someone’s dancing. Social dancing is a time for social dancing. Unsolicited “assistance” is not helpful and may be emotionally damaging.
10. You dance with and for your partner, not your ego. Don’t lead all your fancy moves with a new dancer. Your aim should always be to make your partner feel good about his or her dancing.
11. You don’t jerk your partner around. Just as all dancers come in different shapes and sizes, they also come to dances with all different levels of skill. Beginner dancers may not yet know how to successfully lead or follow moves and may resort to jerky movements. Unfortunately, some leaders and followers who don’t take classes never advance past this stage except in their minds. If you seem to be having a better time than your partner, maybe a few lessons might be in order.
12. You don’t dip someone you don’t know. A perfectly healthy-looking partner might be harboring a shoulder or back injury. Never take someone’s feet out from under them unless the two of you are practicing a move you both know. If you are dipped, maintain your own weight in a “runner’s stretch” pose by keeping one foot under you and don’t throw your weight into your partners’ arms.
13.. You focus on your partner. This means your attention is on the person you are dancing with. Demonstrate your attention by looking at your partner, smiling and showing encouragement and enjoyment of the dance you are creating together.
14. You practice floor craft, partner safety and concern. Notice the people and space (or lack of) around you and adjust your moves accordingly. If you or your partner steps on someone or is stepped on, always apologize and check for injury. If someone is injured stop dancing and escort him or her off the dance floor, ascertain the extent of the injury and follow up accordingly. If that person just smiles off the encounter but you notice them sitting with a bag of ice later, follow up accordingly.
15. You say thank you for the dance. What more is there to say?
Our Community: A Sacred and Safe Space for All
We welcome all dancers of all abilities, age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion. We foster an open-to-all environment and inclusive community.
Dances and dance classes are a great way to meet people, make new friends and expand your social horizons. But please bear in mind that the focus of our dances and classes is to create a warm and welcoming community of friends who share a passion for swing dancing. Sometimes, in the context of that environment, personal consensual relationships form as an added benefit. However, the swing scene is not intended to be nor should it be treated as a “pick-up joint.”
Many of our dancers of both genders attend classes and dances alone but have a spouse or partner at home who isn’t dancing by choice or schedule. They may also bring young children to the dances. Our community and code of conduct make this a safe space to do so.
Bear in mind that when dancing, new dancers are often so focused on themselves that they may unintentionally collide with or brush a partner’s body part. As adults, most of us know how to handle such situations: a gentle joke, an awkward apology.
We will not tolerate any intentional inappropriate and unwelcome touching or harassment in our classes, dances or surrounding environment. Please report such behaviors to Linda or Chester immediately.
Swing Ambassador Program
Want to spread the joy of swing dance and bring a practice night, swing dance, event or classes closer to home? Be a part of our Swing Dance Ambassador Program! Our students have connected us to resorts, schools, libraries. They have orchestrated and run practice nights in their homes and at local restaurants and coffee shops. They have located a school gym and created a dance. Talk to us about your ideas and let's make it happen!
Sample Swing Ambassador Programs:
- Swing Night at Walden: Swing Ambassador Larry Kraus
- Swing Night at the Kleinert James Art Center, Woodstock: Swing Ambassador Lisa Cooper
- Swing Night at the Cooperage: Swing Ambassador Anne Johanson
- Hep Cat Lindy Practice, Red Hook: Swing Ambassador Susan Simon
- Gardiner Practice Nights: Swing Ambassador Kathleen DeAngelis
- Lunch Time Lindy New Paltz: Swing Ambassador Ron Fields
- Swing Weekend on Martha's Vineyard: Swing Ambassador Josh Gordon
- Swing Weekend at Villa Vosilla, Tannersville: Elaine Warsfield
- Workshops at the Firehouse, Tannersville: Elaine Warsfield
- Fall Foliage Swing Dance Cruise: Swing Ambassador Donna Martin
What's YOUR idea? Let's make it happen!
A brief history of swing
The style of swing dance we do is called Lindy Hop. It is the classic style of swing dance that originated in Harlem's famous Savoy Ballroom and gained worldwide popularity in the 30's and 40's. Most movies of the day included swing dancing, sometime called Jitterbug, and everyone knew how to do it socially and dancing was a popular activity.
Hellzapoppin (1937) contains the most famous swing dance scene on film. It featured Frankie Manning and Whitey's Lindy Hoppers--the best dancers from the Savoy Ballroom.
When we refer to "Frankie" in class, we mean our teacher and mentor, the late great Frankie Manning. Dubbed the Ambassador of Lindy Hop (which is also the title of his memoir, which Linda helped edit in manuscript), none of us would be swing dancing today if it wasn't for Frankie Manning. Here's a link to his bio: http://www.frankiemanning.com/bio.php
In the 80s and 90s movies such as Swing Kids, Malcom X and Swingers noted the resurgence of the dance, and Frankie was at the helm of it all, teaching around the world well into his nineties. It is his spirit and style that is Lindy Hop.
We brought Frankie to the Hudson Valley in 2006 for a weekend workshop. We have also brought other important people in the international community including Dawn Hampton, who traveled here frequently.
Here's info on Dawn: http://www.centurymasters.com/b_dawn_hampton.html
Practice. Practice. Practice
Below are suggested music for your practice and pleasure!
MUSIC DIGITAL DOWNLOADS:
For Single Step practice:
Triple-step & eight-count:
For Balboa Practice:
For Blues Practice:
1. Thou shalt not blame or cast stones at thy partner or thyself. Give yourself permission to learn. You are learning a partner dance that requires two people to do something that neither knows how to do yet. Don't be too hard on yourself or your partner; you, she, or he will certainly do something "wrong." That's how you learn to do it right. The only "fault" is inexperience.
2. Thou shalt not attempt to "teach" your partner. Concentrate on improving your own ability, not fixing your partner's. Everyone comes to class with different levels of experience. If you try to help by teaching or doing moves that aren't part of the repertoire being taught, it will be distracting to your partner and to those around you. Remember you are in the class to learn. Let the teachers do the teaching.
3. Thou shalt not look at your feet unless we tell you to. This dance is not about where you put your feet but how you move your body. Move your body and your feet will follow. They are attached.
4. Thou shalt smile and laugh at yourself. Swing dancing is all about having fun. Learning to move your body in new ways may feel awkward at first. You may feel silly or not "in control." That's okay, lose control, lighten up, and enjoy yourself.
5. Thou shalt practice and go out and dance. You learn by repetition, so you must practice. Don't wait until you think you are "good enough" to go out dancing. The more social dancing you do, the better you get. Swing dancing is the most social dance there is. Everyone dances with everyone. Don't be afraid to ask dancers who you think are "better than you" to dance.
Lindy Hop is a world-wide community
There are Lindy hoppers from Singapore to Sydney to Sweden and everywhere in between. It is one of the most popular forms of swing dance worldwide. Many of our students have used swing dance to open their doors to worldwide travel opportunities. The largest and oldest swing dance camp in the world is the month-long camp in Herrang, Sweden. Popular swing dance camps more locally that our students often attend include Swing Out New Hampshire and Beantown.
What our students say...
"When I'm dancing, I forget about everything else and can just enjoy the moment. Learning how to swing dance has also given me a deeper relationship with one of my great-aunts whose husband was a member of Whitey's Savoy Lindy Hoppers back in the 40's. I love listening to my aunt's stories, and I think that it makes her very happy to have someone to share them with."
Reba - Woodstock, NY
"In December 2007, my wife, Beth, gave me a gift certificate for dance lessons. I spent all of 2008 procrastinating and finally agreed to go because our daughter was getting married.
By week three of the beginner class I fell in love with the music and the dance. I found it fulfilling, inspiring-- touching the core of my soul--and FUN. A year later, I was not only taking classes and dancing every chance possible, I was also DJing the dances and taking performance classes!
I discovered the inner musician, performer and dancer that was always there but never had a way to express.
Today, I AM a lindy hopper and a DJ. I lead. I follow. I have musicality. I am physically fit. I have meaningful friends of all ages. Dancing is an activity that can always make me smile.
Linda & Chester, you have positively impacted my life in so many ways and I am forever grateful for the day that my wife Beth, gave me that gift—and I learned that even when you think you can’t, YOU CAN."
Susan - Red Hook, NY