In case you missed the announcement at our November Jam, we’re dedicating our next Reading Swing Jam on Saturday 14th December to raising awareness for mental health and donating our profits to the charity Mind.
There are lots of useful books on history, music and dancing, here’s just a few of our top picks.
Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop
by Frankie Manning and Cynthia R. Millman
Swingin’ at the Savoy: The Memoir of a Jazz Dancer
by Norma Miller (Author), Evette Jensen (Editor)
by Scott Cupit
by LeRoi Jones
International swing and burlesque sensation Sharon Davis shares her dance shoe recommendations in a blog post for her dance school Jazz Mad, Jazz Music & Dance Academy in London. Check it out, it’s full of helpful ideas for a range of styles and budgets, including many of our favourites too.
Shoe accessories like shoe deodorisers and shoe bags also make great gift ideas.
Clothes & Accessories
You can also look at active wear as gifts for dancers, perfect for attending classes, workshops and weekenders. Danceweaver Creations, made by Blues dancer Jeannie Lin, are beautiful hand woven leggings that are great for classes and social dances alike.
Then there’s accessories! Hair embellishments like flowers or decorative bobby pins are often popular as are silk scarves. Hats, handkerchiefs, bow ties, neck ties, arm bands and braces are also common dancer accessories. Original vintage or vintage inspired, any of the above would make great gifts for any dancer.
You can also check out our merch store on Red Bubble for RSJ tops and hoodies and much more – a great way for Reading dancers to show off their pride in their home scene.
Go old skool and take a mooch through the record store for some vintage sounds. Places like the Oxfam music store in Reading often have some hidden gems and you can regularly pick up bargain lots on eBay. If you’re not sure what to get, compilations and Best-ofs are usually safe bets. If you need further inspiration, check out our various playlists on Spotify!
Want to play it safe? Alternatively, you can buy MP3 vouchers for Google Music perhaps or even shout someone their year’s subscription to Spotify and let them choose their musical journeys.
Minirigs are lightweight and sturdy, they make brilliant gifts for dancers and music lovers on go.
RSJ Gift Vouchers
Give the gift of dancing! Our gift vouchers are redeemable against Reading Swing Jam entry, Solo Jazz Classes and Workshops. We also offer tailor gift vouchers for private lessons or private courses for beginners in Lindy Hop or Blues and beginner-intermediate Solo Jazz/Charleston. Email us at email@example.com if you’re interested in finding out more.
Online Learning Subscriptions
There are a number of online class subscriptions available out there from some of the best teachers in the world! There’s Michael Jagger and Evita Arce’s online school for swing dancing and you can learn the Secrets of 20s Charleston with Ksenia Parkhatskaya! Swing Patrol, Jo Hoffberg & Kevin St Laurent , Micky Fortanasce & Kelly Arsenault and Todd Yannacone also have online classes available.
You can pick up a variety of classes in all levels from iDance.net in Lindy Hop, Balboa and Blues and more taught by some of the biggest names in the business.
Fans, Notebooks, Tech & Other Accessories
One of the most useful accessories for dancers is the fan and they make awesome gifts! Made of a number of materials including paper, fabric and wood, you can get them in just about every colour and style with something to match everyone’s budget.
Swing dancers are a geeky lot and a there’s nothing quite like a good sturdy notebook for collating notes from workshops and keeping track of routines. Vintage-styled dance-related stickers are great for decorating things like laptops and notebooks and you can even find swing related art online too, including Lindy Hop legend designs from our very own Jenn Maghzal. Other ideas include eco-friendly reusable drink bottles and travel mugs, super handy for staying hydrated during workshops and events. We’ve got a wide selection of these in our RSJ Red Bubble shop with three logo colour options to choose from.
As you can see, the possibilities are just about endless. Happy shopping!
This year we’re celebrating our local swing dance community and the winter season with a cosy meal at Las Iguanas in partnership with Reading University Swing Dance Society!
If you’d like to join us, check out the details below and be sure to book your place before this Friday 22 November!
1.00pm, Sunday 8th December 2019
Las Iguanas Reading, Riverside, The Oracle
BOOK YOUR PLACE
- Email your name and preferred contact email address to firstname.lastname@example.org – subject: Winter Meal
- Send us a £10 deposit via paypal to email@example.com
- Pre-order your meal via the email we send to you after receive your deposit.
Note: To confirm our table we need to place a deposit of £10 per person by Friday 22nd November. This deposit will be taken off the bill at the end of the meal.
On the next routine rotation at RSJ Solo Jazz we’re taking a look at an alternative Shim Sham created by Al Minns and Leon James. Sometimes called The Savoy Shim Sham, this routine starts off feeling like deja vu before striking out on a complete tangent. It’s a great one for rhythm and jazz step combinations. Check out Al & Leon performing their Shim Sham.
All welcome! Knowledge of the vanilla Shim Sham will be an advantage but we’ll be teaching it from scratch over three weeks so no experience necessary.
|The Routine – Getting a started from the top!|
|The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!|
|The Routine – Finishing off the choreo!|
|Practice & Polish – Revisiting any tricky bits then practice, practice, practice!|
Join us this Saturday 9 November to level up your dancing with our Solo Jazz workshop with Nancy Hitzig, one of the most inspirational teachers in the UK!
It’s no secret that Solo Jazz can improve your partner dancing and over the course of the afternoon, Nancy will be guiding us through a a number of drills, moves, and exercises aimed at expanding your repertoire, improving your technique, increasing your knowledge of music structure and developing your improvisation skills! For full details and ticket link visit our workshops page.
BONUS: Workshop entry includes free admittance to our Swing Jam social in the evening!
Starting Monday 4 November 2019
Possibly *the most* performed stroll in the modern swing dance community, the Shim Sham is a *must-know* solo jazz choreography. The Shim Sham has it’s roots in tap and it’s origins on the 1920’s stage.
Originally attributed to Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant but made famous by Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning, the Shim Sham is now performed at social dances and events all over the world! Check out Frankie Manning leading the Shim Sham at Lindy Fest 2007.
All welcome – no experience necessary for Week 1! We’ll be working on the Shim Sham over two weeks. Where’s what you can expect each week:
Getting a handle on the trickier steps and transitions!
Finishing off the choreo then practice, practice, practice!
Here are 9 ways Solo Jazz can improve your swing dancing and enjoyment of swing dance events!
Often when starting to learn to partner dance we fear losing connection with our partners, whether on purpose as in break aways or by accident when we miss a catch. Solo jazz gives us the confidence to dance with our partner even when we’re not physically connected and to fully utilise these moments in the dance, turning them into flowing opportunities rather than disrupting mistakes.
Repertoire & Variation
Building a repertoire of core solo moves that you feel good executing is one way of developing confidence as a dancer. Taking that solo repertoire base, breaking it down into component movements and then expanding it into variations will help you develop a library of possibilities that can then be drawn into your partner dancing to create footwork and move variations.
Variations are sometimes the products of mistakes or rather they are mistakes that you own and transform into dance. Solo Jazz helps develop your ability to turn a mis-step into a flawless extension or flow of the dance.
Muscle Memory & Recall
Learning moves builds on muscle memory. Learning routines helps with mental memory. Learning to improvise improves mental recall. All of these mean you have a greater capacity for remembering partnered moves, a better ability to link them together on the fly with smoother transitions.
Musicality & Improvisation
Similarly, a greater bank of moves that are programmed into your muscle memory will help you “feel” particular movements, “hear” rhythms or recognise physical “ideas” in the music. This is the root of musicality and by flexing this skill regularly you’ll gain a dancer’s instinct for when to do what.
Improvisation is linked to the mental recall mentioned earlier. Practicing improvisation through Solo Jazz will hone your responsiveness to change; change in the music, change in your balance, change in direction, and build on your ability to adapt to these changes on the fly.
Control, Balance & Spatial Awareness
Understanding how your body occupies space, what that looks like and what it feels like is a benefit of learning Solo Jazz. Dancing on your own gives you instant feedback in understanding where your weight is at a given moment in a movement and what it takes to move your body in a given direction. This proprioception is super important for developing technique for turning and spinning, which feature regularly in your partner dancing too. Developing precision with how you use your body in space will help you move more efficiently, especially with the faster tempos, when with a partner.
Ownership Of Your Dance
The balance and control gained from Solo helps strengthen your understanding that your body and your movement is your own, even when in partnership. The repertoire and variations you learn in Solo Jazz will help you develop your own voice in the partnership. In this way, by working on your solo movement, you’re acknowledging your responsibility for your 50% of your partner dances.
Going to Solo Jazz events has the added bonus of not requiring a partner to sign up and practicing is something you can do on your own, making Solo Jazz a perfect way to take responsibility for your progression and banish the excuse of not having a partner to learn and practice with.
More Opportunities To Dance
Dancing Solo give you access to even more classes, more workshops, more events and more dancing!
There are times when dancing with a partner at events just isn’t possible. Perhaps the lead/follow balance isn’t in your favour, or you’ve got an injury that prevents you being able to connect to a partner comfortably/safely, or maybe you’re new to an event and aren’t feeling ready yet to ask a stranger to dance. Being able to thrown down some Solo Jazz moves can really help with each of these scenarios.
Often when one person starts to Solo on the dance floor more join in, allowing a group of people, who might otherwise be dancing alone or not at all, to take part together. This makes it an excellent ice-breaker and launchpad for new connections and conversations.
It’s also a super handy thing to have in your back pocket for those times when a jam circle opens up but perhaps you don’t have a dance partner you feel able to dive in with. Dancing Solo in a jam circle is just as much of a thrill as swinging out and you’ll get double the kudos from the crowd for having jumped in on your own!
BONUS: It’ll also give you a bank of moves to throw down when out clubbing with your non-dancing friends too!
Knowing the common routines means you can join in when they’re performed en masse, allowing you to further access the sense of shared experience and community at events. Knowing the lesser known routines means you can get the nod of recognition from others who know it too and warm and fuzzies of dancing in unison to something considered tricky or niche.
Solo Jazz offers another way to connect to your partner dancing and swing dance community through historical context. Learning why we do this Shim Sham, where the Big Apple came from, who choreographed the Tranky Doo, will lend colour and texture to the knowledge you gain about the history of Swing dance through your partner dancing.
It also provides a bridge between the ballroom, the stage and the silver screen, all of which were also homes to swing dance and give us an opportunity to connect with the original solo dancers, tap dancers, chorus lines, and performing legends who inspired the swing dancers of old to create these dancers and the swing dancers of new who continue to develop them.
Give It A Go
If you’re feeling inspired to give it a go, why not stop by our weekly Solo Jazz & Charleston class. Check out our class page for more info and join our facebook group for notifications on when’s the next best time to join in if you’re an absolute beginner.
We’ve also got a Solo Jazz workshop with special guest Nancy Hitzig coming up in November, so now is a great time to dip your toe in the waters before diving in!
SOLO JAZZ & CHARLESTON
After our little break for RSX, our Solo Jazz & Charleston classes return to the Rising Sun Arts Centre from Monday 9th September.
Absolute beginners welcome on the 9th as we kick off a new mini-choreo block, starting with the usual core repertoire before moving into the choreography itself. More info about the class on our page and we highly recommend you join the RSJ Solo facebook group for class notifications and announcements.
LINDY HOP WITH RUSDS
Our classes with Reading University Swing Dance Society kick off at the end of the month with two FREE taster classes for absolute beginners on Sunday 29th September and Wednesday 2nd October. As always, no dance experience or dance partner required! If you’ve got friends you’d like to introduce to the wonderful world of swing dancing then these two sessions are for them – please share the lindy love!
Our weekly Level 2 Lindy Hop class also resumes on the 2nd October with our Level 2 Follower Focus sessions returning the following week on the 9th October.
We hope you enjoyed the phenomenal weekend that was RSX 2019 last week. Don’t know about you but we’ve just about recovered… Just about…
If you attended the event this year the RSX committee would dearly love to hear what you thought of the event, what you enjoyed and what they can try to improve for next year. The RSX 2019 Feedback Survey is up now and accepting responses and it needn’t take long if you’re short on time. Every response helps make RSX better year on year!
Not long now until the biggest swing dance social event of the Reading calendar is here! With three nights of live music and dancing in the heart of Reading, as well as a range of dance and non-dance taster classes, Reading Swing Exchange is an event not to be missed. Some weekend tickets still available and RSX Ball tickets (Saturday night only) have just gone on sale – but we don’t expect any of these to hang around for long…
We’ve got live music from Heather Jayne & the Red Shoes, the Rebop Rebels, the Ma Bessie Duo and the Silver Heels all set to keep you addicted to the dance floor, in fabulous venues including St Luke’s Parish Hall on Erleigh Road and the super grand St Laurence’s Church by the Town Hall.
If all the live music wasn’t enough to tempt you, on Saturday we’ve got dance tasters in balboa, latin-blues and soft shoe tap as well as a Shim Sham crash course so you’re all set to join in at the RSX Ball. If you’d like to try something a little off piste, you can turn your hand to acro-balance and learn a circus trick or two. There’ll also be the chance to continue practicing your newfound circus prop skills in the courtyard garden at the Sunday Tea Dance weather permitting and after all that work pamper yourself with a massage from Express Mobile Spa.
With all this going on it’s going to be a blast – Avoid the FOMO and join us!
Our Wednesday night classes with Reading University Swing Dance Society are now on break for the summer but due to popular demand we’re hosting an eight-week Swing Summer School on Thursday evenings over July and August. During these weekly classes at St Luke’s Parish Hall, Erleigh Road, we’ll be teaching our usual variety of Lindy Hop focused repertoire, technique and laughs. As always, you don’t need to come with a partner as we’ll be changing partners regularly throughout the class.
Check out our Lindy Hop classes page for full details!