Coping with Covid: A Guide for Reading Swing Dancers

Never fear, we will dance again! But in the meantime, I’ve compiled a few creative ideas and ways for our community to come together and look after ourselves and each other during these uncertain times.

These should only be considered in light of current medical and governmental guidelines with regards to containment, social distancing and social isolation and in all cases use common sense.

Volunteers: If anyone wants to take on any of these ideas as a project please feel free and let us know that you’re doing this so we can support you by spreading the word!

In all things please be safe and please be kind – we’re in this together!
Much Lindy Luv,
Jenn

Staying Active

Dancing Solo

Dancing with a partner might not be possible so it might be the perfect time to work on your own solo dancing. Learning Solo Jazz can help your partnered dancing but so can picking up some Solo Blues, Tap (you don’t need tap shoes to start with the basics), maybe try some Hip Hop choreography or Belly dance for something different? In the internet age the world is your mollusc. 

Dancing Chain Letter

Get playful with your Solo Jazz. Set up a Solo Jazz chain letter: 

  1. Choose a long swing song, ideally with Jazz phrasing if possible, and pick a main move we’ll call A e.g. Fall off the log and a break step we’ll call B, e.g. Shim Sham break and make a one phrase choreo of your selected main move x3 plus your chosen break step to create an AAAB pattern. 
  2. Film yourself dancing this once.
  3. Invite a friend to the game and if they consent send the clip them. 
  4. Your friend then needs to pick a main move and a break step to make their own phrase, just like you did. 
  5. They then film themselves dancing your phrase first, then their phrase. 
  6. They then need to send you their clip so you can see how the dance has developed and they forward it on to someone new to join the chain.
  7. Rinse and repeat until the song runs out.
Advanced Variations 
  • Instead of the AAAB pattern, try matching your choreo to the pattern in the phrase of the music you’re dancing to e.g.  ABAB, ABAC etc.
  • Instead of one move in an 8-count, consider splicing two or three moves together into a new 8-count combo.

Online Learning

With classes and events unable to run, there’s a lot of financial pressure on swing dance teachers and organisers. Please consider signing up to online classes and maybe buddy up with a friend or more to keep each other accountable virtually. 

Our Jenn Maghzal is looking into taking our Monday evening Solo Jazz classes virtual so make sure you sign up to the RSJ Solo Jazz & Charleston Class facebook group for updates, but there’s plenty out there to choose from – here’s just a small UK-based selection (more international offerings can be found on our links page):

  • David Zilkha
    David is offering 2-for-1 redeemable against a range of future events and classes with Swing Dance Bristol including their famous New Years’ Eve event.
  • Jenny Thomas
    The inmitable Jenny Thomas is setting up online learning, so keep an eye out on her website and social media for more info soon.
  • Sharon Davis
    Sharon’s going online too with her gorgeous swing style.
  • Swing Patrol Online Courses
    Check out this fab lineup of London teachers teaching online over the coming weeks.
  • Vintage Arts Asylum
    London-based dance collective supporting swing dance teacher, musicians, performers and artists offer online content and classes.

Cross Training

If dancing solo doesn’t work for you consider taking up another form of exercise such as running, yoga, calisthenics and cycling. It’ll be great for your mind and body as well as help you cross train ready for when we’re back dancing again. If you need accountability, buddy up and cheer each other on!

Walking

Great news! The National Trust has announced that although they’re closing their cafes and shops etc they’re aiming to keep open spaces accessible to the public. Getting out in nature is not only great for the body but also an excellent way to take care of your mental health too.

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Buddying up with one or two others to go walking outdoors could be an option. Head somewhere with space enough that you can keep a safe distance apart as you walk and talk and remember the usual guidelines of washing hands regularly, coughing/sneezing into your elbow and avoiding physical contact.

Stay Social

Watch Parties

There are a bunch of different ways you can watch films together, if not y’know together together. Reading University Swing Dance Society hosted a successful Netflix Watch Party of the swing documentary Alive & Kicking this week, which allowed participants to watch the film simultaneously and use the chat function to talk about the film in real time. 

Or perhaps you could take it in turns with your friends curate a 15min playlist of your favourite dance clips on youtube chat about as you watch via the Whatsapp desktop client…

Resources & Recommendations

If you’ve got time on your hands why not get stuck into the history and culture of the dances we so love and enjoy. We’ve got a long list of resources on our website to start you off on a swing and blues rabbit-hole journey of learning and discovery! From books to podcasts, films to blogs, there’s bound to be something in there to pique your interest and broaden your horizons.

Why not create a collaborative playlist on Spotify with your friends and broaden your musical horizons? We’ve got loads of past Reading Swing Jam DJ sets available on Spotify to mine for new musical inspiration.

Mobile Library

Not everyone has access or finances for Netflix, Amazon etc. Pool your resources to create a collaborative list of books, DVDs and CDs with the group and if one of you has access to a vehicle, consider setting up a mobile library that drops off and picks up books from each other’s homes.

Look After Each Other

Virtual Tea & Chat

Coinsider scheduling a weekly 30min tea time chat by phone, conference call or video chat with folks your community so you can check in with each other and check on how everyone’s doing. Perhaps try extending this to a remote card or board games session?

Community Wish List

I’ve set up a community wishlist [google sheet] where folks in our community can dip in and help each other by exchange goods and services they may require but not have access to receiving. Anything from spare loo roll to a cup of sugar, a trip to the post office or corner shop to walking a dog. If you have something you could offer or something you’re in need of take a look and see if you can help a fellow dancer out somehow.

Support Local Music Makers

Those who make their living from their music could do with a little extra love during this time. Consider contacting the following and purchasing a song, a CD or signing up to their Patreons perhaps…

Local Vintage Style Makers & Sellers

Small businesses are going to suffer during this time. If you’re able to spare a penny and do a lil’ online shopping, here’s a list of some local makers to consider… 

  • Hedgerow Home
    Local dancer Chantal Steer finds vintage treasures for house and home.

Cook & Share

If baking is your thing perhaps you could bake some sweet treats and operate a small delivery service to cheer up dancers nearby. If you know someone in the community is unwell, perhaps putting together a care package for them with supplies to assist them while they’re isolated (remember to always check in with them for any allergies or dietary restrictions).