Based in Reading, Berkshire, Reading Swing Jam (RSJ) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and enriching our growing swing dance scene by hosting classes, regular social dances and special guest workshops.
What is Swing Dance?
Swing dancing is the street dance of the 1920’s to 1950’s. With strong roots in British, Afro-American and Anglo-American history, Swing dance an umbrella term that encompasses a plethora of dance styles, such as charleston, lindy hop, balboa and blues [links to original film footage of the dances], that are danced to swing jazz and blues.
A swing revival took hold in the late 1980’s/1990’s with the emergence of neo-swing bands and where the music goes the dance will follow, with a popularity that has truly survived the test of time. These days swing dancing is as strong and popular as ever with groups, classes, dances, workshops, camps, competitions and performances popping up almost every corner of the globe. Still keeping true to the original spirit of the dances, contemporary charleston, lindy hop, balboa and blues [links to clips of contemporary interpretations] also carry a flavour of today’s energy and the understanding that comes with time past and experience gained.
We believe that the joyous spirit of swing and blues dancing doesn’t live in dance classes but on the social dance floor. One of our primary objectives is to provide more social dancing opportunities for our local dancers. We aim to host regular monthly social dances for this purpose as well as encouraging local dancers to attend other local events and explore other dance scenes also by facilitating our community to organise group excursions.
We currently host three monthly socials:
- Reading Swing Jam is our main event, a lively high energy Swing dance at Watlington House Community Hall, that’s perfect for swinging out!
- Sunday Swing, hosted at the Oakford Social Club on the third Sunday of the month, is our chill out event with mellow swing music and a strong focus on community building.
- Alley Cat Blues is a dedicated Blues dance social, held on the third Friday of each month at the upstairs Speakeasy of Smokin’ Billy’s Restaurant.
Find out more about our upcoming socials, including venue info and future dates.
Our other main objective is to enrich the development of our dance community through dance tuition. We do this in four main ways:
- teaching weekly beginner and improver level Lindy Hop tuition during term time via Reading University Swing Dance Society;
- teaching weekly Solo Jazz and Charleston classes, that work on developing individual rhythm, body awareness, creativity and expression for students with varying abilities by teaching a wide variety of classic and modern strolls/choreographies and jazz vernacular to both tradition jazz and modern music;
- teaching weekly beginner and improver level Blues Dancing classes that further develop partner dancing technique and establish an appreciation for Blues music as a predecessor and relative of Jazz but also developing dancers’ confidence to dance in solo but also in partnership to wider styles of more contemporary music (fusion); and
- hosting Swing Dance workshops taught by special guest teachers to enrich our local teaching pool and broaden the classroom experience of our students. We invite guest teachers from the UK and abroad who have inspired us in our own dance journeys, teachers such as Bic Graham & Simone Brown, Sharon Davis, Scott Cupit & Robyn Larsen, Helen Gavin & Al Graham, Tony Jackson & Irene Ragusini, James Kibblewhite & Judith Rosenburg, Ben Cook & Gen Rogis and Andrew Smith and many more!
As part of our ongoing commitment to our local dance community, Reading Swing Jam committee are Professional Members of People Dancing, the Foundation for Community Dance, the professional organisation for anyone involved in creating opportunities for people to experience and participate in dance.
Swing dance scenes are more than the sum of their leaders and teachers; they thrive on the enthusiasm of their members and the collective spirit of community that develops from the mutual love and enjoyment of dancing. Reading Swing Jam works closely with other swing dance groups locally and further afield to cultivate a strong spirit of community not only amongst our local scene but with the broader swing dance scene nationally and internationally.
RSJ is the collective effort of a volunteer committee of three. As a team, we pool our concentrated passion and enthusiasm for swing and blues dancing and each bring our own talents and expertise together to create an exciting, dynamic and diverse calendar of classes, socials, workshops and events.
The RSJ Committee is committed to hosting safe and inclusive events our students, guests, teachers, musicians and volunteers. By attending any of our events you are agreeing to the RSJ Code of Conduct. Please feel free to contact or speak to any committee member at any RSJ event if you have any feedback or concerns regarding health and safety or the RSJ Code of Conduct.