Alley Cat Blues – March Venue Change

Due to a double booking at our usual venue, Alley Cat Blues will be moving to The Rising Sun Arts Centre for our March edition on the 17th. Besides the change in location, you can still expect our usual relaxed and friendly atmosphere, delightful company and great tunes!

Venue Address
30 Silver Street
Reading
RG1 2ST
[Walking directions from the station]

For those wanting to pick up some dinner en route, we highly recommend Tutu’s Ethiopian Table at the Global Cafe or the Bakery House, Lebanese restaurant/takeaway, both on London Street.

Advertisements

Up Next at Solo Jazz: The Big Apple!

From Monday 27th February we’re going to be tackling the king of solo jazz routines, The Big Apple!

It started out as a call and response dance but was then immortalised as a stand alone routine when choreographed by Frankie Manning and performed by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers for the 1939 film Keep Punchin’. It’s now known and danced by lindy hoppers all over the world and is soon to join the Reading swing scene repertoire!

This is a beast of a routine so we ask attendees to arrive early so we can start promptly and make the most of the time we have.

All welcome! No experience necessary! Just wear comfy clothes and shoes that stay on your feet and bring a drink – a fan or towel might be useful tool.

7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre.
Join our Solo Jazz Class facebook group for regular class updates and helpful links.

*NEW* Alley Cat Blues

alley-cat-blues-banner-master

RSJ is thrilled to announce our new monthly Blues social, Alley Cat Blues! Join us every third Friday of the month upstairs at Smokin’ Billy’s BBQ Restaurant for an evening of Blues and Fusion music and dancing from 8pm. Our first Alley Cat Blues will be taking place on Friday 17th February. Entry is £5 or 2-for-1 for students.

With cosy sofas and soft lamp light, Alley Cat Blues will be a great way to wind down from the working week and warm up for your weekend. The upstairs Speakeasy where we’ll be hosting Alley Cat Blues is accessed via the restaurant so you can grab a drink from the fully licensed bar on your way up. Hungry? Smokin’ Billy’s serves a mean meal so why not join us for dinner from 7pm too.

This social is an excellent complement to our weekly partnered Blues dance class held downstairs at the Purple Turtle. Interested in learning to Blues dance? Our 4-week beginner courses start each first Thursday of the month at 7:30pm. Check out our classes page for full details.

Slow Dancing with Alex & Brennan

slow-dancing-facebook-cover

Expand your dancing repertoire by learning how to slow dance!

We’re stoked to be inviting US instructors Brennan DeVoe and Alex Haley to Reading on Saturday 11th February to teach an afternoon of classes dedicated to slow dancing. Over three hours they’ll be working through the fundamental techniques of close embrace and using the floor to move slowly as well as layering on some flashy moves too. There’s something for everyone at the workshop, as beginners get an introduction to slow dancing and more advanced dancers can enjoy a new perspective on fundamental techniques!

Alex and Brennan sent us this workshop sneak peak to tempt you…

Workshop tickets also include entry to our Swing Jam social in the evening at the same venue. Tickets are on sale now. For more info, check out the Workshops page and join the facebook event for event updates.

Up Next in Solo Jazz: The Tranky Doo

Next up on the routine rotation at RSJ Solo Jazz we’re taking at look at the Tranky Doo. The Tranky Doo is attributed to Pepsi Bethel, who can be seen performing it in Mura Dehn’s documentary The Spirit Moves with Al Minns and Leon James. It’s a fun routine with lots of fundamental jazz steps and contains some super sweet musicality and variations that’s regularly performed at our swing social dances. Check out this contemporary version of the Tranky Stew performed by Remy Kouakou Kouame and Pontus Pearson – a mash up of the Tranky Doo and our last routine Mama Lu Park’s Stew!

All welcome! No experience necessary! Just wear comfy clothes and shoes that stay on your feet and bring a drink – a fan or towel might be useful tool.

WEEK 1:
30 January
Prep-Work – Getting a started by focusing on a couple of the trickier steps!
WEEK 2:
6 February
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!
WEEK 3:
13 February
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!
WEEK 4:
20 February
Finish & Polish – Finishing the routine and then practice, practice, practice!

7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre.
Join our Solo Jazz Class facebook group for regular class updates and helpful links.

Our Classes in 2017!

Happy New Year! Starting Thursday  5th January 2017 you can join Reading Swing Jam for classes three nights a week! We’ve got you covered for Solo Jazz, Partnered Swing/Lindy Hop and Partnered Blues.

Check what we’re teaching  and when in the handy table below and pop over to our Classes page for full details on each. Can’t wait to see you there!

MONDAYS SOLO JAZZ & CHARLESTON @ Rising Sun Arts Centre
Gain confidence, rhythm, balance and style with our solo class! This is a great general level class for anyone wanting to learn solo routines, build their repertoire of moves and subconsciously improve their partnered dancing too!Our next routine course will begin on 30th January – join the solo class facebook group for updates on what’s coming up!
WEDNESDAYS LINDY HOP @ University of Reading Whiteknights Campus
We’ve teamed up with Reading University Swing Dance Society to bring Lindy Hop to campus! Absolute beginners partnered swing classes – No experience or partner necessary. Non-students also welcome!Want to join us?
Come to our January Swing Dance Fast Track Workshop – it’ll set you up with the fundamental moves and techniques you’ll need to plug in to our beginners class part-way through the year.
THURSDAYS BLUES @ The Purple Turtle
Blues is the perfect partner for Swing! Join us for partnered blues dancing with a relaxed and friendly community. If you’d like a slower paced dance, join us! As always, no partner necessary.Absolute beginner courses start every first Thursday!

RSJ Gift Guide for Dancers

gifts-for-dancers-banner
With the start of December approaching, we thought it might be useful to compile some gift suggestions for the dancer in your life. Here’s our top gifts for dancers…

Books

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)

Practice Swing: The Swungover* Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Guide To Improving Your Dancing
by Robert White

Swing Dance
by Scott Cupit

Blues People
by LeRoi Jones

Shoes

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

Any dancer would be thrilled to receive a gift from vintage and retro style retailers such as Collectif Clothing, Revival Retro, Lindy Bop and Bitter Root Vintage.

Shop locally in Reading at Frock & Roll Vintage, Louise Rose Couture and Adrienne Henry Millinery. Funda in the Broad Street Mall often has affordable vintage inspired dresses.

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.

You can also check out our merch store on Red Bubble for RSJ tops and hoodies and more!

Music

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 November Swing Jam playlist!

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 on go.

RSJ Gift Vouchers

Give the gift of dancing! Our gift vouchers are redeemable against Reading Swing Jam entry, Solo Jazz Classes, Thursday Blues Classes and Workshops. Email us at readingswingjam@gmail.com if you’re interested in finding out more.

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. Other ideas include decorative drink bottles and travel mugs, super handy for staying hydrated during workshops and events.

Time to get creative with Google! Stickers are great for decorating things like laptops and notebooks and you can even find swing related art online too.

As you can see, the possibilities are just about endless. Happy shopping!

Next at Solo Jazz: Remy’s Caribbian Shim Sham

RSJ Solo Jazz  is heating things up with Remy Kouakou Kouame’s Caribbean Shim Sham for our final routine rotation of 2016. A full body workout, this Shim Sham is guaranteed to make you sweat and a smile in equal measure! Check out Remy leading the Caribbean Shim Sham at Lindy Focus this year.

All welcome! No previous jazz experience necessary!
Knowledge of the vanilla Shim Sham will be an advantage not necessary as we’ll be teaching it from scratch.

IMPORTANT: This is a high energy class. Please bring with you a drink, a towel/fan, deodorant and a change of clothes if you’re staying on for the Balboa class after!

WEEK 1:
21 Nov
The Routine – Getting a started from the top!
WEEK 2:
28 Nov
Polish & Practice – Finishing the routine and then practice, practice, practice!

Mondays at 7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre.
Join our Solo Jazz Class facebook group for regular class updates and helpful links.

Charity Jam Success!

14711148_1263578020389420_1590037238870257790_o

Our October Jam saw us raising money and awareness for the mental health charity CALM, which works to lower the male suicide rate in the UK. Reading Swing Jam was packed and we raised £280.81 from door entry and cash donations!

At the end of the evening, we took an #ItsOkayToTalk group selfie of the Swing Jam survivors to show our support for CALM’s national campaign that promotes stigma-free conversations about mental health and foster open discourse within communities.

We’d like to extend a massive thank you to everyone who came and supported this particular social. It meant so much to us to have you with us and we were thrilled to be able to donate such a generous amount to a cause that’s dear to our hearts.

THANK YOU!

Up Next in Solo Jazz: The Shim Sham

shim-sham-facebook-cover-image

Possibly *the most* performed stroll in the contemporary Swing Dance community, the Shim Sham is a *must-know* and we’ll be starting work on it at the end of the month. Here’s a clip of Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning leading the Shim Sham at Lindy Fest 2007.

All welcome – No experience necessary for Week 1! Just wear comfy clothes and shoes that stay on your feet and bring a drink – a fan or towel might be useful too. We’ll be working on the Shim Sham over three weeks. Where’s what you can expect each week:

WEEK 1:
31 October
Prep-Work – Getting a handle on the trickier steps and transitions!
WEEK 2:
7 November
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!
WEEK 3:
14 November
Rinse, Repeat & Change It Up! – Layering on styling and variations!

NOTE: Weeks 1 & 2 are the must-go-to classes if you’ve never learnt the Shim Sham or if you’re familiar with *some* of it but find transitions or sections tricky! ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS MOST WELCOME! No previous experience of solo jazz required for Lesson 1.
Week 3 we’ll be taking a look at some technique, styling and variations for those who want to push their Shim Sham to the next level.  Week 3 Prerequisite: Knowledge of the whole Shim Sham! So if you’re unsure of any bits, please come to Lessons 1 & 2 to brush up ready for our variations class which will not cover any of the vanilla Shim Sham.

7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre.
Join the Shim Sham event page and our Solo Jazz Class facebook group for regular class updates and helpful links.