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 a version of 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 Mama Lu Park’s Stew (also coming up soon)!

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.

27 January
Prep-Work – Getting a started by focusing on a couple of the trickier bits!
3 February
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo, part 1!
10 February
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo, part 2!
17 February
Finish & Polish – Finishing the routine and then practice, practice, practice!


Learn to swing dance with us!

We teach weekly swing dance classes on Wednesday evenings with Reading University Swing Dance Society, during term time. Our classes are fun, friendly and inclusive, an excellent way to meet new people and exercise your body and mind. Classes are followed by social dancing, a time to practice what you’ve learnt and get to know the community.

If you’ve ever wanted to give swing dancing a go, we’ve got two events this week that are just for you!

  • Absolutely no dance experience necessary for either event.
  • No need to come with a partner – we change partners frequently, so you’ll get to meet and dance with a variety of people.
  • Students and non-students welcome.

Free Swing Dance Taster

8.30pm, Wednesday 22nd January

Join us to find out what all the fuss is about and dip your toe in the wonderful world of swing dancing. This is a free taster, so why not just come along and give it a go!
Join the facebook event for notifications and updates.

Swing Dance Crash Course

11am, Sunday 26th January

We’re hosting this workshop for ANYONE wanting to join our Wednesday night beginner classes. It’ll be a crash course to get you up to speed and ready to join our Level 1 class part-way through the year. This 3-hour workshop is suitable for absolute beginners who are willing to dive in at the deep end or current students wanting to consolidate their fundamentals.
Join the facebook event for notifications and updates.


Workshop is £10 for student/£15 for non-students.
Pay on the door (cash only please).


Both events will be taking place at the following venue:
Wessex Hall
Whiteknights Campus
University of Reading 
Whiteknights Road

Nervous? Not sure? Need a little convincing? Check out these links:

Up Next in Solo Jazz: The Charleston Stroll!

For our next routine rotation we’ll be working through Sing Lim’s Charleston Stroll, performed to the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ ‘Put A Lid On It’. This is a great accessible routine with lots of staple Jazz steps, a good one for building up your repertoire if you’re new to Solo Jazz. All welcome including absolute beginners – No experience necessary! 

Class starts 7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre

WEEK 1: 13th January Prep Work – Getting a headstart on the tricky bits!
WEEK 2: 20th January The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!

NOTE: Wear comfortable shoes that stay on your feet (i.e. with laces or straps) and avoid heels (definitely no high heels/stilletos).  A change of clothes  is recommended especially if you’re staying on for Balboa after our class and especially a drink. A towel or fan may also be useful. 

December Swing Jam in support of Mind

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.

We had enormous support last time we did this (check out the massive turnout for the survivor’s photo below!) and we’re hoping you’ll join us to make this year’s fundraiser even better!

Winter Meal

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


  1. Email your name and preferred contact email address to – subject: Winter Meal
  2. Send us a £10 deposit via paypal to
  3. 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.

Up Next in Solo Jazz: Al & Leon’s Shim Sham

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.

18 November
The Routine – Getting a started from the top!
25 November
The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!
2 December
The Routine – Finishing off the choreo!
9 December
Practice & Polish – Revisiting any tricky bits 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.

Upcoming Workshop: Solo Jazz with Nancy Hitzig

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.

Workshop entry includes free admittance to our Swing Jam social in the evening!

Up Next in Solo Jazz: The Shim Sham


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 Touches
Finishing off the choreo 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.

Solo Jazz can help your partnered Swing dancing!

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.

Historical Context

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.

Classes are returning!


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.


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.

Full details about these classes can be found on our Lindy Hop page and we also recommend joining the RUSDS facebook group for membership/prices, class notifications and announcements.