Due to venue availability, we’re going to be taking a short break in October but classes will be back in November. Join our RSJ Solo Jazz & Charleston facebook group to receive notifications of class updates and for more information on what we’ll be teaching next.
Summer was wonderful and all but gee, have we missed you folks! But the wait is almost over; University’s back in session this week and so is Reading University Swing Dance Society (RUSDS).
Normal transmission for our regular beginner (Level 1) and improver (Level 2) classes resume from Wednesday 4th October. These weekly classes will be held as usual at Wessex Hall on the University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus. We recommend you join the RUSDS facebook group for updates and notifications.
As well as classes the super active RUSDS committee have a plethora of society events planned including performances, charity fundraising and trips to dance outside of Reading! Further details can be found on the RUSDS website and we recommend you join the RUSDS facebook group for class updates and social event listings.
So you’d like to start swing dancing but not sure what to expect from class? Check out this lil’ guide to our beginner classes with helpful tips for how to make the most of your new journey into Swing dancing!
Full details about our classes can be found on our webpage and on the Reading University Swing Dance Society facebook group.
What is Lindy Hop?
Lindy Hop, also called Jitterbug, is a lively partner dance that developed in the United States from the Swing Jazz era of the late 1920s and had it’s peak between the mid-1930’s to mid-1940’s. Swing dancing was rediscovered in the 1980’s and has been enjoying a growing revival ever since and is now danced all over the world! What we teach is based on that original dance but of course it’s developed and evolved a little since then. On occasion we may teach a taster class or two of one of the related Swing dances like Solo Jazz, Balboa, Blues or Collegiate Shag for example, variety being the spice of life and all that.
All Welcome – Students & Non-Students
Our Lindy Hop classes are run in conjunction with Reading University Swing Dance Society, but you don’t have to be a student to join in, non-students are also welcome. Please see the RUSDS website for details about class prices and join the RUSDS facebook group for class updates and announcements.
Lindy Hop is a partnered dance but you do not have to come with a partner to join our classes! During class we change partners often so you not only get to meet new people but you improve your dancing by learning to adapt to different partners.
Lead or Follow?
In partner dancing there’s usually a Lead and a Follow. In broad terms, a Lead initiates a movement and a Follow completes it. Anyone can be a Lead, anyone can be a Follow and some people do both (often called Switches or Ambidancetrous)! You will usually be asked to chose to be either Lead or Follow for the duration of that class to keep things simple particularly when you’re first starting out.
What to Wear…
Swing dancing is energetic, so the best thing to wear is going to be anything that lets you move freely and won’t make you too hot. Jeans or casual trousers are fine so long as you can move easily in them e.g. not too tight. Similarly skirts and dresses are fine too provided that they’re not restrictive, e.g. pencil skirts, and not too long that your heel could get caught in the hem. Pro tip: If wearing a skirt that flares out when you turn, having some shorts underneath means you can dance without care or worry over rising hemlines.
What you wear on your feet is important too! We generally recommend flat shoes that will stay on your feet e.g. with laces or ankle straps. Canvas pumps or similar are generally a good place to start. Sandals, flip-flops and high heels are discouraged for your health and and safety and that of your partners too. You may find some rubber soles too grippy for comfort, so perhaps bring a second pair with a different kind of sole to try out.
What to Bring…
Having spare shirts/tops with you is recommended for your comfort and the comfort of your partners – dancers often change their shirts multiple times in an evening. Pro-tip: wearing a t-shirt or vest underneath a shirt helps absorb sweat before it comes in contact with your partner.
Water! Make sure you bring a drink with you. Good personal hygiene is a must, so be sure to brush your teeth before class and bring deodorant with you. You might also find a fan, handkerchief and small towel useful. Notebooks are encouraged – keeping a diary of steps, feedback and notes in general is super helpful for improving your dancing, especially when practicing outside of class.
The fun doesn’t end after class, in fact we’re only just getting started! Once class wraps up, the music will continue so you can practice what you’ve just learnt – arguably this is where the magic happens. It’s also a chance to get to know the other dancers in the class and your teachers too so staying on after class is strongly encouraged.
Asking & Answering
Anyone can ask anyone to dance no matter your level, role or gender. All you need to do use your words, be polite and ask! At the end of a dance it’s polite to thank your partner.
“Hi, would you like to dance?”
Feeling nervous? Let your partner know. Everyone was a beginner once and if you let your partner know your level when you’re nervous it’ll give them the chance to either say “Hey me too!” or remember what it was like when they were in your shoes.
If you feel like dancing, accept the offer with enthusiasm. If you’re not already acquainted, introduce yourself.
“No, thank you.”
If you don’t feel like dancing – for any reason – you can decline with a polite “No, thank you.” If you can – and you don’t have to – give a reason e.g. “I’m sitting this one out”, “I don’t like this song”, “This one is too fast/slow for me”, “I’m having a rest”, “I’d like to watch for now” are all ok.
If you’d like to take up the offer later, say so and mean it: “I’d like to but not just now, can I come find you in a while?”
Feedback is important to improving but it can be impolite to give feedback unsolicited, so it’s best to ask first. Giving and receiving constructive feedback can be something of an art but if you’re unsure stick to the following guidelines:
- Stick to first person observations e.g. I’m feeling x or I’ve notice that I’m doing y when we do z.
- Make suggestions one at a time e.g. Could we try this move with more/less x, I’d like to see if y happens if we z, could we try it? It’s easy to overwhelm someone with a list of things to improve.
- Always be polite: be aware that everyone is learning and dancing doesn’t come naturally to everyone..
Floorcraft & Common Sense
During both the class and during the social time after, it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to look after themselves. That means things like taking a break when you need to take a break, stopping if anything hurts and having a drink when you need to have a drink.
When dancing it is the responsibility of both partners to look out for each other. ‘Floorcraft’ is the term given to navigating and avoiding collisions when dancing. That means:
- Leads looking where they’re sending their Follow.
- Follows looking where they’re being sent.
- Both Follows and Leads watching each other’s backs especially when one or both dancers are moving backward and
- Both keeping an eye on other dancers, non-dancers and furniture nearby.
Occasionally accidents happen and dancers collide. No matter who is at fault, you should acknowledge the others involved and where appropriate apologise. If it’s more than a small bump and someone’s been hurt, it’s courteous to stop dancing and make sure that the injured party is ok before continuing to dance.
It’s ok to stop dancing if something hurts or you feel that someone is doing something that puts you at risk, is dangerous or makes you uncomfortable. If you’re able, explain to your partner what the issue is and if you’re not it’s ok to stop dancing – you can just say “I’m sorry, I need to stop dancing right now.” – and let a teacher or RUSDS committee member know about the issue so they can address it wherever possible.
Reading Swing Jam is committed to providing safe spaces to learn, dance and socialise and we’ll do our best to insure that all spaces are inclusive and accessible to ensure the happiness, health and safety of everyone involved. As part of that commitment, we ask everyone attending any RSX class, workshop, social or event to be aware of and please abide by our Terms & Conditions, particularly the Code of Conduct.
After all the excitement of the Reading Swing Exchange we’re taking a little break on Monday 4th September. Normal transmission resumes on Monday 11th September as we continue to explore our A-Z of Jazz Steps series.
We’ll be continuing to working through a whole range of jazz steps,focusing on technique, transitions, variations, styling as well as choreographing mini-sequences, practicing flow and improvisation and dance confidence.
Experienced dancers and absolute beginners welcome – there’ll be something for everyone to work on. Just wear comfy clothes and shoes that stay on your feet and bring a drink – a fan or towel might be useful tool. Notebooks strongly encouraged! Join our RSJ Solo Jazz & Charleston facebook group for more information and class updates.
7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre
We’re delighted to be hosting this mini-workshop at the end of the August with the wonderful Eve Trim and Zane Payer, who are visiting us from the USA!
Fusion dancing draws technique from many styles of dance: swing, blues, tango, and more, into a wholly new aesthetic. In this workshop we’ll be exploring different tools to highlight the musicality, connection, and creativity, which make this dance so unique and fun.
This workshop is for all levels, starts at 7pm and is at our usual class venue, downstairs at the Purple Turtle. Pop over to our workshops page for the full rundown.
Saturday 27th May – Sunday 28th May
The Purple Turtle, home of RSJ’s Thursday Blues classes, is hosting a phenomenal weekend of live blues music for the late May Bank Holiday weekend – two whole days of live blues music that ranges from the old school traditional blues to the latest modern blues. Did we mention that it’s FREE!!! There are £0 tickets available for purchase to guarantee entry should the venue hit capacity over the weekend.
To celebrate this wonderful event, Reading Swing Jam will be offering two Blues Dance tasters, at 12noon upstairs at the Turtle on both Saturday and Sunday, £5 per person each. These tasters are just the thing for dipping your toe into the wonderful world of partnered Blues Dancing and we’ll be giving you a crash course in the basics, just the right amount to get you going on the dance floor for the weekend.
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.
Class starts 7:15pm | Upstairs at the Rising Sun Arts Centre
|WEEK 1: 7th March||Prep Work – Getting a headstart on the tricky bits!|
|WEEK 2: 14th March||The Routine – Working our way through the choreo!|
|WEEK 3: 21st March||Repeat & Polish – The main workout!|
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.
The first weekend of September is set to be an epic weekend of swing music and dancing at Reading Swing Exchange 2017! Featuring live music from the Ding Dong Daddios, Heather Jayne & the Blue Shoes, The Silver Heels and more in some of the most beautiful venues in the city including last year’s favourites St Lawrence’s Church and Hardcastle Hall at the Abbey School!
Venues, music, hosting and volunteering details are being announced as they’re confirmed so visit the RSX website to find out the latest. You can also get direct notifications of news and updates by following RSX on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Early Bird Tickets are now on sale but they won’t last long – Last year’s event sold out and we expect this year to be no different!
Where possible please register in lead/follow pairs to help keep the role ratio as even as possible. If you need some help tracking down a booking partner, you’re welcome to post on the RSX Facebook Event. A followers waiting list is will be up and running for solo followers, please see the RSX FAQs page for full details of how that works.
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!|
|Practice & Polish – Revisiting any tricky bits then practice, practice, practice!|
Monday 10th April we’ll enjoying a more leisurely pace as we work on Ryan Francois’ Swing Stroll. 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
We’ll be taking a short break the week after so there’ll be no class on Monday 17th April, we’ll be back on Monday 24th April. Join our Solo Jazz Class facebook group for regular class updates and helpful links