In general, our dances are very casual, and you can come by and leave at any time you wish. If you want to take part in our beginner or intermediate lessons, they always start before the dance, and each lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Please arrive on time so we can get started! After the lesson(s), a DJ will spin some great swing tunes for a few hours and you can dance, socialize, or even just sit back and enjoy the music. You can also ask the more knowledgeable club members (including the Executive and instructors about the finer points of swing dancing.
At the Queen's Swing Club, we usually teach various styles of Lindy Hop. If you want to know why, or what it's all about, read What's The Deal With Lindy Hop? below. We also love the Charleston, '20s Charleston, Balboa, Shag, and various "mob dances".
You may want to know about more advanced stuff, like aerials and dance jams. These subjects are described below.
An often overlooked but very important aspect of social dance is etiquette. This subject is also touched on a bit below.
Something comfortable and breathable. Dancing is good exercise, so be prepared to sweat! Many people bring extra shirts to change over the course of an evening, for their own comfort and out of courtesy for the people they dance with. Other tips include bringing a small towel or handkerchief. Or try layering your shirts to help keep the outer layer dry.
GUYS... Try to avoid wearing sleeveless shirts. They may feel comfortable for you, but it's not so pleasant for your partner when they have to put their hand on your sticky shoulder.
GALS... Try to avoid wearing backless shirts. Same deal: They may look sexy as all hell, but it's not so pleasant for your partner when they have to put their hand on your sticky back.
This is important! You will be dancing in close quarters with a lot of new people. You may want to chew gum or bring breath mints (Altoids are popular...and bring enough to share!). Some dancers avoid consuming certain foods (e.g. garlic or onions) or drinks (e.g. coffee) before dancing. You may also wish to wear deodorant or cologne (dab, don't douse).
There's always the issue of whether your shoes slip or stick too much. Fortunately we've been gifted with nice hardwood floors, usually on the slippery side. In general: GOOD = Athletic shoes such as runners, sneakers or tennis shoes; NOT SO GOOD = Boots, sandals, slippers, soccer cleats, galoshes, bare feet... And Beware of heels. Even if they look mad sexy, they sure lose their appeal if they strike the foot of a fellow dancer! Yeah, you can get those fancy dance shoes, too. They're great, but you wouldn't wear them outside the dance floor. What a conundrum!
As with all social events, you'll likely end the night with a snack from the vending machine or a visit to the QP (in which case, you'd also need your Queen's student card and a valid ID proving you're 19+). So cash is always a good idea. The weekly dances themselves are very budget friendly: $2 drop-in each time (lesson included), or FREE with a membership!
This is pretty important. You never know if that water fountain in the JDUC is going to work.
Swing dancing is incredibly fun. It can also be incredibly challenging. Don't worry if you can't get it the first time! The really great dancers didn't get where they are after one or two lessons. It does take practice and patience. After a few weeks you'll start getting the hang of it. Bring some friends who haven't tried it before and want to do something new. They'll thank you for it, and you never know but they might get into it more than you do.
For many of us, swing dancing is a great way to totally forget about how awful school or life can get, and the club lets us totally cut loose. It's like a little vacation where you can listen to great music, have some fun, and if you like, really push yourself to do something you've never dreamed of doing six months ago.
Many people who saw the Gap commercial and the Swingers movie and heard the Cherry Poppin' Daddies haven't really heard of "Lindy Hop".
In short, Lindy Hop is a style of jazz dance that allows partners to connect with each other and the music, as well as all the other dancers on the floor. It was developed in parallel with the early jazz music of the late 1920s and early 30s.
Jazz was changing popular music in America and people found new ways to dance to it by adapting their old moves and figures from European ballroom dancing and American jazz dances like the Charleston and Black Bottom. For the most part, black Americans of African descent perpetuated jazz music and jazz dancing and many today argue that Lindy Hop was strictly an African-American dance.
Harlem, in New York, was at the center of this new dance craze where people of all races danced to the new jazz called "swing". Swing music and dancing was too popular with white youths for the white establishment to ignore, and quickly became popular in 1935 with the success of Chicago turned New Yorker Benny Goodman and his orchestra in California. By then Lindy Hop coalesced into a distinctive, fluid, but often misunderstood style, much of which is still practiced and built on today.
Because of its history in American culture, we teach beginner's lessons in Lindy Hop at the Queen's Swing Club. The other reason why we teach Lindy Hop is that we feel most confident dancing in that particular style. We feel that Lindy Hop truly expresses the attributes of swing music and makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. Dancing to music is like making a physical representation of the music and hey, it's a lot of fun as well.
Many people have learned and/or are learning different styles of dancing that are associated with swing music, and they are more than welcome to dance however they want to... provided they treat their partners and others around them with respect! In other words, please watch your floor craft. You are welcome to dance in another style, but do keep in mind that because we teach primarily Lindy Hop, that is what most people will be familiar with.
Some of you may be wondering if Lindy Hop and Jive are the same thing. After all, that song does go, "Jump, JIVE and wail!" Well, the University used to offer jive classes through the Physical Education Centre's (PEC) Recreational/Instructional Program, but no longer. Jive, similar to East Coast Swing in footwork (6-count), is a great way to get on the dance floor confidently and very quickly, even after one lesson. We encourage dancing in this style if one can do it, but we also encourage learning Lindy Hop so that one can dance to a greater variety of music, especially the vintage swing music we love so much.
This doesn't mean we will be limiting you to this style. While our drop-in beginner lessons will focus on Lindy Hop (with sweet variations!), our intermediate lessons will also introduce you to other classic swing dances such as Charleston, Balboa, '20s Charleston and Shag, as well as different "mob dances" such as the Big Apple and the Shim Sham. There's never a dull moment!
By the way, there are also regional differences in Lindy Hop done around the world, so don't get hung up over style. It is more important to find your personal style so that you can really express yourself.
This is from Mandi Gould from Bees Knees Dance Study.
Be conscious of when you are entering a dance or birthday jam. It makes sense to enter at the beginning of a phrase. In a birthday jam there might be a lot of people waiting for a turn so one phrase is usually all the time you get. Keep to that phrase. If you enter in the middle of a phrase then you might be cutting someone else's time short. If no one else cuts in then you can keep on going! In a regular jam, be ready on the sides to jump if a couple exits. There is nothing worse than an empty circle!
Mark your territory before the end of the phrase so that others know that your planning to go in or move in for a fast steal! Be aggressive (not in a violent way but in a confident way). Don't just stick your hand out; dance your way in, shadow the dancer you are about to replace or grab a free hand of the person you want to dance with.
In a birthday jam please remember that it's about the birthday person! Don't just show off and ignore your partner. It's their night to shine, everything you do should be about making them look good.
In a regular dance jam grab a partner on the side and get into a ready position. Get the groove going on the side and mark your territory. Be ready for a new phrase in the music. Make an entrance! Prepare!
Don't just walk off, keep dancing! And keep your energy up as you re-join the audience. Audience participation is an excellent thing! In a regular jam you can stay in until another couple makes their move to enter or you can exit at the end of a phrase or the end of a chorus.
Don't block off the band! Make a horse shoe shape and include the band in the jam experience! The music is the most important thing after all. Again, keep your energy going but don't get too high strung! It's easy to clap ahead of the music which gives the dancers in the middle a sense of having to rush. And clap on beat! What does that mean? You should be clapping on the EVEN beats. If you're not then either the music isn't swing or you aren't swinging!
There is much to be said about dance jams. Nothing is written in stone but I feel that these are important things to keep in mind. If anyone has any comment to make, please feel free to take it to the discussion list!
We all have seen dance moves known as "aerials" in movies like "Swing Kids" and in the Gap commercial. They look really cool because of their apparent recklessness. Swing dancers have performed these flashy moves in an effort to outdo each other during informal dance competitions known as jam circles (like those formed in break dancing). Aerials can be performed safely or dangerously depending on the dancers involved. Normally in social situations aerials are not encouraged and even prohibited in some organizations because of the potential dangers. We are more lenient and allow aerials during Queen's Swing Club dances because everyone likes them, but cannot take responsibility for one's actions while dancing, especially when performing aerials. Please use your good judgment and don't get yourself or anyone else hurt. Some tips before you take flight: