How to swing dance with a partner
Learn Basic Swing Steps
Swing is a lively, non-progressive partner dance that can be danced to a wide variety of music, from blues to rock & roll. Non-progressive means it's mostly performed in one spot, so it's very convenient on a crowded dance floor.
- Basic steps
- Instructions & Diagrams
- Recommended Video Lessons »
Swing is one of the most versatile partner dances you can learn - very social and beginner friendly. Easily adaptable to a wide range of tempos, it involves movements with lots of swinging, spinning and rhythmic, creative footwork.
There are many different styles of swing, the term actually refers to a group of dances that developed from the swing style of jazz music in the first half of the last century. There's Lindy Hop, Boogie-Woogie, Jitterbug, Shag, Charleston, West Coast and East Coast Swing, just to name a few. Each of these dances has its own distinct flavor.
One of the most popular and very suitable for beginners is the East Coast Swing. It's a bit more social and relaxed than other versions. It's also a formal ballroom dance and the easiest to learn. Perfect for beginners, which is why we'll focus on this version here. It will create a good foundation and is the base for other more complex versions.
East Coast Swing can be danced to a variety of music styles. If it's written in 4/4 time and has a tempo between 135-170 beats per minute, you can swing it.
To dance swing you'll need a partner, a sense of humor, and a bit of endurance. It may seem a bit intimidating at first, especially if you're watching those who really mastered it. But as with all things, you have to start with the basics. And the basics are easy. Once you learn the fundamentals, you'll be swinging in no time. Always remember, wear comfortable shoes. Now let's go swinging.
Basic steps (East Coast Swing)
Beginners usually start with East Coast Swing, because it is the easiest of all swing styles. Here we will show you the basic 6 count step for East Coast Swing.
East Coast Swing has a basic count of 1&2, 3&4, 5,6. It's known as a triple step swing. The basic pattern is triple step, triple step, and a rock step.
When you're starting out you can replace the triple step with a single step. In that case the pattern would be step, step, rock step or rock step, step, step, depending on how you start counting. The overall progression is, of course, the same.
The triple step is really not that difficult to master, it is performed in a chasse-like manner - side step, together, side step.
Instructions & Diagrams:
Basic Steps For Men: The man starts with his left foot.
- 1&2: Triple step (chasse) to the left (left-right-left)
- 3&4: Triple step to the right (right-left-right)
- 5: Step backward with your left foot
- 6: Weight shifts to your right foot
Basic Steps For Women: The woman starts with her right foot.
- 1&2: Triple step (chasse) to the right (right-left-right)
- 3&4: Triple step to the left (left-right-left)
- 5: Step backward with your right foot
- 6: Weight shifts to your left foot
Remember, keep the steps small.
Leon and Kim will show you the basic steps, how to turn, and more:
more videos »
Now let's have some more fun, let's do some kicking:
Where to go next?
When you're ready for more fun, check out our recommended video lessons. Video is a great way to learn dancing.
How to Swing Dance | The 2023 New Dancer’s Guide
Have you ever wanted to know how to swing dance? While learning how to swing dance certain variations are more complicated than others, all of the dances begin with a few basic steps that aren’t too hard to learn.
Lace up your dancing shoes and read further to discover how simple and fun it can be to learn how to swing dance!
Jump to Section
- Learn How to Swing Dance
- Swing Dance History
- Swing Dance Basic Steps
- Country Swing Dance
- East Coast vs. West Coast Swing Dances
- Fun Swing Dance Moves
- How to Swing Dance Solo
Learn How to Swing Dance
Is Swing Dance Hard to Learn?
If you’re a complete beginner to dancing, don’t worry. Learning how to swing dance isn’t overly complicated, and with some practice learning a few basic steps, you’ll be ready to incorporate variations and a flair of your own in no time.
So, when it comes to learning how to swing dance, is swing dance hard to learn? The short answer is: no! But it becomes even easier with the guidance of a highly rated dance instructor.
Swing Dance Lessons
As with learning anything new, it helps to have an expert guiding you through the process. The same goes for dancing. If you’d like to learn how to swing dance, look for dance classes in Colorado Springs, dance classes in San Diego and dance classes in Las Vegas wherein a talented dancer will lead an engaging, fun course designed to ease the transition into learning these new steps!
You’ll get a unique and exciting workout in whilst learning something new: how to swing dance with style. Both beginners and experts alike will find that these dance classes near you are a fun way to switch up your routine and one of the best ways to learn to dance.
You may decide to sign up for online dance classes, where you will still receive some of the best dance instruction around, right from the comfort of your own home, so there’s no pressure!via Canva
Swing Dance History
Do you know that the swing dance has influenced countless popular dancing styles since the 1920s? When you think of the roaring ‘20s, images of rowdy speakeasies, jazz bands, swanky parties and swing dancing likely come to mind.
As jazz music began to develop in the 1920s, so did the swing dance and others like it, as crowds of people learned how to swing dance. Certain forms of jazz music are actually referred to as “swing music” for this reason.
According to the Chicago Swing Dance Society, majorly influential artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, are known for their impact on swing music throughout the early 1900s.
The dance has evolved since its pioneering days, and now encompasses numerous variations, including the Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug, the East Coast Swing, the West Coast Swing, Country Swing and others, which makes learning how to swing dance a popular hobby from coast to coast.
Swing Dance Basic Steps
Whether you decide to sign up for dance classes with a professional to learn how to swing dance or you’d like to give swing dance a try on your own, it helps to understand the basics of the dance before you actually get moving. Read on for some simple ways to get started.
Swing Dance Count
Before you can master how to swing dance, ffirst you must learn to count to the swing dance beat. These dances typically follow a six- or eight-count rhythm. The basic count is a rock step (1, 2), a triple step (3 and 4) and another triple step (5 and 6).
Five Basic Steps of Swing Dance
To start with the rock step, step backwards with your left foot moving behind you, and step forward with your right foot.
For the first triple step, you’ll step to the side with your left foot, the same way with your right foot, and again with your left foot. So, to the beat of 3-and-4, you’ll step left, right, left.
Then, you’ll repeat this triple step in the opposite direction, so that you are moving right, left, right.
If this dance is being done with a partner, the leader typically starts on the left foot while the follower starts on the right foot.
Next, it's time to incorporate the swing! All this means is that after doing the basic steps (rock step, triple step, triple step), you’ll pivot 1/4 of the way to your left, while your partner pivots 3/4 to their right, and then you’ll do a triple step.
Country Swing Dance
As aforementioned, the swing dance has been adapted in various ways to a variety of music forms. One popular swing variation is the country swing dance. When it comes to how to swing dance in the country variation, you’ll learn to incorporate more twists, turns and other fun moves as you dance with your partner. Read further to learn how to swing dance the country swing dance.
Country Swing Dance Moves
First, it’s important to distinguish who is the “leader” and who is the “follower” in your dance. As you join hands to dance, the leader will have their hands facing upwards while the follower’s hands are facing downwards.
After your first rock step, you’re going to walk towards each other rather than moving side-to-side. As your partner steps forward with their left foot, you’ll step forward with your right, and then repeat with the opposite feet. This dance is done with an eight-count beat, so you’ll be taking eight steps.
Once you’re comfortable with those basic swing dance moves, you can incorporate a spin, wherein you are still doing the basic steps, but as you both hold hands, you are turning your bodies rather than staying in one place. Then you can start to incorporate some of the following moves into your dance.
Tip: Don’t forget to stay loose when learning how to swing dance! There’s no room for stiffness, especially in the country swing dance.via Canva
East Coast vs. West Coast Swing Dances
What is the Easiest Swing Dance to Learn?
The East Coast swing is likely the easiest for when it comes to learning how to swing dance. It contains the most basic steps, and many other variations are built off of this version.
In fact, the basic steps listed above are exactly what the East Coast swing dance is. It consists of a rock step followed by two triple steps. However, you can make the dance your own by deciding whether to step side-to-side with your partner or front and back.
What is the West Coast Swing?
When learning how to swing dance in the West Coast version, you will usually have to dance to a slower tempo than in the East Coast swing. This doesn’t mean that the West Coast swing is by any means a slow dance — it will just work well with a slightly slower tempo.
The key difference between East Coast and West Coast swing is that East Coast swing is done at a pace of around 136-144 beats per minute, while West coast is done around 102-114 beats per minute.
West Coast Swing Steps
A West Coast swing dance incorporates a “sugar push,” which means that your partner and you will be facing each other and walking forward and backward together. While you take two steps backwards, your partner will take two steps forward, then take two steps in place at the same time before repeating the move in the other direction.
After the sugar push, you and your partner will perform a “sugar tuck.” After the last step in place of the sugar push, the follower will turn away instead of simply stepping back. Then, they’ll triple step their way into a half circle, and face the leader once again.
The biggest distinction for the West Coast swing is that the entire dance is performed in a sort of linear way, whereas the East Coast dance follows a more circular pattern. Either of these styles are a greta starting point for those in the beginning stages of learning how to swing dance.via Canva
Fun Swing Dance Moves
The hammerlock comes from doing turns with your partner. Rather than holding one hand while your partner turns around, you will both hold both of each other’s hands.
This way, once one partner turns, you’re in a sort of, well, hammerlock, wherein one hand will be held down and the other hand will be raised above your partner’s head as the turn. Once the turn is completed, the lower hand will be behind your partner’s back.
The cuddle is kind of exactly what it sounds like. In this move, you and your partner will do the beginning of a hammerlock, but in the end, your partner will be in front of you, facing the same direction as you, while your hands are held in front of your partner’s body.
While in the cuddle, you would typically simply reverse the move so that your partner turns out of the cuddle back into facing you.
For a lean, you (as the leader) would instead turn your body to open up to allow your partner to continue their turn all of the way until you are both only holding hands with your inside hands, and your outer hands are free and you are both facing forward.
Then, your partner would simply lean against you, so that your sides are touching.
The Jumpin’ Joe move is great for upbeat tempos and lively dances. It’s very simple, and works best when the leader is shorter in height than the follower. In the move, leaders will spin their partners and then bring their arm over their head while jumping in the air.
For those of you who want to learn how to swing dance and how to incorporate some intricate, impressive moves, the tunnel is for you. This will take some practice with a partner, so be patient!
The tunnel is a move that involves several inward twists while you and your partner are holding hands, so that it sort of looks like one partner is going through a “tunnel,” which refers to the other partner’s arms.via Canva
How to Swing Dance Solo
When learning how to swing dance, you might ask yourself: can you swing dance solo? When it comes to practicing the dance or taking online dance classes, a partner may not always be available to you. Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers.
Can You Swing Dance by Yourself?
Although swing dancing is typically performed and practiced between two partners, it can certainly be practiced with just one person. Learning how to swing dance by yourself is simply a way to practice and master the basic swing dance steps.
When you are swing dancing alone, it does help to act as if you are dancing with a partner. What that means is that you should dance with your arms out and in position as if a partner were with you, so that when you do do the dance with a partner, it will feel practiced and natural.
When practicing how to swing dance on your own, pay attention to your footsteps and decide whether you’re dancing as a leader or follower, as your moves will differ slightly, and you want to be ready for when you do end up dancing with a partner.
Solo swing dancing is great for learning to master your posture, footwork, rhythm and overall confidence in the dance!via Canva
Now that you know how to swing dance, get out on the dance floor to test your moves! As you learn how to swing dance, you’ll see that it simply takes practice of simple steps in order to feel more comfortable including some fun variations of your own.
Don’t forget to check out dance classes near you if you think you could benefit from some extra help to learn how to swing dance.
For even more creative ideas and inspiration, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!
Related ArticlesA Beginner's Guide to Bachata Dancing
A Beginner's Guide to Cumbia Dancing
How to Belly Dance (With Confidence!)
How to Line Dance Like a Pro
How to Slow Dance With Style
How to Waltz Your Way to Becoming a Ballroom Pro
How to Salsa Dance Beginner’s Guide
Swing Dancing: Get Jazzy!
SWING is the general name for dances, as well as the style of clothing, interior, life and behavior that arose with the birth of early jazz music - swing. The term is usually used to refer to one or all of the swing types: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Step, Balboa, Blues and Boogie Woogie, Jive, Rock and Roll, West Coast Swing, Se rock or Le Rock, etc. (appeared in the 1940s and later).
Things to remember about swing:
- This dance originated in the 1930s. last century in New York. It is believed that the predecessor of swing was rag time - the music of street musicians.
- this is an improvisational dance: a chain of movements is created right on the dance floor. The partner thinks over the dance steps and makes it clear to the partner what he expects from her, and her job is to catch it. No dance will be exactly the same as another.
- it's a party dance. Swing competitions are also held, but the main goal is to dance for yourself.
- it is a dance for communication. The emotions and personalities of the dancers are as important as the legs and arms.
- it's a jazz dance. Knowing how to dance jazz, the dancer feels free with almost any music.
Interest in swing faded in the 1960s and resurfaced in the 1980s with the formation of the World Rock'n'Roll Confederation and boogie-woogie and acrobatic rock and roll competitions. In the 90s, the turn came to the CIS countries. In general, swing dancing is an excellent means of communication between people.
26-year-old from Kiev Alexander Gnidin has been practicing Lindy Hop for six months. He says it all started in a post in a LiveJournal community, where they invited people to join a swing group and posted video links to dancers' performances.
- And since it was in the midst of spring, when you want updates, I decided to go and try it. In addition, the location was convenient, half an hour on a direct metro line from work, the time suited me, and I also watched the video - I was hooked. For me, this is instead of physical education, plus new acquaintances, new horizons and impressions, - says Sasha.
Apparently, Sasha is not alone in his desires for new horizons and impressions - for example, there were about 40 people at the boogie-woogie class of one of the Kyiv clubs, which I looked at yesterday. Well, last Saturday, November 14, a qualifying competition was held in Kyiv under the funny name "SUSYUKS-2009" (an abbreviation for "So You Think You Can Swing?") - for the right to be called the best swing dancers. The idea and format were borrowed from the Ukrainian TV show “Everybody Dance”, which, in turn, adopted the concept of the American TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?”
The event took place in the assembly hall of the 1st building of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy. Everyone could take part (fee - 30 UAH per person, for spectators - 20 UAH). Everything in general looked very sincere: a cozy hall, smiling people, great music and a lot of positive. At first, the people danced just like that, for a warm-up, then competitive dances began. About 50 dancers took part in the competition.
Under the approving but exacting gaze of the jury, they went through three rounds - as a result, the four best couples were selected. In two weeks, the guys will compete with competitors from Kharkov and Moscow, who will come to us for the finals of the SUSYUKS.
"Our Kyiv" asked Andrey Terentyev, one of the founders of "Kiev Swing Dance Club", about swing in more detail.
NK: For the uninformed, tell us what swing is?
There are several directions of swing dances, but more often the swing dance means the Lindy Hop dance, which was popular in the 30s of the last century. Also styles of swing dances - balboa, shag and others. Boogie-woogie and west coast swing, as a rule, are also classified as this direction, although they are danced to non-swing music: boogie-woogie - to rock and roll, blues and boogie-woogie, and WCS - to modern pop music .
NK: When was the Kyiv club founded and whose idea was it?
The name "Kiev Swing Dance Club" originated in 1998, when a few enthusiasts began to practice from video cassettes and learn how to dance swing. But the Club, as we know it now, emerged in 2003, after Taras Melnik, Larisa Glikina and I began to develop it, hold parties and attract new dancers to our ranks.
NK: How long does it take for beginners to learn the simplest dance?
To master the basics, a few months of classes are enough. But in order to learn how to dance well, it will take at least several years of training.
NK: More boys or girls come to class?
I can only talk about boogie-woogie bands. We usually have more partners in the first month of classes, sometimes the proportion of partners and partners in the first month is one to two. But then, within a month, the balance usually levels off. Now we have an almost equal number of partners and partners at almost all levels. I explain this by the fact that rock and roll and boogie-woogie, like music and dance, attract both guys and girls to the same extent.
NK: How many people are recruited into one group?
Usually about thirty. In my experience, this is the optimal size of the group, during the training there is a good dynamics of the lesson, because the dancers learn not only from the teacher, but also from each other. Senior groups are usually a little smaller - 10-20 people.
NK: They say that in boogie-woogie the main thing is improvisation and interaction in pairs. And if a person does not know how to improvise?
Improvisation is a skill just like learning to ride a bike or swim, only more creative. When, after several months of practice, you stop thinking about where to put your foot and how to lead the partner correctly (or follow the partner correctly), then your brain is freed for something more, you begin to improvise and hear music. Therefore, my advice is to practice more, listen to the music you dance to more often, and work on the foundation: the main step, leading-following.
NK: What do these dances give you personally?
Dancing is the joy of communication, freedom and positive emotions. Boogie-woogie and all swing dancing is a dance drug! After several months of regular exercise, almost 100% addiction is ensured. At the same time, you can observe a number of “side effects”: an uncontrollable smile on your face and unreasonable bouts of good mood, a change in gait in the “step-step-triple-step” style, involuntary movements of the limbs with the sounds of music with a syncopated rhythm (syncope is a displacement of the rhythmic support from a strong beats of a bar to a weak one - ed. ), a change in musical tastes and preferences, and so on. So be vigilant! I came to dancing late, after university. Since then, I can not stop and do not regret it a bit. He worked in IT consulting, then managed a telecom company and worked with mobile operators, then managed a network advertising agency. It was only thanks to dancing that I could withstand the stress of work. It is enough to dance for a few hours, you are charged with optimism and good mood, and all problems become solvable. I recently decided to leave my career and make my favorite hobby my job, and I don't regret it at all.
On Monday, I went to one of the boogie-woogie classes - Andrey conducts it with his colleague Nadia. At 19:30 on the street. Ilyinskaya, 9, a group has gathered on the second floor, which has been studying for a couple of months. I couldn’t keep up with them, took a few steps at the initial stage, and then the guys split into pairs (two girls didn’t have enough partners, but the teachers helped them) and began to repeat the already learned elements at a rather fast, as in my unprofessional opinion, pace. But later, at 20:30, newcomers came, who had been practicing for only a few weeks. And there were a lot of them, as already noted, forty people - mostly young students of student age, but also a few people "under" and "over" thirty. In the lesson, we learned the basic step: “step-step-triple step”. In principle, it is quite accessible if you slowly repeat the movement in parts. Gradually you get used to it, it starts to turn out almost reflexively. It is important to properly position the knees so that they do not hurt later, as they take on a lot of stress during exercise. Yes, a lot of things, to be honest - a sea of subtleties that coaches do not get tired of talking about and showing. Of course, interaction with a partner is also important: to feel where he is leading at the moment - a whole set of exercises has also been developed for this.
When you look at the swing pros, it seems that the couple moves easily and naturally, without thinking about anything, almost flies! But in order to learn how to fly like, for example, these dancers, you have to work hard.
Although this process is very pleasant, as it turned out. Although physically exhausting (at the end, most T-shirts are wet with sweat), but morally inspiring. And another trick: when you dance in pairs, you change partners every 5-10 minutes, in a circle. Thus, communication with new people is constantly taking place, eye-to-eye - and this is also more than interesting.
Cost of classes:
One lesson - 50 UAH
Half a month (4 lessons) – 160 UAH
Month (8 lessons) – 280 UAH
Month - 1.5 different groups or directions (12 lessons) - 400 UAH
Month - 2 different groups or directions (16 lessons) - 450 UAH
The club schedule can be viewed here.
Now we are recruiting for a new boogie-woogie group for beginners. Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7pm.:00, the first will be on November 24th.
Before that, they promise a free introductory lesson - on November 20 at 19:30, at the address: Fizkulturny per. , 1 (Institute of Physical Education, 3rd building, 2nd floor).
Pre-registration by tel. (050) 311-87-73 or (067) 387-71-77.
What is Modern Swing (West Coast Swing)?
Modern Swing (Modern Swing) is the second name of the dance, which is widely known in the world as West Coast Swing (in Russian it sounds like West Coast Swing). This is a couple dance to modern music ♫, popular all over the world, especially in Europe and the States.
In recent decades, the dance has gone far beyond the United States and has become popular in Europe, Asia, Russia, Ukraine, Australia and many other countries. The community thought about changing the name, the usual West Coast Swing became difficult to develop as a new direction. The discussion also took place in the USA, where it was proposed to rename the dance to Modern Swing by Benji Schwimmer, a top dancer, star of the videoconferencing community, participant and director of a TV show on American television.
In Russia, the dance appeared in 2008 as VKS, but now they are starting to use a new short name - Modern Swing.
What is social partner dancing?
Social couple dances are dances that do not require years of training, they are dances for socializing and having fun. Anyone without dance experience can learn the basics of dance in a couple of months of classes and go to their first party! All it takes is a desire to dance and a love for music!
Social dances for couples are about making new friends, traveling together, having fun at parties and communicating in the language of dance!
There are many different dances in the world. We invite you to get acquainted with Modern Swing!
What makes Modern Swing attractive?
- worldwide fame — Modern Swing is danced all over the world (especially in Europe and America) — a great opportunity to make new friends in different corners of the globe! Major dance events (West Coast Swing Events) are held almost every week in different cities around the world. More than 20 events are held annually in Russia, 10 in Moscow. Modern Swing Events list and Modern Swing Events map.
- variety - Modern Swing can be gentle and sensual, playful and sexy, fast and technical, relaxed and fun - whatever you make it!
- modern popular music - you can dance to your favorite tracks!
In Moscow, several Modern Swing parties are held every week, including open-air parties (during the warm season), competitions are increasingly being held.
If you dance Modern Swing, you will be able to express yourself in dance, enjoy parties, impress others, tighten your figure - it depends on your goals! In addition, an invitation to a dance is a great opportunity to get to know each other ;-)
A bit of history
West Coast Swing - this is how West Coast Swing is translated into Russian - originated on the West Coast of the United States in1950s
. Dean Collins, an American dancer and choreographer who appeared in Los Angeles in 1937, contributed to the development of this style.
The roots of the dance go back to the "Swing era" (late 1920s-1940s). At that time, many jazz and blues musicians used "swing" in sound - in music, the first note of each pair is tightened, creating the effect of pulsation, swing (translated into Russian, "swing" - swing, oscillation).
When applied to dance, the term "swing" covers a range of dance styles that developed at that time, as well as modern dances descended from them. Here are some: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Shag, Balboa, and then Jive, Rock 'n' Roll and, of course, the West Coast Swing (West Coast Swing).
The modern name of the dance "West Coast Swing" first appeared on the pages of a book by dance teacher Arthur Murray, published in 1947 year. But teachers used the term Western Swing for another ten years in their notes and schedules. And in 1962, the inscription "West Coast Swing", as the name of the dance in its current form, was already on the advertising posters of the American dance teacher Skippy Blair. In 1988, West Coast Swing was declared the "Official Dance of the State of California".
Modern Swing (West Coast Swing) appeared in Russia in 2008.
A bit of technology
In pair dances, one of the partners is the leader (leader), usually a man, and the other is the follower (follower), usually a woman. Initiative and activity are the role of a leader, and a follower listens and decorates, complements, creates an atmosphere. The dance reveals a philosophy of relationships that can be extended to a lifetime.
Modern Swing is a pair dance in which both partners can improvise and have almost unlimited freedom of expression.
Modern Swing dance along the line (slot). Someone thinks that this is due to the fact that he was born in the narrow aisles of cinemas and corridors ;-) For the most part, the partner moves, and the partner, while remaining relatively in place, directs her movement (leads).
The interaction of partners is very soft, elastic.