How to teach swing dancing

Beginners, Read This First! - SwingDance.LA

Swing dancing is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I’ve discovered in my life. Maybe you were out and saw some swing dancers at a restaurant, bar, or other event. Or, maybe someone took you to a Swing venue and you want to learn more. Whatever the reason, you’d like to learn how to Swing dance!  But, it can be intimidating and hard to know where to start. I hope I can help here.

Amount of Time Required

The first thing you should know is that learning to do any kind of dance will take time and dedication. If you just take one dance class per week and never go social dancing, you’ll forget everything you learned pretty quickly. At a minimum, I think you should go social dancing at least two times per week to retain what you learn.

Which Dances to Learn

There are many dances associated with Swing dancing including Charleston, East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, Balboa, and Shag.

I recommend starting with East Coast Swing. That is the easiest one to learn (in my opinion), and it is the most popular and versatile.

Once you’ve got a grip on East Coast Swing, you’ll definitely want to learn Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Balboa.  Shag is not quite as common but gaining in popularity and it’s a cool dance. A lot of Swing dancers also do Blues dancing, so I include Blues dancing on my Swing calendar.

For more details on some of these dances, click here.

West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is an eight-count dance derived from Lindy Hop. But West Coast Swing is in a different scene in L.A. and is not covered by this website. It’s more “ballroomy” than East Coast Swing/Lindy and is danced to more modern pop music, not old Jazz. It tends to have an older crowd.

Where to Take Classes

Many swing venues have beginner East Coast Swing lessons before the main dance, for example, Atomic Ballroom, Lindy Groove, Rusty’s Rhythm Club, and PBDA. Those are a good, low-pressure way to start. Click here for a complete list.

However, it will be difficult to “get good” by taking the same intro class over and over.  If you want to improve, take a class series.

I don’t suggest taking Swing classes from corporate places like Arthur Murray. I never see Arthur Murray instructors out social dancing, whereas the people I recommended are active social dancers and are out dancing all of the time.  They have a passion for Swing!

If you really want to improve quickly, then you can “jump in the deep end” and attend a Swing camp.  The biggest one in Los Angeles is Camp Hollywood at the end of August. The biggest one in Orange County is Inspiration Weekend in March. There is also the LA Shag Festival in April.

These usually have three or four nights of Swing dancing over the weekend with classes during the day. These events are exhausting but fun, and if you attend all of the classes, your dancing level will definitely go up a notch or more! There are so many awesome dances at these events, you’ll improve by osmosis (or more accurately, watching good dancers will improve your own dancing).

Another way to improve quickly is to take private lessons.  They are costly, but the personal attention will improve your dancing quickly.

There are some big weekly Swing dances with classes before the dance.  I would especially recommend LindyGroove, PBDA, Rusty’s Rhythm Club, and Atomic Ballroom. See my complete list of classes and instructors.  If you want to turbocharge your Swing dancing, read the Top Ten Secretes to Becoming a Good Swing Dancer.

To avoid starting a lot of bad habits, read the Most Common Beginner Swing Dancing Mistakes.

Where to Dance

As I mentioned before, you need to go social dancing at least a couple of times a week in order to practice what you’ve learned, or else you’ll forget it.

This article has my suggestions for places that usually have plenty of people to dance with and are generally non-intimidating for beginners.


Leaders, avoid doing things that will get you banished from the dance floor.  Read the Top Ten Worst Things Guys Do On the Social Dance Floor.

Followers, here are some sure-fire tips to get guys to ask you to dance!

What Shoes to Wear

Check out this article on shoes to wear Swing dancing.

I hope this has helped you take your first steps (or triple-steps!) into Swing dancing.  Leave a comment below if you have any questions! – Brian

How To Swing Dance For Beginners (Step By Step Guide)

Table Of Contents:

Swing Dance History & Character
How To Count In Swing
Swing Basic Step #1 – Video
Swing Basic Step #2 – Video

Learning how to Swing dance isn’t rocket science…

Like all Ballroom dances, Swing dancing is based on specific basic steps that once mastered can be applied to all kinds of turns, hand swaps and spins. Below you will learn the 2 main basics steps of Swing.

What is Swing Dancing?

This style of Swing is East Coast Swing which originates from Lindy Hop. It is a Stationary partner dance that doesn’t travel much – Meaning it is pretty much danced on the same spot – As opposed to a traveling Ballroom dance like Waltz. The character of this dance is playful and lively. There are a lot of turns and spins that make this dance really fun for couples.

Swing Songs To Practice To:

* Many of the popular songs played on the radio fit this dance including:
Zac Brown Band – Loving You Easy – Slow Tempo
Michael Bublé – Haven’t Met You Yet – Faster Tempo

How To Count The Swing

Beginner Way of Counting the Swing:

Rock Step, Triple Step, Triple Step.

The Count using numbers:

1,2 (Rock Step), 3 a 4 (Triple Step), 5 a 6 (Triple Step).

* We strongly recommend that you count in the beginner way for a while. However, it is important to understand that the rocks step has two full weight changes to 2 beats of music. And the triple steps (3 a 4 Or 5 a 6) have three weight changes to only 2 beats of music. This makes the triple steps faster.

How to Swing Dance – Basic Step #1:

Breakdown of the Swing Steps (East Coast)


Starting with left foot
Rock step – Step back with left and replace on right.
Triple step to left – Side, close, side (left, right, left)
Trip step to right – Side, close, side (right, left, right)


Starting with right foot
Rocks step – Step back with right and replace on left.
Triple step to right – Side, close, side (right, left, right)
Triple step to left – Side, close, side (left, right, left)

The Lead:

* Connect fwd to each other before starting to dance.
Leaders: Apply pressure fwd using the entire body but mostly the left arm (For the rock step). Make sure to extend the elbow slightly. Now, after the rock step, using your body weight and right arm connection, lead the followers to triple side steps in both directions. Ladies, don’t anticipate the lead – Simply connect forward to your partner to feel his lead.

Basic #2: Swing Outside Turn (Right Underarm):

Breakdown of Outside Turn (Above)


Starting with left foot
Rock step – Step back with left and replace on right.
Triple step to left – Side, close, side (left, right, left)
PIVOT 1/4 to left (On left foot)
Trip step to right – Side, close, side (right, left, right)


Starting with right foot
Rocks step – Step back with right and replace on left.
Triple step to right – Side, close, side (right, left, right)
PIVOT 3/4 to right (On right foot)
Triple step to left – Side, close, side (left, right, left)

The Lead:

* Connect fwd to each other before starting to dance.
Leaders: Just like in the most basic step, extend your left arm to the followers to allow her to do her Rock Step. Immediately after, as you do the side triple step to the left – raise the left arm just above the follower’s head (indicating a turn coming up). Now on count “&” circle the left arm over the follower’s head as she turns underarm. Make sure to extend your arm to clear your partner’s head.

Other Swing Moves you should learn:

– The Inside turn
– Changing hands behind back
– The Cuddle turn
– The Stop and Go
– Kicks & Flicks

Check out all our Swing dance lessons

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SWING dance - Dmitry (mitjaj) Martirosov

SWING DANCE is the general name of a group of modern dance styles that emerged and developed in the first half of the 20th century in America. The name of the dances comes from the name of the musical direction.

The whole history of this social phenomenon can be divided into three parts.

Swing era

In the early 1930s dance music split into sweet music and hot swing. The incredible popularity of hot swing in the mid 30s marked the beginning of the SWING ERA, which officially ended in the mid 40s. But various forms of swing dancing continued to be popular until the late 50s.

Swing revival

At the end of the last century, more precisely in the mid-80s, interest in swing dances returned again, when people who did not know each other in different cities and countries began to learn how to dance swing, which they even called differently at that moment.


You can come to almost any city in the world and find a place where you can dance swing. There are different styles and directions in swing dances, united by the fact that they are danced to music that has swing.

Let's talk a little more about each swing dance


This is often asked by those who are planning to start or have recently started learning to dance.

Dance styles

SWING DANCE is the common name of a group of dance styles, let's talk about each separately

Dance shoes

The choice of dance shoes is even more important and difficult than the choice of clothes! Where to get? How to choose?

Swing clothing

What to wear? A very important question for a dancer! Depends where you're going...

Where you can dance

Of course, at the party, which are many, it remains to find them.

Dance events or camps

These events come in a variety of formats and durations: competitions, camps, workshops, weekends, and so on, from one day to a month. They take place all over the world, and not a single event can do without at least a small party for a couple of hours, so you can...

Party at the bar

Sometimes a school or an individual teacher holds a party outside of their studio. Sometimes a good band plays in a bar and invites dancers to a concert. You can just get together with friends and go without an invitation to a concert of your favorite band - they are usually only happy. On...

Regular school parties

In Moscow, each of the swing dances has at least 1 party per week. Each dance school holds parties in its halls with varying degrees of regularity. In summer, all this is transferred to the parks - Open Air parties. We do not yet have a common information resource, ...

Endless Argument - Naphthalene vs Straights

What better conveys the spirit of the Lindy Hop - grandmother's dresses or ripped jeans?

A little more about the blues

When the blues (Bluesdance) went on a commercial footing, they began to refuse sex, as well as the evening dress code!

The subtleties of style in clothes

Usually dancers from the West Coast Swing parties say that they dance in the most ordinary clothes, but there are still subtleties here. Once, I went to a party in wide trousers, sewn according to the pattern of the 40s ready and the most ordinary shirt. I was standing at the entrance when I entered the hall...

Shoe selection

I took it in Auchan! If you know how, it doesn’t matter what, but Michael Grimm came to class with a backpack of shoes

Looking good is not vanity, but politeness!

The way your clothes look affects your dance more than you think.

Clothing can restrict movement over the head

Clothing must be comfortable - do not hinder movement! The most common advice. But what does this mean? For example, are slates or flip flops comfortable shoes? Well, everything is relative! I saw people dancing in them on the beach, but something else is better on the parquet. Oddly enough, but ...

Dress for classes

I usually advise you to change for class, because this simple "ritual" allows you to stop "being yourself" - get out of the image in which you were at work and enter a new image. They say it helps to tune in to...

When is it time for a party?

The sooner the better! The fact is that at the first, and sometimes even the second and third, party, you will be scared to go dancing. It is necessary to go through some "acclimatization" - to get used to the new environment. Therefore, it is worth going to a party after your first class. It's...

Lindy Hop Costume Reconstruction

Clothing and dancing are certainly related, but Swingdance is not a reenactment. The dance itself has long ceased to copy old films, all the more there is no point in striving for vintage clothes if you are not a fan of vintage clothes and do not understand the history of the costume - focus on ...

Blues is a fictional little brother...

At the first Bluesway in Kazan, we went out with one blues teacher to smoke, and he said: — the blues is a fictional dance: if you are good at dancing the Lindy Hop, for example, then you don’t have to learn to dance the blues. Well! if you REALLY know how to lindy hop - then yes ... Although ...

The main thing is that the suit fits

Looking good is not vanity, but politeness! Obviously, it’s worth trying not just to avoid stale T-shirts and stretched sweatpants. Clothing for training, as well as for competitions, performances and parties, should look decent. At the lesson it can be...

How to start dancing?

Very simple: take a change of shoes, come and don't be afraid to be afraid

Why dance?

Nobody comes to a dance for the sake of dancing! What is dancing really?

Swing music

The choice of dances depends on the music. What is Swing? How would you explain ...

Collegiate Shag

Colidget step - fast dance in a close position, but with more amplitude footwork than balboa. It was popular at the very end of the 30s, and for some reason now too. There are similar destinations, for example, Saint Louis Shag. The dance was popular in the middle of the Swing Era, so. ..

Blues dance

Blues is a slow blues dance. The newest of all swing dances, as an independent dance direction, began to form in 2002. Of course, everyone here says that you can come to the blues in anything, but it's not so simple. Clothing is...

West Coast Swing

VKS is a “lindy hop for whites” to modern music.


Charleston - the first of many swing dances, appeared at the very beginning of the last century during the days of ragtime. The peak of popularity came in the roaring 20s (roaring 20'es) - Charleston of the twenties (# 20'es Charleston) - the most popular and characteristic variety,...


Balboa is a predominantly very fast dance in a very close position, to classical swing or New Orleans jazz. Appeared in the city of the same name in LA county, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Usually divided into two directions. Purebal. The most authentic version of the dance, almost...

Carolina Shag

Karolina Shag - a vigorous, but not very fast, dance, mainly in an open position, with a variety of interesting footwork. Appeared in South Carolina in the 50s. This music is called Beach Music - actually very light and pop blues. Exactly what they put on Boogie...

Boogie Woogie

Boogie woogie - the same Lindy hop, only with different music, often divided into slow boogie and fast boogie. Appeared at the very beginning of Swing Revival (in the 80s) in Europe, as a collective image of jitterbug and rock and roll. It is often referred to as club or dance rock and roll, as...

Lindy Hop

Lindy hop is the main swing dance - this is swing. It has elements of all other dances, because in its development it absorbed the best of other dance styles. Sometimes slow, but usually quite fast. Appeared in New York, at the end of...

How long to study?

How long does it take to learn to dance? I don't have a short answer to this question. Any training is an endless process... What is it for you - to learn to dance? I don't know a single really cool dancer who doesn't want to dance better. In...

Dance Lesson Levels

They were invented for greater learning efficiency and your convenience.

5. Buy at dance event

There were a lot of events before the pandemic. In Europe, and sometimes in our country, different manufacturers often sold shoes there. It seems to have been the most popular...

others, and many more.

Aris Allen

( - I like the price and quality, although the rest of the Lindy Hoppers consider them too plebeian.


The oldest ones: - boogers love them very much, they seem to me not very convenient and expensive, and the production in Vietnam adds fun with sizes and ...

4. Buy online

Now there are many online stores of dance shoes. Here, shoes are most suitable for swing dances, since the owners themselves are dancers. The problem is only with the fitting, to make sure that this model is right for you. To check your size, you can...

3. Tailor-made

Risky and expensive. The risk is that the lasts for these workshops are rarely developed by orthopedists, and all recommendations for heel height, material stiffness, etc., could be formed under the influence of fashion or ballroom dancing. Almost no one offers selection...

2. General Store and Shoe Repair

You can find shoes in a regular store, and they will be quite slippery and comfortable. For example, shoes with smooth leather soles or hard and smooth plastic ones. Toms espadrille knock-offs are very popular at the WCS, they glide well and are very light. Normal...

1. Dance shoe store

Most of them sell ballroom dancing shoes, here you will be told that it is their shoes that are “good” for feet, but orthopedists are only involved in the development of shoes for sports and fitness, not for dancing. These shoes are always slip-soled, but may not fit due to...

The main thing is the sliding sole!

Turns usually occur on the supporting leg, and in almost all swing dances there is a twist (swivel), if the sole does not glide well, this can lead to ankle injury. Too slippery soles are also not always comfortable, the degree of “slipperiness” of the sole is better ...

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