You might have a few questions about this thing called swing, especially if you’re yet to give it a go, so here are a few more things you might want to know before coming along!
What is Lindy Hop?
Well first, have a look for yourself! Lindy Hop is first and foremost a social dance! Partners relate to each other and the music, with feeling, improvisation and phrasing. It’s fun, energetic, and can be danced at a range of different speeds of music, fast or slow.
The dance evolved along with the new swing music of the early 30s, based on earlier dances such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom.
As for the name, it is said that a “downtown” reporter saw the dance being performed in 1927 and asked whether it had a name; “Shorty” George Snowden, a Lindy pioneer, saw an opportunity and said that the dancers were celebrating Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic with “Lindy’s Hop.”
It was widely danced until the late 1950s, then had a resurgence in the late 90’s, and has basically been going strong since then!
What is Balboa?
Again, the best way to describe it is to show you! This cruisy, classy dance was mostly well known for its popularity in dance halls on the Balboa Peninsula, California in the 1930’s, and was nearly lost forever, but thanks to some really dedicated people, it has been saved, to be enjoyed for years to come!
Balboa is danced to a wide variety of tempos, but because the basic step takes up such a small space, it can be danced to fast music (over 300 beats per minute), exciting!
Designed to take up only a small space, Balboa involves chaining two-step movements together while shuffling the feet on the floor. The dance was originally a response to overcrowded ballrooms where the swing-out or breakaway (a move popular in Lindy Hop at the time) was often difficult, if not actually banned by the venues!
Modern Balboa dancers sometimes distinguish between two types of Balboa, “Pure Balboa” and “Bal-Swing.” In Pure Balboa, dancers stay in close embrace for almost the entire time, their torsos touching, doing variations based on footwork, turning as a couple and moving as a couple. Bal-Swing, in contrast, incorporates movements in which there is more space between the partners and thus more dynamic, open movements.
What is Solo Jazz?
Solo Jazz is basically dancing to the same kinds of tunes Lindy Hop and Balboa are danced to, but on your own! In class you’ll learn anything from classic moves and routines which are known the world over, and also how to put these together in your own way so you can improvise to pretty much any music you like!
Solo Jazz is a general term that can refer to anything from the pre-Cake Walk dances to post war era material, including be-bop and rhythm ‘n’ blues music. In modern terminology, it often refers to dancing without a partner rather than dancing with a partner, and it comes without any influences of ballet or any other modern contemporary techniques. Solo Jazz can be danced free and improvised or in routines such as Shim Sham Shimmy, Big Apple or Tranky Doo. In more recent times, people have even been including elements of hip-hop styling into their solo dancing, there are a few elements of this in this great routine:
What do I need to wear/bring?
Wear whatever you feel comfortable in to come to classes! Bear in mind this is quite an active pursuit, so make sure it’s something you can move freely in, it doesn’t have to be gym gear if you don’t want, but it’s always a good idea to bring a spare shirt if you need to freshen up!
Comfort is key with your footwear too, but ideally if you have shoes with a slightly slippery sole, those would be best! Canvas sneakers are great, especially when you’re first starting out, but avoid super grippy running shoes if you can!
Dancing involves a lot of twisting and turning, so in order to be kind to our knees and feet, we encourage dancers to wear comfortable shoes with leather or suede soles. Another factor that should be considered is the specific dance floor. One pair of dance shoes might be good on one floor, but not on another. If you’re dancing on a floor for the first time, it doesn’t hurt to bring 2 pairs of dance shoes: one that grips for a fast (slippery) dance floor, and one that easily slides for a slower (sticky) floor.
Don’t worry if you don’t have leather or suede soled shoes, that is easily remedied, simply tape up the soles of your normal shoes with gaffer tape, cloth/duct tape or electrical tape!
Also, remember to pack a drink bottle, deodorant, and even a facecloth or towel, especially in the summer as it can get pretty hot inside the venues!