Do I need a partner?

Nope, just show up.  New dancers get a warm welcome by the dance community!  There will be plenty of helpful folks who are ready and willing to dance with new people.  And most dances have a lesson at the beginning too- a great way to meet newer dancers.

How long does it take to learn to swing dance?

East Coast Swing, or 6-count swing basics can be learned in a couple of hours.  But, like playing an instrument such as piano, the sky’s the limit!  Few people have sat down at a piano for the first time and started playing Mozart.  Same holds true for swing dancing.  Learning the Lindy Hop can take time and patience.  Don’t be discouraged; take as many lessons as you can from a wide variety of teachers.  Be patient with yourself, enjoy the journey, social dance alot and voila!

East Coast or Lindy Hop? I’m confused- what’s the difference?

East Coast swing, or 6-count swing, is a subset of the Lindy Hop codified and proliferated by Arthur Murray dance studios.  Think of Arthur Murray as the McDonald’s of dancing…and East Coast swing as its hamburger.  Lindy Hop, the predominant form of swing dancing back in the ballrooms of Harlem in the 1930s was too complicated to learn in a simple lesson.  Arthur Murray recognized that the 6-count steps were an easier subset that could be taught easily in a hour or two, so he separated those steps out of Lindy Hop and tadaa!  East Coast Swing was born.

What is Lindy Hop then?

Lindy Hop is a dance based around an 8-count basic, and incorporates all of the elements of East Coast Swing, as well as some Charleston, Fox Trot and other ballroom dances.  It is a wholly American dance; its vernacular is dictated by the dances of the 1920s and 1930s which were in turn derived from the music of the time.  And just as jazz music was a fusion of Western symphonic music and African rhythms, so too is the dance.  The Lindy Hop is mixture of ballroom, Charleston and African dance.

What is West Coast Swing?

West Coast swing is a modern evolution of East Coast swing that is danced to more contemporary music.  The footwork is based on a 6-count basic, but has evolved in a stylized way to fit more modern music.  As it evolved, it became its own dance.  However, it is still a distant cousin, or perhaps a different dialect of the same language.  It’s similar to the differences between British English and American English.  The conversation can still be had between dancers from the various communities, but each side might think the other “talks funny”.

Do I have to dress vintage?

Nope!  Only if you want to.  Style of dress varies a lot.  We would discourage you from wearing sweats, if only because that projects a bit of slovenly image.  Generally, though, going retro isn’t the approach most people take to their dance apparel.  You often see guys in nice t-shirts or dress shirts and either jeans or dress pants; women often wear a dressy blouse and pants, or even go for a nice dress! It’s fairly low key, though, unless it happens to be advertised as a more formal event. Pointy toed shoes or high heels are discouraged.

Personal Hygiene…?

Since you’ll be in close proximity to another person when you’re dancing, it is very important to have fresh breath and deodorant.  We would also recommend avoiding dishes with lots of garlic before a dance…sadly, many of us avoid Italian food before a dance, but that has the added benefit of not weighing us down while we dance with a belly full of heavy pasta. Let’s face it, we all sweat, but packing a small towel or an extra shirt goes a really long way to make those who dance with you happy.

Do I need to back-flip over my partner to do this dance?

Absolutely not!   In fact, aerials or air steps as they are called should only be done in the context of a performance or competition.  There are NO air steps allowed at most social dances including Boston Swing Central.  People can be subject to injury when doing air steps, not just because they can land wrong, but during a dance, they could potentially land on somebody else.

Safety…?

Oh yes, this is important so listen up!  Please DON’T do aerials or air steps at a social dance! You could potentially land on someone’s head or accidentally kick them.  Kicking, tripping, bumping can sometimes happen on the dance floor.  It is easier to avoid when practicing good floor craft.

What is Floor Craft?

It’s an awareness of others on the dance floor. It’s dance floor courtesy. Floor craft is an art that should be practiced while on the dance floor.  Knowing how the dance works and how the other couples on the floor will move is important.  This is especially important for leaders.  Leaders need to avoid sending their followers crashing into others on the dance floor.  If you happen to kick somebody accidentally, stop and see if they’re okay and tell them you’re sorry.  And try to be mindful of your steps if you are dancing backwards.  If you do happen to kick somebody really badly, check on them after the song is over just as an extra courtesy.