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Frequently Asked Questions:

• Which level should I/we take?





FAQ #1:
Frequently asked questions: "Which SWING class should I/we take . . . ?"


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  • "I've had one or two of those free lessons at the local dance places, and I've gone Swing dancing quite a few times. Which Swing class should I take Swing I or Swing II ?"

  • "I've taken a Swing dance class (or two), but my partner hasn't. I've shown him/her some stuff, and we've gone Swing dancing quite a few times. Which class should we take Swing I or Swing II ?"

  • "I've taken some Lindy Hop classes, which teach some 6-count moves. Which Swing class should I take?"

  • "I've taken Swing I. Should I now take Lindy Hop I or Swing II?"

Our answers and recommendations fall into 2 categories: Swing I vs. Swing II (see below), and Swing vs. Lindy (see below).

Swing I vs. Swing II: For our recommendations on taking Swing I or Swing II, please see below. (Not yet fully articulate, we admit, but at least it's a start.)

Swing vs. Lindy Hop: For an overview of the relation between Swing and Lindy Hop (from a dance-class point of view), please see our Lindy Hop I class description,. For the same answer from a historical point of view, please see our FAQ#2 immediately below.

For whether to take Swing II (6-count) or Lindy Hop (8-count Lindy Hop moves), our answer is this:
       After our Swing I, you are ready for either, or for both! They improve your Swing I skills in two different directions. Swing II-a will build directly "upward" from Swing I, with clever combinations and elaborations of what you already know, plus several of new technique skills needed to do the new things well. Swing II-b (Lindy Hop) will build "sideways" from Swing I, adding its fundamental 8-count moves to your repertoire, plus a different technique to accommodate it all. We recommend coming to both courses the first week, and then making up your mind! (No charge for the course you don't take). If you have the stamina, take 'em both! You'll be knowledgeable in both directions all the sooner! If you are only going to take one at a time, it's perhaps slightly better to do Swing II-a first, so you can build "upwards" from Swing I while it is all still fresh. Also, knowing Swing II-a will help you a bit with your Swing II-b (Lindy Hop), but probably not the other way around.

  • "I've taken a Level I class elsewhere, but I don't know if it covered the same material as yours. Should I take your level I or level II?"

  • "I've had a couple of those free lessons at the local dance places, and I've gone dancing quite a few times. Which class should I take -- level I or level II ?"

  • "I've taken a dance class (or two), but my partner hasn't. I've shown him/her some stuff, and we've gone dancing quite a few times. Which class should we take -- level I or level II ?"

  • "I've taken some Lindy Hop classes, which teach some 6-count moves. Which Swing class should I take?"



These are surprisingly difficult questions to answer. We don't have an in-between class that fits these cases exactly. Our goal is to get you out onto the dance floor with a full set of skills as soon as possible. So we cram everything we can into our regular level I and II offerings. This means that we learn much more in Level I -- especially technique skills -- than in classes elsewhere.

  


Our general recommendation

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We let you decide which class is right for you. Our recommendation: try both I and II the first week, and then decide. No charge at all for any class you decide not to register for. Now, what could be fairer than that?

       The first lesson of our Level II classes is probably the very best place to find the information you need for a good decision, and we strongly recommend that you attend it. We include a very fast review of all of the previous Level I material, so you get a good idea of what we learn by the end of Level I, and what we expect folks already to know coming in to the Level II class.

       If you ask us, we will slightly recommend choosing low rather than high, because our Level I courses include vastly more technique than classes elsewhere. Once you have good technique, everything becomes easy, and all your partners will like dancing with you. So it's worth a brief delay to really get the technique down solidly. Because we cover technique mostly in Level I, we tend to be brief about it in our higher level courses. That is, you probably didn't get much technique details in your Level I course elsewhere, and you probably won't get enough in our Level II class. So there's some unique value in taking our Level I classes . . . even if you are bored half of the time for the first couple weeks. (This is just as true for women as for men, by the way.) But in the end, we leave the decision entirely to you.

       Special discount: If it seems like a good idea to you, you are welcome to register for both I and II. If you register for both I and II, you may deduct 33% from the price of the second one. (Must be same dance, same session. Prerequisite for discount: you must already have had a Level I course elsewhere, or the near equivalent.)

       Reversible decisions. You can always change your mind later, too. And, as always, to guarantee your satisfaction, we offer full refunds any time before the second lesson. No questions asked.


Below are some additional Swing / Lindy considerations that you may find helpful, even for other classes.

  


SWING I considerations

for folks with some Swing or Lindy experience

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In our Swing I class, you may be bored for the first lesson or two, because we begin at the beginning, of course. At first, we'll be going slow on the variations (which you probably already know) while we go deep on the technique skills that underlie good partner dancing (which you probably won't know). By the end of the course, however, we'll be accelerating faster and faster through the variations, most of which will probably be new to you. (For a list of our Swing I variations, click here.)

       We think you will find our Swing I class very beneficial, for two main reasons: First, because we spend a lot of time on the momentum-based mechanics and techniques of good Swing dancing -- which enables you both to dance beautifully with your partner AND to learn new variations much faster. And second, by the end of the course, with our unusually systematic approach, you'll also have learned quite a lot of new variations.

       If you already have taken a Swing class elsewhere and know another leading/following system, such as a gesture-based or semaphore-based signaling system ("look at your wristwatch"), you'll suddenly find yourself with a doubled set of leading/following options -- and that's good! (That's our polite way of saying that we prefer the momentum-based approach, because it enables both men and women to become much better dancers.)

       If you already have taken basic Lindy Hop classes, you'll discover that the 6-count turns taught in Lindy classes locally are only the simplest and most primitive of the available repertoire -- you'll get additional turns in Swing I, a more systematic approach to understanding their underlying techniques, and you'll learn to lead them on both sides (not just with the gent's left hand). (Note: And in Swing II and III you'll get a dazzling array of double-turns and complex turns, built on our Swing I technique skills, that you'll never see in Lindy classes.)
 

  


SWING II considerations

for folks with some experience

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In our Swing/Lindy Hop II (Intermediate Swing + Basic Lindy), we assume you already know the 20-25 variations that we cover in Swing I, plus excellent momentum-based leading and following -- and we use that as a basis from which we go hurtling through the Intermediate Swing and Basic Lindy Hop repertoires as fast as we can. Our Swing II class is somewhat more advanced than typical, because we've already learned so much in Swing I. In our first lesson of Swing II, we do a VERY quick review of everything that happened in Swing I -- it'll give you a good idea of what we expect you to know! But it's just a fast reminder, and not enough to get the hang of it all if it's new to you.

       If your Swing experience is informal, you will almost certainly be under-prepared for our Swing II class. But you probably won't be bored.

  


SWING I & SWING II :

complete descriptions and listings

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For complete descriptions of all our course, including all the variations taught in Swing I and Swing II, click here.





FAQ #2:
Swing vs Lindy vs Jitterbug vs West Coast Swing - Huh?


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          How does Lindy Hop relate to Swing, more generally speaking? The current distinction has a lot to do with the recent history of the dance, so let's zoom through a brief historical overview. First, a matter of names: they keep changing! The music has always been called Swing, but the dance never was until the recent revival! In its earliest days in the late 1920s, the dance was usually just called "jazz dance." In the 1930s, it was usually called "Lindy Hop," and from the 1940s through the early 1990s it was called "Jitterbug." Up to and through the 1940s, under all those different names, the dance was a rich mixture of 6-count moves (moves that last for 6 beats of music), 8-count moves, as well as 2-count, 4-count, 10-count, and whatever else seemed to work. In those days, it was mainly the name that changed from time to time. The dancing itself stayed pretty much the same, although there were different regional styles and, of course, some overall evolution in the dancing as new dancers came on the scene.
          After World War II ended, the whole nation returned to working and raising families, and almost all of the dance palaces and big dance bands went out of business. The ballroom dance studios kept part of the tradition alive for the next 40 years, mainly the 6-count moves, usually under the name "Jitterbug." In the late 1980s, historical amnesia began wafting across the country from California, and like whoa dude, by the mid-1990s most people were calling the 6-count form of the dance "Swing" instead of Jitterbug. Also in the 1980s in California, a revival began that was built around a small subset of fancy, acrobatic steps performed by professional dancers in movies during the original Lindy Hop era (mostly 8-count moves, plus a few 6-count). When slowed down a bit, this revival of exhibition-grade dancing became the "Lindy Hop" that people now refer to. This revival finally hit Boston right after the famous "Gap" ad on TV in 1998, and both styles of the dance (preserved Swing and revival Lindy Hop) enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity.
          Most dancers these days will mix the 6-count and 8-count moves together during a single song — they balance each other extremely well. 6-count Swing has developed a wonderful repertoire of turns and spins that Lindy Hop cannot match; and Lindy Hop includes some terrific bring-her-in-and-let-her-out moves, plus various Charleston-derived kicks, that have no corresponding Swing vocabulary. In combination, they fit with and play against the music in great ways. In addition, in its current revival form, the Lindy Hop fanatics have developed a substantially different style and "technique" from most Swing dancers.
          Another famously characterizing quality of Lindy Hop is that the woman often does a swiveling motion during the Forward-Forward steps, but the popularity of this has dropped in modern times as the steps have become more linear and the original strong tick-tock left-right lead has nearly disappeared from the dance. Without the motivating tick-tock lead, the swivels become arbitrary and awkward for most women dancers. (For history buffs: The lady's swivels on 1-2 were introduced by Edith Matthews, partner to Twist-Mouth George, in 1935, according to Frankie Manning.)
          For all these reasons, Lindy Hop is really best learned in a separate course. We now call our course "Lindy Hop" and sometimes include a subtitle such as "Swing II-alt" or "Intermediate Swing" to try to show that it's at the same level as our regular Swing II class, but includes different contents.
          Just to make things even more confusing, even the hard-core Lindy Hoppers will refer to a dance event as a "Swing" dance (as in, "Are you going to the Swing dance on Friday?"), but the actual dancing that they do at that Swing dance, they'll call "Lindy Hop."
          Got all that?

          Swing vs West Coast Swing (WCS) vs "East Coast Swing"? First of all, sigh, there is no such thing as "East Coast Swing" and never was.
          In reality, there is Swing, formerly called Jitterbug and danced everywhere in America (never just on the east coast) by millions of people. And there is an old niche variant of Swing created in California in the 1940s and still danced by a small number of devotees, that was originally called "Western Swing" and is now called "West Coast Swing" (WCS). Both started as simplified derivatives of Lindy Hop. Both have elaborated themselves over the years, with WCS going much farther along the elaboration route.
          The original technical difference between dancing Swing and WCS stemmed from one of the oddities of old style Lindy Hop, which was the parent of them both. Old style Lindy Hop originally developed by glomming together everything that worked with the music. In it, sometimes the lady did a Rock-Step (Backward-Forward) when one move ended and another began, and sometimes she walked Forward-Forward instead. Well, Jitterbug (later called Swing) favored one and WCS favored the other: in Jitterbug the lady almost always does a Rock-Step, but in WCS the lady almost always walks forward-forward. Thanks in part to that forward-forward walking action, WCS evolved to be extremely linear or "slotted," as most WCS dancers will tell you. (They'll usually also tell you, incorrectly, that regular Swing is round or circular, but that's just plain false: regular Swing is sometimes purely linear and slotted, and sometimes more rounded, as the dancers prefer. WCS instructors seem far more prone than other dancers to making up false factoids about dance forms they don't know or don't like. It is annoying to those of us who have to clean up after them.)
          California Casual. When the recent Swing craze started in California in the late 1980s-1990s, Californians started using the term "Swing" for the dancing instead of "Jitterbug." This caused the few but fiercely devoted West Coast Swing fans to have to explain themselves over and over: is "West Coast Swing" different from "Swing"? From frustration and annoyance, we guess, they artificially fabricated the term "East Coast Swing" as a kind of mocking "clarification" of the difference. (In fact, the "clarification" is completely false: Jitterbug/Swing was danced everywhere, not the east coast.) This artificial and mocking fabrication was preserved on the otherwise excellent web site of a Los Angeles-based West Coast Swing teacher named Sonny Watson, a man with a wonderfully voracious interest in social dance history (streetswing.com). Now, he explicitly says that the dance was never called that and acknowledges that the term is a recent artificial back-formation created by West Coast Swing people as a play on the term "West Coast Swing." However, the youngest West Coast Swing dancers and teachers, ignorant of history and apparently unable to read carefully, have started calling everyone else "East Coast" dancers. This is as stupid as as if Ahnold started calling the other 49 governors "east coast governors." Even Ahnold isn't that stupid. Starting around 2001 or so, some of the youngest Lindy Hop dancers also started using the stupid WCS term "East Coast Swing." Both the young WCS and the young Lindy people use the term "East Coast Swing" with a sneer, as a pejorative term.
          While we admire the Californian genius for creating new cultural trends, we wish they would stop renaming the various Swing dances. We especially wish the West Coast Swing (WCS) dancers would stop insulting other forms of swing and trying to rename them in their own image.




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