Swing historian Rob Bloom recently posted a fantastic AJC archive on his Facebook group Swing dance in Oz & NZ. We… https://t.co/LGX4YrLPK4
Swing Patrol – fun and friendly dance classes
- What is Swing?
- Swing is a sound AND a dance! Swing music comes under the overall music umbrella of jazz. Swing has that wonderful driving rhythm that you may remember from the golden oldies that your parents or grandparents played for you (think Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman.)
Swing dancing suits swing music. It can be upbeat and flashy or slow and sensual. Whatever the pace, the dancing is always an expression of the music. Chances are you are reading this page because a friend told you about swing dancing. They will be able to tell you more about the great steps and styling we teach and how it is hard to swing without grinning.
- What do we teach?
- We specialise in Lindy Hop, a dance done to big band sounds. Lindy hop developed in African American communities in New York in the 1920s, but soon spread to mainstream America, and Hollywood.
But we don’t stop with the Lindy Hop! Swing Patrol dancers are fans of a range of other great swing-era dances such as Balboa, Collegiate Shag, St Louis Shag, Charleston, Black Bottom, solo jazz, blues … almost too many to name!
All regular weekly class venues teach swing/Lindy Hop/Charleston – unless otherwise indicated on the Class Timetable (some venues specialise in Blues, Balboa or Collegiate Shag.) Each venue follows it’s own program (so everyone won’t be teaching a “lindy hop swing out” in the same week) but over a few months in a Level 1 class you’ll cover most of the fundamentals.
- Where do we teach?
- Melbourne, Sydney and London!
- Do I need to book?
- No bookings, registration or membership required for our regular weekly classes. They’re all run on a casual basis – just drop in anytime and pay at the door.
It’s a good idea to book in advance if you want to attend a workshop, as these have limited places and sometimes sell out. And the online prices are discounted. Online bookings are available until usually the Thursday before the workshop/event. After that, tickets are available at the door for cash payment only, unless otherwise indicated on the website (eg. “Sold Out” or “No tix at the door for this event”.)
- When can I start?
- You can join in at any week in a Level 1 class. There is no need to book or register – just turn up. Level 1 (Beginner) classes are like pieces of Lego, and over time all the building blocks come together.
Attend Level 1 classes until you’ve really got it under your belt (about 3-4 months). If you miss a few it won’t matter, as you will be learning a new piece of “swing Lego” each week that no one else knows either. The only classes which cannot be attended on a casual basis are the specialised courses we run throughout the year. Note that all classes go for an hour.
- Do I need a Partner?
- Absolutely not! We change partners frequently throughout the lesson, so everyone gets the chance to dance with different people, for a taste of lead & follow social swing dancing. So bringing a partner is not necessary.
We do ask people to join in the rotation and dance with everyone. It can be beneficial to the learning experience to feel what it’s like to lead or follow a move with a variety of people, of different sizes, strengths, abilities etc. Not only is it lots of fun, dancing with lots of people accelerates your learning hugely. Of course, the key focus of any Swing Patrol class is having fun and enjoying yourself, so if you’re really not keen to change partners, it’s a good idea to mention it to the teachers so they can accommodate.
- Lead or Follow?
- Swing dancing is a partner dance, in which there’s a Lead and a Follow. The Lead “directs” the dance, indicating the moves and the direction. The Follower responds to the lead, but has room to add personal styling/embellishments. Like jazz/swing music, it’s seen as a “call & response” partnership.
If you equate it to something you may be familiar with, such as Waltz or Quickstep (like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers), then the male is usually leading and the female following.
At Swing Patrol, we do make every effort to encourage people not to choose which role they learn simply based on their gender, and many people do dance both the lead and follow roles. Even then, it’s still probably more common for men to lead and women to follow.
- What if I miss a week?
- Attendance is on a casual basis. If you miss a class it doesn’t matter at all. If you miss a few weeks, don’t feel concerned. We understand everyone works at their own pace as they can.
- What about private lessons?
- Swing Patrol teachers can give private lessons, depending on teacher availability. Costs are typically $80-$100 for a one hour lesson, but may vary according to the teacher. If you’re interested, speak to your teacher or email email@example.com
- Any age restrictions? What is the average age group?
- We have all ages of people learning and enjoying dancing: swing dancing is for everyone. The age range across the classes is 18-86yrs! The majority probably fall in the early 20s – mid 50s bracket.
All our regular classes are open to the general public, and no age restrictions apply.
We’ve had 14-17 year olds in classes, and it’s a great chance for them to have fun away from screens.
We’ve had some younger children, accompanied by parent or guardian.
A few things to consider with swing dancing and Swing Patrol classes:
* Unlike ballet for example, swing is a partner dance, so everyone physically interacts with the other students in the class.
* Classes run for 1 hour, so demand a certain level of concentration throughout (although there’s lots of fun & laughter, and of course dancing … it’s not a 60 minute lecture.)
* Most classes take place in the evening, and sometimes in licensed venues. Where alcohol is available, obviously it cannot be purchased by or supplied to minors, but please also be aware that some adult students may have a drink in the social environment of our casual classes.
- What do I wear?
- Anything comfortable that you can move around in. Some dancers come straight from work, others make a night of it, dressing up in vintage fashion. Lots of our students wear casual gear and runners, but we recommend shoes that you let you pivot, and will stay on your feet. As long as you are comfortable, it’s ok by us!
- Where do you guys go swing dancing?
- You can see a list of Swing Patrol’s regular social dancing events on the Socials page. There are many one-off events like balls, live music events and huge weekend events too, so keep an eye on the Events/Festivals page for details.
- Where can I buy swing music?
- We recommend looking online for good swing. There are plenty of modern bands cranking out excellent dance music, and of course you can’t go wrong with an original recording from the swing era.
Current bands include Gordon Webster, Tuba Skinny, Glenn Crytzer, Careless Lovers, George Gee, Campus Five, Mora’s Modern Rhythmists, Rhythm Junkies… there are almost too many to name!
If you’re thinking old school, keep an eye out for Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, and of course, Duke Ellington!
Of course if you hear us play something in class you like, just come up and ask us what it is!