So you’re interested in coming along to join our swing dancing classes? We’re super excited that you are keen! We’re a group of people who love dancing together, enjoying swing music and just generally having fun in a friendly environment. This page is intended to give you a little info to help you enjoy yourself and get in the “swing” of things.
Things you should know about classes:
- Class sets: Our classes usually run in five or 8 week sets (see the Classes info page for more details). We have two level 1 sets (A and B), which cover some different material and some the same material, in order to give you a good grounding before moving up to level 2. The sets are designed to teach you the basic moves that are the foundation for lindy hop, and aim to get you comfortable with the footwork, shapes and partnered dancing. You’ll soon find you can dance an entire song.
- Experience Levels: Level 1 can have a mix of different experience levels in the class, so if you feel like you’re not getting something as fast as someone else, don’t panic – everyone learns at different paces, and they may even have done it before. Equally, if you feel you are making good progress be supportive of those around you, but please leave the instructing to the teachers!
- Should I Lead or Follow? Back in the day, leads were usually male and follows were usually female, although this often varied e.g. when many men were away in WW2 men and women danced both roles. These days it’s pretty open, and many of our dancers of either gender learn to both lead and follow. Each role is quite different, but both are fun! We do ask that you keep to the same role for an entire set though.
- Dancing with strangers: We know it can be a bit intimidating to dance with people you’ve never met before. We like to rotate partners regularly during our classes, so this might happen a lot! So introduce yourself when you get to a new partner, then you aren’t strangers anymore… Dancing is a great way to make friends, and find out who’s coming out social dancing afterwards so you can have a familiar face to start dancing with when you get there!
- Ask questions! All our teachers are super friendly, and they don’t bite. They love it when people ask questions about the material. We welcome everyone who wants to learn to dance, so sometimes there’s too many people for the teachers to individually watch everybody for each move. So if you’re not sure what’s going on, or just want something explained a little more then sing out (you don’t have to actually sing, although that would be funny!). Chances are if you aren’t sure of something then other people aren’t too, and you’ll be a hero for asking!
- Progressing to Level 2: The Level 1 class syllabus has been designed so that you can learn some of the basic fundamentals to be able to social dance. By the end of the set you will have learned at least eight or nine moves and be able to string them together. But dancing can be hard! The footwork is confusing, and there’s music and moves and a pesky partner that you have to think about! Level 2 intro assumes that you are confident and capable at all the moves covered in both Level 1 A and B. You can do more than two sets of Level 1 if you found it difficult the first time round, repeating the same material can mean that you gain confidence and enjoyment from your growing abilities, rather than have a whole lot of new ideas introduced in Level 2 intro. The ability to social dance will make a big difference to you being ready, so come out to the bar with us after class a few times! If you’re not sure what level you should be in, ask your teachers to dance with you and they can give you an idea. Level 2 intro consists of 2 sets that build on the level 1 moves, so you should aim to complete both of these before considering Level 2+ and Level 3.
- Two classes for the price of one: We like to encourage people to get the most out of their dancing, so when you do move up to Level 2 or 3, you only pay for the highest Level class you attend, and can attend the lower Levels for free. So if you’re doing Level 2 you can repeat Level 1 for free. This gives you a chance to revise and polish the basics, and helps out people in the Level 1 class who get to dance with some more experienced people during class. (Note that if the level down is particularly full, or if you are contributing to a large imbalance in leads/follows then we make ask more experienced people to step out).
- Other styles: Apart from lindy hop, we also run classes in Blues dancing, Balboa, Solo Charleston and more. Beginner versions of these styles are included in the last three weeks of the level 2 intro sets, which level 1 dancers are welcome to attend for free. All of these dance styles are great fun for their own sakes, but also as a way of developing your lindy hop! If you’re not sure what a certain style of dance is then ask a teacher or come along to social dancing and see it in action!
Social dancing is the best way to progress your dancing. And it’s super fun! Lindy Hop is an extremely social dance style with a lot of room for improvisation, musicality and flair. Plus it’s great music and nice people, so why would you not want to come! Swingtown Rebels has a regular social night every Wednesday at Fat Eddie’s (upstairs, corner of Hereford St and Oxford Terrace) (head down straight after the end of Level 1, you can jump on the “walking bus” to go the ~250 m from the classes venue!). We have dj’d swing music from 8:30-10:30 pm, regular live bands, and there’s nice drinks and yummy food to buy, and you can hang out and practice your new moves, or just have a casual drink and watch the dancing on display.
Every month we will also have a live band night. Often people dress up vintage style and bring friends, and it’s an excellent night!. We also have various events throughout the year social dancing to different live music.
1) Ask people to dance! A lot of the Rebels go dancing regularly and when you first start it can seem like everybody else knows each other and we know it’s intimidating to ask people to dance. If you sit around the edges then you might not get asked often because people won’t know that you’re keen, but if you summon up the courage and ask someone then we’re sure they’ll be more than happy to dance with you! If you’re still nervous, ask people you recognise from classes, or your teachers from class. If you only know one move – do it anyway – by the end of each song you’ll be heaps better at that move!
2) It’s okay to say no! If you’re tired or just don’t feel like dancing with someone for whatever reason, then it’s okay to not dance with them. But please make sure you’re polite and respectful about it – we want an atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed.
3) If it’s a hot day, you’re particularly prone to sweat a lot, or you ate too much garlic for dinner, please be aware and bring a change of shirt, breath mints etc. You want to be fun to dance with.
4) Have fun! Don’t sweat the mistakes, everyone makes them, just have fun and keep going.
5) Check out our Community Guidelines
Where can I find more information?
- Talk to us! Your teachers or the people running the door when you come to classes are the best people to ask if you have any queries, concerns or suggestions about dancing in general, classes, events etc. Otherwise, ask any of the dancers you see around, and if they don’t know the answer to your question they should be able to point you to someone who does.
- You’re already on our website! Check out the links to the right to get more information about dance styles we teach, upcoming events/classes, teacher bios and recommendations for songs to practice to at home.
- On our mailing list: Sign up for this and you’ll get regular emails updating you with what’s happening in classes and events and just generally all the things you might need to know! Sign up on the form on the right hand side of this page!
- On Facebook: The two pages which are used to let people know about upcoming dance events around Christchurch, New Zealand and the world are “Swingtown Rebels News” and “The Christchurch Vintage Dance Connection”. Add these pages and you’ll get updated with photos and videos from events, news on upcoming social dancing and “lindy bomb” opportunities, and anything else cool that’s going on around the place.
- On the internets: There are literally zillions of videos of amazing swing dancers from all over the world on youtube. Search for “lindy hop” such as the International Lindy Hop Championships (ILHC), and then lose yourself down the wormhole of watching dance videos! The Jitterbugs swing dance club in Auckland has a youtube channel (jitterbugsnz) where they recap their basic classes, which is a good place to start if you’re looking to refresh your memory of what you learnt between classes. Chat to your teachers about what the names of the moves you learnt are, if you’re unsure what videos to look for. Another sweet site to get you started is www.lindyhopmoves.com which has lots of great videos of different moves from teachers all over the world. Now go have fun!