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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I get started?

A lot of people think you need a partner or special shoes, or vintage clothes… not true! The best way to get comfortable is to attend a lesson – we always rotate partners so you can meet different people.

SwingColumbus organizes lessons, workshops, and dances as well as informing you of other places to dance in Central Ohio. Our events are always social, which means everyone dances with everyone. You’ll find dancers to be fun, welcoming people who love to learn and don’t care whether you’re new or advanced. Everyone was a beginner at some time!

Do I need to know what the heck I’m doing?

No experience required!

Our group includes dancers from beginners to experts, those who have competed for years and those who have never danced before. If you’re new to us or new to dancing, we recommend you try our lessons so you can meet a few people who would love to dance with you later during the event.

Do I need to bring a partner?

No! Our lessons rotate so that you meet new people and learn to respond to the different ways people dance. If you really want to bring a partner, you can, but we still recommend you rotate partners during the lesson.

What styles of swing dancing does SwingColumbus teach?

SwingColumbus focuses primarily on Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, East Coast and Blues but on occasion you can find our dancers throwing in a little West Coast.

Tips from SwingColumbus members

  • Smile! It’s not about how many moves you know
  • Never be afraid to ask someone to dance, no matter their level!
  • It’s all about how much fun you are to dance with
  • Dress comfortably
  • Take the lesson! In addition to learning new moves, you’ll meet people you can ask for a dance later
  • Bring a water bottle, unless it’s a bar/restaurant event (e.g. Swingin’ Wednesdays)
  • If you sweat a lot, bring a hand towel and a couple extra shirts
  • If you feel lost, tell someone in charge – we’ll be happy to introduce you to other dancers. We want everyone to have fun!

Will I get thrown up in the air like on TV?

Let’s hope not! Those tricks are called ‘aerials’.

They can be dangerous and are only for partners who train together a LOT. Please DO NOT do aerials on the social dance floor (Swingin’ Wednesdays, Monthly Dances). You’ll find most dancers are not fond of being kicked in the head. Aerials are discouraged or not allowed at most of our events, except for performances.

What should I wear?

Two things are important here: comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes. Okay, one thing: COMFORT!

Shoes
It’s great to be all fashionable and everything, but you’ll have a lot more fun wearing your ugly comfortable shoes rather than those devastatingly trendy blister makers. Eventually you’ll want to invest in some form of dancing shoes, but to get started you’ll be fine with any comfortable shoes that stay on your feet and don’t grab the floor. Sandals are bad!

If you decide you really love swing dancing, you can invest later in ‘real’ dancing shoes. Some people splurge on special dance shoes but lots of people make their own. Lindy Hoppers often take a pair of comfortable shoes and glue leather or suede on the soles to make them slick on the floor. Others use bowling shoes or stick moleskin on some comfortable shoes.

Do I have to be a member?

All of our events are open to the public and membership is not required to attend. Joining SwingColumbus does give you the advantage getting discount on admission to our dances and workshops.

What is Swing Dancing?

“Swing” is actually a family of dances made up of many different dances – too many to list here! For a comprehensive list of the different forms of swing dancing visit Wikipedia.

To keep it simple, here’s what you’re most likely to see at our events:

  • Lindy Hop: The grandfather of all swing. This original swing dance evolved out of Charleston in Harlem during the 1920’s & 30’s. In it’s most basic form it consists of an 8 count pattern in which each dancer is generally connected hand-to-hand and they move toward and then away from each other while circling past one another.
  • Charleston: Also an 8 count pattern, think of the leg swings and kicks from step aerobics, old movies, and of course, flappers. You can dance it alone or with a partner.
  • Balboa: A fast dance where the partners dance almost in a hug, and fancy footwork and spins keep it interesting.
  • East Coast Swing: If you’ve ever done swing dancing, this is probably what you learned. It has a 6 count basic pattern and became really popular in the late 1990s around the time of that Gap commercial

Go search for these on YouTube and check out our SwingColumbus channel while you’re there.