Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Swing Dancing?
Swing Dancing is a group of partner dances that developed during the 1920s and 1930s, including Lindy Hop (the main style taught here), Charleston, Blues, Balboa, and Collegiate Shag. It is usually danced to 'big band' music; and music from the 1920-1940s, but can be danced to much more.
2. I've never danced before/have two left feet/no sense of rhythm/am not very athletic, is that a problem?
Our teachers assume that nobody in the beginners' Lindy Hop class has any experience, start from the very basics and make sure that no one is left behind. The first couple of lessons will be very gentle exercise, and it can be as athletic as you want it to be.
If you already have a solid grasp of the basics (8-count, 6-count, Lindy Turn/swing out, Lindy/30s Charleston) and feel comfortable social dancing, feel free to check out the intermediate class.
If you have done some sort of lead-follow dance before, you can join beginners Lindy or beginners Balboa!
3. Do I need to bring a partner?
No. During classes everyone rotates partners, and if there are extra leads or follows, it just means that someone will get a rest! Our balance is usually pretty good, so you won't sit out for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Actually, it's probably better if you don't have partner (or if you do, we recommend that you make an effort to dance with other people, too) - as swing is a social dance, dancing with many different people will make you a better dancer more quickly.
Swing Dancing is what is known as a 'lead-follow partner dance'. This means that people dance as a pair, both contributing in their role; leaders usually suggest moves whilst follows answer to the suggestion by completing the move. Additionally, in swing there is lots of space for improvisation in both of the roles, making the dance a conversation between the partners. Moreover, whilst in some partner dances the roles are gendered with males traditionally ending up as leaders and females us followers, in swing we encourage each person to pick the role they want to learn and the traditional gendering is changing. It's probably best if you stick to either leading or following at the beginning though until you have a solid grasp of it, otherwise you might end up very confused!
5. I've had some experience with dancing, should I go to intermediate classes?
This depends on what type of dancing you are familiar with. As clarified above, Lindy Hop is a partner dance so if you have had some experience with partner-dancing, you might find this easier. Lindy Hop however has its own basic steps, technique and posture which you might not be familiar with, and in intermediate classes the teachers assume you have grasped the basics. The best way to know is to attend the beginners' class and if that seems too easy for you, come join the intermediate!
6. Do I need any special shoes, or to wear fancy clothes, or anything like that?
No. While there are special dance shoes available, they are definitely not needed when starting out. Similarly, while most people enjoy dressing up for special events, it most certainly isn't needed for practice!
That being said, you don't want shoes with too much grip, or too much weight, clothes that constrict your movement and you definitely don't want to wear high heels or shoes that will fall off your foot! Without being too personal it is worth remembering that swing dance is bouncy and involves a lot of hip and leg movement so sports bras and comfy underwear can also come in handy. If you do want to dress up for a special swing dance event (or even just a fancy dress party), we have our own wardrobe available for you to borrow - just talk to Fiona, master of our costume box!
7. How much do the classes cost?
All our classes and practices are included in your membership (£10 University of Edinburgh students/£15 otherwise)! A typical price for a class elsewhere in Edinburgh is around £4.50 for a one hour session. Also note that there's no need to pay the membership fee right away. Just come along for a couple of weeks and see if you like it!
Sometimes we may bring outside teachers for special workshops or have special events with live music and other goodies, which you will be informed about beforehand and which will still be extremely affordable.
8. How long until I look awesome?
That depends. You'll definitely be able to impress your non-dancing friends and family after 6-8 weeks.
If you attend regularly and go out social dancing (!) every week, you will obviously improve much faster than by just attending a class once in a blue moon, as with any other skill such as playing an instrument or speaking a language. Don't be too hard on yourself, especially in the first couple of lessons - no one was born an amazing dancer, and you WILL improve in time!
9. Will I have to perform/will there be opportunities to perform?
No and yes! We usually take part in the University Dance Show in March.
We also get asked to do performances for other societies, which is why we have a performance group. You can ask to join if you feel confident you've got all the basics. Just talk to one of the committee members! No one will be made to perform, and learning how to social dance is the main focus of the society.
10. I desperately want to learn aerials - do you teach those?
We occasionally offer optional workshops for those who want to learn, but you will need to have solid basics in the dance and a partner to learn them with. Also please remember that they are inappropriate and dangerous on the social dance floor, and intended for performances and jams only.
11. Are there any other places to go dancing and take lessons in Edinburgh?
12. Can I book private practice rooms under EUSDS as a society?
Individuals in the society may not book EUSA rooms through EUSDS for personal benefit. All rooms booked through the society are to be booked for society purposes only and are to be used solely for the benefit of the society; this will be decided at the committee's discretion.
13. Can I cancel my society membership in exchange for a refund?
The society does not refund memberships unless under exceptional circumstances, which will be decided at the discretion of the committee.