The Culture of Swing Dance
If you’re new to swing dancing, you may wonder what to expect. No worries! Shoreline Swing is welcoming to new people, even those who’ve never danced before. Here are some tips we hope will be helpful:
Take the beginner lesson. East Coast Swing steps are the language that we have in common. Learning the basics will make it much easier for people to dance with you. It’s worth the effort to arrive in time for the lesson. Plus, you’ll get to know a few people right off the bat.
Good hygiene counts. All dancers should arrive at any dance with a clean body and fresh breath. If you tend to sweat heavily, consider bringing an extra shirt to change into if needed.
Dance floor “rules of the road.” Stationary dances, including swing, are done in the middle of the dance floor. Traveling dances (such as waltz and foxtrot) go around the perimeter of the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction (the “line of dance”). You’ll notice that even at a swing dance, some people will do other forms of dance, so give them room to move around the margins. If you’re not dancing, please stand or walk on the far edges of the dance floor, not actually on it.
Dance with everybody. You don’t need to come with a partner, and most people change partners every dance. Everyone dances with everyone! Asking someone to dance is usually not a romantic overture. They’re not asking you on a date, they’re just asking you to dance. So don’t say no because they’re not your type, or are much older or younger than you, or whatever. (Well, romances do sometimes happen. But that’s not our focus.) It’s polite to decline a request to dance only if you really need to sit one out.
Women can ask men to dance. We are very equal-opportunity about this, so don’t be shy!
Don’t just sit there. If you sit on the sidelines and wait for partners to approach you, you may find that they get intercepted by other people. Demonstrate your interest in dancing by standing near the dance floor and moving to the music. Better, go ask someone! Don’t be shy because you’re new. Sometimes new dancers are reluctant to ask people to dance because they’re “not any good.” But we were all new once, some of us pretty recently, and we know that the only way to learn is to get out there and practice. You’re only asking people for three minutes of their life, and most experienced dancers are happy to give you that.
Bring a friend. You don’t have to bring a friend—we’ll welcome you solo. But if you find you enjoy swing dancing, we hope you’ll come again and invite a friend to come along. The whole dance community thrives when new people join us!!
See you on the dance floor