So you’re thinking about signing up for a swing dance class? That’s awesome! Swing dance is a heap of fun, great exercise, and an awesome way to make fantastic lifelong friendships with loads of interesting and delightful people. If you haven’t tried it yet, though, it can be a little bit nerve wracking to head along to your first class! As the director of Full Swing in Wellington I’ve been teaching beginner classes for quite a few years now, so I thought I’d put this together – some answers to the most common questions I hear before every new course, and some encouragement – because you just never know how making the leap and heading to your first class might make your life way more awesome.
“I’ve never danced before! I have two left feet! I’m sure to be the most uncoordinated person you’ve ever seen – are you sure I can come?”
Of course you can come! In fact, people who’ve never danced before and don’t think they can are our favourite kind of people to have in a beginner class, because we absolutely love watching you discover that actually you totally can. In the first lesson, even! A lot of our teachers had never set foot in a dance studio until they were adults and nervously came along to their first beginner swing class… so we promise being a total beginner is absolutely fine! We’ve worked with people of all ages, physical abilities and levels of experience, and that has taught us one thing: swing dances are for everyone, and if you’re having fun you’re definitely doing it right.
“What if I don’t have a partner?”
There’s no requirement to bring a partner with you, though you are most welcome to – attend with your bae or boo, your mum or dad, your grandma, your mates from work or your entire hall of residence if you like! Lots of people come along to their first class solo, and we mix up the classes so that everyone dances with everyone so by the end you will have met a whole room full of new people – next week all the faces will be familiar! Classes are extremely social, and lots of chatting is encouraged, so by the end of your beginner course you’ll know plenty of people to head out dancing with.
“What should I wear?”
There’s only one rule about what to wear while swing dancing – make sure that you and everyone you’re likely to dance with is as comfortable as possible! Flat, comfortable shoes like sneakers work best (even for tap, if you don’t have shoes yet.) Most people (including our teachers) wear comfy street clothes that are easy to move in and suit the weather. Classes can sometimes be pretty energetic, and it’s flippin’ hot right now, so if you’re coming straight from work it’s not a bad idea to pack a change of comfier clothes for class. Deodorant is a really good idea since we’re all dancing with each other, and if you know you get super hot when you exercise it’s completely fine to bring a towel or a spare t shirt!
“Does my age matter?”
Not. Even. The. Littlest. Bit. The best thing about swing dance is that wherever you go, we’re less like dance schools and more like a family – which means absolutely everyone is welcome, and we’re really interested in how we can make our classes enjoyable for you! We’ve got students from school age to octegenarian, and we’d love to talk to you about what makes you feel welcome and happy in a class, no matter how old you are. Most dance schools, Full Swing included, have a robust code of conduct and work really hard to make sure our events and classes are inclusive spaces for everyone.
“Do I really have to do the “boy part” or the “girl part”?”
Definitely not. At Full Swing we’re all about the dance, so we work in gender neutral language and want everyone to learn to dance however they want with whoever they want. This means you can lead, you can follow, you can do both, or you can do neither and just dance solo – no matter who you are! Most of our teachers and many of our students learn to both follow and lead, and our teaching pairs reflect this flexibility too. We’re super committed to making sure everyone is safe and welcome, and free to dance in the way that suits you best.
“…so what happens next?”
This is the most exciting question, because the answers are the freakin’ best: you can do so many awesome things! If you start with a beginner class, most dance schools will have higher level classes to move onto once you’ve got a grip of the basics, but this is just the beginning! Swing dance is a worldwide community, and there are workshops and social events for dancers held here in Wellington as well as all around New Zealand – and the world. Lots of our dancers travel internationally and meet other people who dance the same steps, even if they don’t speak the same language! You might want to dance everywhere you can and make friends across the globe; you might want to work really hard on your dancing and become a teacher or performer, or you might just want to come dancing every week and hang out with your new dance friends. This awesome dance and community are exactly what you make it, and what you want it to be, because it’s made by people like you!
So, if this all sounds good, why not give it a go? At the very least it’ll be a super fun hour of trying something new. And at most? Well, I walked into my first swing class in early 2009. Since then I’ve become a teacher, performer and choreographer, left my job, taken over a dance school, travelled to teach around the country and the world, and found a whole new family of instant friends wherever I go! You just never know what might happen – but I can vouch for it being worth a look!
I hope to dance with you one day!
Full Swing Vintage Dance Co. in Wellington has beginner classes in Lindy Hop (Swing), Balboa, Blues, Charleston, and Tap dance every week! Check out all the information here, and email dance@ to register!