Frequently Asked Quinces…
Q. Who are you guys and why should I hang out with you / dance with you / learn from you / listen to you?
A. We are huge swing dance nerds. We dance this stuff pretty much every night, watch old dance clips and try to reproduce what we see there, constantly try to improve our skills, listen to the music more or less obsessively, and generally just love it to bits and pieces. Between the staff, we have over two decades of dance experience and TONS of credentials as far as teaching and performing. Among other things, members of the staff have taught on University campuses, major swing dance events (including Herrang, Camp Hollywood and Boogie Baerens), taught workshops everywhere from Yakima to London and Helsinki, and performed at venues as diverse as local high schools as well as the Smithsonian Institute.
Q. What kind of dancing do you teach?
A. We focus a lot on Lindy Hop which is the grandfather of swing dancing and one of the most fun dances in the world. It was created in Harlem in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and was developed a lot at the legendary Savoy Ballroom. It incorporates 6 and 8 count rhythms and lots of incredibly fun steps and moves. It’s danced fast and slow, to just about any music that swings. Over the years, many styles of Lindy have come along or been the subject of revival movements, from Savoy to Hollywood (a.k.a. Smooth) to Harlem. We do them all. We teach them all. We think each style is amazing and each style has aspects that make them wonderful and unique. We strongly encourage everyone to do them all, too, since it lets you dance with that many more people. We also teach Balboa, a low-to-the-floor, closely-danced kind of thing that came about in Southern California in the 1930s and is experiencing a massive resurgence in popularity. It’s awesome and we love doing it and teaching it. Furthermore, we like Collegiate Shag, which is a high-energy, almost cartoonish dance that almost without fail makes everyone laugh, either doing it or watching it.
We also love and teach Charleston and a few classic solo dance routines from the swing era. Charleston was one of the first and biggest dance crazes in the history of America and it was a forerunner of Lindy Hop, so there’s lots of foundational stuff in there. And many of the dancers and dance troupes in the swing era had particular routines (the Tranky Do, Dean Collinss’s Shim Sham, the Big Apple…) that people learn now to make themselves better-rounded dancers.
Q. Why should I learn this “Lindy Hop” of which you speak?
A. Because it’s the coolest dance EVER. It’s totally addicting, very social, way energetic and healthy, and the music is AWESOME. You can go to swing dances in every major metropolitan area in the world by now (and even some really titchy little places too) and you get to meet amazing people and dancers who will inspire and aid you along the way. There.
Q. Howsabout these Private Lessons? Where do you teach them and how much do they cost?
A. Private lessons are an INCREDIBLE way to improve your dancing in a very short, intense time. You have the opportunity to work one-on-one with an experienced professional for a full hour and have different aspects of your dancing examined and improved! In a private lesson, we work at YOUR pace on the things YOU want to work on. Private lessons are an invaluable tool for a dancer since an instructor with experience and a trained eye can spot bad habits that you’re unaware of and fix very nuanced problems that can improve all kinds of things at once. And if you do them on a regular basis, well…you have the recipe for becoming a terrific dancer in a much shorter span of time. Taking a weekly private is sort of the equivalent of playing a round of tennis every week with a Wimbledon champ — you’re bound to improve just by being there. And add in feedback from said person? WOW.
We frequently teach private lessons at Kirkland Dance Center, but sometimes, due to studio availability conflicts, we may have to improvise a location. The cost for a one-hour private lesson varies depending on which instructor you want to work with, so feel free to ask us about that in person or by email and we will work it all out! Small-group private lessons are definitely available, and the cost will vary depending on the size of the group and the facility rental needed.
Q. I’ve seen swing dance on TV / in the movies / when my friends did it at a party. It’s just slinging each other around and lots of flips and throws and tricks right?
A. Ummmmmm…no. Lindy Hop came out in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Harlem. It has always been a high-energy kind of dance, and the Aerials (flips, throws, stuff like that) have become a signature part of the dance. BUT. These have always been reserved for competitions, performances, or other set-aside moments when the floor was relatively clear and safe. Ask the old folks and they’ll tell you, Aerials were never a part of the dance on a regular social floor with regular dancers. So we go along with that. Those moves are sweet, but let’s face it, you’re hurling someone off the floor, so you’d better have it down perfectly. But even then, we have a NO AERIALS policy at our dances unless we specifically say otherwise. Too dangerous, too much potential for injury and lawsuits. If you need more evidence…
“In ballrooms and nightclubs, Lindy Hoppers for the most part keep their feet on the ground. But professionals and competitors in Lindy contests distinguish between “floor steps” and “air steps”
–LIFE magazine August 23, 1943
And as far as this just being a “street dance” which shouldn’t have a structure and where you just make stuff up…ummmm, again, not really. Of course stuff gets invented. Did back then, still does today. But there IS a structure to all this swing dancing, no matter how loose and crazy it looks. So if you really like it, learn it so you can dance it with everyone. It’s WAY cooler once you know how it works than it is on your own, and there’s LOTS of room to improvise and go nuts within the dance!
Q. How long will it take me to learn these dances?
A. How many roads must a man walk down? No, it actually depends a lot on you! Not to trot out a tired cliché, but you’ll get out what you put in; if you take all the group classes you can get your hands on, take private lessons weekly and go out dancing every single night, we can pretty much promise you a VERY fast progress rate! However, if you just take one class a week for an hour and dance one night or so a week to boot, it will take you substantially longer…
Q. I’ve danced other social dances before – do I really need to start as a beginner?
A. Yeah, you do. There are differences in dance connection, frame, rhythm and movement style that are integral parts of Lindy Hop and swing dancing in general, so you need to get those things ingrained, and those are taught at the beginner level. You may not need or want to repeat the beginning levels like other beginners do, but you should do them at least once to learn the differences. This is also true if you’ve learned swing dancing at a ballroom studio.
Q. Do I need a partner for the classes or at the dance?
A. Heck NO. Remember, swing dancing is social dancing, so having only one partner actually makes you worse because you get too used to that person’s habits and patterns. We feel that dancing with as many people as possible, of as many skill levels as possible, as often as possible, makes you an infinitely better dancer. We kinda think that you should only have a steady partner for these three reasons: 1. If you’re going to teach with them. 2. If you’re going to compete with them as your partner. 3. If you’re going to perform with them. That’s about it. Practice buddies? GREAT. But remember to go out and social dance a ton and dance with EVERYBODY.
Q. Do I really have to rotate partners in class?
A. Yup. See, this goes along with the social dancing stuff we talked about in the last answer. It’s important to dance with lots of different people, right away. So in our classes, we require that everyone rotate partners. We have two exceptions: 1. If you’re injured and have a partner with you whom you trust for the classes. 2. Religious prohibitions. Outside of that, if you really just don’t feel like it, there are other classes in the area with excellent instructors who may allow you not to rotate. Or you can take private lessons with us. As long as you swing dance, we’re happy.
Q. What should I wear to the classes and/or dances?
A. Whatever is comfortable. We have a great floor at Kirkland Dance Center, so just don’t wear anything TOO grippy. You probably won’t want to wear high heels (a little heel is OK…) And make sure they stay on your feet (no sandals or flip-flops). And if you sweat any measurable amount, bring a change (or several) of tops. This dancing is pretty energetic, so you’ll be happy you packed the extra…
Q. Group classes, private lessons, making up my own thing…what’s the best way?
A. All of the above. Here’s the deal:
LEARNING SOCIALLY – Lots of great dancers got their start just going out and going for it. This is very cost effective, but also slow going. Plus, it’s really easy to pick up bad and potentially painful habits without help. So…
GROUP LESSONS – In class settings, you can get a lot of good general information like moves and steps, and the feel of leading and following with lots of partners in a place where feedback is encouraged. However, due to the size of group lessons, it’s sometimes hard to pick up on the little nuances that REALLY make the difference. Which brings us to…
PRIVATE LESSONS – …where you can get one-on-one attention from a pro. With a private, you can learn what you need, at your own pace, in the direction you want to go (just a better dancer? Wedding choreography? Competition technique? Can Do.)
But above all, the important thing is to go out dancing as much as humanly possible. This is where whatever you’ve been learning gets put to the ultimate test: the dance floor.
Q. Can I come to just one class or do I really have to take a series?
A. The four-week series classes are created with materials that build comfortably and logically from week to week. They rely on techniques from prior classes and build toward later classes, so you really should take a whole series. If you miss the first class, you can still join on week two, since we review a lot. But we don’t let people join up on Week Three or Four since there’s just too much make-up needed and it slows down the folks who have been there from the start. We do have an Absolute Beginners Swing Dance class before the Friday Night and Tuesday Night Dances every week at that is a drop-in class, in case you or anyone you know wants a taste of what this stuff is all about…
Q. How do I register for classes?
A. Just show up! At this point, we don’t have online or phone pre-registration, though this may be offered in the future. (And we’ll let you know when it does!) But for now, you should arrive five or ten minutes before your class starts to get settled in and be ready when your class begins.
Q. So this old-fashioned dancing we’re doing…Are there old-fashioned etiquette rules that go with it?
A. Kinda. Depends. See, at Eastside Stomp, we love old-fashioned stuff and old timey ways, but we’re also pretty practical, so there are some general things we encourage. A-like so…
We like it when guys ask girls to dance. And by that we mean: guys, walk up and offer your hand and ask her to dance with a full sentence, not a Neanderthal grunt, or the “Cool Guy” just-a-hand-and-a-raised-eyebrow-thing. HOWEVER, ladies, you should know that there are lots more girls than guys at an average night of dancing and most girls want to dance, so they have no problem going up asking guys. So if you are the old-fashioned “I’m a Lady and I will wait until I’m asked” kinda girl, bear in mind that you may stand around more than usual. It’s not the guys’ fault; they just keep getting asked before they make it over to you.
We like when leads offer an arm and take the follow onto the floor. We like when there’s eye contact between partners, not creepy staring, not checking oneself out in the mirror, not looking around to see who just walked in. And leads should look out for the follow they’re dancing with. And when the song is over, both people genuinely thank each other and the lead escorts the follow off the floor again.
We’re aware that this is all “ideal world” stuff, but we encourage it.
We don’t require vintage or old-fashioned looking clothes, but we wear it a lot, and we LOVE seeing other people in it. Just kinda adds something.
Oh, and this is your own business, but drinking and dancing mix…poorly. You may feel a drink or two makes you more relaxed and better, but remember that self-judgement is one of the first things to go, followed quickly by motor skills and balance.
Q. Are there cliques? Sometimes I see the “good dancers” hanging out in a group and it freaks me out and I’m intimidated…
A. Here’s the thing: most of the “Good Dancers” that you see hanging out together have been friends for a long time, dancing and learning together, that’s all. But generally speaking, they’re nice people and would LOVE to dance with you, so feel free to break the ice and ask ‘em. Yes, of course, there are always some straight-up schmucks, but we try to keep our venues SUPER friendly and dance with everyone.
Q. What is a quince?
A. We wondered when you were going to ask. It’s the hard, fragrant, yellowish fruit of the little quince tree. Used chiefly for making jelly and preserves. That’s what the dictionary says anyway.