learning "points"

Come and learn Swing Dance with EUSDS!

FAQs about our lessons:

image from class

Where and when?

We meet weekly, every Monday of term time. We are usually in the Debating Hall, Teviot Union (Bristo Square) - this is the gothic building on the South side of the square. Location and time can alter some weeks, though - please check for any changes on the HOME PAGE of this site

There is always at least one beginners' class every week, and there are also more advanced classes. We cover several different styles, and for every new style you must attend the beginners classes in each style before attending more advanced classes in that style, even if you are advanced in other styles. Our plan for the academic year 2009-2010 is as follows;

Please note that absolute beginners can join during the first two weeks of the September semester and of the January semester, but not at other times.

Semester 1  (21 Sep - 14 Dec)
Beginners' Balboa         Intermediate Lindy Hop
Beginners' Lindy Hop (suitable for new-starters)      
Semester 2 first half (11 Jan - 1st Feb)
Intermediate Balboa
Intermediate Lindy and Performance practice Beginners' Lindy Hop (suitable for new-starters)
Semester 2 Feb 8th (Valentine's week special)
Lamanu (for Balboa dancers)
Beginners' Slow Drag
Slow Drag continued (same lesson)
Semester 2 second half ( - 22nd March)
Intermediate Balboa
Intermediate Lindy Hop/ Performance practice
Beginners' Dean Collins style Lindy Hop
Revision & exam period
Intermediate Balboa Intermediate Lindy (or strolls if lead/follow ratio is poor)
Beginners' Collegiate Shag

Please see our Styles page for an explanation of these dancing terms. If you are completely new to partner dancing, we strongly recommend that you start with the beginners' Lindy Hop, and leave the beginners' Balboa until next year, just because it is more tricky than Lindy Hop.

Once you have paid the membership fee (currently £5 for students or £10 for non-students), all classes are free. You are welcome to try out one class free before you commit yourself to joining the society.

Who teaches the classes?

Most of the classes are taught by Jamie Davies, a member of University academic staff,  and Katie Brooks, a recent PhD graduate of the University. Dancing together as "The Swing Doctors", Jamie and Katie have many years experience of teaching and promoting swing dance in Scotland, on a strictly not-for-profit basis, at EUSDS, at Edinburgh Swing Dance Society (the 'town' society), and for a variety of other venues and groups. Their work in researching and promoting authentic swing dance extends outside Scotland too, and in recognition of this  JD has been elected a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO (the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Must I have a partner?

No, you can come on your own. Because this is a social dance style we always rotate people so that they have a chance to dance with everyone (you cannot learn to dance a social dance properly with just one one person). This rotation of partners also means that EUSDS is a great place to meet people. Don't worry if you are a little shy - lots of people are at first - and be assured that Lindy Hop does not involve any particularly intimate contact; the hold is open and the spirit is playful, not sleazy.

Does it matter that I have not danced before?

Not at all - when we say "beginners" we mean just that and it makes no difference if this is the first time you have ever tried any kind of dance. The teachers are used to helping complete beginners, and the more experienced dancers tend to remember what it was like to start, and are very helpful (it is after all an investment for them - the more beginners they can help, the more potential dance partners they will have!).

If you are a complete beginner, please try to attend as many lessons as you can in the first module you join; this is the quickest way of progressing.

Does it matter if I am not super-fit?

No - as a social dance Lindy Hop is excellent sustained, moderate exercise that help you get fit, but it does not demand that you start off fit and how much energy you put into it is up to you. Dance is suitable for all shapes and sizes of people, though if you have any special health issues about your back or joints, please let the teachers know before joining the class.

Is this going to be very serious and competitive?

Absolutely not! We are primarily social dancers, and emphasize the fun and friendly aspects. We tend to put one one performance each year, but this is not compulsory and plenty of people enjoy the social side and don't perform. We do not hold competitions within the society, nor to we compete as a society because that is not what the society was founded to do. Rather, we enjoy good-humoured evenings of helping each other learn tricky steps and cool routines. If you want to compete outside the society, our lessons will still provide a good foundation on which you can later build (one of the founder members, who left a few years ago, has recently won a major world championship).

What should I wear?

General clothing:
There are no special requirements for clothing, but swing dancing is a moderately energetic activity so you should dress accordingly. Loose, comfortable clothing is recommended, and most people wear a T-shirt and comfortable trousers/ jogging bottoms or a skirt that is wide enough not to restrict the knees. Shorts are fine, but singlets and crop-tops are not recommended (the dance involves frequent hand contact on men's shoulders and at the sides of ladies' waists, and most people find they prefer this to be through clothing, especially once everyone has got a little hot...). Please bring something warm to put on to go home;  Edinburgh gets cold quickly in the evenings.

Erm... how can we put this delicately?...

Ladies: Jazz dance is quite bouncy, and unless you wear something approproately supportive, you may find that certain parts of you start dancing on their own. Quite apart from looking rather strange, such bouncing does those parts no good at all in the long term..

Gentlemen: Not only is the dance bouncy, but it can involve rapid closings and crossings of the legs: you risk some nasty surprises unless you wear something supportive enough to keep your valuables out of harm's way.

You don't need to rush out and spend wads of money on special dance shoes (although once people really get the bug, they often splash out on one good pair). Many people dance in light trainers, at least in classes; these are fine but some people find them a bit 'sticky' for spins and turns. Guys, if you have any plain leather-soled shoes these will be ideal, but please be especially careful not to kick or tread on your partner because these sort of shoes are very hard. Ladies can also wear plain-leather soled shoes up to the heel height of "character shoes", but please do not wear any high or chunky heels: they are dangerous to your ankles and will stop you dancing properly anyway. At first you will probably find that flat shoes are easier. Dance shops like the one in Rose St sell unisex soft "Jazz shoes" which are fine and which are very small and light; they cost about £15 (if you do buy shoes specially for dancing, never wear them in the street, by the way - this ruins the shoes and ruins dance floors by bringing grit on to them). Please don't do the classes in bare or stockinged feet - you are too likely to be trodden on by someone.

Fancy Clothes for Nights Out:
Nothing to do with classes, but you may be interested that EUSDS has a stock of accessories - Fedora hats, braces, loud ties, period dresses etc, that can be borrowed for nights out at swing dance parties.

Shops with reductions for EUSDS members:
Some local shops, that specialize in clothing useful for our kind of dance, offer discounts to members of EUSDS. Click here for a list.

Do you have any notes or videos on the web to help me learn how to dance?

Yes - there is a growing collection that is available via the Swingdoctors' own website - http://www.swingdoctors.org.uk

This page was last edited on 21st September 2008