Class Recap: Beginner Swingin’ Core Class

Learn the fundamentals of Lindy Hop, the original swing dance, with a focus on triple step rhythms. This class is for absolute beginners: no experience required and no partner necessary! The two core beginner classes may be taken in any order. Both are required before advancing to Intermediate 1  Swingouts.

Did you know Lindy Hop St. Louis members get 50% off all classes and can retake classes for free? Learn more about becoming an LHSL member.

Gift Certificates Now Available for Holidays 2013

Give the gift of rhythm this holiday season with a gift certificate for Lindy Hop St. Louis swing dance lessons in 2014! A great option for relatives, friends, and significant others, a gift certificate grants your recipient four weeks of swing dance lessons and admission to Lindy Hop St. Louis’s Tuesday Swing Night. Most of all, this gift introduces your giftee to a healthy, engaging activity in a welcoming and fun community in the New Year. What’s more? After you purchase your first gift certificate every additional gift certificate you purchase is 50% off! Regular and member rates are available. Mosey on over to our Gift Certificates Page for more info.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Aspiring Dancer

Buster Keaton pondering his New Year's Resolutions.
Buster Keaton pondering his New Year’s Resolutions.

As the dawn of 2013 approaches, many of us are thinking about what types of bad habits we will reform or what types of healthy behaviors we will adopt to fulfill more meaningful lifestyles. For many, jotting down New Year’s Resolutions isn’t about thinking of new changes to be made, but an opportunity to refocus and define tasks that we’ve all ready set for ourselves. As dancers we are constantly looking for fresh challenges, new sources of inspiration, and avenues to guide improvement. The New Year is a great chance to recount how best to do this and to create a plan that strikes a balance between having fun and setting goals. Here are five suggestions to better reach that balance.

1. Lessons and Individual Practice

Accepting lindy hop and other dances as simply a social activity is totally legitimate, but not a good approach for those wishing to consistently improve both as individual dancers and dance partners. A healthy balance of lessons and individual practice is essential for aspiring dancers and dancers who practice this combination clearly improve at a much more rapid pace than dancers who social dance only. Lessons, such as those offered by Lindy Hop St. Louis, offer a new source of inspiration in your dancing through a step-by-step process, which is particularly helpful in the beginning and intermediate stages of a dancers’ development. Yet, group lessons alone are least effective without individual practice. Individual practice at home or at a studio, either by yourself or with a friend(s) or is an incredible tool to rapidly improve your dancing. Consider dedicating a specific day or days of the week to practicing dancing. You might have enough free time to dance an hour every day, or maybe you are only limited to one hour per week. Whatever frequency works for you, make sure that you hold it as a consistent commitment. By yourself, this practice could be triple step exercises at varying tempos (see this video), solo jazz, solo charleston, or even dancing with an invisible partner. With a dance partner this could be a focused practice (e.g. “let’s work on improving our 8 count swingouts,” or “let’s try these new footwork variations.”), a brainstorming session (dance and create), building a routine, or simply social dancing with the opportunity to troubleshoot issues that arise. When you get stumped or frustrated consider taking a private lesson with a local or out-of-town instructor.

2. Regularly Social Dance!

Yes, #1 was all about practicing in a contained setting off of the social dance floor, but this should be within the context of improving ON the social dance floor! Individual practice without regular social dancing is an imbalance that can make dancing a grueling, sometimes unenjoyable experience. And the bottom line is that lindy hop, charleston, shag, and other dances are social by nature–it’s best to do them regularly in a “real-world” setting to make individual practice meaningful. So make Tuesday Night Swing Nights in the Grandel Theatre a regular social dance night, and/or any of the regular and irregular dance events around town.

3. Travel to An Out-of-Town Dance Event

Home scenes are sentimental, cozy, and wonderful. But traveling and dancing in other cities offers superb opportunities to experience fresh ideas in your dancing, learn from new perspectives, and bring knowledge back to your home scene to further enhance your local dancing. On any given weekend you can travel to a dance event or festival in the Midwest, greater United States, and beyond. So make a point to travel out of town at least twice in the next year! The rewards might surprise you.

4. Become Well-Versed in Original Dance Footage

Have you heard of youtube? If you know what to look for then it can become one of your greatest resources as a dancer. In the same way that a painter must be familiar with and able to recreate artistic styles that precede him or her, you should take responsibility for being familiar with the pioneers that developed the dance(s) that we do today. Make sure that you can recognize the dancing of Shorty George Snowden, Big Bea, Snake Hips Tucker, Frankie Manning, Willa Mae Ricker, Norma Miller, Dean Collins, Jewel McGowan, Al Minns, Leon James, Hal and Betty Takier, and the contemporaries of these original swing-era dancers. Also become familiar with the major pieces associated with these dancers: scenes in the movies “Hellzapoppin’,” “Day at the Races,” “Buck Privates,” and countless others. Another worthwhile endeavor is to explore old footage of local dancers in your community. In the case of St. Louis this includes Jim and Lorraine Byrnes, Eddie and Dottie Plunkett, John Bedrosian, and Club Imperial dancers. As you know, one thing leads to another on youtube, so searching these names and keywords should be a great start. Many video clips of unknown dancers are equally worthwhile and inspiring. Check them out–there’s really no excuse!

5. Collect and Listen to Jazz, Swing, and Blues Music

I used to think that this was an apparent piece of being a swing dancer, but after years of dancing I have come to realize that in many cases the largest disconnect in dance scenes around the country is the disconnect between dancers and the music that helped produce the dances. Having a foundational collection of jazz, swing, and blues for dancing is a no-brainer because it is largely free. Go to your public library or university music library–your essential swing artists will be there. You can also listen to music on Spotify. Collect as much as you can from Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Artie Shaw, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Condon, Red McKenzie, and on and on. Compilations are also wonderful! Set a goal for yourself–maybe you will try to fully experience two swing albums every week. This, like youtube footage, is widely available and easily acquired. Collect it for dance practice, and to enjoy listening to, and I promise that you will enjoy yourself more, and through appreciation potentially become an improved all-around dancer. In addition to recordings, go out and find your local jazz and swing bands. Get to know the musicians and ask them who their favorite bands are. This will bring the black-and-white pictures and scratchy records to life, and yes, you will become a better consummate purveyor of swing dancing.

Gift Certificates Now Available for Holidays 2012

Give the gift of rhythm this holiday season with a gift certificate for Lindy Hop St. Louis swing dance lessons in 2013! A great option for relatives, friends, and significant others, a gift certificate grants your recipient four weeks of swing dance lessons and admission to Lindy Hop St. Louis’s Tuesday Swing Night. Most of all, this gift introduces your giftee to a healthy, engaging activity in a welcoming and fun community in the New Year. What’s more? After you purchase your first gift certificate every additional gift certificate you purchase is 50% off! Regular and member rates are available. Mosey on over to our Gift Certificates Page for more info.

Here’s George Bailey’s reaction to the prospect of learning how to swing dance in the New Year:

 

West End Stomp, St. Louis’ Premier Monthly Swing Dance!



Lindy Hop St. Louis is proud to present St. Louis’ premier monthly swing dance, West End Stomp in the Mahler Ballroom on the first Friday of every month. Each month we will showcase a local jazz band for your dancing and listening pleasure, as well as variety of dance contests for fun! Have non-dancing friends? They are always more than welcome to attend and take a complimentary swing dance lesson 8-9 pm, which is followed by live music and open dancing until midnight. Guests are also always welcome to socialize and spectate on the Mahler’s balcony, which over looks the 4,000 square foot dance floor, which has been a treasured aspect of the venue since 1907. The next West End Stomp, on Friday October 5th, will feature Miss Jubilee & Her Bella Rue Jazz Band and a short and fun “Walk Off” Contest, where contestants simply “walk” the floor, somewhat like a vintage soul train!

Registration Open for The Nevermore Jazz Ball & St. Louis Swing Dance Festival

 

We encourage all music-lovers, dancers, and dancers-to-be to register for our annual event, The Nevermore Jazz Ball & St. Louis Swing Dance Festival, November 1-4, 2012. With four nights of live jazz, beautiful historic dance venues, world-class dance instruction, city outings, contests, and hours of social dancing, The Nevermore Jazz Ball is one of the midwest’s premier dance and music festivals. Live music will include Miss Jubilee & Her Bella Rue Jazz Band, The St. Louis Sidemen, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns from New Orleans, and more! Instructors Peter Loggins, Mia Goldsmith, Andy Reid, Bill and Shannon Butler, John Bedrosian, and more will be offering exceptional instruction in various jazz and swing dances. Don’t hesitate–we plan to sell out! REGISTER NOW!


 

We Love Our New Home in The Grandel Theatre Grand Hall!

Swingin’, swayin’, socializin’, movin’, groovin’. Just some of the many verbs that have come to be associated with our new Tuesday night home at the Grandel Theatre Grand Hall! We couldn’t think of a better place to offer top-notch swing dance classes followed by a social night of swing dancing each week, and we’re excited that so many people have chosen to make this THE night to hear great music, meet friends, and dance till they drop right here in St. Louis’s Arts and Entertainment District. The fabulous Miss Jubilee helped us kick off our new class and social dance with live music each Tuesday in April.

We’ll continue the merriment with St. Louis’ best swing DJ’s and a special night of live swing one Tuesday every month (for May we are featuring The Sidemen on Tuesday the 22nd!). If you’ve been a regular we can’t wait to see you more and more as Tuesday nights continue. If you have yet to come, but sure to check out our Lessons Page and visit us at Tuesday night Swing Night, where getting on the dance floor is as easy as “5, 6, 7, 8!”

LHSL Tuesdays: Winter Session

Happy 2012, everyone! Lindy Hop St. Louis is kicking off the new year in swingin’ style with new and improved Tuesday night Winter Sessions for the year 2012. From 7-9pm* each Tuesday night in January and February, join us for a fun and focused series of Lindy Lab experiences.

Lindy Lab practices are structured to maximize participation, personal discovery, and collaboration. Each session will have a facilitator who will introduce a topic  and provide some material for the group to consider, and all dancers will subsequently workshop the given topic together. Rather than a strictly traditional student-teacher setup, these sessions will encourage all attendees to give and get feedback and work together to improve as dancers.

These sessions are intended for dancers with a basic background to those with advanced skills. These sessions will not be very informative for complete beginners–we will resume beginner series in the early spring. Until then, keep an eye on our Events Calendar for a listing of dance events and beginner lessons!

While each session has a focus, the overarching goal is for everyone to learn, so these labs will be what you make of them. Come with an open mind, ready to learn and work! Here’s the line-up:

January 3, 7-9pm: Open Studio (just a chance to get moving! Or, shall we say, back into the swing of things)

January 10, 7-9pm: Charleston Extravaganza w/ Christian and Jenny (basic Charleston experience helpful for this lab…brush up the week before!)

January 17, 7-9pm: Swing Out Critique with Clayton

January 23, 7-9pm: Lindy Rueda w/ Christian and Jenny (deliberateness and creativity in your lindy hop…plus a lot of fun!)

*January 30, 7-8:30pm: Sharing your Favorite Moves w/ Clayton–work together to inspire creativity and build on each other’s favorite moves.

February 7, 7-9pm: Dancing Fast and Relaxed w/ Jenny and Christian

February 14, 7-9pm: Breaking Bad Habits w/ Clayton–workshop those tricky little things and help each other break bad habits

February 21, 7-9pm: Critique Class–How to Be Your Own Teacher w/ Jenny and Christian

*February 28, 7-8:30pm: Fun Footwork Variations w/ Clayton

 Pricing will be $7 non-members, $5 members to cover studio costs.

*Please note: due to a studio scheduling conflict, the sessions on 1/30 and 2/28 will be from 7-8:30 instead of 7-9pm.

We are looking forward to trying out this new structure for Tuesday nights and increasing the focus and deliberateness with which we all practice. We encourage everyone to join us for the labs, but if you are looking for just social dance and practice space, the second half of each practice will be a little less structured. Come give it a try and kick your new year off right!

New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Ball

What are YOU doing for New Year’s Eve? Here’s one answer for you:

Come celebrate in style at the Speakeasy Ball! Have an old school get down good time at St. Louis’ very own Deco Fortress, a restored 1940’s drugstore and haven of all things vintage. With Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes AND Miss Jubilee’s Hot Five on stage and friends all around, you’ll be transported back to swingin-er times.

Tickets are $75, but there are a limited number of “for dancers only” tickets available for just $25! Email Miss Jubilee (thehumdingers@gmail.com) to get this special deal.

Good things to know: party starts at 8pm. Two Bands. Open Bar. Hors D’Oeuvres. Cabaret Shows. Dress to impress!

And just for kicks, this event will also feature a dance contest with a cash prize, so come strut your stuff!

The Deco Fortress | 3624 S. Broadway | St. Louis, MO 63118

New Years Eve Speakeasy Ball

The Nevermore Jazz Ball & St. Louis Swing Dance Festival, November 3-6, 2011

Nevermore Jazz Ball and St. Louis Swing Dance Festival

“A celebration of dance at the confluence of jazz and blues.”

REGISTER HERE!

Our first annual weekend-long event, The Nevermore Jazz Ball & St. Louis Swing Dance Festival is only a few weeks away! During November 3-6, 2011 this history-making festival will feature live music by local St. Louis bands, Tommy Halloran’s Guerrilla Swing, Miss Jubilee’s Hot Swing Combo, and the St. Louis Sidemen, as well as New Orleans-based jazz band Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. Internationally renowned jazz dancers Peter Loggins and Mia Goldsmith of New Orleans will be the featured instructors for the weekend. Our very own John Bedrosian will be teaching classes in St. Louis Shag, our local territory swing dance. Local and regional instructors will be teaching dance classes in topics from lindy hop to blues and tap dancing. Dancers with no prior experience can join in with a special beginner swing dance track on Saturday morning. The event will kick off on Thursday, November 3rd at the Atomic Cowboy in the Grove and will continue with events during the day on Friday and throughout the weekend at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom and Lotus Arts Studio on Cherokee Street.

Attendees from the region and as far as Chicago, New York City, and New Orleans have been confirmed. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to celebrate our rich history of jazz, blues, and social dancing with friends from St. Louis and around the country. To find out more info or to get discounts by registering in advance please click here: Nevermore Jazz Ball & St. Louis Swing Dance Festival. And to tickle your senses, here’s a great clip of Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns jazz band playing on the streets of their hometown: