‘Beginners’ Category

  1. Who’s Watching You?

    June 27, 2022 by Joo-Lee

    Whether you’re a new Lindy Jazz member taking your first steps towards learning to dance, or you’re a more experienced dancer, your number one fear is probably that everyone in the room is looking at you. Your mind will tell you this, but the reality is that everyone in the room has their own worries and concerns, and they’re actually worrying that everyone is looking at them!

    To Any New Dancers, This is My Message to You

    There are a few situations where people will look at you;

    If you are an extremely good dancer and you’re showing off a bit and performing;

    If you are trying to attract attention.

    Otherwise, people are probably not looking at you, I promise!

    So Where Does This Fear Come From?

    We might have seen someone drunk and dancing at a nightclub or a wedding. They might have made a fool of themselves and you saw people sniggering. Then that implanted the fear and thought in your brain, “ I MUST not put myself in a position where I make a fool of myself.”

    However, a swing dance class is a completely different situation. Everyone is there for the same reasons; you’re all like-minded people who want to take your first steps to learning to dance.

    Explore, Practise, Dance

    When you take a Lindy Jazz course, there is no need to actually dance, believe it or not.

    There are 3 stages in the course:

    • Explore
    • Practise
    • Dance

    People often worry that they have to be able to dance immediately. In fact, on our courses, you’ll notice that we don’t seem to be dancing as such, particularly in the first two weeks. The aim is that you’ll be able to dance by week six, the final week.

    In the first two weeks, it’s all about following our instructions step by step and trying out moves. This is what we mean by exploring. You follow the instructions without the need to assess yourself or get it right.

    Stop Assessing and Start Enjoying

    The thing that stops us from being able to dance or enjoy learning to dance is constant assessment. We constantly assess ourselves because we are imagining that people are assessing us.

    We should simply turn up to a class and be students. We shouldn’t be wearing the hat of a student and the hat of an assessor because that gets way too complicated!

    My advice for brand new dancers is don’t be afraid because there is no tiger in the room. What you do have in the room are like-minded people who simply want to learn.

    Dealing with the Unfamiliar

    A lack of familiarity is also a common trigger for fear. If something is new or unfamiliar, it’s very natural for us to fill that gap or lack of information with the worst scenario possible.

    So if you are feeling afraid when you first join a class, write a list of questions and send them to me. They might look like;

    What if I make a fool of myself?

    What if I don’t catch up?

    What if I don’t understand?

    What if my feet won’t move?

    What if I can’t get it right, ever?

    Make a list and get it all out of your head!

    To The More Experienced Dancers, I Want to Say This

    If you’re a more experienced dancer, you may feel more familiar with everything now however, a new situation could trigger some fears. It could be something like dancing in a new environment. We recently went to a picnic and danced to a live band. How did that make you feel?

    If you are an experienced dancer who feels at ease in the safe environment of our local community centre, did you feel safe getting up and dancing when there were strangers milling around?

    Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Experiencing the Joy of Dance

    I used to think that I had to dance well when I was in the presence of others. But after years of dancing for fun, I no longer worry about that.

    I know that I’m not attracting any attention because everyone is there to enjoy themselves and after the event, they have to go home and deal with life and all of their commitments and concerns, just like me.

    So whether you’re a newbie or a more experienced dancer, I want to say that no one is looking at you, they are looking at themselves and worrying about themselves.

    Don’t let this fear stop you from learning to dance or learning to dance in new places.

    Having the skills to dance and being clear on the moves will add to your confidence. In all of our classes, the aim is to give you step by step clear instructions so you are left in no doubt about the moves.

    At Lindy Jazz, we take the mystery out of dancing and we aim to build your confidence. If you are looking to build confidence and to enjoy Swing dancing, then sign up for our next course!

  2. What to Expect On Your Lindy Jazz Course

    June 16, 2022 by Joo-Lee

    So you’ve signed up to a Lindy Jazz course and you’re really excited to get started. Or maybe you’re a little nervous, which is completely natural. What often helps get rid of the nerves and helps you feel prepared for your first live class is knowing what you need to know beforehand.

    I’ve put together this blog as a ‘what to expect’ guide for everyone (beginner or experienced dancer) who enrols on one of our courses.

    Before You Get Started

    You don’t need any dance experience to join this course. However, you do need the following;

    Good health– Just like you wouldn’t want to go for a run or go the gym when you don’t feel 100%, don’t attend class if you’re unwell. Rest up and come back when you’ve recovered.

    Good mood– Sometimes you’ll be coming to class after a stressful day or getting stuck in traffic. Take a few moments to centre yourself and prepare your mood and mindset before you start dancing.

    A lot of patience– Be patient with yourself if things don’t go the way they should. Be patient with your teachers if something doesn’t make sense. Be patient with other class members if they are not on the same wavelength as yourself. Things don’t always click straight away, but you’ll find that they will fall into place gradually over the course of the 6 weeks.

    Good hygiene– Wear a fresh top / shirt for class and sanitise your hands before dancing. This keeps things hygienic, safe, and pleasant for everyone.

    Try to Find Time to Practise

    You’ll get online videos that you can practise along to in between lessons but this is not compulsory. I do encourage people to try and find 5 minutes a day to practise so they remember the moves more easily.

    But if you don’t have time to practise, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just turn up to class with an open mind and a relaxed mood. This will help you to take in the information more easily. Worrying or ruminating on the fact that you haven’t practised can slow down your learning and stop you from taking things in.

    Different People, Different Levels

    Everyone’s dance experience is different so don’t compare yourself with others in the class. Everyone learns differently, so you may find that some of the lesson material suits you but it doesn’t suit others. All we ask is that you be patient with others if things aren’t quite clicking for them, just as you would expect them to be patient with you.

    On the other hand, if it’s you that’s new to dancing or new to the topic, don’t try to keep up with others if they’re doing something fast or fancy. Just focus on what you’re doing, do what you can, and follow the teachers’ instructions. Don’t ask your dance partner for advice during the lesson as you both might end up missing something important.

    What If I’m an Experienced Dancer?

    If you’re an experienced dancer, it’s important to keep your mind open to learning. Don’t assume that your muscle memory is 100% consistent. You may have come across some of the concepts before, but working on your foundational skills will prevent you from forgetting them as you advance.

    Everyone may have different levels of dance experience but we all have the same goal, which is to have fun learning to dance. So relax and enjoy, and let the teachers take care of you.

    Keeping Things Safe

    For this course (June 2022), we are asking everyone who comes to a class in the hall to do a Lateral Flow Test on the day of the class and to share your results in the Messenger chat or via email at joolee@lindy-jazz.co.uk

    Dance Class Etiquette

    There are some simple social dancing rules of conduct to remember to keep things flowing and pleasant for everyone.

    • Before dancing with someone new, introduce yourself;
    • At the end of a dance or a practice, say ‘thank you’ or ‘high five’ your partner before moving on;
    • We all dance with each other as this is a social dance. However if you prefer to stay with your partner and not dance with others, we encourage you to smile and say ‘hello’ when others move past you to change partners.

    The Lindy Jazz Course- Summary

    • You don’t need any previous dance experience to join this course;
    • Everything will be explained from the beginning;
    • If you forget something, you can check the videos in between class;
    • If you don’t understand something, you can ask in class, pop a query in the Messenger chat or email info@lindy-jazz.co.uk.

    How Can I Progress My Dancing?

    After each 45 minute live class, you can stay to watch or try out the Advanced Class to see if this might be for you in the future.

    I hope this blog has told you everything you need to know, but if you have any more questions, we’d be happy to answer them. Just drop us a line at info@lindy-jazz.co.uk.

  3. Why Do People Want to Learn Fast?

    June 9, 2022 by Joo-Lee

    Why the Secret to Being a Great Dancer is Slowing Down

    We used to run workshops called Fastrack workshops, which were designed to transform people from okay dancers to amazing swing dancers in a short amount of time. Well, in theory, anyway. We soon realised that encouraging people to learn fast wasn’t turning them into the confident accomplished dancers they wanted to be. In fact, it often had the opposite effect.

    Why Do People Want to Learn Fast?

    It’s usually because they are short on time and they want to ‘get things done’ quickly. They want to take the shortcuts and tend to need instant assurance that they are going to be able to dance well, instead of taking small steps in each lesson.

    Not taking the time to learn the essentials and build a good foundation can become your main obstacle to becoming a confident dancer.

    The Problem with Wanting to Learn Fast

    It takes time to acquire skills but it’s always time well spent. When you learn fast, you tend to ignore and bypass a lot of the essentials; from the need for building a good foundation to the need for repetition and regular practice.

    When you try to rush learning how to dance, it’s a bit like painting by numbers. Yes, you’ll have a picture at the end, but you won’t have learned any skills. You won’t know how to use light and shade, or make a painting come to life. None of that impressive artistic stuff.

    Like with learning anything, it’s about taking the time to enjoy the process. When you’re in a dance class, it’s the taking the time to enjoy every moment that will help you become a more confident and stylish dancer. While the process will take longer, it will be much more joyful and fruitful. Dancing should be something for you to lose yourself in and enjoy, not just another thing to ‘get done.’

    Build Skills That Last

    When you start a new dance course, how do you feel at the start? Anxious? Excited? Confused?

    Do you feel anxious because you don’t know whether you’ll be able to learn well?

    Well I want you to believe in yourself and realise that you don’t need to do know everything right from the beginning.

    Often, I’ll start teaching one of our 6 week courses and I’ll notice that at the start of the six weeks, many of the participants are anxious. But by the middle of the course, they are really getting into it, and by week five, they are extremely happy!

    Just start as you mean to go on; be happy and open-minded instead of anxious and see what a difference it makes to your experience, and your dancing!

    Want to experience the REAL joy of dance, without the rush rush rush?

    Join our next 6 week course here.

  4. Give Yourself a Chance!

    December 28, 2017 by Joo-Lee

    Screenshot 2017-12-28 10.55.34

    We hear the same things so often from people who wish they could dance but have not yet given it a try.

    “I have Two Left Feet…. I have no rhythm…. I am the world’s worst dancer… it’s impossible to teach me to dance ……

    My response is simple. It’s about making the decision to turn up to your first class with an open mind. If you have already decided that you’d be no good then you are not giving yourself the chance to try something that you might come to like a lot. You don’t know unless you try!

    Learning to dance takes time but it won’t be long before you’re having fun if you allow yourself to relax, enjoy and see what it’s about. To enjoy the experience, my advice is to follow the instructions but don’t be tempted to do anything that is distracting or unhelpful to yourself. I see so many new beginners looking at their feet so that they can assess their progress. It’s very distracting if you are busy assessing yourself whilst trying a new skill at the same time. You will learn much more easily if you allow yourself to follow the class without checking if you’re doing the right thing. Everyone makes mistakes and you will, too, so just keep moving as it doesn’t matter.

    One thing everyone needs to realize is if you think everyone is looking at you, think again; they are probably worrying about the same thing as you and are too worried to be looking at you!

    You will never know if you can dance if you don’t give yourself the chance to try. Everyone was once a beginner and most of these beginners are now enjoying the fun of dancing to fantastic live bands and having the most amazing social life. Imagine how you’d feel by this time next year, when you, too could be dancing like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

    Anyone can enjoy social dancing. This kind of dancing will not require you to do the splits, spin on your head or even memorise a routine! You just need give yourself the chance to take your first step, and that is to try a class.

    Your first visit to Lindy Jazz is free so you can check it out for yourself. Try one class and if you feel OK about it, then maybe try a course so you can give yourself the chance to make progress.

  5. When Can I Join The Intermediate Class?

    February 6, 2017 by Joo-Lee

    So you’ve been attending beginner classes on and off for a while and you’re wondering when you can join the Intermediate Class? Here is everything you need to know!

    I’m often asked by dancers if they can join the Intermediate Class as the class time suits them better or they have previous dance experience in another style and therefore consider themselves to be able to pick up new steps quickly or they feel it’s been some time since they’ve started beginner classes, and although these are all valid reasons, there are certain skills and qualities that I look for before inviting dancers to join the Intermediate Class.

    It is worth noting that progress is not always related to the number of weeks or months that you have been dancing in the class. Progress usually relies on both attendance and engagement, so if you turn up to class regularly and engage as fully as possible, then your dancing will improve quickly, whilst if you attend class sporadically, you have to leave early and you rarely dance with other students, then your progress will be slower. It is important to really focus on building your basic Lindy Hop toolkit, so that you don’t struggle or hold others back in the Intermediate Class.

    What do I need to know about joining the Intermediate Class?

    When joining the Intermediate Class, you will be joining a group of experienced dancers who have been working on their dancing for a while. They are also keen to keep improving all the time, and although you can expect everyone to be very welcoming and encouraging, please bear in mind that when you rotate partners all of you will affect each other.

    If you’re interested in joining the Intermediate Class, then practice, attendance, an openness to teacher feedback and enthusiasm are key. My advice would be to stay back after class to practise with other dancers and to ask for feedback from your teachers as regularly as possible to build your foundation before moving to the Intermediate Class.

    The focus of learning to dance at Lindy Jazz is personal development; to build our skills, confidence and to gain more joyful dance experiences. Our focus is not social status so you will find that we are not concerned about which ‘level’ we might be. Within the Intermediate Class, you will find that some dancers are more advanced, more skilled and more experienced than others and everyone has different aims and learn at a different pace.

    What skills or qualities do you look for when inviting someone new to join the Intermediate Class?

    Every scene or community runs classes in their own way, and at Lindy Jazz, we have some expectations of what we’d like to see before you join the Intermediate Class. These skills are taught at our weekly classes and weekend workshops, and we encourage you to attend these classes before jumping into the Intermediate Class.

    1. a clear and consistent pulse (or ‘bounce’)
    2.  relaxed arms & shoulders that ‘stretch & release’ without over-extending
    3. a ‘free foot’ when shifting weight
    4. triple step footwork with ease
    5. Charleston footwork with ease
    6. an open attitude to feedback
    7. a positive response to mistakes e.g. joy instead of stress
    8. regular attendance at intermediate and beginner classes – every week if you can
    9. regular attendance at weekend workshops – at least once a month if you can
    10. regular practice – staying back to practise social dancing every week and practising your drills for 5 minutes every day if you can

    When I see dancers meet most of the above expectations, I will invite them to join the Intermediate Class. Sometimes, I may invite them to join the warm up drills at the beginning of the class and then to observe the rest of the class, sometimes, I might ask a lead-follow couple to stay with each other instead of ‘rotating’ for a couple of weeks until their basics are secure.

    Every class is different

    Please remember that there are no set rules in the ‘world of Lindy Hop’ and that every class is run independently so the expectations as explained in this blog post are created as a guide for classes at Lindy Jazz. Having said that all Lindy Hop communities are united along similar key philosophies which are joy, fun and friendship through social dancing, so keep dancing!

    Join Lindy Jazz classes on Tuesdays at Gosforth Parish Hall NE3 1YT

    19:30 Beginners’  Class

    20:45 Intermediates’ Class

    21:30 Social Dancing & Practice

    Join Lindy Jazz classes on Wednesdays at St Aidan’s Church Hall DH1 5BL

    19:30 Beginners’  Class

    20:30 Intermediates’ Class

    21:15 Social Dancing & Practice


  6. A Newbies’ Guide To DJam….. and what is Lindy A?

    December 23, 2016 by Joo-Lee

    If you’re new to the world of swing dancing, you may have heard other dancers talk excitedly about DJam, an international swing dance camp. But what exactly is a dance camp? Are there tents and campfires, and most importantly, do the dancers actually go camping? If you love camping then I am afraid you won’t find log cabins and singsongs (well, not at most dance camps anyway); a dance camp is usually just a weekend of learning through structured classes, with social dancing in the evening to enjoy your new-found skills.

    Now that we’ve got that cleared up, it’s time to talk about DJam! A blissful weekend of dancing, learning, meeting new people and having fun, DJam is a swing dance camp held in the stunning Beamish Hall Hotel in County Durham each year.

    Most dance camps are attended by experienced dancers. That’s because experienced dancers know that to improve their dancing a lot, they need to start learning from world-class teachers and dance with a wider range of dancers. They know that if they only ever dance with a small group of people and never venture outside of their local class, their dancing progress will plateau. As organisers of DJam, we also teach a local weekly class which attracts a regular influx of beginners so we know the worries that new dancers have when thinking about improving their dancing and how they don’t feel confident enough to come to DJam or come on their own. So I’ve summarised some information here to help all new dancers to get a flavour of DJam. At the time of writing, we have just 10 places left in the Lindy Hop beginner level ‘track’. So…..what is Lindy A? What is a track? What happens at DJam? If you’re a new beginner, read on……

    At DJam, there will be several tracks meaning different classes in different styles. Once you’ve decided on your track eg Lindy Hop, the next thing to do is to choose your level and Lindy A would be the beginners level where no previous dance experience would be required. Your teachers will know that everyone in your group will be new and possibly nervous! DJam teachers are hand picked not just for their dancing and teaching skills but also for their warmth, friendliness and care for new dancers.

    The teachers and the DJam Team are very approachable and will be happy to answer any questions about dancing; even if the questions may seem basic, for example, what to wear to the evening socials, how to ask for dances, what time the cabaret or competitions are on, what’s for lunch, anything!

    When you arrive at Beamish Hall at the start of the DJam weekend, you’ll be made to feel welcomed by the organisers & volunteers. You will be given lots of information and introduced to other beginner dancers, who won’t know others either so they’ll be just as nervous.

    The DJam schedule is packed with daytime classes, evening parties & various social activities. You can choose to do as little or as much as you want. In addition to your own track, meaning your set of Lindy Hop beginner classes that you have booked for in advance, you can also drop into taster classes. Taster classes are designed to give a little taste of other styles of dance and a whole host of interesting topics, for example. Blues, Balboa, Shag, Aerials, Swing Music. You don’t need to book for taster classes in advance. Once you’ve arrived at DJam, just take a look at your schedule and see what looks the most interesting to you.

    Your Lindy A classes will consist of a small group of dancers who will learn ‘from scratch’ – how to dance, what to do at social dances, how to understand the etiquette of social dancing, how to move well, how to dance to swing music, how to lead, follow and dance with people you don’t know etc. In short, your dance skills and knowledge of dancing and swing music will be transformed and you will feel a lot more confident when you next go dancing.

    You can choose your ideal ticket from a number of options and we call this a ‘pass‘,  so you can come for just Saturday or just two days or make the most of it and come for the whole weekend or even stay over at Beamish Hall Hotel. The DJam team, the volunteers and I will make sure that you feel included, enabling you to make the most of this opportunity.

    As the deadline for booking is fast approaching and there are only 10 places left, book now or contact me, Joo-Lee, for more information.

    More info: www.dance-at-djam.co.uk

    Deadline for booking: 30 December 2016

    See you at DJam!