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Indiana University Swing Dance Club

"iou A Dance..."


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a partner?

No. In fact, from a dance skill perspective, it’s probably better if you don’t have an exclusive partner. During lessons and during open dancing, the vast majority of us rotate partners. We’re not going to force you to rotate, but those that don’t predictably tend to learn to anticipate their partner’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses, which is nice in a romantic kind of way, but which is bad when you try dancing with somebody new.

2. Is there any age limit to dancing in your club?

Nope. Most club members are college students, but you don’t have to be one to participate. Swing dance knows no artificial age boundaries!

3. Why do we have to pay a membership fee?

Although we are often (but not always) allowed to use the university’s rooms for free, we do have other expenses. The membership fee goes toward buying new and replacing old stereo equipment, CDs and microphones. Also, the fee is used to pay for out-of-town instructors and dances with live bands, both of which we consistently lose money on.

4. What kind of clothes should I wear?

For the most part, people dress very casually during normal meetings and get dressier during dances with live bands. Clothing should be loose-fitting and allow freedom of movement. After a few dances, you’ll quickly warm up, so removable layers are recommended. Loose-fitting jewelry (that could fly off and become lost on the dance floor) and jewelry with sharp edges is not advised.

5. What kind of shoes should I wear?

For beginners, you basically want to be able to do one spin and you want to be able to walk fairly vigorously in them (i.e. stiletto heels: probably not a good idea). Old bowling shoes, if you have them, work nicely. Cheap sneakers work fine too. As you get more advanced, you may want to invest in a shoe with a more slippery surface so you can do slides and multiple spins. See our Links page for places to shop for shoes.

6. Learning to dance is intimidating. Should I give up?

Of course not, all those people you find intimidating were once rank beginners like yourself. Also, remember that it shouldn’t be surprising that people who have practiced are better than you. Think of dancing as learning to play a musical instrument where the instrument is YOUR WHOLE BODY! If you stepped into a room of experienced piano players, would you expect to be as good as them your first, second, or even tenth time out?

Also remember that unlike a musical instrument, you can’t learn to partner dance by practicing by yourself. You have to be willing to make mistakes in front of other people. You have to learn to let go of your adult ego. The less shame you have, the better a dancer you will probably be.

7. Why do the classes go so fast/so slow?

Although the instructors do their best to go at a speed that matches the level of the class, it is impossible for the instructors to go at a speed that satisfies everybody. So if you’re bored, and you see others struggling, relax. Not everybody is as talented as you. Work on your basics. If you’re struggling, remember that very few people learn new motor skills completely right the first time. What is important is that you realize what it is that you’re trying to do. You may not actually be able to do it during the class, but if you know what it is that you are trying to do, you can practice it after class and ask the instructors (who are paid to stay after class and take questions) further questions.

8. My partner isn´t leading/following.

If your partner isn´t leading, don´t follow their non-existent lead. Although it may assuage the lead´s ego in the short term, it leads to non-existent leads in the long term. Politely explain that you need a stronger lead.
If your partner isn´t following, either your lead is too light for that particular follow, or the follow doesn´t know the move. Either adjust your lead appropriately or don´t lead the move: the follow may not know it.

9. May I do those cool aerials? Drops? Lifts?

Generally, no. Aerials, where at least one of the two partners completely leaves the ground, are unacceptable on the social dance floor. There's simply too much risk involved for both the dancers and innocent bystanders, and our liability policy won't stand for it. The only exception to this rule is during jam circles, performances, and competitions, with a partner with whom you've practiced the aforementioned aerial, when all of the onlookers are a safe distance away. Never, never, spring something on an unprepared partner, whatever the situation may be.

10. I love swing music and want to add to my collection. What albums should I buy?

Probably everybody's first purchase should be Really Swingin: Frankie Mannings Big Band Favorites. For even more suggestions, go here.