Can You Swing It?

Dennis Smith
ORDTA Chairman

Cuers, are you looking for new ways to attract new students to your classes? Have you had any success getting any students from outside of square dancing? We've had good success with a Swing Dance class for beginners. Swing Dance (known to Round Dancers as Jive) is a rhythm that is more familiar to the person on the street than other rhythms.

We've arranged with the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Department to hold Swing Dance classes quarterly. They produce an activities guide several times during the year. This has been the bulk of our advertising for the class. They also sent a reporter and photographer to one of our recent classes. The resulting publicity helped our current class immensely — it's full.

When we first started doing these Swing Dance classes a few years ago, we gave a lot of thought to how to teach raw beginners. We determined that single swing would be easier for beginners to pick up, mainly because of the relatively simple —quick, quick, slow, slow— rhythm. We introduce triple swing during the later sessions.

Then we gave thought to which figures to teach during a six-week class. We limited ourselves for most of the sessions to those figures that maintain the basic "quick, quick, slow, slow" rhythm. The figures that we teach are (in order): Basic Rock, Fallaway Rock, Link Rock, Change Right to Left, Change Left to Right, Shoulder Shove, Change Hands Behind the Back, Windmill, Spanish Arms, Fallaway Throwaway, American Spin, She Go He Go, and Miami Special. We introduce Jive Chasse, Point Steps, Jive Walks, Swivel Walks, and Kick-Ball-Change as part of the triple swing sessions.

We introduce a couple of Round Dances during the class to expose them to the advantages of having cues. The first dance we use is a single swing we wrote specifically for these classes: "Somethin's Goin' On In My Room." We use "Kiddio" for the triple swing.

A very important item to consider as you finish such a class is where the new graduates are going to dance. We're starting a monthly Swing Dance in March to provide a regular place for our new graduates to dance.