WE LOVE HAVING NEW DANCERS!
The swing dance community is beautiful, friendly, fun, and ready to meet you!
Starting out social dancing can be an exciting endeavor. But for some, it can feel like a different world with unknown culture and customs.
On this page, we answer the questions we frequently hear from new dancers, plus a few things that you should know about our group here in Madison. If you have a question we haven’t answered here, please send us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!
Jumptown happily welcomes new dancers to all of it’s events, but we recommend that new dancers start with the Intro to Lindy Hop class series. Before you go to your first event, please sign our waiver. You only need to sign it once per calendar year.
Many of our venues require you to change out of your street shoes; check the venues page for details on each venue. We recommend you bring a pair of smooth-soled shoes. These don’t need to be special shoes purchased for this event, but we request that you wipe the soles with a wet paper towel to get any dust, dirt, or grit off. This is a safety measure to prevent sticky or slippery spots on the dance floor that could cause injury.
Nope! We rotate through partners in all of our classes and people seek new partners for each song at our social dances.
Should you bring a partner to our events, we still recommend switching partners frequently. If partner switching makes you uncomfortable and you want to take our classes, please let the instructors know before the class starts.
Previous dance experience is not required or expected for the Intro to Lindy Hop classes. You do not need experience to attend the Wednesday social dances, but there is no class to get you started and we discourage dancers from teaching on the floor. Some people choose to come just to watch, and we don’t have a problem with that!
If you have previous dance experience, we still recommend taking our Intro courses; these are prerequisites to move into the Intermediate level classes. Lindy Hop is very different from other styles of dance in movement, rhythm, and posture. Intermediate instructors expect that you know the basics of 6- and 8-count styles and don’t stop to reteach the basics. If you’re not sure which classes are best for you, you are always welcome to find an instructor to get your level checked.
Don’t be afraid of asking people to dance! Seriously. Even if you think you’re terrible, because it’s probably not as bad as you think. Still ask.
Asking people to dance is scary, but we recommend doing it anyway. Social dancing is THE BEST way to practice and get better, and it’s fun! Being proactive ensures that you get out on the floor, instead of hoping that someone will notice you and ask.
If you’re still nervous, up your chances of being asked by hanging out near the floor (not against the farthest wall) and making eye contact with others. Chatting with people you’ve seen on the dance floor is a great way to get started. Just introduce yourself and let that person know it’s your first time. If they’re a Jumptown regular, they may introduce you around or help you find someone to dance with.
Finally, please don’t worry about whether you are good or not. Every dancer started at the same spot, with no skills. Smiling and keeping an upbeat attitude does wonders on the dance floor!
Many people associate swing dancing with aerials, but we do not allow them at our social dances or teach them in our classes.
In the larger lindy hop community, you will rarely see dancers performing aerials or air steps during a typical social dance for a number of reasons:
Jumptown defines aerials/air steps as anything where at least one partner does not have their weight over their feet. For example, rolling your partner over your back requires your partner’s feet to leave the floor and, if they fell, they might not fall feet first. Another example is dipping your partner in such a way that you are holding most of their weight. If we see aerials on the social dance floor, we will ask you to stop. If you do not comply, we will ask you to leave the event.
The main exceptions we allow are for choreographed performances or in a jam circle (when the dancers are regular partners and wearing appropriate footwear), because these situations require two people to practice and mutually agree on tricks before being performed.
Jumptown tries to maintain an open and accepting organization where people feel safe and comfortable participating. Dance, inherently, has a physicality to it; however, we are willing to work with anyone that wants to give it a try.
If you have physical limitations or disabilities and are concerned with your level of participation in classes, please let the instructors know. As much as possible, we will try to offer alternatives that work with your needs. At social dances, please share any concerns with your partner before starting a dance. For example, if previous injuries leave you with a shoulder that dislocates easily, please share this information with new partners.
Getting involved in the social dance community means making friends in Madison and around the world. Whether you're starting work in a new city, moving to attend school, or simply on vacation, you'll have a connection to locals from the moment you land. I've danced my way through universities and work assignments in Madrid and Mexico City, not to mention the places I've visited for weekend-long events like Minneapolis, Paris, and Denver. Wherever people gather to dance, you'll find great folks and instant camaraderie.
I came to Jumptown looking only to try swing dancing, to explore something I'd had an interest in for a long time. It has become one of my most passionate hobbies and I'm so glad that I came to class.
Jumptown was a great alternative to lame house parties when I was in college. I've met so many great people and made lifelong friends at the dances and classes. Even after having kids and moving away I can always come back to visit and dance with my Jumptown family.
When I started learning the lindy hop, the Jumptown community welcomed me with open arms. Everyone helped me realize that I had whole new way to connect with other people, through music and movement. That feeling has only increased over time, and I am so grateful to Jumptown bringing me into this world.
I didn't dance at all before coming to Jumptown. Learning to swing dance was on my bucket list, and while looking for places to learn, I found Jumptown. I expected dance lessons, but I didn't expect to have so much fun learning or to become part of a community. I highly recommend starting classes at Jumptown to everyone I meet because it's just so darn fun to swing dance!
We’re so glad you’ve decided to dance with us! We recommend you start with our monthly Friday dances at the Madison Circus Space. Your $5 entrance donation includes a 30-minute lesson, so you can find out for yourself whether swing dancing is for you! Before you go, you’ll find a list of commonly asked questions above. Please don’t hesitate to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.
Our Friday night dances are very beginner friendly, and they give you a nice taste of the community. We have a quick 30-minute lesson to start things off and a DJed social dance for the rest of the night. We also often get dancers coming in from out of town, which makes the evening a little more exciting.
You are welcome to go directly into our Thursday night Intro to Lindy Hop classes or check out a Wednesday night social dance at The Brink Lounge if those fit better into your schedule!
Madison Circus Space on the east side of Madison on 2082 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704.
There is a parking lot for the building. If it fills up, there is ample street parking nearby.
We don’t have required attire, but people tend to dress a little nicer for this event. Typical clothing might include nice jeans, khaki pants, button-down shirts, skirts, or dresses. Bring a pair of smooth-soled shoes to wear, as street shoes are not allowed on the floor.
We and Madison Circus Space both have a waiver for you to sign! You can find our waiver in the bottom right corner and you can find the waiver for Madison Circus Space on their website. It really helps us to get class started on time if you can sign them before you arrive. And they’re good for the whole calendar year once you sign them!