Go to local dances
Take local classes
Learn to dance with our instructors, who will guide you through the basic steps even if you have not danced before. Our four-week beginner series will introduce you to Lindy Hop, and the intermediate session afterward features rotating topics for dancers with some experience, so you can keep expanding your skills and moves. We also teach half-hour beginner swing dance lessons before monthly dances. No partner is required for any of these classes. See the classes page and calendar.
Travel to workshop weekends
Weekend events are where Lindy Hoppers from all around congregate to dance, learn, and socialize. Typical workshop weekends have group classes during the day from high-level instructors and awesome social dancing to some live and some DJed music at night. There are events all over the world. A sampling of the Midwest regional weekends that we can drive to are:
- Heartland Swing Festival (spring, Des Moines)
- Hawkeye Lindy Exchange (spring, Iowa City)
- Midwest Lindy Fest (spring, Minneapolis-St. Paul)
- Swing, IN (fall, Indianapolis)
- Nevermore Jazz Ball (fall, St. Louis)
For specifics of upcoming events, see the Regional Events page.
Travel to exchanges & nearby scenes
Exchanges typically have no classes, just tons of social dancing all weekend including locals and visitors. It can also be fun just to visit nearby dance scenes for a night out, especially if they have a good band playing. Some of the nearby cities with Lindy Hop scenes include Milwaukee (Brew City Hops & Cream City Swing), Rockford, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Champaign-Urbana. The Swing Map project collects links to swing scenes all over the world on a cool map.
Watch YouTube videos
YouTube is the easiest way to get a good feel for how highly skilled dancers approach Lindy Hop. And you don’t even have to travel. Start with this YouTube playlist of Lindy hop examples and then explore. Search for the names of dancers or events to find more videos, or browse the related videos along the side.
You can also find instructional clips, although many of the ones posted to YouTube are short “class recap” or teaser clips that may or may not come with much explanation. LindyHopMoves.com collects links to clips.
Listen to swing music
A lot of aspects of the swing dancing we do come directly from the music, whether it’s the bouncy pulse or the jazzy syncopation. Listening to and appreciating swing music can help you learn about the dance too. Most of the music we dance Lindy Hop to is in either from the Swing Era of the 1930s and 40s or by a growing number of contemporary bands who play in that style.
- This Swing Era Taster playlist on Spotify contains 2 songs each by more than 50 artists/bandleaders to give you a taste of the music of the time.
- Slow Lindy Hop is another Spotify playlist with music between 120 and 155 bpm (beats per minute)
- The Swing Music, Old and New playlist on our YouTube channel mixes in some current live music (and doesn’t require Spotify).
Search for more by the artists on Spotify, Pandora, CDBaby, Amazon MP3, contemporary bands’ own web sites, etc.
Learn solo jazz routines
Learning solo dance routines is a lot of fun and can also improve your partner dancing. There are numerous choreographies or routines for you to find and learn, but three in particular are widely known by many Lindy hoppers today and performed as group dances at socials. They are the Shim Sham, Tranky Doo, and Big Apple.
- The Shim Sham is a relatively simple but fun routine based on 1920s tap dance moves. It was a favorite of Frankie Manning, one of the original Lindy hoppers and mentor of much of today’s international Lindy hop scene. YouTube links: Global Shim Sham for Frankie, steps with teaching counts.
- The Tranky Doo was performed at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the 1940s and preserved on video in the “Spirit Moves” documentary. YouTube links: teachers’ live show, original clip, slow with teaching counts.
- The Big Apple started as an African-American ring dance improvised in New York clubs and became the international dance craze of 1937-41 in various forms, including stage performances and moves taught to the public as a called dance. The version we dance is the one Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers performed in the 1939 movie Keep Punching. It is longer and more complex than the Shim Sham or Tranky Doo. YouTube links: teachers’ live show, original clip, slow with teaching counts (check their channel for move breakdowns).
Take private lessons
Private lessons are a great way to get personal attention from instructors and work on specific problems at your own pace. They can be pricier than group classes, but are worth the expense if you’re looking for a way to more quickly overcome your struggles or build on your skills. Instructors can also find ways to explain challenging concepts to suit your learning style.