Frequently Asked Questions
What should I wear for dance class or to dances?
Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and be cool. Some people dress up a little more for dances, but it's certainly not required. Wear comfortable shoes that aren't too sticky on the floor that allow you to slide a little and turn. Sneakers are ok, but only if they are worn down or won't grip the floor too much. Avoid high heels, boots, flip-flops, and sandals. Many dancers wear smooth-soled shoes or sneakers that have chrome leather on the bottom to enable turning. This will also protect your knees. Be prepared to change your shoes when you arrive if the weather is snowy or wet to avoid getting the dance floor messy.
What shoes should I wear for swing classes?
Your shoes are your "sole" contact with the floor (get it?) and should be considered carefully. Sticky shoes can end up injuring your knees, and not enough support can hurt your feet in the long run. Make sure you have good shoes to keep you dancing! One option is to buy shoes with sueded or leather soles from a store like DanceStore.com. If you don't want to purchase special "dance shoes", sueded/chrome leather soles can be applied to street shoes by a cobbler. You can also suede your own shoes using suede sheets from Soles2Dance. Another alternative is Dance Socks, which can transform your supportive sneakers or shoes into instant dance shoes (Jen usually has some of these at classes if you ask her nicely and give her $5). Or, you can try shoes that are naturally smooth on the bottom, like leather-soled shoes, worn-down Keds, Grasshoppers, or Bobs.
What is "Lindy Hop"?
Lindy Hop is the authentic swing dance that originated in the 1920s and 1930s in Harlem, NY. It evolved out of the jazz music of the time and includes 6-count swing, 8-count swing, and Charleston. You may have heard it called "jitterbug" or just "swing dancing".
Is this the kind of dancing where the guy flips the girl over his head and stuff?
Yes, aerials or "air steps" are sometimes used in performances and competitions. Air steps are discouraged on the social dance floor and prohibited in our code of conduct.
I want to learn but I'm a total beginner. Where do I start?
From Fall through Spring you can find weekly beginner lessons Tuesday nights in Portland, Wednesday nights in Kittery, and free beginner lessons on Thursday nights in Portland before dances.
I want to learn but I have two left feet. I can't dance.
First of all, that's not a question. Second of all, if you can walk, you can dance. All the beginner classes start with the assumption that you've never danced before. Anyone can do it! Give it a shot and you'll see.
I want to learn but I don't have a partner. Sad face.
Again, not a question. It doesn't matter if you come to class or dances alone. We rotate partners in class and even people who come to dances with a partner dance with everyone, not just their significant other. It's a social dance!
I want to learn but I don't live close to Portland or Kittery. Where can I go to dance?
Try looking up dance groups in your area on Facebook. If you're not finding anything close enough, try traveling for big events, workshops or camps. They can be invaluable for learning a lot in a short amount of time.
What's the difference between the three sections of the Beginner (A) class?
8-Count Lindy Hop, 6-Count Lindy Hop, and Charleston are three styles under the umbrella of "Swing Dancing". When you're social dancing, they all get mixed up together. For ease of learning, we split them up into three sections so you don't get confused! Once you've mastered the three styles in the A level, you can move on to the B-level classes where you'll see how it all fits together.
I've taken all three of the beginner sections of swing dancing at Lindy Maine. Where do I go from there?
After you have a solid mastery of the basics in 8-count Lindy Hop, 6-count Lindy Hop, and Charleston, you'll dance with an instructor to make sure you're ready to move up to the intermediate class. The B class is where you'll start combining all three styles and perfecting your technique in each one. Once you have completed and mastered all five sections of that class, you'll dance with an instructor to make sure you're ready to level up to PSP's C class, which meets on Thursday nights. You can find all the details about leveling up here.
What is "solo authentic jazz dancing" or "solo jazz"?
Solo jazz classes teach the energetic vernacular movements of the 1930s and 40s as used in solo and partnered swing dancing. The style is rooted in the dances originated by Black dancers in places like the Savoy Ballroom in New York and is characterized by strong rhythms, musicality, and individuality. Solo jazz is part of Lindy Hop culture and is totally acceptable at swing dances today, even pre-COVID. It's also the safest swing dancing style to learn while socially distancing!
What if nobody asks me to dance when I go to an event?
Then ask someone! Anyone is encouraged to ask anyone else to dance. Beginners are encouraged to ask more advanced dancers to dance, and vice versa. Women and men are equally empowered to do the asking. Most people will say "yes" if you ask them to dance! If you need to say "no" to a dance, just courteously respond that you are taking a break, or you prefer a different tempo, or politely say, "No, thank you" and smile.
What do "lead" and "follow" mean?
"Lead" and "follow" are the two roles in partner social dancing. Leading and following are no longer based on traditional gender norms and you can choose either role.
I want to take classes with my partner/spouse. Do I have to rotate partners in class?
We understand that changing partners seems unnecessary if you only want to dance with your own partner/spouse, but we find that changing partners in class is the best way to truly learn to lead and follow, as opposed to memorizing the particular habits of your own partner. It also helps you to meet everyone in the class and have more fun! However, in the current COVID climate, we know that dancing in a "bubble" may be more attractive to many people, so we'll accommodate anyone who wants to stick with one partner for the duration of the class.
How do I know if any of the events on the calendar have beginner lessons at the beginning?
If there is a lesson at the start of the event and we know about it, it will be listed in the description. Click on the event on the calendar to see the description. Many of the live music events listed do not have a lesson included.
I'm visiting from out of town/new to the scene. Will there be dancers at the band events listed on the calendar?
Maine's swing dance scene is small (but growing!), so it's always a good idea to ask local dancers to make sure others are planning to attend a particular event. A good place to ask is on Facebook: Try posting on Portland Swing Project's page or on the Lindy Maine Community page.