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The Vintage Guide To London | February 24, 2018

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Tried and tested: learn to dance in a day - The Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is a partner dance that originated in Twenties and Thirties Harlem, New York. The dance itself consists of both 8 and 6 count steps and includes footwork borrowed from the Charleston and Tap.  Sounds complicated? We went a long to a ‘learn to Lindy Hop in a day’ course, find out here if we’ve managed to master the swing.

It’s Saturday lunch time and cafe 1001 on London’s Brick Lane is already busy. We’re heading to the large back room, which is slowly filling up with couples and single dancers ready for a day of 6 beat, 8 beat and Forties Charleston. Run by the Swing Patrol, the day aims to introduce complete beginners to Lindy Hop and teach the basic steps needed to start swinging. You can either book just one of the modules (6 beat, 8 beat, Charleston) or go for all three.

All in all about 30 dancers have turned up for the first class. Although most attendees seem to be couples, we will be rotating partners throughout the day. The ratio of guys (‘leaders’) to girls (‘followers’) is pretty good, meaning that most of the time we’ll be dancing with partners, something really important when you’re starting out. Teachers Erin and Chris are keen to get going and after a short introduction to the basic 6 beat, we’re ready to go and get coupled up. As we’re all beginners, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, no one minds if you get something wrong and accidental stepping on feet or shin-kicking isn’t taken personally.

Slowly the teachers build up the steps, adding more complicated moves to the routine. Each new step is demonstrated in detail and tried out several times, first without music, until everyone is happy. If anyone has a question or needs some extra help, Erin and Chris are there in a flash. Before we know it we’re swinging along to ‘Wade in the Water’ – this feels amazing!

After a quick lunch break we’re tackling 8 beat. We’ve been dancing for more than three hours yet everyone is keen to learn and keep going. Two hours later everyone’s mastering the tricky ‘swing-out’. Again there’s a quick break before it’s on to Forties Charleston. A few more dancers have turned up for this module, and it’s soon clear why it’s so popular. Fast-paced and with crazy moves, Charleston is great fun to dance.

After nearly six hours of dancing we’ve got serious jelly legs and are ready for a lie-down. Our verdict: The Lindy Hop course was the most fun we’ve had in ages. The class size and ratio of leaders to followers work very well, the teachers are thorough and their obvious passion for swing is infectious. With a great, friendly atmosphere and people of all fitness levels and ages attending, this is not only a great way of learning the Lindy Hop but also perfect to meet new people and socialise.

Learn to Dance in a Day
£28 for the whole day

Teachers Erin and Chris

The Vintage Guide's Ellie mastering the Charleston