How to Swing Dance and the Art of Swing Dancing

April 23, 2017

One of the most popular types of dancing is swing dancing.

This exciting dance form was born in the roaring 1920s at the peak of the jazz age in New York City. It’s a vibrant, fast paced and a lot of fun!

But there is one drawback… Many beginners can feel intimidated by attempting this style of dance and may feel out of their comfort zone.

Don’t worry, that’s why we have put together this short guide for you so that you can get into the swing of things and show off your swing dance moves.

Let’s get to it!

How to swing dance the charleston

Did you know that the charleston was actually a song that inspired the world-famous dance style? After appearing on a broadway show the rhythm spread its way off the stage and into the mainstream dance scene.

The Charleston looks like a complicated swing dance but in reality, the foundations of the move are incredibly simple and only require you to learn 4 feet positions.

Step by step swing dance

1. The starting point: Nice and simple, start with both feet together.

2. Step your left foot forward with the right foot slightly back, level the left heel with the right toes.

3. Step the right foot forward so that it’s heel is level with the left toes (this is the reverse of the previous step.)

4. Come back to the starting position.

5. Step the left foot back level with the heel of the right foot.

6. Step back to the starting position.

Congratulations, you have learned a basic charleston! Keep practicing these steps until they become second nature to you.

Initially, it may not look like you are dancing the charleston but after adding in some extra movements you will really look the part.

Bonus moves

To really bring this form of swing dance up to a jazz age quality you will need to add a few more ingredients.

The hop

Add a hopping or bouncing motion to each step to add to the energy of the dance.

The pivot

By pivoting your feet inwards and outwards slightly with each step you will have that famous shuffle movement that you have seen on old videos of the jazz age.

The kick

This is where things get serious. Replace the forward step motion with a short kick. Don’t feel like you have to kick every time or that a rigid pattern has to be followed. Pepper the swing dance with a kick here and there to your liking.

The arms

When you first start with the charleston it can be easy to be so focused on your feet that you forget to do something with your arms!

Just be natural and don’t be afraid to get them involved to follow your movements.

The partner

This is optional as the charleston is an excellent solo dance.

However, if you are dancing with a partner you can choose to stand opposite each other and mirror your movements on dance side by side and dance in unison (just be careful you don’t kick each other!)

Learn to dance

Dancermag exists to not only to become a better dancer but to help you fall in love with dancing even more.

For more great tips on how to swing dance or to learn some other types be sure to check out our dance guides.

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