Get Your Jig On
WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Grab your dance shoes and check out one of these swing dance venues.
Though many dances have not withstood the test of time, one has proven itself many times over as popular across generations. Swing dance, a craze that once got a whole generation off its feet and onto the dance floor, may not have the potency it had in its heyday, but this dance is still going strong.
Whether you’re into East Coast swing (the typical, six-beat traditional dance we all know and love), lindy hop (the eight-beat cousin of East Coast) or West Coast swing (the eight-beat alternative to lindy hop, which is typically danced to modern music), Orange County is just the place for all levels of dancers. There are a variety of locations to learn swing dancing all across the county:
Atomic Ballroom in Irvine is a favorite among beginners and advanced dancers alike and is known for housing some of the best swing dancers in all of Orange County during its social dancing hours. Though slightly difficult to find tucked away in a business park, it is definitely worth the drive. Lessons are available every day of the week and cost $15. Social dancing ranges from $5 to $15 and often includes a mini-lesson.
A more affordable option is Downtown Disney Swing, which is free. Every Saturday night from 6 to 10 p.m., the area in front of the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney becomes a whirlwind of swing dancers of all levels and ages. The cheerful environment of Disneyland engulfs the event, making it fun both to watch and participate in. The event also includes a swing dancing lesson, which is also free.
Located in the Newport Mesa Church in Costa Mesa, dancers at Mesa Swing learn to dance in a more private setting with a close-knit group of regulars who are happy to teach new dancers the basics. The group meets every Thursday at 8 p.m. The swing dance lesson lasts an hour, followed by social dancing the rest of the night.
Once you have attended some classes and participated in a few social dances, you might be interested in becoming a bigger part of the Orange County swing dance community. One of the best ways to keep in the loop is by joining the Orange County Swing Dance Club. This organization gives out information on upcoming swing events in Orange County and is an excellent way to keep in touch with the swing dancing community. You can join their mailing list on their website (ocswing.com).
One of the most important pieces of advice nearly every swing dancer will tell you is to always attend social dances. These group events are a huge melting pot of all types of swing dancers and can be very helpful in teaching new moves. They allow you to practice what you might already know and also help you learn from more advanced swing dancers. However, simply attending these events will not make you become a better swing dancer. Once you’re there, you need to be assertive and social in order to dance with the people you want to dance with. Most of the time the dancer you ask will eagerly accept your offer, but if you are turned down, it is always with a polite "no." So, don’t be afraid to let the music carry you away.