People You’ll Meet Swing Dancing

6 Jan

I’ve been back in Seattle on break for a few weeks now, and I’ve spent a significant portion of my time swing dancing. It’s been great, but the more I go the more I realize that swing dancers (and I’m focusing on the leads here, because that’s mostly who I meet as a follow) can be put into a few simple categories:


These guys are usually good dancers. The problem is that they think they’re great dancers. They learn to lead a lindy swing-out and think they’re Frankie Manning inventing the air step. Confidence is all fine and dandy, but the overly confident are also the most critical. If they lead you straight into someone, it’s either the other guy’s fault or yours. “Watch it,” they admonish. These are also the type to be critical on the dance floor. “Look up,” they say. Or, “Your turns aren’t tight enough.” Or my personal favorite, “You want to know one of my pet peeves with follows that you’re kind of doing right now?” I don’t tell you when your lead is sloppy or you have zero sense of rhythm, so unless you’re my teacher let’s just have a fun dance, mmkay?


The aloof are made up of the great dancers and the devastatingly attractive. It is quite possible that there are ugly, bad dancers who are aloof, but I generally don’t notice because I’m not spending half the night hoping to dance with them. I have no problem asking a guy to dance, but if we’ve danced together 30+ times and you’ve never asked me? That’s a problem. Didn’t you come here to dance like the rest of us? Let’s dance!


I love newbies. We were all newbies once and the fact that new people keep showing up is what’s going to keep the community growing. Yes, I get a little annoyed when I spend my entire night dancing with people who are excited by an outside turn, but I try to be helpful and encourage them to come back. But there are a few things that just get old. For one, the newbie tends to ask things like, “how long have you been dancing?” (5 years. But I’m not good enough to justify half a decade of practice so I always say “off and on for a few years” and it’s awkward for both of us, so stop asking!). The newbie also tends to dance the pretzel, and that is never okay.


I don’t mean this in a bad way, but some people are just friendlier than others. A lot friendlier. You’ll have a full conversation during your dance and then continue said conversation against the wall later. They’re here to dance, yes, but they’re also here to make friends. That can be a great thing, because we all need more dancing friends in our lives. It can also be just a smidge annoying because as cool as you are I don’t want to sit out the next five dances.


He’s usually a great dancer, with a very unique style. It’s something that takes years to build up, and this guy’s got it. He might be one of the funnest leads on the floor, because he’s not there to show off or figure out fancy tricks, he’s just there for some great dancing. At first it’s weird (I’m holding hands with someone who could be my grandfather!) and then it’s not. And that is the first step to becoming a dancer.

I’m sure I’m missing tons. What other swing dancing types are out there?


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