We have the most amazing 3 days of live swing music, swing dance workshops and dancing til the early hours lined up for you as we take over The Bedford for the Easter holiday!
Established in 2015, SwingFest is an annual festival of live swing music, swing dance workshops and dancing at The Bedford, Balham in the heart of South London.
The next SwingFest is 14-16 April 2017.
South London SwingFest has been a roaring success in both its first two years and this year promises to be just as good if not better.
Book as much or as little as you like, from one evening to a day of workshops to the whole event!
On-line booking in advance is essential.
We kick off on the Friday evening with the wonderful Shirt Tail Stompers, one of the most popular bands on the current swing scene. There's a taster swing dance class included for those who want to learn a few steps first, plus we have some fine swing DJs spinning tunes from the 1930s, 40s and 50s - from London, Andrew "Tequila Mockingbird” Willis & Martin "Swingland" Ellis - and more to be confirmed.
Tickets for Friday night 8pm-2am in the Ballroom are £20. Smart dress please, Vintage style always appreciated but not essential.
On Saturday we have the amazing Rich B & The Vipers, six of the finest swing musicians the UK has to offer - plus London DJs Andrew "Tequila Mockingbird” Willis & Martin "Swingland" Ellis and more. Look out for a late-night surprise too - you won't be disappointed :-)! Again the evening kicks off with a taster swing dance class.
Tickets for Saturday night 8pm-2am in the Ballroom are £20. Smart dress please, Vintage style always appreciated but not essential.
On Sunday we move into The Bedford's very grand "Globe" room - like Shakespeare's Globe this is an open circular space with a gallery so plenty of room for both dancers and those who just want to watch and listen. The band? The incomparable Pete Long's 13-piece Benny Goodman Orchestra, playing the original arrangements with the very best of today's swing and jazz musicians. Plus London DJs Tim "Hellzapoppin'" & Martin "Swingland" Ellis and more. Again the evening kicks off with a taster swing dance class.
Tickets for Sunday night 7pm-12am in the Globe room are £25. Smart dress please, Vintage style always appreciated but not essential.
All three nights from just £50!! No partner and no dance experience needed. Group bookings welcome, just ask.
We kick off on the Friday with a beginners/improvers Lindy hop workshop - then on Saturday and Sunday we have workshops for improvers through to advanced dancers with a top selection of both local and international teachers!
Tickets for the Friday workshop 11am-4pm are £30 or £50 for a lead and follow booking together.
Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday workshops 10am-5pm are £55 per day or £85 for both days with an extra £10 saving for a lead and follow booking together.
Three fabulous nights of live swing music and top swing DJs!
Absolute beginners and non-dancers are welcome at any of the evenings. We kick off with a beginners swing dance (Lindy hop) class for those who want to learn a few steps - no partner needed.
Venue - The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham SW12 9HD
On-line booking in advance is essential.
In the Ballroom & Map Room, 8pm-2am
In the Ballroom & Map Room, 8pm-2am
Big Band night in the The Bedford's "Globe" Theatre, 7pm-midnight
The Shirt Tail Stompers
"Righteously retro, but youthful, trad jazzers dive back to prohibition-era speakeasies for inspiration, playing clarinet/trumpet/guitar-led Dixieland hits from Waller, Ellington and Basie." Time Out
One of London's top vintage jazz bands, The Shirt Tail Stompers have quickly made a name for themselves at home and internationally. Truly appreciating the art of swing and knowing it's place in history, they are heavily influenced by Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Wingy Manone and many other greats from the swing and trad jazz era of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. They also play a mean blues show, influenced by the likes of the early Duke Ellington, Sidney Bechet and the old musicical roots of New Orleans.
Last year alone saw them playing festivals and shows in Sweden, Belgium, Hungary, The Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Italy and throughout the UK to rave reviews. Highlights at home have included The Royal Albert Hall, Vintage Festival by Hemmingway and London's many vintage and dance nights. Dancers and Lindy hop are very close to their hearts and the band have relished making people's feet move all over the world.
Rich B & The Vipers
With a trumpet style all of his own and a huge international following, Rich Bennett brings together an all-star line up including Dorine de Wit from Enkhuizen, Holland, on banjo and vocals, plus the Australian treasure Karl Hird from Melbourne on tenor sax, a long standing side man of Rich’s, and one swinging player.
To sum it up, this band swings - not to be missed!!!
Pete Long's 13-piece Benny Goodman Orchestra
Sax & clarinet maestro - and renowned bandleader - Pete Long has hand-picked 13 of today's finest swing and jazz musicians to re-create the authentic sound of the great Benny Goodman Orchestra of the late 1930s - and the legendary Carnegie Hall concert!
Completely acoustic and utterly memorable...
Andrew "Tequila Mockingbird" Willis
“You dun shook it/Judge can’t book it” Otis Rush, 'Jump Sister Bessie'
The evolution of jazz and blues during the early and middle part of the 20th century provides us, the modern audience, with a vast body of work, the depth and breadth of which are almost impossible to comprehend. I like knowing that even if I spend hours every day listening to what I can get a hold of, there will always, always be a gem of swing number, a sweet rhythm and blues hit or a dastardly mambo out there that will evade me. As a DJ I like to play what I find to be infectious. A good set, one that plays off the dancers in the room as much as it does as the music in the DJ's carry-case, can really make those records, as well as the people listening and dancing to them, feel amazing. Fewer things allow us to get above and beyond ourselves more so than music, and that hoodoo sure is sweet.
Swing DJ Sim Sham runs a weekly Lindy Hop night in Brighton and has also played at C Jam in London, Camp Savoy, Brighton Swing Thing at the Spiegeltent and last year's South London SwingFest
Martin "Swingland" Ellis
Martin is highly regarded as a swing DJ in London. He has been running swing dance teaching company Swingland for over 15 years and is resident DJ at all Swingland's regular club nights (London's C Jam, A-Train, Jumpin' and Windsor's Friday Night Jive). He has also played at many other London clubs and events, including Zoot Suit Riot, Casablanca and Jitterbugs.
As founder of The Savoy Ball, Martin has played every year at this event.
Martin has also DJ'd at Herräng Dance Camp, Camp Savoy, Rock Bottoms, Any Swing Goes, Swing's The Thing, Swing Jam and a host of other dance camps and weekend events.
Martin has an extensive collection of Big Band Swing, Jazz, Lounge and Blues music from the 1920s to the present day and as an experienced dancer he knows what the dancers really want to hear.
Read about the workshop levels
You may book one day of workshops or both.
There will be short breaks in the morning and afternoon, and a longer break for lunch each day.
Rooms for each level will be allocated appropriately according to numbers - all rooms have effective air-conditioning.
Each level will be taught by as many of the teachers as is feasible and appropriate.
Venue - The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham SW12 9HD (4+ rooms - the Ballroom, the Globe and the Map Room plus the Side bar/Tavistock/First floor space)
On-line booking in advance is essential.
Fabien and Lisa
Fabien and Lisa met in Herräng, Sweden in 2010 and have been teaching and dancing together ever since. Coming from different backgrounds they both bring their own particular expertise, talents, and enthusiasm to the partnership.
Fabien comes from Grenoble, France and has been teaching swing dancing since 2004, specialising in Lindy hop and blues. His love of choreography has led to him to choreograph a number of teams including French Connection, which brought together dancers from around France, placing 2nd in ILHC 2015, and a number of successful showcases performed at ILHC and other events.
Lisa is a professional dancer from London, now living in France. Classically trained from the age of 6 she discovered her love for all styles of dance whilst studying for her degree in Theatre Dance at London Studio Centre. After leaving college she worked professionally in the commercial dance world, specialising in hip-hop. She then discovered and fell in love with Lindy hop and blues and has immersed herself in all things swing ever since.
Together and separately they have competed and placed in many competitions and can also be seen dancing and performing an airstep in the New Avengers film as well as the Yolanda be cool video ‘Le bump’.
Their fun-natured teaching style, yet ability to breakdown a movement, means their classes are a perfect mix for those wanting to progress their dancing.
Constantly pushing themselves in their own dancing means they understand the work that goes into becoming a better dancer and are passionate about sharing their experiences and helping others to achieve their goals.
Ciana and Oli
Ciana became acquainted with Lindy Hop and Authentic Jazz in 2010 after taking a class with Swingland at C Jam in Balham. A lover of funk and jazz from a very early age, her mum said that she was born with a pair of headphones on - already grooving to jazz, funk and soul music. But after that first class, it was love at first triple-step/apple jack. She was bitten by the dancing bug and went on a mission to learn, quickly discovering her natural groove and ability. From there, Ciana, like many dancers, began to travel to feed her hunger for all things jazz, and to develop and learn from the best teachers that the swing world has to offer. Her learning and development is not yet complete (and she doesn’t think it ever will be) but she is continuing her journey to be the best dancer she can be. Ciana teaches weekly classes and regular workshops for Swingland in London. She has been competing and performing since 2012 and has placed in both LSF (2012 and 2013) and in ESDC (2013) where she was also awarded the ‘Spirit of Lindyhop’ Eurostar award. Ciana has also performed at Cadogan Hall as past of the London Jazz Festival 2013, and at the Savoy Ball. As a dancer, people describe Ciana as authentic and ‘old school’ in her quality of movement and style. They also notice the big smile plastered across her face and the joy that she radiates. She strongly believes that when dancing solo or partnered, every dancer should add a part of themselves and bags of personality to make it ‘your’ dance. It is all about joy, expression and feeling the music. As a teacher, Ciana’s mantra is ‘have fun whilst learning’. She likes to engage with her students and tries to make them feel comfortable without compromising on the quality of content and technique. She also loves to encourage students to think about how they would like to express themselves and be an individual in their dancing.
Oli - bio coming soon
Ciana and Oli established and taught the thriving Swingland Brixton scene from November 2011 through to early 2015.
Sam and Gabi
Sam and Gabi travel around the world in search of Lindy Hop, learning, teaching and trying to put their own, unique, spin on it.
Gabi has been dancing Lindy Hop since 2007 and initially learnt in her home town of Vilnius, Lithuania. She was then encouraged by her teachers in Lithuania to travel to Sweden to attend Herräng Dance Camp and from that moment Lindy Hop has been a very large, important part of her life. Gabi is also passionate about solo jazz and is a leader of jazz troupe Seaside Sweethearts.
Sam has been dancing Lindy Hop since 2012 and initially started going to classes in the south of England. When he ventured up to the big city, London, he was inspired by the younger generation of swing dancers he had not previously known about and overnight, became so passionate about swing dance that he would travel up to London or down to Brighton 4 or 5 nights a week to learn Lindy Hop and social dance as much as possible.
Sam & Gabi teach and organise regular classes, workshops and festivals in Brighton going by the name of Jumpin’ At The Seaside and also teach in London with Swingland at C Jam on a monthly basis.
Sam & Gabi have also been placing at competitions around the UK including 1st place at London Swing Festival 2016, 1st place at Swing Revolution 2016, 1st place at University Of Swing 2016 (also 3rd place in Vilnius Harlem 2016).
Their philosophy is simple - spread high quality swing dancing and have fun!
Romayne trained in contemporary dance and graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in 2010. After graduation, Romayne has performed international for companies and artists in France, Italy and Japan.
Romayne joined Swingland and teaches the regular Monday night classes in Brixton. She has performed at The Royal Academy, Midsummer Murders, Countryfile Live, choreographed the British Olympic Ice skating Team, Laban Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Lillian Baylis Studio, Pop Brixton, Google HQ, New Diorama Theatre, Redbridge Drama Centre & Waterman’s Arts Centre.
Romayne aims to create fun and challenging classes that build confidence and encourage each dancer’s individuality and style.
If you've never taken a workshop before (you're probably an Improver) workshops are very different to drop-in classes; much more intense and focussed; and generally with a much smaller group.
On the Friday we are offering a workshop for those who are newer to Lindy hop.
You've probably taken a few drop-in classes or have some experience of another partnered dance style but you'd like to take things at a relatively easy pace or consolidate your basics before joining the Improver level for the Saturday and/or Sunday. Absolute beginners would be best to take a few drop-in classes before joining this workshop. Don't forget that we're also offering taster classes on all three evenings of SwingFest!
You're not an absolute beginner - but you're not ready for Intermediate level yet.
If you look at the list of steps below that Intermediates are expected to know - these and more are the steps you will learn and refine over the weekend.
Remember that Improver is the level that the best dancers stay in longest. All beginners are improvers and all dancers are beginners in one respect or another!
Rough guide - less than a year of dancing. Some of you might have tried an Intermediate level drop-in class or two and "got through it" but remember that this is not the same as really being ready for it :-)
Workshop size will be up to 20 couples and partners will rotate throughout.
Intermediate and Advanced workshops will be at the upper end of the level names, the idea being to challenge everyone - whilst of course keeping it fun!
This is probably the area that causes most confusion, so hopefully this will clarify.
When it comes to workshops, Intermediate level is for competent social dancers who can comfortably lead and/or follow at least the following steps on the social dance floor :-
* A variety of 6-count with triple-steps and kick-steps
* Swing Out, Lindy turn, Circle, Texas Tommy
* Side-by-side Charleston, send out into partnered ("tandem") back Charleston, crossover Charleston, mini-dip
* You will almost certainly already know the Shim Sham
Rough guide - 1+ years of regular classes and social Lindy hop dancing.
Workshop size will be approximately 15-20 couples (2 groups, same level) and partners will rotate throughout.
Intermediates are welcome to join the advanced auditions - please ask.
You know who you are! There will be an audition each morning at 10am and you must be there for that. Note that you must pass the audition and the teachers may put people down. Don't let this scare you - there is absolutely no shame, it's just about getting the right level, and it will only happen if there is a really clear gap in experience :-)
Rough guide - 3+ years of regular classes and social Lindy hop dancing.
Workshop size will be approximately 15-20 couples and partners will rotate throughout.
Whatever level you are taking you will learn loads and have a blast - we have amazing teachers lined up!
The teachers are all adept at adjusting the material to suit the particular class and will also be able to move people up or down discreetly if necessary.
For group bookings or if you have any problems with this form please email us