SwingFest 2024 - Events

SwingFest is a day of many parts! You can come to any or all of them - from one show to the full day of dance workshops and parties!

Here's the low-down

Sunday afternoon - Afternoon "Tea Dance"

Includes a fun dance class for all and live music from Corina Kwami & the Swing Selection


Sunday night - Live Music Extravaganza & Swing Dance Party

Featuring over three hours of live music from two great bands - The Intercontinentals AND Pete Long's Pocket Basie


Sunday morning and afternoon - Swing Dance Workshops - Lindy hop, authentic Jazz dance, and tap

Workshops in classic swing dance styles, for all levels of experience! No partner needed!

Leigh Barker, Duncan Hemstock, Louise Messenger, and Pete Long

Sunday night - Live Music Extravaganza & Swing Dance Party

7pm-10.30pm

Dress to impress!

The finale of SwingFest on the Sunday evening is always a spectacular event, and this year is no exception! Not one, but two, superb bands comprising some of today's best swing and jazz musicians for an evening of purely live music for your dancing (if you feel so inclined - and we're sure you will!) and listening pleasure. Book soon - limited places!

No dance experience needed. Over-18s only. Sorry, no pets.

£28 in advance




*Reserved seating is on the Mezzanine (balcony) - with great views of the stage, easy access to the dance floor, and table service (order by app).

Corina Kwami

Sunday afternoon - Afternoon "Tea Dance"

2.30pm-5.30pm

Dress for tea, dahling!

Spend a delightful Sunday afternoon in The Bedford's beautiful Ballroom, the old-fashioned way...

What is a tea dance?

The afternoon is family-friendly! Sorry, no pets.

£15 in advance, children age 5-15 free*




*Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Please contact us before booking if you would like to bring a younger child (we want everyone to be comfortable and to get involved in the class and dancing - unfortunately there is no space for buggies/push-chairs etc, and as parents ourselves we know that live music can be a bit loud for the really little ones.)

Sing Lim, Angela Andrew, Martin Ellis, Claire Miller, and Hanna 'HotCha' Ndiaye

Swing Dance Workshops

10.30am-4.30pm

A selection of swing dance workshops for all levels - Lindy hop, authentic Jazz dance, and tap - with experienced professional teachers.

Prices from £30 in advance

Please book workshops directly from the schedule


Uselul info

Workshop/class levels

Complete Beginner

No previous experience required!

If you've never danced swing styles before we are offering a choice of complementary classes with the afternoon dance - Charleston fun, or tap dance for all - you don't need any experience at all for either of these and you'll learn some useful steps whilst having loads of fun!

Beginner/Improver

Rough guide - less than a year of dancing.

You're not an absolute beginner - but you're not ready for intermediate classes yet. In the improvers workshops you will learn and refine some of the steps that intermediates are expected to know.

For those who have done some drop-in classes and are keen to improve, we're offering workshops for beginners/improvers in both Lindy hop and Balboa - and for experienced beginners in tap dance - as well as a chance to learn the famous Shim Sham!

Intermediate - Lindy hop

Rough guide - 1-2 years of regular classes and social Lindy hop dancing.

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
  • You will almost certainly already know the Shim Sham

Intermediate/advanced - Lindy hop/Balboa/solo Jazz

Rough guide - 2+ years of regular classes, workshops and social dancing.

Open level

Open to everyone - but perhaps expect a challenge or two!


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.

Workshop size will be strictly limited to 20 each of leads and follows and partners will rotate throughout.

Dance styles

Here's a useful guide to swing & related styles...

Lindy hop

Also known as "Jitterbug" or "Jive", Lindy hop was born in the dance halls of late 1920s Harlem, New York City, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. As hot jazz music gave way to swing in the 1930s, Lindy hop evolved rapidly, especially at the legendary Savoy Ballroom, where the opportunity for the best dancers to entertain the tourists helped it become both a social dance craze and an exciting performance style! The music is happy and the dance is immense fun - a chance to relax and forget about other things in life!

Whether you've just started out with Lindy hop or are well-and-truly hooked, SwingFest is for you!

Solo Jazz

Solo - steps done individually; without a partner.

Jazz steps are an intrinsic part of Lindy hop - and great fun whilst providing a healthy challenge, whatever your level! Steps like the Suzie Q, Boogie, Apple Jacks and Shorty George are essential knowledge for Lindy hoppers - but there are many many more.

Challenge yourself and improve your dancing skills!

Balboa

Balboa is a swing dance that originated in Southern California during the 1920s (though it may have started as early as 1915) and enjoyed huge popularity during the 1930s and 1940s. Balboa is a dance characterized by its close embrace and full body connection, emphasising rhythmic weight shifts and lead-follow partnership.

Balboa is a popular style today - have a go now, and get connected!

Charleston

Solo or partnered.

Lindy hop has many of its roots in the Charleston dance craze of the 1920s - the Roaring Twenties, also known as the Jazz Age, and the era of the flapper. Many steps characteristic of Lindy hop are clearly derived from the earlier dance. With the move from hot jazz to swing music, dancers changed from a choppy, up-and-down style to a more fluid, horizontal style with a gentle bounce, so the steps can look very different.

Related to the Charleston, but not the same, is the Black Bottom, which also became popular in the 1920s. It was danced solo or by couples. Originating among African Americans in the rural South, the black bottom was adopted by mainstream American culture and soon became a national craze.

Look out for elements of the Charleston and the Black Bottom in some of the workshops!

Tap dance

Tap dance is an indigenous American dance genre that evolved over a period of some three hundred years. Initially a fusion of British and West African musical and step-dance traditions in America, tap emerged in the southern United States in the 1700s.

Tap dancing can be done for show, or just for the personal challenge and enjoyment!

Shim Sham

The Shim Sham is a fun routine made up of simple jazz steps, generally done in a line, but often also in a circle. Originally the Shim Sham (Shimmy) was a tap dance routine choreographed by Leonard Reed - which was adopted universally by stage performers so that they could do a whole company encore at the end of a show rather than each act do individual encores. The Lindy hoppers of the 1930s and 40s took the dance and made it their own.

The Shim Sham steps are fundamental to both tap and jazz dance - look out for some elements of the Shim Sham in the various workshops!

Strolls

Strolls are solo dances done in lines - with a particular twist. Every so often the stroll changes direction (usually a quarter-turn) and repeats. This can catch you out - especially as some the time you might be at the "front".

Strolls are great fun - have a go!