In 2009, a small group of Lindy Hop enthusiasts got together to build a swing dance scene in Charlottesville. That year, SwingCville was formed and we started offering classes on a variety of vintage dances including Lindy Hop, Balboa, 6-count Swing and Charleston (if you’re not familiar with these dance styles, check out our About Swing Dancing page, which includes videos and history of each dance style). We’ve grown over the years but are still working hard in pursuit of our mission: to make swing dance accessible to anybody, teach strong fundamentals, and have a whole lotta fun!
We are a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization, and it’s only through the hard work of dedicated dancers that we can keep this ship sailing. If you stop by for a dance or a lesson, please let us know if you’ve enjoyed your experience!
What We Offer
Cat’s Corner: SwingCville holds a weekly dance lesson and social dance on Wednesday evenings called Cat’s Corner. It’s only $5 for the whole night! Every night we offer a Beginner lesson, and two Intermediate month-long series (so if you want to participate in those you’ll have to be there the first week).
Beginner Crash Course: For absolute beginners, the best place to start is our one-of-a-kind Beginner Crash Course. This special two-hour lesson is designed so that anyone can quickly pick up swing dancing! We recommend you start here before coming to the regular weekly lessons. It is held on the 4th Thursday of every month.
Cville Savoy: We also host a monthly dance called The Cville Savoy! Every 4th Saturday from 8:30-10:30pm with a quick beginner lesson at 8:00pm if you are brand new. Check the Cville Savoy page for details about the next event!
If you want to see what our lessons are like, check out the video recaps on our Lesson Archive.
I’m Ready to Get Started!
We recommend the following schedule to help get you on the floor and having fun as soon as possible:
Crash Course: Our Crash Course is held on the 4th Thursday of every month from 7:30-9:30pm. There is a short practice session immediately afterwards from 9:30-10:00pm to help you try out the moves you just learned and socialize with your fellow Crash Course survivors! The Crash Course is only $15. For more information, visit our Crash Course page!
Swing101 Lessons: Swing 101 lessons run from 8:30-9:00pm on Wednesdays. We usually teach basic 6-Count Swing. To help you practice on your own, we have instructional videos in our Resources. Following lessons, we have an hour and a half of social dancing from 9:00-10:30pm. For the first 10 minutes of social dancing (9:00-9:10), all of the evening’s instructors will be available for Q&A. The absolute best way to learn to dance is to get on the floor and rock out! It’s also a great time to get to know your fellow dancers. For more information, visit our Cat’s Corner page.
Cville Savoy Social Dance: Our famous 4th Saturday dance has been going strong since 2009. Named after the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, NY, this dance offers two hours of social dancing. The Savoy beginner lesson runs from 7:30-8:30pm. This lesson does not build on any of our other lessons — it’s a ground-up class for novices. No experience or partner required! The Savoy is only $10 (including the beginner lesson). For more information, visit our Cville Savoy page!
You’ve taken the beginner lessons, you’ve been out social dancing and you feel like you have a pretty good handle on things. Where do you go from here? We recommend the following options:
Cat’s Corner Monthly Series: Each month we have two monthly series running, one at 7:00pm and one at 7:45pm. We alternate months between Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, 6-Count Swing, and Blues. If you register for the monthly series you are also welcome to stay for the Swing 101 lesson at 8:30pm.
Cats Corner monthly series are usually $30/month. That covers both the lessons and the social dance. For more information visit our Cat’s Corner Page!
The Swing Clinic: During months with a 5th Wednesday we offer a Swing Clinic. During this special lesson you can get one-on-one feedback from instructors stationed around the room. It’s a fast-paced, chaotic, fun lesson that will give you plenty to think about and a lot of tips for how to dramatically improve your dancing. Fore more information, visit the Swing Clinic page.
Travel: In order to really progress and become a well-rounded dancer, you should to get out and experience dancing in different places, dance with different dancers, and learn from different teachers. We routinely post nearby events run by our friends in other cities on our Announcements and Facebook Page.
Practice: This one seems obvious, but it bears repeating — practice at home! Your progress will be slow if you only dance an hour a week during lessons; you may even arrive at lessons having forgotten what you covered the week before! Get on YouTube, and look up some moves to practice. Take lessons from other instructors and compare it with what you learn at SwingCville. Take a video of yourself dancing and see if you can pick out your mistakes.
If you want more direction or ideas for what to practice at home, just talk to one of the instructors at Cats Corner!
Private Lessons: If you want some one-on-one feedback from an experienced teacher, some of our SwingCville instructors offer private lessons. To inquire please Contact Us.
- Do I need a partner?
- No! Most people come without a partner. In our lessons, we rotate partners every few minutes to make sure everyone gets a chance to try new styles. We encourage dancing with as many partners as possible to improve your skills!
- Do you do Jitterbug? Or West Coast? Or Lindy? Or…
- Here are SwingCville, we do the dances that were popular in the 1920’s-40’s, namely Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, East Coast Swing, and Blues. Jitterbug is an older word that basically means the same thing as East Coast Swing and/or Lindy Hop, so yes, we do that! West Coast Swing is a dance that came after the swing era, and we don’t usually do that here at SwingCville. If you are interested in West Coast Swing, you might be looking for our friends at the similarly named Charlottesville Swing Dance Society.
- What should I wear?
- Wear something comfortable that you can move in! Some people get gussied up with a light dress or a shirt and tie, while some people show up in jeans and a t-shirt. Just remember that you will be dancing with other people, so make sure that your shirt is clean, and pack an extra (or two) in case it gets hot.
- Do I need dance shoes?
- No! While you can go out and buy swing dance shoes (we recommend www.dancestore.com or The Hip Joint downtown), it is not necessary. Try to wear comfortable shoes with a smooth leather or suede sole. Sneakers, high heels, and sandals will hinder your dancing. If you don’t have leather-soled shoes, a cheap alternative is to stick duct tape on the bottom of an old pair of sneakers or canvas shoes.
- What about dance ettiquette?
- SwingCville is meant to be a safe and fun learning environment, so please be respectful of your fellow dancers. Familiarize yourself with our Code of Conduct before coming for the first time. Don’t complain about others’ abilities and don’t correct others while on the social dance floor. Say “thank you” after a dance, especially if it’s a good one! Wear clean clothes and deodorant, and bring an extra shirt or two.
- How can I get more involved?
- SwingCville needs you! Every week we need volunteers to help setup, cleanup, and sit at the door. Plus there are many other behind-the-scenes jobs that are done by volunteers. If you want to become more involved in SwingCville, please Contact Us. If you don’t have time to volunteer, but still want to provide some feedback, feel free to contact us anytime. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it in person, you can use our Feedback Form or drop a note in the suggestion box at the studio.
- I’m hooked! What resources can I use to feed my dance addiction?
- Take a look at our Resources Page for a full listing of resources including music, websites, blogs, and communities.