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Duet Dance Studio

2412 W North Ave., #201, Chicago, IL 60647

312.823.8199 | info@duetdancestudio.com

Send us a message to schedule a lesson or ask any questions. We look forward to getting to know you and dancing with you soon! 

 

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2412 West North Avenue, Suite 201
Chicago, IL, 60647
United States

312.823.8199

Duet Dance Studio Chicago offers ballroom dance lessons and wedding dance classes. We teach salsa, swing, tango and waltz dance lessons. Privately and in groups, for adults and kids.

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Get useful tips on ballroom dancing and wedding dance preparation and watch tutorial videos created by Szewai Lee, founder of Duet Dance Studio.

Filtering by Category: Ballroom Dancing

Jitterbug, East Coast, West Coast and Lindy Hop ... What are the Differences?

Szewai Lee

“In the Mood,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Mack the Knife.” Do you recognize these tunes? They are some of the top swing songs of all time. From the 1920s to today, dancers have been stepping, spinning, and hopping to these songs. There are many variations of swing dance that developed throughout the last century. In this blog post we will talk about the history of swing and some differences between the many variations of this fun style.

Jitterbug

History: Jitterbug, also known as Single Swing or Swing Time Swing, was popularized in 1930s by Cab Calloway and his song “Call of the Jitter Bug.” Very similar to the Lindy Hop, though not quite as acrobatic. There are many stories as to the origin of this name, “jitterbug.” One theory is that it is believed to have come from observing the way dancers moved on the floor. They bounced, hopped, and exaggerated their movements, which made them look like bugs! 

Characteristics: Similar to the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug is usually very energetic, usually including very sharp, jerking movements. Partners will often switch between the traditional face-to-face stance and a side-by-side hold.

Rhythm:  Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow

Steps: The jitterbug basic is similar to the East Coast Swing. It is done in 6 counts, beginning with a rock step and two side steps.

  •     Leader: Rock step left. Step left, then right.
  •     Follower: Rock step right. Step right, then left.

Check out this video of our students demonstrating the Jitterbug/Single Swing:


East Coast Swing

History: This is the most common swing style, also known as Eastern Swing, American Swing, East Coast Lindy, and Triple Swing. It was created by dance studios in the 1940s as a more simplified version of the Lindy that could be taught to the masses. Eventually the style was standardized and became a part of the competition circuit.

Characteristics: East Coast Swing is traditionally danced to big band music, has a slight bounce, and lots of energy! It is a stationary dance, so dancers usually stay in the same spot on the floor, dancing in circular movements. If it’s a crowded floor, keep the steps small so you don’t bump the other dancers around you!

Rhythm: Slow, slow, quick, quick

Steps: Side to side with a rock step.

  •         Leader: Step left, right. Rock step on the left foot
  •         Follower: Step right, left. Rock step on the right foot

Here is a video of our students demonstrating a triple swing:

 


West Coast Swing

History: Began as “Western Swing” in 40s and 50s. Continued to grow as rock n roll music became more popular. One theory of the creation of West Coast Swing claims that it was developed because people were dancing in the aisles at concerts. To make sure they had enough room to dance, they had to stay in a specific, rectangular area. Others say it had more to do with the needs of movie musicals. Because there was no wide-angle lens for cameras yet, in order to fit dancers in the frame, they had to stay in one spot! Whether or not either of these theories can account for it, West Coast Swing developed a unique in-and-out pattern.  

Characteristics: West Coast Swing is a slotted dance, meaning the dancers stay in a rectangular area, or panel, of the floor. While dancers do follow specified foot patterns, improvisation is also a large part of West Coast Swing. It is generally a smoother, more grounded swing style than previous versions.  

Featured in movie “Hot Rod Gang” (1958). Dancing starts at 1:30.

Rhythm: Slow, Slow, Triple Step (3-a-4), Triple Step (5-a-6)

Steps: The West Coast Basic is danced in 6 counts. Two walks forward, followed by two triple steps.

  • Leader: Step forward left, right. Triple step left, Triple step right
  • Follower: Step forward right, left. Triple step right, Triple step left

Lindy Hop

History: The original swing style, the Lindy Hop was created as Jazz music gained popularity in the 1920s and 30s in Harlem, New York City.  Allegedly it was named from Charles Lindbergh’s “hop” across the Atlantic in 1927. The Savoy Ballroom in New York held famous Lindy Hop competitions every Saturday, pushing dancers to reinvent and perfect their moves. A bouncer there by the name of Herbert “Whitey” White put together a team of dancers called “Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers” that popularized the Lindy Hop across the nation. They appeared in live performances around the country and in several feature films. Here is a scene from their first one in 1937, the Marx Brothers movie “A Day at the Races”: http://www.savoystyle.com/QT/DATR_norma.mov.

Characteristics: The Lindy Hop has a syncopated rhythm to match the Jazz music to which it is danced. Improvisation is encouraged, which means although there are patterns that can be learned, there are also many opportunities for both the leader and follower to insert their own moves and find a unique style. It can be very energetic and acrobatic or smooth and sophisticated.

Rhythm: Slow, Slow, Triple Step (3-a-4), Slow Slow, Triple Step (7-a-8)

Steps: The Lindy Hop is made up of 8 count steps and is one of the most difficult of the various swing styles. There are several parts to this basic:

  1. Rock step. This done by placing one foot behind the other and shifting weight from the back foot to the front foot.

  2. Triple steps. These have a syncopated rhythm, often counted “1-a-2, 3-a-4.” It is executed by shifting weight from one foot to the other: left, right left or right, left right left.

  3. Swivel. The follower does this by planting one foot on the ground with toes pointing outward. Then as you turn the toes inward, pick up your other foot, and shift your weight.

Leader: left foot steps back, right steps in place, triple step. Right foot steps behind, left foot steps side. Finish with a triple step right.

Follower: Swivel right, left. Triple step right. Walk forward left, right. Finish with a triple step left.

Check out this funny, vintage instructional video. Start around 3:20

The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

5 Things Ballroom Dance Students are Tired of Hearing

Szewai Lee

I know you love your dance teacher. But I understand there're times when you just hope that he/she would stop repeating the same comment over and over again. You know you are not keeping your frame but you can't help it! While you are trying your best to fix those problems, let's take a look at the most typical things that ballroom dance teachers say and see what they really mean.

1. "Maintain your frame!"

The frame in ballroom dance refers to the way dancers hold their arms and stand. In order to lead and follow, both partners must maintain good posture and stay connected by keeping their arms firm and steady. Remember the “spaghetti arms” from Dirty Dancing? You don't want those as you need some resistance so that you can travel with your partner as a unit. To learn more about the frame, check out this thorough article on how to find your frame.

2. "Keep your head up and stand up straight!"

Keeping your head up helps you maintain a good posture as it straightens your spine and opens your chest. And when you have a good posture dancing, you will find leading and following easier, feel lighter on your feet and execute steps more efficiently. Most of all, you will look more confident on the dance floor! 

3. "Engage your core!"

As Isadora Duncan, the mother of modern dance, once said, "all movements are generated from the the center of the body." Think about how you walk. When you take a step, it's not your leg that initiates the movement but your body, more specifically, the center of your body. First your need to engage your core, shift your weight to one foot and then take a step. If you are leading with your foot when you walk, you will be sneak-walking like this guy! So, as a leader, in order for your partner to know where you are going, you will have to start with your core. When you hear your teacher says "engage your core, " what you need to do is to engage your core muscles, which stabilize your torso, and move from there. Here is a video that demonstrates how it feels like to engage your core muscles.

4. "Relax and smile!"

Dancing is fun! So, smile and relax! When you are practicing a new step or sequence, it's easy to forget that dancing is fun and not painful. Next time when you dance, try not to think too hard and then look at your partner, enjoy the music and smile. Ballroom dancing is all about connecting to your partner and being in the moment. You will learn faster when you can first relax your face and let your body do the work.

5. "Slow down!"

During speeches, people tend to speed up when they are nervous. And it is the same with dancing, people often move faster than the music when they are nervous. Next time when you dance, make sure to stay calm, listen to the music and keep breathing! 

 

What other things that your dance teacher always tell you? Please share with us!

 


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

 

Best Gifts for People who Love to Ballroom Dance

Szewai Lee

Not sure what to get for your friends who love to dance? Here are our top holiday gift ideas for dancers. Not only will your dancer friend love these gifts, but also you will be supporting small businesses during this holiday season!

Dance Tote Bag

Every dancer needs a big tote bag to carry their stuff (i.e. dance shoes, practice clothes, foot roller, notebook, iPad and more). Check out this simple yet versatile tote bag perfectly designed for dancers. What's more? It comes in different colors and sizes!

Leg Warmers

Keeping the body warm during a dance class is so important especially in the winter. A pair of cozy leg warmers is every dancer's winter best friend! These leg warmers are not only warm but also fashionable. Your dancer friend will love how she can show them off inside or outside of the dance studio.

Fancy Dance Shoes

A pair of good dance shoes is one of the most cherished items for a dancer. Not only does it support a dancer's performance but it also helps build a dancer's confidence. Especially since quality dance shoes can be expensive, your dancer friend will love you for helping out! For ballroom shoes, look for the soft, suede leather soled shoes.

Muscle Massage Kit

Just like a musical instrument, dancer's body needs regular tune--ups too! This muscle massage kit will be perfect for dancers whenever they need some self-massages. Plus, they are small enough to carry around.

Makeup Kit

A dancer's life is packed with performances, competitions and dance parties! This all-in-one dancer's makeup kit will be a wonderful companion to a dancer. It even comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for the newbies!

Dance Lessons

And of course, dancers love dance lessons! At Duet Dance Studio, we offer both private ballroom dance lessons and group classes. Whether your friend is a beginner or a seasoned dancer, you will find something that he/she will enjoy. Gift certificates start at $40 only!


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

What is Foxtrot?

Szewai Lee

Foxtrot is truly a timeless American dance style. It can be danced to a lot of classic songs such as Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight," Nat King Cole's "Let There Be Love" and etc. and this is why Foxtrot has always been one of the most popular dance styles to learn for weddings and black tie events. 

History

Foxtrot has nothing to do with foxes. It is a dance originated in 1914 by Vaudeville actor Harry Fox. He incorporated some trotting steps in his acts and people started calling his dance "Fox's Trot." After the debut of the Foxtrot, this original dance style captured other professional dancers and spread across the world. And ultimately, it evolved into what we see in ballroom dance competitions and social dance floor these days.

Characteristics

Foxtrot is a traveling dance style that features big strides and graceful turns. Imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sweeping across the dance floor in their tux and ball gown. Steps in Foxtrot resemble the ones in Waltz but are done differently because of its time signature.

Timing and Music

The time signature in Foxtrot is 4/4. The foxtrot basic can be counted as "slow, slow, quick, quick." Foxtrot is typically danced to big band music. Check out our Foxtrot song list here!

Dance Hold

In Foxtrot, dancers maintain a wide and extended dance hold that helps them travel across the floor and navigate more efficiently.

Student Demonstration

Check out this video of our recent married couple, Georgia and Jonathan, performing their first dance to the song, "It Had To Be You." They are doing the Foxtrot and Swing in this dance.

What is your favorite ballroom dance style? Please share with us.

If you like this post, you may also want to check out How to Hear the Beat in a Song.

Happy Dancing!


Voted as one of Chicago Top 5 Dance Teachers 2013 by Art Intercepts, Szewai (C-Y) has been sharing the joy of partner dance since 2006. She is the founder of Duet Dance Studio, a Chicago dance studio that offers Latin and ballroom dance lessonswedding dance lessons, and BYOB dance parties. Szewai believes partner dancing has the power to connect people and bring people closer. Besides dancing, she enjoys discovering hidden gems in the city, finding great music and making short videos about people and things that inspire her.

You can find Szewai on