Los Angeles and Orange County have some of the best swing instructors in the world. Many Swing venues offer beginner East Coast Swing classes before the main dancing starts. If you are interested in going further, you can enroll in a class series, usually held weekly. If you are really hard core, arrange for a private lesson from some of the outstanding teachers below.
Venues with Beginner Lessons Before the Main Dance
These are good to get a quick, casual introduction to Swing dancing, usually East Coast Swing (although they sometimes teach Balboa). These are usually very beginner-friendly and non-intimidating if you just want to dabble in Swing dancing. As a bonus, you’ll get to practice what you’ve learned with other people in the class right after, which is invaluable!
- Atomic Ballroom (Irvine)
- Joe’s Great American Bar and Grill (Burbank) – Has a beginner lesson at 8PM on Tuesday nights.
- Juke Joint at the Ventura Beach Club (Ventura) – Kim and Dave, who run this event, are amazing dancers and teachers. I took their classes back when they taught at the world-famous Derby. They have classes on Tuesday nights.
- Lindy Groove (Pasadena) – Has good beginner and intermediate lessons on Thursdays before the main dance.
- Lindy Hop Stop (Garden Grove)
- Memories (Whittier) – On Monday nights, they have 3 levels of swing. 7:00 is Advanced; 8:00 Intermediate; and 9:00 is Basics.
- Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (Pasadena) – Has a beginner lesson before the main dance on Saturdays.
- Rusty’s Rhythm Club (Playa Del Rey) – Has a beginner lesson before the main dance on Wednesdays or the first Friday of the month. Pretty much the only decent Swing lessons on the West Side.
- Strutter’s Ball (Orange)
- Third Saturday Swing (Pasadena)
Weekly Group Classes
To learn anything more than the basics, you’ll have to graduate from the beginner lessons at the beginning of the dances to something more substantial, like group series classes. These are usually once a week.
- Atomic Ballroom (Irvine) has a Sunday class series.
- Lindy by the Sea (El Segundo) has several weekly Swing/Lindy Hop class series for absolute beginners on up! Group Swing Dance/Lindy Hop Classes : Tuesday evening, Intermediate-Advanced with Rusty Frank & Ron Campbell, and Thursday evening, Beginners-Intermediate with Rusty Frank & Ted Stanley. Every month, a new Featured Class on Tuesdays, including Charleston, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, etc. No partner needed! Come and join the fun.
- Lindy Groove (Pasadena) – Has the Lindy Academy lessons right before the main dance on Thursday. Taught by Ben and Jasmine, two excellent local dancers/instructors. Highly recommended! Check out what they are teaching here!
- Lindy Loft (Downtown LA)- Group lessons by Dax and Sarah in Downtown LA! You can also check out their Facebook Page.
- Memories (Whittier) – Has group lessons on Monday nights!
- OC Swing Dance Club (Irvine and Placentia) offers group classes throughout the week in Orange County.
- Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (Pasadena) has large group classes in Pasadena. Non-intimidating, good for beginners and for meeting people. Lots of classes through out the week. This is where I learned the basics (and so did many other Swing dancers).
- Steve Sayer (Burbank) is one of the most popular Swing dance instructors right now. He offers weekly group lessons (as well as privates).
- Third Street Dance (Mid-City LA) dance studio offering beginner group classes near the Beverly Center.
If you want to quickly kick up your dancing a notch or two, in one weekend, you should go to a Swing camp. These are dance “boot camps” packed with excellent classes, contests, and dances. You’ll learn not only from the classes, but from sheer osmosis from all of the great dancers around you. These are also a ton of fun, and you’ll probably make a lot of new friends! Just rest up before going, because they are exhausting.
- Cal Bal Classic (Pasadena) annual dance weekend in January focusing on Balboa. This always sells out so get your tickets early.
- Camp Hollywood (Near LAX) happens once a year around the end of August. This is the largest Swing dance camp in Southern California. Highly recommended if you want to get good quickly and have a great time dancing till 4AM! Don’t miss it!
- Inspiration Weekend (Fullerton) happens around the end of February and is packed with classes contests, and dances. It sold out this year, so register early!
- LA Shag Festival (Burbank) This is a newer event focusing on Shag which happens in April. Organized by LA instructor Steve Sayer, I think this will be very popular.
Okay, if you want to get really good, private lessons are the way to go. These can improve your dancing in ways that group classes just can’t. Here is a listing of private instructors in the LA/OC area:
- Allan Toribio (Whittier) is available for private lessons in Balboa and Lindy, and teaches regularly on Mondays in Whittier.
- Alec Marken (Orange County) offers private Swing dance lessons in the Laguna Hills area
- Atomic Ballroom (Irvine) offers private lessons in addition to group classes
- Ben And Sheri (Pasadena) are fun, popular dancers who offer group and private lessons.
- Dax and Sarah – (Downtown LA) run the Lindy Loft in downtown Los Angeles. They have classes almost every night of the week. If you work in downtown LA, these would be perfect for you.
- Essex and Lee (Whittier) – East Coast Swing and Lindy lessons from Essex and Lee of Memories.
- Jeremy Otth and Laura Keat – Two of my favorite dancers in So. Cal., specializing in authentic Lindy and Balboa. I have personally taken classes from them.
- Nick Williams (Orange County) – An award-winning dancer from L.A. Great style and choreography.
- Rusty Frank (West Side – El Segundo) – California Swing Dance Hall of Fame and award-winning dancer offers private as well as group lessons, from basics to choreography.
- Shesha and Nikki Marvin (Orange County)
- Steve Grody (Los Angeles) is based in Lincoln Heights close to downtown and offers private lessons.
- Steve Sayer (Burbank) popular instructor and award-winning dancer offers private lessons in addition to his weekly classes.
Free Swing Dance Lessons – Free instructional videos on the Internet. Yes, I know there’s no substitute for actual lessons, but these are the next best thing, taught by really good dancers.
Instructors, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to add you to this list!
What to Avoid
While I like to stay positive, I would recommend that you avoid dance lessons from the well-known big corporations. Swing is a street dance, and you’ll learn the most current and frequently-used moves from people who swing dance because they love it. All of the people and groups I’ve mentioned above have a passion for swing dancing. I see those people out dancing all of the time, and have taken lessons from many of them. They will teach you moves and styling that people are actually doing in the real world today.
Also, avoid taking Swing lessons from folks who don’t primarily teach Swing dancing, such as ballroom dance instructors and salsa teachers. Those dances are great, but if you want to learn authentic Swing, learn from a true Lindy Hopper. – Brian