Category Archives: dances

Swingin’ At The Crossroads

Here we are at the Convention Complex for Swingin’ At The Crossroads! I couldn’t be more pleased with the weekend so far. Last night’s Jive Junction was excellent, the turnout at today’s classes has been excellent, and the classes have seemed to go well.

Joel and Alison are, of course, excellent instructors, and they’re super fun on top of that. If you’re reading this at home, make plans to head down here and join us – either for the afternoon today (Saturday), for the dance tonight, or for tomorrow’s classes.

Tonight is our big dance with the Jaztronauts from Minneapolis. $10 gets you in for a night of dancing.


Dance Floor Etiquette, Part 3

And last in our series…fancy things.

Aerials are not usually appropriate on a social dance floor. Why? The potential for injuring someone else is HUGE.

Aerials can be appropriate in jam circles or on dance floors that are quite empty. If you’re not sure, ask! At Jive Junction, you can ask whoever is at the door, or ask the DJ.

NEVER do an aerial with an unsuspecting partner, or with someone you don’t know. If you’re planning to do an aerial, make sure that your partner is expecting it, knows what you’re doing, and knows WHEN you’re doing it. Make sure that you both know how to safely EXIT from the move if something goes wrong. Before starting the move, take one last look around to make sure nobody is close enough to be injured – or to be scared.

You do not have to end a song with a dip. Ending by just stopping dancing is fine, or striking some other pose. If you do want to lead a dip, make sure you know what you are doing! If you’re going to do something more complex than just a basic dip, ask her first! Especially if you don’t know her well!

Ladies, feel free to refuse to dip. Even if he just starts to dip you without asking, take a small step away and firmly keep your body upright while you say “no thanks.”

Erratic dancers
Sometimes, you’ll notice that a particular couple is dancing kind of erratically. Maybe they’re doing aerials, or a lot of kicking, or they’re just not paying attention and are body slamming other people. Leaders, guide your partner AWAY from the area to somewhere safer. DO NOT place yourself so that your partner acts as a shield for you. (Yes, I’ve seen this.)

And that concludes our thesis on dance floor etiquette. Hope it was helpful!!

Dance Floor Etiquette, Part 1

Oh, yes, one other thing I observed at February’s dance was that perhaps it’s time for a refresher on dance floor etiquette!

Proper etiquette on a dance floor is basically an extension of the Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated. What does this mean, practically speaking?

  • Try not to run into others. Leaders, be sure that you keep an eye on your surroundings as you lead your partner, and try not to toss her into other couples.
  • If you do run into someone else, just apologize. You can make eye contact and mouth “sorry,” you can kind of holler it over your shoulder, or you can even find the person you ran into after the song is over and just say “hey, sorry about running into you there!” Most people are super nice about the occasional dance-floor collision.
  • If you are enjoying a dance that progresses around the floor at Jive Junction, where the vast majority of dancers are swing dancing (in one spot), please be aware that you will need to maneuver around numerous couples who won’t be looking out for you. If you do happen to collide with another couple, be sure to apologize (see above).
  • And, if you happen to be enjoying a swing dance among a mostly ballroom crowd (such as at Lake Robbins), please stay in the center of the floor and be aware that you will need to avoid getting in the way of the couples progressing around the perimeter of the floor. Again, apologize if you do collide.

See? Easy.

The next installment will be about respectfully dealing with your dance partner – do you need to apologize? what if you don’t want to dance with someone who asks you? and help! my partner just broke my arm!

I would like to conclude by saying that if anyone at a Swing Des Moines event acts inappropriately or makes you uncomfortable with their actions or words, please seek out a board member and let us know. Not sure who the board members are? Ask the DJ.

Simpson College Social Dance Classes

The fifth annual (can you believe it?) No Sweetheart Required Valentine’s Dance was awesome! Great attendance, lots of energy. It looked like everyone got in a lot of good dancing, with one notable exception – we had one attendee with her arm in a cast!

A big thank you to the Simpson students who attended. The aforementioned cast-wearing woman was an instructor at Simpson College (my alma mater) who works in the costume shop at the theater (where I used to work!) and who also teaches social dancing classes – for credit – through the PE program. How awesome is that?!?

Why we do what we do (part 2) – music at dances

“The DJ at Jive Junction never plays my favorite song!”

There is a strong possibility that the DJ at Jive Junction would play your favorite song if asked!

Our DJs try their very best to play music that will get the largest number of people dancing, interspersed with more specialized songs that appeal to a smaller group. They try to read the group and respond to the group’s actions – when do people dance, when do people sit down, etc.

But if there’s something you particularly enjoy dancing to, please ask! If we have it, we’ll try to accommodate your request if at all possible!

Jive Junction was AWESOME tonight!

We just got home from Jive Junction, and I have to say – it was awesome tonight!

Things are heating up on the dance floor!

We had about 15 people present about midway through our beginning lesson (about 8:15), and I was not going to be at all surprised of that’s all we had. After all, it was about 20 below with wind chill, and who really wants to get out in that kind of cold??

But, all told, we had over 4 times that number just an hour later. It was great! We had four or five birthdays this month, so it was one super busy birthday jam, as well!

Many of those in attendance tonight had never been to Jive Junction before, and several had never been to a dance before. It was great to see all these new faces! And, as always, we love seeing the “old” faces, as well.

Thanks to all who came out tonight. I hope you had as great of a time as I did!

PS, more pictures here.

Did you know?

A monthly bit about the history of Swing Des Moines

Whatever happened with Crave?

Some recent statements have been made that are forcing me to revisit this topic, which I know has been explained ad nauseum.

Last fall, Crave approached DJ Swingin’ Goat to see if he would DJ a weekly swing dance at their location. The Goat said he would only consider it if they would allow us to promote it through Swing Des Moines. It would remain their event, but we’d use both logos and both company names in the promotion. Sure thing, they said.

As anyone who went to Swing Night at Crave knows, the location was far from ideal from a dancing standpoint. The drinks and food were expensive, the dance area was somewhat lacking, etc. From a management standpoint, though, it was, in a way, ideal. We had no risk. Another business wanted to do a swing night and they just wanted us to facilitate it.

We discussed it among ourselves and decided that we were in for however long it lasted.

Which was several months, until Crave underwent a change of management and decided to focus on being a restaurant and not a bar, so they got rid of a lot of the activities that detracted from the restaurant aspect.

The event was Crave’s all along. Their idea, their event, their decisions.

Swing Des Moines has been looking around for a suitable location for a weekly event since, but to be honest, we’ve been distracted by other happenings, both within the organization as well as in my own personal life, and it hasn’t taken top priority. Our standards for a weekly event would include affordable drinks and food, a nicer dance floor, etc.

We would have never picked Crave as the ideal spot for a dance, but it landed in our laps. It would have been irresponsible to turn it down, when there was literally no risk for us!

Unfortunately, after the managerial changes at Crave, certain Swing Des Moines detractors have taken it upon themselves to persist in saying that Swing Des Moines failed at a weekly event. While Swing DSM has had its share of failures (as will happen with any organization that is taking risks and trying out new things), this is just not one of them. I’m not sure of the motivations of this person, who I used to consider to be a friend.

(Dancing Downtown – now THAT was a failure!)

Anyway, I hope that sets the record straight.