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 hardcore, 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 and Fullerton) – Offers classes throughout the week.
- 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.
- 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.
- Old Towne Swing (Orange) – Offers a beginner lesson before their weekly dance.
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.
- Ashley Perretta (DTLA) was one of the instructors at Lindy Loft. She now offers group classes at DTLA Studios on Main.
- Atomic Ballroom (Irvine) has various dance classes throughout the week. This is a great place to learn if you’re in Orange County.
- LA Jitterbugs/Steve Sayer (North Hollywood) – These classes are by Steve Sayer and other good instructors. They teach Lindy and Collegiate Shag.
- 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!
- Rusty’s Rhythm Club (El Segundo) has several weekly Swing/Lindy Hop class series for 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.
- Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (Pasadena) has large group classes in Pasadena. Non-intimidating, good for beginners and for meeting people. Lots of classes throughout the week. This is where I learned the basics (and so did many other Swing dancers).
- Third Street Dance (Mid-City LA) dance studio offering beginner group classes near the Beverly Center.
- UCLA has occasional Swing dance lessons. Email GlobalDanceClub@yahoo.com to get on their email list.
Swing Weekends (“Camps”)
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 also 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 4 AM! Don’t miss it!
- 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:
- Ashley Perretta (DTLA) was one of the teachers at Lindy Loft. She offers private lessons.
- Atomic Ballroom (Irvine) offers private lessons in addition to group classes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Steve Sayer and Chandrae Roettig (Burbank) These popular and award-winning instructors offer private lessons in addition to their weekly classes.
Dax and Sara’s Rhythm Juice offers a subscription to some great online videos and courses.
Instructors, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to add you to this list!
Classes to Avoid
Without naming names, I would avoid dance lessons from the well-known big dance class 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 fine, but if you want to learn authentic Swing, learn from a true Lindy Hopper. – Brian