We are going to have a new Swing venue in downtown L.A! Dax and Sarah Hock are veteran Swing dancers who have settled down in L.A. to build a custom dance studio called The Lindy Loft. They’ll be offering lessons throughout the week as well as a social dance night every week. The grand opening party will be on Tuesday, December 17th!
I asked Dax some questions about their past, their studio, their dancing and teaching style, and how we can get more people into Swing dancing…
LA LH: Welcome to L.A! Tell us a little about yourselves!
Dax: We have spent the last 4 years touring internationally teaching workshops, competing, and performing with our team, The Ninjammerz. We have both been dancing about 15 years and actually started in Southern California. We are completely addicted to swing dancing, love the movement, the culture, history and feel that it provides an endless platform for personal development.
In addition to sharing an amazing dance partnership, we are also newlyweds. As dance partners we have accomplished a lot, from winning major competitions, teaching at the most prestigious swing camps, and playing the lead roles in a feature film showcasing Lindy Hop. We are also the main teachers on www.RhythmJuice.com, which is arguably the most effective way to improve your swing dancing. Most importantly, we have had the chance to work side by side with some of the world’s best dancers and discovered a lot of mind blowing concepts to help us progress as dancers and teachers.
LA LH: What inspired you to open a Swing dance studio now?
Dax: Sarah and I havea baby on the way! Teaching 30 international workshops year round, and the heavy travel schedule takes its toll. As much as we enjoy it, we are excited to settle down, enjoy some consistency, focus on a core group of students year round, and put some work into the local scene.
LA LH: Congratulations! Yeah, that makes sense. Why did you choose to have your studio in Downtown L.A?
Dax: Sarah and I love the idea of less commuting, downtown lifestyle and live work spaces. We also like the historical style of this area which ties in nicely with swing style. DTLA is also centrally located for commuting. It is really easy to drive in an out of (and take the metro) but a total pain to drive through. Moreover, there is a large culture of fun people living downtown who we want to expose to swing to help grow the scene.
LA LH: Tell us about the custom studio you built.
Dax: We are on the 10th floor of an old loft building with a killer west facing view of new downtown. The pride of the studio is our dance floor. After years of dancing, we knew we couldn’t skimp here, so we invested in a fully sprung, floating, hardwood floor. We built the subfloor using hundreds of eva foam blocks and OSB and laid a solid oak floating floor on top to get just the right amount of spring and support. It’s ideal for swing dancing, feels amazing and looks great.
The coolest feature of the studio would have to be the fact that Sarah and I also live there. When you come to the Lindy Loft, you are essentially guests in our house, but we have built it in such a way that you can really feel the professional separation yet the comfort of a home.
We knew this was the only way we could devote all the time needed to run a full time school and tend to our future new born baby. I think we will have the shortest commute to work in history.
LA LH: How would you characterize your Swing dancing style (i.e., Hollywood, Savoy, something else?)
Dax: This is a very LA-esque question indeed. We definitely have our own unique style when we dance together, one you can easily see by watching some of our videos on YouTube. However, we have worked with many great dancers and built technique and concepts that allow our students to dance with any style they prefer, be it Hollywood, Savoy or any sort of visual style you wish to present yourself with.
What we specialize in most is rhythm, body movement, movement communication and musical improvisation. Our technique allows us to communicate at multiple levels ranging from simple direction to actual movement of the body. This opens up multiple dimensions of communication along with the freedom to dance in the style you wish to move your body. We put a lot of emphasis on finding great body movement within leading and following so you don’t get stuck with good lead and follow but poor body movement and style.
LA LH: How can we get more people interested in Swing dancing?
Dax: Simply put, if we make our scene more interesting more people will become interested. Marketing gimmicks and gap commercials aside, if we learn to dance better, dress better, produce better live events, and help the dancers in our community progress we will create a more interesting scene and more people will be drawn to it.
Ironically, Swing is extremely interesting by nature, yet during our travels we see some swing scenes blowing up while others are shrinking or staying stagnant. The best way to answer this question is to look at the thriving scenes and compare them to the stagnant ones. Find the common elements between thriving scenes and implement and improve upon what makes them work. Discussing these elements would be beyond the scope of this interview, but we will be focusing heavily on this question now that we have a local studio.
LA LH: What is unique about your teaching style?
Dax: I think it is best understood by taking one of our classes. However, we are most well known for unlocking the gateway to more advanced dancing and improving quality of movement over quantity of variations. We are often referred to as having a “complete system” and we are uniquely clear in our explanations and demonstrations.
Something interesting is we are known to separate levels based on quality of movement instead of quantity of variations. We identify with beginner, intermediate and advanced ways of dancing instead of sets of variations. This allows for us to work on quality of dancing in addition to increasing vocabulary. This helps students avoid a common “ceiling” when they hit a plateau and fail to continually improve their dancing.
Most everything we teach is designed to improve your social dancing and improvisation, though it can be applied to performance and competition as well. We focus a lot on fixing the body movement problems that create the connection problems. After years of teaching and working on our dancing with some of the best dancers in the world, we realized that people were having connection issues, not because they didn’t understand connection, but because they didn’t understand the body movement.
LA LH: What classes are you currently offering?
Dax: We are a full time Swing Era Studio which means we will be teaching a full spectrum of classes for beginner to advanced dancers. Our swing classes will include a mixture of Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Slow Drag, Shag, and elements being used on the social dance floor world-wide today. As traveling instructors, we have a great understanding what movements and variations are most essential to focus on to be a great social dancer. This allows us to build classes that introduce all the individual styles intertwined the way they are being used out on the floor, without loosing the historical identification of each style and a steps history. We are also teaching a lot of Solo Dancing like Authentic Jazz and Charleston, since we believe this is absolutely essential to higher level social dancing.
Until the new year, we are offering open classes so people can drop by any day and work on their dancing for a particular subject. Starting in January we are going to have a mixture of progressive classes and open classes. We are trying to create an environment where you can work on your dancing several days a week in either a class, practice or social setting in hopes of improving peoples’ dancing and exposing more people to swing.
LA LH: Tell us about the social dance night.
Dax: We are still trying to figure out what night to do our official social dance in order to avoid conflicts with other established social dances that we want to collaborate with. Once we figure that out we will be sure to get the word out. For now, our next big social dance is going to be on Dec 17, which will be our Grand Opening Party.
LA LH: What are your favorite Southern California Swing venues and/or events to dance at?
Dax: We haven’t really been out dancing much in SoCal so it is hard to say. We have been to The Gorbals, Lindy Groove and Third Saturday Swing and all were fun. Ideally, we would love to have a place with a good atmosphere worth dressing up, with a sprung slick floor, space to swing out, and a swingin’ live band.
LA LH: What are your favorite Swing bands to dance to?
Dax: Live, it would have to be the Hot Sugar Band and Gentleman and Gangsters. DJ’d, we love dancing to Fats Waller, Wingy Manone, Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Slim and Slam, Andy Kirk, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Clarence Williams, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Willie Bryant and the list goes on. We love 1928 to 1939. Anything recorded during that time has a 90% chance of rocking our world. – Dax
LA LH: Thanks Dax!
The Lindy Loft is located at 560 S. Main Street in downtown L.A. Check out the Lindy Loft website for lessons, which are offered throughout the week, mostly starting at 6PM or later so you can catch them after work.
Let’s welcome Dax and Sarah to L.A. at their grand opening on Tuesday December 17, with the Swingin’ Gin Mill Grifters featuring Tim Gill playing live! There will be a free lesson from 8-9PM and social dancing from 9-12PM. Important note: Dax has announced that they have a capacity of 100 people. This definitely will fill up! RSVP on the event Facebook page if you want to be guaranteed a spot!
What do you think of Dax and Sarah’s concept for a Swing dance studio in downtown L.A? If the word gets out to enough potential students, I feel like it could be a winning idea! See you at the grand opening!
Please leave your comments below! – Brian