If you’ve ever wanted to learn to swing dance, you’re in luck! Starting this March, we’ll be offering an East Coast Swing crossover class taught by Ballroom Bliss instructor Kira Stein. In this beginner-friendly class, you’ll learn basic swing steps and maybe even build the courage to check out Philly’s local social dancing scene. Since we know this is new to many of our students, we sat down to chat with Kira to learn more about the style and how the class will work.
So Kira, what’s your background in dance? How did you get started?
I actually didn’t start dancing until I was an adult, so I understand how difficult it can be to jump in and try something new. I started dancing in college, then trained in a couple different ballroom studios in Philly, and eventually I started working in, and teaching for, the studios. I’ve been dancing for 15 years and ballroom dancing for eight.
When were you first introduced to East Coast Swing?
East Coast Swing was actually the first dance style I ever did. My dad East Coast Swing-danced a little, so it was the first dance step I ever learned. I did a bunch of other styles, trained in ballet, modern, jazz, ballroom dances, Latin dancing, all of that – but East Coast Swing is kind of like a first love.
What do you enjoy most about East Coast Swing, and why is it a style you’re passionate about teaching?
I really like that it’s upbeat and there are steps, but it’s also very freeform. You can be totally goofy and fun. In class, we’ll be going over specific steps, but it’s meant as a general foundation so people can get into their own groove. I love that the purpose of East Coast Swing is just to have a good time.
Would you say the classes are geared towards those with experience, or are they beginner-friendly?
Very beginner-friendly! East Coast Swing is a great dance because it it doesn’t need to be precise or elegant at all. The purpose is to have fun and start social dancing quickly. These classes are great for people who may have seen folks around Philadelphia dancing Lindy Hop, but are intimidated because it’s a more complicated style, East Coast Swing classes make for a fantastic foundation to build off of.
What’s your favorite song to dance East Coast Swing to and why?
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison is my absolute favorite. It has sentimental value for me because it was a song my dad had for me. The best part is you can dance East Coast Swing to many types of music — more traditional swing music, jazz style music, even a lot of rock music.
What might you tell someone who has never tried swing or social dancing and may feel intimidated by it?
Everybody is intimidated to dance at first – I know. As I mentioned earlier, I started dancing as an adult, and I was totally uncoordinated! You’ve got to just roll with it. If you want to start anywhere, this is the best place. The atmosphere is really relaxed, non-judgmental and the goal is just to have fun!
What about those who worry that coming without a partner would prevent them from learning the style?
In class, we rotate partners the whole time. So even if you have a partner, you’ll rotate away from each other so everyone has chance to dance with other people. It makes you a better dancer! It’s totally fine to come alone. In fact, I’ve never actually attended a partner dance class with a designated partner before.
Our new East Coast Swing classes will take place Thursdays in March from 8:30pm – 9:20pm at our Midtown studio (inside the NEST building, 1301 Locust St). We recommend pre-registering for the month series so you can secure a spot and lock in the discounted rate of $40! Remember, no swing dance experience is necessary, and you don’t need a partner to come out and dance!
Post written by multimedia marketing intern, Lani Assaf