Want to know what to expect from swing dancing? Here we try to answer some of our most asked questions so you can join as at ease and ready to dance!


What should I wear?

Above all, you’ll want to be comfortable! Wear comfortable shoes that won’t fall off your feet. Non-treaded rubber shoes are usually idea (like dress shoes or keds). Please do not wear flip flops or other backless shoes to the dances, as they are not safe. Heels can also be popular shoes for dancing, but stilettos are discouraged. For dances we recommend you wear comfortable clothing you can move easily in. It’s not uncommon for many dancers to wear dresses and slacks, but it’s just as normal to wear shorts or blue jeans with t shirts


Do I need a partner?

No! All classes rotate partners regularly, so you have a chance to dance with everyone. This is especially useful since no two people will feel or move the same. During the social dance, everyone is welcome and encouraged to ask anyone to dance, and anyone has the freedom to decline or accept a dance for any (or no) reason.


Where should I park?

The Laurel Theater has a small parking lot on the East side.  Please try to park next to an already marked car and pull in close to the other cars to utilize space.  Please do not park against the back of the building as you may be keeping people from leaving the parking lot.  The clinic behind the Laurel is closed in the evenings and people will usually park in their lot.  There is also some street parking available.


What is a snowball?

We kick off the social dancing at every weekly dance with a snowball. That night’s instructors begin to dance first while the rest of the room claps to the music in a circle. Periodically the teachers or the DJ will call “Snowball!” and whoever is dancing at that time will thank their current partner for the dance and ask a new person to dance, preferably someone who hasn’t started dancing yet. until the whole room will be dancing.


Where can I learn to dance?

We offer weekly swing dance lessons at the Laurel Theater in Fort Sanders before our open social dance to our swing DJs (8:15-10:30 pm). Admission for the dance is $3 (only $2 for students) and includes the drop in lessons.

  • 7:30 – 8:15 pm: Level 0 (Beginner) Drop In Lesson. No partner or dance experience needed. We’ll get you on the dance floor in no time!
  • 7:00 – 8:15 pm: Level 1 Series Lesson. Check the website and calendar for monthly topics!
  • 7:00 – 7:30 pm: Level 2 Drop In Lesson.


You can also find classes offered by Vintage Rhythm Room and K-Town Swing.


What can I expect from a drop in dance class?

Our beginner lessons start from the basics and aim to teach you enough to spend the night comfortably on the dance floor after your very first lesson. You don’t need to have any dance experience and you don’t need to bring a partner. Classes rotate regularly so you have a chance to dance with many different partners. If you do come with a partner, you are strongly encouraged to rotate with the class as it is very difficult to learn this dance with only one partner. After attending about a month of drop ins and feeling comfortable on the social dance floor, please consider joining our Level 1 Progressive Series.


What’s a role? What are leads and follows? Which should I do?

Swing dancing is a partnered dance, meaning one person leads, or initiates the shapes and movements, and the other follows, or responds to those initiations in a meaningful way while maintaining the energy of the dance. Both roles are super fun and equally important, and you should learn whichever role seems more appealing to you. Social dancing you can decide to do a different role for each dance, but for class we ask that you choose a single role per lesson. You may decide to dance one one role forever, or dance both roles socially, or take different classes as different roles.  We do recommend against switching roles in the middle of a single class, since that will confuse rotation and your classmates.


Where can I dance?

The KSDA hosts weekly swing dances to our swing Djs at the Laurel Theater in Fort Sanders 8:15 – 10:30 pm. Admission for the dance is $3 ($2 for students) and includes the drop in lesson. Our home page and calendar also stays updated with events around town like local swing bands, our annual dance festival, Vintage Rhythm Room dances, and other events we might be dancing at around town.


What if I’ve never danced/am really uncoordinated/am not good at dancing?

Our level 0 drop ins are catered towards brand new dancers or dancers who are new to vintage swing dancing. Absolutely anyone can dance and we hope your first goal to be to have fun. If you’ve never learned any dance before this is a great place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask the teachers questions after class and remember the most important part of dancing is to have fun. Remember that all things can feel awkward when they’re new, and we can’t wait to dance with you!


What’s a KSDA Benefit Card?

KSDA benefit cards are an easy way to save money when attending the weekly dances and other swing events, as well as Alive After 5. Card holders are offered a discount on all KSDA-affiliated events around town so the card pays for itself pretty quickly. It is $20 for a year’s membership, and only $10 to renew every year after. Benefit cards can be purchased at any Wednesday night dance. Local students with ID (Anderson/Blount/Knox/Loudon counties) receive all benefit card discounts without the purchase of a card.


What is your typical age group?

Our current group of regular dancers span from twenty to eighty years old, but we’ve also had attendees both younger and older.


Is this like Ballroom/West Coast/East Coast…?

Swing dancing is an umbrella term of street dance styles that were popular from the 1920s to 1950s, and continued to be popular in Southern California and Harlem, NY even after the jazz era.  Swing is a street dance, meaning it has no basic move and few rigid rules outside of a specific way to move towards the music.  West Coast and Ballroom East Coast both evolved out of this dance, but are now a little different in the connection and style of movement.  We focus on a style of swing dancing called Lindy Hop, which evolved in the Harlem ballrooms from the late 1920’s through WWII following the creation of swing music.


Are there acrobatics/Can I do aerials/Do you teach air steps?

While aerials, air steps, and acrobatics are often associated with swing dance due to their inclusion in movies, commercials, and high level competitions, most swing dancers never or execute learn them.  Aerials are not appropriate, safe, or allowed on the social dance floor.  Other movements or dips where a dancer’s feet go above their waist, or head below their waist, are also not permitted.


What’s KLX/Knoxville Lindy Exchange/a dance exchange?

The Knoxville Lindy Exchange is Knoxville’s weekend long Swing Festival. It’s an entire weekend every fall packed full of dancing with people from all over the country! Dancers travel to a new place, stay with some super nice dancers, meet a whole lot of new friends, and dance for three days straight (you can go to exchanges in other cities as well!). This is a chance for us to showcase our wonderful city and friendly dancers to dancers from across the region.


What are private lessons?

A private dance lesson is an hour’s worth of one-on-one time with an instructor. They are the best and quickest way to get feedback on your dancing and work closely with an instructor to help you get better much faster. Prices for these lessons vary based on the teacher and can be found here.


I have some thoughts I’d like to share. How can I do this?

That’s great! Here is our organization contact info. You can also fill out a comment card at any weekly dance with a dance ambassador, or submit it online, anonymously or otherwise.


What should I do if something/someone makes me uncomfortable?

If you ever feel uncomfortable or harassed at all for any reason during a KSDA event, we want to hear from you. All reports will be handled with the level of confidentiality and discretion you request. We encourage you to read our Code of Conduct. We can be reached by:

  • Contacting a Community Ambassador in person. These persons can be identified by a rainbow paracord bracelets on their wrist. There will be at least 2 of these individuals at any KSDA sanctioned event.
  • Calling or texting 865-224-6830
  • Emailing ambassadors@swingknoxville.org
  • Leave anonymous feedback or otherwise via http://swingknoxville.org/contact
    • Please try to include as much information as possible and sufficient details so that we can appropriately assess the situation.