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How to Swing Dance

Swing dancing is extremely energetic and loads of fun. There are many different moves you can do, but the underlying theme is a fast pace and quick swinging movement. If you can pick up the iconic triple step, then you’ll have no problem swing dancing the night away with your partner! It’s easy to learn how to swing dance with this free video tutorial series from Howcast!

History of Swing Dancing

Swing dancing first appeared in the 1920s and was originally performed to contemporary jazz music. Swing was the name given to the various styles of dances created during this time that all featured similar moves. This includes popular dances like the Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Jitterbug.

Swing dancing gradually spread across the country and developed into several more dance styles through the 90s. Swing broadened to be performed to new types of music like country, rhythm and blues, and rock’n’roll. As a result, swing dances like the Country Western, Whip, and Imperial Swing were created and broadened the definition of swing dancing into the many styles that are performed today.

How to Swing Dance

Learning the basic steps of swing dancing is quite simple, but it can get tricky when you start to add in twirls and other fancy movements. If you’re just getting started, it’s helpful to create a solid foundation of the basic steps!

Body Position

When swing dancing, there is usually space between two partners to allow room for bigger movements like twirling. The leader’s left hand should extend out at waist level, while the follower’s right hand reaches out to meet it. The leader’s right hand should rest on the follower’s back below their shoulder blade, while the follower’s left hand should rest on top of the leader’s extended right arm.


Counting for swing dancing is best separated into six counts made across eight beats of music. There is typically a rock or tap step performed first, which takes two beats to perform. This will be followed by two triple steps, both of which will take 2 beats to perform. You can count this as: 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6 (Slow x2, Quick x3, Quick x3).

How to Do the Basic Swing Dance Steps

Now that you understand how to count and position yourself with your partner, performing the steps should feel natural. Remember that most steps are performed fairly quickly and have a light, bouncy feeling to them. Here’s how you can perform the Basic Swing Steps:

  • Leader taps their right foot to the back, putting partial weight on it. Follower does the same by tapping their left foot back with partial weight.
  • Leader shifts weight onto their left font, follower will shift weight onto their right foot.
  • Leader triple steps to the right with a quick step to the side with the right foot, closing the left foot to the right foot, then one final step to the side with the right foot. Follower will also perform a triple step, but to the left (left foot to the side, right foot closes to left, left foot to the side again). 
  • Leader will now triple step back to the left (left foot to the side, right foot closes, left foot to the side again). Follower will triple step to the right this time (right foot to the side, left foot closes, right foot to the side again). 
  • This concludes the basic steps of swinging! You’ll simply repeat this pattern by tapping to the front or back and following it up with two sets of triple steps!

Start Swing Dancing Today!

We hope this guide has helped you learn how to swing dance. For more advanced swing moves and lessons, explore the rest of the free videos in this series below! 


Robert Royston

Robert Royston began his professional career on the competitive couples dance circuit in 1989, quickly ascending through the ranks and securing the US Open Swing Dance Championship and the World Country Dance Championship, titles he held for four consecutive years (1995 to 1998). In 2007 he became the youngest person to be inducted to the UCWDC Hall of Fame. His exciting, high-energy and original work next led to his choreographing and performing in music videos. An internationally-recognized judge and instructor, Robert teaches 22 different styles of couples dancing and runs his own production company, RoRo Productions.

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