New dancers

Learn Balboa, Lindy Hop, Shag or Solo Jazz through our festival's Crash Courses. Book any Crash Course to get classes on Saturday and Sunday and access to all three parties, including our Saturday Grand Ball at the Town Hall!

This edition of the festival we run Crash Courses for beginners in 4 different swing dance styles: Balboa, Lindy Hop, Shag and Solo Jazz.

Why choose a Crash Course?

The Crash Course level is perfect for those interested in learning from scratch or reviewing the fundamentals. You will be taught by some of the most inspiring national and international teachers. 


The Friday social dance with live music, Saturday Grand Ball in Birmingham Town Hall with live music and Sunday social dance are included in your ticket.

Read about the Parties here.


All of our Crash Courses are suitable for complete beginners and those who have been dancing for less than 6-months. You’ll learn the fundamentals for beginners on the Saturday sessions and explore more complex moves on the Sunday. Each class will progress gradually and will provide enough material for a range of experience.

Dance styles:

Balboa is a swing dance that originated in Southern California during the 1920s and enjoyed huge popularity during the 1930s and 1940s. The term Balboa originally referred to a dance characterized by its close body connection. It emphasises rhythmic weight shifts and lead-follow partnership. Different dancers in the same region at the same time also danced "swing," a dance characterized by twists, turns, and open-position movement. Over time, these two dances merged and became collectively known as Balboa.

Lindy Hop: 

Lindy Hop originates from Harlem, New York City. It was danced first in the famous Savoy Ballroom by African American dancers in 1928, and was danced throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Lindy Hop evolved from different dances, including jazz, tap, breakaway and 1920s Charleston. It used elements from African American dances and European partnered dance. The dance has different positions (open and closed) and steps.


Many years ago, the Shag was born on the beaches of South Carolina. Quick and smooth, the dance rose in popularity among young people in the 1940s as they stepped and twirled to “beach music.” For beginners, the rhythm might sound familiar. The basic steps for the Shag follow the “one-and-two, three-and-four, five-six” pattern. To put it very simply, it’s a lot of stepping forward and backward in those counts, switching your weight between your right and left side throughout.

Solo Jazz: 

Solo Jazz is basically dancing to the same kinds of tunes Lindy Hop and Balboa are danced to, but on your own! In class you’ll learn anything from classic moves and routines which are known the world over, and also how to put these together in your own way so you can improvise to pretty much any music you like!

How do I book?

  • You choose which Crash Courses you want to attend and REGISTER on the website.

  • You can choose to learn one or more styles over the weekend. Please check the schedule on our website to see how this will work.

  • We advise you to team up with a partner (one of you as a Lead dancer, the other as a Follow dancer, gender irrelevant), although you can also sign up by yourself.

Want to see what the dances look like? Watch our Flashmob and see (in order of appearance) Balboa, Shag, Lindy Hop and Solo Jazz:

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@2019 Birmingham Swing Festival