Q: What’s with the name “Ministry of Swing”?? Is this a church or religious organization?
A: Nope–we’re just a dance studio. Think of the word “ministry” more like how they use it in England–a synonym of “department”. Kind of like “Ministry of Defense” or “Ministry of Magic”. Or if you’re a Monty Python fan, “Ministry of Silly Walks”
Q: What’s the difference between West Coast Swing and other kinds of swing?
A: When someone says “swing dancing”, you probably picture Roaring 20’s music, poodle skirts and people being thrown up in the air. That’s Lindy Hop (which looks like this: https://youtu.be/FLcr6aJFwPI?t=40s)
West Coast Swing is the smooth, contemporary cousin of Lindy Hop and looks like this: https://youtu.be/6SPu6U3NN70. Pretty cool right? One of the reasons we like West Coast Swing is that you can dance it to contemporary music (as well as Blues or RNB or lots of other genres).
Q: Do you only teach West Coast Swing?
A: Yes, all of Ministry of Swing’s classes are in West Coast Swing because that’s our area of expertise. However, as we’re now a part of the Movement Lab‘s family, check out their full curriculum for their huge range of amazing classes!
If you’re interested in learning Lindy Hop, we recommend visiting our good friends Michael, Sarah and Charlie at Mobtown Ballroom. They rock.
Q: Do I need to have a partner to join classes?
A: Absolutely not; in fact the overwhelming majority of students come to class as singles and we will pair you up with partners during class and then rotate partners so that everyone dances with everyone else.
Q: Do I need a partner to come to a Practica or a Social Dance?
A: Nope; the social dance world is all about everyone dancing with everyone else and M of S’ goal is to build a very welcoming West Coast Swing community in Baltimore where anyone of any skill level can feel comfortable asking anyone else to dance. There is also a very different connotation about dancing in the swing world (as with most social dances) compared to going dancing in a club, etc. In the swing world, asking someone to dance is not a flirtation or attempt at romance; it is all about the dancing and no more romantic than asking someone in a martial arts class to be a sparring partner.
Q: Ok, but seriously…I should bring a partner, right?
A: No seriously! This is a welcoming community and an activity with lots of solo-participants. Everyone dancing with everyone else is the the norm. If the only thing stopping you is not having a partner, just come see us! I promise!
Q: What if my significant other and I come to class and we don’t want to rotate and dance with other people?
A: We encourage everyone to rotate partners; it makes for a better learning experience. Different people have different strengths, weaknesses and styles and experiencing those differences between partners will help you learn faster. That being said, if you’re very opposed to rotating, let us know and we can make accommodations.
Q: Can I join the beginner class any week during the month?
A: If you want to, you can certainly join during any week, but the series is progressive in nature (meaning that in week 2, we build onto what we taught in week 1, etc). So depending on your level of comfort and dance experience, you may feel overwhelmed if you jump in on week 3 or 4. But that’s also the reason why we run 2 different beginner classes every month (one on Wednesday and one on Thursday) that always start the first week of the month. So if you miss the beginning of one session, there will be another one starting in a few weeks. That’s also why, if you take our full 4-week course, we give you a discount. You’ll have a better learning experience if you take the full 4 weeks and we feel so strongly about that we’ll give you 25% off if you register for the whole series before it starts.
Q: I have a lot of dance experience in other social dances, can I skip the beginner WCS class (101) and go right to the Fundamentals series (201-203)?
A: The prerequisite for our 200 level classes is knowledge of the 4 basic structures of West Coast Swing (side pass, underarm turn, sugar push & whip) as well as basic tuck turns (sugar tuck and progressive tuck). Most dances have 1 basic step. Because West Coast Swing has 4 of them, we dedicate an entire month course to learning those structures, and we don’t re-teach them in any of the fundamentals classes. So experience in other social dances may not translate into skipping our 101 class because the distinction between 101 and 201 is not about skill level or experience; it’s about learning some very specific (and important) pattern structure content.
Q: Why are there so many different levels of group classes all in West Coast Swing?
A: Our mission is to build a strong west coast swing dance community in Baltimore. To do that, we wanted to do two things: 1. create a learning structure that is accessible for a lot of people 2. develop talented dancers with good technique. To that end, group classes can be priced more accessibly than private lessons, and our leveled classes let us focus on all of the different technique aspects of the dance.
Q: Which role should I dance?
A: Whichever role you like! Or both roles! If you watch the video example in one of the above questions, Jody is dancing the leader’s part and Abby is dancing the follower’s part. West coast swing is a very asymmetrical dance (so the leader’s and follower’s parts are quite different). We do dispel 2 common misconceptions:
1) That men lead and women follow. Sex or gender expression are not relevant to this activity. Whether you’re a man, woman, non-binary or a centaur, we are committed to letting you dance whichever role you enjoy.
2) That there need to be an equal number of leaders and followers in class. The instructors will deal with quantity mismatches through partner rotation, recruiting TAs, dancing in the rotation ourselves, etc. You as a student are 100% free to dance where you want to dance.
The ONLY restriction we have on switching between roles is that we ask you to stick to one role for a class period so as not to cause confusion. And you may want to take a few months of one role before starting the other, but that’s really for your comfort level and learning experience’s sake. Talk to any instructor if you have questions about that.