Tired of tango? Done enough salsa to last a lifetime? Seen the inside of one too many milonga halls? Then to all dancing enthusiasts, perhaps it’s time to explore a different side of the Buenos Aires dance scene – swing dancing.
Although swing is not something that is generally synonymous with Argentine culture, the dancing style has grown enormously in popularity in recent years.
Its most recognised style, Lindy Hop, first began gaining recognition in 2003, spearheaded by three professional dancers: Maxi Prado, Juan Ignacio Villafañe, and Ricky Biggeri. Since then its popularity has skyrocketed, from only five professional dancers in the city ten years ago to over 500 now.
For those not in the know, swing dance generally refers to a group of dances that emerged during the 1920s to 1950s, with the popularity of the swing style of jazz music. The Lindy Hop style, which mixes jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston, began in Harlem in 1927.
Here is how best to get involved in the growing swing dancing seen in Buenos Aires.
Swingin’ Buenos Aires offers a fantastic variety of classes, from classes for beginners with two left feet and no hand-eye coordination, to lessons for experienced dancers well-versed in swing. Classes are friendly, easy to follow, and most importantly, fun! Beginners will be relieved to know that the atmosphere is relaxed and cheery, with any mistakes and fumbles brushed aside with laughter.
Regular classes are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Fridays and Saturdays they have large open classes for people of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced dancers. Here advanced dancers come to practice, learn, as well as to help teach beginners. Anyone can show up to any of their classes unannounced and without prior reservation – all you have to bring is the fee of $35 ($25 on Thursdays), and a motivation to learn. Watch this video for some inspiration.
The teachers José Zarazaga and Luciana Salinas are well-known among the swing scene, having been dancers and choreographers together of swing and other related styles such as Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Rock and Roll, for over ten years. They have amassed an impressive amount of television appearances, worked in a number of prominent dance schools, and collaborated with many swing and jazz festivals, meaning that they are definitely well-qualified for the job.
Another popular place frequented by swing dancers is the cosy and authentic-feeling Teatro Mandil. Swing lessons are hosted every Friday night, followed by a band and a night of swing and jazz classics from the aptly named DJ Swing. Bands such as Coaba Jazz Band and the fantastic La Orquesta Instable have played there, and it only costs $35 to enter! The venue also boasts a great dancing space, along with a lively, fun atmosphere, as well as its great teachers Claudia and the aforementioned Ricky Biggeri.
Estudio Urbano also organises events for swing dancers to get together and dance in Parque Centenario. There are often classes and swing bands playing, so this is a must for anybody who loves the great outdoors and something a bit unusual.
Club Nights and Bars
Lado B, at Club Niceto, offers a monthly swing night called Swingin’ Party one Friday of every month, costing $40 to enter. The atmosphere is explosive and exhilarating, with irresistible, foot-tapping swing and jazz blasting though the speakers of the darkly-lit club. The night is frequented by many highly-skilled dancers, twirling and freestyling on the dance floor all night long. But don’t be intimidated if you’re not quite there yet – the night is still an absolute blast, with great music that is impossible not to dance to, whether you know the moves or not, and there’s some remarkable talent on show.
La Casa del Árbol is also a must-see for those interested in swing and jazz concerts. Top-notch bands like Dúo de Arturos and Green Jazz play there, and the authentic, intimate feel of the place creates a magical atmosphere perfect for a relaxed night on the town.