If you’re not into trendy Hollywood dance clubs and singles bars, or swiping on your phone to find dates, then partner dancing might be the best way for you to meet single people in Los Angeles and Orange County.

By partner dancing, I’m talking about dances like Swing, Salsa, Tango, and Ballroom. (A lot of this article also applies to country line dancing, although that is not a partner dance).



I personally have been Swing dancing for over twenty years now, and I’ve gotten way more dates from Swing dancing that from any other activity, including online dating, hands down.

Previously when I was doing the club and bar scene, I’d be lucky if I just talked to one new person at an evening out, much less actually get a phone number (well, I had no game back then either).

Why Partner Dancing Is Great

Guys, imagine going to a dance venue and having any woman accept your offer to dance 95% of the time, simply by asking. No cheesy pickup lines needed!

Ladies, imagine having multiple guys ask you to dance in an evening without being worried about them touching you inappropriately (for the most part), spilling beer on you, or grinding against you on the dance floor. Imagine a scene where it’s OK, and in fact common, for women to ask men to dance as well!

In partner dancing, the primary purpose, at least ostensibly, is to dance and to practice. But that’s what makes it such a great way to meet people: it’s low pressure. If you’re asking someone to dance, it doesn’t mean you want to marry them; you might just want to dance with them. Thus, they’re much more likely to accept than at a traditional dance club.

Partner dancing is great if you’re introverted (like me), and don’t like small talk or pickup lines. You can simply introduce yourself, politely ask someone to dance, and usually they will!

What Is Swing Dancing?

Swing is a partner dance that originated in Harlem in the 1930’s. Originally called “Lindy Hop”, Swing or “East Coast Swing” is an easier variation. Swing dancing was done through the 1940’s, when it was probably at its peak, and in the 1950’s to rock ‘n roll music. In the late 1990’s there was a revival of Swing music and dancing with the famous Gap “Khakis Swing” ad, the movie “Swingers”, and bands like “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy” and the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Competitive Swing dancing at Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles

One note – the public perception of Swing dancing is that it consists of a lot of aerials, i.e,. doing spectacular moves where the guy throws the woman in the air. This type of dancing is for contests and performances only!! In social Swing dancing, there are no aerials, and most women won’t like it if you try an aerial move on them.



Who Goes Swing Dancing?

Los Angeles has one of the biggest and most active Swing dance scenes in the world. It tends to have well-educated folks of all ages in it from college kids to senior citizens.

Swing dancers outside the Culver Hotel
Swing dancers outside the Culver Hotel

Many of the women I’ve met in the scene are teachers. Many of the guys in the scene are in engineering and tech. I think it’s because there’s a gender imbalance in these professions (i.e., mostly women and mostly men respectively), and because folks in these professions are open to, and good at, learning new things, including dance steps.

I will say the people in the Swing dance scene will be more “normal” in appearance than what you’d find at a Hollywood dance club. You won’t find a lot of fitness models in the scene (although I do know a few who Swing dance) and the guys aren’t ripped. And, every partner dance scene has its share of one or two creepy guys that everyone tries to avoid.

But there are plenty of attractive women and men in the scene nevertheless, I assure you!

Also, because people are there to dance, these partner dance scenes have married people and people in relationships as well. I’d say most of the people out dancing are single though.

The Cost of Entry: Lessons

Partner dancing is great once you get into it, but there’s a huge barrier to entry: having to learn the dance, which could take weeks or months.

This especially applies to the guys (who are called “leaders” in partner dance speak). Guys will definitely have to take lessons, and not just one or two. When I started, I wanted to get good quickly, so I was taking maybe 3 to 4 lessons per week and going out dancing just as much. When you’re starting out it can be really intimidating to go out and ask someone to dance, but once your’e over this hump, it’s great!

For women it’s a bit easier to get started. I’ve danced with women who had never done Swing dancing before and we were able to have fun, just because I as the leader knew what I was doing. I’ve met some who’ve never taken professional lessons and just learned on the dance floor (there are plenty of guys who are willing to “teach”, for better or worse). But I think it’s best for everyone to take lessons.

Lessons in progress at the Lindy Loft

Taking lessons might seem like a drag, but I guarantee it will pay off! This the reason the scene is good – because of this barrier for most people to get in.

The good news for guys, is that in general, the good leaders are in high demand, and sometimes there are more women (followers) than leaders at events. But this is not always the case, so fear not ladies.



Where to Go Swing Dancing

These are some Swing dance venues in the Los Angeles are that I would recommend for meeting single people:

Clifton’s in downtown LA has a live Swing or gypsy jazz band on their third floor Brookdale Ballroom every Friday and Saturday night at around 10 or 10:30PM. There’s usually (but not always) a quick group lesson beforehand. There are tons of beginners and a few good dancers. Age range is 20’s to 40’s. I’d say this is the best place to meet young single people.

Swing dancing at Clifton's
Swing dancing at Clifton’s

Lindygroove in Pasadena is the largest weekly swing dance events and has folks of all ages from twentysomethings to retired folks.

Swing dancing at LindyGroove in Pasadena
LindyGroove in Pasadena is the largest weekly Swing dance event in Southern California and has dancers of all ages

The Lindy Loft in downtown LA is a dance studio that offers lessons during the week and a dance once a month. The people there tend to be young professionals who work in downtown, with some older folks as well.

The Lindy Loft in Downtown LA
The Lindy Loft in Downtown LA

For a complete calendar of Swing dance events, check out SwingDance.LA.

How to Get Started

SwingDance.LA has info on Swing lessons, as well as tips for beginners and tons of other information.

Salsa

So far I’ve been talking about the Swing scene in Los Angeles, but the Salsa scene is even bigger! I’d say there are more really good dancers in that scene, which could be intimidating for a beginner. But, there are more places to dance. I personally love Swing music so that’s why I chose that, but check out Salsa to see if it’s for you.

Tango

Los Angeles has a good Argentine Tango scene. They tend to have a bit of an older crowd.

What Happens After You Get Good

If you learn the dance and go out a lot, you’ll start to see the same folks out dancing. This is a good thing, because if you lacked the courage to ask someone to dance, you’ll probably see them again.

Same goes for women. If that guy didn’t ask you to dance this time, there’s always next time!

After I became a decent Swing dancer, I can remember the first time I had women calling ME up to go out dancing. It was amazing!!

As a side benefit, you’ll become part of a an amazing community, something that is really lacking in big cities like Los Angeles.

And, if you ever move to a different city, you’ll have almost instant membership into their dance community!

Summary

Although it could take a relatively long time to learn one of these dances well, I can say from personal experience that it’s been totally worth it!! I’ve made so many friends and gone on more dates than I ever could have before. I highly recommend partner dancing if you’re not into other traditional ways of meeting single people. You’ll have to take lessons for weeks or even months before it really pays off, but it’s totally worth the effort!

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