top of page

Welcome to Swing! Wait, what is swing?

Swing is an umbrella term for many popular and historic styles of dance, and a few modern styles.

Here at Cape Fear Swing Dance Society, we are focused on Lindy Hop, the dance that originated in Harlem in the 1930s and grew into numerous other styles. Back in the day, Lindy Hop varied from city to city, which is why a lot of styles, like Saint Louis Shag and Charleston, are named after cities. 


Lindy Hop is a vernacular jazz dance rooted in Black American history. The dance best suits swing music from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, while modern swing styles like West Coast can be danced to pop music. Lindy Hop has a thriving modern scene, full of innovation, and we have Frankie Manning and a few other legends to thank for that fact! Lindy saw a resurgence in the 1990s because of people like Frankie Manning, and that is something all swing dancers are grateful for today.

We highly recommend reading articles the blog Swungover by Bobby White if you're interested in the history.

What do I need to know before I dance?

What do I Wear?:
  • Bring a pair of comfortable shoes with a flat, smooth, non-marking sole that will stay securely on your foot. Think Keds, Toms or Converse. You want something that doesn't have extreme grip, so no gym shoes if possible. (Not appropriate: sandals, stilettos, any heel high enough to make you unbalanced, flip-flops, or any shoe without a back.)


  • Please wear comfortable casual clothing that you can move around in.  Dancing is a physical activity and you might break a sweat, so dressing in light, breathable clothing is also a good idea.  Remember you are going to be dancing with others so please make sure to observe good personal hygiene!


  • Arrive at least 5 minutes before class.  We start our classes promptly, so make sure to leave yourself time to park, get settled and change your shoes if you need to.

What should I expect in my first class?:


  • For our drop in/beginner classes we always start with a super simple movement warm-up (basically just bouncing and walking to the beat of the music), followed by detailed break-down of the basic steps used in partnered swing dancing. You'll get lots of practice doing these steps on your own before you try them with a partner. 


  • Don't have your own partner? That's no problem! In all of our classes, we rotate partners constantly throughout the class.  This means that all students will get a chance to dance with everyone in the class and no one will be left out because they can't bring a partner.  This is a really fun aspect of a social dance class: meeting new people!


  • Are you attending a group class but only want to dance with your partner? No problem, just kindly let us know and we will adjust. We do recommend trying it though. Swing is a social dance and the best way to get more comfy with it is to try it with different people.

What do "Lead" and "Follow" mean? Which role should I choose?

We teach vintage partner dancing, but we don't have vintage ideas about gender roles.  We want students to choose the dance role that most appeals to them. In the most simplistic sense, leads construct the outline or overall shape of the dance, thinking ahead to communicate ideas to their partner; Follows react in the moment to interpret the nuanced directional shifts & movement suggestions from the lead, and choose to follow these suggestions, and/or interject their own ideas. Together, these two roles form a partnership. This is a team sport. :)

Many new students are interested in learning their "traditional" dance roles (ie: men leading and women following) and that's totally fine.  However, we don't want any student to feel pigeon-holed into a dance role that doesn't suit them.  In all of our classes, students are free to choose either role at registration. All that we ask is that you stick to the role you selected for the duration of that class series (otherwise it can be a bit chaotic!) and that fellow students respect each other's choice of roles. 


Ultimately, Swing dancing is an energetic, fun and welcoming style that blends history and creativity on the dance floor. Whether you are an expert or just want to get off the sidelines and come dance this is the community for you! Join us!

About Us

Cape Fear Swing Dance Society is a non-profit run by a volunteer board with the goal of supporting Lindy Hop as a social dance scene in the Cape Fear Region. If you're interested in becoming a board member, chat with us at one of our events!

Our 2023 members are:

Kelly Kenoyer, Board Chair

Micah Lee, Business and Merch Coordinator

Regan Walsh, Promotion Coordinator

Travis Matthews, Treasurer

Nathan Zelick, Classes and Instructor Coordinator


Origin Story

Cape Fear Swing Dance Society was started in 2015 by long time swing lovers Candi & Stephen Terry. Avid swing dancers at their alma mater, the two were sad to find that the port city lacked a swing scene upon moving here in 2012. Wanting to spread the love of Swing dancing and its history/culture the two decided to start one.


What began as a fun get together in their garage grew to be Wilmington's swing scene. Located in the beloved WWII Hannah Block USO in historic Downtown Wilmington, NC the club meets Thursdays for lessons and social dancing. Taking over for Candi & Stephen, the new board members seek to honor their goals and continue growing swing dancing in Wilmington. Consisting of volunteers, their goal each month is to bring social dancing to Wilmington, lessons to beginners, the joy of swing to UNCW, and above have fun!

Our Founders
Candi and Stephen Terry

bottom of page