Guide to Charleston Music - Part 1

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Once you’ve discovered the joys of Charleston dance, you’ll want to find the music to match. But the reality is that Charleston does not exist as a musical genre. Try typing Charleston into spotify and the song that comes up is ‘The Charleston’ a tune that was written in 1923. Other than the original song there is no Charleston music but there is a whole world of Jazz.

Now I know a lot of people who say they ‘hate jazz’ but jazz, like dance music has a huge list of sub-genres. From Rag-time, New Orleans, Swing, Bebop, too freeform (that's the one everyone hates!) there are so many styles, so how do we find the ones that work for Charleston dancing?

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To avoid the lecture on music history lets just say quality recordings of music from the twenties are virtually non-existent. But Musicians from that era continued recording long after, so a good way in is to begin with great artist of the time.  So here’s a list of my favourite artists with links to their tracks on youtube ….

  1. Count Basie  - Stan Shorthair
  3. Artie Shaw – Hope Skip and Jump
  5. Benny Goodman – Flying Home
  7. Duke Ellington  - That Lindy Hop
  9. Louis Prima  - Pennies from heaven
  11. Sydney Bechet – Maple Leaf Rag
  13. Fats Waller – Lulu’s back in town
  15. Cab Calloway – Are you all Reet

If you’ve had a good listen, you’ll realize that a lot of these tunes are very much Swing but the good news is we can Charleston to Swing music, as well as Ragtime, Bebop, New Orleans, Kansas City and of course Electro Swing! I hope you’ve enjoyed this intro to music. I will be writing more soon, including my top ten tunes and modern artist. So stay tuned and please share your recommendations for great music to Charleston too. 


The Red Shoes

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From Han Christian Andersen’s Red Shoes to Cinderella’s glass slippers, dance shoes have often been imbued with magical qualities. So how important is it to get the right shoes when dancing the Charleston? Whilst in many dance forms just bare feet is fine, The Charleston really does require the right footwear. 

The main reason shoes are so important in Charleston is so you can swivel the feet; the foot swivel is a defining characteristic of the Charleston style so non-grip shoes are a must. Back in the day dance floors were waxed and offered a lot of glide, modern dance floors and studios are smooth but not slippy. The dilemma then is getting shoes which offer some glide but not so much that you end up kissing the floor with your bum. Another thing to consider is how much support the shoes offer the foot, if you have weak ankles or collapsed foot arches you will need more supportive shoes.


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So here is the low down on shoes we know and love and the pros and cons of each …

Greek Sandals – Cheap, light, strike a good balance between grip and slide. The down side is they don’t offer much support and they definitely aren’t outdoor shoes, so save them for the dance studio and you’ll perfect your swivel in no time.

Jazz Trainers – More on the grippy side but offer good support to the foot, super comfy and hardwearing.

Jazz Shoes – Light and good for swivel, again they offer limited support but one up on Greek sandals.

Toms – These fashion shoes are very popular in the Lindy Hop scene. They are a solid pair of shoes, good on swivel but the soles don’t offer great flexibility.

Character Shoes – A lot of dancer find a bit of heel is actually quite helpful. I’m a big fan of character shoes but would advise going to a dance shop and getting ones which are a really good fit, if the feet are in any way sliding within the shoes you will feel unstable.

Fashion Shoes – Well its luck of the draw but some of the best shoes people have showed up to class in have been bought in Charity Shops – Win! Often in the style of pumps or brogues the best ones tend to be made of softish leather and with leather soles which offer glide.

Well happy shoe shopping and please keep us update with your posts on shoes that work for you.

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Goodwood Vintage Revival

When you run a vintage business, you might think the last thing you want to do with your day off is go to a vintage event, but not me! I’ve heard of Goodwood Revival and this year I finally went with a group of friends.

We had all carefully planned our outfits but when it came to the festival itself no one knew what to expect. Surprisingly, a lot of people still seem to be in the dark about Goodwood Revival, so here is my guide to this event.


Central to the day is the car racing, but if the idea of vintage cars revving their engines and doing laps doesn’t appeal, don’t worry there’s lots more to do and see. 

Our day started in the Butlins tent, which we’d ducked into to shelter from the rain. All the staff were dressed in 1950s Butlins uniforms and they had a roller disco with skates which were free to hire. We popped them on and soon discovered that our skating skills had somewhat diminished since we were twelve years old!

We then went for a wander, admiring as we went the wonderful vintage outfits on display. If you’re thinking of going then you should know this is most definitely a dress-up event. On display were the full range of vintage styles, from land-girls (very practical for that days weather) to sixties chic and some super stylish 30s, 40s and 50s inspired outfits. A quick stop for the loo (and it was quick, the facilities were spotless and we felt extra happy to see the men queuing while the women didn’t have to wait!), then we crossed over the bridge into the main site.


Now none of us our petrol heads but the array of vintage vehicles had us all oohing and posing for pictures by these fabulous old cars. We then found an area with live music by a wonderful band called the The Class of 58  they are a family outfit and really got the crowd going with songs like Hand Jive.

More wandering took us to the fabulous Betty’s Vintage Hair and Beauty Salon where you can get your vintage makeover.  The vibe was so friendly; when my sister used the mirror to fix her hair one of the ladies offered to style her for free!

I Charleston Brighton

The whole day was full of similar friendly encounters and if I were to rate this festival on friendliness it was a definite 10 out of 10. Other activities on offer were dance classes in swing and jive, fairground rides (all included in the price of your ticket) and a fashion show that was brilliantly staged with dance, projections and of course amazing outfits.

After a fun-packed day we took the free shuttle bus back to Chichester station and met even more lovely people on the journey.  So we had a final drink with our newfound friends (a group of BA pilots no less) before catching the train home. All in all a great day out and excellent value for money.

Fiona x

A space to dance


Your standing at a bus stop, a number of people are waiting, killing time ...      Then someone starts dancing, right there and then in the middle of the day! Do you think they are mad? Are you threatened by their behavior? Jealous even?  

Dance seems like such a simple, gentle, joyous thing but the fact is, in our society, dancing is radical, it's radical behavior to dance! So much so that the social context for dancing is getting drunk at parties, clubs, weddings.  Don't get me wrong I love a drink and a boogie but as I get older there less of these social occasions.    

I'm interested in how we break down these social barriers to dance, how can we create a space where people can dance without fear of ridicule?  

Making a space in your life to dance is hard, I feel that and I’m a dance teacher but sadly I don’t have my own dance studio. I do dance at home, a lot! It’s not always easy dodging the Lego but some of my best spontaneous moments happen at home.  

I love dance and I wish everyone had access to a dance space, I’m sure if we did the world would be a little bit happier.  There is such a joy in moving the body through time and space. So wherever you are, your living room, the office, a bus stop why not just let go and dance?  I know I’m going too …. 

Actually, it took me 3 minutes to clear up the Lego, so I’m going to do it now ….

Wellies on at WOMAD 2017

Having fallen in love with WOMAD Festival last year, I was determined that we would perform this year. After a few emails and phone calls, my wish came true and the festival organisers invited us to perform at Molly's Bar, a large stage dedicated to anything that has a trumpet in it and all things swing.

I arrived first thing on Friday morning with Savoy Kicks Dancer Rowena and we welcomed by the tiniest bit of rain. We met with Fiona and we quickly swapped our waterproofs for playsuits and donned out wellies to walk up to the stage.

On arrival we were greeted by fantastic staff who had wireless headsets waiting for us and an amazing sound system.

Savoy Kicks and I Charleston Brighton at WOMAD 2017

As soon as we stepped out on stage, over a100 people l appeared out of nowhere to spend the next hour dancing with us. We kicked off with a dance demo of the Charleston and taught the crowds 3 short routines.

To finish it off we ended with an upbeat electro swing dance performance whilst everyone clapped and cheered, the atmosphere was amazing. There is nothing better than having a great crowd get behind you.

Our experience at WOMAD has wet our appetite for more performances so expect big things for 2018!

See you at WOMAD 2018!

See you at WOMAD 2018!


Brand new Courses this September

I Charleston Brighton timetable

Hope you’re well. I wanted to let you know that I Charleston Brighton is now having a summer break but after many requests we are launching 5 new courses in September in Brighton, Hove and Worthing!
Our timetable is:

• Brighton Marina: 6 Week Charleston course from Monday 11 Sept at 6.30pm at Marina Studios

• Hove: 6 Week Charleston Course from Tuesday 12 Sept at 6pm at Open Space Studios

• Hove: 6 week Improvers Charleston Course from Tuesday 12 Sept at 7pm at Open Space Studios

• Worthing: 6 Week Charleston course from Wednesday13 Sept at 7pm at DanceHouse Studios

• Seven Dials, Brighton: Thursday Morning Charleston Course from Thursday 14 Sept at 10AM at Wendy Whatling School of Dance

I very much hope you can join us on one of these courses!


Strictly Charleston Raises Over £750

Thank you to everyone who attended The I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy which kicked started the opening weekend of Brighton Fringe at the Spiegeltent. We're chuffed that we raised over £750 for Whoopsadaisy, Sussex based Charity helping children with cerebral palsy, through the Strictly Come Dance-style Charleston Competition. Watch our film about the competition here

In partnership with The Hilton Brighton Metropole, I Charleston Brighton trained three members of staff from the hotel over the past month in preparation of the event. The 3 women, Elizabeth, Agne and Agata were paired with a dancer from Savoy Kicks and braved the dance floor to compete to win votes from the audience to raise money as well as setting up their own JustGiving page

Agata was crowned the 2017 winner. You can see all three full routines here.

The three-hour immersive Charleston dance afternoon included also comparing from Dawn Gracie as well as workshops and performances by Savoy Kicks accompanied by live music from The Soultastics and DJ Basschimp along with the Mighty Dance-off!  

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Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this event including all of our sponsors and we can't wait to return next year. 

One Week Until The Speakeasy

With only a week to go until the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy I wanted to remind you on what a fantastic line-up we have this year. Our 3 hour immersive dance event includes:

•	Pop-up Charleston Dance Lessons
•	Dance Displays by Savoy Kicks
•	Live music from Soultastics
•	DJing from Basschimp
•	Compering by Dawn Gracie

We also have our fantastic dance-off where you can take to the floor to compete for £150 shopping voucher at Simon Carter.

And if that is not another for you we have three brave ladies from the Hilton Brighton Metropole competing in our Strictly Come Dancing Style competition where we are raising money for Whoopsadaisy and crowning this year’s winner.

This is the only event in Brighton Fringe exclusively focused on Charleston dancing so I very much hope you can make it.

Tickets can be booked here:

See you on the dancefloor!

I Challenge You To A Dance-Off!

Back again at the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy, we are excited for the return of the Dance-Off Challenge. This unique competition if open to anyone at the Speakeasy and the only rule is to freestyle dance to band. Whether you love to dance the Charleston, Disco or Funk all moves are welcome, we are just looking for great dancers.

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e are delighted to also announce that the Strictly Charleston Competition will be taking place again this year at the Brighton Spiegeltent. This year 3 members of staff from the Hilton Brighton Metropole will be dancing for the glitterball trophy and raising money for charity. 

We will be revealing the dancers in the lead to the big day!

For more details, just visit:

I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy is back on 6th May.

I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy

Following the sell-out success in 2016 at the Brighton Fringe, the I Charleston Brighton Speakeasy is back with a bang! On 6th May, we will take you through the A-Z of '20s dance with a twist of jazz and a dash of electro-swing at the Brighton Spiegeltent. Part of the Brighton Fringe, there will be live music from The Soultastics and DJ Basschimp, workshops in abundance, competitions and mesmerising performances.

This is the perfect chance to release your inner flapper and dapper in the beautiful Spiegeltent so pull on your spats and tassels and join us on the dance floor.

What Happening?

This year will also see the return of the Strictly Charleston Competition where 3 amateurs will be paired up with our Charleston Professionals and will compete to raise money for charity. We will be announcing the competitors next week so stay tuned!

This unique Charleston dancing afternoon did sell out last year so please do book in advance.

For more details, just visit:

See you there!