We are Mark Calkins and Shannon Varner, the Lindyroos! We are a passionate and enthusiastic swing dance team dedicated to bringing authentic swing era dances to you. We offer group classes, workshops, and private lessons for lindy hop, charleston, collegiate shag, balboa, and swing. Our classes are always fun and relaxed for everyone, no matter your age, fitness level or dance experience. Our first priority is to make sure you feel welcome, relaxed and are having fun...because that's what swing dancing is all about! Contact us for event, festival, and wedding performances.
Mark Calkins is the core choreographer for Team SwingColumbus, the local performance and competition group. Utilizing his sense of musicality and breadth of swing he has served as the lead architect for majority of the team’s routines. Together Mark and Shannon have led the team to wins across the midwest and coached the team to a top ten finish at the International Lindy Hop Championships.
He has also competed in numerous Lindy Hop competitions: Mark advanced into the semi-final round of the world’s largest Jack and Jill contest at the Frankie95 Festival and holds contest awards in Indiana, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
Mark is an influential DJ in the Columbus area and currently coordinates music for SwingColumbus’ events as the Music Chair. Mark is a dancer’s DJ and his sets have been described as wonderfully whimsical (or tipsy) by an Ivy League faculty member.
Shannon Varner discovered Lindy Hop while living in New York City in 1997. She has won numerous awards, placing in such competitions as the American Lindy Hop Championships, Virginia State Open, and the Jack & Jill Contest at Midsummer Night Swing in NYC. She has performed in New York and Chicago with some of her credits including: PBS’ “Swingin with the Duke” with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Today Show, and Chicago’s month long dance program, Dance Chicago. Shannon rounds out her dance experience with a background in arts administration at The Martha Graham Dance Co and the prestigious Juilliard School.
Showcase // Celebrate our love of swing via our photos and videos. Not sure what the difference between lindy hop, balboa, swing, charleston, breakaway, and other dances? Read about them in our FAQs!
SwingIN Strictly Finals
SwingIN Strictly Prelims
Hawkeye Team Routine
Smackdown Jam Circle
Smackdown Lesson Demo
ILHC Team Routine
Dancing to the Randys
About Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop is a partnered swing dance, that evolved out of the Charleston in the late 1920s, in the ballrooms and on the streets of the African-American district of Harlem in New York City. The dance evolved alongside swing music itself, emerging in the late 1920s when hot jazz (born in New Orleans) was transforming into swinging jazz, and died out (as we know it) in the late 1940s as the swing era gave way to bebop and rock ‘n roll. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, as swing music spread across the USA and the world, Lindy Hop spread with it.
Legend has it that Lindy Hop earned its name in 1927 when one of its original dancers, George “Shorty” Snowden, was asked its name by a reporter, and dubbed it Lindy Hop after aviator Charles Lindbergh and his famous solo flight across the Atlantic that year (newspaper headlines read “Lindy Hops The Atlantic”). It is sometimes simply called The Lindy, it was commonly known as The Jitterbug. Hollywood films and US newsreels first showed Lindy Hop to the youth in the 1930s, and the US servicemen during World War II were widely responsible for popularizing the dance in Europe and Australia in the 1940s.
While the acrobatic aspect of Lindy Hop is perhaps most familiar to many people, Lindy Hop has many characteristics. Though it can indeed be danced wild and fast, with spectacular airsteps, it can also be slow and smooth, elegant or sexy.
Lindy Hop is the mother of a variety of other dances, that evolved out of Lindy from the 1950s onwards, including Rock ‘n Roll, Boogie Woogie, Jive, West Coast Swing and Carolina Shag. These later styles are all danced to different music, have other influences, and are simplified, mainstreamed, institutionalized or just far removed cousins of Lindy. Lindy Hop is the original swing dance!
Although the origins of the dance are obscure, the dance has been traced back to blacks who lived on an island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina (which is why the dance is called “Charleston”). The Charleston dance had been performed in black communities since 1903, but did not become internationally popular until the musical debuted in 1923. The Charleston dance became popular after appearing, along with the song, “The Charleston”, by James P. Johnson in the Broadway musical Running’ Wild in 1923. Thus began the popularity amongst the Flappers of the 1920′s and is how most people think of the Charleston. The dance can be done by oneself, with a partner, or in a group, and is most often done to ragtime jazz.
Balboa and Bal-Swing
Balboa as a dance takes its name from the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach in California, where it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. It is said it developed as a style there because of the packed ballrooms, where the dancefloors were far too crowded for any but the tightest partner dance.
Balboa is a much more compact and subtle dance than Lindy Hop, done almost entirely in a closed position (no breakaways or ‘swingouts’) and mostly on the spot. It has an 8-beat basic step, and very small footwork, meaning that it can be danced from medium to extremely fast tempos. Followers often wear high heels to dance Balboa, and leaders wear smooth soled shoes that allow them to slide on the floor.
“Bal-Swing” is a style of Balboa that incorporates some of the open positions from other swing dances. Many Lindy Hoppers around the world also dance Balboa and Bal-Swing, and vice versa. Some people call Balboa the “dancer’s dance”, as it is not as flashy or spectacular to watch as Lindy Hop, but a challenging and satisfying dance in terms of the strong connection to your partner, its pure style of lead and follow, its elegance, and the subtlety of its movements and improvisation.
Charleston and Breakaway
The Charleston dance became popular after appearing along with the song, “The Charleston,” by James P. Johnson in the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild in 1923.
About Collegiate Shag
Collegiate Shag is a lively high-energy swing dance that developed in southern USA (most likely New Orleans) in the 1920s, and was made popular by college students, hence the name “collegiate”. Full of hops and kicks, and danced to medium or fast tempos, it has a style that is recognisably ‘jitterbug’. It is danced in a closed position hold, similar to most ballroom dances, but also includes open and separating elements.
In its most popular form today, it has a 6-beat basic step that has a “slow, slow, quick-quick” rhythm similar to Fox Trot. This form is sometimes called Double Shag (because of the two “slow” steps), but there are also Single and Triple forms of Collegiate Shag. There are other dances known as “shag” dances, including Carolina Shag and St Louis Shag, but these are vastly different.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a partner?
No– Swing is a lead and follow dance– so we often rotate during our classes so you can test whether you are actually leading and following and not just doing the steps because you know what comes next. If at all possible we try to balance the class–this is why we encourage you to pre-register, and have price breaks for couples. Swing dancers are very friendly and at any given dance rarely dance with the same partner the entire night.
What do you mean by Lead and Follow?
The lead in this dance is the person leading the moves and the follow follows these moves. Generally the male is the lead and females are follows–this is how we run our classes. But you will sometimes see our dancers mix it up and leads will dance with leads and follows with follows!
What do I wear?
Comfortable clothes that you can move in…jeans and t-shirts are common– some folks are coming from work and are in casual dressy–whetever you are most comfortable with. We generally do a warm-up and you are moving for an hour so be prepared to get a little sweaty.
Shoes should be comfortable with a leather bottom–rubber, such as sneakers tends to grip the floor and not allow much freedom in movement. Dancers often wear street shoes and then change in to their dance shoes before class to keep the soles clean and free of dirt and grit as well as to protect wood floors
Join us every 2nd Friday in 2013 for Mark's monthly balboa house party, with a rotating lineup of instructors and DJs, hosted at a local art gallery! Get event-specific details at the latest Facebook event.
Meet & Greet – 8:00 PM
Get to know your fellow balboa afficionados and chat with your DJs and instructors before the evening kicks off.
Lesson – 8:30 PM
Lesson content is dependent on your instructors, so make sure you attend each time to hone your balboa technique, mechanics, styling, and confidence!
Dance – 9:30 PM
Put your new skills to use by dancing to highlighted local and regional balboa DJs.
Admission is $5
Balboa CD mixes are available upon request and cost $5.
Latest from the Lindyroos // Read about our lessons, events, and latest finds!
This autumn season is getting full for the Lindyroos — check out our “tour” schedule below!
John Vermeulen Octet @ Nyoh’s Buckeye Bar – Teaching/DJing
Wednesday September 26th 7:30-11 pm
2871 Olentangy River Road Columbus, Ohio 43202
Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown – Attending
September 28th - 30th
Balboa House Party @ CSGallery – Hosting/DJing
Friday October 5th 8 pm – Midnight
66 South Parsons Ave Columbus, Ohio 43215
Rocktober Weekend with Kevin & Jo, Mike & Laura – Attending
October 12th – 14th
Afternoon Workshops @ the downtown YWCA & the Ohio Theatre
Evening Dances with the Robert Bell Hot Swing Combo @ Diamond Dance in Gahanna
Fest of the Midwest – Teaching
October 19th – 21st
Workshops in Bloomington, IN with Mark & Shannon and other great people!
Evening Dances with the Fat Babies
Tranky Doo Workshop @ Artisan Dance Studio – Teaching
Thursday October 25th 7:30 – 9:30 PM
Learn a classic jazz dance routine from the 1940s!
Workshop @ Case Western Reserve University – Teaching
Saturday October 27th 12-5 pm
Nevermore Jazz Ball/Eastern Balboa Championships – Attending
Saturday November 2nd - 4th
UK Swing in A Day – Teaching
November 9th – 11th
Workshops in Lexington, KY with Mark & Shannon and other great people!
Whew! This list is long Looks like we’ll be dancing a ton!