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Beginner-friendly swing songs

February 7, 2017


You asked for it, and here it is! A list of beginner-friendly swing songs. Before I get into the details, I do have a bit of an intro. When I first started DJ-ing, many people offered helpful bits of information. I listened to some, disregarded some, but I will pass on what they told me and you can either take it or leave it, as you wish. Most standard-tempo swing music is around 150 bpm. I would consider the typical range about 140-165. Below that, it gets more jazzy/bluesy. Higher than that, and it's kinda crazy and bouncy. I have NO problem with the high and low ends of the spectrum. I love all the music.  I think that if you only dance to songs that are exactly 150 bpm, and that were originally recorded between 1930 and 1947, you are really limiting yourself. (Same applies if you only dance to fast rock-and-roll music from the 1950s and early 60s.) 


For our beginner class, I try to keep the tempos below 135.


The list below is a diverse selection of suggestions. If you click on the song names, the links will take you to YouTube, and YouTube will provide you with many more suggestions, so you can spend a pleasant day listening to a whole lot of fabulous music!


Some of my favorite beginner-friendly swing songs:


Very Relaxed

Blues Rock, T-Bone Walker. Technically blues, but with a strong beat you can't lose and a relaxed feel. This is my first-day-of-class song.

Sweet Pea, Amos Lee. Clear beat, short and simple.

Pride and Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Gimme a Pigfoot, LaVern Baker

Tuxedo Junction, Manhattan Transfer


Slightly faster:

Stray Cat Strut, The Stray Cats

Going to Kansas City, Jay Mcshann

Coleslaw, Louis Jordan


Standard Tempo

Mr. Five by Five, Freddie Slack

Massachusetts, Jonathan Stout

Puttin' on the Ritz, Ella Fitzgerald


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