Competitions FAQ

Below you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the competitions.

Competitor Check-In

What does “check in” for competitions mean?

For every competition, we need you to “check in” at the Competition Desk. The check-in is to confirm you will be competing the next day and your details are correct. Check-in is compulsory. You must check-in for every day you are competing. The check-in deadline for all competitions is midnight the day before the contest.

Many people sign up for competitions, but do not show up on the day, or decide at the last minute not to compete. This causes problems for our organisation. We need our competitor lists for each competition to be complete and correct, so that our judging and scoring systems work.
So we need you to “check in” the day before your competitions. This will confirm you are still competing, and you can also check that your details are correct, change details if you need to, and check that we have your Showcase music. When you check-in you can also find out which heat you are in for preliminaries, your assigned performance order for Showcase divisions, and you will be told any important changes or announcements.

You MUST check in for EVERY DAY of your competitions, by midnight the day before. If you don’t check-in, you will be disqualified and removed from the competitor list and won’t be able to compete, with no refund of entry fee, even if you show up to the competition on time.

You can check-in by visiting the Competition Desk before your deadline. Do not wait until the last minute, as there may be a queue.

A single representative of a team or a couple can check-in on behalf of that team or couple. If you cannot check yourself in, please arrange for someone else to check you in on your behalf.

When and where can I check-in for my competitions?

For every day you are competing at ESDC 2015, you must check-in the day before, no later than midnight. To check-in you must attend the Competition Desk in the Atrium at the event. So the check-in deadline for Friday competitions is Thursday midnight. The check-in deadline for Saturday competitions is Friday midnight. And the check-in deadline for Sunday competitions is Saturday midnight. Here are the check-in times for the full weekend:

Friday Competitions: check-in opens Thursday 12:00 noon and closes at 00:00 midnight
Saturday Competitions: check-in opens Friday 09:00am and closes at 00:00 midnight
Sunday Competitions: check-in opens Saturday 09:00am and closes at 00:00 midnight

Do not wait until the last minute, as there may be a queue.

I can’t attend the Competition Desk to check-in, is there another way?

Yes, you can email
Please make sure the email clearly states your full name (and the full name of your partner or team), and the competition(s) you are checking in for.
Alternatively, you can arrange for someone else to check in at the Competition Desk, on your behalf.

For a couple contest, do both people need to check-in?

No, just one person can check-in on behalf of the couple.

For a team contest, do all team members need to check-in?

No, just one person can check-in on behalf of the team. That person will need to confirm how many team members there are.

What is the deadline to provide my showcase music?

You must submit your Showcase music by midnight, the day before your competition.

How can I give my showcase music to the DJ?

Please send your showcase music as an MP3 or M4A file to our Dropbox. Please label your MP3 file with the competition name, dancer/team name, and song title. For example: JazzRootsShowcase_SharonDavis(CJamBlues).mp3

It is greatly preferred if you email it well in advance of the competition.

Do I have to attend the daily “Competitor Information Session”? 

No, it is not compulsory this year. But please do attend if you have questions about that day’s competitions, or are unsure about what to expect. The Competition Information Sessions will provide general information such as contest formats, rules, judging criteria, and how the contests will be organised and run in the ballroom that day. You will also be able to ask questions. If you did not compete at ESDC 2013, we highly recommend you attend the Competitor Information Sessions.

How do I find out what heat I am in, for the preliminaries?

The heat lists will be posted on the wall, near the Competition Desk in the Atrium. If you’re not sure, ask at the Competition Desk and they will answer your questions.

How do I find out what order I am performing, in the Showcase divisions?

The performance order will be posted on the wall, near the Competition Desk in the Atrium. If you’re not sure, ask at the Competition Desk and they will answer your questions.

How do I know if I am in the Finals?

The list of Finalists will be posted on the wall, near the Competition Desk in the Atrium. It will also be posted on the website and Facebook group.
If you’re not sure, ask at the Competition Desk and they will answer your questions.

Competition Registration

I want to register for contests, but when I try to sign in, it says “Invalid email address or password”.

The competition registration system is a separate system to the workshop/ballroom passes. Even if you have already bought a Ballroom or Workshop pass, you are not registered on the competitor system yet. You will need to sign up to the competitor registration system. Click here to sign up as a competitor.

How do I add team members to my team showcase registration?

1. Click here to sign in to your customer area

2. Click on Your Bookings

Click on Your Bookings

3. Find the team division you wish to add members to and click on it

4. You will see a number of “Change” buttons. Click on the one next to the date/time of the contest.

Hit correct Change button

5. In the box labelled “Options” there is a dropdown menu to select the new number of competitors. Increase this number to add new team members to your team. Hit the green “Book” button.

Update number of team members

6. The next screen will ask you update the Team Name and Team Size. Update it if necessary or hit the Next button to continue.

7. On the next screen, you fill in the details of all the team members. At the bottom you will now find additional blank Competitors for the new team members you are adding. Fill these in and hit the Next button.

8. On the next page it will show you what you have already paid for this team booking, and what you need to pay now for the additional team members. Fill in your credit card details, tick the checkbox to agree to the Terms & Conditions, and hit the “Pay now and confirm your booking!” button.

How do I update a name in my contest registration?

1. Click here to sign in to your customer area

2. Click on Your Bookings

Click on Your Bookings

3. Find the division you want to update and click on it

4. You will see a number of “Change” buttons. Click on the one next to your name and email address.

5. Update all the details and hit the Next button.

6. If there is any money owing on your account, you will now be asked to pay the balance. If you are fully paid, you only need to tick the checkbox to agree to the Terms & Conditions, and hit the “Confirm booking!” button.

General Competition Questions

What are the rules?

All competitors must read and agree to the General Rules, which you can download as a PDF here.

Do you need to be European to enter the competitions?

No, the competitions are open to all nationalities.

What is the best contest for me?

If you enjoy social dancing, enter a Jack & Jill. No partner needed!
If you have a partner, love to social dance and aren’t afraid to jump in a jam session, then enter a Couples division!
If dancing alone is your thing, enter a Jazz Roots Battle.
If you love to perform and like routines, create a choreography and enter a Showcase division.

Are there prizes?

Yes! There are cash prizes, and winners also receive trophies or medals.

How will the prize money be paid?

In the awards ceremony on Sunday night, the winners will be announced, and each presented with a trophy or medal, and an envelope containing the prize money in British Pound Sterling (cash).

Do we need to wear costumes?

Costumes are not compulsory, but putting thought into your competition clothing is encouraged. For the appreciation of the audience and judges, we encourage you to dress in a vintage (1920s to 1940s) style, but this is not compulsory. We only ask that you are neatly and appropriately dressed.

Also remember, at ESDC you aren’t just representing yourself – you are representing your country, and swing dancing in general. So dress nicely and let’s show the world how exciting our dance is!

Special note for preliminary rounds: the judges request that you wear colourful or distinctive clothing to help them distinguish between all the competitors. Too many competitors in dark colours or similar clothes can make their job difficult.

Do I have to wear my costume for the preliminary round?

We recommend you do, yes. Preliminaries are filmed, so look your best!

Can I film the competitions?

YES! You are allowed to film the contests. We encourage you to film the competitions and share your footage online with the hashtag #esdc2015. We will also have official ESDC videographers.

Can I take photos during the competitions?

YES! You are allowed to photograph the contests. We encourage you to photograph the competitions and share your photos online with the hashtag #esdc2015

What is the atmosphere like? Is it competitive, stressful or bitchy?

No! We always hear feedback from first time competitors that competing at ESDC is much less intimidating and far more friendly and fun than they expected. There is a real positive energy, and while everyone is a bit nervous, all the competitors support each other. We are very proud of the good sportsmanship at ESDC and that there is a real atmosphere of mutual admiration and respect. Every year we get comments like “They didn’t feel like my enemies, it felt like we were one big team, all in it together” and “The competitors were like a big family, looking out for each other and just having a good time.

I lost my competitor number! What do I do?

Visit the Competition Desk and the friendly staff there will give you a replacement number.

Formats & Judging Criteria

What are the competition formats? What is an All-Skate, Phrase Battle or Spotlight?

All ESDC competitions are based around four formats:

Showcase: competitors perform a 2-4 minute choreographed routine to their own music.

All-Skate: this is a social dance format. All competitors dance on the floor simultaneously.

Phrase Battle: this is a jam session format. Competitors take turns, dancing one at a time in an assigned order, for a set number of phrases each, until the song ends.

Spotlight: couples are “spotlighted” by social dancing one at a time, for 1.5 minutes each

Can there be solo dancing in my Lindy Hop showcase? Can I have partnered dancing in my Jazz Roots showcase?

Yes, that is ok. There are no rules or disqualifications about content balance at ESDC. But in general try to keep the majority of your Lindy Hop Classic Showcase, All Swing Showcase or Swing Team Showcase, as partnered dancing. And try to keep the majority of your Jazz Roots Showcase or Jazz Roots Team Showcase as solo dancing. If there’s too much of the other style in your showcase, the judges will find it difficult to score.

What styles can be danced in the Jazz Roots competitions?

The term “Jazz Roots” refers to vintage solo dances from the American (and particularly African-American) jazz dance vernacular. The term “Jazz Roots” is the counterpart to the common term “Modern Jazz”, which refers to the later style danced from the 1950s onwards. So “Jazz Roots” refers to the solo dance styles danced primarily in the early to mid 20th century. These styles were danced to jazz, swing and blues music. The swing dance community is mostly interested in the solo dances of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This includes dances such as the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shim Sham, Big Apple and Trankey Doo. Some slightly later or slightly earlier dances (such as the Cakewalk) are also sometimes studied. Tap dance and soft-shoe styles from the same period are often also incorporated.

Other names you might hear used for Jazz Roots are: Solo Jazz, Authentic Jazz, Solo Charleston, Vernacular Jazz, Vintage Jazz, Jazz Steps.

This definition applies to the Open Jazz Roots Battle, Advanced Jazz Roots Battle, Jazz Roots Showcase and Jazz Roots Team Showcase.

How do preliminaries work?

There are preliminary rounds for all competitions, to decide which competitors go to the finals.

Showcase preliminaries are simple – the Showcases will all be performed, back-to-back, in a randomly chosen order.

For the Solo Divisions, the preliminaries are in all-skate format (all dancers dance on the floor at the same time).

For Social Divisions and Couples Divisions, all the competitors will be divided into heats, to have a fair and reasonable number of dancers on the dancefloor at any one time. The Competition Desk can tell you which heat you are in. During your heat you will dance in an all-skate format, meaning all competitors dance on the floor at the same time.

The lists of finalists will be posted on noticeboards at the event.

Why has the Jack & Jill format changed?

We are using a new Jack & Jill format at ESDC 2015. The preliminary round is very similar to previous years. Dancers will be assigned three random partners to social dance with (all-skate format), and the judges will select 5 leaders and 5 followers to proceed to finals. The final round is where the changes are. In the finals, all 5 leaders will dance with all 5 followers, and then the competitors themselves will judge their partners, ranking them from their favourite to their least favourite. There will be no external judges for the finals.

We know this will make the Jack & Jill Finals less exciting to watch. But there are plenty of Showcase and Battle divisions to entertain us at ESDC. A Jack & Jill is supposed to be a social dancing contest! It doesn’t make sense to have a jam or battle in the finals – that’s not social dancing! It also doesn’t make sense to assign dancers to just one partner and judge them as couples. We want to find the most popular leader and the most popular follower, not the best couple.

So we hope the new format will encourage Jack & Jill competitors to focus on what makes a great social dance, not a great show. That means a strong connection and lead-follow partnering, how it feels not how it looks, improvisation instead of choreography, mutual conversation instead of exhibitionism, compassion instead of egomania. We want to encourage creativity, originality, musicality, rhythm, individuality and fun!

The only Jack & Jill competition at ESDC 2015 that won’t use this new format, is the Masters Lindy Hop Jack & Jill. This will use a spotlight format, like previous years, so the masters can showcase their talents without their normal partners. We already know the masters are wonderful social dancers, so we are keeping our traditional format for them, to put on the best show to inspire the ESDC audience.

What criteria will we be judged on?

In 2015 we have a new judging and scorekeeping system, specially designed for the swing dance community and the values we place on our dances. The Relative Placement System will no longer be used. Instead all competitors will be scored on three criteria:

1. Technique – execution, connection, lead-follow, partnering, timing, coordination, quality of movement, mastery, floorcraft, precision, mechanical strength, clarity

2. Artistry – creativity, originality, style, quality of improvisation or quality of choreography, musicality, rhythm, repertoire, inspiration, uniqueness, individuality, interestingness

3. Showmanship – presentation, performance, stagecraft, costume, audience impact, entertainment, expression, projection, theatricality, characterisation, professionalism

The exact interpretation of these criteria is at the discretion of individual judges. The judges decisions are final.

How are the judging criteria applied to different contests?

The three ESDC judging criteria – Technique, Artistry, Showmanship – are used for judging all the competitions at ESDC, though they may be applied in slightly different ways for different competition divisions.

For example for a Showcase division, they are applied like this:

1. Technique – how well did they dance their routine? how skilled are they?
2. Artistry – how interesting and creative was the choreography?
3. Showmanship – how good was their presentation? How entertaining was it?

But for a Jack & Jill finals (where competitors judge their own partners), they are applied more like this:

1. Technique – how good was the connection, how good did the dance feel?
2. Artistry – how musical, creative and interesting was it?
3. Showmanship – how fun was it? did your partner make you look good?

Competition Levels

What does “Open” level mean?

The official levels at ESDC are: Beginner, Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced, Advanced and Masters. Unfortunately the event is not large enough yet to have a separate contest division for each level, so some levels are combined. The three most common levels you will see at ESDC 2015 are Open, Advanced and Masters. If a competition is named Open, then it means this is the combined level for anyone lower than Advanced.

If a competition doesn’t have any level specified, then it is open to all levels and may include beginners through to masters.

How do I qualify for the Advanced level competitions?

Advanced will suit you if you are an experienced dancer that has been dancing for some years. You are respected in your hometown as one of the more adept and stylish dancers in your scene. You have years of social dancing practice and you are popular on the social dance floor. You have probably social danced outside of your home city. You have probably attended international swing events and workshops with international instructors, and took the higher level classes at those events. If you have competed in the past, it has probably been at a high national or international level.

If you were in the top 5 of any “Open” level competition at previous ESDCs, you must compete in the Advanced level at ESDC 2015.

How do I qualify for the Masters level competitions?

Masters is the level for champion and master dancers that are experienced competitors, and compete at the highest level at international competitions. ESDC instructors and official judges (past and present) will compete in this level.

If you have competed in the “All-Star” or “Invitational” contests at a previous ESDC then this is the level for you.

You should also register for this level if you have competed in the Pro, All-Star, Champion or Invitational contests at: Snowball, Lindy Shock, ILHC, CSC, Lonestar Championships, Camp Hollywood, ULHS, Camp Jitterbug, or Korean Lindy Hop Championships.

If you were in the top 5 of any “Advanced” level competition at a previous ESDC, you are welcome to compete in Masters level at ESDC 2015.

I read the level descriptions, but I’m still not sure which competition level to register for!

If you are not sure which level to register for, email and we will try to help. Try to provide some information such as your competition history, how long you have been dancing, if you have attended any international dance camps and what level of classes you took at them.

I’m an Advanced dancer, but not a very experienced competitor. Should I register for Open or Advanced?

Please select your level for competitions based on your dance level, not on how experienced you are in competing. If you are an Advanced dancer, but don’t have a lot of experience as a competitor, you should still register for the Advanced level.

I’m not sure which level I should sign up for. Can I enter both?

You cannot enter more than one level of a contest division, no. You will need to choose.

Can I compete in the higher level, just to challenge myself?

Yes, we respect that! Maybe you want to challenge yourself to compete against your teachers. Maybe you want to get experience competing on the same floor as advanced dancers. Maybe you are a local instructor and you want to push yourself to compete at a higher level than your students. These are all great reasons, and it’s fine with us!

Can I compete in the lower level, so I have more chance of winning?

No, you cannot compete in a lower level than your ability, just to improve your chances of winning. If you register for a division, and are clearly a higher level dancer than the division you have signed up for, you may be disqualified by the judges.