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Meet Joel Plys of Swing Dancing San Diego

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joel Plys.

Joel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After a date in Chicago in 1998, I realized that I really enjoyed Swing Dancing. So much so that I made a full-time self-employment career jump in 1999 starting Get Hep Swing Ltd in Cleveland, OH. Moved to San Diego in 2002 where 2PlySwing Productions was created to run large dance events and travel the globe to teach.

After 32 US States and 13 countries, I decided to shift my focus to more local SD endeavors starting Swing Dancing San Diego officially in 2012 although I had been in SD for 10 years helping all other local venues. Along the way, I have earned Camp Hollywood (2011) & CA Swing Dance (2014) Hall of Fame honors. I share all the teaching & dance knowledge I have obtained over the past 19 years with my amazing staff of instructors and performers.

Now, Swing Dancing San Diego provides the most diverse offerings in terms of class material and opportunities for dancing. Everything from beginner to performer, from social dancer to competitor, from casual dancer to instructor. Now we have weekly classes on Mondays, performance/team classes on Tuesdays, social dances on 2nd Fridays & 3rd Saturdays, and partner with Queen Bee’s in North Park every 2nd & 4th Sunday offering lessons before live Big Band music. We are hoping to add even more in the future.

All SDSD instructors train in a concept we call “dance more, talk less”! There is no certification for teaching Swing Dancing so anyone can do it, yet you will most definitely know the difference when taking a class from Swing Dancing San Diego vs anywhere else in town. We simply love dancing and want to share it with more people so we can grow the community to have an abundance of dancers to share our joy.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Absolutely not…

The financial challenges of being an artist/dancer are always at the forefront of my mind – especially now after having a baby girl in 2015. The goal of doing this full time was simply not sustainable in the SD environment where so much competition prevails from others with full time jobs paying their bills so they offer events/classes for super cheap. With SD being a tough town to live in financially, the masses will always flock to free or cheaper and so we have done our best to maintain our professionalism in an arena that is anything but professional.

Add to that some interesting politics and egos/attitudes of others that are not interesting in building the overall SD community vs keeping their own piece of the pie and you again have the challenge of maintaining professionalism despite this. We have dealt with dancers taking our teacher training and leaving to start their own school, competitors harassing us (obtaining restraining orders), performance team members leaving saying they don’t have the time only to start their own group, colleagues telling people not to attend our classes – you name it, we have dealt with it.

We continually offer opportunities for people to take class, dance, perform, and teach to share the JOY of Swing Era dancing. Focusing on those goals will keep Swing Dancing alive and well for a very long time in San Diego and really improve the level of dancing in the process.

Please tell us about Swing Dancing San Diego.
We teach Swing Era dancing in San Diego. When someone asks about Swing Dancing or Do you Swing Dance? they usually have a specific vision in their minds. For the SDSD staff, we know that Swing Dancing encompasses many dances, the music, the history, the fashion, etc. We offer Balboa, 1920s Charleston, Lindy Hop, Lindy Charleston, Blues, Jitterbug, Vernacular Jazz, Collegiate Shag, St Louis Shag – all the dances you would have seen in the heyday of the Swing Era.

We are known for our fun, upbeat classes while sticking to a “dance more, talk less” policy. That is achieved by having the staff trained in fully understanding the lead/follow concepts of the dances we teach as well as tested teaching techniques to offer the best class experience possible. We also encourage dancers to learn it all and to enjoy the history/fundamentals of the dances while adding their own flair, and style to keep it current.

We have a great relationship with so many venues and organizations in San Diego already and it continues to grow. We work with the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park, the Downtown Library, the USS Midway, Queen Bee’s in North Park, Crown Dance in Mira Mesa, various talent agencies and always looking for more venues.

If you have a location near you, contact us and we can help bring Swing Dancing directly to your backyard!

We are most proud of the dancers that have stuck with us in the instructor group as well as our performance team the Hang Ten Hoppers. These dancers embody the spirit & joy of Swing Era dancing while remaining humble and value the importance of taking class to improve their skills. We remember what it’s like to be a beginner and therefore we specialize in getting a new dancer to share in this love of Swing Dancing – it is possible to get the “Jitterbug” and finding the right classes is important. Our dances also specialize in playing a variety of tempos and genres so that everyone can dance together versus being in a separate room focusing on one style. When we say Swing Dancing – we do it all. 🙂

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
When I first moved to San Diego, I worked very hard to work with all the groups in SD offering classes & dances even up to 2014/2015 after officially forming SDSD in 2012. I realized especially in the past few years that no one was really interested in helping to grow the community overall. If I would have focused 100% on what I had to offer vs helping other entities grow it would be a very different dance scene. If you are a social dancer in SD it’s amazing – tons of live music, opportunities to dance, etc. And yet, the level of dancing on a global scale can grow immensely with the right infrastructure and solid teaching.

We are proud to offer that level of learning in all our SDSD classes. Spending so long before creating Swing Dancing San Diego officially would be my only thing “done differently” – starting the teacher training, the performance team, etc. back in 2002 vs 2012.


  • Weekly classes range from $30-$50/month ($15 Drop In)
  • Private lessons available from $50+
  • Dances range from $8-$15

Contact Info:

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