Naptown Stomp brings swing dance to Indianapolis.

Naptown Stomp members dancing

Photo courtesy of Naptown Stomp

I always loved dancing as a child. Back then, I used to take classes in tap, jazz, and ballet. My friends and I would get together and choreograph our own dance routines. And when I went home, I’d watch musicals like Singing’ in the Rain on an endless loop, trying to emulate the footwork of the dancers on screen.

As I grew older, my priorities changed, and other hobbies took over. But dancing was something I always wanted to pick up again. Luckily, Naptown Stomp gave me an opportunity to finally dust off my dancing shoes!

I first moved to Indianapolis from my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, in 2018—a few years after graduating from Ball State University. When I got here, I quickly realized that Indy is a vibrant community where it’s easy to get involved, learn exciting hobbies, and make friends along the way!

In fact, it was one of my new friends that introduced me to Naptown Stomp—a community of dancers that specializes in vintage swing dancing. Thanks to them, I rediscovered my love of dance and found a place where I immediately felt at home.

Naptown Stomp offers vintage dancing and modern fun.

Founded in 2001 by Aaron and Kathy Altschul, Naptown Stomp is a non-profit devoted to teaching and spreading enthusiasm for vintage swing dances. Their dance classes take place on Thursday evenings at McGowan Hall in Indy’s Old Northside neighborhood. With an amazing ballroom and the atmosphere of an old speakeasy, this 100-year-old dance hall has seen some of the best Hoosier parties since 1922!

Naptown Stomp offers a lot of flexibility for dancers with different interests and experience levels. You can learn about the fundamentals of dancing with common swing styles, or you can check out more advanced classes that focus on technique and musicality. The lesson topics also change each month, so there’s always something new to learn.

Currently, there are two different lesson tracks for you to choose from—an intro track for beginners and an established track for dancers looking to up their skills. Whichever track you choose, you’re not required to bring a dance partner or wear formal attire, but you’re always welcome to dress up and bring a friend!

Naptown Stomp also has options for people who can’t commit to a month of lessons. Guests can always drop in for a class or attend our weekly social dances on Thursday nights. Our social dances—called Stomping Grounds—are a fun, casual way to meet people, practice your dance moves, and just let loose on the dance floor.

No matter who you are, Stomping Grounds is a great way to dance away the midweek blues. One of my favorite things about social dancing is how you can dance with a variety of people in a low-pressure environment. You don’t have to worry about being perfect, and I always learn something new from the people I dance with!  

Pair of people swing dancing

Photo courtesy of Naptown Stomp

Dancers posing in front of the Fountain Square Theater

Photo courtesy of Naptown Stomp

Naptown Stomp specializes in the Lindy Hop dance style.

Naptown Stomp teaches many forms of swing dancing, including classic styles like the Charleston and the Balboa. But our primary focus is one of the most popular styles of swing: the Lindy Hop!

The Lindy Hop originates from Harlem, New York City—where Black dancers first performed it in the famed Savoy Ballroom in 1928. The name “Lindy Hop” was reportedly inspired by aviator Charles Lindbergh, who “hopped” the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. This style of dancing remained popular throughout the 1930s and 40s and then experienced a renaissance in the 1980s, as performers sparked a renewed interest in the Lindy Hop.

At the time, there were initiatives to bring the original Lindy Hoppers back from retirement, including famous names like Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, and Al Minns. Meanwhile, classic movies and newer films like Swing Kids (1993) drew attention to the Lindy Hop movement. Now, Lindy Hop is still bringing generations of dancers together in ballrooms around the world. 

An important part of the Naptown Stomp experience is celebrating the incredible history behind each dance. For example, one of our instructors created a giant timeline of Lindy Hop history at our annual World Lindy Hop Day event. This display—complete with vintage video clips and historic memorabilia—stretched across the wall of McGowan Hall, while also offering a list of resources to help further our education. 

Social dancing is about creating a sense of community.

One of the joys of dancing with Naptown Stomp is forming a connection with other dancers in the region. Our leadership board and volunteers work hard to plan unique events that bring our community together. We often host creative themed parties with fun activities, costume contests, and—of course—dancing. Some of our recent themes have included a Roaring ‘20s New Years Eve, Halloween Night, Disney Dance, and more.

But Naptown Stomp doesn’t just connect you with the Indianapolis community. We’re also part of a worldwide community of dancers! Travelers passing through Indy are always welcome to dance with us, and it brings me joy knowing I can do the same when I travel.

Naptown Stomp also offers opportunities to travel for weekend-long exchanges and workshops, where we can learn from renowned instructors and meet new people across the country. Many of our dancers attend these events, so it’s easy to find someone willing to carpool and share a hotel. 

We also partner with various venues to share the joy of swing dancing across the region. Twice a month, the Fountain Square Theater hosts a Friday Night Swing Dance with a live band. Before the dance officially begins, our instructors teach a quick crash course for beginners, so everyone can join the fun. You may have also seen us perform at the Indiana State Fair or the Halftime Show at a Colts game!

Best of all, Naptown Stomp helps build a sense of community beyond dancing. We have an active Facebook group where we connect and share community events. Whether you’re interested in meeting up for crafts or hiking in the park, there are plenty of opportunities for members to get together and make new friends—both on and off the dance floor!

People swing dancing in the Fountain Square Theater

Photo courtesy of Naptown Stomp

Join us at the Stomping Grounds!

Over the last few years, Naptown Stomp has become the activity I look forward to most each week. Dancing is not only a fun way to get in some cardio, but it’s also a great way to cultivate community. Naptown Stomp has been an incredible way to connect with my new home, while enjoying a new joy-sparking hobby!

If you’re serious about dancing, you can audition for our competition dance team. From local performances to regional competitions, our team can be seen performing original choreography all throughout the Midwest. In fact, our dancers have taken home awards for both individual and team events, including multiple first place wins at the Dayton Swing Smackdown. Two of our instructors even placed 2nd worldwide in the video showcase competition at the International Lindy Hop Championships. 

But you don’t have to be a serious dancer to have fun at Naptown Stomp! People of all skill levels are invited to join us for a night of music, laughter, and community. So, whether you’re a professional performer or a total novice, I’ll see you on the dance floor! Either way, you’re sure to learn something new and have a wonderful time.