A Network of Swing Dancers

A Network of Swing Dancers

One-sentence Synopsis:

Interpersonal connections (“Facebook friendships”) between swing dancers from local swing dance communities form a “small world” online social network.

Data source:

Original data extracted from 450 swing dance¹ related Facebook groups with Netvizz in late September 2013 without claim of completeness.


Data has been concatenated, compressed and anonymized. Isolate nodes have been removed. Image created with Gephi 0.8.2-beta using OpenOrd layout with default settings. Edges represent friendship relations between users. Nodes have been coloured by locale value (i.e. language code defined by Facebook user settings), thereby giving a certain insight into the main language used of individuals, and highlighting linguistic communities in a “small world” network.

Key figures:

  • No. of nodes: 115,382
  • No. of edges: 2,538,069
  • Density: 0.00038


Since the number of potential connections grows exponentially with the size of the network (n * (n-1)), large social networks usually display a low density (no. of connections divided by no. of potential connections). This phenomenon is also related to the Dunbar number, i.e. a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships with, proposed and named after the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. While the average number of “Facebook friendships”¹ tends to surpass the Dunbar number – between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150 – for most age groups of Facebook users, connections that have become irrelevant for one party may be cancelled anytime. Finally the number of occasions to meet new people and establish new interpersonal connections, and therefore the potential number “Facebook friendships” is limited.

¹) see: Average number of Facebook friends of users in the United States as of February 2014, by age group (Statista).

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