Just over a year ago now, my hubby Neil and I set ourselves a challenge, learn to dance! Little did we know back then, that this thing called Swing would impact so positively on our lives.
It was during a weekend at the wonderful Retro Festival in Newbury, Summer of 2015, that we first witnessed the joy to be had through Swing Dance (click here to read previous post on Retro Fest, 'Vintage and Retro Heaven'). Neil and I share a love of all things vintage and retro, and we were looking forward to spending our weekend listening to live music from the 1920s to the 1960s, browsing stalls selling clothes and artefacts from a bygone era, and perhaps mooching around the odd classic vehicle exhibition (and we did). What we hadn't expected though, was to be totally wowed by some absolutely amazing vintage dancing.
We watched in awe as young, old, and everyone in between took to the dance floors busting their Lindy, Charleston, Balboa and Jazz moves. They were fabulous, clearly having a ball, and we were totally inspired. Right there and then, we decided to set ourselves a goal... not only would we learn one or two of these impressive moves for ourselves, but we would return to these heaving dance floors the following year and join in the fun!
As soon as we got home from our festival frolics we began our search for dance classes and soon found that 'Swing Dance Leeds' ran a whole range of Swing Dance opportunities in our area (click here for more info on SDL). We wasted no time in getting ourselves down to a Lindy Hop Beginners' class and, from that very first lesson, realised what a fantastic hobby we'd discovered.
It kind of goes without saying that dancing in general (whatever the style) is fun, and it certainly can't fail to improve those fitness levels. It also helps to flex the old grey matter, learning any new skill can be a challenge (especially when you're forty something!) and dancing is certainly no exception. However, having been involved with other dance genres in the past, I feel reasonably qualified to say that Swing Dance certainly stands out from the rest, and most definitely has a certain je ne sais quoi!
Obviously it holds huge vintage appeal, along with the amazing music and clothing styles that go with the fabulous Swing era, but there are one or two other reasons to fall in love with this particular dance scene. Twelve months ago we had no idea such a large community of dance enthusiasts existed in our very own city. Now, quite literally, we could be dancing and socialising every single day of the week (if only we had the energy!) Yes, Swing Dance certainly seems to attract a certain kind of person... friendly, fun loving and so very welcoming of anyone who simply wants to join in and dance - whether or not you believe you have two huge left feet or a sub-zero sense of rhythm - but that's enough about Neil and I (haha). Seriously, get yourself involved in the Swing Dance scene and you'll soon pick up a few impressive moves. We've found that even the most experienced and talented of dancers are far from elitist, and are more than willing to dance with us newbies, passing on their knowledge and offering invaluable social dance and learning opportunities.
During this past year my lovely hubby and I have attended regular and varied classes with SDL, we've participated in dance workshops and have hit the social dance floors as often as we can (very tentatively at first, but our confidence is growing and growing). Last year, we threw ourselves in at the deep end and took part in a public dance performance in aid of charity (again through SDL) which involved learning a routine with a bunch of lovely people (all of whom were strangers at the time, but many of whom we still meet and dance with regularly), and we've even dipped our toes in the Sydney Swing Dance scene during a recent trip to Aus (thank you to the lovely Iona for introducing us)... it's all been absolutely fabulous!
So, if you're looking for a new challenge, a little fun and fitness and the opportunity to meet and dance with some great like-minded people, do I recommend Swing Dance?.. absolutely! If you're based in Leeds check out SDL, if not just search the net for Swing Dance lessons in your area, I can almost guarantee you won't regret it.
And, did we achieve our goal? Well yes we did, although sadly we couldn't return to Retro Festival as it clashed with a rather marvelous trip of a lifetime to Vietnam and Australia :-) - perhaps a later post to follow about that. However, when we returned to old Blightly, we did attend the equally exciting Twinwood Vintage Dance and Music Festival where we confidently took to the dance floors along with the throngs of other dancers, (young and old) to soak up the music and simply enjoy this fabulous thing called Swing!