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Monday, 16 January 2017

Swing Dance UK: Swing Time Social | Review

When does 'a xmas present to me' stop being a valid reason to splurge? (good word)

My dancing repertoire has gone from ballet, tap and modern to Ballroom and Latin and this year: Swing. I treated myself to some swing shoes after falling in love with a pair I saw on a visiting dancer to my dancing school's xmas social. They are flat soled shoes by manufacturer Bleyer.

Just look at them! 

Swing Dancing is a collective name of partner and solo dances that swung out of the Harlem District of 1920's New York with the introduction of Jazz and Big Band.

Swing specifically Lindy Hop (check out Swing Dance Uk's video above) is a non-progressive dance (you don't travel round the room like Samba or ballroom). It's fast-paced, energetic and so much fun!! It's impossible to dance it with out grinning! (even when suppressing the need to collapse from exhaustion.)

At the weekend I adorned my red lippie, thick cat flicked eyeliner and spotty 50's esque gladrags to attend Swing Dance UK's monthly social 'Swing Time' held at Kensington Business College, London.

The large hall was decked in fairy lights and boasted a large wooden sprung floor and stage set ready for the guest band 'Big Swifty' and resident DJ Simon 'Mr Kick's' Selmon.  

Most people came in couples or groups but there were singles too and to be honest I wouldn't feel left out if I were to go again on my own. There was seating round the hall and a (cash only) bar too. The evening started off at 7.45pm with a class. Everyone learnt a line dance (similar to the Charleston stroll and the Shim Sham- but I'm not sure of the name) it was easy-ish to pick up as the same steps are repeated in the direction of the 4 walls (in a similar style to the Macarena) and got us in the mood for more vintage tunes and moves. This dance made an appearance later on in the evening: dancing it first in front of the rest of the social dancers and then with everyone else as they joined in to Big Band swing was so exhilarating! 

Next up during our class we learned beginner's Lindy hop- a partner dance developed from the styles of other swing dances: the Break-away (where the leader swings the partner out of the closed embrace position), the Charleston, Tap and lots more I have yet to find out about! 
The beginner's class instructed by Anna Lambrechts ran parallel to the intermediate lindy hop class.
We started out in partners but similar to Ceroc classes or what I imagine would be my kind of speed-dating, you learn a move/figure then move onto the next person in line. Anna took up through the basic's with clear instruction. She was super friendly and made the class even more fun and easy to follow. We learnt 3 main figures which made up a little routine that was worthy for a dance floor lindy hop debut. It's great to be able to break the ice and dance with everyone in the class as everyone is an different levels and you learn best when dancing with different people. It gave me the confidence to ask for a dance with them later on during the evening. 

8:30pm and the freestyle dancing started- we were let loose. Jazz and Big Band music can be danced to in so many ways I rocked out some Jive and another couple were doing some Argentine Tango! It was so much fun, such a great vibe and atmosphere. A great variety of swing music was played and the live band were brilliant- really professional, talented and helped transport me to the decades I should have been brought up in! 

The atmosphere was so welcoming that I didn't feel intimidated to approach people for a dance. I was able to follow well (my Jive experience helped here) and if/when I mucked up it didn't matter- everyone's there to have fun not to be sour faced and serious. To top it off, the age range of the night was 20s+ (Finally I wasn't the youngest there!) 

I would highly recommend this social event to anyone who likes vintage sounds, fashion, and/or dancing. Wear layers you can take off- there's no air con in the hall so keep that in mind and wear soft soled shoes that allow you to pivot on the balls of your feet. Tickets at £12 in advance, £15 at the door. I'll be watching out for more of these social dancing opportunities and before I go,  
DJ Simon Selmon, you owe me a dance!