I’ve been taking Lindyhop classes for nearly a year now through an organisation called Edinbop, in Edinburgh and I find them really enjoyable. I do the beginners classes from 7pm to 8pm, the intermediate classes from 8pm to 9pm and always stay on for the social dancing, which is on from 9pm to 11pm. The teachers say that the best way to practice what you’ve learned is to do the social dancing. I agree wholeheartedly with them.
There is a huge interest in Swing Dancing in Edinburgh, with three organisations: Edinbop, Edinburgh University Swing Dance Society (EUSDS) and the Edinburgh Swing Dance Society (ESDS) Stockbridge, running classes, workshops, social dancing and other events. A lot of people go to the same classes and social dancing. I think that’s great because if you really like your Lindyhop, then you’ll see familiar faces at the various events and it’s a good way of getting to know more people.
Talking about social dancing, one of the guidelines of swing dance etiquette is that
you switch dance partners. It’s a great way of getting over any shyness and you improve quicker by dancing with different partners. There’s so much to learn by it. I mentioned in a previous blog post that if I find a good lead, then I like to dance with them more often. After last Wednesday night’s social dancing, I have changed my mind – a bit! There is a good lead that I love dancing with. He has a lovely bounce to his steps and is very clear in the direction he wants you to go in. When he dances with you in a closed position, I notice that he holds you pretty close to him. I really like that when I’m dancing with him.
Of course, when you’re dancing that close to someone, it’s easier to feel when he moves in a different direction or changes his footwork from 8 count to 6 count and so it’s a lot easier to follow him. It took me weeks to build up the courage to ask him to dance the first time and because he’s such a good dancer, I didn’t want to stuff up. I’m getting better though, I think!
Last Wednesday I danced with a lot of people. It wasn’t as crowed as usual at the social dancing, so there was more space to manoeuvre. Henry was the first lead who asked me to dance. He nearly always asks me to dance the faster ones and I like them because they seem to go well for me. I don’t always have time to think when the music is fast and then I just follow my lead and the music. He said that I pick things up pretty quickly and he enjoyed the dance. It’s great to get the feedback.
A song or two later, I had a dance with Lee. He’s been teaching swing dance with his wife Seema since 2002. I really enjoy dancing with him. He’s a great lead too and very easy to follow. He has such a lively energy about him when he dances and it’s contagious. He did one or two new things that I haven’t done before and they went fairly well but the whole dance was very enjoyable. “That was lovely” he said to me. And it was.
I danced with Michael too. It’s always fun dancing with him. The majority of the time we get the dance right but when we don’t, we just laugh it off and keep going. We’re both beginners and sometimes muck up the moves but we have fun doing it and that’s the main thing. Another thing about swing dancing is the fact that both the men and women do the lead and follow roles. I’ve never come across this in dancing before and it’s great I think, for both genders to be able to switch between leading and following.
There is a guy who goes to classes and social dancing. In social dancing he does his own footwork and variations on a lot of the moves and I find it difficult to follow him. He asked me to dance and said “you’ll have to go with the flow and see if you can follow” and I said “I’ll try”. I’ll dance with everyone for the experience of it. It was an interesting dance to say the least because he was doing very different things – his own style of dancing. It’s always a challenge for me to get into his rhythm but I must have done something right because he said he enjoyed the dance, which is good.
In social dancing, the difficult part for me is learning to adapt to the different styles of dancing of every partner. I really enjoyed it last Wednesday and I can see now why that guideline of switching partners is there. It can be a very enjoyable experience.