Absolutely blinkin’ ages ago Manchester Lindy appeared in Red Magazine.
I finally remembered to put it on our website…
The Lindy Hoppers
It’s 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening and the dulcet tones of Ella Fitzgerald are tempting a room full of dancers to move their feet. University students straight from freshers’ week; thirtysomething office workers escaping their desks; 70-year-olds who’ve dusted off their dancing shoes – these 80 people, on the surface, have little in common. But the one thing that brings them together? Lindy Hop, apparently.
Homegrown in Harlem, Lindy Hop is an American-style dance from the 1920s. It’s described as ‘jive, but more bouncy’, but you’ll probably recognise it as ‘the dance from that Gap advert.
Today, a burgeoning Lindy community tumbles into the art-deco Freemasons’ Hall in Manchester. What started out in 2008 as 12 people dancing in a room above a pub has become the Manchester Lindy – a mass of dancers clad in tweed, tea dresses and enthusiasm. Their mission? To swivel, spin and mingle.
Every Tuesday night, the sounds of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong mix with giggles, cheers and conversation, like a raucous version of the Netherfield ball. There’s even a licensed bar on the sidelines (call it Dutch courage).
For one of the group’s founders, Lisa Goddard, who runs a cake and dessert business, it’s ‘more of a social activity than a dance’. She first discovered it after finding salsa ‘very snooty’. At Lindy, you meet and talk to people while you dance. ‘It’s a cross between a class and a nightclub,’ she says.
Big cities like Manchester can feel hard to penetrate, so it’s hardly surprising that Lindy has become so much more than a dance class. Unlike with ballroom dancing, a plus-one isn’t a prerequisite and you dance with a number of different partners, so you’re constantly meeting people. ‘Lots of close friendships – and relationships – have grown,’ explains Lisa.
‘I’m even godmother to one member’s child. It really is a little community.’
Whether it’s the connections made while dancing hand-in-hand or the endorphin- boosting moves, it’s clear that an electric atmosphere unites the Lindy Hoppers.
Beck Rowaichi, an office manager, was bowled over by the emotional benefits of Lindy Hop. Before, she’d found dance groups ‘intimidatingly formal’, but Lindy’s warm, inclusive vibe left her feeling exhilarated. ‘Whether you’re good at talking or not, you’ll find a friend here,’ she says.
On Tuesday nights in a hall filled with laughter and the chitter-chatter of new friendships (as well as old ones), the Lindy Hoppers are whisked away to a bygone era. On the dance floor, stresses and to-do lists are irrelevant; jobs are forgotten; ages are of no consequence. This is musical therapy – with a twist.
For more details, see manchesterlindy.com
This article was published in Red Magazine in December 2013.
Thankfully, the writer, Natasha Lunn, did.