Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly
Towel. Check. Flannel. Check. Soap. Check. Deodorant. Check. Spare top. Check. I’m ready to go Lindy Hop.
I am determined to do social dancing this week (hence the bag packed with stuff). I’m getting a lot of practice in running through the Solo Jazz routines but I am forgetting a lot of the partner dancing because of my inability to practice with someone outside of lessons. I don’t want to give up the Solo Jazz as it’s great fun so I just need to be clean and presentable afterwards in order to hit the dance floor without gassing everyone.
My week 3 is the course’s week 12 (the last week). This meant a very fast paced lesson, re-capping a lot of moves that I hadn’t done before. Again, there were a lot of beginners there and everyone was having fun; so if anyone is reading this and thinking of trying it out, I wouldn’t be put off starting any week – just turn up and enjoy yourself. That said, I knew I had no chance of retaining all of the information speeding into my brain so I decided to focus my feeble memory on remembering the names of the moves – I can always ask about them later.
Ben was teaching. I think he had already taught at least one, possibly two, of the weeks previously so I deserve no medals for remembering that name, especially since in my head I still sometimes refer to him as ‘moustache envy’. He has a great swirly Victorian villain moustache. The envy is because the hair above my lip will never grow that long and I have to satisfy myself with a short beard to cover up my weak chin…
The other teacher’s name I predictably don’t remember (Editors note: Megan). I think of her as ‘scary teacher with longish blond hair ‘ I’m paraphrasing but when talking about swing-outs* in the level 2 class she mentioned that she could just say “Drop and give me 10 swing-outs!” A sneak peek into next week’s Solo Jazz class reveals that she isn’t at all scary (although she still has that name in my head).
Again I had great fun and could feel myself getting better at the movements.
Solo Jazz was great. Taina was teaching and it doesn’t take long to see she’s clearly an awesome dancer and teacher. There were a lot of new moves in this routine and I found the sliding moves challenging. There was one at the start of the routine that looked simple (I found it very tricky) and another Taina referred to as ‘bracking’ – a word she confessed was her own, but which made absolute sense when she explained it to me. I asked for some advice on that and she helped out a bit, also pointing me to some YouTube videos she has online (bonus!). This routine was not as tiring as the others but definitely challenging and just as enjoyable. I discovered that raising one foot slightly whilst lowering and moving the other is not as easy as it sounds (at least for me 😉 ).
A quick wash and change of clothes and I’m in the social dancing room! Now I’m introverted (especially so when I’m with new people and doing something I’m not 100% comfortable with), so I knew this was going to be a bit of a challenge. I sat in the corner giving off a very nervous vibe. One lady danced with me a couple of times. I can’t remember your name – I’m really sorry because we actually talked on the way back afterwards and I did ask so I have no excuses. You are currently ‘artist lady’. She confessed that, whilst she had done a lot of other dancing (latin, I think) it had been a while since she had done any Lindy. We fumbled through some basic moves and I got to do some Charleston with her which was fun. My confession – I had, about a year ago, taught myself that Charleston just because I love that move. I definitely did not pick it up that quickly from the lesson (I wish I had).
The other dance I remember for all the wrong reasons. A very kind, clearly competent, follow saw me looking nervous and asked me if I wanted a dance (she is called ‘patient, nice, short lady with short hair’, or ‘patient lady’ for short). The music was too fast so we postponed. I found her again during a slower song and, completely nerve-wracked, all I could do was go backwards and forwards in 8 count steps. My brain was playing ‘rock-step triple-step step-step triple-step’ over and over in a kind of panicked tone. Patient lady was great about it. She thanked me for the dance. I nervously thanked her and secretly wondered if I was a robot.
So a great evening with a dodgy dance. It should be put into perspective (and has been now) but at the time, as some humans are prone to do, I let that and my general nervousness overshadow how I felt about the evening.
Let’s be clear. Everyone I have met in these 3 lessons has been super-nice. All the teachers are patient and fun and I am loving learning the steps in both lessons. Everyone in the social dancing was super-nice. The people I danced with were super-nice (thank you!). The problem was how I felt and what I was thinking to myself.
I knew I was going back next week but I didn’t want to make myself feel like that again. Time to take some action…
* a swing out is a move where the lead ‘swings’ their partner out from closed (side by side ish) to open (facing each other). So far I haven’t encountered a lindy move that doesn’t have a Ronseal name.
Who is this guy?
Dan was a simple IT contractor with a wife and child before robots from another dimension kidnapped him for experiments in Social Dancing. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation at Manchester Lindy. If you want to help Dan to recover then look for the balding ginger bloke and ask him to dance. He has been programmed to say yes.