Leanne always looked like she could Lindy Hop, even when she couldn’t. She’s got this kind of Jazz aura about her (she’d probably describe it as ‘bluffing’) and it makes every step seem joyous. Manchester Lindy’s very own Beyonce brightens up a whole dance floor like a headlight on high-beam yet she claims to not have many interests outside of dance – but I know Leanne likes Harry Potter, and wine, and Will Smith, which seems like plenty to me. Luckily, she also likes writing, and that’s why she’s now officially Manchester Lindy’s Blogger-in-Residence, the magic maiden of The Lindy Circular.
When and why did you start dancing?
I went with a friend to a club night called ‘Yo Mama’s Cooking’ at the Ruby Lounge. It was a vintage night and we’d gone along, all dressed up to listen to the music. Don Woodiwiss was teaching a taster class and after some dutch courage, we joined in. I was terrible but I enjoyed it so much I asked Don where the regular lessons took place, which led me to Missoula!
Has Lindy Hop affected you in ways you haven’t expected?
I’ve always danced but always without instruction. I’m a social creature and until Lindy I learned most of my dance moves from MTV, my cousins and Beyonce. I never thought about being ‘taught’ to dance as a thing that people would do. Lindy definitely changed that! I have learned to pay attention to other people, take in the information given and use that to improve my Lindy Hop.
Where do you like to dance outside of Manchester?
Wow, there’s a question. Anywhere that will have me and my budget can stretch to! I love dancing in Manchester; it’s my spiritual dance home but there is nothing I love more than getting out to a new scene and taking the leads/follows for a test drive! You get to meet new people in new cities, older friends who travel as much as you do and listen to some truly exciting bands. I try and do a new city/camp each year to expand my dancing horizons!
What are your favourite shoes to dance in?
Keds. Keds until my feet stop working. I love them because they are so comfortable! I adore the colour choice for all of my dancing outfits and the shoes are generally pretty reasonably-priced if you know where to look! I do love a comfortable dance heel, too – Remix Vintage has a brilliant range which most seasoned Lindy Hoppers know about.
What worries you the most during a social dance?
Whether or not I am following my leader. I learn lots of steps but I don’t always remember them. I have to rely on following what is being led. If there is too much ‘noise’ in the dance or I am not paying attention I feel like I have to default to what I ‘think’ my leader wants me to do, which isn’t always right. That’s when things go horribly wrong for me! The connection with a lead is the most important part of a dance for me. If I don’t have that, we aren’t dancing together!
What’s would someone say your signature move is on a social dance floor?
I have no idea. I have asked people. They don’t know. Apparently I have too many moves to choose from, most of them without any actual name. If someone who has seen me dance would like to volunteer a move that I seem to use a lot, please let me know!
If you had to put in to words what a good dance feels like, what would you compare it to?
‘Oh my god! I didn’t balls that up once!’
Name one difficulty you have faced learning to dance. How have you dealt with it?
I really struggle with groovewalking. It’s the simplest things that always trip you up! The best coping mechanism I have come up with up with is letting my mind go blank and waiting for it to be over. Ignorance is bliss.
What’s the number one rule any good Lindy Hopper must follow?
Respect the lead and follow relationship. It’s the heart of the dance. Also, if it feels good and feels like you, then it is right. This is a vernacular dance and DON’T YOU FORGET IT, WORLD.
Who are your favourite dancers to watch?
Oh lawdy! This changes weekly! Of the YouTube generation, I love the way Anais Sekine moves and also Ksenia Parkhatskaya and Tatiana Udry. From the old timers, Mabel Lee, Betty Takier and Dorothy Dandridge. From the guys, Al Minns and Leon James, as well as Hal Takier and Dean Collins and from the YouTube set: Remy Kouakou Kouame and Nathan Bugh.
Is there such a thing as a mistake in Lindy Hop?
No. Mistakes mean you are trying. Unless you are hurting someone with your movements. That is a big no-no. There’s something to be said for a dance partner that you can make mistakes with – it assumes a certain level of trust which is what brings a Lindy community closer together.
What are your hopes for the Lindy community in the future?
That people take what they know and love in their local scenes and use it to explore the wider Lindy world. There is an amazing international community out there you should get out and explore it as much as you can. Go wherever you want, go with friends, go alone (but you are never really alone, I assure you) but above all, enjoy yourself!