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On swing dancing and GCSEs November 16, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Lovely people, Really good day, Small things, University.

Tonight I went swing dancing, for the second time in my life.  For reference, the first time in my life was an hour’s beginner lesson yesterday afternoon in which we learned the Charleston and one or two variations on same, and basically hopped about being enthusiastic.  For further reference, I have since discovered that the Charleston bears no resemblance to the basic Lindy Hop step in the slightest, which, also for the reference, goes a bit like this: ‘one, two, YUNK-a-tunk, five, six, YUNK-a-tunk…’ which differs from the Jive (which I’ve been doing for years) in one beat somewhere about the five and six and means I keep getting hopelessly lost every other bar.

On the other hand… well, it was really good fun.  The thing about being a girl dancing with a man who’s leading is that you spin where you’re spun, you move where you’re moved and you follow where you’re led.  You concentrate on where the signs lead you but other than that, it’s not your dance – it’s his dance and he’s making it up as he goes along.  Which is half the fun – like a game, if he sends you into three consecutive spins, can you keep going?  I’m not one for the clubbing at all, and this is very much my kind of losing yourself in the music.  (Which, I might add, is excellent.  And only occasionally foxtrot music.)

One of the things I love about swing dancing – and about social partnered dancing in general – is being asked to dance.  It is excellent.  There is something kind of tingly about being stood at the edge of a ballroom, and being asked to dance, and dancing, and saying thank you, and then being asked to dance by someone else and dancing with them.  I’m very lucky that my ordinary Ballroom partner and I have our own signals in terms of ‘I’m going to go in that direction now, you’d probably better come too or you’re going to be trodden on’, and we’ve been dancing together long enough and learned enough together that the leading and the following comes pretty naturally most of the time.  So even though I’d barely done it before I had no trouble getting up on the dance floor, letting him show me the basic rhythm, and then just going for it.  This is a pretty big thing, and a credit to him more than anything else: me a year ago would have under no circumstances agreed to start dancing a rhythm I’d only ever tried once, with steps I’d never tried before (although I’ve tried similar ones, so I suppose it wasn’t too bad), in front of a whole lot of people I’d met for the first time that evening.

This year, I’ve learned the gentle art of muddling through, pretending you know what’s going on, and making an arse out of yourself in front of people you don’t know with some degree of grace.  It doesn’t always work.  There is so much to be said for trusting someone to lead you, and being trusted to follow them.  There is so much to be said for asking someone to dance, and so much to be said for accepting it.  If you’ve never done it before, I very much recommend taking social partnered dance classes – I like salsa, but Swing/Lindy Hop is my new favourite.  There is so much to be said for spending four minutes not talking but being in it together.

Anyone who knew me at the age of about fifteen is probably staring with eyebrows raised at the moment.  Being asked to dance is akin to being bought a drink, and following the lead of some unknown male is akin to denying the revolution!  Well, sod it.  I’d only done it once, this evening.  I’m missing the next two lots of classes, for various reasons.  But by the end of this term, when I have a bit more confidence in my own ability to dance the right dance at the right time, I’ll be asking people for dances too, and probably learning the man’s steps and everything.  You see if I don’t.

As for the GCSEs, I wrote my CV yesterday.  I’m sure nobody’s interested, they can’t be, can they?  CV-writing always makes me worry.  Argh.



1. thewariefiend - November 18, 2009

…and the revolution will nt e jitterbugged…

stitchthisdarling - November 18, 2009

A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having… x

2. Jenny - November 18, 2009

I would have been right there thumping that table with your fifteen year old self. But being bought a drink or being asked to dance doesn’t make me any less of a person or leave me powerless in the least. I can ask to be asked to dance, I can ask someone for a dance with me, and I can buy my own drinks (and drinks for others but the ‘other’ for whom I most want to buy drinks would probably be offended.

Anyway I’m being distracted. I was originally going to comment to say that being led in dancing by a good dancer is mindblowingly amazing. I had never ever done a polka, but P took hold of me and almost without saying anything whirled me off and I was moving with grace and speed and strength I didn’t realise I had, absolutely at one with him and the music. Swing Dancing. I might well try it 🙂 thanks. xxx

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