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Friday, 12 April 2013

Let's Go to the Hop

People that know me know that I like to dance. I dance when I'm happy, excited, nervous - regardless of whether there is music or not. I dance like no-one is watching. It should be noted that I use the word 'dance' very loosely. I have never actually learned to dance properly and tend to throw myself around haphazardly, pretending I'm in my own manic music video much to the amusement of my friends. I do however really admire people that are skilled and trained dancers and can even be found watching Dancing With The Stars sometimes to see them do the Charleston.

Taking a dance class is one of those things that has always been on my to-do list. After all, it couldn't hurt to actually learn some proper basic moves to mix in with my own clumsy brand of body shaking, right? So on Monday I went along to a taster session for Swing Dance lessons provided by the Glasgow Lindyhoppers to see if it was as easy as it looks on TV.

The class was held downstairs in Blackfriars, Merchant City. My friend and I went along not really knowing what to expect or how busy it would be. It was very busy, with attendees ranging from regulars to the class, to others like myself that had never done it before and thought it might be fun. Most people seemed to be in their twenties and thirties and there was an almost-even mix of guys and gals. One of the things that I had wondered about was what to wear - especially on my feet. I decided that ultimately comfort was key and wore my trusty Converse. That seemed to be the general consensus as most of the other people there had either Converse, Vans or similar footwear on. Not a tap shoe in sight. No matter how experienced or inexperienced, everyone was very nice and the atmosphere was laid back and friendly. So far, so good.

The instructors took us through a warm up that was linked to the kind of dance moves you would expect from swing dancing, mainly gentle footwork (I would call it Swinglite). They then explained that as swing was a couples dance with one person leading (normally the male) and one person following we had to partner up with a lead. She asked all of the 'leaders' to stand along a wall and we (the followers) were asked to go and pick a partner.

I started to get flashbacks of my high school ceilidhs mixed in with the part from Hairspray where it's a Ladies Choice dance. This lasted for an anxious fifteen seconds and then I told myself off for being a baby and asked the guy standing opposite me to dance. It turned out that picking a partner didn't really matter because A) everyone was really friendly and, B) we ended up in a circle and changed partners every few minutes so by the end of the class you had danced with more or less everybody anyway.

What I really liked about this class was that what we learned was started from scratch, under the assumption that we were all first-timers and no-one was patronising or bossy. We had plenty of time to practice each step that we learned before moving on to the next part. So after learning each step individually we then put the whole thing together to music. Turns out in the hour we had been taught a little routine, and we were all pretty good at it. It was a good feeling, dancing in sync with another person and being twirled around. I knew what my feet and arms had to be doing at all times and even though that sounds like hard work, it wasn't really and was a lot of fun (I now know what that lady from the Flashdance song was going on about....I think). If I had been told at the start of the class that I would have a Swing routine learned and executed confidently within an hour I really wouldn't have believed them. It was really all in the way it was taught - they snuck it up on us!

To wrap up the class the instructors did a very impressive demo routine of the dances we could learn if we chose to come back for more classes. There is then a 'spare' half hour where they put music on and invite people to stick around, have a drink and show off their new moves. The great thing about the classes is that they are on a drop-in basis. You can turn up to any class, any week and pay a fiver without the need to sign up to a 'block' of lessons. I found it a really fun way to socialise and get a bit of exercise, and I now know my rockstep from my triple step! I might not go every week but I think I will be back to learn a little more from time to time.

The classes are run by Glasgow Lindyhoppers in Blackfriars every Monday at 7:30 and cost £5 a class.

Have you ever tried Swing dancing? Do you think you might try this class? Have you ever had the Flashdance feeling?

Thanks for reading!

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