I’ve been wanting to publish this post for a couple of weeks, but I got caught up in the rest of my life since I got back from a visit to the U.S. I was there to visit family, but managed to pencil in quite a bit of dancing along the way.
Getting to dance with and meet a whole lot of new people was just what I needed on the way out of a major dance slump. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to dance in new scenes when I travel. It doesn’t even have to be at an event, social dancing with new people is the important part. I always feel an effect it leaves on my dancing. It could be a styling I pick up, a new variation, a new fashion, even a new way to ask someone to dance. It’s usually a subconscious effect that I don’t even notice till I go back to my scene. I love having these little influences from all over the world that join together to become something that’s my own.
First up was good old New York City. It’s always a treat visiting the birthplace of Lindy hop, with live music or special events happening practically every night. I got to go to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island, sip a Bee’s Knees cocktail out of a teacup at a speakeasy to the sounds of Svetlana and the Delancey Five, watch over Gordon Webster’s shoulder as he was playing at Mona’s and dance with the ILHC-bound crowd to Gordon’s Grand Street Stompers in Hipsterville (a.k.a Williamsburg).
After that, I was part of the migration of Lindy hoppers to D.C. for the International Lindy Hop Championships. It was both humbling and inspiring watching the competitions and performances up close and personal, and the social dancing was probably the best I’ve had across an event. Even though I tend to prefer events with more dancing than watching, I’d definitely recommend going to a big competition event like ILHC at least once since it’s a special experience. Of course if you’re really into competing, you shouldn’t miss it. For some highlights and sound advice on expectations at dance events, watch this vlog post by Mikey Pedroza. Israelis – see if you can spot a familiar face in the video 😉
The next weekend I kept travelling south and went to The Lindustrial Revolution in Charlottesville, VA. It was refreshing visiting a scene that was completely new to me. I signed up for it not knowing a single person who’d be there and left with a bunch of new friends.
I’m always excited to learn new things at workshops when I can, and this event had good ones. We had Michael and Jaya and Mike and Laura who all had us working hard to earn our social dancing nights. Another thing I learned thanks to the event is what steampunk is, since there was a themed dance night and costume competition. Apparently, pairing Victorian fashion with industrial inspired accessories is a thing.
I took part in the Jack & Jill, with the prelims being at the first party of the event. Like I said before, I didn’t know anyone there and no one knew me. No joke, when my name got called the only ones cheering for me were crickets. But that was actually one of the best things about the experience for me, as it made practically pressure free. I was just there to have fun and dance with new people.
I made it to finals (yay!), and though I was a tad nervous this time, I managed to not fall on my face during spotlights. We didn’t place, but like I’ve written about before, that’s not what mattered. I felt pretty good after the competition, because I could feel the difference from the last couple of Jack & Jills I’ve taken part in. It was like all those little influences from the past few weeks of dancing in new places had began to settle in and become a part of my dancing. I had fun and I gave it the best I could under pressure, which felt significantly better than past experiences. In the competition against myself, I had won. (I know, I know – cue gagging sound effects…)
Anyway, what I can take out of all this is, if you have the opportunity to go dancing in new places – do it! You’ll meet new friends, discover new aspects of the dance and improve your dancing. Even if it’s not some big event. When travelling to a new city, find out ahead of time it they have swing dancing, and plan to go. Especially if you don’t know anyone there.
Have you had the chance to dance in a far away scene? How, if at all, do you feel it improved your dancing? Feed the comment box!