October 08, 2006

Swing Thing

I forgot how much I love swing dancing. Actually, that I can remember. What I cannot seem to remember is that there are people in this world who also love to swing. I also cannot remember how to Lindy. I love swing because it's a partner dance and there are steps and skills involved. I love the music, I love the men being in charge; I love that it makes you short of breath and demands water instead of liquor. If more people did this instead of aerobics... we'd all be in great shape and happily coupled. At least dance partnered and that's a fine goal in itself. I just wish Ron were here. He'd love this.

Swing it would seem is King in Dublin. I remember a few years back when the craze hit Dallas and my friend Ron wanted to learn so he could impress the ladies. A bunch of us went to classes every week and then hit the dance floors on the weekends. It was a long uphill battle for all of us. For the men, they needed to learn how to dance in the first place and then how to lead effectively. For the women, well, we needed to learn how to take directions from men and stop leading. We architects; we're used to ordering men around. I think that was the harder fought battle. I'm happy to report however, I have succeeded in becoming an effective follower. My mother would be so proud.

So when Housemate Clare suggested I tag along the other night to their lesson, I practically jumped at the chance. Every Wednesday night, in the Vaults in Dublin, this funny American guy, together with his tiny Irish partner, teach beginning swing for an hour and then open the floor for dancing. As I entered the room, my first impression was this: I've never seen so many men in a dance class before. We almost had enough to go around! And a few of them were even sort of good! So the lesson went quickly enough and then the dancing started. There's no holding back with these Irish, let me just say. I danced with a Romanian first however, who is really quite skilled but not very graceful. He's a fun dance partner though. I danced with Irish G-waoeith who has a really difficult traditional Irish name and will thus be called Irish G. Although he knows what he's doing, he sort of dances like a muppet a bit with his arms. If you pay attention to his hands, however you're in good shape. I danced with Irish Cahal who is big into Lindy. He sort of swung me into action and I was forced to admit that I was never very good at Lindy and simply don't remember the steps. He laughed and swung me anyway saying I'd get it. I didn't. But luckily a lot of laughter goes along with swing. As in my laughter, not others pointing and laughing. Although... And then I danced with American Todd. He's here with his work for a 3 month assignment where they try to convince him to move and he tries to make it a 3 month holiday. He's been dancing for 6 years and really knows how to move. It's so nice to dance with a man that knows how! I had a great time with him. Too bad he's leaving. He is very popular.

Last night, Former Flatmate Suzie, Housemate Clare and I went to a proper swing dance in town. We got dressed to the nines in swingy little dresses. FSS wore seamed stockings even. We started the night with champagne in Dowling's and arrived at the dance just in time to see the last half of the lesson. They were off to a slow start but around 10 the cabaret started, which included several dance routines and one belly dancing routine. I now want to take belly dancing lessons. (Joe, Mark, and Sarah? Consider yourselves officially recruited.) There was an auction to raise money for Irish guide dogs and then the dancing started. What I love about swing in Dublin that is different than swing in Dallas is the professionals; they don't keep to themselves. It's a much friendlier group. In Dallas, everyone pretty much stayed in their own little groups and no one ever got any better. But here, it's a free-for-all, which is really nice. We watched a lot of the really good people out there teaching the newbies some steps and still having a great time. Also, the Irish just have a tremendous capacity for fun than I 've never seen before. It was really a great night. Lots of girls in swirly skirts, quite a few men in suits, albeit the pros, and nary an empty dance floor all night long. I didn't dance nearly enough and neither did FFS but she's determined to learn now, after her hiatus from lessons. I realized I have a bias against beginners and definitely prefer intermediate and advanced dancers. There's nothing wrong with teaching a little, but I simply cannot spend the entire night counting it out for you. So I danced with American Todd, met his girlfriend, danced with Irish Brendan, who lies when he says he didn't grow up dancing, and British Derek with the cast on his arm. That's an odd sensation, dancing with a broken arm leading you. I definitely learned to hold loosely on that side.

FSS and I walked along the canal home. The moon was full and high in the sky, the water high on the banks and the air crisp and clean. It felt good after the sweat of the dance. I should have been born in another decade. I loved seamed stockings.

1 comment:

Tony @ OSU said...

Glad to see you are back. I guess I missed going dancing with you in school. Three semesters of CW dancing just rusting away. I enjoy partner dancing as well. It is a juxtaposition between intimacy and public exhibition. I like to relate it to designing architecture. You start out following a set of rules, you begin to become infatuated with the process, then you have to coordinate, and finally if all things come together it is a wonderfull experience. If not, somebody will always fall flat on their face. Just kidding. It is hard to believe we are halfway through our semester.