Sunday, February 7, 2010

Swing dancing



I took a class on Sartre last year. We watched a video because my teacher was slightly incompetent. Various people who knew Sartre talked about the time in which he lived, the atmosphere into which he was accepted, and the strange freedom that the Paris youth were then embracing. Thousands of people came to his funeral. He was not only a philosopher or an adored public figure, he was one of the spirits of the time. He exemplified the thoughts of a new era, and offered further thoughts to expand that era. I don't know if he was right, what I do know is that in the video there were people dancing. People about my age in a black and white video. They looked free. We don't have that feeling of freedom anymore, but we still have swing dancing.

My roommate did swing when I moved in with her, and she convinced me to come along to a Saturday night dance with a live band. Because of the band the room was packed. First there was a lesson. Two teachers instructed us to get into partners. First we learned the basic step, and then a few simple moves. You meet a few people and learn a bit. There is nothing grand in it.

Once the lesson is over the instructors turn out the overhead lights and turn on a reddish spotlight. The DJ puts on a song and everyone starts dancing. It isn't just the things from the beginner class.  Throwing or jumping is not permitted because of limited dance space, but many of the people dancing are impressive and skilled dancers. Seeing all these people in the dim red light I realised that swing is still alive! After almost a hundred years this dance is still something that brings people out. I have been dancing for about a year now and I am always surprised by the enthusiasm. I can tell my friend about swing and she will ask me to take her along. It seems so esoteric but it isn't. It isn't just a few people playing with the past. It's alive.

If you live on Victoria please come out to Nothin' but Swing on Saturday nights. It's pretty amazing that this exists, so you should see it at least once.

1 comment:

Conda V. Douglas said...

It's necessary for us to dance. In modern cultures we've lost sight of the need to dance, be with people, music. Thanks for the great reminder--and it's great exercise!