Oh the joy’s of zipping around the planet effortlessly on man-made birds. One minute I’m on one side of the planet, and it seems like only a few hours I can be on the other side of the world. This is a dream for those who love sharing Lindy Hopper in the far reaching corners of the earth. This last trip was especially unique, since it was my very first time teaching in the UK! Like most places that invite me to teach Lindy hop, the atmosphere was filled with electric anticipation from both students and organizers eagerly waiting for the event to kick off.
Though being slightly fatigued upon my arrival, I shared in the same excitement for the commencement of Bristol rhythm and roots Festival!
Bristol is a city in southwest England. As the largest city in the region it is a center for arts and sports. It has an eclectic combination of architectural styles, ranging from the medieval to 20th century brutalism and beyond. Lot’s of beautiful artwork on display throughout the city.
One of the volunteers for the event held a dance in his home which happened to be a remodeled old historic chapel in his neighborhood. We had a culture session were I talked a little about the history of swing and its significance on culture today, it’s effect on people during the the original time after the depression, and it’s importance of connecting people who are different today. I also had a great time trying to defeat the owner of the place! (The force was strong with that one.)
The classes for the event were particularly unique by focusing on the benefits and direct influence of solo dance forms on swing dancing. There were various solo classes that were offered. African,hip-hop, and solo jazz, all added a unique perspective on the vernacular rhythms throughout dance history. I couldn’t help but reflect on how bold the students were in trying new dance techniques. Most of the dance forms that were not swing were new for most of the students. They were at there highest level of potential anxiety and their lowest level of knowledge. Boy they were bold, and it was an awesome thing to watch. (Keep it up folks!)
The dancing during the evenings put an emphasis on partner dancing and solo dancing. Many jam circles formed by individuals solo dancing!
The music during the event was tremendously diverse, making room for Lindy Hoppers, hip-hoppers, African dancers, and tap dancers. One would have to have been in attendance to witness how the rhythm similarities made it easy for all these diverse dance forms to flow altogether. One DJ ended up playing a hip-hop African fusion set.
There was such a strong commitment by the local swing community volunteers. Everyone did their part. Some prepared food and lots of hot water for tea during the dances and the late night after parties. Others opened up their homes for housing, while many others showed up with a smile and we’re friendly to guest. Even the better dancers shared their time with people that were new on the floor. Sounds like my kind of place!
The last night of the event, I had the rare opportunity to visit a really historic jazz club called the O’l Duke. It was a special treat. I just wish I could’ve stayed longer.
There are always things that can make an event better. One thing that could make this event even better, is to have more opportunity for dancers to dance in the public.
I really look forward to seeing the growth of this dance community. They have great leadership in place, who have humble hearts, and have a true love for people and social dancing. Look out England! Lindy Hop is there to stay and it’s growing rapidly!
Big thank you to David, Tashi and all the volunteers for making this a special occasion for everyone. I look forward to revisiting this blossoming scene soon.