Just recently, I returned to Europe to visit a young swing scene bursting with potential and ready to explode! This visit was my first to Freiburg Germany, and I was extremely excited to experience a brand-new culture within the global subculture of swing. The reassuring part in traveling to foreign lands is that everywhere I go in the world, swing dancers create the feeling of family.
I really didn’t know what to expect attending this event for the first time. Though arriving fatigued and jet lagged what ended up happening surprised even myself. I was met with one of the most ambitious groups of excited students ready to be empowered and unafraid to try new ideas. This positivity of course energized me and made waiting for the teaching sessions to commence seem like an eternity.
The workshop was held at one of the most prestigious tap dancing studios in Germany. The studio’s walls were decorated with bright vintage movie posters of good ol’ Fred Astaire. It looked great.
Smaller events provide enough intimacy, allowing most attendees plenty of opportunities to dance with everyone. The overall culture of these types of events feel more cohesively connected. Even during class sessions, I had the luxury of dancing with most of the students during rotations. Ultimately I enjoyed myself as much as the students did throughout the workshop. Maybe even more.
The evening dances were the icing on the cake, and the littlest thought of swinging out in a new venue replaced my after class exhaustion with giddy joy. The minute I approached the entrance to the dance hall hearing that muffled jazz swinging faintly in the background, all my energy returned. The funny part was that the evening dance was just their normal monthly dance, and the energy level felt like a massive event.
Attending weekly dances in newer scenes really excites me. I get the opportunity to briefly peak in on the local climate and overall vibe of the dancers. Usually upon my visit, there are classic social patterns that I pick up almost immediately. Some good, and some that can be better. Each person picks their corner and huddles next to their pack of friends. There were plenty of beginner dancers sitting on the outskirts, along with many first timers. Of course I could easily pick out the advanced dancers confidently hanging out next to the DJ on the erected stage. Also, lets not forget the occasional drunk person or the infamous “creeper” prowling around waiting to ensnare the innocent bystander unlucky enough to not be dancing at that moment. No matter what the language or location, the social interactions at dances seem to be similar everywhere I visit.
It appeared that most attendees danced late into the evening. I don’t blame them either, since the DJs kept the floor packed. Of course me being the social dancing junkie, persisted to dance the entire evening. Eventually, I got around to most of the follows. The Dj’s seamless timing crescendoed when the shim sham started. It’s always fun and never gets old to watch visitors grin excitedly while attempting to learn the routine as it unfolds. The simplicity of this routine and it’s contagious predictability, connects the average novice all the way to the elite Lindy Hoppers, at least for 3 minutes. I love that.
So, what did I think about Freiburg? Let’s just say I’m coming back! It’s a plowed field, ripe and positioned for growth, and poised to explode with new dancers. Freiburg lindy hop is in good hands. There are always things that can make events even better! Having the place for classes relatively close to the venue for the evening dance could make commuting less cumbersome.
Since I was there for about a week, many people put together random dances. These dances and celebrations were just as fun and memorable as the monthly dance. Thanks again for all those who made this event possible. Big thank you to Ira for teaching with me. It’s always a pleasure to teach with rising stars, and fellow social dancing addicts. Thank you Shiva and Anita for your generous accommodation, for all the laughs, coffee, lemon liquor, and for the small piece of the famous orange chocolate ball (thinking about it now:). I look forward to building a life long friendship! Big thank you to Tomasz for organizing the event in the midst of planning and administrating another event simultaneously. You are such an important personality and servant for that community. Keep investing! Big thank you to Jen for sharing the studio space and all the late-night practices. It’s exciting to know lindy hop has a solid school in Freiburg! Dunja, thanks for the ballet lesson, and dances!
Till next time Freiburg!!!
I rate this event ……. 4.1-5 shoes