Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Back to basics

Whilst I was in Copenhagen for the lindy exchange earlier this year, I got talking to some dancers on a rather interesting topic: does having all the moves necessarily make dancing any more fun?

I remembered when I first started dancing, I didn't know any fancy swing out variations (hell I didn't even know a basic) and I still had really fun dances.

Now, although I still have absolutely amazing dances, I find myself thinking 'what crowd/lead pleasing variation can I do next?' I can't help but wonder, am I over complicating things?

In a bid to encourage other dancers to ask for a dance (because let's be honest, it's fine asking for a dance but it is rather lovely to be asked) I'm essentially peacocking. But sometimes I've been a victim to my own attempt at flashiness, mistiming a variation and totally missing a beat.  

I find myself panicking when I dance with a lead who throws in every move in their arsenal and often find some of my favourite dances are ones where the lead uses a few select moves but executes them really well.

Maybe it's time to strip back my own dancing and stop peacocking for any Tom, Dick, or Harry.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Well heeled

There was a time when the thought of dancing in heels left me in a cold sweat. In fact I even wrote a whole blog post here about it! But I have to admit that I was wrong because I am now a dancing in heels convert.

I remember the weekend it happened. It was at GNSH this year. Saturday night. I'd been dancing in heels since 9pm and it was now midnight. Not only had I not fallen arse over tit but my feet didn't hurt and I actually found my dancing was improved wearing them. I didn't want to jinx it, despite the rising excitement, I kept it to myself. By the last night, feet still not aching and arse not covered in bruises, I told my friend - the excitement was real! It's kind of like the first time you go from wearing a training bra to wearing a real bra - I was a real dancer now.

The Anita shoe didn't quite work out for me
Much to the delight of  my already heel wearing friends who had tried to persuade me for some time to wear them, now when I head off dancing the heels are in the bag before anything else (and certainly before the fan which, despite the fact I own eight, have made it along to precisely one

The thing that made me see the light so to speak were the Miss L Fire (I am beyond obsessed with their shoes, the Loretta - in both colours!! - being the latest additions to my collection) Vista flapper shoes, bought in the boxing day sale for the absolute bargain of £45 at good old Lakeside.

My first pair of dancing shoes were a Remix pair, the Anita 1930s shoe. The were beautiful shoes but when I bought them I didn't know you were supposed to buy a size smaller than you needed as the leather stretches - so as you can imagine, after one night's out dancing I was sliding around in them like nobody's business - not ideal!
This was the weekend, in my hotel room at GNSH when my heel dreams came true...

So now I have found a pair that work for me (at the London Lindy Exchange I had them on one night from 8pm until 5.30am!) they have become like shoe royalty in my collection, despite the fact I own much more expensive pairs. They get kept in a special shoe bag (bought at the Copenhagen Lindy to have a souvenir) and they get cleaned to keep them in tip top shape.

I still dance in flats on the odd occasion; by the end of the Copenhagen exchange the thought of putting heels on could have made me cry - I'd gone straight to that exchange from the London one so by the last night I'd been dancing for ten days straight so I think it's allowed.

And on a totally vain note, heading out dancing in a nice dress looks so much nicer (in my opinion - each to their own before anyone shouts at me) than my skanky white pumps. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

GNSH 2016

So this morning, 6am, I was still dancing away at Goodnight Sweetheart (GNSH). Now a few hours later I'm at my desk, the feeling of tiredness being totally overwritten by the huge high I'm still on after the weekend.

Jiveswing who run GNSH will always have a place in my lindy life as I learnt with them when I started Five years ago, so the weekender is always something I look forward to.
Advanced class fun with Joseph Sewell and Audrey Da Sois. Photo by Joseph.

It may not be the biggest camp, or in the most exotic location (try as I might, Watford just isn't sexy), but what lacks in size and location it more than makes up for in atmosphere and the level of teaching.

Sitting at my desk now, I can feel my legs and feet throbbing after the hours I've spent in class and on the social dance floor this weekend, but it's a pain that is totally worth it because I always learn so much.
I never remember my fan. Ever. This was a momentous moment!

Highlights of the weekend class wise were the two tasters I attended, Joseph Sewell's Blues (the old school, couldn't get a piece of paper in between a couple style) and Eglė Nemickaitė and Arnas Razgūna' shag taster.

I love learning new moves and techniques in the advanced classes I signed up for but it's always fun to have a go at something new!  
The last night survivors picture. Tired, achy, but having oh so much fun. Picture courtesy of the lovely Alex Gall
I also entered the Jack and Jill again this year, didn't place (obviously) but I just love the experience so it's a joy nonetheless. But my amazing dancer of a friend Florence came second which was too exciting!

And as always, I had some amazing dances, both with people I already knew and new faces. 

Every time I go to a camp it just reaffirms how much I love dancing, and that even having to hobble up the stairs because I've got achy legs and the odd bruise is so, so, so worth it! 

All in all, roll on 2017 I say! 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Leading the way

Having been dancing for five years this year (where did that go?!), I decided this year to set myself a dance goal; I want to learn how to lead.

If occasion arises I can sort of maneuver someone around the dance floor but not being great at it I tend to avoid doing so. A good friend of mine (usually a follow) is an amazing lead so I thought it was high time I lead the way.

Since the beginning of the year I've been doing a Swing Patrol class in Finsbury Park (and making new friends) as a lead and I'm loving it. And I must say, my eyes have been truly opened to how difficult leads have it. Having to think of moves, having to lead moves, it's so much pressure.

So far I'm really loving, and it helps that the two teachers, Tae and Roberto are pretty awesome. The one thing I'm struggling with is dancing with follows who don't relax so I'm finding it difficult to do swing outs for example.Any tips from leads there would be appreciated, I don't want to feel like I'm manhandling follows, and I'm sure they're not mad on that either.

I don't feel confident enough yet to ask people I don't know to dance with me leading, I think I need to have a few more lessons first. Sadly for the follows that know me, you may have to endure a dance while I learn to lead.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Dancing on home turf

Since my class in Holborn binned its jazz class and the advanced level classes, I have to admit that sadly the number of times I go dancing in the week has reduced. I've even taken to getting of one tube stop early to make up the extra exercise I'm missing through lack of dancing!

Now when I do go dancing I usually head to Dalston to Passing Clouds (my absolutely favourite place!!) or the Scolts head, which are a bit of a mission to get home to. 

Thankfully a new Swing Patrol class has opened in Finsbury Park, just two stops from where I live! Joy!

So as of the first class last week (I say first but I think it closed down and re-opened with new teachers) I now have somewhere again I can go dancing each week! 

And the best thing is the teachers are ace, Tae is amazing and I was chuffed she would be teaching so close to where I live. I'm really excited to be learning from her again; she used to teach the jazz class at my old Holborn classes.

I even joined in the beginners class; I’m determined to learn how to lead properly so thought ‘why not?!’
I’m looking forward to extending my lindy friends circle and meeting and dancing with some new people.

Friday, 20 November 2015

A piece of history

Last month I was lucky enough to get to take part in the celebrations for Waldorf Hilton’s £13.5 million refurbishment. 
Champagne please!

Part of the celebrations included a tour of the new Astor Suite (which officially became the best suite/hotel in the world when  I saw the 'Press for Champagne' button in the room - you literally press it and champagne is brought up to the room by a waiter!) and a chance to dance in the Palm Court. 

People have danced and socialised in the Edwardian ballroom since its opening in 1908, and the place has become such an important landmark that the building is protected. This protected status means that certain things cannot be changed, altered or revamped, so rather charmingly the floor in the Palm Court is covered with the nics and scratches as a result of over 100 years worth of dances. 

Dancing to live music in the Palm Court

Totally charmed by this factoid, dancing there that night was made all the more enjoyable, knowing I was literally dancing on history. 

As well as dancing there was a performance by the Twin Swing and a dance class from Strictly Come Dancing's Matthew Cutler.
Dances have been held in the Palm Court since the hotel opened in 1908. The evidence of that fact can been seen on the floor.

Tea dances are held most months at the hotel and the £62 a ticket includes a delicious afternoon tea and live band - nothing beats dance to live music. 

To book and for more information visit  

Monday, 16 November 2015

Vintage and dancing

Vintage dancing, or rather dancing in vintage splits opinions. 

There’s the camp who want everything from the music and the dancing down to the shoes and outfit they wear to be original. Or there’s the camp I’m in, the ones who would rather wear reproduction through fear of damaging their real vintage.

Out dancing in my reproduction (top from Collectif and shorts from River Island - you can also find some great items on the highstreet!)
I’ll be the first to say I love, love, love original vintage clothing. My wardrobe is full of it and I feel at my most attractive and best when wearing it, but I would never dream of wearing it dancing. That doesn't include accessories though, a vintage headscarf is a favourite of mine.

For a start I’ve seen (and heard) far too many rips and tears in true vintage items at dances. And as blunt as it sounds, yes I feel very sorry for them, but what did they expect? Lindy is a fast dance at times and accidents can happen. I would much rather have an accident happen to my reproduction item than the real deal, especially as a curvy girl who has to put in the extra work to find that perfect fitting vintage gem. 

That said people should wear whatever they want so if they are comfortable taking that risk then fine. But the thought of wearing my original 20s silk dress and it getting damaged brings me out in a cold sweat.

Out to dinner in my original 50s dress (an etsy gem!)
Washing too often can be incredibly wearing for all clothes especially older items. And if you’ve spent the night dancing away there is no way washing your clothes can be avoided. Another reason reproduction is best for me. 

When it comes to true vintage, especially when it’s delicate, I do choose to wear it for special occasions – and yes for me that does include to the office, well you’ve got to make the effort haven’t you? But my true vintage will never be seen on the dance floor.