By Michelle Perkins:
For a lot of us, the phrase “I’m going to the dance” hasn’t passed our lips since high school. But Rob Leach, an instructor with Swing Buffalo, says there are plenty of good reasons to think about saying it again. Dances, after all, have always been about more than dancing. “Social dance, for many of us, is a way of life. The bonds and friendships you form with other dancers can last a lifetime–many of us have met some of the most important people in our lives through swing dance. We celebrate each other’s birthdays and momentous occasions, support each other during rough times, and help each other achieve goals on and off the dance floor.” He adds, “Social dancing is also great exercise that builds your cardio endurance and tones muscles without requiring the boring resolve and self-discipline of donning sweats and doing a typical exercise regimen.”
If you’re thinking about diving in, a great first stop on your dancing adventure is Swing Buffalo’s weekly Lindy Fix, a mainstay of their calendar since 2008 and an event that attracts everyone from college kids to retirees. Each event begins with a group lesson in the Lindy Hop, the most popular style of west coast swing dancing. It’s led by the group’s rotating roster of accomplished teachers, so there’s a little something different every week. “Swing Buffalo tries to create an inviting social atmosphere for beginners, and the lesson is a great way to meet new people, since we regularly rotate partners. This means you don’t need to come with a partner. Everyone dances with everyone at swing dances, so you never have to worry about not having someone to dance with,” says Rob. “If you come with a partner and prefer to dance with only that person, that’s okay too. As long as you show up, we’ll make sure you have a great time!”
After the lesson, the socializing and dancing begins. Usually, this is accompanied by recorded music plucked from a broad subculture of hot swing artists (check out their iMixes on iTunes). On select nights, however, dancers are treated to some of Buffalo’s best live bands–and the combined energy of the dancers and musicians creates an environment that’s almost electric. Paul Todaro, lead vocalist and bass player for the Skiffle Minstrels, says each dance is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “When you’re dancing to a live band, the event is made in the moment. A dance bad prioritizes the dancers–extending, shortening, pumping up, pulling back, pushing, relaxing, etc. The dancers really have to listen–and so do we! Imagine the power of a room full of people all working toward a common goal. It truly is an ‘event’ because it’s temporal–it only happens once.”
Lindy Fix events are held every Tuesday at Polish Cadets (927 Grant Street at the corner of Amherst) and begin at 8:00pm. On May 17, the Skiffle Minstrels will be the featured band. Other upcoming events from Swing Buffalo include “Buffalo Hop” on July 16, and a weekend-long, national-level swing dance event called “Rhythm Shuffle” September 16-18. Check out www.lindyfix.com or www.swingbuffalo.com for details.
Photos by Nathaniel Allen