By Rob Leach – Founder, SwingBuffalo.com
The point I’m making here is that you can either be passively entertained, or you can entertain yourself. In my case, watching TV was my entertainment, but when I saw that commercial, something inside me said “You should try that! That looks fun!” The khaki-clad models in the commercial were jumping around to this music and throwing each other in the air. It certainly looked exciting. You know, I’d never even heard of swing dancing before that! I’d taken a ballroom class before, but this was something different. I went to my first dance and was instantly hooked. It’s pretty easy to pick up and there’s such a breadth of styles and depth of technique that even the best dancers keep learning all of their lives.
What you probably first think of when you hear ‘swing dancing’ might be cheesy songs by groups like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Brian Setzer, but in the world of Lindy Hop, that phase has passed. The ‘lindy hop’ subculture is about music you never hear on the radio, but probably would if it was 1938. Along with recorded music directly from that era, there are contemporary bands that produce new songs with that genuine “swing-era” sound that you would typically hear at a dance today. When you hear this stuff, you can’t help but move to it. Dancing is now my life, though it’s not my day job. Anyone can do it.
When I moved to Buffalo, I started a lindy hop scene up from scratch. Now we teach and dance at ‘Lindy Fix’, our weekly event every Tuesday night at the Polish Cadets Hall on Grant St at Amherst (you can get details at LindyFix.com). Also, we have a huge event once a year called Rhythm Shuffle. This year we’re flying out arguably two of the best swing instructors in the World: Nick Williams, choreographer of ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ and Sylvia Sykes, affectionately known to the swing world as “Swing Goddess”. We’ll have lessons, dances with live bands, vendors, as well as a performance and contest. It’s this Sept. 16-18 and you can register online and get more details at RhythmShuffle.com.
Like Monica on Friends, all you need to do is do it (but here, no one will ever tell you “you’re doing it wrong”). No one picks it up on the first try, but of all the first-try opportunities that are out there, this one is a once a year opportunity. There will be attendees from all over the region and beyond. We even have registrants from Copenhagen, Denmark. You’ll get a chance to see what swing dancing is all about. I know that if you show up, it might just change your life like that Gap commercial did for me.