Although I rarely do any lindy hop these days because I want to concentrate on getting my West Coast Swing fundamentals right, I certainly don’t love lindy hop any less than I ever did. The robustness of the lindy hop connection (for non-dancers, I mean the feeling of physical connection between you and your partner) still feels like home to me, and there’s a raw explosive joy to lindy hop that I miss in the slickness and poise of WCS.
(That being said, learning WCS was certainly one of the best decisions I made in 2011. It took me right back to the high I felt when I first learned lindy hop and would leave each lesson with a big band beat in my heart, barely able to restrain myself from triple-stepping all the way home. I tell people that if you’ve never partner danced you can’t understand what you’re missing out on until you do it. But oddly enough, even though I had partner danced for several years before working life made me lazy, I still managed to forget just how much awesomeness it puts into your life until I started again.)
I am still far better at watching lindy hop videos on Youtube than actually getting off my ass and sweating through the dance, but here is where I come to the main reason for this post, which is to appropriate some of my favourite videos from Wandering and Pondering’s excellent roundup of 2011 lindy hop videos and share one particularly fantastic passage from his writeup. It is written in relation to this Skye and Frida performance, which is so deceptively simple that I could do all the moves in the routine (okay, probably only at one third of their speed). But my God, it’s how they do it that makes the routine soar.
You should read the whole section about this routine on Wandering and Pondering, but here’s the bit I liked best:
Here’s the thing, Skye & Frida know that you’re watching. They know that you expect them to do something amazing every other eight counts, but they’re over that. They’re going to swingout and Charleston and perfectly match the phrasing and feeling of the music with moves and their movements, and they’re going to do it not to impress you or to win first place. The reason why they look so relaxed and are having fun is because they are. They’re not hamming it up for the judges or even each other. They just enjoy each others’ company and express that best through dance.
Most people may not realize it, but this is what you’re looking for when you take all those lessons and try to figure out how to become a “good” dancer. Face it, not all of us are ever going to win a competition. No matter how many or how few people are in a given contest, there’s only going to be one winner. But you put all the time into it, so you can you can to turn to your partner and say, “Right here, in this moment, we are going to have the time of our lives.” And then be able say that with every damn dance you have with a straight face.
From this other Wandering and Pondering post in the same 2011 video roundup series, I also discovered the amazing Jamin Jackson, who apparently hasn’t been lindy-hopping for very long but is an absolute delight to watch. When he rules the lindy world in a few years time, I’m totally gonna claim cred for having begun stalking him on Youtube NOW.
I think his performance quality completely outshone Annie Trudeau’s here!
He is just as lovely in this Jack & Jill (for non-dancers, this means a routine improvised on the spot with a randomly assigned partner).
And from a third post in the same series, if this video of a father dancing with his tiny daughter in the Savoy Swing Jam 2011 Intergenerational Competition doesn’t put a sappy smile on your face, you are…apparently even less fond of children than I am, which is honestly rather shocking. 0_0
I’m not sure how funny this last video will be to you if you haven’t taken dance classes in the last few years and aren’t familiar with the whole practice of taking “recap videos” after each class. All I can say is that I’ve probably watched it about 20 times in 24 hours, and I crack up every damn time.