Swing Saturation

At dancing tonight, two separate teachers told me (unasked) I’d really improved a lot recently. I was thrilled, of course, but I reckon the secret behind my improvement is that I’ve been obsessed with this video for weeks, so I might as well share it with you.


Much like the last video I shared here this is a crossover improv where they’ve paired one West Coast Swinger (Tessa Cunningham) with one lindy hopper (Max Pitruzzella). I could and do of course watch “pure” videos where both dancers are equally in their element, but I suppose my fascination with the crossover ones stems from the same thing I like about So You Think You Can Dance. I like seeing how someone so proficient in one style of dance handles crossing over to another, and I suppose I hold out hope that in time, I too will be able to do both these styles well and cross between them successfully. At the moment I’m mediocre and unfit in lindy hop, mediocre and inexperienced in West Coast Swing, and the main aspects of crossover between them are my bad habits and awkward styling. So I’ve got quite a bit of improvement to look forward to!

But back to the video. I love the WCS portion because I basically started learning WCS in order to be able to have a partner dance I could do to hip-hop, and I love Max’s vibe and musicality here. I think he does a great job for someone who usually dances like this, and I somehow found him sexier here than I ever do when he’s doing lindy hop. Tessa is obviously smoking hot in the WCS portion, and I think she keeps up admirably with Max in the lindy portion. So yeah, I think by dint of sheer saturation viewing, some of the coolness in this video has finally seeped into my own dancing. Who knows, maybe with the same method I’ll manage krumping some day too…

Swing Outta Compton

A little over ten years ago I learned how to lindy hop in a little Tanjong Pagar shophouse. About three years ago I learned how to DJ in a little Tanjong Pagar shophouse. And tonight, I had my first West Coast Swing lesson in a little Tanjong Pagar shophouse. Little Tanjong Pagar shophouses rock.

Anyway, because I’ve had a few friends ask what West Coast Swing is, what lindy hop is, and whether dancing either of these invariably involves being thrown in the air, I thought I’d share a video which I think is a nice demonstration of how both these dances work in an improvisational, non-airborne setting – which is how I, and most normal non-dance-champ people, would enjoy doing them. The first dance they do is West Coast Swing, the second is lindy hop.


West Coast Swing is a little too slick to be as immediately endearing as lindy hop has always been for me, but I’m still keen to learn it for its versatility. Unlike lindy hop, which is most typically danced to big band music, West Coast Swing can be danced to almost any pop music, and as much as I love Duke Ellington, the thought of swinging to trashy pop is rather intriguing.

Dork Love

Okay, so I really do have to come completely clean at some point about why I neglected this blog for several weeks. I was consumed with lust for a reality TV show contestant. To be exact, this man.

Yes, srsly.

I didn’t actually start off liking him much. I’m not keen on the Showcase swing dancing he specializes in – basically, lots of choreographed lifts and tricks – so I wasn’t particularly impressed when I saw him dance one of his championship routines during his audition for the show. Plus, how do you take someone seriously whose actual, official name is “Benjiman”?

So when he started off the competitive rounds by being paired with gorgeous curvy hip-hop/jazz diva Donyelle for a booty-pumping Shane Sparks hip-hop routine, I was all ready for him to suck, but he totally didn’t. This routine set the stage for what would be one of the most awesomely enjoyable seasons of reality TV I’ve ever watched (and I’ve watched a lot, y’all), and Benji and Donyelle went on from strength to strength with a rather delightful cha-cha, a pretty fierce (in the Tyra Banks sense) pop-jazz and a dreamy Viennese waltz. Benji also did some great dances with other people, like this joyful jazz routine with Natalie and two crazy slick Latin dances with his cousin Heidi, but my favourites are unquestionably the ones he did with Donyelle because I went crazy for their partnership in a way I haven’t since Mulder and Scully. Yes, I’m fully aware this is a bizarre thing for a twenty-six year old to get sucked into, but talk to the hand.

Hot moves.

Hot ass.

Hot chemistry.

Hot couple.

I also started coming across Youtube videos which showcase what I really admire about Benji’s dancing. Jack and Jill routines are almost always my favourite part of a swing dance event because I love being blown away by what good dancers can improvise on the spot, with a randomly assigned partner and music they haven’t heard till they’re standing on the dancefloor and it starts playing. This one’s my favourite because halfway through it becomes obvious that he loves the same superstar dancer who ruled my teenage years. This one’s got lots of nice slinky moves. It’s frankly hard to believe this one isn’t choreographed because they’re so amazingly in sync, but I guess that’s what you get when two swing champions get paired.

So perhaps you’re thinking, this is all very well but I still don’t get why this skinny dorky Mormon swing dancer constitutes her biggest celebrity crush of the past few years?

Perhaps this will help?

Um, yee-hah?

Other stuff that works for him is his endearingly goofy personality, and I admire the fact that he walked away at the peak of his dance career to serve a two-year Mormon mission in Mexico, then came back, set up a charity to continue helping their community, and reclaimed his US Open Showcase swing title the same year. Boy has heart, gumption and is ripped.

What’s not to love?