I went to Herrang Dance Camp this summer with a back that hadn’t really fully recovered from an injury a week earlier. This meant very little social dancing in the evenings but I managed to have a few dances and one of them really stuck with me.
“I Wanna Do That Too!”
I had gone to Dansbanan straight after the usual evening meeting. This is when the DJ always plays beginner friendly music, there is plenty of space and people tend to ask whoever happens to be there for a dance, not just people they already know.
Anyway, I danced with a guy who was in the first stages of what I hope will be a long Lindy Hop career. He knew very few moves and they were quite basic. What he did have, however, was a big smile on his face and a lot of focus on me.
Every time I did a variation in my footwork he would notice. Occasionally he would do a break and try some jazz steps. This was clearly a new concept to him and they were not fancy ones, but they were in time with the music and if I did something different or a little variation on them, he would react and sometimes try to copy with a happy “I wanna do that too, that looks like fun”-expression on his face.
Sharing a Dance Experience
Basically, what the guy did was make me want to be just as responsive to him and to share in a way that was also fun for him. Not in a “teacher” way. Not in an “I’m a better dancer than you and I’ll make sure you know”. I just wanted to give back because he was so clearly paying attention to me and was willing to take risks for the sake of our dance. We were doing what social Lindy Hop is all about. Sharing what we hear in the music and how it makes us feel. Sharing steps and sharing an experience.
It was one of those dances that ended with a big spontaneous hug and a dance buzz that quickly evaporated during my next dance with a guy who was probably on the advanced Lindy track, had a flawless swing out – and didn’t look me in the eyes once.
I could go on about my fun dance with the first guy but I still can’t make you part of it. That’s the whole point. It was something that happened between him and me at that specific moment in time.
I’ve however found this clip to illustrate the feeling. It’s filmed in an unusual way because it doesn’t show the feet. The dancers are all great – they are some of my personal heroes – and you can watch it for the dancing alone but when you have done that, then look at it again.
It’s not social Lindy Hop. It’s not even Lindy Hop. It’s solo jazz, it’s choreographed, it’s a performance and they don’t hold hands – at least not until the very end. Sure, they all know how to put on performance faces, but I love the interaction between them and the way they react to and acknowledge each other – while still managing to make the audience part of the experience too. You could also say that they have two audiences: The crowd and each other.