Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Swing Dancing @ Cafe 1001

I've never met Olly before but already we're holding hands and preparing to swing. I'm nervous, he's trying not to tread on my toes, and it feels like it's the first dance at our wedding. Except we don't know anyone here and we're being barked instructions at by our extremely perky Australian teachers 'Ben!' and 'Genn!'...

Before today I'd never even heard the words 'swing out' but now it's my favourite thing ever. It basically involves two-stepping away from your accomplice while they swing you round and around. Olly, with his tight grip, is brilliant at it and as I gaze at him I realise that 'L' is for the way he looks at me. As I breathlessly thank him for dancing with me and move on to my next partner (victim?) I feel a pang as if I'm cheating on him, but as soon as I'm being sped about under Maz's commanding arms with gay abandon I forget all about it. I'm fickle like that.

We're all here (about 30 of us) at Café 1001 in Brick Lane to learn how to dance in a day. Supposedly. Mostly I've learnt that I have zero sense of rhythm, limited sense of timing and a complete inability to follow simple instructions. The day is divided into three sessions of an hour and a half each, with a half-hour break between each during which I lay on the sofas in the corner trying to drink enough Lucozade to keep myself going.

Firstly we tackle the 1930s Charleston which looks nothing like the Charlestons I've seen before and involves plenty of flicks and kicks and a neat side-by-side hand-holding move that would be lovely for some old fashioned turtle dovin'. The next session is my favourite as we take on the slightly easier six-beat lindy hop that involves plenty of fast between leg kicking (mind your toes) and a move that requires me to push against my partner's chest and then spring away from them, which is indecently good fun.

By the time our final session rolls round I'm knackered and though the eight-bit lindy hop is slower it involves a whole series of complicated moves that I'm too tired to master. The session is overly long but although I flag I'm never clock watching. Had I done five hours at the gym I'd want to throw myself under a stairmaster, but I've lost about a stone in sweat, met some cool new people and had a laugh learning a vaguely impressive skill. This is my kind of exercise.

I may have been a little more Anne Widdecombe than Erin Boag but it was such good fun I'm considering starting weekly classes. I'll be a swing queen yet.

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