I had heard from a number of people that swing dancing is really good fun, so I decided to give it a try one Friday night with my flatmates.
Catz Corner, located in the plateau area of Montreal, offers a one hour lesson on Friday evenings for 8$. So we put on some comfy shoes, some flambouant dresses and went along.
There were about 50 other people there.They stood awkwardly with their shoes off, fidgeting with theirh ands and averting their eyes around the room.
“Grab a partner”, said the teacher. Everyone froze. That awkward, hilariously tense moment arose where people suddenly realised they would have to talk to a stranger and eventually hold their hand, waist and shoulder. It reminded me of ceilidh dance classes in primary school, where the thought of touching a boy’s hand was just, frankly, unbearable.
However, that awkward moment lasted only a few seconds before people came to smile, shake hands with others and introduce themselves. My first partner was called Toby, and he had been to swing dancing a few times before.
We were shown a series of steps, keeping to the beat of a fast paced 1-2-3, and then the music blasted out and we tried to dance. I realised after a short while how important it is in swing dancing to really feel the rhythm and let your hips go; to bounce with the beat and continously interact and move with your parter.
After a series of different beats, moves, pieces of music, I came to my next partner: Felix, a member of staff who worked at Catz Corner and who had been swing dancing for years. Needless to say, when the music started, I was whizzed away. We skipped, jumped, boogied and shook our hips, all the while I desperately tried not to step on his feet and tried to work with him and his body movements. It really, really, really helped being partners with someone who really knew what to do. All I needed to do was following, flexing my hips here and there and bouncing on my toes.
After an hour or so passed, it was time for our lesson to finish and the big dance to begin, where everyone, of all levels, comes together. Timidly, I crept into a corner with my flatmates, beads of sweat on my forehead and my eyes consciously looking at their vacant faces and not around the room, drawing attention.
“Oh hello”. A deep, Italian voice came from behind me. I then suddenly felt fingertips on my shoulder. “Want to dance?”, the voice said again. I slowly turned around to see a dark haired man standing infront of me, smiling. I quickly jerked my head back round to my friends, who were standing there giggling. They pushed me on, and so I did.
I tried to dance.
After writing this, I wanted to come back to it to add on another little section about another dancing event I went to, which was extremely different to my swing dance class.
“We dance through the streets of Montreal with headphones on.”
I was intrigued. What were they talking about? I learnt, after turning up at the Y intersection on campus, that this dance through the streets was a silent disco. This entails people dressing up in brightly coloured clothes, dancing and waltzing through the streets listening to their own earphones as they all suscribe to one podcast.
I’ve attach some photos below; no words can really do justice to how weird, whacky and wonderful this was.