The Dancing Bug

Edinburgh Expeditions

“It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind;–but when a beginning is made–when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt–it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.”
-Jane Austen

I have been bitten by the dancing bug. The jitter bug, one could say. Dancing, swing dancing in particular, is addictive. It is, for lack of a better phrase, my drug. The high that I get from a night of dancing keeps me going through the week, the perfect fix to the Wednesday lows.

Lately, I’ve found that two days a week isn’t cutting it. I want to dance all the time. I was fortunate last week, dancing on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. But just the same, it isn’t enough. My friends and I are panicking, trying to figure out how we’ll continue with our dancing obsession over the summer months, when the uni society stops running.

Jane Austen speaks the truth. One can do without dancing. But once you’ve started, once it’s grabbed and enthralled, you count the days to your next opportunity.

The Improbability of University Life

Edinburgh Expeditions

Sometimes, I feel as though my life ought to be a movie. There are moments that are so improbable, so scripted, that if I didn’t partake or witness them myself, I would scarcely believe that they had happened.

One of those days happened Monday. My swing dance group was tapped to perform in a flashmob (we do this a lot) to advertise for an upcoming jazz club night. It was only supposed to be a few minutes, to get some photographs for our society and for the club night. My friends and I grinned and danced, wearing t shirts and cardigans despite the cold. We had the soft sounds of an iPod to dance to, only enough to catch the rhythm and make up the rest from there.

My friend and I started dancing, rock-step-triple-stepping, lindy-turn, rock-step-triple-step-step-step-triple-step. We laughed at the ridiculousness of dancing to the music we could hear (sort of), but the rest of the world could not.

We were ready to stop after a few minutes. Our silly group attracted a few bystanders.

The sound of a solo saxophone cut through the chilly night.

Our little group looked up, surprised. What was this sound? Were we to continue?

“Great!” said one. “Music!”

All we could do was continue dancing. We couldn’t resist live music, even if it were just one saxophonist.

I switched dance partners. As I spun, I noticed someone wheeling a double bass case. I thought nothing of it as I continued to dance, focusing on not twisting my ankle on the concrete. The thump-thump of the bass strings joined the saxophone.

An entire jazz band sprouted from the pavement. A trumpeter materialized, another saxophonist joined the throng. Finishing off this spontaneous band was a percussionist on cymbals.

Through it all, as we twirled around the main university square, more and more people stopped to watch, intrigued by the musicians and the dancers, two crazy groups out on a cold, early March night.

If it were to be filmed or presented in a novel, it would be considered a contrivance, a plot device, something to initiate the ‘meet cute’ between the hero and heroine, or the climax of the (undeniably cheesy happy) story. No one would believe something like that could really happen.

Further Adventures in Lindy Hop

Edinburgh Expeditions

Yesterday, I took my first flying lesson. Me, the happily grounded, afraid of heights individual, decided to take an aerials workshop.

This is what aerials look like:

Given that my programme leaves me little to no time to travel, I decided to take the ten pounds I would have spent on a RyanAir flight or in a disgusting hostel and put it to a more productive use–learning to fly.

In my first aerials lesson, I learned four–a basic frog jump (I think), a frog jump rotating 180 degrees (I jump and my leader turns, so that when I land I’m 180 degrees away from where I started), a tandem Charleston jump, and…the backwards somersault. Or backsault, as they called it. Needless to say, I’m rather stiff and sore from using muscles that I usually neglect.

I’m looking forward to next Saturday’s follow up lesson. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Dancing like a classy, talented person

Edinburgh Expeditions

When I moved here, I decided to take up a new hobby. Something fun, to keep me active, and take my mind off of my studies. I don’t want to get overwhelmed and go mad.

So, in thinking of ways  to get involved, I went to what I enjoyed before hand. Film clubs, theatre groups, even art club. But something stuck at the back of my head. I don’t know how to dance. Oh, I’ve done several types of dance as a kid and teenager, but I don’t really know how to dance.

So I’ve taken up the lindy hop. Why lindy hop? It’s fun. It’s cheap. It’s a social dance. I don’t have to be all serious like in tango, and if I mess up on the steps, I can easily fix my mistake.

That, and the social aspect of the club is really, really awesome. If I want, I can go dancing three times a week. Which, time permitting, I’ll go at least twice.


One of these days, I’ll be this good! But probably not for a couple of years.