Friday, February 20, 2009


There's a pause in the music, and all the couples around us can hear me hiss: Swing me between your legs! Chris grimaces like I'm wrong, and he's right because I stumble as get up the other side, and it's anything but a smooth move. I'm blushing as he leads me into a lindy-turn and wishing I wasn't such a show-off, or had paid more attention in lifts class.

The music's been a little off all night, a couple of high octane numbers that made us sweat out a mad, wild charleston, then lots of early stuff with strange syncopation and hidden beats. We sit out and watch what might be quickstep or foxtrot and then what is definitely collegiate shag, but done like its dancing, not like the strange show our teachers back in London put on. Right hands pointing straight up in the air. Camel step, camel step. There's a woman who could be an unfortunate forty or a very well-kept sixty-five rocking out in a black and white flapper dress and lace gloves. Her hips are probably a little fuller than when she was a girl dancing with clean-shaven sophomores, but she still dances in this nonchalent way like she knows she's the catch of the dancefloor.

There's a few kids our age who look like pretty decent dancers. They're swapping partners and trying out some pretty slick steps. We try to replicate them in the wings, but can't quite get the footwork. But given the fact that we haven't had a chance to dance for months we're not too shabby, we tell ourselves, it'll all come back. What does come back is the animal joy of it, of kicking higher and turning faster and not even thinking about it. We work well together, like two people who've told a story so many times they know when to prompt and when to sit back and let the other one hit the punchline.

The music slows and we corner these swing-kids and ask them where the action is in NYC. One of the baggy-trousered boys mention a place in Midtown.
"There's other stuff, but you always know you can go there on a Thursday night. And they have a beginners class too, which is free."
He says this line about the beginners class again, as if to rub the slight in. We've actually been lindy-hopping for a couple of years now. There are tight smiles all round.

Later, when the music picks up again it's tempting to redeploy the swing-out as a weapon of mass disruption. Baggy-trousered boy is, after all, within kicking distance. We'll give him a bloody beginners class.

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