Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lord of the (Swing) Dance

I've always contended that I was born in the wrong generation. Despite my love for new technology and all the glorious innovations of the 21st century, my appreciation for the analog black-and-white era runs deep.

This is especially evident in my musical tastes. Here's a little test to illustrate my point. Name any song that was made famous by the following musical artists: Louis Prima, Bobby Darin, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Sammy Davis Jr.

If you rattled off answers such as "When You're Smiling," "Beyond the Sea," "In the Mood," "Corner Pocket," "Take the A Train," and "Birth of the Blues" (respectively), I would be very impressed and interested in hearing your iTunes library. But I fear it's more likely that you came up rather empty, which means you've missed out on decades of classic American songs by legendary artists who helped invent American popular music.

This is starting to sound like a 3 a.m. infomercial...I'd better get to the point.

This isn't about music. It's about dancing. Having loved this type of music (big band, swing, jazz, easy listening or whatever you want to call it) for years, it wasn't until college that I realized I could up the ante by taking swing dancing classes and enjoy the music on a whole other level. Ever since that first Lindy Hop class, I've been a swing dancing fool.

Why is a show like Dancing with the Stars so popular? Sure, people are curious to watch washed-up D-List celebrities and retired athletes shake whatever's left, but I think the less obvious appeal of the show is the fact that it's just plain fun to watch people dance. It's evident that a lot of hard work and practice has gone into the endeavor and dancers (especially swing dancers) usually look like they're having a blast. With a little lobbying, swing dancing could probably become an Olympic sport.

Check this out:

I can't do anything resembling the moves in that video (I've taken Lindy Hop I three times, Lindy Hop II twice and a couple classes in East Coast Swing), but it sure is fun to learn new moves and string them together. So if you have any sense of rhythm whatsoever or at least a willingness to try, I highly recommend taking a dance class at some point in your life. You'll probably discover some old-as-the-hills-but-new-to-you music along the way as well. Impress your grandparents!

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