Confessions of a Lindy addict

katiebrooks

‘If in doubt, wiggle something!’ – Katie Brooks

 

As a child, I learnt to dance in my village’s scout hut. We practised new routines for months until we perfected them: waltz, quickstep, foxtrot, tango. Every summer, we made our curtsies and took our exams in the church hall. I learnt how to hold my frame, when to rise and fall, how to position my hands and head, how to follow. The next year, I started to learn Latin dances, too. It was love at first step. The year I stopped dancing, I won our dance school’s award for the highest exam score in the Latin section. Age 12, I started playing women’s league hockey, quit dancing and that was that. I didn’t have proper dance lessons again for over a decade. Last year, I picked up swing dancing and got bitten by the bug right in the get-down.

It’s true what they say: Once you hop, you just can’t stop!

 

Here are 10 reasons why Lindy Hop is the new love of my life (and why it might just be yours, too):

 

  1. Learn your lesson: Lindy has a fascinating history that should be remembered and celebrated. Lindy Hop is the beautiful love child of African and European dance styles. It’s a wonderful hybrid of partner and solo styles: Charleston, Black Bottom, Cakewalk, Tap… This black magic in Hellzapoppin’ was brought to buzzing life in a society that still segregated people because of the colour of their skin.
  2. Circles of love: The swing community is one of the most welcoming, eclectic, supportive, bonkers and joyful groups of people I’ve ever had the fortune to slot into. ‘Circles of Love’ celebrate not only a collective love of dance, but birthdays, weddings, new beginnings… And, if you fancy showing off your slick steps, a jam circle might be in order…
  3. Sweatsville: Lindy Hop is a hot and sweaty business. If team sports and treadmills don’t turn you on, try Lindy. Exercise you can enjoy, hot damn. Plus, it’s a culture not centred around drinking alcohol, which is a total health bonus! Please swing responsibly.
  4.  In safe hands: There is a lot of emphasis placed on making sure everyone feels comfortable – consent is the foundation of all classes and social dances. It is always made explicitly clear that each partnership is entered into willingly or not at all and that (shock horror) consent can be revoked at any time. If you don’t want to dance tandem, you don’t. If you don’t like to dip, you don’t. Seems simple. Refreshingly, it is.
  5. Old dog, new tricks: The swing scene is delightfully diverse in terms of age. Whilst it’s raging through universities across the land, Lindy has a devout following in a nostalgic older generation too, as well as everyone in between. Swing knows no boundaries (apart from those of personal space and nice manners).
  6. I believe in music: Banging tunes about food and sex – what’s not to love?
  7. Monkey business: Well, just how exactly did you think one became King of the Swingers?
  8. It’s a shim-sham: Amongst all of the jazzy beats know to Lindy Hoppers, there are a few tunes that will always cause a reaction: from the stuff of flash-mob dreams – the Shim-Sham (danced to this banging tune) – to the jam-circle jam of choice – Sing Sing Sing
  9. All gear, no idea: Dressing up is highly encouraged. I may be a novice dancer, but at least I can dress like I know what I’m doing. Swing dancers come in all shapes, styles and sizes, but they do love to get footloose and fancy-free. Fancy-dress and bow-ties as standard – be still my beating heart.
  10. Sensible and silly-billies: First rule of Lindy Hop is THERE ARE NO RULES (apart from that immortal rule: don’t be a dick). Lindy hop is playful, energetic, joyful, silly and, more than anything, FUN.

 

And remember: In the immortal words of Katie Brooks, ‘If in doubt, wiggle something!’

 

Bee-byes…

You are feeling very sleepy…

Bedtime, or bee-byes as its known to our gorgeous two year old niece, can be a tricky one. And, as usual, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique for getting to Bedfordshire. It’s easy to get embroiled in an online debate or dither over the dishes and its difficult to call it a day. If you’re anything like me, the guilt of not having done something, or the day-after anxiety when you wake up in a shit-hole, can make it impossible to switch off and reduce that sleep deficit.

It’s not everyone’s cup of horlicks, but here are a few of my rules of thumb for making bee-byes as painless as possible:

  • 10 o’clock shadow: Have a planned bedtime. This can be different on different days if you have commitments mid-week. It helps to have an end-goal and makes it easier to let yourself stop.
  • Nightcap, anyone?: Alcohol is not a solution, and actually disturbs your restorative sleep so avoid at least an hour before bed. Warm, milky drinks like horlicks and unsweetened hot chocolate are great. Try non-dairy versions if you are lactose sensitive. Herbal teas are perfect if you want something lighter (in summer, for example). I like Pukka’s ‘Night-time’ and find peppermint or chamomile helpful, too.
  •  Thou art more temperate: Having a cool bedroom (temperature wise, your street cred doesn’t really come into it) will help you find the right sleeping climate. You can get cosy without being too hot. It’s easier to snuggle up that it is to cool down. Wear layers to bed in winter – more practical than a onesie. Unless you have a dragon onesie. Then always wear your dragon onesie.
  • Banish the beasts: Trust me, the last thing you want is a swift paw to the boob in the middle of the night. Nocturnal animals especially should be located elsewhere. Human and animal sleeping patterns are not always compatible.
  • List-less: If your mind is going 100mph, write a to-do list for the next day so you are prepared. You can let go of responsibility of those duties right now – you’ve written them down, you won’t forget.
  • Share the load: Worry people are a good way of unloading your anxieties. Unburden yourself to someone (NB: also works with real people).
  • Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly: There are plenty of sleep products out there but if you’re not into popping pills, try Badger Balm or the Body Shop’s Sleep Mist.
  • Talk-down: If all else fails, put on a guided mediation video or music. I like the idea of this Lord of the Rings/ Rivendell one!

Time for bee-byes… Sleep well, my little hobbits!