I just got home from the "Swing and Soul" party weekend in Atlanta Georgia. It was basically a three-day celebration of the sounds of Motown, with 300-some lindy hoppers from all over the United States dancing their hearts out to great music all day and night.
I’ve always loved soul music, from Marvin to Diana to Otis. So learning how to appreciate and dance "soulfully" with a crowd of other fans was a real treat. And basking in the warm weather, eating awesome soul food, and hanging out with farflung friends added to an already great event.
Despite the title, the weekend was not confined to just one genre of music. The organizer’s
intent was really to celebrate soul in the dancer, no matter what music
she happens to be dancing to. So we had a blast dancing to R&B,
hip-hop, blues and funk being played alongside soul music.
Probably the most fun I had during the event was a loosely structured class on "dances of the 80s and 90s" taught by Spuds and Peter Strom. Doing the Running Man, the Roger Rabbit and the Kid and Play to songs like "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe, "Jungle Love" by Morris Day and the Time, and "Feels Good" by Tone Toni Tony, was like dancing back in time.
A highlight of the weekend for me was hanging out with popper Chibi Robot (aka
Bryan Gaynor), who performed and taught during the weekend. After
Chibi’s performance, I walked over to legendary dancer and musician
Dawn Hampton and asked her what she thought. She said to me, "he’s the
reply to anyone who says that they are too anything to dance. Too old,
too fat, too short. If he can do it, anyone can do it."
What I love about Chibi’s dancing is that he
epitomizes the maxim that less is more. Using the most minute of
movements of a finger or a head nod, he embodies the music he is
dancing to so deeply and powerfully. I would love to be able to strip
down my dancing to the bare essentials as he has.
Now I’m bone tired from non-stop dancing starting at 8pm on Friday night until 5am this morning. But underneath the exhaustion is a glow of satisfaction and peace. I love being a part of the lindy community.
Mad props to the "Swing and Soul" organizers : my buddy Spuds, Steven
Mitchell, Tena Morales, and Peter Strom. Congrats on a job well done.