Leanne has been dancing in Manchester since 2010, and is one of Manchester’s most recognisable dancers in the UK Swing Dance Scene. Alongside an enjoyment of Lindy Hop, Leanne is especially passionate about solo dancing and is one of SwingOut Manchester’s Solo Dance Teachers.
We asked all of our team some questions about their Swing Dancing lives so far. Here is what Leanne had to say:
How did you first experience Swing Dance?
In 2010, there used to be a night in Manchester called ‘Yo Mama’s Cooking’. I went with a friend from university, not really knowing what to expect. There was tea, cake and… a Lindy Hop taster class. I did the class, absolutely loved it (although I was genuinely horrendous) and have been dancing ever since.
What is your go-to dancing outfit and why do you love it?
I think swivels are my favourite thing to do so anything that allows that. I love a pencil skirt with a split, or a nice pair of high-waisted trousers. Poofy skirts are not really me either; there is so much material and I feel restricted! And tights, I don’t understand how people can dance in tights. In terms of shoes, I love my Saint Savoy and Slide and Swing shoes. Remix is always a classic and I would love a pair from Chloe Hong or P.mela Swingin Shoes (when I become a millionaire).
What positive benefits has Swing Dancing brought to your life?
My cardio game is definitely on point. It is the best form of exercise I’ve ever encountered besides weight training. The people are super-friendly and the scene is so welcoming to everyone. I love the social dancing aspect but also ‘nerd-out’ reading up on the socio-political elements of the time so I feel more connected to the world that created such wonderful music and culture.
What motivates you to build the Swing Dance Scene in Manchester?
I love dancing in Manchester but I do think that there should be more dancing for a city this size. When you travel to other, smaller cities and you can dance every night, I always feel like more options should be available here. I want Manchester to rival any city in the UK and beyond for dancing. Everyone should have equal opportunities to leave a mark on the scene and help it to expand. Ultimately, the more social dancing opportunities we have, the more awesome, passionate dancers we will create!
Think of the best dance you’ve had? What made it so special?
The best dances I have with leads are the ones in which I feel like the person I’m dancing with is my best friend. Someone who has a good sense of musicality and trusts you enough to play within the dance is always fun for me. Technical execution and flashy moves generally leave me a bit cold. Saying that…know the rules, yes, but more importantly, know when to break them.
Which Dance Event is a “must” in your Swing Calendar?
Xpress Your Swing is fantastic and so is Paris Jazz Roots. And Lindy Shock… who doesn’t love being on a boat? In all honesty, I just like to go to a city, explore and find the social dancing in its natural habitat. I’ll pretty much go anywhere that there is an interesting cultural backdrop and good food!
Who are your favourite dancers to watch in the International Scene?
Locally, I love to watch Amy Miller dance. She has been my dance crush since I started dancing in 2010! Nationally, I love to dance with/watch Andrew Murphy (Hull) for his soulful moves, Lisa Bradley (Nottingham) for just being every kind of kick-ass and Martyn Nelson (Birmingham) for killing it with musicality. Internationally, I love Remy Kouakou Kouame, Andy Seo, Anais Sekine and Rikard Ekstrand for their awesome solo jazz badassness!
What’s your social dance power move?
Depends on the song. I am a 90s kid, I grew up with RnB, Soca, Bashment, Dancehall, UK Garage, Hip-Hop… I even love Grime! Any move that involves my bum is generally pretty awesome (use what you’ve got and all that). My comfort zone for busting out moves is mid-tempo but if you put on a fast song I really like (e.g. Trombonio- bustoso-Issimo by Duke Ellington) I will fully throw down with ninja-speed swingouts.
How do you deal with “mistakes” in your dancing?
The only real ‘mistakes’ are those misjudged moves that injure your partner or throw them off balance. Your number one priority as a dancer should be to look after each other and try things only when you know/feel it is safe to do so. In terms of ‘oh man, I messed up that 6-count move,’ types of mistake, they don’t exist for me. You can’t innovate without a little bit of ‘messing it up’ on the dancefloor.
If you had to sum up Swing Dancing in one sentence, what would it be?
I’m totally sweaty and I’ve never been happier.