Matthew is the Head of SwingOut Manchester
A Dancer and Teacher of several years, he has taught classes, workshops and festivals across the UK and Ireland. A passionate supporter of all dances that Swing, he is a Lindy Hop addict and loves to bring fun, laughter and silliness to dancing.
We asked all of our team some questions about their Swing Dancing lives so far. Here is what Matthew had to say:
How did you first experience Swing Dance?
I had some friends who had been trying to convince me to try it for a couple of years but it wasn’t until 2011 that they convinced me. I have always loved the music and when I saw the dancing I thought it looked energetic and awesome. Once I was hooked, I never looked back. I still find it hard to believe how much of an impact it has had on my life.
What positive benefits has Swing Dancing brought to your life?
I would say it has broadened my horizons. I feel it has made me a more open person, someone who embraces new experiences and new people. I look forward to meeting people in the world and it is amazing the stories you hear and people you come across. The community that you will meet through this dance brings a meaning to your life that is just too difficult to describe.
What is your go-to dancing outfit and why do you love it?
Anybody that knows me will know that there will be an element of Maroon in there somewhere. Must have a pair of high-waist trousers, crisp white shirt and probably my maroon element would be the tie and jacket. Oh and brogues, it is all about the two-tone brogues, possibly my favourite footwear I can wear at any time.
Think of the best dance you’ve had? What made it so special?
Too many special dances to name. It is the feeling of creating something that afterwards you know was unique and special and left you wondering how you could establish a connection with somebody, such a musical and creative connection, in just a few minutes. For me I love it when a dance feels limitless, that there is such a good understanding between you and your partner that neither of you are afraid to try anything. If something doesn’t quite work, then that equally is enjoyed for its experimentation. The feeling that everything feels as connected between you and your partner as it does to the music.
Which Dance Event is a “must” in your Swing Calendar?
Hullzapoppin’ – hands down! Every year, without fail. The people, the vibe, everything about that event is a celebration of Swing Dancing.
Who are your favourite dancers to watch in the International Scene?
I would say Hector Artal and Sonia Ortega along with Jamin Jackson. I love watching how they take a movement to its very extension to see if there is something more that can be created from it. I feel there is such a clear philosophy running through their dancing and it is very personal to them which gives it so much meaning.
What’s your social dance power move?
Got to be the Swing Out – there’s a reaason why it is “the” move of the Lindy Hop. Nothing can quite match that feeling of either Swinging your Partner out or being Swung out!
What motivates you to build the Swing Dance Scene in Manchester?
In some ways, because it is home and it’s where I am from way back when. Since I have moved back to the city I have been overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the city itself – it really is a city that has everything it could possibly need to have a truly great Swing Dance Scene that is shared across all of the dance. Not forgetting also the people here are some of the best you can hope to meet. My motiviation as a dancer or teacher is always to aid the development of Swing Dance in the North of England – that is what drives me.
How do you deal with “mistakes” in your dancing?
Every mistake is progress. When I am dancing I am constantly asking myself “Is that a thing?”, then I would try it and either the answer would be, “Yes, that’s a thing” or “No, that’s not a thing, or at least not yet”. You are in the best position to grow as a dancer if you let go any fear of failing.
If you had to sum up Swing Dancing in one sentence, what would it be?
Quite simply you’ll wonder how you ever managed to live without it.