If you dance with Rachel, you’ll find it hard to believe that she has only been dancing for around 2 years. Now one of Manchester’s recognised faces across the wider dance scenes, Rachel strongly values a connection to the music when dancing.
We asked all of our team some questions about their Swing Dancing lives so far. Here is what Rachel had to say:
What positive benefits has Swing Dancing brought to your life?
A brand new set of friends, laughter, exercise, a worldwide community.
How did you first experience Swing Dance?
I heard about Lindy hop probably about 3 years ago from friends of friends, Sid and Rachel, who dance at Manchester Lindy. I didn’t end up going until the end November 2016 when a colleague from work said she’d come with me. I caught the dancing bug big time and now most of my spare time involves some kind of swing dancing.
Think of best dance you’ve ever had, what made it so special?
Fun is a given but also a sense of sharing. A real two way conversation and connecting with the music.
What’s your go-to dancing outfit and why do you love it?
Now this is hard as taking up swing dancing has seriously expanded my wardrobe. For more dressy events I love to wear big 50s dresses with full circle skirts and big fluffy petticoats because when you spin the effect is so cool. However they do really fly up so I always wear safety pants! For more casual stuff I like to wear vintage looking high-waisted trousers paired with a light, sleeveless blouse to keep me cool. And shoes…oh the shoes…I love to wear reproduction vintage dance heels. My go to are my ivory and tan oxford shoes by Re-Mix. They look the part, go with everything, are not too high and most importantly comfy and stable to dance in. Lastly, you get hot pretty quick whilst dancing to swing music so I always need my hair up and flower clips are a pretty way keeping my hair out of my face and off my neck when dancing.
Who are your favourite dancers to watch in the International Scene?
Whether it’s teachers or amazing social dancers I think what I’m attracted to is a sense of fun and musicianship. Flashy moves look impressive but if it doesn’t match the music and the people don’t look like they are enjoying themselves then it’s missed the point for me. Too many to mention but here are a few dancers who I love to watch on YouTube: Cat Foley, Kevin St Laurent and Jo Hoffberg, Stephen and Chandrae, the Decavita sisters…
Which Dance Event is a “must” in your Swing Calendar?
Hullzapoppin’ in the UK. Full of my favourite teachers and dancer friends and they sure know how to throw a good party in Hull. It always has the best vibe. Also Leeds Swing Revolution for similar reasons. Abroad, Swing Summit was super special for me. They have really well structured teaching with built in practice time, small class size so lots of individual help and a small community feel (I find some of the bigger camps overwhelming at times). All set in the beautiful French mountains with great veggie food and a swimming pool.
What’s your social dance power move?
I go through phases of using one favourite move to death before moving on. At the moment it’s swivels. I’ve wanted to get better at them for ages and I’ve recently had several great classes on them from Cat Foley and Katja Uckermann so I’m putting them in all the time so I can get them better.
What motivates you to build the Swing Dance Scene in Manchester?
Sharing the love. It has changed my life. It would be pretty cool for other people to find the joy that is swing dancing. Plus for me it means even more people to get to know and dance with. Win win.
How do you deal with “mistakes” in your dancing?
Laugh about them and carry on dancing.
If you had to sum up Swing Dancing in one sentence, what would it be?
Pure joy, my happy place.