Whether you have specific questions about the various swing dances, dance fashion, dance history, dance music, whatever - or if you just want a casual chat about dancing and all things related - feel free to ask away! I’m always available to talk about dancing.
Swing dancing has greatly influenced my wardrobe. My style pre-dancing was pretty standard fare. It’s worth noting that I detested hair bows and skirts/dresses. Then I started swing dancing… and that changed everything. I always wear a skirt or dress. I almost always wear pearls. I wear a lot of red lipstick, Keds, hair bows, and polka dots. Apparently I look like a lindy hopper. Who would have ever thought.Well, it’s finally started happening. People I don’t even know are asking me if I’m a lindy hopper because of the way I dress.
I take these questions as a compliment. And most of the time, they actually are.
I’ve recently been expanding my personal dance horizons, including west coast swing which I have fallen in love with. Because it is a swing dance and this is a swing blog, I’ve been thinking about branching out this blog a bit to also include WCS. Up until now it’s been lindy-focused (unintentional pun) and thus my audience is made up primarily of lindy hoppers. That being said, I know some of you also do WCS.
So, how would you feel about also seeing WCS content on this blog? Should I make a separate blog for WCS? Would I have an audience for that? Any and all feedback and ideas are welcome!
We’ve all been there: you buy that brand-new pair of Keds (or Aris Allen sneakers, or City Sneaks) and within a couple weeks, the shining white canvas has devolved into quite the unpleasant shade of filth. Give it a little more time, and all the sweat you’ve worked up during dance has probably produced a not-so-classy odor. What’s a lindy hopper to do?
I’ll preface this by saying that there is no “magical method” or panacea for your shoes. They will never shine as brilliantly as when you first bought them. They will never smell as pleasant as when you first opened the box. They will never be perfect again, but they can be better. Now that that’s taken care of…
I went to Google for advice. I found a few suggestions that sounded good, so I tested out several methods. First I tried the Magic Eraser, which fell quite short of being magic. It didn’t work for me at all. Second I tried Windex (I was thinking of this the entire time), which did not work on the canvas - it did, however, clean the rubber sides (and soles) decently enough. Just make sure you do this with plain paper towels - mine had a blue pattern on it and it started to transfer the color.
Third, I tried what seemed to be the most commonly recommended method: get a bowl of warm water with a couple drops of dish soap, dip a washcloth in it, and scrub the shoes with the cloth. I started off with Dawn, and it didn’t do much good. It cleared up a little bit of the dirt, but my scrubbing was largely in vain. The washcloth wasn’t the best for my task; it’s fairly difficult to scrub shoes with a rag so I decided to switch to a toothbrush. Finally, I spotted a bottle of an oxy-power dish soap amongst my cleaning supplies. This is where I found my victory. So…
Here’s what you’ll need:
an electric toothbrush
a regular toothbrush
oxy-power dish soap (such as this one, though it’s not the exact one I used)
a bowl of warm water
Start by pouring a few drops of the soap onto the electric toothbrush. Select a portion of the shoe to concentrate on. Turn on the electric toothbrush, then rapidly scrub up and down for about 30 seconds. Dip the electric toothbrush in the bowl of warm water, shake it out over the sink, and quickly scrub the area you just worked on. Next, use the regular toothbrush to brush away the excess water and soap. (Leaving the soap on the shoes will result in more stains.) Lightly dab with a paper towel if there’s simply too much excess. Repeat the process until you’ve covered the whole shoe. When completely finished, allow shoes to air-dry.
To clean dirty shoelaces, fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Let them soak, then wring them out a few times, making sure to not let the aglets get wet. Repeat the process until the laces are to your desired cleanliness.
I won’t lie to you. This task was tedious. It took quite a long time, and I had to repeat the process on each area at least twice (though sometimes more). There’s probably a better way to clean our beloved white Keds - but this was the best way that I found. If you’ve had success with other methods, let me know!My shoes aren’t 100% clean now, but they’re much better and look socially acceptable. Take a look! (Sorry about the random red tint in the first after photo. I’m not sure what happened.)
Now, what to do about the terrible stink? I read a tip about putting two tablespoons of baking soda in a sock, tying the sock off, and letting it sit overnight in your shoe. For my shoes, this absorbed some of the smell but not all of it, so I put my shoes in the freezer (with the baking soda) for several hours and that (more or less) got rid of the rest. For preventative measures, though, this easy homemade shoe powder should do the trick.
Ambidancers exist in every type of social dance scene - but it’s lindy hoppers who define the movement. Our dance’s very history is covered in cultural revolution. Swing is one of America’s most prominent contributions to world culture, bringing us new music, new dances, new clothes, new slang… new everything. The swing/big band era is resilient (perhaps) unlike any other time period: the influence of those years is still noticeable even today. Though we could talk for hours about the significance and impact that swing culture has made upon our world, we’ll just focus briefly on this one lovely aspect of our culture: acceptance. (Or how about accepdance? It can be a word, right?)
In the midst of economic depression, war, and prejudice, the Savoy and its lindy hoppers maintained a community free of such worries. All were welcome at the Savoy. Dancing was all that anyone cared about - not race, age, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, social status. Just dancing. It follows that such a community would have ambidancetrous tendencies; in fact, when many men went off to war (including Frankie Manning), the women back in the States would lead more and the men at war would follow more. (x) Lindy hop was always about lindy hop.It wasn’t about gender roles. It wasn’t about being sexually or romantically attracted to people. It was, and continues to be, about the love of the dance and the glory of the culture.
Our modern lindy hop community continues these traditions. We continue in the progressive, accepting spirit of our dancestors. (Another new word, okay?) Many of us - myself included - can proudly say, "I am ambidancetrous." But if you’re not, I encourage you to venture into the world of ambidancetrousness. Some ambidancetrous journeys begin out of necessity like mine did: I wanted to teach my non-dancer friends. (Another great example of necessity is an imbalance of leads/follows in a scene.) Other journeys begin out of curiosity or a desire to learn both roles. Regardless of how you arrive at the decision, becoming ambidancetrous is extremely fun, challenging, and rewarding.
So you’re a lindy hopper - but do you also dance other styles? Have you participated in ballroom (including American tango, foxtrot, waltz, etc.)? Latin (including salsa, cha cha, rumba, etc.)? Country (including polka, two-step, contra, etc.)? What about the other swing dances (including balboa, west coast, east coast, etc.)?
// Feel free to answer any and all of these questions! The reply function is open, but you’re welcome to reblog with your answer if you run out of space. If you have other thoughts to add that weren’t covered in the questions, the floor is yours! (No pun intended, but I’ll take what I can get.)
If yes: what other styles do you do? What do you like/dislike about them? Did you start off with lindy, or something else? How does knowing more dances help/hinder you with swing? What’s your favorite? If no: why not? Do you have any plans to try other styles? (If so, which ones?) Do you think you’d benefit from knowing other styles? What attracted you specifically to lindy hop?
But really, can someone do this? We need a comprehensive book with accurate histories/biographies, a plethora of pictures/illustrations, a guide to swing fashion, a lindy hopper dictionary, a guide to swing music, and a how-to section (with clear instructions and helpful pictures) for a good portion of steps/moves.
The problem with wanting to take up dancing like this is the lack of interest most places. This would be a much better way to spend my free time, but the issue is finding a group of people that dance Lindy Hop.
This is the video for the ILHC 2013 Invitational Strictly Finals that went viral via 9Gag not too long ago. It’s introduced a lot of people to our lovely dance who would not have otherwise discovered it! However, there’s a common lament amongst verdant admirers that “nobody dances like this anymore” or “there’s no way I can learn this” or “nobody my age is doing this.” False.
While, unfortunately, not every major metropolis has a lindy hop scene, a lot of them do. Search your city - or the nearest “big city” or college town - with the words “lindy hop” and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find something. Now, you may have already tried that, and to no avail - sohere’s a good resource to start learning lindy hop on your own. Get a couple of friends involved, and there you go; you’ve effectively started your own lindy hop scene!
You’d be surprised at how big our swing community actually is. You can find a lot of us lindy hoppers on the “tumblr hoppers" tag, where we geek out over dance videos, talk about our dance experiences, or just ramble about swing dancing because we love it so much. Feel free to ask questions; lindy hoppers are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet! People of all ages dance lindy hop, and you’ll find that all demographics are represented in swing dancing.Our dance is alive and well, and the interest in it is strong. You can find lindy hop scenes all around the world! Lindy hop is a social dance, so it’s not just for competitions.
So, grab a few friends (or go solo!), find a nearby lindy hop class, and start dancing! It’s absolutely worth it.