In the middle of a generally stressful year we've had an incredibly stressful week: supporting an elderly family member through a difficult situation, waiting for another family member's Covid test results (after a housemate tested positive for the virus), while also waiting for tests to tell us whether the scary lump on Tilly's leg was cancer or not. I can usually stay calm in a storm (I've weathered enough of them by now), but I admit that by week's end I was shaking with exhaustion and jumping at my own shadow. I'm greatly relieved to be able to report that the Covid test was Negative, and Tilly's lump is benign; so now we can focus on resolving the first problem, and getting back to normal life, or what passes for normal life in a global pandemic.
For me, that means not only re-finding calm and quiet but also simple pleasures and moments of joy. One of the things that gave me joy, pre-pandemic, was going to weekly lindy-hop lessons (when health allowed), and monthly swing dances in Exeter -- where a variety of Big Bands played, and people of all ages danced the night away, many of them dressed in clothes of the early swing & jive era: the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. All of that stopped when Covid hit, but Howard and I are keeping up our lindy-hop practice with regular sessions of dancing in the kitchen (the one room with a wooden floor and no rug). The moment I hear swing music playing, my spirits start to lift.
Today's music goes out to fellow dancers, and to everyone else who could use a lift too....
Above: "Bring Me Sunshine" performed by The Jive Aces, a popular jive & swing band here in the UK. Yes, swing started in America, but it was brought over to England by American GIs during World War II and has spread all around the world. The dancing in this video, with its athletic lifts and aerials, is a mix of jive and swing.
Below: "Bright Lights Late Nights" performed by The Speakeasies' Swing Band, from Thessaloníki, Greece, with classic lindy-hop dance moves. This is the style of swing dancing that goes on in our kitchen.
Above: "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," a favourite song of mine from The Hot Sardines of New York City. You don't have to learn swing (or tap) dancing to enjoy the music....
Below: "Healing Dance" by Swingrowers, an electro-swing band from Palermo, Italy, with Sicilian rapper Davide Shorty.
Above: "Dramophone" by Caravan Palace, an electro-swing band from Paris. Electro-swing often involves more individual dancing than couple dancing, but incorporates many classic swing, jazz, and Charleston moves.
Below, ending as we started with The Jive Aces...and a pair of terrific lindy-hoppers. You're never too old to dance.
Oh heck, here's one more:
"Diga Diga Doo" by Skeedaddle, a swing & gypsy jazz band here in Devon. The violinist is Howard's cousin, Becky Doe; and the bass player is our friend and Chagford neighbour Tim Heming. They're a great band to dance to!