Are you looking for an amazing new hobby? One which is fun, healthy and won’t cost the earth? Well your search might just be over, thanks to Keith McGee and his brilliant Lindy Hop courses at West Coast Rock Café. I went along with Richard Oughton, one of altBlackpool’s wonderful photographers, to check it out.
For the uninitiated, Lindy Hop is an old style of street dance which originated in Harlem in the early 1920s and is a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and the Charleston, generally performed to swing music. It’s a particularly creative and joyous form of dance, with a lot of variety and scope for free styling. For example, it can be wild and frenetic or cool and sophisticated, depending upon your mood.
The classes are held at 7pm on the top floor of West Coast (above the eatery) and are completely mixed ability so there’s no need to worry if you have never taken a dance class before. One thing that particularly stood out is the way Keith carefully coached the dancers through each new step, breaking each move down and often providing useful imagery to aid technique. The age range was also incredibly diverse (from early 20s to mid 60s), demonstrating that age should also not be a barrier. Keith himself didn’t begin to dance until his late 20s so he is the perfect advocate for this.
The classes all start with a brief warm up, with all attendees in a circle, and then begin in earnest with the upbeat accompaniment of such artists as Honey Pie Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, The Andrews Sisters and Cab Calloway, to name but a few. And then the class is underway, in a flurry of kick-steps, shimmying, shaking, twirling and swinging, and the thing that really hits me is how much fun people seem to be having; everyone in the room has a huge grin on their face and the atmosphere is happy and relaxed. They all appear pleased to be achieving a new skill at the same time.
Keith maintains that one of the greatest things about teaching dance is the unbridled joy it brings to the lives of others and I can safely say I have witnessed this first-hand and it was heady even to witness. One thing I learned on the night from Keith is that in swing, (and all associated dance genres) the moves have been passed down from previous generations and added to or modified as time goes by, making it a very community-minded sort of pastime, just the sort of thing which will slot in very well in our weird, quirky little town.
Please go along and give it a go, we really need more of this sort of positive activity here in Blackpool and we’re incredibly lucky to have it. For more information, please go to www.feetsofamazement.com, or contact Keith McGee on 07906 705675.
Images by Richard Oughton.
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