Gentle, yet intense. Effortless, yet deliberate. Fluid, yet at times, intricate. Warm, steamy, intoxicating. Familiar. Dance with a good Blues dancer and You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman will play in your head as you swoon back to your seat.
Jesse Young, Carsie Blanton, Cheryl Caraan, and Jon Darvill founded Lindy and Blues – affectionately known as LaB – in 2007. The organization’s lessons and dances have been a popular destination for swing and blues dancers alike ever since. In addition to seasoned dancers, the events attract an ever-growing number of new dancers eager to learn more about these intriguing partner dances that originally gained popularity between the early 1900’s and 1930’s.
I found out about LaB while walking through Rittenhouse Square one Sunday and stumbling on a group of people swing dancing merrily away. I stopped to watch and was pretty impressed. They clapped, hollered, swung and hopped, somehow managing to look totally cool doing dance steps that seemed just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. I picked up a flier and eventually found my way to the Tuesday night dance. Every Tuesday night, LaB holds a one hour beginner lesson starting at 8pm, followed by a three hour dance. The entry fee is $5, and they alternate between Lindy Hop and Blues each week.
So, what if you can’t dance at all, no rhythm, no social skills, and no partner, but you still want to get in on the action? The Tuesday night lesson is a great place to start. Beginning with a simple â€œbounce,â€ you learn how to loosen things up and start picking up on the rhythm of the music. From there, you learn the basics of the dance, lots of tips, and practice practice practice. Finding a dance partner is stress free: â€œleadsâ€ and â€œfollowsâ€ are simply lined up, paired up, and rotated periodically. Attire ranges from jeans and sneakers, to heels and cocktail dresses, to suits and ties.
After the dance lesson, you’ll get an etiquette lesson. Believe it or not, you’ll find out exactly how to ask someone to dance, and exactly how to reply when you’re asked. This is also the time to ask the LaB Techs, as the staff call themselves, any questions you may have. Once you’re fully equipped with all the info you need, the lights go down, the music goes up, more people pile in, and the dancing begins.
Philly LaB â€“ Lesson & Dance
Tuesday Nights, 8pm – 12am
The Ethical Society Building
1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103