Dance Until You Drop

 Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Feb 222013
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Vintage dancing instruction ephemera~ Dance Until You Drop ~

Recapturing the Past

I tied a scarf around my wet-setted, perfect 1930’s coiffure. David in a fedora, vintage slacks and Ike jacket, stepped onto the deck of the ferry to Catalina Island. It was our first BIG dance camp since we’d started swing dancing. We’d gone to a couple of workshops in Pasadena, but nothing like the adventure before us had promised: Instructors from Germany, Sweden, Singapore, Australia and other places in the US converged in an island setting, with nightly swing dances in a historic ballroom.

After the first day of classes, my dogs were barking, my muscles wept quietly, but my spirit soared. I reveled in the different techniques, footwork and approaches to dancing. I delighted in partner rotations in the grand ballroom with 200 students all hopping around the floor. I treasured meeting at the condominium in early evening and working out newly learned footwork with friends, drinking cocktails and soaking our weary feet in the Jacuzzi until fortified enough to take on the night’s demands.

A Smaller Path

On a smaller scale, that is what the BFF (Balboa Followers Festival) was like for me. I’ve been taking classes here and there, squeezing in a few private lessons, but this event had that same energy and feel of that long-ago Catalina adventure.

Bright and early Saturday morning, my wonder twin, (and BFF) Lynnda, picked me up at my door. We arrive early, secure parking and amble over to IHOP sitting ourselves in a neat little booth. By the time our omelets arrive event participants sprinkle into the restaurant. We know they’re dancers because they proudly display it across their chests in logos and sentiments.

We chat amiably and meet a nice woman who comments on our attire, mine particularly. I dress in themes, and today I’m decked out in my late 1930’s showgirl rehearsal garb. I have no desire to don the (almost) required and accepted Balboa uniform of jeans with heels with long shirts. I wonder how that happens. I remember the second year we attended Catalina EVERYONE sported reproduction two-tone mock wing-tip Blyers and yoga pants under knit skirts.

Lynnda suggests I abandon my vintage sunglasses explaining they render me unapproachable and aloof, which is NEVER my goal. I wholeheartedly acquiesce. The class opens with a tiny wisp of a woman trilling her adorable French accent. Her partner stands over her with dark, short hair, dark squinty Richard Gere eyes. They are entertaining and although English is their second language they impart their ideas and concepts with little trouble. The amount of information we receive is overwhelming. We follows are usually an afterthought, throwing us a bone of a styling at most workshops. Not today, today it’s all about us. The pixie-instructor teaches us stylish turns and concepts about linear, circular, and orbital paths, along with some fabulous syncopations.

The next morning finds me in patriotic theme as I anticipate my Navy man’s return to sea duty. I dress in bright red, white and a spot of blue.

The instructors start the class with a little warm up done to 80’s music. It’s silly, dorky and fun and confirms my belief that dance should be fun and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. It’s reminiscent of Frankie Manning using the Electric Slide, (which was “new” to him), to warm us up. The class moves quickly as they reveal tricks for footwork and body positions.

The next class brings back the Frenchies and I struggle with the cross-over variation. It finally clicks and I love a new tool to express the nuances in hot jazz and swing.

Later the class brings fun variations to Lollies. I find my triple steps too bouncy and work on smoothing them out. The instructor throws more syncopated variations, this time on cross overs, but my feet and brain are full.

I take my throbbing legs home and soak my feet in alternating hot and cold baths. It helps but my tired limbs whimper quietly. I successfully ignore their cries and dance for a wonderful three hours until my every body part is clamoring to be heard. I give in their pleas and take my tired body home. I will live to dance another dance.


Have you ever worn yourself out dancing? Was it worth it. Do you have good remedies for aching feet and legs?

Tam Francis, authorTam Francis is writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She  shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page

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  One Response to “Dance Until You Drop”

Comments (1)
  1. Sounds like a really fun day!

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