Ray BrodeurI started dancing in the winter of 2013 as a form of exercise. I quickly fell in love with the nonverbal conversation between the follower, music and the floor. I feel there is not a more welcome and supportive atmosphere than at Providence Swings.
In the summer of 2013 I told Norma Miller that I recently discovered Lindy Hop and her response was “where have you been? It’s been around for over 70 years!” That’s exactly how I feel. Where has this dance been all of my life? I guess that in many ways, Lindy Hop was just waiting for me to discover its many unique qualities. Not only is this dance, a way to unwind and melt my concerns away, but it is a wonderful way to express creativity and emotion without saying a single word. It’s magic and it’s the purest form of joy that I’ve ever known. It’s probably the best decision that I’ve ever made in all of my life.
If a friend of yours says “come to a dance lesson with me to Providence Swings”, promise me that you’ll do yourself a favor and go! Take a chance and let go of that fear of the unfamiliar. The worst thing that can happen is that you have the time of your life. I promise that after that first hour lesson, you won’t know what hit you and you’ll go full steam ahead and never look back. I’m continuously trying to improve my dancing by taking classes at Providence Swings, competing, traveling to workshops, and social dancing as much as I can. The best part is all the friends you’ll meet along the way and all of the dance adventures that still lie ahead.
hoto Credit: Tom Hagar
I started partner dancing in 1996, but didn’t discover Lindy Hop until 2002. Once I found it, though, I’ve held on tight and haven’t let go. I’ve been competing since 2004 and teaching since 2005. I am continuously trying to improve my skills both as a dancer and a teacher. And I’ve gotten pretty good at being an organizer, too.
I’ve been a member of the Providence Swings Board of Directors since its inception and am proud of what our little organization has accomplished over the years. It hasn’t always been easy. There is a lot of blood sweat and tears that goes into this endeavor, but it’s worth it to see the joy on people’s faces when they’re dancing and having fun.
When I’m not dancing, I work as an environmental engineer for the State of Rhode Island, but I might also be practicing yoga or playing volleyball.
My friends, Karen & Ed, saw Providence Swings dance at WaterFire Providence during the summer of 2012 and immediately signed up for their beginner swing dance class. They loved it and soon convinced me to sign up for the September 2012 class and stressed to pay in advance to secure a spot. I hesitated at first, not really knowing what to expect and thought for sure Karen & I would share Ed all night.
Upon entering the first night of Beginner Swing Dance Class, I was shocked! First, I was glad I followed my friend’s advice concerning the signing up and paying in advance because a few ladies in front of me did not and were sadly declined because the class was full. Secondly, as I looked around the filled room, there were ladies and men of all ages from teens to 70’s. Lastly, in the center of the circle, the dynamic instructors began this fun-filled class filled with learning, dancing, exercising and happiness! And with so many “leaders” in the class, I got to dance with Ed only once the entire night!
What keeps me coming back is not just the opportunity to learn, exercise, dance and have fun, but because the Providence Swings community of people are so warm and welcoming…no matter what your level of dance capability! They are not concerned if you are someone’s daughter, mother, son, father, husband, wife, where you go to school or work…they accept you with a smile and open arms and just want to know 1 thing; “would you like to dance?”. My answer is always, “yes”!
When I was about 15 years old, my brother and I discovered a stack of my parents’ old 78s. We listened in amazement to songs like Nellie Lutcher’s “Fine Brown Frame,” Bessie Smith’s “Empty Bed Blues,” and some smoking Billie Holiday tunes. I was hooked, and thus began a lifelong love of swing and blues music. A few decades later, I stumbled upon a merry band of Providence Swing dancers just tearing it up in a local bar and was mesmerized. Turns out this music was made for dancing! I started taking classes at Providence Swings a couple of years ago, met some great friends, and haven’t looked back.
Photo credit: Robert Hatcher
I didn’t start dancing until I was 16 with tap and jazz classes. I fell in love with tap and danced with Brown U’s group, “What’s on Tap” for 4 years while at RISD. After some minor-turned-major hip pain after college, I needed a hip replacement out of the blue in 2011. A couple months of physical therapy and I was back on my feet…looking to get back into my tap obsession. I happened to stumble upon Providence Swings in 2012, though, because I had always been interested in jazz music and the style of lindy hop. I went to the first class and have been die-hard obsessed ever since! I am constantly striving to work at the quality of my basic movement and ways to bring out “me” within my dancing.
When I’m not lindy hopping, I’m working towards my license in Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy, and dreaming about a future career of combining my love for art, dance, and helping others.
Photo credit: Tom Hagar