Last night I was teaching swing with J, who has been my teaching partner ever since Mr. Zoot headed off to the wilds of Ireland in search of Adventure and Life Experiences. When we were finishing up, he told the class that, since next Monday is our last regularly scheduled swing club meeting, it will be my last night teaching too. And, you know, I knew this was coming. It was my idea. I told them last August that this was it, after the year was done I was done too. At times, particularly on Monday evenings when I was especially dragging, or trying to figure out how to teach partner Charleston to four leads and no follows, I was even looking forward to it. Still, it’s different when you realize that, oh wait, that’s next week.
In a lot of ways, this will be the start of a new era for the Swing Club. When I told Bounce that I was going to retire, he decided that this sounded like a good idea, and he was going to retire too. He’s been teaching a lot longer than I have, and was one of my own first teachers. When the club started, he was the instructor along with Red. It wasn’t until the next year that we had enough more experienced dancers that we split them into two classes: Swing I (taught by myself and a variety of helpers until Mr. Zoot became my steady teaching partner), and Swing II (taught by Bounce and Red). So for the last five years we’ve had this relatively steady group of instructors. Now three of the four are leaving, and the club is figuring out where they’ll go from here.
Honestly, I’m not worried about them. They’ll be fine. They have an extremely capable president and group of officers, who will continue to be the leaders for next year. Actually, of all the swing club presidents I’ve worked with, the current one is actually the one I like best, and have most enjoyed working with. They also have J, who is very capable, and they have Red too. So I think they’ll be just fine.
Last week we got our swing club t-shirts for the year. It made me think about all the swing club t-shirts I have in my drawer. They are, in chronological order:
- First year: black ink on white, with the Windows clip art stick figures dancing, and the names of all the different vintage swing dances scattered around them.
- Second year: vastly more sophisticated, black with white ink, with a James Bond theme (License to Lindy).
- Third year: possibly my favorite, the only one I don’t have. It was cobalt blue, with a silhouette of a dancing couple on the front, and a quote from me on the back (“Always follow the lead… within reason”). Unfortunately, while swing dancers instantly and unquestioningly recognized the rather extravagant dip the dancing couple was doing on the front, to non-dancers it looked like they were having very athletic sex. It, um, raised a few eyebrows. (Honestly, that hadn’t even occurred to the swing dancers.) It was after that year that the university insisted that we include the word “dance” in our club title.
- Fourth year: a somewhat dull shirt, black with white and red ink (probably a reaction to last year). It had the club title on the front, and some slightly random quote on the back – it sort of had something to do with dancing, but didn’t actually relate specifically to swing dancing, or have anything to do with the club. We’re still not sure how that one got chosen.
- Fifth year: teal t-shirt with black lettering spelling out “Step, Step, Triple Step” vertically down the front left side of the shirt, and (I think) the club logo on the back. It’s a pretty good shirt, but this was about when I started getting really burnt out on dancing and teaching, so my reaction was on the lines of, “Oh. A shirt.”
- Sixth year: dark red with black and white ink, club title on front, dancing footwork diagrams for Lindy Hop on the back. I particularly like the footwork diagrams, though I have to admit that even swing dancers sometimes have trouble realizing what they are. But then you get to explain it to them, which is fun.
It’s weird to think that there won’t be a #7 on the list.