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A dancer is born! Jo's Swing Dance journey

Say hello to Jo 👋 who joins us in the latest edition of the A dancer is born! series.

With over 15 years of dancing in Cambridge, Jo lets us into her dance journey and the swing dance scene in Cambridge. We also caught up with Jo on who her favourite dancer to watch is, her favourite swing dance memories, and more.

A dancer in a colourful dress
Jo, always dressed to impress 💃🏻

Q. Hi Jo, say hi to our audience and tell us how you started dancing swing.

Jo: Hello everyone, I'm Jo! I have been an addict of swing dance since November 2008 when I was searching for jive after coming back from university.

Which also means that I started dancing in Cambridge! My first lesson was at the Man on the Moon [Editor's note: since re-named The Blue Moon, on Norfolk Street] with Bill and Mirjiana.

Q. Do you dance styles other than Lindy Hop?

Jo: Lindy is what I started with and also my primary dance. But I also dance shag, balboa and blues. I love switching the most!

Q. Tell us more about how you got into jive and then swing!

Jo: I tried several different dance styles at university like salsa, ballroom, belly and line dancing before I settled on the jive.

I joined a dance club taught by Guppy, an old-timer who danced the jive back in the 50s. It wasn't ballroom jive it was rock and roll dancing, really. And I loved it!

When I left university I couldn't find any jive in Cambridge. But I found Cambridge Lindy Hoppers and quickly fell in love with the bounce and connection, which the jive didn't have.

Q. How has the scene in Cambridge evolved over the past 15+ years?

Jo: The community has changed so much since I started dancing here. The biggest difference is the size of the community, with more dancers and dance lessons available to dancers.

When I started dancing we just had Lindy lessons and then Blues was added. We would have Shag and Balboa lessons once a year. A small scene meant that the teachers were the committee and the troupe. So, things were cosy but also could be more... ahem, fractious. There have been multiple weddings and babies born in the scene from this time. But things could also get more contentious when people didn't agree on things.

With a bigger scene, you have more diversity in styles and lessons. I especially love the Shall We Dance monthly blocks where you can pick up regular Balboa, Shag, and other lessons.

Q. What do you enjoy most about swing dancing?

Jo: You cannot be in a bad mood when you're dancing with a partner. The bounce is my therapy.

I also love the playfulness; other dance styles can be so serious! If you've danced with me you'll know that I struggle to keep a straight face! I love being able to goof about, especially with switching and stealing.

Q. Who is your favourite swing dancer to watch and why?

Jo: I love watching Sharon Davis. Her quality of movement is sublime to watch and I also love watching her dancing burlesque!

Q. What’s your favourite dance memory?

Jo: There are so many to choose from!

I absolutely loved the first Lindy exchange I went to, in Edinburgh. A group of us went from Cambridge and stayed in a hostel together. It was my first exchange and experience getting to know other dancers well in Cambridge. We danced outside the art galleries to a live band and my heart sang! Edinburgh still holds a special place in my heart and my dancing journey.

Another favourite memory was winning a 30-second showcase competition dressed as Princess Leia doing the Charleston to the Cantina Band.

Finally, dancing at the Mill Road Winter Fair is always a highlight.

Q. How has swing dancing influenced or impacted your life outside of dancing?

Jo: It's impacted my clothes - I can spot a Collectif dress a mile off! 😉

Q. What do you like most about the dance community in Cambridge?

Jo: That our scene is led by a committee of volunteers is something I value after attending workshops, exchanges, and events at other scenes. I think the ethos of being run by a committee of volunteers permeates the whole scene and I was so touched when members of the community got together to make a card to thank the committee for CLX. Feedback always says that our events are friendly and welcoming and I do think that culture starts at the top.

I also love the enthusiasm of people learning something new for the first time and of the current beginners who are hooked!

Q. What's your advice to new dancers?

Jo: It's a marathon, not a sprint. You will continually learn so don't put too much pressure on yourself to get it all straight away. Have fun with it and try both leading and following early on!


That's it for our interview with Jo! Feel free to catch her on the social dance floor to learn more about her favourite Collectif dress.

Swing dance is fun and easy to get started with Cambridge Swing Dance.

We run classes for Blues, Shag, Balboa, Lindy Hop and more. The easiest way to get started is by joining one of our classes or following us on Facebook to keep track of our classes and events.


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