In this series, we speak to swing dancers, young and old (in their dance journey!), and learn more about who they are in the dance scene and outside.
This month we're featuring Wei who, besides being a regular "rug-cutter" on the Cambridge dance floor, is also on the committee for Cambridge Swing Dance.
We chatted with Wei to learn about what inspires them to dance, how they got started dancing, their favourite dance memories, and a whole lot more.
Q. Hi Wei! For the benefit of those who don’t know you please introduce yourself.
Wei: My name's Wei Kheng! I'm a Malaysian-born dancer, scientist, and generally exploratory human.
I love connecting with myself, with other people, and feeling very present in the moment, and love hot drinks at all times of the year.
Q. What styles of swing dance do you dance?
Wei: I dance Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, and Shag (Collegiate, mostly!).
Q. When did you start to swing dance?
Wei: I moved to Cambridge at the start of the second Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, and found outdoor solo jazz classes as a way to get to know people in the city!
I still remember how everyone I danced with and met were warm and welcoming, which was great as someone coming in brand new to everything.
And that’s still the feeling that I have today. The Cambridge scene is incredible in the way that we value people’s expression and interpretation of the dance, and what they have to give to us.
Q. What was the turning point, where you knew you’d love swing dancing and there was no turning back?
Wei: I've never actually thought this!
I think swing dancing is something that I love right now, and it fits who I am now to such an intense and fulfilling degree, but also I think that someday I might find something else, as I change and grow.
Q. Well, we’d hate to see you go. What do you enjoy most about swing dancing?
Wei: So much!
There are aspects of meeting new people, finding community, learning and growth but I think the thing I enjoy the most is this aspect of moving to the music, listening to your body, being creative and expressing what you feel and what comes up, in a way that gets you out of your head, and into this unity of the body, spirit, and heart.
Q. Any favourite dance memory?
Wei: One memory that sticks out in my mind is going to a very busy dance social, almost too busy to dance in the venue, and then walking out onto the street. A friend followed me, and we danced together under the moonlight whilst hearing the music from the venue drift out over us.
Q. How has swing dancing influenced or impacted your life outside of dancing?
Wei: I've become more confident in ensuring that more of my interactions are based more on negotiation i.e. on listening and talking.
It's informed some of my relationships that have more traditional power dynamics and added nuance to them, turning them into more of a dialogue.
Q. Is there a specific dancer or mentor who has inspired or influenced your Lindy Hop style?
Wei: Anthony Chen. There was a lack of celebrated South-East Asian representation in the media, and I remember being so excited when I first found his dancing, which was so celebrated, looks so effortless and connecting!
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own Lindy Hop journey?
Wei: Try it! Try a couple of classes.
[Editor’s note: You can learn about our classes, workshops and more on the Cambridge Swing Dance’s website.]
We hope you enjoyed that piece and getting to know more about one of the dancers from our scene! There's more to come, as we interview even more dancers.
Swing dance is fun and easy to get started with Cambridge Swing Dance.