Monday, February 10, 2014

Vilnius Lindy Hoppers

Alla really wanted to go to Vilnius before her Russian passport expired, but I wasn’t so excited about it because the weather had been so penetratingly cold. She won me over when we realized that I could also go out dancing with the Vilnius Lindy hop community, who was celebrating ten years together last weekend. I knew a few Lithuanian dancers already because some came to Minsk when our local dance moguls hosted an event. The ones I met danced really well, much better than I, and I guessed correctly that I’d meet some good dancers if I went to their weekend events.

Studio before classes
In the spirit of compromise that brought us to Vilnius, I took advantage of only a small part of the Lindy hop events and festivities. I took two out of eight possible classes and went to one of three possible parties. The classroom boggled my mind. The Lindy-hop Club had a huge well-lit studio with a wooden floor and removable sound-proof partitions to divide the studio into two smaller rooms for regular classes. They also had a little bar/café, a separate office, a few pieces of soft seating, and a bunch of very amusing floor lamps in the style of the 1940’s. Here’s a picture of the studio immediately after they cleared away the floor lamps and the room divider.

The classes were really fun. They combined dancers of all levels and taught us things that would be new to all of us. First we learned how to dance to an unusual seven-count rhythm. Well, we learned the most basic steps. I liked the music and the steps well enough that I would have been content to spend the whole day working on it, but we moved on to “Wi-fi Lindy hop.” I had no idea what that would be, but it was about leading and following without touching each other at all. This forced us to pay attention to details we might otherwise ignore, since without the use of hands leaders had to give clues with their whole bodies and followers became more alert to these subtle indications of intent.

Later, I made it to the main party. I only stayed until midnight, and so only heard two of the three bands. I especially enjoyed the opening act, the Lithuanian Military Orchestra. Wow, these guys knocked my socks off. It was a huge group, playing Big Band music with the sweetest sound and the hottest rhythms. I didn’t think to inquire about whether they had any CDs for sale anywhere. I’d love to hear their music again, though of course I’d prefer to hear them live. Here they are, in the same club, from a couple of years ago. I even saw the same people reprise this routine. Great memories!

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