It’s Tuesday. I’m sitting in a cafe in Canberra and I’m contemplating the weekend I just had at MLX 2015.
Part of the change to my travel plans are to go to more Lindy Hop exchanges. This was my first one out of town. I decided to put together a car of people and drive down. It felt a little safer to venture out with people who’d hopefully experienced a few exchanges before. I ended up with 3 other dancers stuffed into my little blue Impreza.
The first lesson of a road trip to an exchange? Swing dancers have a lot of clothes. Not only are there multiple themed nights needing outfits but dancers sweat a lot and need plenty of changes of clothes. Luckily I’m pretty good at luggage Tetris so I managed to squeeze all the luggage and four grown men into the car for the trip.
I AirBnB’d a two room apartment in Richmond with two separate rooms with their own bathrooms. This turned out to be perfect for my room mate and I as we kept quite different schedules.
The accomodation was perfect, as it allowed us our own space and was right near the late night venue. This was a tip I got from another dancer. All roads lead to the late night venue and it’s really handy to be be able to stumble home within a few minutes when your legs are already sore and your body is ready to crash.
So what about the exchange?
Well here’s a bit of vulnerability first. I’m quite terrified of doing things I’m not good at. I almost stopped learning Lindy Hop because I was so frustrated by my inability to learn and my lack of ability to dance overall. There is this ongoing fear I have of looking ridiculous, being boring and basically being shit at dancing. I hate it. I was lucky to read Mindset by Carol Dweck a couple of years ago, which was a real eye opener in terms of resetting my attitude towards learning to dance. It was a bit of a life saver to be honest. I’ve approached the learning of dancing in a whole new way as a result and I’ve enjoyed every class since.
I still struggle to social dance though. It’s a real balancing act for me to a) just let go and dance and b) think of cool things to do and have musicality and stuff. I find my inner Stu beating up outer Stu for doing repetitive things or getting moves wrong. If I get into that state I find myself unable to just be with the person I’m dancing with and eventually just making my fears the reality! Ahh the human mind. So imperfect yet, so imperfect.
So the answer is to social dance more of course. I vowed to keep throwing myself into social dancing and that’s exactly what MLX is… a whole lot of social dancing. The event looked like this:
- Thursday 8:30pm to Midnight
- Friday 8pm to Midnight
- Friday Late Night Midnight to Late (which is code for the Sun will be coming up)
- Saturday 8pm to Midnight
- Saturday Late Night Midnight to The Sun will be coming… again
- Sunday 8pm to Midnight
- Sunday Late Night Midnight to The Sun will be coming up
So when you add that up, that’s oh lets say 30+ hours of dancing over four days!
Yes, these people are that nuts about dancing.
Yes, some of them do the whole lot!
No, I wasn’t ever going to do that much dancing.
So, what did I do? Well even though I never managed to do a late session (due to not handling the late nights well) I did dance on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not many dances, but enough (well maybe I could have had more but there’s always next exchange). I had some very lovely dances with some really excellent (read: forgiving) partners. There were a couple of standouts where I managed to just kick into enjoying the dance and not worrying too much about having a “plan”.
There is this idea that I’ve been told about in dancing where you can fall in love with someone for a dance or two. It’s a moment in time where the two of you connect through shared movement. Most human beings who don’t know each other well tend to spend very little time in intimate contact with strangers. Dancing puts you and your partner in a very vulnerable state. I can see how the magic can happen and I see it a lot in the faces of other people dancing. I can also feel it’s there for me too. I’m getting closer to it and there were moments here and there where it was just amazing.
The event itself was incredibly well run with the team nailing the theme and really making MLX 2015 come alive. The live music was just phenomenal, the DJs were tight with great sets, the Hellzapoppin’ contest (well the last two rounds I saw) showcased some of the serious talent the Australian scene has. I personally want to thank the organisers for a great event and wish them every success for the next 15 years!
Want pics? I didn’t take any photos myself (which I realised after the event). Here’s a links to Anthony Cuskelly who was the official photographer for the event. If you see me in a picture let me know!
Oh, as you might have guessed I got way more than a key ring (of course). I had an amazing weekend away, got to know some of my fellow dancers a little better, had some excellent dances, sometimes felt really great on the dancefloor, chilled out in Melbourne for a few days, drank lots of delicious coffee, lay in a park on a warm day and read, rode the trams, went to the NGV, oh… and I got a t-shirt!