“The thing I like about it is that it’s all ages. Everybody is just a dancer and I like that. It adds to the variety and the richness”
Gillian is a full-time Lindy Jazz volunteer/teacher/DJ/ who enjoys dancing in a performance group-‘All That Jazz’; making cards; baking and decorating cakes AND in her “spare” time works 5 days a week!!!
She loves to use her imagination and be creative and enjoys it when she’s given space to use “artistic license”. Her favourite wedding creation was a 3-tier cake with sugar Freesias (Gillian loves Freesias) in all the colours of spring.
According to Gillian, her sister Eileen tried to teach her to dance Rock ‘n’ Roll for ages but to no avail. After seeing lessons advertised in her local paper she persuaded Eileen to go along with her assuming it was “some sort of Rock ‘n’ Roll class where I’d finally get to learn to do this thing”.
Guess what, it wasn’t. It was actually a Lindy Hop class with Joo-Lee and Andy!
7 years later Gillian’s still with Lindy Jazz and I think we can all agree, she’s definitely learned to dance! She says she still remembers how intimidating and scary it can feel to be a beginner, which is why she likes teaching our Review class and why we think she’s so good at it.
Despite Gillian’s initial reaction of, “Lindy Hop, what’s that then?” she now has an intense appreciation for the dance, which has lead her to her true love, Balboa*. Gillian loves the subtlety of both dances but says of Balboa,” You really feel that connection with your partner, it’s personal, it’s between you and them and I like that”.
Gillian says Lindy Jazz has opened up a whole new world for her. She loves the social side of dancing and describes the world of Lindy Hop as a big social network, family and community. Normally the quiet one in the corner, Gillian has made loads of friends, traveled to lots of places and had experiences she says she would never have had.
The first time Gillian traveled outside of Durham to dance was to Edinburgh Lindy Exchange with a small group of friends, including Eileen, and she says they were like “scared rabbits!”. Her favourite memory is returning to ELX a couple of years later and finding she was amongst friends, felt she belonged and had found a second home.
To anyone wanting to come to Lindy Jazz Gillian says just give it a go. “It can lead to so many fantastic things and you might surprise yourself. I surprise myself constantly with what I’ve managed to achieve!”
“We’re really friendly, know what it’s like to be new and won’t make you do anything you don’t want to. Take the plunge and just come and see. Don’t stress, listen to the music, have a cup of tea, a natter and a dance and just let it gradually take you over.”
*You can see Gillian teach Balboa on the first Monday of the month at Lindy Jazz.
“The music makes you feel good so everybody feels good and it vibrates around the room”
Like Gillian, Eileen is also a Lindy Jazz volunteer, teacher and expert cake baker. She is retired but needless to say, you rarely see her sitting still! She lives close to both Gillian and their brother but also has 2 children and 4 grandchildren.
She likes all handicrafts, DIY, gardening and has an eclectic taste in music. Dancing is Eileen’s social life and every August she and a group of fellow dancers pack their tents up and head off to Twinwood. Eileen says this floats her boat big style because she likes camping, they play her music all weekend AND she gets to dress in 1940’s style.
When she was younger Eileen used to go to the local dance to learn things like the old time Waltz, Boston Two Step and Veleta. Then in the 60’s she substituted this for ‘Bop’, teaching herself by practicing to music on the radio.
Eileen says she avoided the dance styles and music of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s simply because they weren’t for her and returned to dancing 7 years ago with Gillian. They were both looking for something to do exercise wise and that’s when they stumbled upon an advert in the local paper.
Cue Lindy Jazz and the rehabilitation of Eileen’s twice broken knee!
Not knowing what Lindy Hop was Eileen decided that “it had to be a bit more exciting than the Waltz!” and went along for the ride. She was terrified when she started the Durham class. With encouragement from Joo-Lee and Andy and some perseverance she’s still here 7 years later… thank goodness, we don’t know what we’d do without her!
Eileen swears doing Lindy Hop has made her knee 80% better than it was and puts this down to weight bearing during dancing as well as the Lindy Jazz atmosphere saying, “Everybody’s happy, everybody’s smiling, you can’t help smiling when you do Lindy. You come feeling depressed and half way through your mood has changed”.
As for favourite memories Eileen says she’s got so many it’s hard to choose! The first one that springs to mind is when she won the ‘Jack and Jill’ competition at Snowball, which she described as a brilliant experience. Funnily enough though she too mentions that first visit to ELX, also describing herself and Gillian as “scared rabbits”.
Eileen says if you’re thinking of trying Lindy Jazz just give it a go but don’t just come once, come for at least 6-weeks. She says that way you’ll get to experience Balboa, Blues, Charleston and Lindy Hop, and how they intermingle with each other and help with your dancing.
“You’ll make so many friends and it opens up a world of places to go, people to meet and things to do” plus it’s good exercise. Eileen is literally a walking advert for why dancing is good for you and in her opinion it’s a much better way to keep fit than the gym.