Posts Tagged ‘wedding dance’

  1. “You don’t have to hide in the car texting” – Sarah & John Aitchison

    October 10, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    Sarah and John run Shieldhall, a guesthouse near Wallington Hall. Set on 10 acres of beautiful Northumberland countryside, they live there with their 2 daughters, 12 chickens, 2 dogs and a cat. Sarah and John came to the Dance Doctor with 4 left feet (2 each) and were kind enough to share their experience of learning to swing dance with us.

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    “Definitely do it, honestly, because nobody could be more nervous or shaky about it than I was. Even if you just try one lesson, you’ve got nothing to lose but so much to gain”

    Sarah grew up in Shieldhall (which became a guesthouse when people kept calling in to ask if they did B&B) and until recently it was home to 4 generations of “fiery redheads”; Sarah’s grandmother, mother, herself and her 2 daughters. She says the last thing she wanted to do was run it but then she “got old” (she’s anything but), married, had children and decided it would be nice! She and John took over about 6 years ago.

    As a child Sarah did Ballet and Scottish Country dancing but was made to feel like she couldn’t dance. The feeling of wanting to dance never really went away and now in her 30’s (I told you she wasn’t old), Sarah has decided to start learning again. Her aim is for herself and John to enjoy social dancing and be able to put music on and just dance.

    It was quite simply a love of Swing dancing and music that drew Sarah to Lindy Jazz but on the first night she came to class, she hid in the car park and didn’t come in! That same night, she sent Joo-Lee a text and after one private lesson she was hooked, “it was like you had a little taste of what you could achieve. It made me think, maybe I’ve got the potential to learn to dance when all those years I thought I couldn’t”

    Sarah’s fond of the funny memories, in particular John’s interpretation of the ‘Mess Around’! However, her best memory is dancing with Joo-Lee and “thinking, I got around the room, that feeling that I’m dancing. Sometimes it all goes to pot because suddenly you think, oh, I’m dancing! But it’s that feeling, they’re definitely the happiest memories”.

    The most unexpected thing for Sarah has been the emotional side of learning to dance. She expected it to be a physical experience but at times has been in fits of giggles or tears, and felt both incredibly happy and sad. “It kind of affects all of you. It’s been revealing about myself, my personality, my confidence, my weaknesses and my strengths”.

    After being told she had no rhythm as a child (I know, how mean is that), Sarah thought it was something she couldn’t learn, that people had natural rhythm and could just dance, or not dance. Now she thinks it’s about self-belief and that, with patience and a good teacher you can find your own rhythm and enjoy dancing. “You don’t have to hide in the car texting… I would say definitely go for it”.

    Sarah is most proud of the fact that dancing has become a way of life for her, that it’s something she and John can do together and that she can now say ‘I go dancing’. She says it’s part of her routine and that if she is away for any length of time she misses it.

    We talked a lot about Sarah’s fears of not belonging and standing out, “often what stops me from dancing is what I think. It’s not my feet, it’s my own fears and anxieties”. Despite it often being overwhelming and difficult, Sarah now feels she has “accepted the fear” and can “choose to override it” and enjoy herself. If you can get through the door it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be”

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    “The advantage of Lindy Jazz is the fact that once you master a few dance moves what you can do is you can mix those moves together in tune with the music that’s been played and you can do it yourself”

    John has worked as a Police Officer for 28 years. During this time he spent 7-years as a mounted policeman, learning to ride specifically for this reason. He finds his job rewarding but is looking forward to ‘retiring’ next year so he can focus on his other full time job, running Shieldhall with Sarah. John enjoys anything to do with the outdoors including cycling, walking and fishing.

    As a couple, Sarah and John were looking for something they could do together. After considering a number of options they agreed on dancing and they’ve never looked back! John says they both enjoy it and get a lot out of it. Their aim is to feel confident and comfortable enough to dance the night away at this year’s ‘Snowball’.

    John says Sarah identified Joo-Lee and Lindy Jazz as a possibility and the reason they’ve stuck with the ‘Dance Doctor’ is because she offered private lessons. At the time they didn’t feel comfortable joining a class but now, with the individual tuition they’ve received, their confidence is growing and they’re feeling happy and relaxed!

    John’s favourite memory comes from when Joo-Lee was demonstrating how Sarah could pick up on signals and subtle movements from her lead, allowing her to dance without a set routine. He was fascinated to find he and Sarah could do this too, “We were literally dancing in synchrony. It was wonderful. We were dancing, I didn’t think we could but we were”. 

    The most unexpected thing for John has been the “beneficial effect beyond just doing the dancing”. John says doing something that they share and enjoy together is “very positive and constructive” and has brought he and Sarah closer together, strengthening their relationship.

    To John Swing Dancing isn’t as structured or restrictive as other forms of dance, “it’s more fluid and it’s certainly, I think, potentially more gratifying”. Although not easy, he says that by mastering a couple of basic steps you can really begin to enjoy dancing. Private lessons have helped to build his confidence and he would encourage others to try it.

    John says he’s most proud that he and Sarah have found something they can share. He says, “life being life, you don’t necessarily have exactly the same interests so the biggest achievement for me, was finding something that we both genuinely enjoy and do together and that for me, that’s great, that’s it”.

    The biggest challenge for John was, “fitting in dancing”. Although he says with the nature of their jobs they’re lucky enough to occasionally find time to themselves in the afternoon, between John’s shifts, Sarah’s guesthouse duties and the school run – where there’s a will there’s a way!

    Do you have a problem with 2 left feet? Why not make an appointment with the Dance Doctor and see what she can prescribe for you! Visit the website for more information.

  2. Studio Hop – by Gillian Scott

    August 19, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    Gillian Blog


    Gillian, our Balboa teacher at Lindy Jazz spent an amazing week in France at Studio Hop Summer Camp Balboa week in August. See what she got up to . . . .

    What’s that? A whole week of Balboa workshops and parties that’s what!

    A chance to learn from top teachers such as Sylvia Sykes, Nick Williams, Mickey and Kelly, and social dancing all night every night with 250 like minded dancers from all over the globe. Balboa heaven!

    The camp takes place in Eauze in the south of France surrounded by vineyards and fields of sunflowers. There are classes from beginners to ninja level so there is something for everyone.

    There were 4/5 hours of classes a day, but plenty of opportunity to rest in between and enjoy the sunshine and Floc (the local brew….)

    I learned so much and I loved having the opportunity to spend a whole week just concentrating on improving my Balboa and I have loads to practice now.

    Going to dance camps is a great way to take your dancing to the next level and to put your skills into practice. It’s also a great way to make new friends.

    You don’t have to go all the way to France for a week though, there are lots of weekend dance camps in this country – including our very own DJam!

    So why not give it a go and expand your dance horizons.

    Oh, and I’m planning on going back to Summer Camp Balboa week next year – who’s up for joining me?

  3. “Getting Back to Nature”

    August 1, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    “Getting Back to Nature”

    Swing Summit 4

    Each year we take a week out of our normal working routine to attend ‘Swing Summit Teachers Training Week’ in the Ardéche, France.

    For 7 whole days we’re surrounded by dancers from, Germany, Austria, Prague, Moscow, Portugal, Switzerland and of course, France. This year there were 5 teachers from the UK, including myself, Andy and Gillian!

    Our days are filled with lectures, training sessions, workshops, dancing and practices. We even gave workshops and DJ’d, receiving some great feedback, which means a great deal when you’re audience consists of 50 AMAZING teachers, dancers and DJs!!!

    It’s not all-hard work though…

    There’s free time to sit and chat, or swim in the outdoor pool and each day we start with breakfast in the sunshine, surrounded by ‘Nature’ (a term that seems to cover everything from the abundance of plum trees to a shortage of water) and the odd cat or 2 stuck up a tree!

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    The inspirational dancers and teachers we spent time with all believe feedback is important as it helps us to improve more quickly. We learnt how to be receptive when feedback is offered to us and how to give more suitable, relevant and useful feedback to others.

    I feel that the feedback I received personally helped me to look at my own dancing in a more balanced way, considering the things I am good at and the things I would like to improve on. I regard feedback as a gift and would love to share this gift with everyone at Lindy Jazz! If you’re interested in receiving more feedback just ask Andy or myself.

    Roll on next Swing Summit. What a great opportunity to improve our own dancing; recharge the dance batteries; refresh those dance mojos and… “Get Back to Nature”!

  4. Dance at EAT

    June 26, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    Lindy Jazz has been invited by the organisers of Newcastle/Gateshead EAT Festival to be part of their “Tea & Cake Planet” event on 28th-29th June. Obviously we said yes because what could be more up our street than an opportunity to drink tea & eat cake and of course, dance!

    Come along on Saturday or Sunday (or both!) to join in with Joo-Lee’s ‘tempting’ taster sessions, enjoy ‘lip-smacking’ live music from a variety of bands AND dance to the ‘scrumptious’ sounds of our very own DJ’s Andy and Gillian!

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    And if that wasn’t enough, ‘All That Jazz’ will also be there. We asked one of their members to tell us what treats they have on the menu for us at EAT:

    “All That Jazz is an all-girl vintage dance troupe, bringing the frivolity and glamour of the Jazz Age to events in the North East.

    Performing to music from and inspired by the 1920s & 1930s; the routines combine the stylish, sassy moves of Jazz with the quirky fun of the Charleston and are guaranteed to add pizzazz to any event.

    At the EAT Festival, we’ll be performing a Charleston routine to an up-tempo ragtime pop track, littered with harmonicas, trumpets and jaunty percussion – guaranteed to lift the spirits and get the feet tapping.

    We’ll also be performing ‘The Big Apple’ a classic routine from the 1930s named after the Big Apple club in Columbia where it is said to have originated, it’s high energy and fun filled choreography make it the perfect partner for a summer event!

    Still want more? We’re also throwing in a Shim Sham, an emblem of the international nature of the swing community danced to Jimmy Lunceford’s “’Tain’t What You Do” and a cheeky little Charleston number to The Squirrel Nut Zippers’ ‘Put a Lid on It’.”

    So come along dressed in your vintage finery and sink your teeth into a weekend of tea, cake, music and dancing. Why not add a splash of red to your outfit to give it a Lindy Jazz twist?!

    We look forward to seeing you there!



  5. Blues Fever

    June 12, 2014 by Joo-Lee


    Whether you’re still thriving on the buzz from Blues Fever at the beginning of June or wishing you’d been a part of it, we’ve got great news! It’s only 23 sleeps until Blues Fever sweeps through Durham and we’re immersed in blissful blues once again!

    Vicci & Adamo will be arriving on July 4th ready to kick-start the dancing with a taster session at our Blues Speakeasy on the Friday night. Come along to Empty Shop and get yourself warmed up for what promises to be a fantastic weekend of Blues.

    This time ‘Blues Fever’ brings you a workshop with a twist… after a late night of dancing we’re giving you a lie in on Saturday morning and starting our workshops at 14:45 (Teacher’s Workshop) or 16:00 (Dancer’s Workshop)! Too excited to sleep late? Why not take this opportunity to book a private lesson with Vicci & Adamo?


    Forget that lull between workshop and party! The slightly later start time also means we’ll be making a seamless transition from Workshop to Blues Party allowing your blues bubble to stay intact and giving you plenty of time to practice in a blues party atmosphere, with no time to forget what you’ve learnt!

    As if this wasn’t enough we’ve got a second workshop on the Sunday! This time specifically for experienced Blues Dancers who are already teaching or are thinking of learning to teach Blues. Vicci & Adamo are passionate about both dancing and teaching, so cannot wait to share this workshop with you!

    Workshops and private lessons slots are filling up fast so grab this opportunity to book a place now and fall under the blues spell! Simply email

  6. Swing Sisters

    May 23, 2014 by Joo-Lee

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    Meet Gillian…

    “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.

     Meet Eileen…

    “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.

    Eileen’s parting words? “If you’ve got knee problems come to Lindy Jazz, it’s medicinal!”

  7. Small steps, BIG dreams – How DJam began

    May 15, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    For some time it was our dream to create a warm, intimate swing dance event at the heart of the historic city of Durham. Seven years ago we followed that dream and started with a small group of forty dancers from our local classes.

    We met one weekend because we wanted to learn more technique, dance more, and have more fun.

    DJam was born!

    Lindy Jazz was still in its early days but we felt marking out a weekend in the calendar was the way to go. We were convinced DJam would be a perfect opportunity for fledgling dancers to experience the joys of the wider swing dance scene.

    Now a firmly established international event for dancers of all levels; we were excited to announce that Beamish Hall Hotel will host DJam 2015 and that the eagerly anticipated registration process opens this Saturday, 17 May.

    Our vision is to create the perfect environment for enjoyment, learning, inspiration and socialising through swing dancing, no matter what the participants’ dance experience or level.

    By maintaining a small camp feel, this year, with all the dancing under one roof and featuring both high-energy and chill out classes; dancers of all levels can enjoy the weekend at their chosen pace.

    Without having to commute between classes, dancers will be able to grab that extra chat or make that new connection with minimal effort and save their energy for dancing until the early hours!

    For 4 days and 3 nights, we want everyone to be transported into a different reality, a ‘swing bubble’, where all that matters is dancing; cakes, late-night chats and a huge amount of excitement and happiness.

    DJam registration opens on 17 May 2014 so get prepared for a fun packed weekend!

    Small Steps Big




  8. Why Brush Up?

    April 16, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    DSC00787I believe there are 2 ways to learn to dance:

    1. We can fill our brains with information in the hope that the more we have, the better our dancing will become.


    1. We can focus on the little things that make a big difference, using our time effectively and seeing more rewarding results.

    My personal choice is the latter, which is where the idea for ‘Brush Up’ came from.

    Due to life’s busy nature, not all of us can come to class regularly. In between times we have the potential to develop bad habits; symptoms include- tense limbs, loss of bounce or, dare I say it… sloppy triple steps, eek!

    A triple step can cause problems in leading AND following. If they’re not well articulated, your partner won’t be able to tell what you’re leading or, will have a harder job trying to lead you.

    We don’t necessarily know if our basic steps are neat, precise and rhythmic; so we need someone to come and tidy them up for us.

    ‘Brush Up’ workshops are like a private lesson shared by a small group. As your teachers, this gives us time to look at your dancing, dance with you and provide tailored advice.

    As a dancer it’s an opportunity to ask the questions you’ve never asked in class. Helping you to identify simple things that could have a huge impact on your dancing.

    So, even if you think triple steps are something you’ve done before, brushing up your basics can help build strong foundations for your dancing to grow on.

    Go on, brush up your dancing skills!

  9. Nick’s Lindy-versary!

    April 10, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    Nick WalkerNick is the first to feature on our monthly Lindy-versary blog. It’s here to celebrate the great people we have at Lindy Jazz and it’s great to find out more about fellow members.

    “I like the people. I like the atmosphere. I think it’s quite social, comfortable and supportive.”

    Nick is a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry. His dad is from Gibraltar and he has 2 cousins who play for their football team. Next year they play Scotland in the European Championships and Nick will be there with his dad cheering them on.

    After a brief encounter with dancing in Bristol, Nick joined Lindy Jazz when he relocated to the North East in 2012; being new in town, Nick thought it would be fun and a great way of meeting new people. Thanks to Google he found a class that was close to where he lived and we couldn’t be happier that it was us!

    His favourite Lindy Jazz memory is of social dancing the first year he went to DJam. When describing his first real experience of dancing in a crowded place, Nick said he actually felt more comfortable, learned a lot and found it satisfying… now there’s a commendation for social dancing!

    As an advocate for trying new things, Nick says if you’re unsure of coming to Lindy Jazz don’t think about it too much and just try it. “There’s nothing much to lose from trying new things… It worked well for me”.

    Nick’s final word was a massive thank you to both Joo-Lee and the team. He thinks having so many people involved is a good thing as it’s nice to be surrounded by supportive people. We couldn’t agree more!

    Happy Lindy-versary Nick!

  10. Is it difficult to learn to dance?

    March 20, 2014 by Joo-Lee

    Recently a number of new people joined our class. Watching one couple learn was particularly interesting because their experiences of the same class seemed to differ greatly. One of them was smiling throughout whereas the other appeared frustrated with footwork and getting it right. When I asked them how they had found the class their responses reflected this observation.

    Learning to dance, particularly an informal swing dance is not an academic subject. It involves both motor skills and muscles. If we are stressed about anything, we’re actually inhibiting our ability to get it right. What is right anyway? When we are new to dancing we have a limited amount of information about the skill set needed. If we over think we’re actually only considering a small amount of information and so perhaps analysis should come later… we’ve all heard of “Analysis Paralysis”.

     My recommendation for anyone that’s new to dancing is to just enjoy it. Things don’t always go to plan. Allow yourself to make mistakes. If you want to walk backwards but go forward instead it’s not the end of the world, your body will adjust and next time you can move in the direction you intended. You’re not training to be a brain surgeon or an engineer (well . . . not whilst dancing anyway!) so there’s no major consequence, you’re just learning to dance. Have a go, trust yourself that it’s fine, trust that no one else is watching or judging and trust that your teacher will help you.

    So is learning to dance difficult? No. Our ability to interfere with our own learning is what makes it difficult. Learning to dance will change your whole approach to trying new things. It’s about relaxing and not making it harder for yourself by trying to hard. Dancing is either unfamiliar or familiar and to make any skill familiar you need experience. So, keep coming to class, relax and just enjoy it! Before you know it, you’ll be dancing.