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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Linton

How did you get started dancing?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

This is a question I love to ask other dancers when I first meet them. You can hear some interesting answers over time and I’d love to hear your story, too, if you are willing to share it.

In the fall of 1997, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona from Kansas City, Kansas. I had some friends I had known from another part of the country already living in Phoenix and they invited me to dinner. When I walked into their apartment on that fateful night, the wife of the couple said to me, “We’re going dancing tonight. You wanna come?” “Oh, I don’t know,” I sighed. It sounded like an exhausting, late night to me and I wasn’t particularly interested. After a very good dinner, though, I went. I participated in the “beginner class” at the beginning of the evening. I wish I could say, I took right to it, but frankly, it mystified me. How were you supposed to know which way to turn and what to do? I was embarrassed and somewhat irritated. But, when the more experienced dancers took to the floor, and I saw how much fun it was, I thought to myself, “I have to do that!”



The Tandem Charleston – that was the move that got me! You know the one: The girl in front of the guy, with her back turned to him, like a couple on a tandem bicycle, and they were doing the Charleston connected at the hands. For the longest time, we called that “back-to-back Charleston”, but it’s not back-to-back, because the follow’s back is to the leader’s front. Anyway, tandem Charleston looked cool, and oh, so fun!

My friends were already taking lessons at a small independent dance studio. We went every Saturday and Sunday, repeating the same lesson on Sunday that we had had on Saturday. We did that for two years. And, during those two years, we started having adventures.

I soon became a swing dance fanatic. There were local dances, several every week, and I guess I got a reputation for being very focused and insistent on dancing as much as possible, so much so that I was nicknamed by one of my new dance friends “Swing Nazi”. “Ve have vays of making you DANCE!” Chit chat and getting to know people are all very well, if you like that kind of thing, I thought, but I CAME TO DANCE!

A few months after my fevered beginning, the great Frankie Manning, Lindy Hop Legend, came to give his first weekend event in Phoenix. The weekend was organized by Steve Conrad, today himself a Lindy Hop Legend, but at the time, he was, I think, just out of college and about a year ahead of me in the Lindy Hop journey. He was already one of the most fun people to dance with. His swingout, let’s just say it had a lot of momentum to it! Very fun! I digress. Both Frankie and Steve deserve their own blog posts as Lindy Hop Legends, and I promise I will get to it.

My first meeting with Frankie left a deep impression. I’ll talk about it more in a future post about him, but I fell in love with him instantly! I wanted to go to every event where he would be present, but I couldn’t afford that. Nevertheless, I did manage to go to some: Cataline Island several times, Harvest Moon in Pasadena, California. At every event, I met new people, improved my dancing, and most importantly, had lots of fun!

Since those early days more than 25 years ago, my life has taken different twists and turns. I went to China to teach English, and I did that for almost 15 years. When I first arrived in China, it seemed no one was doing the Lindy Hop. I managed to go to some events during summer break when I was back in the States, like Lindy on the Rocks in Denver and the International Lindy Hop Competition when it was still in August and in Alexandria, Virginia. I didn’t dance much for several years, but then when I was working in Shenzhen, right on the border of Hong Kong, I heard of Hong Kong Swings. This group was giving a weekend event, so I went to that. Hooked again! After that, I started traveling to dance at events and have been to, and danced at, so many fabulous places! By this time, there was a group in Taipei, and there was one in Beijing, and another in Shanghai, all organizing weekend events! I danced several times on the Great Wall of China at the Beijing Great Wall Swingout!



Then Bangkok, Thailand, Vietnam Lindy Exchange, Lindy Revolution and SeaJam in Singapore. Finally I decided I had to go to the first and biggest dance camp in the world in Herrang, Sweden. On three separate summers, I went there to learn with incredible teachers and dance with incredible dancers. I even took Teacher Track myself one year. I went to eastern Europe one summer and fall and danced in Dracula’s Castle at Transwingvania in Brasov, Romania. I went to Central European Swing Dance Camp in Nova, Hungary, a smaller but totally lovely week long dance camp with dancers from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and Poland.

Then I went on my first dance cruise, one organized by the legendary Steve Conrad. What a revelation! As much fun as dancing is on land, it is even better on a cruise! You unpack once and the ship takes you to several exotic ports where you can go on fascinating and fun excursions, if you choose. Your dance classes, if there are classes, and dances are all right on the ship except when you are dancing on the beach or somewhere at the port. There is fabulous food available all day long. In the evening, you can have dinner with other people in the dance group, which makes it easy to meet and get to know new people. (Yes, I do like that, too!)

That first dance cruise was in February, 2020, right before lockdown hit. We all know what happened next, and it was hard. While I sat at home waiting, I got out the sewing machine and started making clothes for dancing. Dresses with big skirts, big skirts, skirts with a tulip shape that are nice for Balboa. Skirts with a peplum, also nice for Balboa. Clothes with a vintage (I think) look. I figured if I couldn’t dance, much less travel to dance, at least I could dream about dancing and travel and cruising. In November, 2021, I went to ILHC, again in Virginia just out of Washington, DC. Then in 2022 I went on a lot of cruises, but didn’t get to dance enough on any of them, really. In September, 2022 I went to Calpe Swing Fiesta in Spain and that was super fun! I loved that event so much, I’m going to write more about it in a future blog post.

Looking back, I can see that dancing has taken me to many fascinating places and given me incredible joy AND I’M NOT DONE!

I want more, so that’s why this blog, this website, why I want to organize more trips to provide more opportunities for fun and adventure to more people! The future looks bright, and if you love to dance, and travel to amazing places, and if you want to experience more joy and fun in your life, I hope you’ll come along.

So how about you? How did you get started dancing? Please leave a comment below.



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Diane Dyal
Diane Dyal
Jul 11, 2023

I don’t know the moves/steps but love to dance…my father taught me a bit to the music of Glenn Miller.

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Rebecca Linton
Rebecca Linton
Jul 11, 2023
Replying to

That is great, Diane! What a lovely memory!

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